A Perfect, Summer, Kid-friendly Dessert

I have a debt of gratitude I owe Anissa Degrasse.  She submitted a recipe to Taste of Home magazine that the boys and I love.  It’s a great recipe to make with the kids.  I let the boys pour and mix.  And it’s a wonderful treat to eat.   It’s my cheating ice cream.

Now I’ve made a few changes to the recipe, but I’ll publish Anissa’s original.  I have yet to use vanilla pudding because I buy mainly chocolate or pistachio (which I use only for a special cake).  Since I was using chocolate pudding any ways, I dropped the chocolate chips.  I know.  Me the chocoholic. 

Now I have an idea.  I think this would be a great recipe with other flavors, so if you try it with another flavor or a different type of pudding (because I’m thinking of a certain blogger who has pudding day and who is organic and vegetarian), please come back and share.  We could make our own book!

Pudding Grahamwiches*

1 ½ cups cold fat-free milk

1 package (1 oz) sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix

1 carton (8 oz) frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed

1 cup of miniature marshmallows **

24 whole graham crackers, halved***

5 Tsp miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 mins.  Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.  Place chocolate chips in a shallow bowl.  Fold whipped topping and marshmallows into the pudding.  (I folded in whip topping first, then marshmallows.)  Spread over half of the graham crackers.  Top with the remaining crackers.  Press edges of each sandwich into the chocolate chips.  Wrap individually in plastic wrap; place in an airtight container and freeze.  (I strongly recommend wrapping them in foil.  I haven’t yet placed them in an airtight container.)  Remove from freezer about five minutes before serving.  (Who can wait five minutes?)

Yields: 2 dozen ***

*Anissa, sweetheart, we need to come up with a better name.  Anyone have suggestions?

**Last time I made these I decided to wing it and put in half a bag miniature marshmallows before I thought something wasn’t right.  But they turned out good.

*** I have yet to make just two dozen.  So keep a few extra graham crackers on hand.

Advertisements

Making crystals

It’s summer, and we all need things we can do with our kids.  So how about something fun and educational?  Like crystals.  Salt crystals are quick and easy.  Sugar crystals are slow and tasty.  Both are fun.

Salt crystals

(I was amazed how fast these crystals grew.  In less than 24 hours, there were actual crystals you could see.  I tried adding food coloring to the solution to make a colored crystal, but we still ended up with white crystals.  After several days, I took out the crystals and let the boys touch, dissect, and destroy them.)

Things you need:

  • Table or Epson Salt (2 or 3 Tsp)
  • 1 cup of water
  • Pot
  • Spoon
  • Jar
  • Pencil
  • String
  • Paperclip, washer, or pull-tab of a soda can (I was desperate.)

Tie a piece of string around the middle of the pencil.  Tie the other end of the string around the weight (aka paperclip or washer).  Make sure the weight doesn’t touch the bottom of the jar.  Pour a cup of water into the pan and bring it to a boil.  Add salt a teaspoon at a time, stirring, until you cannot dissolve anymore salt.  Pour the salt water solution into the jar.  Place the pencil across the mouth of the jar, allowing the weight to dangle into the solution.  Do not touch.  Allow the crystals to grow for several days.

Sugar crystals

(These were much tastier.  But they took For-Ev-Er.  It took about a week to see any crystals, and it’ll take three weeks to have a crystal worthwhile to eat.  Last year I tried a recipe that doubled the amount of sugar so that the crystals would form faster.  It didn’t work.  Patience is a virtue.  A sugar crust formed on the top of the solution before the crystals started to form.)

Things you need:

  • Two cups of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • Pot
  • Spoon
  • Jar
  • Pencil
  • String
  • Weight like a paperclip, washer or pull-tab of a soda can

Tie one end of the string to the middle of the pencil.  Tie the other end of the string on the weight.  The weight should be able to dangle in the jar without touching the bottom.  Wet the string and roll it in sugar.  Boil two cups of water.  Stir in sugar a tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is dissolved.  Pour the sugar salt solution into the jar.  Place the pencil on the mouth of the jar allowing the weight to dangle in the solution.  Place the jar out of reach and wait for the crystals to form.

Adding vegetables

I bought Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld well over a year ago.  The BFF and I saw it on Oprah and ran out to buy it that night (after The Husband was home and willing and able to do babysitting duty).  The BFF and I love cookbooks and love spending our time looking at cookbooks together.  And this one would be helpful with Tornado E’s eating issues.  But we were skeptical.

I tried the pita pizzas first, and to up the anti, I tried them with broccoli puree.  If you could hide the strong tasting broccoli puree, you could hide everything.  And it worked!  We weren’t big on her Mac and Cheese, but I have since learned you need to bake it with a cheese sauce, so I need to try it again.  The boys and I love the Frozen Yogurt Pops and Chocolate Chip Cupcakes.  Tornado E just adores the Applesauce Muffins, but I had to add more spices to give it a more flavorful taste The Husband and I love.  Everyone loves the Aloha Chicken Kebabs, but I don’t fry them; I bake them.  I combined her Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe with one I got from Weight Watchers with delicious results.  The only Epic Fail so far is the Mozzarella Sticks, but I want to try them again to see if I missed something.  And I can never bring myself to destroy Mash Potatoes that way.  Never.

The best part of this book is that it caused me to think about food differently.  But with the duh factor of my mom and grandma, who told me that they always hid vegetables in whatever they could.  It wasn’t a new concept.  But I did make leaps they never did.

I started adding carrot or cauliflower puree to enchiladas and enchilada casserole (the only casserole that Faemom endorses).  When I make muffins or coffee cake or cinnamon rolls, I drop in apple or pear puree, which made them so much more moist than before.  I’m always looking for another food to drop in more vegetables.  My baby brother has become so suspicious that he asks me what I hid in dinner.  (Don’t worry; he’s as bad as Tornado E when it comes to vegetables so I don’t say a thing.)

I did find better tips on how to handle purees than Seinfeld.  She wrote about how she would puree every Sunday for the week.  Who has time for that?  When a vegetable or fruit is on sale, I just buy a bunch, puree it, and stick it in the freezer in ½ cup sizes in zip lock bags.  Much like I did when I was making baby food.  And that’s another thing, sometimes it was cheaper to buy baby food and use that.  A regular serving size of baby food is just about ½ cup.

If you’re thinking “Good Lord, how is Tornado E ever going to eat vegetables if she hides them all,” let me answer.  I still serve him fruits and vegetables with his meal in hopes to get him to try it.  I also like the purees for myself because they make the meal more fulfilling.  Not only do I know I’m getting in more fruits and vegetables, but the servings fill me up faster because of all the ingredients.

I say give this book or technique a try.  I’ll keep working on other foods to use purees in because Tornado E has to get more vegetables in some how.

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Winter and Indoor Crafts for Kids, Preschoolers, and Toddlers

Many of you are stuck inside right now and have been for a while.  So I thought this would be a great time to do some craft ideas.  These crafts can be used for all ages, just adjust how much you do for the ability of the child.  Older kids can do more; younger kids can do less.

Chalk Snow Scene

(Some of you might remember that I did this last year too, but I figured it was worth the repeat.  Both boys got into this although they made blizzards.)

Things you need:

  • White chalk
  • Blue or black construction paper
  • Hairspray (optional)

Have the child draw a snow scene on the construction paper.  Spray hairspray to “glue” on the chalk if you want to keep it around for a while.

Variation:

The child can color with all colors of chalk on white paper, teaching him/her about impressionism.

Epsom Salt Snow Scene

(So why not make a 3D snow scene?  This can be messy.  Tornado S really didn’t care to participate, so he just did a few dots.  Tornado E went crazy.  The scenes turned out very cute.)

Things you need:

  • Blue or black construction paper
  • Glue
  • Epsom salt
  • Glitter (optional)

Have the child make a snow scene with the glue.  Let the child pour Epsom salt onto the glue.  If you want to make it extra special, let the child add glitter.

Variation:

Using silver glitter glue, let the child create a starry scene with blue or black construction paper.

Shells

(Some of you are sick and tired of snow, so let’s pretend to be on a beach with shells.  These were a lot of fun and clever.  The boys enjoyed them.  I only tried markers and glitter glue as mediums, but I’m sure you can do so much more.  I’ll try more and let you know unless you beat me to the punch.)

Things you need:

  • Large pasta shells (uncooked)
  • Markers
  • Glitter glue (optional)

Have the child decorate the shells, telling him/her how each shell is different.

Another fun thing to do is allow your child to color on a window with dry erase markers.  As an added bonus, my boys love to clean windows, taking turns spraying the window with window cleaner and rubbing it down with paper towel.