For many families, summertime means grilling up all the goodness that the season brings. This year why not encourage your kiddos to join in on the fun? Cooking with your kids is a great way to create memorable experiences while bonding over the family meal. Learning to grill is also a wonderful life skill your children will carry on with them in the coming years.
Sugar Plum Founder Chef Neil Edley has been cooking since he was a kid himself and loves to share his passion for cooking with kids and adults alike. Below Neil shares his favorite kid-friendly grilling tips as well as a few fun recipes to whip up with your kids. If you have a BBQ fan in your life, you can consider these grilling gifts that will make any BBQ lover happy!
Make Menu Planning a Family Affair
Kids love to be part of the things we do, so menu planning as a family makes the meal more meaningful to your kids. Children are also more apt to try new foods when it’s something they’ve helped plan and prepare. Let them browse online for fun recipes or get out the old cookbooks!
Bring Up Your Own Little Sous Chefs
One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to be my mom’s little sous chef. She would tell me what I needed to do, teach me what I didn’t know, and really let me be part of the whole cooking process. Get your own kids involved by having them wash the veggies, help make the marinade for the meat, thread the kabobs, learn to season the meat and veggies, and begin doing some chopping and dicing with a kid-safe knife. There’s no definitive time when a child is deemed ready to use a real knife—use your own judgment and gauge the readiness and maturity of your child. They can practice by using a butter knife and a banana or a stick of butter.
Prep the Grill Together
As you know, grills get very hot! Teaching your child the potential dangers of being around a hot grill is crucial. They need to know how far to stand back from it when it’s on, what it can potentially do if you’re not careful and how to handle injuries associated with the grill. While it’s still important to have an adult with a child around a grill at all times, they can be part of the initial set-up of the grill, where to put wood chips, charcoal, propane. It’s also important to explain how it all works to help you cook delicious foods. Once familiar with being around the grill while heated, they can help flip the burgers, rotate the veggies,
It’s the Perfect “Season” to Grill Together
Creating marinades and seasoning the meat and veggies before they go on the grill is one of the most perfect jobs for kids. It’s a fairly easy, fun task for younger kids, it helps them learn measurements, and how different flavors and spices can work together to make some of their favorite foods yummy! Developing a taste for different spices is super beneficial for their ever-changing and growing palate.
Set a Fun and Festive Tablescape Together
Setting the table in a festive way for your family meal is half the fun. Let the kids lay out a tablecloth, the plates, and silverware, fill the glasses with water or lemonade and make homemade place cards with each family member’s name on them. Each step in the family meal process helps children develop a love and commitment to the family mealtime. The more important you make it, the more important it will become to them as the traditions become permanent.
Clean-up, Clean-up, Everybody Clean-up!
While not as fun as cooking, cleaning up is an important part of the cooking process. Teach your kids young that cleaning up is a family event and they’ll grow up knowing it’s just something you do together. They can help with washing, drying, and putting away dishes. Be creative and don’t be afraid to make this part of the process fun!
4 Yummy Recipes to Grill with Your Kids
1. Hobo Potato Packs
Create small foil boats for holding the potatoes to grill.
Dice up several potatoes and divide amongst the packets (one for each person).
Add butter, salt & pepper, rosemary, or other favorite spices.
Include any other toss-ins like diced sweet peppers, onions, bacon pieces, or zucchini.
Cover foil boats with additional foil.
Cook over fire for about 20 minutes. Cooking potatoes in foil packets over the fire makes them tender and flavorful.
2. Chicken, Pineapple, Onion & Pepper Kabobs
Chop up pieces of chicken, pineapple, onion, and sweet peppers.
Thread them onto a kabob stick. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees. Around the halfway mark, start basting the kabobs in the Homemade Teriyaki Sauce (below).
3. Homemade Teriyaki Marinade
1 cup water
¼ cup soy sauce
5 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon garlic
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
Combine water, soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, ginger, and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for about 1 minute. Mix cornstarch and 1/4 cold water together in a cup; stir until dissolved. Add to the saucepan. Cook and stir sauce until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Mexican Street Corn
6 to 8 medium ears sweet corn, husks removed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
Lime wedges, to serve
Heat grill to 400 degrees.
Place the husked corn directly onto grill grates. Grill the corn for about 3 minutes, undisturbed or until kernels begin to turn golden brown and look charred. Turn over and repeat. When all sides are browned, remove from the grill onto a plate.
Whisk together the sauce:
In a bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic, chipotle pepper, lime zest, and lime juice. Taste and season the mixture with salt if needed. Set aside.
Using a brush or a spoon, coat each ear of corn with the crema mixture. Sprinkle with crumbled cojita cheese. Sprinkle with additional chipotle pepper, if desired. Serve immediately with extra lime wedges.
Neil Edley didn’t choose this sweet life, it chose him. Since Neil was 15 years old, he’s been operating Sugar Plum confections with his mother Frann in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Neil is still dreaming up innovative culinary ideas as their business grows by leaps and bounds. Willing to experiment with creative combinations, whether it’s bourbon caramel pretzel chocolate, Caribbean jerk peanuts, or the perfect BBQ rub, Neil team specializes in custom-crafted products. Neil perfected his craft at renowned culinary college Johnson & Wales and continues to expand upon his knowledge and creativity by making the best chocolates and nuts possible. His hope is that his confections provide the world with a little taste of happiness. His creations can be found at sugar-plum.com.