Fun Kid Recipes

Oh no. I must be running out of ideas. Nah, I’ve got weeks worth before I start building this with new stuff.

We all hear how good it is to have kids in the kitchen. Teaches responsibility. Teaches math. Blah, blah, blah. Family fun time!

Of course, the best reason I heard was from Tornado E’s 7th grade math teacher. When you don’t follow directions when cooking, the consequences are immediate and disastrous. If that isn’t life lessons, I don’t know what are.

So I give you easy recipes to teach your kids how to cook. And yeah, I’ve got bunches of these.
1. Quesadillas. Try different cheeses.
2. Cheese crisp. Open face quesadillas baked in the oven so they are cheesy and crispy. Butter the tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, and pop into the oven until the edges get brown. Cut like a pizza Traditionally with cheddar. But I’ve done it with three different cheeses to make them look like candy corn once cut.
3. Trail mix. Kids love making it. Nuts, cereal, granola, pretzels, dried fruit, freeze-dried fruit, M&Ms. All kinds of fun and interesting combinations. I do this about once a year with my cubs. They love this. Their older and younger siblings love this. Their parents love this.

4. Popsicles. Juice in ice cube trays; plastic wrap over it; toothpicks or popsicle sticks stuck into the plastic in each square. No ice cube trays? Paper cups. Plastic wrap over the top. Stick a popsicle stick in. Freeze.

5. Peanut butter and crackers. Teach your kids early how to spread things. Mine are horrible at it.

6. Jelly and cracker sandwiches. My tornadoes loved these as kids. Regular crackers. Graham crackers. It can get a little messy.

7. Cheese and sandwich meat and crackers. Basically homemade Lunchables. Pick your favorite cheeses and meets. As a kid, I thought this was the height of sophistication.

8. Parfaits. Healthy: yogurt, granola, fruit. Layer. Dessert: pudding, cookies, whip cream (maybe a layer of chocolate syrup)

More to come. Stay safe! Stay sane!

Food Issues

I would say I’ve been tipping the scales more than I prefer, but I’m convinced my scale is a liar.  I’m not even sure why I still have it except that maybe I could use it for target practice one day.  Instead, I’ve noticed clothes becoming tighter.  And I just can’t afford to buy new clothes.  And not that I would want to.  “Well, just a-”  Nope.  Not even that.

Me: I had this brilliant plan.  Eat all the fruits and vegetables I could, and then I could eat the desserts and baking I wanted.

Friend: No, I’m sure that’s running five miles.  You can eat anything you want if you ran five miles every day.




Me: Yeah.  I’m never going to do that.  Like ever.

Friend: Then you have to cool down on the sweets.

Damn.  I love to bake.  And you can’t bake unless you’re tasting all the way through for quality.  And then everything is so good.  It’s a problem.  Hence why I have stretched out the M&M cookies my mom made when I was out of town.  I can forgo those.  I have a much harder time with my desserts.

Another Friend: Well, I heard you shouldn’t eat too many fruits because that’s not natural.

We just looked at her.

Me: Ok.  Tha’t um possible.

Not that I’m going to stop.  God, next they’re going to tell me corn isn’t a vegetable.  I need it to be a vegetable.  Or else my kids eat only three vegetables.

And there’s the rub.  The boys.  I can’t do some crazy diet.  I can’t eat ultra healthy.  I have to feed them.  I have to eat with them.  And they’re always watching.  They’re always listening.

Tornado S: Oh, I can’t eat that!  It’s not on my diet!

I turned to look at the boys playing in the toy kitchen, and Tornado S was refusing a toy fortune cookie.

I know exactly who to blame.  And since he’s playing vegan for the moment, it’s even more pronounced.

“Daddy can’t eat that.  I have to lose some weight because . . .” (Insert lecture that gives me the strong urge to pretend to fall asleep and wake up or use my hand like a puppet.  Maybe because I’m childish.  Maybe because I’m annoyed.  Maybe because he could go to the doctor and find out if he has the problems he thinks he does but instead guesses.  Maybe because it reminds me of my childhood listening to my mom, my aunt, and my grandma competing over weight loss for the week as they drank grapefruit juice.)  “. . . So I can’t eat that.  It’s not on my diet.”

And that, people, is the beginning with a person’s issues with food.  I don’t want my boys to have issues with food.  I don’t want them to feel a secret lust for a type of food or a despise it all because they are “good” or “bad.”  I don’t want them to have issues with their bodies.  I don’t want them to wish they were thinner or bigger or taller or stronger.  I want them to enjoy their food, enjoy being healthy, enjoy their bodies.  I want them to be happy.

So while I would love to eat a giant salad as the boys eat hot dogs, I know they’re watching and wondering.  If I don’t eat the pasta or bread, they notice.  If we go out for doughnuts or ice cream, I can’t just not order something.  They’ll ask about it.   I can’t bring myself to say, “I can’t eat that.”  Why?  Because they will ask why and I’m honest.

In order to regain a healthy weight, I started modifying my diet.  I sneak in fruits and vegetables throughout the day.  I always have a smoothie.  At dinner, my plate is half filled with vegetables.  Perhaps I’ll add a salad.  It’s become a little harder without watermelon and strawberries, but I’m figuring out other fruits and vegetables.

And the boys are watching and noticing.  They’re trying and eating more vegetables.  (What happen to your spinach?  It didn’t drop it on the ground?)  Now after months of refusing my smoothies, they’re asking for some, even sneaking sips out of mine.  (Hey, dude!  That’s mine!  Go drink some water!)  I can’t eat my salad without a “uh-uh” and pointing and mouths open.  (You know, I did make this for me.)  At the salad bar, the boys don’t argue when I ask them to pick out their vegetable, and Tornado S prefers a bake potato over pizza.  (Zucchini?  Garbanzo beans?  Green peppers?  Who are these kids?)  While they expect something sweet after every meal, they try everything in front of them and are liking more and more.

Now with the holidays looming, I’ve had to take more drastic measures and start drinking those diet drinks, which I used to loath and I know they aren’t a real solution.  I drink them when the boys aren’t looking, and often on weekends, I forgo them at lunch because the boys want to eat with me.  But those shakes are a real time saver.  Like I said, not a permanent solution.

Parenting makes everything more complicated.  It makes you realize that everything you do has an effect.  I really ought to try crappy parenting.  I bet it’s a lot less work and stress.

Ten Second Rule

Tornado E: Mommy!  Did you wash the floors today?

Well, no.  I haven’t mopped in a few days.  I haven’t vacuumed since . . . what day is it?

Me: Why?

Tornado E: I just dropped a fishy, and I don’t know if I can eat it.  It might be dirty and full of germs.

Seriously?  Really?  Come on.  If it’s good food, it’s at least a ten second rule.  Fried okra on the other hand is dirty the second it’s in the air.  Chocolate is at least a day, depending where it’s dropped.

Me: Yes.

Tornado E: Ok.

This has been repeated every day with all sorts of food in the kitchen, in the family room, on carpet, on tile.  This is the side effect of preschool.  My son is becoming a germ-aphobe.  Awesome.  Now if only that would translate to using a fork.

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Everything Tastes Better on a Stick

So yesterday I decided to make a special treat with the boys and add it to the blog.  I have been trying for days to get the boys interested in craft time without any luck.  (And I threatened them that there are two girls out there whose mother keeps promising to send them over and THOSE girls would LOVE to do crafts.)  I brainstormed and came up with a scheme to make something sweet and tasty that would intrigue the boys.


Back in October my mom and I tried to make mini-caramel apples.  Taking a melon baller, we scooped little balls of apple with the peel on the top.  We stuck sticks in the top and dipped them into the caramel.  Well, the caramel had too much water, and then the crispy, juicy part of the apple just made the caramel slide down into a clump around the apple piece instead of looking like a miniature caramel apple with sprinkles.  (I still maintained they were tasty, even if they didn’t look like it.)  My dad insisted my mom didn’t read the directions that called for butterscotch chips and not caramel.


Yesterday I pulled out the butterscotch chips to find only a dozen or so left in the bag.  Who would – oh, wait, that was me.  I have a terrible habit of sneaking butterscotch chips or chocolate chips, which Evan learned, which is why I now keep the chips in the freezer.  Well, never mind, I’ll add some white chocolate chips to the mix.  I set up a double boiler and began balling the apple, adding sticks. 


The boys dragged their little blue chairs over to watch me and beg for some chocolate.  They kept trying to get to the apple pieces.  With Sean’s “Peeease” in my ear, I kept giving him unused pieces off the apple.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that the butterscotch and the white chocolate chips were not melting well together.  Plan B was to melt them in the microwave, which meant I burnt them.  My belief is that the white chocolate chips were a cheap generic brand, and I promise to use the Wilton’s chips from now on.


Consigned to defeat, I didn’t know what to do with the apple pieces.  Then Evan perked up.


Evan: Mommy!  Can I have an apple sucker?


Um, sure.


Evan: Thank you, Mommy!  Seanny wants an apple sucker too!


Ok.  Here, Sean.


Evan: Can I take one to Daddy?  He would like one too!




Evan: Mommy!  Can I have another apple sucker?


Why not?


Evan: Mommy, this apple sucker is yummy!  Can I have another?  They’re tasty and healthy and good for me!


Have them all.


I watched my non-fruit eating boy (with the exception of bananas, grapes, and watermelon) eat half of an apple, and I wondered how quickly I could get more sticks.  I wondered what other fruit he would eat on a stick.  I wondered if I could put vegetables on a stick.  I wondered if Evan would eat kabobs.  Because everything tastes better on a stick. 

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Food Fights

Today I opened up Yahoo to find the news article “6 Food Mistakes Parents Make” by Tara Parker-Pope ( , and guess what number two was.  Yup, forcing your kid to take a bite of something they wouldn’t eat any ways.  Apparently this will back fire, and the child may end up hating the food.  Probably to show some independence of “see you can’t make me.”  Last night my dad said the same thing.  I think it’s a sign.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about Picky Eaters, I am trying to tackle the challenge of Evan not trying any food by forcing him to eat one tiny, little bite.  Results have been mixed.  The first night after two hours, I forced in a sliver of spinach into his mouth and crammed the juice straw after it.  The second night Evan took a bite of corn after fifteen minutes, and he declared it tasted like candy, which it should because it was sweet corn.  The third night I left my husband in charge, and he just let Evan run off.  The fourth night was almost three hours of whining, pleading, crying, and sulking.  (Guess who did what.)  He went to bed without eating anything but a slice of whole wheat baguette.  The fault was partially mine for putting the whole meal together without more things Evan would eat.  Finally last night, he ate a chicken leg, soy beans, a roll, and some watermelon, but he would not touch the potato salad. 

After two hours of stalemate, I called for help.  My dad explained it was a losing battle and I should back off.  I told him he forced me to eat things.  He countered that I was much older.  Well, I don’t exactly remember my toddler years, so I guess I’ll have to believe him.  And Evan did eat soy beans and watermelon.  So it’s time to sound a retreat and regroup.  Or not necessarily a retreat, just a fall back to evaluate the situation.

So I read the article, twice.  The new plan is to pull out that stupid puree book.  Ok, it’s not stupid; it’s just time consuming.  Of course, I did figure out you could easily use baby food instead of pureeing. The other problem is the meals are somewhat time consuming when you have a little toddler begging to be picked up, pushing you from the counter, trying to turn your legs.  (Yes, Sean actually grabs on to my legs and tries to turn them around.  He’s surprisingly strong.)  When your husband isn’t home to help manage the kids (or he got sucked into a rerun of a Superbowl from twelve years ago), it’s a little hard to fry chicken or bake a lasagna. 

The other part of the plan is to really put out the vegetables.  Three or four, instead of one or two.  I’ll put out more than just raisins at lunch time.  I’ll start trying berries with the banana and watermelon at breakfast.  I’ll have to figure out a new fruit because summer is almost over.  Evan LOVES watermelon.  I’ve got to replace it with something.  The hope is he may just be curious enough to try something as long as I’m eating it.

The last mistake in the article was parents giving up too soon.  Well, that’s not me.  I’m pretty stubborn, more stubborn than my mom and my husband give me credit for.  I will not raise a picky child.  I will not raise a picky child.  I will not raise a picky child.

I really hope I don’t eat my words.