Holidays and weekends are a great time to let your kids loose in the kitchen. Whether it be tearing up lettuce leaves for a salad and tossing them with a dressing or some simple baking, food preparation can become a fun art form — if you encourage the kids to use their imaginations.

However, it’s best to provide some guidelines for success. Such as reading the recipe through first then gathering all the ingredients and equipment required on the bench.

With baking it is important to use standard measurements — this means level metric cup and spoon measures. Pour liquids into the measuring cup to the top of the line. Spoon dry ingredients into the measuring cups. Don’t shake or pat them down unless the recipe specifies this, eg brown sugar is often ‘packed’ into the cup.

When using measuring spoons, heap the dry ingredients into the spoon, then, using the back of a knife or a spatula, smooth it over the spoon to make it level.

Importantly, encourage your kids to clean up as they go rather than have a big pile of dirty dishes and cooking implements at the end. It’s also safer to have a tidy bench on which to work.


A favourite with kids. Butter chicken with veg. The butter chicken paste can be replaced with 1 tablespoon each of mild curry powder and brown sugar combined.

500g skinned and boned chicken breasts
1 onion 
300g pumpkin 
2 medium carrots, grated
2 tablespoons canola oil
1-2 tablespoons butter chicken paste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
400ml can coconut milk
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Cut the chicken into 2cm cubes. Dice the onion. Peel and seed the pumpkin and cut into 2cm cubes. Grate the carrots.
Heat the oil in a medium-large saucepan. Add the onion and sauté on medium heat until softened and golden. Stir in the butter chicken paste and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken and stir until lightly coloured. Stir in the tomato paste.

Add the pumpkin and carrots and coconut milk. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes until the chicken and vegetables are cooked. Add the peas and heat through. Great served with hot naan bread or boiled rice. Serves 4.


Mum might like these for Mother’s Day. They can be frozen without the frosting.

125g butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
finely grated rind 1 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
2 large room-temperature eggs
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup yoghurt
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 12-hole cupcake or muffin pan with paper cases.

Beat the butter and caster sugar in a large bowl — preferably with an electric beater — until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the flour and stir to combine. Pour in the yoghurt and milk. Mix well.

Using a dessertspoon, divide the mixture evenly between the paper cases. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes a little then remove to a wire rack. Cool completely. 

Spread or pipe the vanilla frosting (recipe follows) on each and decorate with coloured sugar and/or sprinkles or finely grated lemon rind. Makes 12.


If vegetable shortening is unavailable increase the butter to 150g. The icing won’t be as white or set as firmly but is still great.  

75g each: butter, vegetable shortening eg Kremelta 
3 cups icing sugar, sifted 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla essence 
2-3 tablespoons water.

To make the icing, combine the butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Add 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar and mix until smooth. Pour in the vanilla essence and 1 tablespoon of the water. Beat well then mix in the remaining icing sugar until smooth. Add the remaining water if needed and mix until a piping consistency is reached. Pipe or swirl the frosting onto the cupcakes.


The lemon juice gives a tempting tang to the slice.

Base: 250g plain sweet biscuits eg super wine 
150g butter, melted 
Filling: 395g can sweetened condensed milk 
1/2 cup strained lemon juice 
3/4 cup boiling water 
2 teaspoons powdered gelatine 
Jelly Top: 85g pack strawberry jelly crystals
1 cup boiling water 

Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm x 30cm slice pan ensuring the paper comes 3cm above the sides of the pan.

Pulse the biscuits in a food processor, until fine. Add the butter and process again. Press the mixture evenly into the base of the prepared pan. Chill for 30 minutes or until firm.

Combine the condensed milk and lemon juice in a bowl. Place the boiling water and gelatine in a small jug and stir until completely dissolved. Cool for 5 minutes then stir into the condensed milk mixture. Poor over the biscuit base. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until set. 

Meanwhile, prepare the jelly by dissolving the crystals in the boiling water in a jug. Cool.

Take the jug to the fridge and carefully pour the jelly over the firm condensed milk mixture. Chill for 1 hour or until the jelly is set. 

Carefully remove the slice from the pan. Cut into squares or oblongs. Store in a covered container in the fridge. Makes about 20 pieces.


500g roasting potatoes
2 tablespoons rice bran, canola or olive oil
1 teaspoon each: cumin seeds, smoked paprika, flaky salt
Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Scrub the potatoes under cold water then pat dry with a paper towel. Cut each potato into 6 wedges.

Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the oil. Stir well to coat. Sprinkle with the cumin, paprika and salt. Stir again to coat. Place in a large roasting pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cooked and crisp. Using tongs, turn the wedges halfway through cooking. Serves 4. 


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