Hooray for the Half! Angels vs. Devils (cakes, not kids)

From Lisa Barnes

When you ask a child under 10 years old their age, you’re bound to hear a fraction in the answer. “I’m 5… and a half” says my son. Of course the “half” is said louder than the rest of the answer. A friend of his says “Well I’m 5 and a quarter”. My kids both get their halves in January. In order to celebrate this momentous occasion, we make a half dessert. It could be half a cake (to be shared by the family) or each person gets half a muffin or cupcake.

We even cut the candle in half. So you still get a wish, it’s just a stubby one. And we sing “Happy Half Birthday to You…” There are no fancy gifts (isn’t the title enough?), but I like to give a pair of socks or shoes (just wrapping one).

My daughter is a vanilla lover while my son goes for chocolate (like, Mom, the darker the better). I’ve shared a few cupcake recipes (carrot cupcakes, better brownie cupcake) which work well cut in half. Here’s also an angel food and devil’s food recipe, so you can see who wins out in your house.
Happy Half!

Angel Food Cake

This is a yummy, light, and airy cake for celebrating just about anything. It is a lighter alternative to chocolate cakes with heavy frosting. The fun part for kids and adults is letting them choose their own toppings and décor for their piece. Set out fresh raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries; whip up some cream; and maybe have some chocolate sauce for a truly decadent treat. Let children create their own special pieces.

Makes 12 servings

1 cup organic cake flour, sifted
1 1/3 cups evaporated cane juice
12 large cage-free organic egg whites, at room temperature
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan or tube pan.

Mix cake flour and sugar together in a bowl. Beat egg whites and the cream of tartar with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks are formed, about 5 minutes. Sift one-third of the flour mixture into the egg whites and gently fold in. Repeat by sifting another one-third of flour and finally the last one-third until all combined. Fold in salt, vanilla, and almond extract until combined.

Pour or spoon batter into prepared pan. It will fill the pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until top is golden brown and batter does not shake. Remove pan from oven and completely cool in pan on a wire rack, about 1 hour. When cool, place plate over top of pan and carefully turn over. If cake does not come out, slide a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen cake.

Little Devil’s Cake

This is not a true devil’s food cake because it does not contain melted chocolate in addition to cocoa. However your little devil will be happy to indulge in this tasty cake. The drizzle of frosting is especially pretty and lends moisture to the cake.

Makes 1 (8-inch-round) cake; 8 servings

5 tablespoons organic unsalted butter, melted
½ cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup organic applesauce
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 large cage-free organic eggs
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup unbleached organic all-purpose flour
¼ cup hot water


1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon organic milk, plus additional if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8-inch-round cake pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together butter and cocoa. Stir in applesauce and brown sugar until combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating to combine. Stir in vanilla, baking soda, and salt.

Gradually add flour to cocoa mixture, stirring just until blended but do not over mix. Stir in hot water, just until blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Gently turn out cake and cool completely on wire rack before icing.

To make icing: Combine all icing ingredients in a small bowl. Using a fork, drizzle icing over cake. To serve, cut into 8 wedges.

Disappearing Icing. We made this for my son’s half birthday. The next day my son wanted a piece and noticed the icing was gone. He wondered what happened. I explained it was magic and that it just sunk into the cake. He asked, “If I say abracadabra will it reappear?”
See also Lisa’s She Takes The Cake (with Organic Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe For Kids)
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Lisa Barnes
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com

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The Show Must Go On – Soothing Organic Recipes for Children Under the Weather

From Lisa Barnes

Since winter started it seems every time I take my children to school there’s a new rash of sickness. Even with a healthy diet, lots of laughter and exercise, there’s no escaping the preschool germs. My kids (as well as the rest of our family) were ill over the holidays. This was a real bummer – at least for the adults. It’s too bad our kids count down and look forward to such dates. When they were smaller I could just “postpone” a holiday or occasion if need be.

On Christmas Eve, my husband and I took turns trying to stay awake with our five year old (who wanted to wait up for Santa) and then putting together and strategically placing the Santa gifts. This was all while running to the bathroom every 20 minutes. When I was looking for some empathy from my parents on Christmas day, they told me of stories when they did the same for me during my childhood. I guess “the show must go on”, and always has and always will. So while I felt bad that my kids would have a negative memory of the holiday, they were happy that Santa came and that they had popsicles for dinner. (The Christmas dinner I had planned, we enjoyed a few nights later when we were all back to solids).

I am often asked what to give a baby or child when not feeling well. I’ve always made camomile tea, broth and popsicles when my kids were under the weather. It gives them liquid as well as a dose of some needed vitamins and nutrients. It’s easy to have broth (in cubes frozen in the freezer) and a tray of popsicles ready for the first sneeze or temperature. For those wanting to provide some homemade broths and popsicles to comfort a little (or big) one here are some recipes to help. Stay well!

Very Veggie Broth
This is a favorite recipe from The Petit Appetit Cookbook as it is a basic broth recipe for a baby’s bottle or sippy cup. It delivers a punch of calcium and vitamin C for a child (or any age) needing a liquid diet or vitamin pick-me-up. Serve warm or cool in a cup or bottle for baby. Also this broth freezes well in ice cube trays for later use.

Makes about 3 cups; 6 servings

1 quart cold water
1 cup organic cauliflower flowerets, (about 3 to 4 ounces)
1 cup organic broccoli florets (about 2 to 3 ounces)
1 cup organic collard or dandelion greens, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 cup rounds organic carrots, (about 3 to 4 ounces)

Place water in a medium pot with a lid. Add vegetables and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cover pot. Cook for 1 hour.

Strain broth and reserve vegetables. These can be pureed or mashed for baby.

Not Just Baby Broth. This is a great broth for many ages and uses. It can be a liquid meal for someone under the weather, a calcium rich soup for baby, or a flavorful liquid for poaching meats and fish. Always having broth cubes in the freezer means lots of cooking options for you and your family.

Dried Fruit Broth
If constipation is a problem and your pediatrician suggests juice, here’s a way to make your own broth that’s not as sweet as store juice and not as strong for young taste buds and system as well. This is much easier to swallow than full force commercially packaged prune juice, but will still have some of the laxative benefits.

Makes 1 cup broth

½ cup dried organic prunes, peaches, or apricots
2 cups water

Put dried fruit and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 40 minutes. Broth will be reduced, darker in color, and have sweet fruit flavor. Strain through a strainer into a bowl.

Want more laxative? Puree the remaining cooked fruit in a food processor or blender and mix with plain yogurt or spread on toast. The fruit can even be enjoyed alone as it will be soft, but lighter in flavor.

Any Juice Pops
Look beyond the boxed pops in the freezer section of the grocery store. There’s no telling how many combinations and variations you and your children can make by having an ice pop mold on hand. These are nice and icy on a hot day and can be made with any juice you have on hand. Adding water dilutes the juice and sugar a bit and also lends a more “icy” texture.

Makes 8 (¼-cup) pops

1½ cups fresh organic fruit juice such as unfiltered apple juice
½ cup water

Shake juice container to mix contents before measuring and pour into pitcher. Add water to juice and stir.

Pour liquid into ice pop molds. Put the tops on and transfer to the freezer on a flat shelf to freeze until solid, about 1 hour.

To remove the pops from the mold, stand the mold in a bowl of cold water (or run water under one, to release only one pop) for 1 to 2 minutes until the pops lift out.

Kids Korner
Mix It Up! There’s no need to stop at one juice for these pops. Ask your child for flavor combinations. Combine orange and apple or pear and pomegranate. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be making lots of colors and flavors of frozen treats.
See also Lisa’s Safely Feeding Babies – 10 Important Tips (plus one you already know)
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: © Rmarmion | Dreamstime.com
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com

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New Year’s at Nine (with Organic Recipes)

From Lisa Barnes

What did you do for New Year’s with small children and no babysitter?  We had a family party to celebrate the New Year on East Coast time. Although you can use Australian time, or any other time that suits your needs and bedtime. We were hoping to celebrate with friends and their kids, however we were getting over the flu and didn’t want to spread the “cheer”.

However the good thing about kids (at least little ones) is that they really don’t know much about time.  So blowing a noisemaker and putting on silly hats at 8:30 p.m. works for them.  This can be effective for any celebration or get together with little ones.  A few festive foods and decorations and it doesn’t matter what time it is. Plan for all ages to be awake and be able to celebrate with sparkling drinks and party snack foods for your next celebration. With Tivo and other recording devices the New Year’s Eve ball drop can happen anytime – day or night (or more than once a year).

Our menu (recipes below) was fun because we ate our New Year’s dinner with our fingers – like a real h’ors d’ouvre party.  Some other easy and kid fun “bites” include threading things on toothpicks like cut sausage (serve with mustard or ketchup dip of course), or grilled shrimp or chicken pieces.  Happy 2009!

Organic Juice Sparkler

This is a fun and healthy way for children to join in on a fancy toast with a sparkling drink of their own. This recipe is really simple and can be made with any kind of fresh, organic juice such as orange, pear, or apple. At holiday time I like pomegranate juice because of the bright and festive color. Pomegranates are a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids. The juice can be found year round in the fresh refrigerated juice section of most supermarkets.

Makes 1 cup

¾ cup sparkling mineral water
¼ cup fresh pomegranate juice

Combine water and juice in a glass.


If serving a crowd, combine three parts sparkling mineral water with one part fresh pomegranate juice in a pitcher. Serve over ice cube cuties for older children and adults.

Kids Korner

For a really festive drink, add a few cranberry ice cubes (just add cranberries when freezing water in trays) and a straw. You’ll be surprised how much those touches will excite your child.

Kids’ Crab Cakes

Just because “kids” is part of the title, don’t be hesitant to share these with adults, too. They are simply shapes for smaller mouths, or a single hors d’oeuvres bite for mom and dad. These are festive and special for a holiday appetizer or dinner with family, and made healthier than the usual crab cakes with yogurt substituting for mayonnaise.

Makes 16 to 18 (1½-inch) crab cakes

1 large cage-free organic egg
1 tablespoon organic plain yogurt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill
½ teaspoon grated yellow onion
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup soft bread crumbs
8 ounces fresh or canned lump crabmeat
3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs or panko
2 teaspoons expeller-pressed canola oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, mustard, dill, onion, and pepper. Stir in soft bread crumbs until combined. Stir in crabmeat until combined but do not overmix.

In a small bowl, combine dry bread crumbs and oil. Set aside.

Using your fingers, shape heaping tablespoonfuls of the crab mixture into 1½-inch rounds and flatten. Press each side of cake into dry bread crumb mixture to stick.

Arrange on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden on bottom and cooked through.

Zuke Sticks

Zucchini is a tough name to pronounce for little ones and zuke sounds much more fun. These are a good snack food, side dish, or party food to serve with other veggie sticks. A side of marinara sauce or ketchup is good for those little dippers.

Makes about 50 sticks; about 6 servings

¾ cup dried bread crumbs or Panko
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup organic unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup organic milk
3 medium organic zucchini, cut lengthwise into 3 × ½-inch pieces (peel if desired)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Place the flour on a plate. Pour milk into a shallow bowl.

Dip each zucchini stick in flour until lightly coated. Then dip in milk. Finally roll in bread crumb mixture until covered, pressing so mixture sticks.

Transfer zucchini sticks to prepared pan and bake for 22 to 24 minutes, until zucchini is tender and coating is crisp and brown.

Kids Korner

Enlist older children to help by rolling sticks in flour, milk, and bread crumbs. This may become a messy job as mixture can stick to fingers. A child that does not like messy hands will pass on this task.
See also Lisa’s Happy New Year! Lobster vs. Pizza – Don’t Ask
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: © Roberto Giovannini | Dreamstime.com
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com

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