I love to cook with my kids, but unless I have a specific plan/objectives, it can be very frustrating. We like to make Peanut Butter Cookies. This recipe is so super kid friendly; because you melt the butter instead of creaming it, it can all be mixed by hand (even little hands) with a wooden spoon, getting your hands in the dough and rolling is fun, and even little ones can flatten the cookies once they are on the cookie sheet with a fork. The end result is a very good cookie, kind of chewy and crumbly all at once. I like to print out a kid friendly recipe that they can read and direct from. Not every detail is included in the recipe (i.e. prepping the cookie sheets, preheating the oven) but these are things the adult can do while the kids are stirring and rolling. Here are things kids can do while making this particular recipe:
Toddlers - recognize pictures of food, push buttons on the microwave to melt butter, help scoop and measure and perhaps even level off dry ingredients with a butter knife, add pre-measured ingredients to the bowl, stir with a big spoon, roll little sections of dough into balls and place on cookie sheet, flatten balls with fork.
School Age Kids - Can do all of the above, read fractions and figure out which cups and spoons to use, (you can give an older child a 1/4 C. and have them figure out how to get the right amounts using only that one cup), learn to read cooking abbreviations (like C. and t.), read instructions (the words are simple so even beginning readers can sound them out), measure (scoop and level with a butter knife), crack an egg (into a separate cup first), measure brown sugar by packing it into the cup using a spoon. Also, after making these cookies with an adult an older child could make the entire recipe solo (except for oven part).