Burrell life skills students publish cookbook: ‘Special Recipes Made by Special Kids’

Burrell life skills students publish cookbook: ‘Special Recipes Made by Special Kids’

As the pandemic zapped the usual educational experience for many students, one Lower Burrell family came up with an alternative educational adventure.

The Kobelenske family raised money for Burrell School District’s special education life skills students to make their own recipes and pen the cookbook “Special Recipes Made by Special Kids.”

The cookbook is available at Cora Lee Cupcakes, Feldarelli Square, off of Freeport Road in New Kensington.

Last year, the pandemic knocked out the chance for special education life skills students to operate a coffee and snack cart known as the Treat Trolley, which debuted at Huston Middle School in 2018. A second Treat Trolley was added to the high school, which has been operated by high school life skill students.

Courtney Kobelenske and her sister, Kylie Lash, owners of Cora Lee Cupcakes, helped establish the snack trolleys and decided to help the life skills students.

“I didn’t want these kids to lose another experience,” she said. “These kids need an extra boost because they travel a harder path.”

Last October, Kobelenske asked family and friends to direct all birthday gifts as a donation for a life skills student project. The idea for a cookbook was hatched, with students picking and test cooking their favorite recipes.

Cora Lee Cupcakes raised the money to cover the costs of the groceries for students to each make their favorite recipe and for printing the cookbook.

About 15 life skills students in the middle school and high school grabbed a favorite recipe.

“The home economics teachers let them bake in their rooms,” Kobelenske said, “and Presto! — we had a cookbook coming together.”

The students cooked at home and sent in their pictures.

“The cookbook gave them excitement and something to look forward to,” she said, especially Kobelenske’s daughter, Cora, 15, who chose a pizza bagel recipe for the book.

“I made pizza bagels, and everybody liked them, so I made them for the cookbook,” Cora said. She has been sampling other student recipes and is enjoying the rainbow pancakes.

Kobelenske’s other daughter, Emma, designed the cookbook cover.

Hannah Cress, high school life skills teacher, and Ashley Shields, middle school life skills teacher, ran with the idea.

“We practiced finding recipes, developing a shopping list,” Cress said. “You don’t think about when a recipe calls for two eggs and you can’t just buy two eggs. You have to buy a dozen.”

Cress had many conversations with students about assembling the ingredients. And then the fun really began when they each made their own recipe, whether at school or at home under supervision.

“They learned so many skills putting together the cookbook,” she said. “Then they got to eat what they made, and that’s always a win.”

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, mthomas@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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