Archive for the ‘Fun with Kids’ Category

Happy Adoption Day to Our Dog – Celebrate with Homemade Treats

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Out Girl, Ally McBeagle

This is a guest post by Jenny Holt, freelance writer.  The timing was perfect as we’re celebrating our dog’s 2nd year of adoption this weekend. My kids are making the Peanut Butter Delights.

Treat Your Dogs to these Delicious Home Made Recipes by Jenny Holt

We want nothing but the best for our furry best friends. There are plenty of options for a special treat for your dog off the shelf. However, there is nothing more special than making something from the scratch, right in your own kitchen. Reward your dog’s good behavior by baking him a home cooked treat, with a secret ingredient. These homemade dog treats are quick and easy to prepare. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s prepare a surprise for your dog.

Peanut Butter Delight

These peanut butter treats are so full of nutty rich flavor that your dog and their little friends
will love to gorge on them. Here is how you can quickly make a peanut butter delight for your pet.

Ingredients:

1 cup wheat flour (can also use any other flour)

½ cup peanut butter (creamy version)

¼ cup apple sauce (unsweetened) or mashed banana

¼ cup stock (vegetable, beef or chicken)

Preparation:
Set your oven to 350 degrees before you start preparing.
Take a large bowl and use your fingers to mix all the ingredients together. Make sure that all the lumps are removed and you have a smooth dough. Once smooth, you can roll it into a ball using your hands. Place it on a silicone mat. It is important for the dough to be at least ¼ inch thick. You can also place it in refrigerator for an hour before you use a cookie cutter to cut out the treats.
On an ungreased baking sheet, place the mini bones (cut using a cookie cutter) and bake for 18 minutes until golden brown.

Sweet Potato Chews (alternative to rawhide)

Dogs love their rawhide chews. While it can keep them busy for hours, they can be really bad for your pet’s digestive system and gums. If these rawhides are digested without being chewed properly, they can make it very difficult for your dog to pass stools and they may be in some discomfort. Instead of feeding them chemical rawhides, prepare these easy to make sweet potato chews. You can not only control what your pet is eating, they are also easy on their digestive system.

Ingredients:

1 Large, washed sweet potato

Preparation:
Set your oven to 250 degrees and preheat before you start preparing.
Start by cutting the potato into slices that are at least 1/3-inch thick. You can also slice it lengthwise for bigger pieces if you have a larger dog.
Use a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper for easy cleaning. Lay slices on the sheet. Make sure that they are flat and do not overlap.
Bake the slices for 3 hours. When then have been in there for nearly an hour and a half, you can turn the slices over to bake the other side.
Hang the chews on a wire rack and let them cool completely before serving them. You can store the excess chews for up to 3-months in a freezer.
Don’t worry if the chews appear soft as you take it out of the oven. They will eventually harden and become chewable as they cool. You can make them more tasty by slathering peanut butter on top to tempt your pet to try.
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Smoothie Creations

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

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My kids have been crazy lately for smoothies.  It may be that I’m helping at the local juice, smoothie cafe in Mill Valley, Juice Girl.  Or it may be that it’s still sunny out.  Or it may be that it’s easy and creative and each one turns out to be a surprise, if just following your imagination and what’s in the fridge.  Even at Juice Girl I’ve learned there’s lots of variations in the same smoothie.  There’s even a bit of adjustments to get the right consistency throughout the day.  The frozen fruit in the morning is more frozen and hard than in the afternoon (after doors have been opened and closed all day).  Not likely an issue at your house.  Also the sizes of fruits certainly vary.  A large banana will make your smoothie thicker than a small banana.  There’s the color as well.  Not every homemade creation is a lovely color.  My kids have made a few that look quite poo-like.  Not suitable for a smoothie shop, but still tasty (and funny) at home.

 

My kids have been crazy lately for smoothies.  It may be that I’m helping at the local juice, smoothie cafe in Mill Valley, Juice Girl.  Or it may be that it’s still sunny out.  Or it may be that it’s easy and creative and each one turns out to be a surprise, if just following your imagination and what’s in the fridge.  Even at Juice Girl I’ve learned there’s lots of variations in the same smoothie.  There’s even a bit of adjustments to get the right consistency throughout the day.  The frozen fruit in the morning is more frozen and hard than in the afternoon (after doors have been opened and closed all day).  Not likely an issue at your house.  Also the sizes of fruits certainly vary.  A large banana will make your smoothie thicker than a small banana.  There’s the color as well.  Not every homemade creation is a lovely color.  My kids have made a few that look quite poo-like.  Not suitable for a smoothie shop, but still tasty (and funny) at home.

 

My son likes to put in everything in a smoothie – yogurt, juice, fruit, even spices such as ginger.  My daughter is more of a fruit purist and coconut milk.  Although they’re both becoming open to more greens and nut butters (can’t all be sugar) in there too.  Thanks JG!  Using the blender is a good appliance that’s relatively kids safe as well.  Note, I didn’t saw mess proof.  Be sure those lids are on tight.  If your kids are inspired here are a few to get started from my new book, Cook This Book!, and then let them have the blender to create whatever they’ll drink.  That’s kind of the rule at my house.  Don’t create something just to experiment, and then not eat it.  Just keep adding until it’s edible.  And speaking of waste…UKonserve has some crazy statistics about plastic straws.  Check out their stainless steel ones to cut down on plastic when making at home.  (They have a special thru the end of September). I also have paper straws.  But these can prove difficult depending on the smoothie texture.  Remember to freeze any smoothie left-overs in popsicle molds to enjoy frozen.

Here’s two from page 96 of Cook This Book!

Tropical Fruit Frappe

The taste of the tropics in a cold and frozen treat.

Makes 1¼ cups

  • ¼ cup canned light coconut milk
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

PB&B

Everyone likes the combination of peanut butter and banana. Here’s a simple shake recipe; you can substitute any milk or milk alternative, as well as nut butter for peanut. Having frozen ripe bananas in the freezer make this fast and convenient for a breakfast or afterschool snack.

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 frozen banana, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon organic all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¾ cups organic nonfat milk

Put all ingredients together in a blender. Blend until smooth, and honey and peanut butter are incorporated, about 1 minute.

 

 

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It’s Finally Available – Cook This Book!

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

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I have been working on a new book for quite some time.  Not everyone was excited about it.  By “everyone” I mean my publisher.  Rather than toss aside my idea and manuscipt, I decided to self publish with CreateSpace.  I had big help at home with illustrations.  While looking for a graphic artist, I discovered my own kids were able to draw my ideas.  (Thankfully they were less expensive too!).  I also discovered going overseas to hire freelancers is a great way to find expertise, meet deadlines and stay within budget.  Thank you to Dragan in Croatia!

 

To be fair to my publisher, Cook This Book! is a big departure from my other Petit Appetit titles for sure.  Rather than teaching parents, this book turns over the kitchen and foodie activities to kids.  Many of my clients’ children, (as well as my own kids) love being involved in the kitchen and take food and cooking seriously.  They are not alone, as we now have many kid contestant cooking television shows such as Chopped Jr. and Kids Baking Championship. There are even some pop up restaurants with kid chef’s under 18.

 

Cook This Book! Over 100 Ways to Imagine, Create, Cook, Eat, Share Dare and Play With Food, encourage kids’ love of food and cooking by giving readers over one hundred activities, games, quizzes, and challenges that kids can do with food. There are no rules and no right answers. Each kid will experience the book in a unique and interactive way. Have a fast speed scavenger hunt in the supermarket. Create your own recipe using only five ingredients. Challenge your brother to a chili pepper taste off. Kids can skip around or do the same challenge over and over with different friends and family members and new ingredients.  They can also post photos of their fun (#cookthisbook) to share and compare with other readers.

 

This book empowers kids to create, cook, eat, dare, and share their foodie fun, knowledge, and experiences. Those just starting in the kitchen will find recipes for some favorites such as spaghetti, pancakes, and brownies. With helpful tips for knife skills, restaurant etiquette, and more! By experimenting with food they just might become the next big chef, a food critic, or at least help you make dinner.

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Summer of Pop – Cool Popsicle Ideas and Recipe

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

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My kids are usually big on making ice cream in the summer.  We certainly did make and eat some.  However this year at our house it seems to be the popsicle which took center stage for recipe experimentation and overall cool treat winner.  My daughter and her friend Emily, even set up a popsicle stand after experimenting for 2 days with flavors.  Watermelon, mango and strawberry were big hits while peach, raspberry and pineapple not as sweet.  It was actually less about the flavor than the texture.  The girls’ popsicles were nothing but fruit.  No sugar or anything added.  Just take fresh fruit, blend in a blender and pour into a popsicle mold.  That’s it!  This also meant no one would worry about gluten, dairy or nut allergies.  There was discussion and tests about water and they figured our about dilution and flavor vs quantity.  There was also a discovery that fruit should be ripe.  Under ripe fruit meant bland popsicles.

 

You have to give them credit…spending all day blending and freezing (of to be patient) and sign making, they still wanted to then go out and sell.  Here’s where the tricky part came and the logistics of a popsicle stand vs other non frozen edibles.  We thought ahead and used popsicle sticks and straws for sticks so people wouldn’t have to give back the reusable popsicle tops (or I wouldn’t loose them).  We carefully loosened the popsicles, set them back in the trays and carefully placed them in an ice chest with ice packs.  But how long would this last?  Well when opening and closing an ice chest full of frozen popsicles on an 85 degree day at the park the answer is about 30 – 40 minutes before they turn to slush.  Thankfully Emily’s mom to the rescue with a stop at the store to pick up cups.  They then rebooted the popsicles to “new fruit slushies” and ventured to another park to sell. Certainly their popsicle stand wasn’t as big of a draw as their past bake and lemonade stand sales, but you never know what they’ll create next.

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Not over the love of popsicles (or our crazy 90 degree heat), I decided to use some left-over canned coconut milk and create my own popsicle as a surprise for my kids finishing the first week of school.  I made sushi for dinner and then these were the perfect dessert pop to finish the hot evening.  I was inspiredly by a coconut popsicle recipe from Don’t Waste The Crumbs .  I changed mine to all coconut milk (vs mix with cream), reduced the maple syrup, omitted the fresh coconut flakes (my kids wouldn’t have wanted the hairy texture) and increased the recipe for a bigger pop mold.  Next time I’ll check my chocolate stash before freezing as the use of chocolate fudge sauce didn’t give my popsicles the hard chocolate coating I was hoping for.  However there were no complaints.

Coconut Chocolate Popsicles

(makes 4, 3 oz. popsicles)

  • 12 oz light coconut milk
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2  tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3 oz dark chocolate for coating, less if drizzling
  • ½ tsp coconut oil
  • pinch of sea salt
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Combine coconut, syrup and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt, or more to taste.
  2. Ladle or pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for a few hours, or until set.
  3. Prepare the chocolate “shell” coating by melting chocolate and coconut oil in a small sauce pot over low heat, stirring constantly until just melted.  Or melt in the microwave for 15 second intervals, stirring between each. (This is where I used fudge sauce and although tasty it don’t set in the freezer).  Once melted, remove from heat immediately and stir in a pinch of salt.
  4. When pops are frozen, remove from molds and place on a cookie sheet or plate lined with wax paper. Place pops in the freezer.
  5. Removing one pop at a time, use a small ladle or spoon to drizzle or pour the chocolate over the pop. Quickly transfer the pop back to the lined board in the freezer. Can sprinkle with additional flaked coconut if desired.
  6. Repeat until all pops are coated and in the freezer to set.
  7. Store pops in freezer until ready to eat (cover if storing longer than a few hours).
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Boston Cream Pie Birthday

Monday, August 24th, 2015

 

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This year my son was turning 12 and his request for a dessert was a Boston Cream Pie.  I thought it was kind of out there and not sure he had tasted one before but his sister and I were ready to oblige.  Of course since his b-day is in the summer it’s always a very busy day and when you factor in all the other things such as camp drop shuttling and family in town there never seems to be enough time for a scratch b-day cake… especially a Boston Cream Pie.  Also I’m not sure why it’s called a pie.  It is clearly a cake.

 

Thankfully I found a recipe that makes the cake with a few shortcuts.  I would usually avoid a birthday cake mix at all costs, however I found an organic, all natural mix by Immaculate Baking Company (no chemicals, additives, GMO’s) at Whole Foods.  That wasn’t my only shortcut however.  No time to do the scratch cream this recipe calls for vanilla pudding.  Believe it or not my son hasn’t had vanilla pudding.  Funny, but pudding just doesn’t seem to come up the way it did in the 70’s in my childhood.  It also means since he’s not a big Boston Cream Pie connoisseur, the pudding would certainly suffice and be yummy and new to him.

My daughter and I had a great time making and assembling the layers.  We did use high quality dark chocolate for the frosting.  No need to short cut there.  And I must say it was pretty impressive looking, and very tasty.

Funny thing was my son didn’t recognize it as what he had asked for.  When he saw it he said “Wow, that looks great.  What kind of cake is that?”  Huh?  Apparently after some discussion what he was really wanting was a chocolate cream pie, as in a true pie with a crust and chocolate meringue.  Of well.  Now he has another new favorite dessert to add to his repertoire and now we’ll have to make a chocolate cream pie so he realizes the difference.

Here’s the Recipe I found and made from Taste of Home.com

Boston Cream Pie

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 10 min. + cooling Bake: 30 min.
MAKES: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 package yellow cake mix (regular size)
  • 1-1/2 cups cold milk
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons hot water

Directions

  1. Prepare cake mix batter according to package directions. Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans.
  2. Bake at 350° for 28-33 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing cake from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Cover and refrigerate.
  4. In a microwave, melt chocolate and butter; stir until smooth. Stir in confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough water to achieve a thick glaze; set aside.
  5. Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with pudding. Top with the second cake layer. Spoon chocolate glaze over the top, allowing it to drip down sides of cake. Refrigerate until serving.  

 

 

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Amazing Race Party and Food Challenges

Friday, July 24th, 2015

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My family loves watching the Amazing Race.  The kids love to see all the crazy antics and challenges.  I love seeing all the settings and cultures from around the world.  And we all route for our favorite teams.  It’s kind of a life lesson in geography and anthropology all wrapped into one.  Showing the kids how people stick together and cooperate as well as how poor sportsmanship can bring down the team.

This year my daughter wanted an Amazing Race birthday party.  Since she wanted to participate I came up with the challenge and clues for her and her friends.  This was actually pretty fun and creative.  There was a dress up race around the park, a backyard obstacle course, a geography word scramble, just to name a few.  Of course I had to have some foodie challenges as well.
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We actually begun at a favorite local juice shop, Juice Girl where the girls had to drink a juice and smoothie and determine all the ingredients before getting their next clue.  There was a travel to China challenge where the girls used their chopsticks skills.  Finally I put them to work with a race to make lemonade (the old fashioned way – nothing electric), as well as cupcake decorating (using candy they collected at a yogurt shop contest).  This was good idea as not only were they making things quickly but they would also be careful and make them tasty as they would be drinking the lemonade with their lunch, and eating the cupcakes after.

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My daughter and her friends had a great time.  With all the challenges we kept 8, 9 year olds busy forabout 2.5 hours both at home and around town.  The challenges took some organizing (making simple syrup, gathering chopsticks) but really made use of things we already had at home (dress up clothes, obstacle items) and didn’t require buying much (bag of lemons, juices, smoothies).  We decided we’re going to do smaller get togethers and challenges more regularly, while we’re waiting for the show to start again.

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