ATK Kids

Kitchen Classroom: Week 29

Week 29 of resources to help kids learn in the kitchen—and make something delicious along the way.

Published Sept. 25, 2020.

Welcome to week 29 of Kitchen Classroom, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly list 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.

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This week, kids will explore different types of apples while baking an Apple Crisp, learn where pepitas come from while they whip up some Sweet and Salty Pepitas for a snack, discover why carrots are orange as they bake a Carrot Snack Cake, and do some delicious math problems to make just the right number of Ham and Cheese Sliders for an easy family lunch.

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 September 28th through October 4th.

From left: Apple Crisp, Sweet and Salty Pepitas

Apple Crisp

The onset of cool fall weather is the perfect opportunity for kids to bake one of our favorite fruity desserts: an apple crisp. As they prepare their ingredients, kids will explore the flavors and textures of different types of apples in a side-by-side taste test. Make sure to use old-fashioned rolled oats in this recipe, not quick, instant, or extra-­thick rolled oats. If you can’t find Golden Delicious apples, you can use any sweet, crisp apple for this recipe, such as Honeycrisp or Braeburn. 

What You’ll Need
⅔ cup (3⅓ ounces) all-­purpose flour
½ cup (1½ ounces) old-­fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup packed (1¾ ounces) light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup (1¾ ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-­inch pieces 

Learning Moment
Science (Sensory Science, Plants):
Ask kids: How many different types of apples can you name? (Think: McIntosh, Red Delicious, or Granny Smith.) Which of those is your favorite apple, and why?

Before starting to cook, have kids set aside one or two slices of Golden Delicious apple. If you have another type of apple on hand (or more than one!), help kids cut it (or them) into slices as well. Have kids eat a slice of each type of apple, asking them to pay close attention to the taste, texture, and smell of each apple slice. Ask kids:

  • How does each apple slice look?
  • How does each smell?
  • How does each taste? Is it sweet, tart, or somewhere in between?
  • What do you notice about the texture of each apple? Is it soft, firm, or somewhere in between? 
  • How are the different types of apple the same or different from each other?

Explain to kids that some apples are great for snacking, some are better for baking, and others are better for making apple juice or apple cider. They can be sweet or tart, soft or firm, and large or small. There are thousands of different types of apples, but most apples found in the grocery store are “dual-purpose” apples, meaning they taste great either raw or cooked. We used Golden Delicious apples in this apple crisp recipe because they have a sweet flavor and they keep their shape during baking (they don’t turn into mushy applesauce!).

For an explanation of how farmers and plant scientists create different types of apples with a variety of flavors and textures, share this video with kids.

Sweet and Salty Pepitas

This simple snack uses just four ingredients and comes together in minutes. Kids can get creative and try our Ginger-Soy or Maple-Chili flavor variations (see Food For Thought at the end of the recipe) or stick with the sweet-and-salty original. Kids will learn the difference between pepitas and pumpkin seeds and go on a scavenger hunt for other kinds of edible seeds they might have on hand. Be sure to use raw pepitas in this recipe. 

What You’ll Need
1 cup raw pepitas
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Learning Moment
Life Science (Plants):
We call for raw pepitas in this recipe. “Pepita” means “little seed of squash” in Spanish. Ask kids if they have any ideas about where pepitas come from. Then, explain that pepitas are seeds from pumpkins (a type of squash), but they are different from the pumpkin seeds kids may have seen or eaten before. 

Many varieties of pumpkins, like the sugar pumpkins commonly used to carve into jack-o-lanterns or bake into pumpkin pies, have seeds surrounded by white shells, called hulls. While you can eat them, those particular pumpkin seeds are fibrous and a little bit tough. Pepitas come from different varieties of pumpkins called Styrian or Oil Seed pumpkins. The seeds from these pumpkins grow without hulls, so they are green-skinned, tender, and easier to eat.

Tell kids that we eat the seeds of many different kinds of plants. Some common ingredients, found in many kitchen pantries, are actually seeds! Challenge kids to go on a scavenger hunt in their kitchen or at the grocery store. How many types of edible seeds can they find? Some examples are: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, rice, pomegranate seeds, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and pine nuts. Have kids look at the seeds they find up close: How are they similar or different? Which seed is the largest? Which is the smallest? Were kids surprised that any of these foods are seeds?

From left: Carrot Snack Cake, Ham and Cheese Sliders

Carrot Snack Cake

Shredded carrots add natural sweetness to this simple snack cake. Kids can shred their carrots by hand using a box grater, or use the shredding disc in a food processor to shorten the process.

What You’ll Need
Vegetable oil spray
1¼ cups (6¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) sugar
⅔ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup packed (1¾ ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces carrots (about 3 medium), peeled and grated

Learning Moment
Science (Chemistry):
Ask kids: What color do you think of when you think of carrots? Tell kids that carrots can come in different colors, such as purple or yellow, but most often we think of them as being bright orange. That bright orange color comes from a family of plant pigments (very tiny molecules that give plants their color) called carotenoids. Carotenoids are what give red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables their colors. Other pigments are responsible for other fruit and vegetable colors. For example, chlorophylls contribute to the green color in green fruits and vegetables, and anthocyanins contribute to red, purple, and blue colors. Certain types of carotenoids, like the beta-carotene found in carrots, serve a nutritional purpose as well. Beta-carotene converts into vitamin A when you eat it. Vitamin A is important for keeping your eyes healthy.

Ask your young chef to brainstorm other orange fruits and vegetables. Then, challenge kids to brainstorm fruits and veggies for every color of the rainbow: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. How many fruits or vegetables can kids think of for each color? If you like, turn the activity into a competition: Set a timer for 2 minutes for each color and see who can write down the most fruits and vegetables in that color in that timeframe. If anyone gets stumped, here are a few examples: 

  • Red: red apples, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, cranberries, tomatoes, red bell peppers, radishes 
  • Orange: oranges, mangos, apricots, peaches, persimmons, cantaloupe, carrots, golden beets, orange bell peppers, sweet potatoes, pumpkin
  • Yellow: bananas, pineapples, lemons, summer squash, yellow bell peppers, yellow potatoes, corn
  • Green: green apples, green grapes, honeydew melon, kiwis, limes, avocados, peas, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, cucumbers, lettuce, green bell peppers
  • Blue: blueberries, blue potatoes
  • Violet: blackberries, plums, purple grapes, purple cabbage, purple carrots, eggplant

Ham and Cheese Sliders

These mini sandwiches combine sweet-salty ham, melty cheddar cheese, punchy mustard, and tangy pickles. Serve them for a quick weekday lunch or scale up the recipe to make sliders for the whole family—they make a great movie night or game day snack! 

What You’ll Need
4 teaspoons yellow mustard
4 potato dinner rolls, sliced open
4 slices deli ham
8 dill pickle chips
2 slices deli cheddar cheese, cut in half

Learning Moment
Math (Addition, Multiplication, Division):
As written, this recipe makes four sliders, enough to serve two people. Challenge kids to put their math skills to the test with these word problems about making sliders for a crowd—or a solo lunch. Tell them that for all the problems below, they should assume that each person eats two sliders. 

  • If you want to make enough sliders for 12 people, how many sliders do you need to make? (Answer: 2 sliders x 12 people = 24 sliders)
  • If you want to make enough sliders for just 1 person, how many sliders will you need to make? How many teaspoons of yellow mustard will you need? (Answer: 2 sliders; 4 teaspoons yellow mustard ÷ 2 = 2 teaspoons)
  • If you want to make enough sliders for 8 people, how many dill pickle chips will you need? (Answer: 16 sliders x 2 pickle chips per slider = 32 pickle chips)
  • If there are four people in your family, and they all want sliders for lunch, how many sliders will you need to make? How many slices of ham will you need? How many slices of cheese? (Answer: 4 people x 2 sliders = 8 sliders; 4 x 2 = 8 slices of ham; 2 x 2 = 4 slices of deli cheddar cheese)

On sale from September 1st through September 30, 2020, the October edition of the Young Chefs’ Club explores the wide world of NOODLES. Make Fresh Pasta, just like in Italy (no pasta machine required) and serve it with Marinara Sauce or Meat Sauce. Move on to rice vermicelli in our Rice Noodle Bowls with Pork and Scallions and fresh lo mein in Sesame Noodles with Snow Peas and Carrots. Explore the salty science of pasta water with a simple (dinner-providing) experiment. And the whole family can play our board game: Noodles and Ladders!  
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