Now You're Cookin': Well-measured Recipes!

(FN707, Reviewed August 2021)

Family meals promote family togetherness. Family meals provide a time to share what is going on in each other’s lives and enjoy a nutritious meal. Families who eat together are more likely to have more balanced meals. Preparing the meal is an important part of mealtime. Have children help in every aspect of the preparation, from choosing the menu to setting the table to making the meal. Including children in the preparation can lead to lifelong knowledge and memories.

Lead Author
Lead Author:
Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist
Other Authors

Ellie Johnston, Former Dietetic Intern

Web only
Publication Sections
Girl with woman in kitchen measuring ingredients
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Measuring for Success

Cooking and baking provide a time to express creativity, build self-esteem and learn lifelong skills. Kids can practice their math skills, too, as they learn about fractions and other measurements.

Start with careful measurements of the ingredients. Proper measuring helps ensure that you will have a good end product. Here are just a few benefits of accurate measuring:

  • Helps re-create the recipe later
  • Takes away the guesswork
  • Provides for consistent reactions of the ingredients with each other
  • Ensures consistent nutritional content of the recipe

Liquid vs. Dry Ingredients

Liquid and dry ingredients are measured differently. Dry ingredients most commonly are measured in nesting cups. Liquid ingredients should be measured in clear cups with a measurement spout and measurement lines.

nesting cups for measuring dry ingredients
nesting cups for measuring dry ingredients
clear cup for measuring liquid ingredients
clear cup for measuring liquid ingredients

Measuring Tip No. 1

Steps to measuring dry ingredients (such as flour, sugar, corn meal, etc.):

  • Fill the cup by spooning in the ingredient. Avoid filling the measuring cup over the bowl. The cup could spill easily and add extra to your recipe.
  • Level off the top of the cup using either a spatula or the flat end of a knife. (Note: Some recipes may call for a “heaping” cup. In this case, you do not need to level off cup.)
  • Pour ingredient into bowl.

Some ingredients such as these need special consideration:

  • Brown sugar: pack into the measuring spoon before it is leveled off.
  • Flour: spoon into the measuring cup and then level off. If you dip the measuring cup into the bag, you could end up with 25 percent more flour than you actually need.
  • Butter or margarine: most stick butter or margarine has measurements on the wrapper. One stick of butter or margarine equals one-half cup or eight tablespoons. If no measurements are given, pack firmly into the measuring cup and level off.

Measuring Tip No. 2

Steps to measuring liquid ingredients (such as milk, oil, syrup, etc.):

  • Place the liquid measuring cup on the counter and pour in the approximate amount.
  • Bend down to eye level to check the measurement. Add or remove as much as needed until the top of the liquid is at the desired mark.
  • Pour ingredient into bowl. You may need to use a rubber scraper to empty the cup.

Measuring Equivalents

1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
1 cup = 16 tablespoons
1 cup = 8 fluid ounces
1 pint = 2 cups
1 quart = 4 cups
1 quart = 2 pints
1 pound = 16 ounces
1/3 cup = 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon
2/3 cup = 10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
½ cup = 8 tablespoons
 ¾ cup = 12 tablespoons


Berry Tasty Muffins

Berry Tasty Muffins
Photo Credit:
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. oatmeal
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 c. blueberries, washed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. milk
  • ¼ c. vegetable oil
  • nonstick spray or muffin liners

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix in blueberries. In another bowl, break the egg and use a fork to beat it. Then add the milk and vegetable oil, and mix. Add this combination to the flour mixture in the large bowl. Using a spoon, stir about 25 or 30 times. Do not mix too much! Your muffin batter should be lumpy, not smooth.

Line a muffin tin with paper liners or lightly spray with nonstick spray. Spoon in the muffin mix. Fill each cup about two-thirds full. Bake for about 20 minutes. When muffins are done, remove from the muffin tin and cool them on a wire rack.

Makes 12 servings. Each serving has 140 calories, 6 g fat, 4 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 210 mg sodium.

Source: Kids Health Organization

Quick Tip: Don’t overmix muffin batter. Muffin batter should be left lumpy. Overmixing may cause the muffins to not rise properly, to have peaked tops or tunnels and to become dry.

Peanut Butter Bread

  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ c. milk
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. peanut butter
  • 1¾ c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or spray a loaf pan. In large bowl, beat eggs. Add milk, sugar and peanut butter. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Mix thoroughly. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix only enough to moisten all ingredients. Pour into prepared pan. (Pan will be half full). Bake for one hour.

Makes 10 servings. Each serving has 280 calories, 14 g fat, 11 g protein, 29 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 260 mg sodium.

Source: What's Cooking

Peach Crisp

  • 4 c. sliced peaches – use fresh or canned (drained well)
  • 2 Tbsp. margarine
  • ¾ c. quick-cooking oats
  • ½ c. sugar
  • ¼ c. flour
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the peaches. If using canned, drain well. Spread the peach slices on the bottom of an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan.

Melt the margarine in a saucepan. In a small bowl, mix everything but the peaches. Stir until the mix is well blended. Sprinkle the oat mix on top of the peaches. Bake for 20 minutes.

Notes: Serve the peach crisp either hot or cold. To remove the peach fuzz, you can rub the washed peach gently with a paper towel.

Makes six servings. Each serving has 180 calories, 4.5 g fat, 3 g protein, 33 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 35 mg sodium.

Photo Credit:

Source: What's Cooking 

Chocolate No-bake Cookies

  • 1½ c. sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ c. evaporated milk (canned)
  • ¼ c. margarine
  • 3 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 c. shredded coconut (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, milk and margarine. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and stir in oats and coconut until well blended. Drop by tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate until firm and store in airtight container.

Makes 40 servings. Each serving has 70 calories, 2.5 g fat, 1 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 20 mg sodium

Source: Kids a Cooking

Eat Smart. Play Hard. Together

For more information about food safety and nutrition, contact your county office of NDSU Extension .

Visit the NDSU Extension website.

For more information about healthful eating for the entire family.


“Eat Smart. Play Hard.” is an initiative of the Food and Nutrition Service, USDA.