Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Don't Want to Help With Ribs

Episode two of Toddler Tips and Tricks.
Recently I received a message from another mommy of a toddler telling me her child had lost interest in cooking. That happens around here often. Audrey is three and gets bored after she has learned a task to her satisfaction. When we came home from the store with supplies for dinner and muffins she was more interested in a princess coloring book than helping with dinner. Fortunately for me, I have another helper:
Children at Audrey's age can get bored easily. The trick is to try to find a new skill to teach or something fun to do. My girls almost always love to wash dishes. I fill the sink about a fourth full with cool, soapy water and add a few non-breakable dishes. They pour water all over themselves, the floor, and the counter while they play with the dishes. I usually still need to wash them in the dishwasher after they are done but the uninterrupted time is worth it. If we are getting ready to cook I can set up or if we have just finished I can clean up. If you find that cooking holds less interest these days with your helper try to find something new to do. Washing dishes or cleaning counters are fun tasks in Audrey's kitchen.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday, Yogurt

Audrey's grandma visited recently and she bought some individual yogurts while she was here. When she left Audrey want to eat up any left behind. I am not a big fan of sugar-flavored yogurt so I have her mix them with our plain yogurt. She is happy to comply because it means she gets to eat all of the fun flavors her grandma likes.
She asked to include yogurt in her Muffin Tin:

This tin should be subtitled: Mom has not gone shopping yet. The girls also had more cheese in their tins but Maurene grabbed hers before this picture was taken. She is getting a little bit better at helping but cheese it too tempting.
Check out the other Muffin Tin Monday meals.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pineapple Not-Upside-Down Muffins

We have been working on this recipe for a bit and I finally think it is good enough to publish. I might have had three.

  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup dried sweet cherries or craisins
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add egg, juice, milk, and butter and mix until just combined. Stir in pineapple and cherries. Do not over mix. Grease twelve muffin tins and fill to 3/4 full. Sprinkle butterscotch chips on top of muffins. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for about 5 minutes then remove to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Audrey and Maurene's Tasks:
  1. Help gather ingredients
  2. Take turns measuring and adding ingredients
  3. Crack egg
  4. Stir
  5. Fill muffin tins
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Assist girls
  2. Bake muffins
I would recommend giving this recipe a try. It is not the healthiest recipe we have cooked but it is not the worst either. The pineapple, cherries and whole grain make it worth the calories! You might try making the recipe with half as much butter and using applesauce for the remainder. Another substitute could be margarine  instead of butter. You could also reduce the amount of butterscotch chips but I think that really adds to the taste of the finished product. We had a lot of fun making and eating this and all previous batches of muffins during the testing process.

Baking fun!

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What's For Lunch Wednesday, Rice Cakes

Audrey and Maurene went with me to the zoo this week. While I was getting ready I asked Audrey to get out lunch supplies. She pulled out every piece of fresh fruit in the house and then decided on rice cake sandwiches. I added cheese at the last minute. Here is the entire process:
Arranging the fruit.

Little berries all in a row.

Final product.

And one for mom!

We forgot to bring one for the flamingos.

Peanut butter tastes good.

I guess she liked it.
And to answer everyone's burning question...yes, she does dress herself. Be sure to check out all of the adorable lunches over at What's For Lunch Wednesday. Shannon really does a wonderful job and we are always so envious of her children and their lunches.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How Not to Cut Your Knuckle Off

This is the first post in what I hope will be many on Toddler Tips and Tricks.

I am a mom who regularly instructs small children on cooking skills in the kitchen. And this weekend I cut off a large portion of my thumb knuckle. It not only hurt, but was embarrassing as I did it in front of Audrey. This is not a time where "Do as I say not as I do" applies. I was using the knife incorrectly. The reason I bring this up is because learning proper cutting skills is very important. Audrey and I have been working with cutting activities almost as long as she has been helping in the kitchen. The same goes for Maurene. Children do not need to have sharp knives in order to learn how to properly cut. A wonderful teacher, Michelle Stern, has a good article on her website called Teaching Knife Skills to Kids. She also includes some recommendations for special knives made for children. They are not necessary but do make cutting easier. So go read the article and don't cut your knuckle in front of your three-year-old.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday, Sister Version

Maurene wants to do everything big sister Audrey does. This has made cooking a challenge. Occasionally I am able to get Audrey to show Maurene something. Here they are attempting to cut a large block of cheese with a butter knife. I let them try because I loved the team work.
Maurene has gotten much better recently about putting the food IN the muffin tin. Today's meal is similar to our usual Muffin Tin Monday 

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Snacks are a SNAP Part Four

This has been a wonderful project for Audrey and family to participate in. Not only has it raised our awareness a little more about the difficulties of individuals receiving SNAP but it has reached others as well. Our friends were kind enough last week to bring us many jars of peanut butter for us to donate to our local food bank and several people have asked questions online. We are going to continue to look into ways we can help in our local community and we urge you to as well.
Rolled oats are a wonder food. They can be made into a quick breakfast, healthy snack, or nutritious meal. It is not a food a young child could use to easily feed himself with but with the help of an adult the possibilities are endless. Here are a few of the meals we love that use oats:

Rolled oats are inexpensive and pack a lot of nutrition. Consider purchasing a container next time you are at the store to make some great snacks or fulling breakfasts. Audrey and I are going to work on an Apple Oatmeal muffin for our bake sale this summer. We want it to be tasty and healthy. I love searching Allrecipes.com for ideas. You can search by name, ingredient, or meal and there are always plenty of results. Check it out for new items to include in your menu.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Local Edition, All The Markets

We have been going to the weekend Farmers Market most weekends since opening day but this week we finally made it to all of the weekday markets. The girls have started to associate two things with the Farmers Markets: 1) fresh produce, 2) pastries.
    So we have a lot more produce this week; some local chicken; and no pastries.
    Tuesday pastries

    Tuesday produce
    Thursday West Market

    Thursday Cottin's Market
    Saturday Market
    This week was the last of Audrey's regular school year. We plan to take advantage of all of the great programs available this summer in Lawrence:

    These are just a few of the many activities available to families in Lawrence. We will also take a trip to Topeka for the zoo; visit the Natural History Museum; and hang out at the many favorite parks. What sort of fun activities are going on in your neck of the woods? How will you spend the summer? Audrey is starting summer camp June 2nd so she is only off less than two weeks.

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    Friday, May 20, 2011

    More Green Monsters

    With the abundance of greens from our CSA and the back yard container garden we have needed to come up with creative ways to use up our greens. This week Audrey had a friend visit whose mother is a personal trainer. Her mother lets her have Green Monsters so I thought it would be a great snack. Audrey and her friend were too busy playing to help but Maurene was very willing to climb up on the chair and throw in the spinach.

    Maurene's Tasks:

    1. Add spinach to blender
    2. Help add milk
    3. Operate blender
    4. Add banana
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. Gather ingredients
    2. Assist Maurene
    I gave each girl a small glass and Audrey and her friend begged for seconds. Maurene drank most of hers. I was able to finish the rest. Yum!

    Green Mustaches.

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    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Homemade Chicken Nuggets

    Audrey's signature dish is an Oven Fried Chicken recipe. I found the original version in my Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. Over the years the recipe has adapted and now that the girls are a part of our dinners we have switched to boneless. This week we moved further and removed the added fat and just coated the chicken with Italian breadcrumbs.
    Audrey and Maurene's Tasks:

    1. Help make breadcrumbs
    2. Hold the knife while we cut chicken
    3. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over chicken
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. Gather ingredients
    2. Help girls cut chicken
    3. Assist with coating in breadcrumbs
    The girls love this meal. They will eat twice as many of the homemade version as any premade or fast food type. We had sweet potato fries and greens with the meal and it was tasty.

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    Cool Kids Blog

    Audrey is a Cool Kid. But I already knew that. She is featured today on the Cool Kids Blog. Not only is there a little bio but some wonderful pictures as well. Even if you think you know everything about Audrey you should check out the site for Audrey's recommendations. Cute toys, tools, and clothing for a girl like Audrey. Stop by to see my precious Audrey looking fabulous.
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    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    What's For Lunch Wednesday, Strawberry Jam

    The girls had a lunchtime outing today so we decided to make lunches to-go, toddler bento style. Audrey has been on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich kick recently. She decided on strawberry jam before we even returned home from our morning meeting.

    PB&J, fruit, and cheese. Fresh and yummy!
    We submitted this post for What's For Lunch Wednesday. Check out all the great lunches.
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    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    A New Grain for Us

    Our friend Michelle Stern at What's Cooking with Kids challenged her readers to try a new grain this week. That is not hard for us because we do not eat much in the way of whole grains. We may have them ground up  into flour or baked into bread but in the true form they are foreign to our plates. I have tried serving brown rice with mixed results. After asking Michelle's advice I found something that will work, short-grain brown rice. It cooks up as fast as white rice and is still soft enough to eat. Today I had the girls help me make it into a meal with some vegetable sauce.
    Audrey and Maurene's Tasks:

    1. Add rice and water to rice cooker
    2. Spoon sauce into pyrex
    3. Operate microwave
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. Assist girls
    2. Serve meal
    We had a wonderfully healthy meal of short-grain brown rice with tomato vegetable sauce and a salad made with an almost burgundy leaf lettuce, cantaloupe, and bacon. The girls had fresh berries on the side while I simply had more salad. I put a little broccoli flower in the rice and they both picked it out and nibbled on it. Edible flowers might be an area we explore soon.
    Audrey and Maurene both ate all of their fruit and bacon from the salad. Neither cared for the red lettuce. Audrey claimed to not like the rice but once she tried it she ate most without another word. Maurene did not want to try the rice but when I offered her a small bite she ate it willingly and without complaint. This is a small victory for our house. It was an easier mission to carry out because the girl's daddy is away currently. Sometimes he is the pickiest eater. How to deal with that problem?

    Could you click below to vote? Thanks!

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    Kids Cook Monday, Carrot Soup

    And Meatless Monday, we do both. This is the post about carrots. Local carrots. We bought them at the Saturday Market.
    I decided to make soup out of them because there wasn't much to them. And, of course, the girls helped.
    Audrey and Maurene's Tasks:
    1. Wash carrots
    2. Snap into smaller pieces
    3. Cut zucchini
    4. Operate slow cooker
    5. Blend
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. Assist the girls
    2. Add broth
    3. Add milk
    This was such a creamy and yummy soup. I bought some croutons and we enjoyed them on top. If I had planned ahead we could have made our own croutons. Next time.

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    Strawberry Salad and What to do with Leftovers

    We had a big celebration this weekend. I graduated from college. Many friends and family stopped by for a fun party and lots of food. Too much food. After the fun was over we had to try to eat all the food, along with our regular CSA. I came up with the idea to throw all the greens into a bowl and toss them with leftover chicken and strawberries. The girls helped.
    Audrey and Maurene's Tasks:

    1. Help gather ingredients
    2. Remove stems and tear greens
    3. Cut strawberries
    4. Tear chicken
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. Gather ingredients
    2. Assist girls
    3. Chop remaining vegetables (carrots, radishes, onion)
    4. Toss
    Sometimes the best meals are the simplest ones. This was well received by all, even the girls. Somehow they have both started to eat a few more greens. It might be the really cute leaf lettuce on the patio that Audrey loves to pick leaves from to add to any greens we have. They have a real sense of pride.

    Show us a little clicky love?

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