Ty Schmidt

Enjoy festive fall flavors with the kids with these four ideas

There is usually more flour on the floor than in the pie dough. Apple skins somehow wind up in almost every room in the house and it’s not that uncommon for marjoram to be mistaken for cinnamon.

When it comes to cooking, patience is a virtue, yet when kids are involved,  it’s more than that. It’s survival.

From apple orchards to pumpkin farms, there is just something about fall that has always inspired the inner baker in me to break out my pie bird and put my oven to work. This is the first fall I’ve encouraged my almost three-year-old son to join me, a quest that is not without its fair share of ups and downs.

It’s a labor of love for both of us as he strives to do as much as possible to contribute to delicious dishes. And while many times that means I am as busy making sure an entire container of blue sprinkles doesn’t make its way into our apple pie filling, it’s worth it.

Here are a few of our favorite fall recipes that are family-friendly and kid-approved:

Source: Kraft
Source: Kraft

Truffles. They may sound complicated, but these decadent treats deliver in more than one way. Truffles lend themselves to much more creativity than one might think, making them a festive fall treat that are almost as much fun to eat as they are to prepare. Kraft’s Easy Halloween Truffles are a perfect example by enlisting ingredients like coconut flakes to make them stand out, and just because these 5 ingredient Halloween Oreo Truffles  only use a handful of ingredients doesn’t mean they don’t make a particularly fun and artistic (not to mention delicious) project for a rainy fall day. The best part is they might not turn out looking like anything Pinterest worthy, but the kids will have a good time trying.

Source: Mom Loves Baking
Source: Mom Loves Baking

All things apples. From local farmers’ markets to bustling apple orchards, there is no better time than the harvest season to teach children where their food comes from. I love the idea of making a day about apples, which is a preferred fruit choice for both of my sons. Start by taking a trip to do some apple picking or let the kids pick which apples they want to use at a farmer’s market/store. Now it’s pie time! Whether it’s a classic or slab variety, there are plenty of tasks to keep a toddler occupied while making an apple pie. Let them stir the filling, pour the (pre-measured) spices into a bowl. Encourage some snacking along the way. Or if time doesn’t allow for baking a pie, dress up those apple slices with yummies like chocolate, pecans and caramel and throw them on a stick. The point is to make the most of a potentially educational day with a satisfying ending.

Source: It is a Keeper
Source: It is a Keeper

All about the comfort. Whether you use it once or twice a year or on a daily basis, fall is one of the best times to embrace the slow cooker. Recipes are simple, ingredients are (at least usually) minimal and the aroma is mouth-watering. Favorites are going to vary from person to person, but one of our go-to comfort foods around here is a pork tenderloin recipe from It is a Keeper (because, really, it is). There is some room for individuality here as well, like choosing to sear the tenderloins beforehand or adding in a beloved secret ingredient (or two). Meanwhile, kids enjoy putting the different spices and sauces together to form what will be a melt-in-your-mouth dinner they played a part in crafting.

Source: Kraft
Source: Kraft

Say cheese! What kiddo (and adult!) doesn’t love cheese? Even if they don’t particularly like to cooperate when you get the camera out for that traditional fall photo at the pumpkin patch, that doesn’t mean classics like basically anything involving cheese won’t pique their interest. Get them to eat up all of those veggies with some help from a cheesy Jack-o’-Lantern dip, copycat Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup or mix things up with some macaroni and cheese meatballs. Whatever you do, make sure to involve your children in the process.

Take it from me. It’s worth it to see how excited they can get about something as simple as mixing things together. The joy on my son’s face when I get out his whisk is priceless. And while we bake up some memories, he’s learning where ingredients come from instead of seeing things come from packages and cans. It comes from the fields and the trees. It comes from the farms and the lakes. But most importantly, it comes from the heart.

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