Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Winter Recipes Kids Can Make

Food Ideas With a Snow Theme
It's winter and time to use recipes with seasonal shapes and/or white ingredients for a snowy flair. Kids will love these treats; great for a party too!
Be it cold, a chill, a nip, it's crisp, it's frigid, a frost, we shiver, we chatter - it's winter and time to incorporate this theme into cooking with kids. Here are a few recipes to try.
Hot White Chocolate
·      2 ounces white baking chocolate
·      1 cup water
·      3 cups milk
·      Cinnamon or peppermint stick (optional)
1.     In a medium-sized saucepan, melt 2 ounces of white baking chocolate and 1-cup water over medium heat. Stir this constantly.
2.     When this mixture is fully melted, bring it to a boil and then bring the temperature down to simmer.
3.     Stir in 3 cups of milk and heat this until it is warm.
4.     Remove the pan from the heat and beat the milk with a whisk until foamy. Older children can help with adult supervision.
5.     Serve the white chocolate in mugs with a dash of cinnamon or a peppermint stick inside.
    Makes 6 servings.
Snowflake Breadsticks

Children will like shaping this dough and placing it to make a snowflake bread roll.
·      Refrigerator breadsticks (store-bought)
1.     Invite the kids to roll this dough into small snakes.
2.     Place one rope (snake) onto the baking pan overlapping with other small ropes until you have a six-spoked snowflake.
3.     Bake as directed on the package label.
4.     Continue making snowflakes until you have used up the entire dough.
 Ice Cream Snowballs [1]
 Quick and easy, but so much fun to make and eat!
·      Vanilla ice cream
·      Flaked coconut
·      Cupcake papers
1.     Scoop vanilla ice cream into a ball.
2.     Roll this in flaked coconut and place each ball into a cupcake paper.
3.     Freeze until hard.
 Snowman Pizza [2]
 This food construction allows children to use their creativity to create a snowman face.
·      Store-bought frozen pizza
·      Salami or ham strips
·      Pepperoni slices
·      Cherry tomato (cut in half)
·      Black olive halves (pitted)

1.     Bake a frozen pizza according to directions on the package.
2.     Remove this from the oven to a plate.
3.     Invite the kids to decorate with the ingredients below:
4.     Salami, ham strips, pepper strips or pieces, pepperoni, cherry tomatoes, pitted black olives; get creative with all kinds of healthy edibles.
 Winter White Waldorf Salad
Apples are aplenty during the winter months. Try this recipe for a sweet dessert.
·      Apples, peeled and cut into chunks
·      Raisins
·      Walnuts, chopped
·      Container of Cool Whip

1.     Peel and cut several apples into chunks.
2.     Add chopped walnuts and raisins.
3.     Fold in Cool Whip topping and mix.
4.     Serve cold.

French Toast Snowmen [3]
 French toast is not just for breakfast; use it for any meal or party food as well.
·      Thick white bread
·      2 eggs
·      1/2 cup milk
·      1 tablespoon sugar
·      1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
·      Dash of salt
·      Butter or margarine
·      Maple syrup
1.     Using cookie cutters, cut a snowman shape from each slice of think white bread.
2.     In a shallow bowl, crack 2 eggs and beat until foamy.
3.     Add the milk, sugar, cinnamon, and a dash of salt. Mix well.
4.     Heat a griddle or frying pan to medium-high heat. Grease the pan with butter or margarine.
5.     Dip the bread shapes into the egg mixture coating each side.
6.     Place it on the griddle and cook on each side till lightly browned.
7.     Serve these yummy snowmen on a plate with maple syrup.
8.     Children may like fresh fruit on top as well.
Many of these foods are the same foods families eat on a daily basis, but add a few extra ingredients to give them a winter theme. Having kids in the kitchen is a wonderful learning experience and teaching children skills they need in later life. Create, construct, and enjoy!
Personal experience

{1,2,3] Taken from or adapted from Cooking with Kids: Recipes for Year-Round Fun by Tania Kourempis Cowling

Monday, November 13, 2017

Treemote: A Unique Christmas Lighting System

Soon we will be decorating and putting up our Christmas trees. Whether you choose a real tree or artificial, they have strands of lights. Wouldn't it be nice to easily light your tree without bending down or crawling behind the tree to plug in the lights? Well now we have a solution -- TREEMOTE!

"Treemote solves the daily task of switching holiday lights on and off by using the wireless Treemote device. Treemote is simple and easy to install. To use, plug the white receiver into any wall outlet, and then plug a string of lights into the receiver. Using the green tree-shaped remote, customers can then control the lights from up to 80 feet away. "

And, when the holidays are over, don't pack your Treemote away. It can be used with any household lamp or small appliance to easily turn it on and off with a cute remote control device. Don't get down on your knees or strain your back any longer -- just push a button!

  • MSRP: $19.99 Batteries included.
  • Availability: Available for purchase online and at select retailers nationwide
We don't have our Christmas tree up yet, usually around the first week of December, BUT I have my Treemote  ready for this event. I tried it on a table lamp and it was so easy. I think every household should have one of these nifty devices. 

Until next week -- Happy Parenting,

I want to thank Treemote, Inc. for the opportunity to view their product. I was not paid or coached to write this blog post. The information about the product was provided and these are my own opinions.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide: Playmates Toys

As November approaches, it’s time to think about some serious holiday shopping for the kids. Since our kiddos love toys, I thought I would start with a gift guide with fun and educational items from Playmates Toys.
Does your child like to play alone or with a friend? Is play one of action or imagination? Here is a list of favorites from Playmates Toys that can fit whatever playful mood your child is in for the day.

Voltron: Legendary Defender

Playmates Toys is the master toy licensee for DreamWorks Animation's Voltron: Legendary Defender. This critically acclaimed series debuted as a Netflix original in June 2016, with the fourth season coming to Netflix in October 2017. The series is a contemporary reimagining of the pop culture phenomenon featuring five young pilots of mystical robot lions that combine to form Voltron, the most powerful defender in the universe. This action figure assortment features four fully articulated Lion figures that can transform and combine with the Electronic Black Lion to form a 16" fully-articulated Voltron figure with phrases and sounds.

Ben 10

“Playmates Toys is introducing a full range of toys based on the animated series. The new Cartoon Network series, which premiered in the U.S. in April 2017, is centered on fun loving, 10-year-old, Ben Tennyson, his cousin Gwen and Grandpa Max as they travel the country during summer vacation. Once Ben finds the Omnitrix, a mysterious watch that transforms him into 10 different heroic aliens, a world of extraterrestrial superpowers opens up to him.”
If you child is into this television series, he/she is apt to collect action figures that are part of the story. Playmates have these figures all around 5-inches tall and painted with extreme details. Some figures come with accessories that complement their costume. The assortment includes Ben & Grey Matter, Heatblast, Diamondhead, Four Arms, Cannonbolt, XLR8, Overflow, Wildvine, Stinkfly, Upgrade, Hex, Steam Smythe & Dr. Animo. These toys are recommended for children ages 4+ and cost around $8.99 each.

Along with the action figures, your kiddo may want the main vehicle seen in Cartoon Network’s new Ben 10 animated series, the Rustbucket, which is a 2-in-1 vehicle that transforms into a giant 3-level playset standing over 2 feet tall. The set features include an alien transformation chamber, plasma blaster, “alien-vator”, grabbing claw, alien lab and more. Now, the kids can get involved in pretend play between this playset and all the action figures. This vehicle costs $49.00 MSRP and suitable for ages 4 and up.

And, if your child wants to dress and act like all the heroes, why not present him with a Ben 10 Deluxe Omnitrix watch. Kids can turn the dial to choose an alien and press down on the dial to begin play.  Includes over 100 alien phrases and motion activated sound effects! This watch retails for $24.99.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The TMNT have made a comeback the last couple of years and still so popular. What kid wouldn’t want a Micro Mutants Deluxe Sweeper Ops Vehicle Playset? They can clean up the streets of New York City with this set that is two toys in one. With the deluxe spiral sweeper, kids can sweep up all of their Micro Mutants action figures and vehicles by rolling over them and transporting them into the Turtles holding jail! Once the trash is collected, transform the Sweeper vehicle into a multi-level Operational Headquarters playset designed with multiple levels of play and tons of play features to discover!  The Sweeper Ops Vehicle Playset includes three fully articulated micro action figures (Leonardo, Raphael and Shredder). This toy is suitable for ages 4+ and retails at $39.99.

++All toys are available at mass retailers

This is one of a series of gift guides I'm going to present. Keep checking this blog for more guides, holiday crafts, and more.
Until then -- Happy Parenting!

I want to thank Playmates Toys for the opportunity to view their products. I was not paid or coached to write this blog post. The information about the products was provided and these are my own opinions.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Healthy Foods for Halloween

  • Make Halloween Fun and Healthy  written by Tania Cowling

    Halloween is a fun holiday for both children and adults - but with all the candy and sweets, we sometimes end up with cavities, tummy aches, and very hyper children. There is a better way by incorporating healthy Halloween foods keeping with the festive theme. This article brings you ideas on what to pass out to the "trick or treaters" rather than sweets and a few ideas on fun party food to present at your gatherings.

  • What to Put in the Halloween Bag

    I wish we were in the day that we could bake and prepare food snacks for the children, slip the treats in baggies and place these in the "trick or treat" bag. But, let's be realistic, because of the fear of strangers and some unfortunate events, this is no longer a good thing. Instead, look for pre-packaged items that are healthy snacks and easier to hand out. Here is a list of some healthy Halloween foods for the bag.
    •  Raisins (preferably organic)thumbnail
    • Pre-packaged trail mix
    • Granola bars
    • Pre-packaged pretzels or chips (low-fat baked)
    • Animal cracker boxes
    • Fruit cups (they have these individually wrapped in the canned fruit aisle of your grocery store - look for fruit packed in its own juice)
    • 100-calorie packs of cookies (these are baked, low-fat, and only 100 calories)
    • Fruit leather (preferably organic, low sugar)
    • Juice boxes (preferably organic 100% juice)
    • Sugarless gum
    • Packages of sugar-free cocoa mix
    • Pre-packaged cheese and crackers
    • String cheese sticks
    • Peanuts in their shells
    • Pre-packaged bags of roasted pumpkin seeds
    Healthy Halloween Party Foods

  • Jack-o-Lantern Rice Cakes
    • Rice cakes
    • Whipped cream cheese
    • Red and yellow food coloring
    • Raisins or other dried fruit
    • Mini-pretzels (optional)
    1. Place cream cheese in a bowl and tint it orange using two drops of red food coloring and three drops of yellow. Mix thoroughly.
    2. Spread the orange cream cheese on the rice cake to make the pumpkin.
    3. Invite the children or participants to make jack-o-lantern faces using the raisins or dried fruit.
    4. Mini-pretzels (twisted ones) can be used to outline the eyes and nose if you wish.
  • Edible Eyeballs
    1. Slice peeled carrots into 1-inch thick chunks and top each with a dollop of whipped cream cheese (white). Place a pitted black olive in the center. Place these on a tray for a quick-bite appetizer.
    2. Since we are talk about fresh produce, purchase a veggie or fruit platter from your supermarket (or make your own) and prepare a black and orange dip to serve along. Think about a pumpkin dip, carrot dip, or black bean dip to bring in the Halloween colors.
      Stuff an Apple
      Apples are synonymous with fall and Halloween. Core each apple and scoop out the seeds and hard contents. Fill the apple with peanut butter, cream cheese or even a cheddar cheese spread. Top each apple with raisins and granola. Chill these in the refrigerator. Carefully slice the apple into wedges, or with small apples your guests may just want to bite in.
      Turn Oranges into Jack-o-LanternsOrange Pumpkin Fruit Cups 2987712098 6dbef401e8
      Cut off the top of an orange and carefully take out the inside sections. With a black marker, create a Jack-o-Lantern face on the rind. Take the orange sections and add other fruit chunks and fill up each orange to serve a fun fruit salad. Use green ribbon or pipe cleaners to make a stem.
      Pass out Ghoul Gloves
      You will need to purchase clear disposable gloves. Fill each glove with fresh popped popcorn (either plain or flavored with parmesan cheese or spices). Tie each glove shut with an orange or black ribbon.
      Make Halloween Shaped Sandwiches
      This is especially fun for the kids. Prepare your favorite sandwich and cut shapes into the bread with Halloween cookie cutters. Place these on a platter for cute finger sandwiches.
      It's not hard to create healthy Halloween foods - you just need some imagination. Think about adding adhesive Halloween stickers to your "trick or treat" handouts, and make sure your party table is adorned with Halloween trinkets and centerpieces to set the scene. Not only will you feel better about what you are handing out or serving, the other parents will thank you as well.
  • Sources:
  • Cooking with Kids: Recipes for Year-Round Fun by Tania Kourempis-Cowling [Fearon, 1999]
  • Personal Experience
  • My article was first published on http://www.healthguideinfo.com/healthy-eating/p76907/
    1. Photo Credits:
      • Jack-o-Lantern Fruit Cups http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurahartrich/2987712098/


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Halloween Projects to Craft With Your Kids

Let's get crafting for the upcoming Halloween holiday. Here are some published clips I wrote a while back for your viewing. Crafts and instructions are included per article.

  • Decorate your room or use these ideas for make and take projects. The materials are probably in your art closet or easy to find. So let’s get started on these “boo-tiful" crafts.

  • Your children (and students) will love to make these theme projects for Halloween. Ghosts do not have to be scary (especially for young children) – make them a friendly figural part of this holiday season.  Click Here

  • How about some awesome monsters using paint chip pages that you can obtain free at your favorite paint store.  Click Here

Have a great week. I'll be posting more "spook-tacular" projects soon!

Happy Parenting,