Quick for Kids

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Happy National Chocolate Chip Day! To commemorate the invention of chocolate chip cookies by a creative baker back in the 1930s, May 15th is the day to bake up a batch. But cookies are so 2013. Make muffins instead to pair chocolate chips with something a little healthier – oats.

 Open chocolate chip oatmeal muffins

Recipe

Makes 12 regular-sized muffins

 

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour (or go half whole-wheat, half all purpose or use just all-purpose)

1 cup oats

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg (opt.)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup milk

1 cup mini-chocolate chips

2 tbsp. ground flax seed (opt.)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the dried ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
  4. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones until just softened.
  5. Fill each of the muffin tins up 2/3 full. (You can use muffin papers or generously grease the pan with baking spray.)
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until just browned around the edges.

Optional: Add sugar crystals, chopped nuts, or extra mini-chocolate chips on top of the batter before baking.

*Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is.

 

Stacked chocolate chip oatmeal muffins

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5 Ways to introduce your kids to ramps

RampsRamps are the first sign – and taste – of spring. In appearance ramps look like tulip leaves outfitted with green onion bulbs. And the flavor is a mild to robust garlicly zing with undercurrents of onion.

Now how to get your kids to try leeks … there’s no disguising ramps green color but you can meld the flavor in with other foods that are familiar to your kiddos. Here are a few ways we’ve used them so far, so good.

 

Mixed into shredded lettuce on tacos

Thin sliced ramps can be tossed into shredded iceberg lettuce and then used to top tacos.

 

Sauteed in scrambled eggs

In a skillet add 1 tablespoon of butter and bring it to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of thin-sliced leeks to the butter and saute for 1 minute. Add in whisked eggs and scramble.

 

Stirred into cream cheese as a dip for chips

Purchase a container of whipped cream cheese and mix in chopped ramps along with salt and pepper to taste. Offer this as a dip for your kids with tortilla chips, baby carrots, and/or celery sticks.

 

Blended into sauces

Time to whip out the blender. Use it to mix ramps into spaghetti sauce or other colorful sauces that love garlic.

 

Plain!

I used ramp leaves instead of lettuce on sandwiches.

 

Now it’s your turn: Have you tried ramps? How do you like to serve them?

 

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Simple Blackberry Vinaigrette

Blackberry vinaigretteFor dinner, we’ll often do a big salad–especially now that spring is finally here.

 

But salads can be boring. And kids know it.

 

So I like to play with the lettuce, toppings, and dressing to keep my kids asking, Can we have salad for dinner?

 

Berries–dried or fresh–are a great way to enliven a salad and add a burst of sweetness. I also like to add them into the dressing.

 

You can make your own vinaigrette from scratch by using equal parts vinegar (or fresh lemon juice) and olive oil along with seasonings such as dried herbs but I usually don’t have time on a weeknight meal to do all that. Instead, I start with a good quality store-bought vinaigrette as a base and then pump up the flavor.

 

Here’s how to make your own blackberry vinaigrette–this is the perfect starter salad dressing recipe for kids who like to help in the kitchen and are old enough to be trusted with the blender.

 

Recipe

Yield: About 1 1/3 cups dressing

 

Ingredients

1 cup oil-based salad dressing (I like Matsos Greek Dressing or Ken’s Lite Northern Italian Dressing)

1/3 cup blackberries (or any other kind of berry, fresh or frozen)

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (opt.)

1/2 tbsp. fresh parsley or other fresh herb you have on hand–basil would be fabulous (opt.)

1/4 tsp. ground cayenne

 

Directions

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and puree. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  2. Drizzle on your salad.

 

Salad Suggestions

Romaine lettuce or green leaf, topped with grated carrots, pumpkin seeds, cubed cheese like Gouda, thin sliced onion, rotisserie or grilled chicken

 

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Lettuce Tacos

Lettuce tacosWhen I first approached my kids about having lettuce wraps for dinner I was greeted to a collective yawn. Not so when I mentioned we’d be having lettuce tacos. Sometimes, getting your kids to eat more greens is all in the phrasing.

 

You can fill your lettuce tacos with whatever fillings you usually use on taco night – or go for something different. We decided on a Thai-themed version.

 

Thai Taco Recipe

Ingredients

! head Boston or Romaine lettuce*

1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. white pepper

Dash of cayenne pepper (opt.)

Salt to taste (I prefer sea salt on this one)

1/2 lime

 

Lettuce taco assembly

Thai slaw (opt.)

1 1/2 cups shredded Napa cabbage

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1 1/2 tbsps. Greek or Italian vinaigrette salad dressing (I use Matsos)

2 tbsps. mayo

1/2 lime

Salt and pepper to taste

(Toss together)

 

Optional ingredients

 

Directions

  1. Wash and clean the lettuce pieces – try to keep them as large as possible.
  2. Meanwhile, add the oil to a large saute pan and bring to medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the hot pan and saute until no longer pink. Stir in the garlic and seasonings. Finish cooking through (about 5-7 minutes total, depending on how small you diced the chicken pieces). Remove from pan; squeeze the chicken with the juice from the fresh lime.
  3. Lay out your DIY tacos with filling ingredients – lettuce pieces, chicken, red peppers, golden raisins, slaw, Sriracha and let your kiddos serve themselves.

 

*Use Boston lettuce leaves (for softer tacos) or Romaine lettuce (for a stiffer taco)

Lettuce tacos with sriracha

 

 

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Fancify Friday: Easy Chocolate Almond Footballs

Chocolate almond footballs

Admission: I’m a Broncos fan and fully expect them to win the Super Bowl this Sunday (even though Peyton Manning has a 0-4 playoff game record when it comes to temps under 40 degrees).

 

These easy chocolate almond footballs are a fun way to dress up your Super Bowl party table or top game-day cupcakes.

 

Here’s how to make them.

  1. Melt a few wafers of white almond bark in the microwave.
  2. Use a toothpick to draw the threads on chocolate almonds (tasty football stand-ins).
  3. Place the almonds on waxed paper to set. That’s it!

 

Football cupcake

 

 

 

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Hearty Apple Cider Waffles

Hearty Apple Cider Waffles pic

I’m happily drowning in apples around my house–we’re snapping up every last Honey Crisp apple until the season is over. But all those extra apples need a place to go (when we’re not munching on them). My idea? Waffles. To up the apple-y flavor I thinned the batter with apple cider and a touch of maple flavoring.

 

But I wanted these apple waffles to be filling enough to serve for dinner. So I used plain Greek yogurt for a dose of protein in the mix and added in some whole-wheat flour. Walnuts round out the nutrient boost to make these waffles worthy of dinner.

 

Recipe

Servings: 5 waffles

Prep time: 10 minutes + baking

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour (I use 1 cup all-purpose, 1/2 cup whole-wheat)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tbsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup plain yogurt

1 egg

4 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled

1/3 cup apples, diced small

1/4 cup milk

1/3 cup apple cider

1/4 cup  walnuts, chopped small

1/2 tsp. maple flavoring

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your waffle iron.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Whisk together yogurt, butter, milk, maple flavoring, and the egg.
  4. Stir in walnuts and apple dices; thin the batter with apple cider.
  5. Add batter to the waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Cook through.
  6. The waffle will be soft when you remove it from the iron and will then firm up as it cools.
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Pumpkin hummus

Pumpkin hummus closeup picPumpkin loves garbanzo beans–the proof is in the hummus. Add pureed pumpkin into your hummus for a subtle, earthy underlying flavor.

 

The basic recipe is fast and easy to put together:

1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans

4 tbsp. tahini

4 tbsp. pureed pumpkin

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp. sea salt

 

Directions:

  1. Drain beans (reserving liquid) and place them into a food processor along with the pumpkin.
  2. With the blade running add in the olive oil and half of the reserved bean liquid.
  3. Remove the top of the food processor, scrap down the sides and add salt and tahini.
  4. Adjust the texture and flavor of the hummus using seasoning and more pumpkin, bean liquid, and/or spices.

 

For pumpkin pie hummus:

Add 1/2-1 tsp. pumpkin pie seasoning (or a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves) and more pureed pumpkin

 

For Lebanese pumpkin hummus:

Add 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika, and the juice from one lemon

Pumpkin hummus pic

 

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5 Ways to Use Halloween Cookie Cutters

Halloween cookie cutters picForget the cookies. You can use Halloween cookie cutters for so much more. They’re an easy way to turn a ho-hum PB&J into a fun lunch surprise. (Well, we make PB&A sandwiches around our house–my youngest prefers agave over jam.)

 

Other ways to use cookie cutters:

•Make Halloween tortilla chips–baked or fried
Pack day-old rice into the cookie cutter and then serve it on each person’s plate
•Place one on each person’s dessert plate and then sprinkle with cocoa powder to leave an outline of the Halloween shape
•Press into hot-off-the pan grilled cheese sandwich
•Cook pancakes then press in the Halloween shape

 

Halloween Cookie Cutter Cat pic

 

 

 

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Fancify Friday: Add fruit to savory dishes

A kick of sweetness–courtesy of fruit–is just the thing to brighten the flavor of many savory dishes.

Strawberries on burger

My kids were intrigued when we added thinly sliced strawberries to burgers. The verdict? The tangy berries mixed in with the other fixins’ perfectly. We don’t add strawberries all the time–but I like to use what I have on hand to reinvent dishes we have all the time. Which brings me to salad…

Mangos on salad

I usually throw some sort of fruit into our salads–diced apples, peach wedges, sliced mangoes. Again, it’s a matter of using what’s in season (and on your counter) to bring new life to your old-standbys. Plus, cutting up fruit is a great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen prep.

Mangos on salad with oriental dressing

 

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Raspberry picking time

Raspberries in bin It’s that time of year again. Break out the baskets and start picking! We brought home 4 baskets of berries from a nearby farm, Monroe’s Orchard.

Child picking raspberriesSome of our berries didn’t even survive the car ride home, but I’ve already frozen plenty so we can have fresh berries in the winter. Have you been raspberry picking yet?

Children picking raspberries

Raspberries

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