Timeout New York Kids

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Peanut butter overload

Jif contestToday Time Out Kids' very own "Bad Mommy", Susan Avery, and I served as two of the five judges in Jif's annual "Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest" at Soho's Culinary Loft. This is the sixth year Jif has offered the contest, in which kids 12 and under enter their most original PB concoctions for the chance to win a $25,000 college scholarship. We were there to find a winner among the five finalists.

While we ate a lot of peanut butter, we didn't consume as much as I had expected. As Susan noted, they snatched those plates away from us way too soon on the really tasty items, like the beautifully prepared butterfly-shaped pancake topped with Jif, fruit and cereal and the P-Nutty Chicken Wrap, made with peanut butter and sweet Thai chili sauce. Yum!

In the end, we chose 11-year-old Samuel from Riverside, CA as the winner for his highly inventive Crunchy Chinese Fortune Cookie Sandwich. Now,  NYC parents, I know most of you buy natural, organic peanut butter, but try this recipe anyway (just don't tell Jif if you stick with the organic stuff). Sam flattened pieces of bread with a rolling pin and then shaped them into sweet little fortune cookies filled with peanut butter and chopped apples and celery. Delicious, healthy and such a great party snack. You can even insert funny, personalized messages into them. You can find the recipe on Jif's website.

The whole thing (excluding one over-zealous, controlling mom who Susan quickly noticed) seemed so darn earnest and beneficial to the kids. Overall, the little chefs (all between the ages of 9 and 12) were polite and good sports. And as Susan said, "Surprisingly, four of the five finalists were boys. And manly boys at that. Call me crazy, but if a boy can cook, wants to cook, then it’s my job to start the process of the pre-arranged marriage to the Chicklet [her own little one]!"

So here's my takeaway lesson: Let your kids get in the kitchen and cook! If the Jif recipe doesn't inspire you to buy your babe a mini-apron, read up on Liv and Belle Gerasole, the youngest winners of the prestigious James Beard award and authors of the kid-friendly recipe collection The Spatulatta Cookbook. It's filled with easy-to-prepare recipes to jump start your child's epicurean education.

Do your kids spend a lot of time cooking? Share your favorite kids' recipes and cooking tales below!

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