Archive for March, 2013

Fun kid-friendly brunch ideas

This Easter my kids are going to be taking care of breakfast. And yours can too with these easy ideas and recipes:

 

Child mixing up eggsYeasted waffles: Let your kiddos mix up the batter and use the waffle iron.

 

Mini quiches: Encourage your kids to make their own mixins’ like broccoli, cheese, tomatoes, and more.

Mini quiches

Mini bread: Yeah, I’m on a mini-streak, but kids love to make things that are their size.

 

Break out the cookie cutters: Deck out your brunch with cheese, thinly sliced veggies, bread, and other little goodies your kids create.

Appoint a fruit salad crew: My youngest loves to make fruit salads. It doesn’t need to be exotic fruits–apples, bananas, and oranges do just fine.

Child making fruit salad

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Kid’s book review: Molly Moon + ketchup pinwheels

Molly MoonI’m excited about a new project going on at MKES: Kids’ book reviews. I’ve asked my kiddos to weigh in on their favorite books–with this twist–we’re making recipes inspired by the characters.

 

One of our favorite series is about a clever girl who discovers she has a hidden talent or two (no wonder my daughter is eager to read each new installment!). But I’ll let my 4th grader explain the rest.

 

Book Review: Molly Moon

Hi I’m the youngest in our family and I finished the book Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism. It is about an orphan named Molly Moon who has a tough time fitting in. She is picked on by the other kids at the orphanage and the staff there. But all of that changes when she finds a book about real Hypnotism! She then learns how to hypnotize people by studying and studying. Her friend Rockie helps too. Along the way she picks up a loyal companion, a cute dog called Petulia! An a interesting little detail about her is her absolutely favorite food is the weirdest food of all, ketchup sandwiches. She loves them so much she hypnotizes people to give them to her! This book is an amazing book. If you are a person who likes realistic fiction/action/comity/thrilling books this is the book for you. I had a lot of fun reading this book. I would recommend this book to children of all ages. So if you haven’t read this book or any of the thrilling sequels I’d go and get them. If you have read it I’d suggest reading the other books in the series or write back and tell me how it was. I hope you read this amazing book!

Sincerely,

The youngest squid eater

 

Recipe: Ketchup pinwheel sandwiches

 *I should mention this was more of an experiment than a culinary delight.

Prep time: 5 minutes (or less)

Servings: As many as you can eat

 

Ingredients:

1 slice bread

1 tbsp. ketchup

 

Child eating ketchup pinwheels

  1. Let your child thwap a piece of bread until it becomes paper thin.
  2. Slather ketchup onto the bread.
  3. Starting on one end, roll up the bread (yes, you’ll get ketchup on your fingers).
  4. Cut the ketchup roll into circles.
  5. Take a deep breath and try a ketchup roll.

 

Our verdict on Molly Moon’s favorite food: We decided after sampling ketchup sandwiches (even “fancified” ones as my daughter put it) you’d have to be hypnotized to really enjoy these. Sure, Molly likes the ketchup/bread combo and my daughter said she was glad she gave it a try. But as for becoming a ketchup sandwich fan like Molly, she says she’d rather read about it!

Ketchup pinwheels

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Why aren’t you using…white balsamic vinegar

White balsamic vinegarLately, I’m adding a few swigs of white balsamic vinegar into most of my savory sauces and homemade vinaigrettes. Maybe it’s that I’m anxious for spring to be here but the sweet yet acidic flavor of white balsamic brightens up just about anything.

 

I usually get my vinegars at Trader Joe’s where they’re reasonably priced and good quality.

 

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5 Ways to get your kids to go green

Beautiful broccoliMy tween went on a hunt today to find something green to wear tomorrow so that she won’t get pinched on St. Patrick’s Day. Her quest got me thinking that this holiday might just be the perfect excuse inspiration to encourage kids not just to wear green, but to eat more green.

 

Here are a few ideas that seem to be working around my house:

 

Keep it smooth

My teen and youngest are now hooked on my magic smoothies, which include spinach and go from green to red once you add in berries.

Add it in!

Whenever I make pasta I try to throw in some spinach or other greens too. I figure the more my kids see it on their plate, the more likely they are to eat it.

 

Make it easyTween eating lime

I make little baggies of cut up veggies and put them in the fridge so my kids can grab them as a quick snack.

 

Use the power of TV

While there are plenty of TV shows and ads that might have your child reaching for junk food–there might just be a few that could encourage them eat their veggies. For example, my youngest is a huge fan of the BBC Merlin series. She’s entranced with all things English. So when I mentioned that there were “English” cucumbers she decided they’re now her favorite.

 

Be an example

If you like greens, chances are your kids will too.

 

 

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Celebrate Pi Day!

Tween with pieIt’s 3.14–yes, Pi day! My tween needed to make a pie to take into her class so we brainstormed something that included some of her favorite ingredients: Nutella, pears, and white chocolate. Since the pie is headed to school, I, of course, had to make one for us to sample at home (sans the white chocolate and speckled with pecans and cranberries instead).

 

I tweaked this recipe from The Lovely Cupboard for my version.

 

Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes + 20 minutes baking

Servings: 8 pieces

 

IngredientsPi

1 unbaked pie shell

2 pears (apples would work well too)

3 tablespoons Apricot perserves

1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup Nutella (or more!)

Toppings: white chocolate chips, pecans, cranberries

 

Directions

  1. Place the unbaked pie dough into your pie or tart pan and press around the edges and up the sides to create the crust. Prick the crust with a fork a few times.
  2. Spread the Nutella over the bottom of the unbaked pie crust. This took more time than I thought it would–Nutella is sticky!
  3. Put the pie crust into the fridge while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Peel and slice the pears into thin pieces.
  5. Take the pie crust out of the fridge and layer the pears onto the Nutella.
  6. Mix the lemon juice in the preserves and warm in the microwave. I heated it for 30 seconds on high. Use a cooking brush (or spoon) to spread the preserves over the pears.
  7. Sprinkle the pears with topping, if using.

Kids’ reactions: The tart without the white chocolate chips was definitely the frontrunner versus the pie. My kids preferred the thinner crust too. I think next time I’d toss the pears in the marmalade and lemon juice before putting them on the pie to minimize the amount of liquid on day two.

Here's my version--I made mine in a tart pan and added a dash of nutmeg before baking.

Here’s my version–I made mine in a tart pan and added a dash of nutmeg before baking.

 

 

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Why aren’t you eating…coconut peanut butter?

coconut peanut butterI came across Earth Balance coconut peanut butter a few weeks ago at our local health food store and our house hasn’t been without it since. My teen likes to dip fresh or dried banana slices into the creamy variety or she spreads it on a pita for a quick breakfast.

 

I haven’t made my peanut butter cookies with it yet. But I’m thinking it would be great in Thai dipping sauces and stir fries too.

 

Besides the amazing flavor combo that is coconut and peanuts, I liked what I saw on the label: for the same serving, two tablespoons, regular peanut butter has 150mg of sodium while the coconut variety has only 95mg–that’s quite a salt savings (and my kids will never miss it). I haven’t seen the coconut peanut butter in any other brand than Earth Balance; I found it at Mustard Seed Market here in the greater Cleveland area, but you might be able to find it at your local store that carries organic foods.

 

Your turn: Are you a peanut butter fan? And if so, would you like a little coconut mixed in?

Banana slices and peanut butter

 

 

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Quick kitchen tip: teaching kids to cut

Learning to cutPart of encouraging kids to try new foods is to get them involved in preparing them. To help my kiddos get comfortable using knives–and to teach them to use them safely–I have them start out with a kitchen knife.

 

Bananas, strawberries, and English cucumbers are easy enough for kids to cut with a kitchen knife.

 

For harder fruits and vegetables, I start by cutting the apples, pears, or peppers into large pieces. Then I have my grade schooler cut them into smaller pieces using a serrated knife.

 

Here’s a few meals that are perfect for your sous-chef-in-training:

Fried rice

Salsa

Pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spinach pistachio pesto

Pesto on breadMaybe it’s from watching one too many episodes of Popeye growing up, but I love spinach. I try to eat at least a little spinach every day, whether it’s a simple salad, sauteed with pasta, or in smoothies.

 

So the other day when I was hankering for some summertime flavors, I decided to use some baby spinach as a stand in for part of the basil in a pesto recipe I ran across in Lidia’s Italy in America cookbook. Sure, I mixed in some basil, but the spinach gave the pesto just the right consistency and bright shade of green. As Lidia suggested, I mixed the pesto in with my pasta. We used the extra as a dip for the bread. Next time, I’d skip the pasta and just serve the pesto with the bread. I was literally scrapping the bowl of the food processor with bread to get every last drop–it was that good.

 

 Getting kids to try it tips:

  • My youngest will eat just about anything if it’s dippable. She gave the pesto rave reviews.
  • My tween isn’t a spinach fan. So I thought I might tempt her to give it a try if I mixed it with something she does like–pistachios. She tried the pesto, said it was, “Okay,” and left the rest untouched on her plate (uh, I ate it later;). She didn’t like it this time, but she was at least willing to give it a try, especially when she knew something she liked was in the mix.

 

pesto in blender

Pesto is so easy to make–everything just goes into the blender!

Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes

Servings: About 1 cup

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup packed baby spinach leaves

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves (opt.)

1/4 cup pistachios

1-2 garlic cloves

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (opt.)

2/3 cups olive oil

1 tsp. white vinegar (or fresh lemon juice or my preference, white balsamic vinegar)

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

 

Directions

  1. In a food processor, pulse together the spinach, parsley, basil, garlic, and pistachios.
  2. Slowly pour in the olive oil. (In my Cuisinart, you can pour the liquid into the feed tube and it works perfectly.)
  3. Process the ingredients until smooth.
  4. Add in the pepper, if using, cheese, vinegar, and adjust the seasoning.

 

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