Make the best BACK-TO-SCHOOL Lunch

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Packing lunches is NOT my favorite thing to do... and I bet you can think of a million other things you'd rather do also.

But seeing the happy faces of your most precious little ones when they see this lunch will make all that hard work totally worth it.

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This year I decided I was going to up the home lunch game by making it way more fun for everyone. I also, have another lunch to pack with Brent starting his 2's program at the local nursery. And that's exactly why this lunch is perfect. Each piece is bite size and totally toddler friendly but just as much fun for all ages.

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So make it a bento box! I love how this lunch box by YumBox because it has all the little spots for all the makings of a well balances lunch. When I pack a lunch I sometimes forget to pack all the food groups but with this box, it gives you all the spots to add just the right amount of each; protein, grains, fruits, veggies & dairy.

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And to make it even more fun I used these adorable little shaped food cutters to make each bite taste even that much better! Because they are in heart, start and doggie shapes to name a few!

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Try foods like fruits and cheese that are easy to eat in these little bit sized shapes. I also tried grilled chicken which helps them get a little protein into their lunch. But you can also use eggs or cold cuts. And for the more adventurous eaters try tofu or seaweed.

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I also love these little animal shaped forks and chop sticks that will make picking up these nibbles easier. Plus the kids love using them because they are so cute.

Hope these tips help you make lunches yummier and more exciting for your little ones!

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Sweet Shape Sorting Potato Bites

My kids are always welcome in the kitchen and although I really hate cleaning up their daily messes, it never holds me back by letting them make a huge mess in the kitchen.

This time I let the kids use metal cookie cutters to make this yummy sweet potato treats!

I have been taking them to kids cooking classes since they were tiny and it's still something they love. Seeing them being interested in food and having fun preparing it is something every mom dreams of for their picky eaters. I know that if my kids make something, then they will try eating it. They don't always like it, but they will at least try it. And that's half the battle, right?!

I now have a new little mouth to feed and as Brent enters toddler-hood, he is getting better at feeding himself and is exploring more types of food than just baby food puree's and simple dishes.

Check out what we cooked up recently and how easy and nutritious these little nibbles are...

Brent loved sorting his shapes and eating them too!

How to make:

  1. Start by slicing the sweet potato into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Then lay the pieces flat and use metal cookie cutter in all different shapes.
  3. Organize the shapes on a cookie sheet
  4. Preheat oven using the broiler on low to medium heat
  5. Coat the shapes with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt
  6. Broil on each side for about 8 minutes
  7. Cool and serve!

Kids Cooking with Tiny Turnip Kitchen

My kids just love cooking and getting their hands dirty!

I have been taking them to kiddie cooking classes since they were super little and they still love pouring and mixing ingredients. The best part is they always try new foods!! And that makes me so happy.

That is why when Andrea Kapner, founder of Tiny Turnip Kitchen, offered to do a private cooking class just for us we couldn't refuse. Check out what she taught the kiddies to make! They loved every minute of it. 

But the best part is that I didn't have to drag all three kids on the subway to get to this cooking class like I had to do in the past. Tiny Turnip Kitchen comes to you. If you live in or around Manhattan, she can travel to you. She does private cooking classes as well as larger groups. 

So we grabbed a friend to join us as well! And he loved getting his hands in the mix just as much as my kids. 

Andrea taught the kids how to use the kid safe knives properly and about nutrition. She also can develop recipes that cater to children with food allergies. So you won't have to worry if your little one has sensitivities to certain foods.

Here are the recipes from our cooking class! They were so yummy...

Carrot Cake bites, Allergy free (nut, gluten, and dairy free)

Makes about 15

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  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/2 cup reserved to rolls carrot cake bites in
  • 2 small carrots, shredded
  • 6 medjool dates, seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoon sunflower seed butter (homemade recipe below)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon concentrated natural vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats or brown rice puffs
  1. Place the ingredients into your food processor and blend at high speed until the mixture is broken down and sticking together when pressed. 
  2. Use your hands to shape the mixture into 1 inch balls, or
  3. Roll each in reserved coconut flakes.

*To make sunflower seed butter add 1 cup of sunflower seeds, 1 tsp on salt, and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to a food processor. Blend until a smooth consistency (about 3-4 minutes).

Veggie pizza empanadas: 

Dough

2 1/2 cups flour

6 tbs of butter

2 tsp salt

1/2 cup ice cold water

Veggies pizza filling

5-8 oz fresh spinach, stems removed, washed, chiffonade

8 oz whole milk mozzarella cheese, or similar white cheese such as queso quesadilla, shredded or crumbled

2 cups of tomatoes cut in half

1/2 cup of sweet pepper, yellow, red, or orange, diced.

Pizza sauce, or tomato sauce.

Egg wash:

1 large egg

1 tablespoon water

Make the dough: 

Add flour, salt, and butter to a food processor and mix until the dough is flaky. While the motor is running slowly add cold water until the dough comes together, add more water if needed.Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Assemble the empanadas: Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

Tear off pieces of dough to roll about 12 large or 24 small balls of dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough balls on lightly floured surface into circles with a 3/8-inch thickness. Just don’t roll the dough too thin because this filling (unlike the meat filling in the Argentine empanadas) can expand and burst the pastry if the dough is too thin or the empanada is over-stuffed with filling. Place cheese, veggies, and 1 tbsp of tomato sauce in circle (depending on the size of the empanadas you are making). Fold over and press edges firmly to seal, use a fork to seal the edges. *Optional egg wash, beat egg and water in small bowl. Brush egg wash over each empanada.Place empanadas on cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Makes 12 large or 24 small empanadas.

To start your kids cooking today, contact Tiny Turnip Kitchen or email Andrea directly at tinyturnipskitchen@gmail.com.

DIY Nut Milk Recipe

I've heard about people making their own nut milks. So, I reached out to my friend and health chef guru, Manya Williams, for all the details on how to make it!! 

Watch Manya's video tutorial. She gives so many amazing details that you won't want to miss this... Her secret recipe revealed!

I am a huge fan of homemake almond milk (it's WAY better than any store bought kind)... add a little cinnamon, blend it into a smoothie, there are just so many ways you can enjoy this yummy healthy drink! 

Manya, is also currently featured in 10 Ways to Make 2017 The Best Year Yet. Check it out!

Holiday Ice-cream Cookie Sandwich

When the holidays roll around, I crave all things festive. Just imagine the smell of warm gingerbread cookies in the oven! Then, match that with frozen pumpkin flavored ice-cream. It's just a perfect combination. Don't you think!!?!

The kids just love helping in the kitchen and so they were excited when I asked them to help me make dessert. I cooled the cookies for only a few minutes so they were still nice and toasty. Then we scooped out the frosty pumpkin ice cream and topped it off with another warm cookie. 

The combination is dreamy!

Here's how we made it:

I used the Taste Of Home recipe for the Soft Ginger Cookies & bought Pumpkin Pie Gelato by Talenti.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Extra Sugar

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. 
  2. Roll into 1-1/2-in. balls, then roll in sugar. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° until puffy and lightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen. 

Then, let the cookies cool for about 5-10min. 

Let the kids scoop the pumpkin ice-cream or gelato onto the bottom of one cookie. Then have them place another cookie on top. And ENJOY!

*Tip- If ice-cream is starting to melt quickly, place back into freezer for a few minutes.
 

Creepy Crispy Treats

Ok, these are the most delicious crispy treats I've ever made. My secret recipe is revealed!!

My husband asked me how I made the creepy crispy treats so chewy, gooey and delicious.. as he was going back for seconds!

So, I may make the best rice crispy treats around (well, I stole the recipe from my mom!! shh) and the secret is BUTTER! So, you can't just melt the butter like most people do when making rice crispy treats. The secret is browning it! It brings out the richness carmel flavoring of the butter which makes my (my mom's) crispy treats the best around.

Check out how to create the yummy gummy goodness! 

Here's the easy recipe and will take you less than 12 min to make. Did anyone say last minute party food? Well, you can be prepared with this super easy to follow recipe.

***For these crispy treats I used Coco Pebbles instead of Rice Crispy cereal. They already had the dark color I desired and my kids LOVE Coco Pebbles. 

  1. Melt 1 stick of salted butter in a large pot over high heat. Let it brown.
  2. Once the butter starts to brown add a bag of the small marshmallows. 
  3. Place the lid on the pot and reduce the heat to low/simmer
  4. Let the marshmallows melt (you can check to see if they've grown in size)
  5. Once the marshmallows are soft and look like they've expanded, you will add 1/2 box of Coco Pebbles.
  6. Combine ingredients.
  7. Turn off heat.
  8. Add about another 1/4 box of the Coco Pebbles.
  9. Combine. 
  10. If you want super marshmallow-y treats (like I do!) then you shouldn't need to add anymore cereal 
  11. Watch out! The mixture is hot.
  12. Add the mixture to cupcake molds. *Spray the molds with nonstick spray 
  13. Decorate your Creepy Crispy Treats with Halloween sprinkles available at Michaels.com
  14. Let cool for 10 min in the fridge.
  15. Serve and ENJOY! So dense and gooey!!

No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

I spent tons of money on gimmicky kids baking products for my daughter. She loves to make and bake all types of sweets. Her weakness for licking the spoon is unparalleled. So it's hard to find recipes that are safe to eat raw due to the raw eggs. So I set out on a mission.. and I think you're all going to love it!

Also, stay tuned for more kid friendly recipes on my blog.

This recipe is so quick and easy, it's perfect for the kids to do alone or with your supervision. There really is no baking, just measuring and mixing. And who doesn't love raw cookie dough, right?!! 

Start with combining:

  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar 

Then add:

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup mini milk chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients.

We like serving two ways... take your pick!

  1. Roll into bite-size balls.  Use cake pop sticks to serve. Refrigerate. Enjoy!
  2. Pack into small tupperware containers and leave in the refrigerator until chilled. Eat with a spoon and enjoy!

Pumpkin Muffins

When the Fall hits it's like we just can't get enough of the pumpkin flavors! I mean from coffee to cakes the smell and flavor of pumpkin evokes a feeling in us that reminds us that fall is the best season EVER or it could make you think of cozying up in front of a large fire. Whatever the case is pumpkin is a must have in fall.

Here is a quick and easy DIY pumpkin muffin recipe that the kids and yourself will be drooling over. 

Start with Pillsbury Quick Pumpkin Bread mix from the box.

Instead of making bread, follow the secondary instructions to make the muffins. You'll be using milk instead of water. ***There are a few other differences but that's the major one.

Then add:

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (from the can) and
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce. **This will make the muffins so moist and delicious. 

Then in a separate bow mix:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbls flour
  • 2 tbls butter
  • sprinkle the tops of muffins
  • Bake for 20 min at 375 degrees

They are best served while they are still warm. Cut muffin in half and add a small slice of butter. It will melt in all the little crevices and bring out of the sweet and savoriness of the muffins. Enjoy!

Get Your Candy Fix on Movie Night!

Since we moved into the new apartment we have been having movie nights at least once a week. And we all know that movie nights are nothing with out popcorn and candy. But who wants to feed the kids all that sugar? Plus, once the sugar high hits, movie night ends.. cause they won't sit still (well at least thats what happens in my house).

I've come up with DIY popcorn bowls that pleases even the sweetest of sweet tooth.

  • Each person gets their own personal popcorn container filled half way. I recommend these Sur La Table ones
  • Put out an assortment of the kids (and yours!) favorite candies in small bowls *this helps limit the amount of candy they can add.
  • Use a teaspoon as candy scoops *this limits the amount of candy they add

Let them add a little of whatever they like to the popcorn container. Trust me.. I've used this on my daughter and she definitely feels like she's getting to eat all the candy she wants! 

Sweet and salty never tasted this good!!

Simple Salad Recipe Better Than Take Out!

Lunch time is such an oversight for me since I've had the baby. Take out takes forever at lunch time. And who has time to make lunch? I mean half the time I'm cleaning up breakfast and starting on dinner. Maybe thats just life with three kids but sometimes a girls got to EAT! 

So invite your friends over on a playdate and wow them with this super fast and easy.. and delicious summer salad recipe.

  • 1 ripe avocado sliced
  • 5 large basil leaves
  • juice of half a lemon 
  • teaspoon olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • fresh grated parmesan

DIY S'mores Ice cream Sandwiches

Who doesn't love S'mores and who doesn't love ice cream, right?!

Well its not so easy to find a backyard or a fire pit in the middle of NYC. But you don't have to give up your favorite summer dessert! Here is a quick and easy way to enjoy America's favorite treat. 

What you'll need:

  1. Nabisco Gram Crackers
  2. Breyers Vanilla Ice Cream
  3. Hot Chocolate Fudge
  4. Marshmallow Mini's 

Start with half a gram cracker. Layer on a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle on the hot fudge and a handful of marshmallow mini's. Top if off with the other half of gram cracker! Simple as pie!! Perfect DIY summer get together for kids and adults. 

Invite the neighborhood kids over and enjoy!