The holidays are a perfect time to get cooking with your children. Most are home from school, with free time that is usually occupied with homework and extracurricular activities. Cooking with children helps foster enduring memories of the season, creating the opportunity to share cultural and family traditions, or create new ones that you’ll cherish and remember for years to come.

However, getting kids involved in holiday cooking can seem easier said than done, especially when you have to prepare a large meal for friends and family. After all, how can you entertain, keep an eye on the children and get all of the cooking done without becoming overwhelmed? While it may be tempting to simply deposit the kids in the family or play room with a favorite DVD or coloring book, you can try turning your children into your little helpers. Invite them to each choose one dish to make with you. At least a week before the big day, determine which items will be prepared by each family member. Bring the kids along as you shop for these dishes so that they’re involved from the start.

To give yourself special “one-on-one” time with each child, try to get as much of the recipe’s advance preparation done a few days ahead, if possible. Schedule the actual cooking or baking time with each child, no matter how busy you are.

To get started, try your hand at this simple recipe for “Stained Glass Cookies,” courtesy of “Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection: Christmas” (Periplus). Jewel-bright and fun to make, these almond cookies can be used as decorations for your Christmas tree or wrapped and given to younger family members and guests. Make an extra hole before baking to thread with ribbon.


3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons superfine sugar

1/2 beaten egg

1/4 cup ground almonds

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup superfine sugar, extra

Red, green and yellow food coloring

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush two baking sheets with melted butter and dust lightly with flour.

2. Using a wooden spoon or electric mixer, cream together the butter, lemon zest and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, a little at a time, beating well after each stage. Sift together the almonds and flour, add to the mixture and stir together to form a rough dough. Gather into a ball, cover in plastic wrap, flatten slightly and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough between two sheets of waxed paper to about an 1/8-inch thickness.

3. Using a 21/2-inch round cutter, cut 10 to 12 cookies and transfer as many as can fit comfortably onto the prepared sheets. Using a 1/2-inch round cutter or the narrower end of a 1/2-inch decorating tip, cut out three holes from each cookie. Chill for 10 minutes.

4. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the sheets, then place on two lightly greased baking sheets.

5. Place the extra sugar in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves and forms a syrup. Raise the heat to medium, and boil the syrup for 10 minutes or until it just begins to turn golden brown around the edges of the saucepan. Pour into three heatproof bowls or saucepans, and color each one separately with a few drops of food coloring, stirring once to evenly mix. Using a dessert spoon, carefully spoon a little of the hot syrups into each cookie hole to give a stained glass window effect. If the syrups cool and begin to set before you are finished, gently rewarm over low heat. If they start to crystallize, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid glucose or a squeeze of lemon juice. Let cookies cool completely, then carefully loosen and remove them from the baking sheets. Chef’s tip: Store the cookies in a dry, cool place to prevent the stained glass sugar from sticking.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.