Skip to main content
ATK Kids

Kitchen Classroom: Week 13

Week 13 of resources to help kids learn in the kitchen—and make something delicious along the way.
By Published June 5, 2020

Welcome to week 13 of Kitchen Classroom, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a daily schedule of kid-tested and kid-approved recipes, hands-on experiments, and activities paired with suggestions for how to bring learning to life in the kitchen. 

Our team continues to stand in solidarity with those protesting across our country and we remain steadfast in our commitment to building a new, inclusive generation of empowered cooks, engaged eaters, and curious experimenters, and featuring a diverse group of children in our books and on our website. We pledge to practice antiracism, to do the hard work of listening and learning. In Week 12 of Kitchen Classroom, we shared a list of resources to help families begin the conversation around race, racism, and resistance. Are there resources we missed? Please let us know.

We want to hear how Kitchen Classroom is working for you and your family and what you’d like to see in future weeks. Please click this link to complete a short survey about Kitchen Classroom. After completing the survey, you’ll receive a coupon for 10 percent off at the America’s Test Kitchen Shop (restrictions apply).  
Complete the Survey

This week, kids can help make a hands-on dinner for the whole family with Sizzling Beef Lettuce Wraps. (Be sure they save the leftover scallion whites for the Regrow Your Vegetables activity!) Then, snack time or movie night isn’t complete without Real Buttered Popcorn (or one of the fun flavor variations). Finally, celebrate spring with a batch of sweet Strawberry Shortcakes. 

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 June 8th through June 14th.  

Sizzling Beef Lettuce WrapsRegrow Your Vegetables
From left: Sizzling Beef Lettuce Wraps, Regrow Your Vegetables

Sizzling Beef Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce is for more than just salads. Use flat, wide Bibb lettuce to contain your Sizzling Beef Lettuce Wraps. Flavorful ground beef, quick pickled cucumbers, scallions, cilantro, and sriracha mayonnaise are the flavorful fillings in this hands-on dinner. Start by making the Quick Pickled Cucumbers—they can sit in the brine while kids tackle the rest of the recipe. And don’t forget to save the scallion whites for the Regrow Your Vegetables activity (see below). 

What You’ll Need
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 to 2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 head Bibb lettuce (8 ounces), leaves separated
1 recipe Quick Pickled Cucumbers
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 scallions, dark green parts only, or garlic greens, sliced thin

Learning Moment
Science (Chemistry, States of Matter):
In step 5 of the recipe, kids add a soy sauce mixture to the beef in the hot skillet, and cook until most of the liquid evaporates. As they’re preparing that mixture in step 2, ask kids to identify the three states of matter (Answer: solid, liquid, and gas). What states of matter are the ingredients they’re whisking together in this step? (Answer: soy sauce (liquid), brown sugar (solid), garlic (solid), toasted sesame oil (liquid).)

Before they add the soy sauce mixture to the hot skillet in step 5, ask kids to make a prediction: What do you think will happen when we add this mixture to the skillet? Why do you think so? 

Then, have kids observe what happens over the course of adding the liquid to beef in the hot skillet and cooking for 3 to 4 minutes. Ask kids: What do you notice about the mixture in the skillet? How does it change as it cooks? What states of matter do you see? 

As the soy sauce mixture cooks with the beef, some of the water in the mixture transforms from a liquid into a gas (steam). Kids might have noticed that there is less liquid in the skillet after a few minutes. This is due to evaporation—when matter changes from a liquid to a gas. 

As you’re eating your lettuce wraps, ask kids if they can think of any other examples of evaporation. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Boiling water on the stove
  • A puddle shrinking and drying up after it rains
  • Wet clothes drying in the sun (or in a dryer)

Take It Further 
Science (Plants):
Bibb lettuce can be grown in soil, like most plants, but it is also commonly grown hydroponically—that means it’s grown in water instead of soil. How is that possible? Check out the “Food for Thought” section at the bottom of the Sizzling Beef Lettuce Wraps page and this video to learn more about whether we really need soil to grow our food.


Regrow Your Vegetables

In this activity, kids use the scallion roots and whites to grow new scallions, using only water. In about a week, they will be able to harvest entirely new scallion greens. (They can also use this method to grow tasty, flavorful garlic greens.) For deeper learning, have kids try regrowing their scallions under different conditions: some in sunlight, some in the dark, some without water, and some in soil. Then, they can explore how those different conditions affect the scallions’ growth.

What You’ll Need
Scallions (try to use scallions with roots that are ½ inch or longer)

Learning Moment
Science (Plants; Scientific Method):
To help deepen their understanding of what plants need to grow, have kids regrow scallions under different conditions and observe which are the most effective. Try one of these mini-experiments:

  • Light or Dark: Divide scallion roots (with white bulb and 2 to 3 inches light green parts) between two glasses or jars. Place one glass or jar of scallions in a sunny location and a second glass or jar in a very dark location, such as a closet. Change both glasses’ water daily. Which set of scallions regrows the fastest? What differences do kids observe? 
  • Water or Soil: Divide scallion roots (with white bulb and 2 to 3 inches light green parts)  into three groups: Place one group in a glass or jar with 1 inch of water (as in activity directions). Add about 1 inch of soil to second glass or jar and plant second group of scallions about ½ inch deep in soil. Place third group of scallions in glass or jar with no water or soil. Leave all three glasses in a sunny location. Add water to keep soil moist as needed. Which set of scallions regrows the fastest? What differences do kids observe? 


Real Buttered PopcornStrawberry Shortcakes
From left: Real Buttered Popcorn, Strawberry Shortcakes

Real Buttered Popcorn

Who knew making popcorn in the microwave was so simple? Leave pre-packaged microwave popcorn behind with the help of a plain brown paper lunch bag. This simple recipe only takes 15 minutes and is easy enough for even the youngest chef to tackle. For a different take on movie night snacks try out one of the three flavor variations (Sriracha-Lime, Cinnamon-Malt, or Parmesan-Herb), or let kids use their imaginations to come up with their own flavor combinations.

What You’ll Need
¼ cup popcorn kernels
½ teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt

Learning Moment
Science (Botany):
Popcorn is fun to make and to eat, but where does popcorn come from? And what makes popcorn pop? Ask kids those questions to find out what they already know about popcorn. Then, explain that popcorn is made from a variety of corn called “popcorn” which is different from the corn we eat on the cob—that’s sweet corn. After the ears of popcorn are picked from the corn plant, they’re dehydrated (dried out).  

Popcorn kernels are the seed of the corn plant. The kernel had three main parts; the hull, which is like a hard shell; the germ, which is what a new plant would grow from; and the endosperm, which is made up of starch, water, and a small amount of protein. The water in the endosperm is the key to the “pop” in this corn.

As popcorn kernels heat up, the starch in the endosperm gets softer and the water turns into steam. When the kernel gets to about 350 degrees, the pressure created by the steam breaks the hull and the kernel explodes and turns inside out. The starch and protein from the endosperm become light and fluffy when they hit the cooler air, forming tasty pieces of popcorn!

To learn more about how the water in popcorn helps it pop, have kids check out our experiment The Secret to Fluffy Popcorn and this informative video from National Geographic Kids.


Strawberry Shortcakes

Fluffy biscuits, tart strawberries, and sweet whipped cream—this recipe has all the pieces of a perfect summertime dessert. Kids will learn about how sugar draws out moisture from food through a process called maceration, and how to make perfectly fluffy whipped cream. It’s okay to substitute whipping cream for the heavy cream, but do not substitute light cream or half-and-half.

What You’ll Need
For the shortcakes:
3½ cups strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon sugar, measured separately, plus extra for sprinkling
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil spray

For the whipped cream:
½ cup cold heavy cream
1½ teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Learning Moment
Science (Chemistry):
This recipe uses a key ingredient (sugar!) to transform raw strawberries into a juicy filling for shortcakes. If you have a few extra strawberries on hand, use them for a simple science experiment: Have kids hull and slice the extra strawberries and put them in a second bowl without any sugar in step 2. Ask them to observe the two bowls at the start and again after 30 minutes. Ask kids: 

  • Have either of the bowls of strawberries changed? What do you notice?
  • What do the raw strawberries look like? 
  • What do the strawberries with sugar look like?
  • Have kids taste a strawberry from each bowl. Do they notice a difference in the texture of the two different kinds of strawberries?

Explain to kids that the strawberries with sugar added look juicier and feel softer because of a process called maceration. Sugar is hygroscopic, which means it’s REALLY good at absorbing water from its surroundings. When sugar is sprinkled onto raw fruit, it uses osmotic pressure to pull the water from inside the fruit’s cells toward the sugar on the outside of the fruit. Fruit cells filled with water are firm, but as their water is drawn out by the sugar, they become soft. The water and juices from the fruit mix with the sugar to make a delicious, sweet syrup that surrounds the softened berries. This makes macerated strawberries a perfect filling for the fluffy biscuits in strawberry shortcakes!.

Take It Further 
Science (Chemistry, Acids and Bases):
Strawberry shortcakes aren’t really cakes at all—they’re typically made with biscuits! The biscuits in this recipe rely on buttermilk, baking soda, and baking powder for their light and fluffy texture. We shared an experiment to help kids learn about the difference between baking soda and baking powder in Week 8 of Kitchen Classroom while making Whole-Wheat Raspberry Muffins. And in Week 9, we learned more about how baking soda reacts with buttermilk in our Buttermilk Drop Biscuits recipe through another simple science experiment. 


On sale until June 30, 2020, the July box of the Young Chefs’ Club is all about bringing science to life in the kitchen. Kids can use the power of science to make the smoothest, most flavorful nacho cheese sauce, a cake with layers that switch places in the oven, turn ordinary eggs into fluffy (edible) clouds, and transform just about any flavorful liquid into tiny, shiny spheres.  
Learn More

Catching up on Kitchen Classroom? Find previous weeks using the links below:

This is a members' feature.