Get Cooking with the Virtual Junior Chefs Series


Looking for something fun to do at home with your kids to round out the summer break? Over the next six weeks, get them engaged in our 4-H Healthy Living Virtual Junior Chefs Series! Once a week we will post either grilled cheese recipes and tips to try at home or the nutritional benefits of the sandwich components to get their wheels turning for our 4-H Makers Expo Grilled Cheese ChallengeBe sure to check back in next Thursday for more from the Virtual Junior Chefs Series!

If your child wants to follow along and test their culinary skills over the next six weeks, register through 4HOnline to let us know they’re participating. Open to youth 8-18 years old. Registration closes September 23, 2021.

Like what you’re seeing so far? Register for our 4-H Makers Expo Grilled Cheese Challenge held on October 16th.


WEEK ONE: Thursday, August 19

pizza grilled cheese

Today as we prepare to make our first grilled cheese, let’s gather all of the needed tools to complete this recipe. You will need:

  • A spatula
  • A griddle or skillet
  • A stove or other heating element
  • A butter knife

When you’re cooking for yourself or others at home, always remember that it’s important to wash your hands first! If you’re not allowed to use the stove alone, make sure to ask a grown up for help.

This week’s recipe is for a Pizza Grilled Cheese! First, gather the following ingredients:

  • 2 slices of your choice of bread
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • ½ cup shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup pizza sauce

Directions:

  1. Using the butter knife, spread the butter on one side of each piece of bread.
  2. Spread half of the cheese on the unbuttered side of one slice of bread.
  3. Add the pizza sauce on top of the cheese, then add the rest of the cheese on top of the sauce. Form your sandwich by adding the second slice of bread, making sure that the buttered side is on the outside.
  4. Place your skillet or griddle over medium heat. Carefully add your sandwich to the griddle and let it cook until the bread gets golden brown on each side and the cheese is melted. Transfer your Pizza Grilled Cheese to a plate with the spatula. Let it cool for a minute and enjoy!

Pro tip: When you’re making your grilled cheese at home, try putting a lid on your skillet to help the cheese melt faster!
Swap it: What type of bread did you use to make your grilled cheese at home? Next week you’ll learn about the importance of whole grains and how to check if your bread at home is a whole grain! Grilled cheeses can be made with many different types of bread, so get creative and try something new.
Share this: Share a photo (HERE) of you preparing this grilled cheese recipe. Let’s see how they come out!


bowl of oats and nuts and fruits

WEEK TWO: August 26, 2021

Last week we kicked off the Virtual Junior Chefs Series by sharing a recipe for a Pizza Grilled Cheese! We mentioned that one way to customize your grilled cheese is by swapping out the type of bread. Grilled cheese sandwiches sometimes even have waffles in place of their bread! Bread and waffles have something in common, they’re both a part of the grains group on MyPlate.

Other foods in the grains group include crackers, tortillas, oats, pasta, cereal, and rice. Foods in the grains group provide fiber, many B vitamins, and minerals. Fiber from whole grain foods may lower risk of heart disease!

The amount of grain servings one should have in a day depends on their sex and age. For example, girls ages 9-13 should aim for about 5-7 ounces of grains per day, while boys ages 9-13 should aim for 5-9 ounces per day. You may notice that servings of grains are measured in ounce equivalents. Examples of one-ounce equivalents of grains foods include: 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready to eat cereal, ½ cup of cooked rice or cooked pasta.

It’s important to remember that HALF of your grains should be WHOLE, but what does this mean? Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel. That means that all three parts of the grain, the bran, germ, and endosperm, are intact! Refined grains, on the other hand, have been milled. This is a process that removes the bran and germ from the grain kernel. This process makes the grain texture finer and also makes it last longer. Unfortunately, it also removes the fiber, iron and many of the B vitamins from the grain! Some examples of whole grains include oatmeal, brown rice, and products made from whole wheat flour. Some examples of refined grain products are those made with white flour (like white bread) and white rice.

Wondering how you can tell if your grains at home are whole grains or refined grains? Check the ingredients list! Look at the first ingredient, does it say “whole”? If it says “enriched,” that means it is a refined grain, but they have added some B vitamins and iron back after the milling process. Some grains are a mix of whole grains and refined grains, but only those made with 100% whole grains are considered whole grain foods.

Think about how you can add whole grains into your meals or snacks. Maybe you have a sandwich at lunch and use whole grain bread. What about having a snack of whole grain pretzels and hummus?

Share this: comment on the Facebook post with your favorite snack or meal that includes a grain food!

Check back next Thursday for another delicious grilled cheese recipe! It might even have a fruit in it (you may find this helpful if you’re planning to participate in our Grilled Cheese Challenge)! Our 4-H Makers Expo registration is now OPEN! Click here to register for our Grilled Cheese Challenge on 10/16!


grilled ham and cheese

WEEK THREE: September 2, 2021

Last week the Virtual Junior Chefs Series was all about the grains group. Did anyone challenge themselves to check some of their food items at home to see if they were whole grains?

This week we dive into another delicious grilled cheese recipe to get you all inspired for our 4-H Grilled Cheese Challenge at 4-H Makers Expo on October 16th! A lot of people have heard about the great debate: do pineapples belong on pizza?! Well this week, we’re going to test out if pineapples belong on grilled cheese! There are a number of fruits that can be used in grilled cheeses, and they may be fresh, canned, or even preserved in jams.

Always remember that it’s important to wash your hands before preparing food for yourself or others! If you’re not allowed to use the stove or griddle alone, make sure to ask a grown-up for help, too.

This week’s recipe is for a Hawaiian Grilled Cheese! First, gather the following ingredients:

  • 2 slices of your choice of bread (bonus points for whole grain!)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • ¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1-2 slices of pineapple, canned
  • 2 slices of deli ham

Directions:

  1. Using the butter knife, spread the butter on one side of each piece of bread.
  2. Spread the cheese on the unbuttered side of one slice of bread, then add the deli ham. Add pineapple slices on top of the ham and top with the other slice of bread, buttered side facing out.
  3. Place your skillet or griddle over medium heat. Carefully add your sandwich to the griddle and let it cook until the bread gets golden brown on each side and the cheese is melted. Transfer your Hawaiian Grilled Cheese to a plate with the spatula. Let it cool for a minute and enjoy!
  • Pro tip: Once you spread a small amount of butter onto the bread, try sprinkling some dried parsley or oregano to taste! Herbs are a great way to bring a flavor burst to recipes.
  • Swap it: For this recipe, you can use deli ham, Canadian bacon, or even leftover baked ham! See what you have in your fridge and give it a shot. If you’re not a fan of pineapples on your pizza, or grilled cheese, try swapping them out for fresh apple or pear slices!
  • Share this: Which side of the debate are you on? Do pineapples belong on grilled cheese?! Comment on the Virtual Junior Chefs Series Facebook post with your vote and share a photo of you trying this Hawaiian grilled cheese recipe!

Check back next Thursday to learn more about fruits and vegetables from the Virtual Junior Chefs Series. This may come in handy if you’re going to participate in the 4-H Makers Expo Grilled Cheese Challenge! Registration is NOW open, so secure your spot today. 

Remember, if you’re following along with our Virtual Junior Chefs Series, register here  to let us know that you’re participating!


variety of fruit on table

WEEK FOUR:  September 9, 2021

Last week on the Virtual Junior Chefs Series, we shared a grilled cheese recipe with a fruit in it: Hawaiian Grilled Cheese! There are a number of ways to add fruits or vegetables to your grilled cheese. Maybe you prefer to put fresh fruit in your grilled cheese, like apple or pear slices. Or maybe you have some jam at home and would rather use that. What about adding some tomato sauce, like in our Week One Pizza Grilled Cheese recipe, or adding fresh peppers in a nacho inspired grilled cheese sandwich? The possibilities are endless!

Some foods in the fruits group of MyPlate include apples, cherries, cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, and bananas. Some foods in the vegetables group of MyPlate include carrots, spinach, green beans, bell peppers, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. Fruits and vegetables can come in a variety of forms like fresh, frozen, dried, canned, and preserved.

Foods in the fruits and vegetables groups are naturally low in calories and are important sources of fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Fiber from fruits and vegetables may lower risk of heart disease, while potassium may help maintain healthy blood pressure!

Fruit and vegetable servings are both measured in cups. Examples of a one cup fruit serving include one small apple, one large banana, 1 cup of diced melon, or ½ cup of dried fruit. Examples of a one cup vegetable serving include 2 medium carrots, 1 large bell pepper, 1 cup fresh cauliflower florets, or 2 cups raw leafy greens, like lettuce!  

When we put our food on a plate, we want to try to have half of our plate be fruits and vegetables. Most people should aim to have two servings, or cups, of fruits each day. Three cups of vegetables per day is a healthy goal for most people, but some may need 4 cups!

Think about how you can add fruits or vegetables into your meals or snacks. Maybe you have a sandwich at lunch and add some lettuce and tomato? What about having a snack of yogurt and blueberries?

Share this: What is your favorite snack that contains a fruit? What about your favorite way to eat vegetables? Comment on our NH 4-H Community Facebook post with a picture to show us your favorite fruit or vegetable!

Check back next Thursday for another grilled cheese recipe, it might even have a vegetable in it! If you’ve already registered for the 4-H Makers Expo Grilled Cheese Challenge, you’ll know that this year we are asking teams to add a fruit or vegetable to their sandwich. Come back next week for ideas on how to add veggies to your grilled cheese. You’ll have plenty of time to practice before showing us what you’ve got on 10/16 at 4-H Makers Expo! Be sure to register here!


WEEK FIVE: September 16, 2021

grilled cheese sandwich

By now you may have heard that at this year’s 4-H Makers Expo Grilled Cheese Challenge, teams have been challenged to add a fruit or vegetable to their sandwich. The last recipe shared had pineapple in it and it seems like it was a big hit! This week, we test out a grilled cheese recipe that includes a vegetable with our Nacho Grilled Cheese.  

Always remember that it’s important to wash your hands before preparing food for yourself or others! If you’re not allowed to use the stove or griddle alone, make sure to ask a grown up for help, too.

First, gather the following ingredients:

  • 2 slices of your choice of bread
  • 1 tablespoon of butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon low sodium taco seasoning
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoons salsa, homemade or store bought
  • Sliced jalapeno peppers, canned, optional

Directions:

  1. Add the taco seasoning to the softened butter and mix well. Using the butter knife, spread the seasoned butter on one side of each piece of bread.
  2. Spread the cheese on the unbuttered side of one slice of bread, then add the salsa. If you’d like to spice it up, add some canned jalapeno slices on top of the salsa, then assemble the sandwich with the buttered sides facing out. If you’re using store bought salsa, try to drain some of the liquid before adding it to your sandwich.
  3. Place your skillet or griddle over medium heat. Carefully add your sandwich to the griddle and let it cook until the bread gets golden brown on each side and the cheese is melted. Transfer your Nacho Grilled Cheese to a plate with the spatula. Let it cool for a minute and enjoy!

Pro tip: Remember to think about presentation when you are plating your grilled cheese! This is a part of our scoring for the Grilled Cheese Challenge! Think about what usually goes with nachos, and see if you can come up with a creative way to present your sandwich.

Swap it: For this recipe, maybe you can mimic the corn tortilla chips that usually come with nachos by using corn bread instead. If you aren’t a fan of salsa or jalapenos, what about cooking some sliced bell peppers in a skillet and adding that to your sandwich? Beans are also a great addition to nachos! Think about your favorite vegetables and how you can add them to your grilled cheese.

Share this: What do you think of our nacho inspired grilled cheese? Comment on the Virtual Junior Chefs Series Facebook post with a photo of you trying this grilled cheese recipe! We’ve now turned pizza and nachos into grilled cheese sandwiches. What other family favorite could be turned into a grilled cheese?!

Check back next Thursday for the last week of the Virtual Junior Chefs series. Registration for the 4-H Makers Expo Grilled Cheese Challenge closes on October 4th, so be sure to secure your spot now!


WEEK SIX:

Coming Thursday, September 23 ... see you then! 


Like what you’re seeing so far? Keep an eye out for registration information for our 4-H Makers Expo Grilled Cheese Challenge held on October 16th.

Author(s)

Laura Alimayu
Healthy Living Field Specialist
Asst Field Specialist
Phone: (978) 606-8404
Office: UNH Cooperative Extension, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824
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