Posts Tagged recipes

Spice Up Your Holidays: Cookbooks for Middle Graders to Celebrate

As the northern part of the Western Hemisphere is blanketed with snow and the December holidays approach, it’s a great time to celebrate by cooking some special recipes. From Hanukkah to Christmas to Kwanzaa, kids can join in the fun by trying some of these recipes on their own. The scent of gingerbread baking, latkes frying in oil, or bacon and onion seasoning collard greens—traces of these delicious dishes linger in the air and on the tongue. What better time to connect with family and friends than by cooking special meals and treats together? These cookbooks may help to make your holiday celebrations more festive.

HANUKKAH (December 22–30, 2019)



The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen

By Joan Nathan


Cooking activities from around the world, includes various holiday dishes, both traditional and new.



Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen

By Miri Rotkovitz

A kosher cookbook of family recipes from spending time in the kitchen with grandma; includes holiday menus.





Kosher by Design Kids in the Kitchen


By Susie Fishbein

Simple, kid-friendly recipes and helpful tips that introduce young cooks to kosher techniques.




CHRISTMAS (December 25, 2019)

American Girl Holiday Baking

By Weldon Owen

Features photos and step-by-step instructions, along with holiday plans for festive celebrations.




A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa’s Tasty Trip Around the World

By M.E. Furman

Make some tasty treats as you learn about how countries around the globe celebrate Santa.



The Ultimate Kids’ Baking Book: 60 Easy and Fun Dessert Recipes

for Every Holiday, Birthday, Milestone and More

By Tiffany Dahle


Master baking and decorating while preparing holidays treats.





KWANZAA (December 26–January 1, 2019)



Hello! 60 Kwanzaa Recipes: Best Kwanzaa Cookbook Ever for Beginners

By Mr. Holiday

Share a strong family bond and stay connected by working together to prepare these holiday meals.




Fruits of the Harvest: Recipes to Celebrate Kwanzaa

and Other Holidays

By Eric V. Copage


Treasured recipes from people of African descent all over the world.






Kwanzaa Crafts: Gifts & Decorations for a Meaningful and Festive Celebration

By Marcia McNair

Stories, crafts, and recipes that introduce the seven principles and their symbolism.



Enjoy the holidays as you cook up some special foods together.


Cooking for Middle Graders

When my son was 8, he invited a new friend to sleep overnight. As I was passing the kitchen the next morning, I overheard the following conversation:

Bjorn: So do you want pancakes, waffles, or eggs for breakfast?
Friend: Maybe scrambled eggs?
(Sounds of pans clattering, cupboard and refrigerator door opening)
Friend: Hey, what are you doing?
Bjorn: Making you scrambled eggs.
Friend: Umm…don’t you think we better wait for your mom?
Bjorn: Nah. You wouldn’t want her scrambled eggs. I’m a much better cook than she is.

And he was right. As the youngest of 5, he’d learned from the best – his older brother and sisters. Not me. Definitely not me.

So how did I end up with a family of cooks?

I accidentally discovered the secret when my oldest daughter was 3. Having a newborn and a toddler, I was a sleep-deprived mom. One morning I heard Tiffany banging around in the kitchen, but after being up all night with the other two, I was too exhausted to check out the noise. To my surprise, a short while later, my 3-year-old presented me with breakfast in bed, which included slices of French toast.

“Who made these?” I asked, wondering if my husband had stayed home from work.

“I did,” she said with a proud smile. “I watch you do it.”

“You cracked eggs? And–and used the stove?” My voice wasn’t only weak from lack of sleep.

I inspected her head-to-toe for burns, but other than syrupy stickiness on her hands, arms, toes, and hair, she was fine. Then picturing a kitchen fire, I tucked the baby and toddler under each arm and raced for the kitchen. It was a bit messy, but the stove was off. The pot was cooling in the sink. And I realized I’d just found my solution to more sleep in the mornings—teaching my kids to cook.

When they turned 3, they started cooking lessons. By the time they were in kindergarten, they were each responsible for making one dinner a week. They loved it, and so did I. Yes, it meant a messy kitchen and plenty of extra dishes, but by the time they were 8 or 9, they were pros in the kitchen.

So how do you get started if you’re a kid interested in cooking, or if you’re a parent or teacher who wants to cook with kids? Books with pictures and simple recipes are a great first step. If you’re a kid who’s already skilled in the kitchen, you can branch out with recipes from around the world or for specialty foods. And be sure to check out the bonus recipe below.

Oh, and if you want to connect books and cooking, Tami Lewis Brown has a great list of books and recipes to match.

cooking classCooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!) 

Deanna F. Cook

This fresh, fun cookbook for kids ages 6 to 12 explains basic cooking techniques in kid-friendly language and offers recipes for making dozens of favorite foods from scratch, including muffins, biscuits, applesauce, fruit leather, goldfish crackers, tortilla chips, Buffalo chicken fingers, pizza, sushi California rolls.

chop chopChopChop: The Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family

by Sally Sampson and Carl Tremblay

Winner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Award in the Children/Youth/Family category, ChopChop offers nutritious, ethnically diverse, inexpensive dishes.

GrainesKids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook

by Nicola Graimes and Howard Shooter

Large pictures and simple instructions for healthy recipes using ingredients such as whole wheat flour, plain yogurt, honey, oats, and nuts.

jr cookbkBetter Homes and Gardens New Junior Cook Book

by Better Homes and Gardens

Each recipe includes a photo along with illustrations of characters who tell stories to complement the dishes. Special features cover cooking basics, kitchen safety, menu planning, basic nutrition information, and guidance on reading and understanding food labels.

DKComplete Children’s Cookbook

by DK

The more than 150 recipes are divided into nine themed chapters (Breakfast, Soups and Salads, Light Bites, etc.) illustrated with DK’s usual large, colorful photos as well as easy-to-understand instructions. Also includes information on basic cooking skills such as how to cut safely or how to poach an egg along with some unique recipes not usually found in kids’ cookbooks.

jackTwist It Up: More Than 60 Delicious Recipes from an Inspiring Young Chef

by Jack Witherspoon and Sheri Giblin

Recipes developed by eleven-year-old Jack Witherspoon, who used cooking to raise money for cancer when he was battling leukemia. Clear directions and photographs make it simple to follow these tasty recipes.

intl ckbkThe International Cookbook for Kids

by Matthew Locricchio

Contains recipes from Italy, France, China, and Mexico illustrated with photos and pictures. Plan a taco party or make recipes from appetizers to desserts. Some of these recipes are more complicated, but will appeal to those who enjoy trying different foods.

mayoThe Mayo Clinic Kids’ Cookbook: 50 Favorite Recipes for Fun and Healthy Eating

by Mayo Clinic

This spiral-bound cookbook is easy to keep open while you cook. Because it’s from the Mayo Clinic, it emphasizes healthy recipes using vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. This cookbook offers clear directions and tips on how to prepare the raw ingredients.

veganEasy Vegetarian Foods From Around The World

by Sheila Griffin Llanas

For vegetarian cooks, Sheila Griffin Llanas includes a dozen recipes from Russian cabbage pie to Indian sabji. Check out other books in this Easy Cookbook for Kids series for various meals and snacks from around the world.

chinaRecipes from China

by Dana Meachen Rau

Rau includes a variety of recipes for meals throughout the day from different regions of China. Other books in this Cooking Around the World series contain recipes from countries such as India, Italy, and Mexico.


Here’s a simple recipe to try. If you don’t normally cook by yourself, have an adult help with the frying. Hot grease can spit and burn.

Quick Doughnuts


1 pop-open can of biscuits, unbaked
Cooking oil
Sugar and cinnamon


Frying pan
Metal slotted spoon
Paper plates
Paper towels

1)    Pop open the can of biscuits, separate them, and set them out on a cutting board.
2)    Using the cap from a soda bottle, cut a hole in the center of each biscuit. Save the holes for frying too.
3)    Heat about 2 of oil in a deep frying pan.
4)    While it’s heating, sprinkle sugar and a dash of cinnamon on a paper plate and mix it well with a spoon. Also spread two paper towels on another paper plate.
5)    Wait for the oil to get hot enough. If you sprinkle one drop of water into the oil and it sizzles and spits, it’s ready.
6)    Place several doughnuts into the pan, but don’t crowd them.
7)    As soon as the bottom turns brown, flip them over with a metal slotted spoon. Watch carefully, because they brown quickly. And turn gently to keep the oil from spattering.
8)    When both sides are brown, ladle them onto the plate with the paper towels & pat off the grease. Be careful because they’re hot.
9)    Quickly roll them in cinnamon and sugar while they’re still warm.

Makes 8 doughnuts and 8 doughnut holes

Do you have any kid-friendly recipes to share or favorite cookbooks? We’d love to have you add them to the comments.

About the Author

When other parents discovered how well Laurie J. Edwards’s kids could cook, they asked her to teach their sons and daughters. That led to Cooking for Kids classes and a weekly cooking session at the small private school her kids attended. Laurie’s had many other fun jobs in her life, including owning a cake decorating business, being a children’s librarian, and writing for kids. Some of her recent and forthcoming book releases include Her Cold Revenge (Switch Press), The Forget-Me-Not Keeper (illustrations, written by Susanna Leonard Hill), Imperial China, West African Kingdoms,  and Ancient Egypt (Cengage). Read more about Laurie and her books on her blog, her website, Facebook, and Twitter (@LaurieJEdwards).

Make Soup, Not War

The holidays are almost upon us, and no matter what you celebrate this season, you can bet there will be food involved. Beyond simple sustenance, what and how we eat play an important role in our relationships with others. This month’s National Geographic, which focuses on food, emphasizes “the power of a meal to forge relationships, bury anger, provoke laughter.” Likewise, when presented in literature, food is often a symbol of communion between characters, communities, and even cultures. As Thomas C. Foster writes in his book, How to Read Literature Like a Professor, “…breaking bread together is an act of sharing and peace, since if you’re breaking bread you’re not breaking heads.”

Several middle-grade books feature food and meals in ways that create bonds between characters and cultures. Some even include recipes for parents, teachers, and librarians, who may want to join with their own children or students by reading, cooking, and eating together during this holiday season—or any time of year.

53494In Sharon Creech’s Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, twelve-year-old Rosie has had a falling out with her best friend, Bailey, who is sight impaired. The story begins in the kitchen as Granny and Rosie slice carrots, onions, mushrooms, and celery and simultaneously swap stories about their lives. Granny tells about the best friend she left in Italy. And Rosie explains how Bailey is angry with her for learning Braille. By the end of Part One, Rosie realizes Bailey’s anger stemmed from the fact that reading Braille was his special talent. Rosie then brings soup over to Bailey’s house as a peace offering. In Part Two, the recipe for friendship and bonding includes homemade cavatelli, tomato sauce, and meatballs. As Granny, Rosie, and Bailey mix the ingredients, jealousies are revealed and life lessons are learned. Exact measurements aren’t listed in the book, but it’s clear that Granny Torrelli’s instructions for making soup and pasta are surefire recipes for reconciliation between Rosie and Bailey.

imagesIn Donna Gephart’s How to Survive Middle School, eleven-year-old David Greenberg is having a rough time. When the story opens, his mother has already moved to another state. After that, his best friend abandons him, a bully targets him, and his pet hamster dies. Still, the one constant in his life is his grandmother. She’s always there to comfort him, not only with words, but also with her kugel, blintzes, and famous apple cake. And, although there are awkward family dinners in David’s house and in his friend Sophie’s house, as well, the close connection between food and friendship is apparent when David eats two pieces of Sophie’s strawberry-rhubarb pie and slips the third piece in his pocket. At the end of the book, Gephart includes the recipe for Bubbe’s Jewish Apple Cake—sure to comfort the characters at your table.

imagesRose Kent’s Kimchi and Calamari demonstrates the deep connection between food and culture when Joseph Calderaro, who was adopted from Korea by an Italian family, begins researching his background for a school essay assignment. But how can a calamari-eating, cannoli-loving fourteen-year-old find his Korean identity when there’s no information about his personal heritage anywhere? One way is to lie about it, which he does. But another way is to embrace his ancestral culture over dinner with a neighboring Korean family. Joseph bonds with them over sticky rice, bulgogi, and kimchi. As he comes to accept the fusion of his Korean origin and his Italian upbringing, he proudly describes himself as, “One hunk of Joseph slapped between a slice of Italian bread and a mound of Korean sticky rice.” Finally, he has the topic for his essay: “Joseph the Ethnic Sandwich.” While the book doesn’t contain the directions for cooking kimchi or calamari, plenty of mouth-watering Korean and Italian recipes are available on the Internet for hungry readers.

images-1Dumpling Days is Grace Lin’s third novel about Pacy Lin. In this one, Pacy travels to Taiwan for a month for her grandmother’s birthday celebration. And while it’s sometimes difficult for Pacy to navigate her new surroundings, peach buns, soup dumplings, and other delicacies definitely have the power to bridge the gap between cultures. A recipe for Chinese Dumplings can be found at the end of the book.

Other middle-grade novels about food:

The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaeffer—recipes for tea, sandwiches, and scones are included in the book.

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman—recipes can be found on the author’s webpage under Extras.

Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath—recipes are included at the end of chapters.

If you have a favorite middle-grade novel with food and/or recipes, feel free to serve it up in the comments section. In the meantime, happy reading and eating!

Dorian Cirrone is the author of several books and short stories for children. Her middle-grade novel, The First Last Day, will be out from S&S/Aladdin in May 2016. She blogs about reading and writing at Hop on over  for writing tips and occasional giveaways.