Ah, autumn. Russet-hued leaves keep fluttering to the ground, there’s an explosion of amber, auburn, russet, gamboge, and scarlet everywhere you turn, and everyone’s prepping for Thanksgiving and the subsequent holidays. Your kids, for example, are crafting centerpieces for Thanksgiving dinner; family members are busy putting up holiday decorations, or else organizing gratitude-related and/or turkey-themed games; friends are attending parades and other local events. Yes, Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to spend time with family and friends, but if you’re cooped up in the kitchen all day, all by yourself, then you may feel a little left out of the fun. Invite the kids (and the rest of your immediate family) into the kitchen this year to help with arguably one of the best parts of the holiday — cooking all that delicious food.
Yes, while some may struggle with roasting the most delicious and moist turkey possible, not all Thanksgiving dishes are such a challenge. There are many side dishes, in fact, that are so easy that even the kids could cook them (with a little assistance, of course).
Here are five easy Thanksgiving sides to try out with the kids this holiday season.
Every Thanksgiving feast needs some bread, whether your family prefers cornbread, dinner rolls, or another type of yummy carb alongside your mashed potatoes. One of the great things about bread, though, is that it’s a side that can be made ahead of time and then refrigerated and reheated in time for your meal. This means that you can take an afternoon ahead of Thanksgiving to make the bread with your children, when you’re not all in a rush on the big day.
If you don’t quite trust your bread-making skills (after all, yeast can be difficult to master), try out this recipe with the kids. It starts with refrigerated dough, but then adds in a lot of yummy stuff — think butter, parmesan and garlic — before baking. Kids enjoy the opportunity to get really hands-on with the dough rolling and dipping the dough balls in butter and seasonings. Then, all that’s left is the baking (which you can save for the day of, if desired).
For mini loaves that are more akin to your traditional dinner rolls, you might want to try this hands-on recipe that allows children to do the majority of the mixing in a sealed baggy. It’s also a nice fit for family members who have an egg allergy, as the recipe contains no eggs.
More in the mood for biscuits during your Thanksgiving feast? This two-ingredient recipe comes together in 15 minutes, and kids enjoy mixing and then cutting out each biscuit before baking.
For many families, the stuffing (or sometimes called, dressing) is a quintessential Thanksgiving side. Have your kids help with this beloved holiday side dish by making it separately versus actually stuffing your turkey.
These “stuffins” take traditional stuffing and put them into muffin form for a fun take on an old classic. You’ll probably want to cook the onions and celery for your children, if you don’t want them near the stovetop, but then they can likely take things from there.
Mashed, roasted, or baked, however you like them, potatoes are a must on Thanksgiving.
Even toddlers can get in on the fun when it comes to making these “smashed” potatoes. You need minimal ingredients, too. Let your children wrap each potato in foil, then bake and cool. Line up the potatoes on a baking sheet once they’re at a comfortable temperature, and let your children smash away before roasting.
Want something a little more traditional? This mashed potato casserole is packed with flavor and can be made ahead of time, for more convenience. Have your kid help with the actual mashing of the potatoes and the addition of all the yummy add-ins, like cheddar cheese and sour cream.
Salads are great sides for kids to help with, as you often don’t need to use the stove and, once things are chopped, it’s a simple matter of layering and mixing. Plus, younger kids love combining the various different textures, tastes, and colors.
This Thanksgiving salad combines spinach, dried cranberries, almonds, cheese, butternut squash, and a simple homemade dressing. Kids can even help with creating the dressing for this one, mixing together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and spices.
Another option is this more citrus-y salad, with squash, mixed greens, pomegranate seeds, pecans, and cheese. It also features a homemade dressing the kids can make, combining yummy ingredients like orange juice and maple syrup, among others.
If there’s any vegetable that graces your Thanksgiving table, there’s a high likelihood that it’s going to be green beans, whether or not you go with the classic green bean casserole.
Since many children don’t enjoy green bean casserole, get them in on the fun of making parmesan green bean fries (which you may discover the adults prefer, as well). Have your child do the mixing of the cheese, garlic powder, and salt. They can also wash and trim the green beans. Then, combine it all and pop it into the oven.
However your kids end up helping you with this year’s Thanksgiving feast, remember — it’s not necessarily about how great the food is, but all about the memories made. So, if something burns or the mashed potatoes have a few lumps, don’t sweat it.
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