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The sukkah decorations have finally been cleared out of their cozy home in the corner of the dining room and packed away so I feel like now we can talk about Chanukah – not actually do anything about it yet, mind you, just talk. Talking is free and fun and doesn’t require getting off the couch, so it’s a win for all of us.

I’m a planner; I like to have activities ready to go for when the opportunity presents itself, and there aren’t many nights with quite as much unstructured and homework-less time as a Chanukah evening. These days, my kids are obsessed with helping in the kitchen – their newfound interest and hours of free time are a perfect match.

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Try these with your kids; there’s something for every age group and once all the recipes are made, dinner will be ready!

 

Dreidel Sandwiches
ages 3 and up

 

Ingredients:

A loaf of sliced bread
Peanut butter
Chocolate spread
Mini pretzel sticks
Cream cheese
Strawberry jelly
Carrot sticks
Tuna salad
Celery sticks
Child-friendly knife

 

This recipe will yield three different types of sandwiches because everyone liking the same sandwich at the same time is a bigger Chanukah miracle than I can pull off for you (sorry!). Here we have peanut butter and chocolate, cream cheese and jelly and, of course, tuna.

Hand out plates and bread and plastic or child-friendly knives.

Spread your filling of choice on one slice and cover it with another slice. Cut the sandwich into two triangles and then cut each triangle into two more triangles for a total of 4 triangles per sandwich. (Was that an algebra lesson? Geometry? I have no idea. But it was definitely math, so go me!)

If the sandwich was made with peanut butter and chocolate, add a mini pretzel stick between the bread on the crust side of the triangle so that each sandwich resembles a dreidel. If your sandwich was made with cream cheese and jelly, use a carrot stick as the dreidel top and use a celery stick if you made a tuna sandwich. Bonus points to anyone who makes two sandwiches and uses one for tomorrow’s lunchbox.

Line the sandwiches up on a big platter and be sure to exclaim what a fabulous job the little kiddies did on the sandwiches.

 

Pareve DIY Taco Salad Menorah
ages 8 and up

 

Ingredients:

Cherry tomatoes
Orange peppers
Canned corn
Frozen peas, defrosted
Pickles
Avocado
Purple cabbage
Black olives
Taco chips
Ketchup
Mayonnaise
Carrots, cut lengthwise into sticks

 

This is a salad for kids who have excellent knife skills. If their knife skills are only so-so, use close supervision.

Start with 9 medium-sized bowls and 1 small. Cut the vegetables into bite-size pieces and place one type of vegetable into each of the medium bowls. The 9th bowl is for the taco chips.

In the small bowl, mix 4 tablespoons each of ketchup and mayonnaise. To serve, line up the eight vegetable bowls in a row on the table. Stand a carrot stick up in each bowl as a candle. Place the bowl of taco chips with a carrot stick standing in it right in front of the two center bowls of vegetables as the shamash. The dressing may be placed off to the side or the kids can use the carrot stick shamash to put dressing on their do-it-yourself salad. So fun.

 

 

Waffle Potato Latkes
ages 12 and up

Ingredients:

Potatoes, washed and peeled
Eggs
oil
salt
Cooking spray

 

Public Service Announcement: You know your own kids best; I would not, at this point, let any of my kids touch a waffle maker, but my kids are still on the younger side. A child who has experience cooking in the kitchen, knows the joys of using an oven mitt at appropriate times and who can be trusted to understand that hot steam shouldn’t come anywhere near his or her face is probably a good candidate for waffle-making privileges. Either way, stick around in the kitchen and keep a sharp eye on things. Now back to the recipe.

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Jen Wise is a work-at-home mother to a bunch of kids somewhere in New Jersey. She's also a freelance writer, an art teacher and a pediatric nutrition coach.