Cooking with your kids is a great way to build literacy skills, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Reading simple recipes, even off a box or package, teaches children to pay attention to details, and to read and follow directions. Here’s a simple summer meal you can make together as a family. HINT: Make the cheesecake first and have it chilling in the fridge.

Main Dish: Frito Pie

This was one of my favorites that my mom would let us help with.


  • 4-5 cups of Fritos corn chips
  • 2 15- ounce cans of chili.
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cups of shredded cheese


  1. Set oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Dice onion into small pieces.
  3. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 baking pan
  4. Dump Fritos into the bottom of the baking dish and crush.
  5. Sprinkle diced onions over crushed Fritos.
  6. Pour chili over onions and Fritos.
  7. Top with shredded cheese.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.

You can add cooked hamburger or shredded chicken, as well as diced peppers.

Side: Veggies and Ranch Dressing

Put the kids in charge of washing fresh veggies and pouring the ranch dressing into a small serving bowl. Parents should assist with any chopping.


Pick three veggies:

  • Baby carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Green or red sweet peppers
  • Sugar Peas
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes

1 Bottle ranch dressing

Sweet Endings: Pineapple Cheesecake

This Crosley-approved dessert begins with a boxed cheesecake mix.

  1. Boxed cheesecake mix. Check the ingredient list on the box. You may need butter and milk.
  2. One small can of crushed pineapple


  1. Prepare cheesecake according to the directions on the box.
  2. Cool cheesecake in the fridge
  3. Drain crushed pineapple
  4. Top cheesecake with crushed pineapple just before serving.

Set the picnic table and enjoy! Happy summer cooking (and reading)!