ATK Kids

Kitchen Classroom: Week 5

Week 5 of resources to help kids learn in the kitchen—and make something delicious along the way.

Published Apr. 10, 2020.

Welcome to week 5 of Kitchen Classroom, our daily schedule of kid-tested and kid-approved recipes and hands-on experiments and activities. Have you been following along? Tell us what you've cooked or baked (or what you'd like to see in future weeks of Kitchen Classroom). Did you catch our Editor in Chief, Molly Birnbaum, talking about Kitchen Classroom on KTLA this week? Condé Nast Traveler also included some America's Test Kitchen Kids recipes as part of their "Travel-Inspired Day Full of Things to Do With Kids at Home." 

This week we're kicking things off with a shakeable science experiment that unpacks why water and oil don’t mix—and the chemistry behind getting them to play nicely in a vinaigrette. Then, kids can make dessert in a flash (and learn how microwaves work) with our recipes for Fudgy Chocolate Mug Cakes. The kids and the grown-ups in your family will have fun making and eating Parmesan Chicken Tenders for dinner. On Thursday, let the kids get creative with lunch through our “Make It Your Way” sandwich challenge. Wrap up the workweek with an uplifting experiment all about yeast and host a family pizza party over the weekend with Personal Pizzas—everyone can shape their own pizza and add their favorite toppings. 

Don’t forget to share what your family makes by tagging @testkitchenkids or using #atkkids on Instagram, or by sending photos to Visit the America’s Test Kitchen Kids website for more culinary content designed especially for kids, plus all of the Kitchen Classroom content in one easy-to-scan location. 

Here’s what’s cooking for the week of April 13th through 19th.  

Amazing EmulsionsBaby Spinach Salad with VeggiesFudgy Chocolate Mug Cakes
From left: Amazing Emulsions, Baby Spinach Salad with Veggies, Fudgy Chocolate Mug Cakes

Monday, April 13 — Amazing Emulsions & Baby Spinach Salad with Veggies

In this experiment, kids will learn how ingredients that contain special molecules called “emulsifiers” are the key to getting two substances that don’t ordinarily mix—like oil and vinegar—to play nicely together. They’ll shake up some small jars of vinaigrette salad dressing and observe how long it takes the mixed oil and vinegar to separate. (We recommend putting on your favorite tunes and having a dressing dance party!) 

Since they’ve got a bunch of salad dressing on hand (it keeps in the refrigerator for up to 1 week), kids can make their own Baby Spinach Salad with Veggies. The recipe calls for baby spinach, carrots, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes, but feel free to swap in whatever lettuce and veggies you have on hand.

What You’ll Need: Amazing Emulsions
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

What You’ll Need: Baby Spinach Salad with Veggies
3 cups baby spinach
12 cherry tomatoes
1 small carrot
1 small cucumber
2 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing (from Amazing Emulsions experiment)

Learning Moment
Science (chemistry):
In this experiment, kids observe that oil and water (in the form of vinegar) don’t easily mix without the help of special molecules called emulsifiers. The kid-friendly explanation at the end of the experiment breaks down the chemistry of why oil and water don’t mix in the first place and how emulsifiers—molecules that bridge the gap between two substances that don’t normally mix—help prevent oil and water from separating once they’re mixed. Throughout the experiment, kids can also practice making predictions, making observations, keeping track of time (they must observe their mixtures every 15 minutes), and analyzing their data. 


Tuesday, April 14 — Fudgy Chocolate Mug Cakes

Whether you're serving them as an after-dinner dessert or an special afternoon snack, these gooey, fudgy, chocolaty mug cakes are a hit with kids and adults alike. More great news: Everyone gets their own individual cake! They bake in the microwave, not the oven, and come together in just 30 minutes. Pro tip: If you’ve got ice cream or whipped cream in the house, now is the time to deploy it! 

What You’ll Need
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon salt

Learning Moments
Science (physics):
Kids have probably popped popcorn or heated up food in the microwave—and now they’ve baked a cake in the microwave! But have they thought about how microwave ovens work? Microwave ovens generate invisible electromagnetic waves (called “microwaves”). Those microwaves interact with water—and there’s a lot of water in food—and make water molecules heat up. Wherever the microwaves strike the food, the water molecules heat up. That heat then transfers to other parts of the food, heating up the entire thing over time. Have kids observe the texture of their mug cakes before they start baking them, after they take the cakes out of the microwave to stir, and once they finish cooking. What parts appear liquid? What parts appear solid? Kids will likely notice that the mug cakes bake from the outside, in—the microwaves hit the exterior of the cake, which heats up first. 

This short video provides a simple explanation of how microwaves work. Older or more advanced young chefs might enjoy this slightly more advanced video


Parmesan Chicken TendersMake It Your Way Challenge: Sandwiches
From left: Parmesan Chicken Tenders, Make It Your Way Challenge: Sandwiches

Wednesday, April 15 — Parmesan Chicken Tenders

Claire (age 5), one of our recipe testers, said: “I call this the ‘crunchy munchies’ chicken, and I like it better than chicken nuggets.” She’s not wrong. This recipe was designed for 5 to 8 year olds, but just about any young chef will have fun making (and eating) these crunchy, cheesy chicken tenders. Serve them for lunch or dinner—maybe with a side salad using leftover vinaigrette from Monday’s experiment? 

What You’ll Need
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (3 ounces)
1 cup panko bread crumbs
¾ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound chicken tenderloins
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Learning Moment
Language Arts (vocabulary):
While you’re cooking the chicken tenders, have kids do a cheese taste test to help them build some of their food vocabulary: Let them try a few nibbles of Parmesan cheese and whatever other cheeses you’ve got in the refrigerator. Have kids describe the flavor of each cheese. Explain that flavor is a combination of what food tastes like and smells like. Ask kids:

  • Does the cheese have a strong flavor or a mild flavor?
  • Does it taste sweet, like sugar?
  • Does it taste salty?
  • Does it taste sour or tangy, like lemons or plain yogurt?
  • Does the flavor remind you of anything else? Does it taste like milk? Butter? Nuts (nutty)?

Then, have kids tell you about the texture of each cheese. Explain that texture is what food feels like in your hand or in your mouth. Ask kids:

  • Is the cheese hard or soft?
  • Crumbly or smooth?
  • Dry or moist?


Thursday, April 16 — Make It Your Way Challenge: Sandwiches

Let kids take the lead on today’s lunch with this creative challenge—they get to design their dream sandwiches, using whatever ingredients you have in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. They get to choose their bread, their filling, and their extras, such as condiments or other toppings. Their creations might lean towards traditional cold cuts and cheese on sandwich bread . . . or they might head outside of the box, using waffles in lieu of bread and taking advantage of the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. If you’re feeling particularly brave, let them make a sandwich for you, too.  

What You’ll Need
Use breads, fillings, condiments, and toppings that you have in your pantry or refrigerator. See the activity for ideas.

Learning Moment
Mathematics (Shapes):
As kids are creating their sandwiches, ask them to identify the shape of each sandwich component. Slices of bread might be squares, rectangles, trapezoids (or perhaps a circle if kids use a tortilla or waffle). Fillings could be ovals, rectangles, spheres, cylinders, parallelograms, and more. 

Mathematics (Fractions):
Once kids have made their sandwiches, challenge them to cut it into equally-sized pieces using fractions. They can choose to cut their sandwich into halves, thirds, fourths, fifths, and so on.

Take It Further
Language Arts (Writing; Speaking and Listening):
As they are eating their sandwiches, ask kids to tell or write a short story (illustrations optional) about how they think the first sandwich was invented—it can be as historical and researched or as imaginative and fanciful as they like, though their story should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. After they’ve shared their tale, you might show them this illustrated video from the British Broadcasting Corporation, which tells the tale of how sandwiches (most likely) got their start. 


The Inflatable Science of YeastPersonal Pizzas
From left: The Inflatable Science of Yeast, Personal Pizzas

Friday, April 17 — The Inflatable Science of Yeast

Before kids tackle Personal Pizzas this weekend, they get to learn what gives pizza dough—and many other breads—their life. (Spoiler: It’s yeast!) In this experiment, kids investigate how yeast works at different temperatures by adding yeast, sugar (food for the yeast), and hot, cold, or room temperature water to zipper-lock bags. Then, they’ll observe which bags inflate with carbon dioxide gas and which refuse to rise to the occasion. 

What You’ll Need
1½ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1½ teaspoons sugar

Learning Moment
Science (biology):
In this experiment, kids learn that yeast are alive (!). They are tiny organisms that get their energy from starch and sugar. As yeast eat starch (found in flour) or sugar, they “burp” carbon dioxide gas. That gas causes yeast doughs to rise. Those holes inside a loaf of bread or a roll? That’s the work of yeast. Kids also learn that yeast are most active at room temperature (the bag filled with room temperature water should inflate the most in their experiment). There’s a kid-friendly explanation of the experimental results at the bottom of the page, too!


Saturday & Sunday, April 18 - 19 — Personal Pizzas

Who doesn’t love a pizza party? Homemade pizza is a satisfying (and delicious) project and Personal Pizzas are perfect when everyone in the family is partial to different toppings. If you’ve got the time, make homemade pizza dough and no-cook pizza sauce (but store-bought will work just fine). Make sure you give your pizza dough time to come to room temperature before starting the recipe—1 to 2 hours if your dough is refrigerated.

What You’ll Need 
Vegetable oil spray
1 pound pizza dough (use our recipe or store-bought)
All-­purpose flour (for sprinkling on counter)
½ cup pizza sauce (use our recipe or store-bought)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (½ ounce)
Pizza toppings, such as pepperoni slices, cooked sausage, sliced mushrooms, sliced bell peppers, quartered cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and pesto 

Learning Moments
Math (Measurement; Multiplication):
In step 4 of this recipe, kids roll out their pizza dough into a 7-inch circle. They’ll need to identify the circle’s diameter (a line straight through the center of the circle) and use a ruler to measure it. Once their pizzas are baking, challenge kids to convert their measurement from inches into centimeters. (1 inch = 2.54 centimeters, so they’ll need to use multiplication to get the answer, which is 17.78 centimeters.) Have them check their answer by measuring the diameter of their pizza once it comes out of the oven, this time in centimeters. (Their pizza might be slightly off due to the nature of dough and baking—their measurement should be close to 17¾ centimeters.)

Math (Addition or Multiplication):
While their pizzas bake, have young chefs tackle the following word problems:
We’re making 4 pizzas. If you cut each pizza into 6 slices, how many slices of pizza will there be all together? What if you divide each pizza into 8 slices?
We cut each of our 4 pizzas into 4 slices. Then, 5 people came to our pizza party. Each person ate 3 slices of pizza. How many slices of pizza will we have left over?

Science (biology):
Have kids notice the size and texture of their pizza dough as it rises (if you made your own pizza dough) or as it comes to room temperature (if it was refrigerated). (Likely, the dough will become larger and puffier over time.) Ask them what they think is causing this change? (Hint: Think back to Friday’s experiment . . . it’s the yeast.)


The Young Chefs' Club

On sale until April 30, 2020, the May edition of the Young Chefs' Club subscription box is all about VEGETABLES! From recipes that highlight the savory (and sweet) sides of veggies to activities where kids can grow (and regrow) their own veggies to a fun "Veggie Match" card game for the whole family, this box will help kids look at—and eat!—their vegetables in new ways.   
Learn More

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