Getting your tween to do much with you beyond ride in the car is a HUGE feat. I spent way too much time and energy scheduling activities with my daughter, in the hopes she would love what I picked out, that I forgot she had grown into her own person and may have an opinion about what she wanted to do.

Leaving another forced “momtivity” frustrated because she hated it and had zero appreciation for the scheduling, expense, and coordination of it all, I paused before starting the car.

I watched as she feverishly caught up on group chat. I couldn’t compete and decided to resign my search for the “perfect” activity, waited for her attention, then said; “C, we’ve been to a few things lately and you haven’t seemed that interested. I don’t want to drag you around to things you don’t want to do, but I would love to have something that’s just ours. No dad(s), no little sister. My undivided attention. If that’s cool with you.”

I braced myself for the heartbreaking “not really” or “we don’t have to hang out, I’m good” or the budget crushing response “let’s go shopping!”. Instead she thought for a minute and then replied, “You like cooking. I like cooking. We have to do that already. Can you let me pick some stuff and we can do it together?”

Cooking?!? Together?!?! It was right in front of my face the whole time!

A few days later we got in the kitchen for some quality time. Below are a few of her favorite things to cook and eat. Bonus; she is learning how to do some of these ON HER OWN! True life lessons and sometimes a drained mom lifesaver when I am off duty as a short order cook after she makes it home from practice, a project, or has now decided she’s hungry.

For Breakfast:

French Toast: Serves 4, 10-15 Min

Ingredients: Cinnamon swirl bread, cinnamon, 1 egg, 1TB butter, maple syrup

Instruction: (She can do this one almost entirely by herself. Sometimes just needs a little help with the flip.) In a shallow bowl, crack and whisk the egg. Add in 1 tsp of cinnamon, mix in. Warm small-med size pan and add butter. Dip one slice of cinnamon swirl bread in the egg mixture. Coat on both sides and let the excess egg drip off. Add slice to warmed pan with butter. Flip bread when golden and crisp. Remove when other side is golden and crisp. Plate and top with maple syrup. Enjoy with a side of mixed berries or sliced melon.

Sausage Egg Muffins: Serves the whole gang, 30 Min (Mostly baking time). Tons of recipes out there to do this one over and over with variety. This is our current favorite Egg Muffin Recipe and there’s a breakfast potato recipe too!

For Lunch:

Cheese Tortellini: Makes 4, 10-15min

Ingredients: 1 package cheese tortellini (we use Buitoni), 1TB butter, ¼ cup parmesan cheese

Instructions: Add water to a small pot and bring to boil. Pour in tortellini. Stir occasionally. Drain in strainer when they have lightened in color and float to top. Fave part for my daughter, trying them to see if they are done. She likes hers a little al dente. Add butter to pan and return tortellini to pan. Mix together, divide in bowls, and top with parmesan.

Bacon Burgers: Serves 4, 20-25 Min. This Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger is our go-to recipe. She skips the lettuce and tomato and we add ¼ cup of shredded cheese to the patty mixture.

For Dinner:

Chicken Katsu & Baby Bok Choy: Serves 4. 20-25 min. Altered from a Sun Basket recipe C really liked. Her favorite part is making the spicy mayo.

Ingredients: 2 chicken breasts, sliced in half to make thin, or 4 thin sliced chicken breasts. ½ cup Coconut flour, 1 egg, ½ cup dried shredded coconut, ½ cup mayo, 2TB Sriracha, 3 heads baby bockchoy, 1TB butter.

Instructions: Whisk egg in shallow bowl/dish. Place coconut flour on plate. Place shredded coconut on another plate. Warm 2TB oil of choice in pan over medium heat. Pat chicken in coconut flour, dredge in egg (drip off excess egg), then coat with shredded coconut. Add to hot pan. While chicken cooks, cut core off baby baby bockchoy and slice crosswise. Add butter to pan and melt over medium heat. Once melted, add bockchoy to pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In small bowl mix together mayo and sriracha. Slice chicken breast, plate with bockchoy and serve spicy mayo on the side.

Meatloaf & Mash: Serves 4-6. 45min (Mostly baking time) You can use any of your favorite meatloaf recipes. C really likes measuring the spices and mixing the meat with her hands after adding the egg in our recipe. For our mash, we use cauliflower. After steaming, we add to a blender with 2TB heavy cream, 1TB butter, salt and pepper (and sometimes a dash of garlic powder).

Cheesy broccoli, chicken & rice Serves 4-6.  This is one of C’s favorites and it’s a quick and easy meal with ingredients we usually have on hand. Love that this recipe is done all in one pan!

Secret Ingredient Brownies I kept this secret for a while but when C asked to make them with me, she was shocked! These brownies are flourless and deliver a little healthy fat.

Chocolate chip cookies These get her in the kitchen EVERY time. Pull out your grandma’s recipe, your favorite recipe, or search a new one to start your own family tradition. For those looking for a good gluten free (& Vegan!) option, these really are the Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Grab an apron and get cooking! I would LOVE to hear what recipes you and your tween like to cook together.



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