Playing With Your Food: Summer Fun with Kids in the Kitchen

On a rainy summer day or a too-hot-to-play-outside afternoon, why not cook up some fun with your kids in the kitchen? Each recipe below uses ingredients that you may already have on hand. So, find an apron for each of your budding chefs, and go stir up some fun together!


Since I don’t have a dog, I asked puppy parents Chris and Kirstin Barr to test a dog treat recipe from This three-ingredient treat was a big hit with their Boxer-German Shepherd mix puppy, Sadie. Your dog will love them too, and your kids will have a blast baking cookies for their dog. (You and the kids can eat them too!)

You will need:

  • 1½ cups uncooked oatmeal
  • 1 large banana
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • Food processor or blender
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Baking sheet
  • Cookie cutters (if you have a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter, that’s ideal!)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a food processor or blender, grind the oats to a powder.
  4. In a bowl, beat together the banana and peanut butter until smooth.
  5. Set aside one Tablespoon of ground oatmeal. Add remaining oatmeal to the banana-peanut butter mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Dust a surface with the reserved ground oatmeal and roll dough to ¼- inch thickness.
  7. Cut into shapes and place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
  8. Bake 15 minutes or until edges start to brown.



The cinnamon scent of these ornaments will make your kitchen smell heavenly!

You will need:

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup applesauce
  • Cookie cutters
  • Rolling pin
  • Drinking straw
  • Ribbon or twine

Option: You can bake these ornaments or allow them to dry at room temperature for 1–2 days.


  1. If baking, preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Combine cinnamon and applesauce in a bowl. Mix until you can form dough into a ball. If dough is crumbly, add a little more applesauce. (Dough will be sticky!)
  3. Working with about a quarter of the dough at a time, roll out to ¼-inch thickness onto a cinnamon-covered surface or between two sheets of plastic wrap.
  4. If using plastic wrap, remove the top layer before cutting dough into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
  5. Use the drinking straw to create a hole at the top of each ornament.
  6. If baking, place ornaments on a baking sheet and bake for 2½ hours. If drying, carefully place ornaments onto wire racks and let them stand for 1–2 days, turning a few times.
  7. When ornaments are ready, loop ribbon or twine through the hole to hang.



You will need:

  • 1 box spaghetti noodles
  • Food coloring
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • Large Ziploc bag


  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  2. Put 2 Tablespoons of water and 20 drops of food coloring into a large Ziploc bag.
  3. Drain spaghetti and place a portion of it into the Ziploc bag.
  4. Seal the bag and mix thoroughly.
  5. Let the noodles rest in the bag for 1 minute.
  6. Pour the spaghetti into a strainer and rinse with cold water.
  7. Repeat with a new color until you have all the colors you want.



You will need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 4 Teaspoons Cream of Tartar
  • Food coloring
  • 2 cups water


  1. Add food coloring to the water to create the color you want.
  2. Mix colored water with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Heat mixture in a heavy skillet for 4–8 minutes or until no longer sticky.
  4. Set aside to cool.
  5. Repeat with different colors of water until you have all the colors of dough you want.
  6. Store each color in its own airtight container.



You will need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup water
  • Rolling pin
  • Baking sheet
  • Drinking straw
  • Cookie cutters
  • Acrylic craft paint; ribbon or cording


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Mix flour and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Add water.
  4. Knead dough for a few minutes.
  5. Roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness.
  6. Cut out jewelry shapes with cookie cutters. Use a straw to create a hole for ribbon or cording.
  7. Place cutouts onto a baking sheet and bake for about 2 hours.
  8. Cool, then brush or sponge on craft paint. (Optional: decorate with glitter glue, sequins, or other sparkles.) When dry, add a glossy finish.


Sadie: Photo by Chris Barr

Tail Waggers: Photo by Chris Barr


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