We’re Off to Cooking Camp, at Home!

We’re Off to Cooking Camp, at Home! A Week of Recipes and Activities for 8-to-14-Year-Olds

In Part II of our DIY culinary adventure camp, kids explore the food of China, India, Greece and more, with recipes and bonus activities

Article and lo mein recipe and photo by Ashley Strickland Freeman

Featured photo by Luke Atwood Abiol. Design by Mickey Stretton     Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase, Yummly makes a commission.

Be sure to check out Part I of our kids’ cooking camp.

Hi everybody! Welcome to the Yummly Kids’ Cooking Camp designed especially for 8- to 14-year-olds. Let’s get ready for a week full of exciting culinary adventures and activities. This week we are going to take a delicious trip around the world exploring the cuisines of Spain, China, India, Argentina, and Greece. We’ll learn how to make naan bread, dulce de leche cookies, lo mein, and so much more. We’ll even create our own Olympic games. Are you ready? Let’s go!

Parents: Even though this week of camp is geared towards older kids, younger children are definitely welcome too! They can help measure, pour, and stir but will need help with more advanced tasks. Whoever is cooking, there may be elements in these recipes where additional adult help is needed (for things like using knives, placing pans in the oven, and cooking on the stovetop). I’ve included notes for each recipe as a heads-up. 

Get ready to cook

Before we get started, you’ll want to check your kitchen cupboards and drawers for some essential cooking tools, get your ingredients, and get clean and organized. 

Equipment: You won’t need anything fancy for this week of cooking, but the following items could be helpful: 

• Kid-size apron

• Kid-friendly knives. Depending on your age and cooking experience, you may already be using a regular chef’s knife and a small paring knife, or you might be more comfortable with safety knives designed for kids.

• Non-breakable mixing bowls

• Sturdy measuring spoons and measuring cups

Ingredients: You may want to take advantage of the Yummly Meal Planner and Shopping List for purchasing the ingredients you need for this week of cooking.

Check-list: The first step to cooking success is a clean, organized workspace. 

• For each recipe, set out all of the ingredients you need on the counter. This is called “mise en place,” and it means everything in place. 

• An apron can help keep you clean in case of any spills. 

• And don’t forget to wash your hands!

Now that we’ve got all of our equipment and kitchen tools ready, let’s depart for our international locations.

Jump ahead to:

Day 1: A trip to Spain >>

Day 2: Let’s visit China >>

Day 3: We’re off to India >>

Day 4: A journey to Argentina >>

Day 5: Destination Greece >>

Day 1: A trip to Spain

Bienvenidos a España! (Welcome to Spain!) Did you know that Spanish is the second most widely spoken language around the world? What words in Spanish do you know? 

Spain is home to many delicious dishes, including paella and sangria, and we’ll be making both today. (Don’t worry parents, the sangria is alcohol-free). Tapas restaurants are very common, where diners can enjoy small plates of many different dishes to make a meal. Spain is also the world’s leading producer of olive oil. The climate is perfect for growing olives — and also for relaxing. In fact, Spaniards are known for taking 16 out of 24 hours each day for eating, drinking, and sleeping! That’s la buena vida (the good life)!

Let’s start on the sangria fruit pops first since they take time to freeze. 

Kid Friendly Sangria Fruit Pops

Ask an adult to help you:

• Cut up the fruit, if you’re using regular knives

• Boil the juice mixture on the stove

This recipe calls for paper cups, but you can use ice pop molds if you’ve got them on hand.

While the fruit pops freeze (6 to 12 hours), we can work on the paella. Paella is a special rice dish from Valencia, Spain. This one features seafood, sausage, and peas, as well as marinated artichoke hearts. It’s a one-dish dinner, so serve it right from the pan and enjoy it with the fruit pops for dessert!

Quick Paella

Ask an adult to help you:

• Cut up the chorizo and roasted red peppers

• Cook the paella on the stovetop

Bonus activities

Spain is home to many famous artists including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Antoni Gaudi. Channel your inner artist and make a Gaudi-inspired mosaic like those you can find in Barcelona. Have you ever seen or tried Flamenco dancing? It’s a traditional Spanish dancing style from the Andalusia region. You should give it a try.

Day 2: Let’s visit China

Nĭ hăo! Today we are visiting China, and nǐ hǎo is one of 12 ways to say “hi!” in Chinese. China is one of the largest countries in the world, stretching 3,400 miles from north to south and 3,100 miles from east to west. China also has the largest population of any country (1.3 billion people) and boasts the highest mountain on the planet, Mount Everest, which is on the border of the Chinese region of Tibet and the country of Nepal. 

Because China is so large, the cuisine varies from region to region. You can enjoy super spicy dishes in the Sichuan region and sweet and savory Cantonese dishes in Hong Kong. In the north, you’ll most likely see noodles on the menu, since wheat can grow in the colder climates, whereas people in the southern regions tend to eat rice because of the numerous rice paddies in the warmer climate. 

Today we will be making a noodle dish you may have heard of: Chicken and Vegetable Lo Mein. (Mein means noodles in Chinese.) We’ll also make vegetarian wontons, a crispy snack.

First, let’s make the wontons — you and your family can enjoy them before the lo mein. 

Vegetarian Crispy Baked Wontons

Unlike traditional wontons, which are steamed or deep-fried, these are baked, which is easier to manage. You’re going to make a tofu and vegetable filling and seal up spoonfuls of it inside the wrappers. 

Ask an adult to help you:

• Shred and chop vegetables

• Use a food processor to make the filling

• Put the wontons in the oven and take them out

After enjoying the wontons, make Chicken and Vegetable Lo Mein. Eat it with chopsticks for a more-authentic experience!

Chicken and Vegetable Lo Mein

Yummly Original

Ask an adult to help you:

• Cut up the chicken and vegetables

• Cook the spaghetti, chicken, and vegetables on the stovetop

Bonus activities

No Chinese-American meal is complete without a fortune cookie! (Though Chinese restaurants in the U.S. frequently serve these cookies, they may actually have originated in Japan.) Write and print out your own fortunes and make your own fortune cookies from fruit rolls. You can also make Chinese lanterns; they are an important decoration used for festivals and celebrations throughout China and especially for Chinese New Year.

Day 3: We’re off to India

It’s the third day of camp, and today we are exploring India, a very large country in Asia. In fact, it’s the 7th largest country in the world. You may have seen pictures of the Taj Mahal or the Himalaya mountains before. These landmarks are found in India. You’ll also find a plethora of spices in the open-air markets and in homes across the country. Spices are crucial to Indian cuisine. Almost every family has their own special blend of spices for dishes like vindaloo and biryani. 

Today we will be making the popular dish called butter chicken. This rich and creamy stew is perfect served over basmati rice with fresh naan bread — which we’re also going to be making — on the side. Let’s get started on the naan so the dough has time to rise. 

Indian Naan Bread

Ask an adult to help you:

• Cook the bread on a grill pan or in a frying pan

Now that the bread is ready to go, let’s work on the chicken.

Indian Butter Chicken

Ask an adult to help you:

• Cut the chicken and cook it on the stovetop

• Make basmati rice to go with the chicken

Serve the chicken over steamed basmati rice with the naan you made earlier, alongside a salad or steamed broccoli.

Bonus activities

Mandalas are important geometric designs that can be found all over Asia and India. Many people use mandala art for religious traditions and meditation. You can make your own beautiful mandala sand art. Have you ever found a painted rock hidden while you were on a walk? Several years ago art rocks began to appear as a way to bring joy to a stranger. Why not paint a mandala rock and hide it for someone to find?

Day 4: A journey to Argentina

Hola! (Hello!) Today we are in South America discovering Argentina. This country is home to the Andes mountains, the longest mountain chain in the world. Argentina also has wetlands, glaciers, and grasslands. There are many horse and cattle ranches, so Argentina is known for its gauchos, the equivalent to our cowboys. 

Meat is king in this South American country so you’ll find steak, or asado, on most menus. You’ll also see dulce de leche, a creamy caramel-like sauce used in many desserts. Today we will be making steak tacos with chimichurri, a popular herb sauce often served with grilled meats and vegetables. We’ll finish the meal with some delicious dulce de leche-filled cookie sandwiches. 

First let’s get started on the tacos so the meat can marinate. 

Rockin’ Chimichurri Steak Tacos

Ask an adult to help you:

• Make the marinade in a food processor

• Make the chimichurri sauce in a food processor

• Grill the steak on an outdoor grill or indoors on a grill pan

• Slice the cooked steak

While the steak marinates, you can make the cookies. 

Dulce de Leche Cinnamon Sandwich Cookies

Ask an adult to help you:

• Use a mixer

• Put the pan of cookies in the oven and take it out

• Make the cookie filling on the stovetop

Set the completed cookies aside while you finish the tacos. Buen provecho! 

Bonus activities

Soccer (or football, as it’s called in South America and everywhere except the U.S. and Canada) is king in Argentina. In fact, the country’s team has won the World Cup twice. Create a little soccer match of your own on a foosball table you build yourself! After your soccer match, try taking up weaving. There are many Andean artisans who weave blankets and mats in beautiful patterns. You can create your own loom and wall hanging

Day 5: Destination Greece

Καλημέρα! (Good day!) It’s the last day of camp, and we are wrapping up the week in beautiful Greece, a country in Europe made up of thousands of islands. Surprisingly, 80% of the country is mountainous. The warm climate and crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea mean the cuisine is teeming with seafood as well as fresh fruit and vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers. Olive oil, lemons, fresh cheeses, and herbs are often used to add flavor to dishes. Today we will be making two traditional dishes: chicken souvlaki — grilled chicken and vegetable skewers — and an easy twist on the pastry called baklava. 

We’ll make dessert first. You can serve these baklava cups as a snack, or save them for after dinner.

Baklava Cups

 Ask an adult to help you:

• Put the cups in the oven and take them out

Next we’ll make the chicken. This has a marinating time of 30 minutes to 4 hours so keep that in mind for timing. This recipe is served with tzatziki sauce — a yogurt-cucumber dip that is also great to serve with wedges of pita bread or with pita chips.

Lemony Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki Sauce

Ask an adult to help you:

• Cut up chicken, zucchini, and red onion

• Soak bamboo skewers in water so they don’t scorch during cooking

• Grill the skewered chicken and vegetables

Bonus activities

Greece is the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Why not host your own backyard Olympics? Get into the Ancient Greece spirit by making a Roman laurel wreath to go with your toga. That concludes our week of travel around the world. I hope you had fun! 

More ideas for kids who cook

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part I of our kids’ cooking camp, where you can visit five other countries. The recipes are geared towards younger children, so older kids may be able to cook them all on their own, or with just a little help. If you're looking for kid-friendly recipes and easy dinners for young cooks, see these additional articles about cooking with kids, too!

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