My Little Chef: Bean & Cheese Chips

J often helps me in the kitchen.  Cooking is one skill that I want all of my children to have.  The don’t have to be culinary experts (they certainly won’t get that training from me!), but know enough to prepare tasty, healthy meals for them or their future families.  Cooking offers a ton of teachable moments.  Science, math, reading, motor skills, … those are the first things that come to mind.

This “recipe” is perfect for a toddler.  J is fully involved and feels fully responsible for the end result.  It’s also a great way to sneak some protein into an afternoon snack.  I tend to offer this snack when he’s hasn’t been too impressed with the proteins offered during the previous meals.  I have also used this as a quick lunch, but since it does include tortilla chips, I try to keep it a snack.  I grew up with this as a child friendly appetizer on Enchilada night. 

The recipe (if you can call it that) is …


  • Bite size tortilla chips
  • Sliced Cheddar Cheese (or any cheese you have!)
  • Refried beans

DIRECTIONS:   Lay out chips on baking sheet.  Place a spoonful of beans on each chip and top with cheese.  Broil until cheese is melted. 

I use this recipe to help J practice understanding and following instructions.  I lay out the baking sheet and a plate of chips.  I tell him to lay out X amount of chips on the baking dish.  This is great counting practice for him.  When he’s a little older, I can ask him to lay them out in a particular shape or even a simple line as extra practice in motor skills.  As he lays each chip out, I cover it with the refried beans (he’s not quite ready for this step).  I then tell him to cover each chip with the cheese slices.  We play a little “I Spy” here to help him complete the task.  (“I spy 2 chips that need cheese!!  Can you find them? Where are they? Yeah, you found one!”)  Then we place them in the oven, discuss how the oven is hot and just like heat melts snow, it can melt cheese too! 

It doesn’t take long for them to “cook”  and cool enough to eat, so he gets a quick reward for his efforts.  Out of all the dishes he helps cook, this is the one he most understands he had a hand in its creation. 

Age Attempted: 22 months, could be done earlier

Try Again?  This will be used many more times I’m sure.


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