The best gift for Mother’s Day: a kid-prepped meal

With these recipes for kids, young chefs can easily make stracciatella, chicken paprikash and chocolate sauce.
April 18, 2024
Among some good recipes for kids are an easy soup called stracciatella, Chicken Paprikash and homemade chocolate sauce. Dads and partners can help kids cook for mom this Mother's Day. Photo: Getty Images.
A kid-prepped meal can be a perfect gift for Mother’s Day. Sure, the kitchen might get messy. But young chefs can make great food and even greater memories for mom this Mother’s Day. Photo: Getty Images.

Here are three well-tested recipes that you kids — of any age — can make for Mom for Mother’s Day. If you are very young, and likely not reading this anyway, Dad or mom’s partner or spouse might pitch in. Also, if your mom doesn’t presently live with you, all three of these dishes are easily portable, so you can deliver them to mom. Simply complete most steps ahead and assemble or finish each recipe in her kitchen or at her dining table.

Looking for more Mother’s Day recipe ideas? Check out these articles: Three of BSJ’s Mom’s RecipesMother’s Day Poached SalmonBelgian Endive Gratin.

The recipes are simple and straightforward and allow for several substitutions.

For example, for the stracciatella, use any firm grating cheese or any of a number of leafy greens. Chile powders of several origins sub for the Hungarian paprika in the chicken recipe, as do differing pastas, and thick cream or sour cream for the yogurt. You even may use chicken breasts instead of whole legs, just cook for less time and at 325 degrees.

The chocolate sauce is my own mother’s recipe, dating back 70 years or so. It is a treasured family heirloom.

Thanks, Mom.


This simple Roman soup means “little torn rags” (or shreds) and refers to the wisps or tendrils of cooked egg that float in its broth. Serves 4-6.


6 large whole eggs

1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 quart good-quality chicken broth (low-sodium or regular or homemade)

2 cups baby spinach or spring greens mix

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Good-quality fruity extra-virgin olive oil


In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cheese and black pepper. In a large saucepan, heat the chicken broth to a steady simmer. Into it, over slightly elevated heat, add the egg mixture stirring slowly, so that the eggs both set but also turn into strands, about 1 minute. Add the spinach or greens, stirring, so that they wilt, 2-5 minutes depending on the greens.

Serve into warmed bowls, topped with the chopped parsley and more ground black pepper if desired, but certainly with swirls of the olive oil.

Chicken Paprikash

Prepare Chicken Paprikash ahead of time for Mother’s Day dinner. Photo by Bill St. John, for UCHealth.
Prepare Chicken Paprikash ahead of time for Mother’s Day dinner. Photo by Bill St. John, for UCHealth.

Only two words of caution: when browning the chicken pieces, scrape well under them so that chicken skin doesn’t stick to the skillet (even if it does, it’s no big deal). This recipe uses yogurt, instead of the traditional sour cream, for both its texture and sweetness, but remember to temper the yogurt with some of the hot liquid for the final step. Serves 4-6.


4 whole chicken legs (drumstick and thigh still attached)

Freshly ground black pepper and kosher or sea salt

Bread flour

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated

1 large yellow or white onion, peeled and medium diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or slivered

3 tablespoons Hungarian paprika powder (hot or sweet or any combination to your taste)

1 14- to 18-ounce can or jar whole peeled tomatoes

1 cup chicken broth (low-sodium or regular or homemade)

2/3 cup Greek-style plain whole milk yogurt

1 package frozen or dried thick or wide egg noodles

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


A few hours before (or overnight), salt and pepper the chicken legs and pile them into a covered container or bowl in the refrigerator. When ready to cook, bring them out an hour ahead.

To cook, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a cup of flour in a large bowl; dredge each of the chicken legs, shaking off excess flour and place aside.

In a large oven-proof skillet over a medium-high burner, heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter and brown the chicken legs on both sides until nicely colored, about 5-7 minutes for each side. If necessary for space, and so that the chicken does not steam in the skillet, brown in batches.

Remove the chicken after it is browned, keeping back only 2 tablespoons of fat. In that, brown the onion for 5 minutes, stirring and scraping up any brown bits of chicken meat or skin. Add the garlic, stirring and cooking for another minute, watching that the garlic does not blacken. Add the paprika powder(s) and cook, stirring, until heated through and the paprika becomes fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you add them, or with a potato masher, or with the back of a flat spatula. Add the broth and stir the mixture until it is smooth. Add back the chicken legs, skin side up, nestling them together. Bring the pan to a simmer on top of the stove, then place the pan in the oven, uncovered, and cook until the meat is well cooked through, 30-35 minutes (or more, depending on your elevation or taste in chicken), and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Pull from the oven and remove the chicken legs to a warm plate or place, shaking off the sauce on each. Off any heat, stir the yogurt in a small bowl with a couple of spoonsful of the hot sauce, then add back all of the yogurt to the pan with the red sauce, stirring to combine. Neither reheat the sauce nor allow it to boil.

While the chicken is finishing cooking and you are making the sauce, prepare the noodles according to the package directions (if they are frozen, allow close to an entire hour for both thawing and boiling), drain them, and toss them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

Serve the chicken alongside the noodles or atop them, napped with the sauce, and garnished with the parsley. Accompany with any chosen green vegetable or salad.

BSJ’s Mom’s Chocolate Sauce

Photo of chocolate sauce over a chocolate souflee with fruit. Photo: Getty Images.
Homemade chocolate sauce is easy to make and delcious drizzled over fruit or a baked item. Photo: Getty Images.

Makes slightly more than 1 cup.


1 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup granulated cane sugar

1 cup cold water

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except the vanilla extract. Over medium heat, whisk until beginning to melt and then stir, slowly and almost constantly, until the sauce begins to bubble at the edges.

Lower the heat and stir occasionally while the sauce simmers slowly for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool a bit.

Stir in the vanilla extract and cool down the sauce. It will be thin but will thicken as it cools, especially as it is refrigerated. It keeps, covered or jarred, for a couple of months in the refrigerator.

For chocolate milk, add 2 tablespoons to 8 ounces of milk, hot or cold. Use as you would any chocolate sauce, as a topping for ice cream, pastries, a dip for (dried) fruits or berries, or as a drizzle on cakes or cookies

Reach Bill St. John at [email protected]

About the author

For more than 40 years, Bill St. John’s specialties have been as varied as they are cultured. He writes and teaches about restaurants, wine, food & wine, the history of the cuisines of several countries (France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and the USA), about religion and its nexus with food, culture, history, or philosophy, and on books, travel, food writing, op-ed, and language.

Bill has lent (and lends) his subject matter expertise to such outlets as The Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post, The Chicago Tribune, 5280 Magazine, and for various entities such as food markets, wine shops, schools & hospitals, and, for its brief life, Microsoft’s In 2001 he was nominated for a James Beard Award in Journalism for his 12 years of writing for Wine & Spirits Magazine.

Bill's experience also includes teaching at Regis University and the University of Chicago and in classrooms of his own devising; working as on-air talent with Denver's KCNC-TV, where he scripted and presented a travel & lifestyle program called "Wine at 45"; a one-week stint as a Trappist monk; and offering his shoulder as a headrest for Julia Child for 20 minutes.

Bill has also visited 54 countries, 42 of the United States, and all 10 Canadian provinces.