Moms

Bond with the family by letting the kids help with dinner

Parents taking time and energy to put together a family meal always appreciate a little help in the kitchen. But having extra hands assist you shouldn't be strictly about convenience; there are other good reasons to get the kids in on the food preparation.

Campbell's Soup recently gathered research data that show the benefit of having your children work alongside you when making meals: 77 percent of parents surveyed say that cooking with kids serves as an entertaining family activity; 79 percent say it instills a "great sense of accomplishment" in their kids; 52 percent say kids are more likely to eat a dish they've helped prepare. Interestingly, the study showed that 55 percent of American adults who cook learned how to do so from their parents.

Here are three easy recipes from Campbell's, each with just a handful of ingredients. Note that each recipe comes with tips for kid-appropriate tasks. More recipes are found at www.campbellskitchen.com.

Broccoli-cheese casserole

The prep time on this recipe is just five minutes, and the baking time is an additional 30 minutes. Let little ones help you make the topping for the casserole by asking them to measure the bread crumbs to mix with the butter you've melted. They can sprinkle the topping over the broccoli mixture to create a crunchy finish. Add a dash of ground black pepper or sweet paprika to the broccoli mixture for a little extra flavor, if desired.

Serves 6

1 (10.75-ounce) can Campbell's Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons yellow mustard

1 (16-ounce) bag frozen broccoli florets, thawed

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)

1/3 cup dry bread crumbs

2 teaspoons butter, melted

1. Stir the soup, milk, mustard, broccoli and cheese in a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish.

2. Mix the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the broccoli mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the broccoli is tender and the topping is golden-brown.

Souper rice

Here's another recipe that comes together with five minutes of work, followed by 25 minutes of cooking. You can have the kids stir the soup and water together in the saucepan before you put it on the stove. For more texture and nutrition in the dish, stir in a cup of chopped fresh broccoli florets, baby carrots, tomato or thawed frozen corn kernels before placing the pan on the stove to cook. Consider adding dried herbs, such as basil or oregano, to boost the flavor.

Serves 4

1 (10 1/2-ounce) can Campbell's Condensed Vegetarian Vegetable Soup

1 1/2 soup cans water

1 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice

1. Heat the soup and water in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat to a boil. Add the rice.

2. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally.

Souper sloppy Joes

This recipe takes only 15 minutes, from start to ready-to-eat. While you cook, have the kids put together a salad using a bag of romaine lettuce with grape tomatoes, shredded cheese, croutons and your favorite dressing. If you want to add flavor to the sloppy Joes, try a dash of granulated garlic, ground black pepper or even smoked paprika. You might even toast the sandwich rolls for some extra texture.

Serves 6

1 pound extra-lean ground beef

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard

6 sandwich rolls, wheat or white

1. Cook the beef in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until it's well browned, stirring often. Pour off any fat.

2. Add the soup, water and mustard to the skillet. Heat until the beef mixture is hot. Serve on the rolls with salad on the side.

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