Pretend cooking with real ingredients has been a popular and recurring acitivity in our household ever since I saw a post on PlayCreateExplore
last year. Yummy gets into a phase with it, asking to "do cooking" every day several times for about a week, then we both forget about it for a month or so until she remembers and gets back into again.
I keep a bucket of dry food in the pantry especially for Pretend Cooking: stale croutons, quinoa macaroni that nobody enjoyed, apple cinnamon cheerios that no one liked the taste of, etc. Sometimes I add a shaker of cinnamon (because sprinkling spices on is fun), or I use all edible foods (like the tray of cut up fruit in the top left corner). I always make sure she knows what she shouldn't eat -she is old enough now that she won't choke on dry beans, but they aren't the tastiest treat.
*Important note: Water is essential for utmost fun in this activity!! I give Yummy a measuring cup or pourable jar of water to use, only filling it up a little way so she doesn't make a flood right away and can ask for refills.
We are in an "on" phase right now, and the fun has been increased by the addition of a handheld mixer that I found at the dollar store. Yummy loves how quickly the beaters spin, and yet it doesn't sound loud and awful like my electric mixer. I give Yummy a little squeeze bottle of watered down dish soap to add to the bowl for frothy, bubbly fun. I let her know that she only gets one little bottle full a day, though, so she is sure to conserve the soap.
Dooter is old enough now to enjoy pouring and mixing and soon I want to set up a cooking station outside for both the kids, using all foods that Dooter can eat. Then they can both mix and munch to their hearts' content.