Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's For Lunch Wednesday, Japanese Pizza

For some lunches there is a plan. We discuss what food sounds good and decide how that will work in a packed lunch. Then there are days when we just grab what is in the fridge. You better bet this is one of the latter.

This meal is from a few weeks back when we made the Japanese Pizza. The girls did not want to try them because they looked a little different so I thought cutting them into cute shapes might help. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Even with the lure of ketchup I could not get the girls to taste one. 

In addition to their fun shapes they have pretzels, a prune, some dried banana chips, grape halves, and almonds.

Mo helping put the meal together.

Audrey wanted to make them look nice.

The finished product.

Our lunch guest.

Go check out the other What's For Lunch Wednesday entries and hopefully you will find one that is a little more appealing to toddler and preschool children.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pork Roast, Toddler Style

Maurene has been my constant kitchen companion. She loves to pull up a chair and help me with any task. I am not certain if she is more interested because she has not been cooking as long or because she likes cooking more than Audrey. Either way I am happy for the help. This meal was perfect for her because she loves to work the pepper mill and toss herbs on top.

This was a nice roast we purchased from Hilltop Farms in bulk before the Saturday Market closed for the season. I wish we had enough money to get two bulk packages because this roast was tasty. 
  • Pork roast
  • stock, about 1 cup
  • seasonings
Place all in a slow cooker on low for 6 hours or until cooked through.

We pulled out several seasonings from our cabinet and went a little crazy. Maurene loved placing the dried herbs in the pot.

Adding a little cracked black pepper.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday, Leftover Mac N Cheese

There is not much in the fridge so I pulled out leftover mac n cheese and some nice berries the girls' daddy got for them at the store. Rounded out with some plain greek yogurt, apples and pretzels it was a well received meal. I also pulled out our regular muffin tins instead of the ones we usually use. For some reason this made the meal so different and exciting for the girls. I chopped the apples and strawberries and then let the girls fill their tins.

Hard at work.

A regular muffin tin.

Check out the other Muffin Tin Monday meals for more fun food ideas.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Five Fun Holiday Gifts

Gifts from the kitchen are so much fun to make and almost always well received. We have given creations from our kitchen for several holiday seasons. Not only do the recipients enjoy the treat but the girls love making them. Last year we tried our hand at several different types of gifts. Here are our five favorite:
  1. Cookies or Brownies in a Jar. These are so easy and turn out so pretty. This was the first kitchen gift we gave and is still our favorite.
  2. Cupcakes in a Jar. This is another pretty creation and is nice for those who do not cook much. We love to send these little jars to grandparents for nice little surprises.
  3. Lemon Curd. This is so easy and so heavenly. Audrey's paternal grandma loves lemon curd so we usually make this recipe for her. The best part about this recipe is that it cooks in the microwave.
  4. Cranberry Muffins. Or any flavor, really. This recipe is easy to follow and easy to substitute your own preferences. Muffins are easy to cook with young helpers. I always recommend muffins for a first time recipe.
  5. Pumpkin Bread. Almost as easy as muffins and still very tasty. We like pumpkin and tend to make gifts with its classic holiday taste.
These recipes are all sweet but we do have a few savory recipes we like to gift. Check out all of our holiday recommendations to pick the best gift for your helpers to make.

Making cookies with Aunt Lisa.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Spritz Cookies

The girls wanted to make cookies and their father wanted to have a traditional meal like with his family. Since we are spending this holiday with my family I felt we could accommodate him. The girl's paternal grandfather makes the best spritz cookies and we decided to try our hands. Now everyone is happy.

  • 3 1/2 cups flour, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
Beat butter in mixer until soft and add 1 cup flour. Mix until incorporated. Add sugar, egg, baking soda, vanilla and almond extract and beat until mixed. Gradually add remaining flour. Place in a cookie press and put cookie shapes on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes or until edges are set but not brown. Cool on wire racks.

Audrey and Maurene's Tasks:

  1. Help measure and add ingredients
  2. Turn mixer on and off
  3. Crack egg
  4. Help press cookies onto sheets
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Assist girls
  3. Bake cookies
If you do not remove the cookies from the sheets while they are warm they will stick a little. For Pampered Chef ceramic sheets this is just a minor problem as most will still come off. If, however, you use a regular metal sheet you need to give up on your cookies forever. 

That's a lot of butter.

Mo is always in charge of the mixer.

Small bar pan with buttery goodness.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's For Lunch Wednesday, Four!

Audrey is still having fun with the shape cutters. This week she decided to pull out the number four for the age she will be on her next birthday. This was decided after she picked a star PB&J sandwich. I did not want to do two PB&J cutouts so I pulled out a cheese slice. When I asked what shape Maurene should have she said a two, for her age. After all of the talk about numbers they had little interest in adding much to the lunches. Both girls love this time of year because of the abundance of sweet clementines. So we added on of those to each and a few grapes. They were too busy playing this day to eat much of this lunch.

Audrey will be four in a few weeks.

Mo still gets a two.

For some more imaginative lunches check out What's For Lunch Wednesday for fun Bento meals.

Bento Lunch

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Slow Cooker Garlic Chicken

One of the easiest ways involve children in the kitchen is to bake with them. Since there are only so many cookies one family can consume we end up having a lot of baked casseroles and slow cooker meals. Not only are they easy for the children to help with but they tend to be low maintenance. Since I am not the best cook low maintenance is good. That was the idea behind this meal. Maurene helped me throw a few simple ingredients into our crock and we forgot about it until dinner. As a matter of fact, I was not able to feed dinner to the girls this evening so their father did. When I came home after the girls were in bed most of the chicken was gone. I guess everyone loved it.

  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken (we like thighs)
  • 12 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup stock
  • 1 tbsp quick cooking tapioca
Peel and mince garlic. Saute garlic in a tiny bit of oil for a few minutes. Place in cooker over chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Add broth, tapioca, and chicken and set to low for about 6 hours or high for about 3. If you use a meatier cut you might need to cook it longer. Check with a thermometer.

Mom's Tasks:
  1. Peel and mince garlic
  2. Help saute
Maurene's Tasks:
  1. Help saute garlic
  2. Place garlic in crock
  3. Pour in broth and tapioca
  4. Season
  5. Add chicken
  6. Turn crock on
I loved that this meal was so easy and tasty. It just goes to show you that creating yummy meals and treats that kids will eat does not require an online culinary arts degree. The original recipe called for artichokes but I left them out because the girl's father is not a fan. Serve this dish with pasta or rice and your favorite vegetable. We keep cooked rice in the fridge and peas in the freezer for a super fast meal.

Adding ingredients.

Placing chicken in crock.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday, Gobble Gobble

I had to pull out the turkey cookie cutter. The girls are not really aware of the upcoming holiday. Audrey has been making a few items at school for a Thanksgiving Feast but I do not know if she associates that with the turkey. So I went ahead and pulled out the turkey shape for them.

This was a simple (mostly) fruit meal with a PB&J cut-out and some yogurt. No major inspiration but the girls loved it. Muffin Tin Monday meals are always well received. Audrey asked me to take a picture of her hand with the muffin tins. I have no idea why.

Helping make turkey cut-outs.

Dishing up yogurt.

A gobble good meal.

Check out what every one else is having in their muffin tins for Muffin Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Monday at

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Rainbow Bunch

I started this blog because I could not find much out there for cooking with very young children. Audrey was almost two when I published our first blog post and most of what I found was for ages five and up. I have since located a wealth of information about cooking with small children but in the beginning it was tough to know how to include Audrey.

As I continued our journey I was fortunate to locate some amazing people along the way who shared their expertise. One of the first was Kia Robertson from Today I Ate A Rainbow. She has blessed us with two Rainbow Kits and provided much needed encouragement. The kits helped us think about healthy eating in an entirely new way. We now look at our plates and try to make sure each meal is as colorful as possible.

A Rainbow Kit.

In the Rainbow Kit is a fun little book about The Rainbow Bunch. They are a group of children who do not eat healthy and notice how their poor eating effects them. When they start to eat healthier and more colorful foods they feel much better. The book is great for reading to even the youngest child because it is simple yet informative. 

My girls have been working on rainbow plates for so long it is just part of how we eat. But whenever we read the story the girls always want to have another rainbow meal. It makes me so happy to have these healthy and fun meals with the girls. I had no idea when we first received our kit how much it would change our eating.

Making rainbow fruit sticks with grandpa.

Colorful snacks.

Fresh selection for Muffin Tin Monday.

Playing with her Rainbow Chart.

Enjoying her Rainbow Bunch book.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Local Edition, This is the End

The last regular Downtown Farmers Market occurs today from 8am-12pm. The weather is predicted to be beautiful so you have no reason not to stop by. From emails, direct information, and Facebook posts I have learned that most farmers are bringing foods to help you stock up. We have already purchased a pork bundle from Hilltop Farms and hope to make another purchase of eggs from them for the holiday baking we plan to start this week. MAD Farms has cold weather crops for you to bulk up your produce stock. 

This will be a sad day for us. We have grown to love visiting with our local farmers and enjoying the fruits of their labor. Maurene has been talking about visiting the Farmers Market every day for a week. Every Saturday when the girls wake up they get excited when they learn the day. After today we are going to need to find another way to get excited about our Saturday.

I believe that one of the ways we will get through what could be a long winter is by taking a short trip to Missouri.

The Big Bad Missouri Tiger.

The City Market is 45 minutes from us and runs year round. It is open from 7am-3pm Saturday and 8am-3pm Sunday. Keep up with us to see what we find. How do you deal with the cold days of winter where you  live? Do you have the luxury of a year round market? We would love to hear from you.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Five Easy Tools for Toddler Cooking

When talking about my blog with others I am often asked what type of tools I use to cook with my girls. I would love to plug a fabulous sponsored product that could earn us enough to send both girls to college but that is not the case. We have a few fun kids cooking supplies but the majority of what we use everyday is found in most kitchens. Here are five of our must-have items:

  1. A food processor or blender. I prefer the food processor but that might be because my blender is not top of the line. Come to think of it, neither is my food processor. We need to get a sponsor for a really nice food processor as well. Some one get on that. If you  read our blog regularly you will see that we love our food processor. It is cheap and just about to crack into 50 pieces. Really. But we still use it 3-4 times a week.
  2. A flexible cutting board. I purchased a set of 4 at Bed, Bath & Beyond about 4 years ago. We use these 3-4 times a day. They are light-weight and flexible so they fit anywhere. If you place one under your work station it can act as a mess shield making clean up easier. They are also fabulous for helping little ones get ingredients into a pot or bowl. 
  3. A basic butter knife. We have kids knives but find that we can use a butter knife for most jobs that toddler and preschool children can do. They are just as safe as children's knives and do not require an extra purchase. If you do want to get a child's knife we recommend Curious Chef Knives. They have great handles and are made really well.
  4. Some glass baking dishes with glass lids. We use these in the oven and in the microwave. They make cooking easy regardless of which method you choose. The girls got me a set for my birthday this year and we have used them non-stop every since. We have even been know to do our mixing in them instead of a separate bowl before baking. I just love baking in glass. 
  5. A few small baking sheets. We love our small bar pans from Pampered Chef. They are fun for little pizzas and baking potatoes. I like the fact that the girls can make one small sheet of cookies and we do not have a pan that is too big for them to work with. The Pampered Chef pans are fabulous because they are ceramic and bake so much better. I still have a few metal baking sheets but I only use them if my others are dirty.
You do not need a lot of fancy equipment to cook with your little ones. I went a little crazy with Audrey in the beginning and bought a lot of stuff we do not use all that much. With Maurene I learned my lesson and just gave her a wooden spoon and a bowl full of raisins and flour. She ate the raisins and spread the flour all over the floor.

Mo's favorite gadget.

A flexible cutting board.

A good butter knife.

A glass baking dish.

A small baking sheet.
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dessert First Season

Last month we were invited to participate in Dessert First Month by Blue Bunny. We got started a little late but the girls were happy to make up for lost time. They sent us an overnight shipment of ice cream and a gift card for dessert supplies. I thought at first that we would try it a few times and then I could tell the girls dessert could go back to after dinner. Then we tried it.

Since I was helping the girls make a dessert they would eat before dinner I tried to keep the servings small. And they enjoyed every bite. Then we had dinner as usual. But, surprisingly, there was no fight over how long they needed to wait or how much they needed to eat before dessert. The fight was deflated by dessert already having been consumed. I started to really like the idea. We don't eat dessert at every dinner but when we do we are a lot more likely to have it first. 

Apple Cider Float.

Peanut Butter Panic.

Ill-fated mummies.

Hot chocolate float.

Mini cones.
Apple Cider Floats
  • Apple cider
  • vanilla ice cream
Hot Chocolate Floats
  • Hot chocolate
  • chocolate ice cream
Horchata Floats
  • Hot horchata
  • vanilla ice cream
Pick your favorite and enjoy! This is perfect weather for a warm beverage float.

You will notice that, other than the mummies, the servings were small and the smiles were big. The Blue Bunny website has so many fun fabulous recipes to make your dessert first evenings a blast. There are even savory recipes like Savory Thanksgiving Stuffing. 

Audrey heard me talk about it being Dessert First Month but she mixed up the label and started calling it Dessert First Season. I like that. And you will too after you take the fight out of dessert.

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