What Kids Learn
- Serving a top-notch meal takes planning, patience, and attention to detail.
- Finishing touches matter. Remember the small stuff, including an attractive table setting.
- You’ll use your math and reading comprehension skills when you cook!
Even if your kid did as little as humanly possible over the summer, chances are he matured emotionally, socially, and physically. Now, as summer winds down, you may want to reward this growth with a vote of confidence and give him the opportunity to take over the kitchen. Yep, that’s what we said. Let him plan, shop for, cook, and serve the food—and tidy up later. Your child will be justifiably proud of his accomplishment, and the confidence he gains may be exactly what he needs to meet the challenges of the new school year.
What to Expect from Your Iron Chef
This dinner is a multi-step project. If your child decides to tackle it with a friend or sibling, she may not need any other assistance. However, if she wants to fly solo, you may want to stand by to help. Either way, offer plenty of encouragement and a sympathetic ear if anything goes awry!
The menu is fun to shop for. No complicated instructions and no hard-to-find ingredients to buy. To make these crowd-pleasing meatball parmesan sliders, all your child needs is a tray of pre-packaged meatballs, a jar of pasta sauce, buns, and salad on the side. If your child is particularly ambitious, she can whip up baked zucchini chips, too, and serve a festive ice-cream cake for dessert.
Here’s the step-by-step plan:
1. Set aside an hour or so the day before the dinner to review the menu, shop for the ingredients, and hone your reading, critical thinking, and organizational skills. If you have time, find out why certain foods don’t go together—for instance, why you wouldn’t serve, say, mashed potatoes with buttered noodles and cauliflower on the side for dinner. (The reason: You wouldn’t want everything on the plate to be white.)
2. Take another 30 minutes to revisit your plan and figure out what to prepare in what order. You may want to make and freeze the ice-cream cake first, or you may have an alternate plan for dessert, and that’s fine. Keep track of the tasks. Remember: you’ll have to set up the dinner plates, napkins, utensils, and glassware, and settle on a strategy to have everything ready to eat at the same time.
3. On the day of the dinner, set aside about 30 minutes for preparation. Wash the zucchini (if serving zucchini chips), open the packaged meatballs, measure out the pasta sauce, and arrange the slider buns on a baking sheet. Tap your flair for timing to determine when to make each dish.
4. Figure about 30 minutes for cooking and another 10 for serving. When you set the table, don’t forget the finishing touches, including fancy napkin rings and flowers in a vase. When it’s time to eat, think of everything you’ve accomplished, and then enjoy the delectable meal.
What You’ll Need
- 1 (12-ounce) package Italian-style turkey meatballs
- 1 ½ cups pasta sauce (your favorite)
- 12 slider hamburger buns
- ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
What to Do
- Show your child how to line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Invite your pint-size chef to open the package of meatballs and place them in a serving bowl. You can then cut each meatball in half. Let her measure out and add the pasta sauce and add it to the bowl of meatballs. She can stir to coat all the meatballs with sauce.
- Cover the serving bowl with a large glass plate and place it in the microwave oven. Heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce and meatballs are warm but not steaming hot.
- Remove the bowl from the microwave.
- Let your four-star chef arrange the bottom halves of the slider buns on the baking sheet, and encourage him to place two meatball halves on the bottom half of each bun. Demonstrate how to sprinkle the meatballs with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Top each with the second half of the bun and press down.
- Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove and transfer sliders to a serving platter, and place the platter on the table. Serve with salad or zucchini chips, and enjoy.