This time of year, our gardens are growing and local farmers markets are filled with fresh produce. It is a great time to try new foods and cook together as a family.
Cooking activities with children support so many areas of development while having fun and creating yummy food.
The benefits of cooking with preschoolers include:
· Social-Emotional Development: confidence, following directions, turn-taking and develop problem-solving skills.
· Physical Development: Fine motor and eye-hand coordination skills are developing by chopping, mixing, squeezing, and spreading.
· Cognitive Development: Measuring, sequencing, sorting, cause and effect and creativity.
· Language Development: Vocabulary and communicating cooperatively.
Here is a fun recipe for your beach-themed family meal! Look at all of the yummy veggies hidden inside!
Cheesy Veggie Stuffed Shells
· 24 jumbo pasta shells, cooked according to package directions
· 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
· 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
· 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
· 1 large egg
· 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
· 1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
· 1/3 cup finely chopped mushrooms
· 1/3 cup shredded zucchini
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· 1 (26 oz.) jar pasta sauce
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix ricotta, ½ cup mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, spinach, onion, mushrooms, zucchini and garlic in large mixing bowl.
3. Fill each cooked pasta shell with 2 Tbsp. cheese/vegetable mixture and arrange in 13x9-inch baking dish. Top with pasta sauce and bake 30 minutes. Top with remaining ½ cup mozzarella and bake 5 minutes, or until cheese melts.