Whether crushing chips still in the bag or helping mix and measure, exposing children to cooking also teaches skills such as following directions and simple math when they count the cups that go into a recipe.

Older children can help create and prepare a theme night such as a taco bar with fruit kabobs and an ice cream bar with a variety of toppings. These recipes are from allrecipes.com.



Oatmeal Banana Pancakes

1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

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3/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup almond flour

1 ripe banana

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

cooking spray

Place oats in a blender and blend into a fine powder. Add almond milk, almond flour, banana, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Blend until well mixed. Let the batter sit until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Drop 1/4 cup batter onto the hot skillet and cook until bubbles form and edges are dry, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.



Tacos in a Bag

1 pound lean ground beef

1-ounce package taco seasoning mix

4 (2.5 ounce) packages corn chips

2 cups shredded lettuce

1 chopped fresh tomato

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1/3 cup salsa

1/2 cup sour cream

Place ground beef in a large skillet. Cook and stir over medium heat until browned. Drain excess oil. Mix in the taco seasoning and prepare according to the directions on the package.

With the corn chip bags unopened, gently crush the corn chips. Snip the corners off the bags using scissors and slit open the bags along the side edge. Spoon equal amounts of the beef mixture, lettuce, tomato, Cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream into the bags on top of the crushed chips. Serve in the bag and eat using a fork.



Easy Guacamole

2 avocados

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 ripe tomato, chopped

1 lime, juiced

salt and pepper to taste

Peel and mash avocados in a medium serving bowl. Stir in onion, garlic, tomato, lime juice, salt and pepper. Season with remaining lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Chill for half an hour to blend flavors.



Veggie Pita Pizza

1 pita bread round

1 teaspoon olive oil

3 tablespoons pizza sauce

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

1/8 teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Spread one side of the pita with olive oil and pizza sauce. Top with cheese and mushrooms and season with garlic salt.

Lightly oil grill grate. Place pita pizza on the grill, cover, and cook until the cheese completely melts, about 5 minutes.



Yogurt Parfaits

2 cups vanilla yogurt

1 cup granola

blackberries, strawberries or blueberries

In a large glass, layer 1 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup granola and 4 blackberries. Repeat layers for each serving.



No-Bake Energy Balls

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup ground flax seed

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and chill dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter.

Readers are invited to submit four to five of their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to lskarpness@parkrapidsenterprise.com or by mail to the Park Rapids Enterprise, 203 Henrietta Ave. North, Park Rapids, MN 56470 and they may appear in a future issue.