Archives for category: food

Before we had kids, my husband and I would eat out all the time and enjoyed our time together discovering new foods and restaurants. Now that we have two little boys, eating out isn’t so easy or enjoyable. We are now mostly limited to kid-friendly dining and even at the most kid-friendly restaurants, we are susceptible to melt downs, whining, crying, and restlessness among other things. So I made a list of restaurant table games to play while waiting for your meal, or even during meal time when the kids are done eating but the adults aren’t. These fun little games can be played using items found at your table and have really helped us keep the kids busy and calm while dining out.

1. Origami Fortune Tellers. I used to make these all the time when I was younger and they were always a camp favorite. If you don’t know how to make one of these, HERE is a step by step tutorial.  All you need is the kids menu and crayons. Colors go on the outside, numbers in the center, and a fortune on each of the 4 inside flaps. Here is how to play: First your child chooses a color. If it’s red, then spell out R-E-D while moving the fortune together and apart with your fingers 3 times. Then choose a number from the center. Again, count while moving the fortune teller. Then pick another number and whichever number they choose, lift up the flat and that is their fortune. Here are some fortune ideas: “You will have good luck today” or “You will go to a party soon.” Or they could be a direction like “Give someone at the table a hug” or “Make a silly face.”

2. Sugar Packet and Penny Trick. This is a restaurant table version of the old cups and balls magic trick. Take three of the same color sugar packet and a penny or small coin. Show you child which packet the coin is under and then quickly mix them up while they are watching. See if they can follow which sugar packet the penny is under and when you are done mixing, ask them where the penny is.

3. Guess Which Hand. Hide a sugar packet/piece of a napkin/coin (or other small table object) in one of your hands. Make a fist with both hands and have your child guess which hand the object is in. My son likes to play this game on us! He (not so) discreetly hides something in one hand and then we get to guess. Of course I like to humor him and pick the wrong hand :o)

4. Straw and Sugar Packet Tic Tac Toe. Here is a fun way to play Tic Tac Toe. Ask your server for a couple extra straws and use them to make the game board. Use sets of two different color sugar packets as the markers for each team or player. Three in a row wins!

5. Straw Wrapper Worms. When you are unwrapping your straws, scrunch the paper up. Lay it on the table and drip a drop of water on it. Watch it wiggle and grow! See our Straw Wrapper Worm video:

6. I Spy. Choose an object at the table or within view of your table and using the phrase “I spy with my little eye, something ___” Provide a descriptive word about what you see and let your child guess what it is. Then let him/her pick something and you try to guess!

7. Dot Game. This is also called Capture the Squares. The object of the game is to connect dots to get as many squares as possible. Start by drawing a grid of dots and take turns connecting two dots at a time with a vertical or horizontal line. When a person is able to finish a square, put your initial in it. When all dots become squares, count the initialed boxes and whoever has the most wins!

8. ABC Spy. Using the kids menu, or in this case we used the fry basket liner, ask your child to find an “A” and so on. Each time they find the letter, they can circle it. This seems too simple, but believe me, this kept my 3-year-old occupied for a good chunk of time and he really liked searching for each letter I called out.

9. Disappearing Objects. Arrange a group of objects together in the middle of the table. Tell your child to look closely at all the objects on the table then tell him to close his eyes. Take an object away and see if your child can tell you which object is missing.

10. Table Football. There are actual rules to this game (that we don’t follow). We just like to make a paper football and enjoy flicking it around. To make the ball: Start by folding a piece of paper in half longways and fold the corner down into a triangle. Continue to fold down, making triangles until you get to the end of the paper. Tuck whatever excess paper is left on the end into the “pocket” on the top of the ball.  The object of the game is the flick the football across the table and if it is hanging over the edge when it comes to a rest, you get a touchdown. We like to hold our hands up into a field goal and try and flick between the posts (aka fingers and thumbs).

Thank you Sarah from Repeat Crafter Me for sharing these entertaining ideas.

 

Who’s waiting for Starbucks to announce the arrival of Fall with their Pumpkin Spice Latte? While waiting why not whip up some Pumpkin Latte Playdough for your little ones ? It just may become a new autumn classic at your house. Dinosaurs and Octopuses has the recipe for fun this week.

Here it is:

Ingredients
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp cream of tartar
1/3 of the jar of pumpkin pie spice (the tiny jar)
maple extract
vanilla extract
food coloring

Combine the dry ingredients and the oil. Slowly add the water. Add a few dashes of each of the extracts and a few drops of red and yellow food coloring. Cook over medium heat, stirring until stiff. As it mixes you can see if you’ll need more food dye. Adding a little at a time until the desired color is  achieved. Turn out onto wax paper. The pumpkin pie spice was too spicy by itself, for my liking. The extracts make it smell sweeter, just like a pumpkin pie. Sniff the dough. Does it smell too spicy? Add a little bit more extract and knead it all together. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. If it’s too dry, add a few drops of water.

Betsy, you must give this a try for Oliver.

Anyone looking for a copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Latte recipe? Give this one from the Kitchn a try!

Pumpkin Spice Latte
makes 1-2 servings

Ingredients:
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin or 1 teaspoon of Pumpkin Spice Syrup
2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute – you can halve this amount
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1-2 shots espresso (about 1/4 cup of espresso or 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee if you don’t have an espresso machine.)

Directions:
In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and spice, transfer to a blender and process for 15 seconds until foamy. If you don’t have a blender, don’t worry about it – just whisk the mixture really well with a wire whisk.

Pour into a large mug or two mugs. Add the espresso on top.

Optional: Top with whipped cream and sprinkle pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, or cinnamon on top.

Solar S'mores This Science Saturday let’s cook up some Solar S’mores and at the same time learn about the greenhouse effect! (atmospheric gases allow sunlight to pass through to the earth’s surface but keeps the heat it generates from escaping back into space)

Build your own solar oven from a pizza box.  There is a foil flap for gathering sunlight, then reflecting it down through plastic and into the solar oven, doubling the amount of light. By placing a sheet of absorbing black paper on the bottom of the pizza box the light is converted to heat. As more light hits the black paper, more heat is created and trapped. After an hour or so on a sunny day, the oven can be as hot as 275 degrees which is hot enough to melt chocolate and marshmallows without a campfire.

Hop over to NASA’s Climate Kids for instructions on building your solar oven and how to make the Solar S’mores.

photo credit: Spoonful

Schools out, it is summer vacation time, but why not add a fun academic “twist” in today for Science Saturday.

Build a candy double helix. All you will need is licorice, tooth picks and mini marshmallows.

The double helix is the most recognizable structure for deoxyribonucleic acid, also known as DNA. Double helix is the name for the structure formed by double-stranded molecules of nucleic acids. In short, it the the shape of the molecule where all the genetic information is stored for all organisms.

Inside every cell of each living thing, both plant or animal, there are sets of instructions called genes. The genes provide the instructions on what is the plant or animal, what it looks like, how it is to survive, and how it will interact with its surrounding environment. The genes are strung together in long stands of material called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and these long strands are called chromosomes. Most living things have pairs of chromosomes (one from each parent), though they may have a different number of chromosomes from another living thing. For example, humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes and the fruit fly has 4 pairs.

Each gene is made up of long combinations of four different nucleotide bases. It is the various combinations of the nucleotide bases that determine everything about a living creature.

Bonus: This Science Saturday offers some tasty left over building material!

It’s Memorial Day weekend, why not whip up some cookies that everyone will remember?

If you’re after the popular sweet and salty combo, you are bound to get hooked on these.

Memorial Day Cookies aka cookies to remember
Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 cup broken up pretzel pieces
  •  Sea Salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a larger bowl, beat the butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). On low speed, slowly add the beaten egg and vanilla extract. Beat to combine, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the flour mixture and beat just until there are no more streaks of flour. Stir in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and pretzels. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out well rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough, flatten slightly then sprinkle with sea salt. Leave about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake for 10 minutes. If you prefer crispier cookies increase the baking time by 1-2 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing.

This week’s Recipe for Fun as well as yummy eating is from Sugar Cooking.  You can find many other delicious and unusual recipes that you may like to try on her blog. She also tells us that if you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe you could use it for the base instead.

Thanks Sarah for this memorable recipe.

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Have you ever experienced cookie failure? The dough is so good and definitely worth eating, but somehow when you pull the cookies out of the oven they are way spread out and flat.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie blog has this helpful chart to help correct cookie flops. As the name implies, it is your go to source for you know what, everything chocolate chip cookies.

Problems

prob

Do any of these cookies look familiar? I have seen number 4 several times and now I know why! Silly me, I never knew the dough could be over mixed – hello number 5.

There are many variables in baking.  Pictured are cookies with various problems using the same dough (with flour adjustments in numbers 3 &4).
1.  This cookie is done just right. It is pictured to compare with the rest.
2.  This dough was not refrigerated.  It is still good but a little flatter than it should be.
3.  This dough contained too much flour and did not spread much at all. It is interesting to note that the dough looked identical to the correct dough, but was much stiffer and drier.
4.  This dough had too little flour.  It spread too much and didn’t bake evenly.
5.  This dough was over-mixed.  It had a poor color, baked flat and had a strange consistency.
6.  This dough was formed too small.  It was overcooked at eight minutes. It is fine to make smaller cookies, just bake them for less time.
7.  This dough was formed too large.  The outsides were done while the middle was too high and underdone.
8.  This dough was baked in an oven 25 degrees too hot.  The outside was overdone and the inside was slightly underdone.
9.  This dough was baked in an oven 25 degrees too cool.  It fell flat and became too crisp without much of an inside.
10.  This dough was frozen when baked.  It took longer to bake and didn’t cook as evenly.  To use frozen dough, set on cookie sheet at room temperature while oven is preheating, 15-20 minutes.  It takes the frost off and bakes perfectly.

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Red Retro Kitchen large

Totally Kids fun furniture & toys has many pretend kitchens for beginning bakers. Stop by or visit us online!

No more teachers…..

For many families it is already that time of year when school ends a summer vacation begins. We have a couple of weeks left here in Minnesota which is just as well since summer has not found us yet.


It is also the time of year for Teacher Appreciation Gifts.  The idea room has this simple, sweet, and inexpensive way to say thank you with water bottles plus shows you how you too can make them.

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What teacher would not smile when receiving this bouquet of flowers in a adorable pencil vase. Happy Clippings has the 411 if you would like to make one.

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Hats off to the grads with these chocolatey topped delicious looking cupcakes made by From Apples to Zucchini.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you! It may only come around once a year, which may be too often for some of us.  However you look at it, we thought that you might like this list of Birthday Freebies to help celebrate your special day.

Baskin Robbins – FREE ice cream
Ben & Jerry’s – FREE ice cream treat
Burger King – FREE kids hamburger on their birthday (requires a signup)
Chuck E. Cheese’s – FREE tokens (12 & younger)
Cold Stone Creamery FREE ice cream
Dairy Queen join blizzard fan club get a birthday deal
Denny’s – FREE grand slam
Krispy Kreme FREE dozen when you buy one
McDonalds FREE happy meal kids 5-12 time (need to fill out a form in advance)
Papa Murphy’s – FREE cookie dough on birthday (need to fill out a form in advance)
Panera– FREE bakery item (need to sign up for email list in advance)
Qdoba Mexican Grill – FREE burrito w/entree purchase
Quizno’s – FREE cookie
Red Robin – FREE burger
Starbucks – FREE drink for registered Starbucks Card holder
Subway  FREE treat on birthday
Taco Time FREE kids meal

Please, if you know of other Birthday Freebies, let us know and we will add them to the list.

Birthday Cake

Here is a fun way for your little ones to have a birthday party every day. Go ahead, have your cake and (pretend) eat it too.

 

Just when you thought that the last of the well – actually very well hidden Easter Eggs had been found…but they magically keep appearing.

Rather than packing them away we like to Egg Pops, a “cool” idea from Kailo Chic reusing our plastic eggs and just plain healthy fruit juice.

Eggsicles

Fruit juice
Plastic Easter eggs
Sucker sticks
A large nail and thumbtack
Small funnel or piping tip to fill the eggs

First tip the eggs upside down and poke three holes in the bottom. Two of these holes are for letting the air escape when filling the egg, the third one should be in the center of the bottom. Make this center hole bigger using the large nail. You will need it to be as big as the popsicle/sucker stick.

Once that is done, and you have your egg carton full of eggs, use the piping tip to fill each one until almost full.

Then poke in the popsicle stick and place in the freezer until firm.

We think this will be a refreshing Recipe for Fun for kids of all ages.

What do you do with your left over plastic Easter Eggs?

Bunny Butt Cookies

Some-Bunny Loves You

Butt, butt…everyone will love you when you surprise them with these adorable Bunny Butt Cookies which are this week’s recipe for fun.  They take about 60 minutes from start to finish and the recipe yields 22 cookies.

Ingredients

1- roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated sugar cookies

1/3-cup all-purpose flour
1-container (12 oz) fluffy white whipped ready-to-spread frosting
   Pink gel food color, if desired
22-miniature marshmallows
     Assorted size candy sprinkles
Directions:
  • 1.  Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, knead cookie dough and flour with hands until well mixed.
  • 2.  Reshape dough into 9×1 1/2-inch log.
  • 3.  Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes. Remove plastic wrap. Cut cookie dough into 33 slices. Cut 11 slices into  equal wedges; shape each wedge into ovals for bunny feet. Place cookie dough slices and bunny feet on ungreased cookie sheet.
  • 4.  Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  • 5.  In medium microwavable bowl, stir frosting and 1 to 3 drops pink food color until well blended. Microwave uncovered on High 10 to 15 seconds or until soft but not translucent.
  • 6.  To make bunny butt, frost 1 whole cookie slice and 2 bunny feet with frosting. Place bunny feet on bottom of cookie as shown in photo. Place 1 marshmallow in center of each cookie for tail. Decorate bunny paws with candy sprinkles. Repeat with remaining cookie slices and bunny feet.

Hope that you and your kiddos will have as much fun with this make together recipe as we did.

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Bunny Money

How about some Bunny Money for your honey?  Crafty Journal will show you this alternative to candy for Easter gifting.

I’m not talking about your second cousin twice removed’s wedding, but hip hip hooray, let’s celebrate National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day! Who doesn’t enjoy a good old grilled cheese? There are many variations, and methods of grilling/cooking this comfort food.

My all time favorite is the Johnny Depp method. Wearing a ric rack trimmed apron in the1993 movie Benny and Joon, Sam cooks a stack of grilled cheese using a hot iron and ironing board. Have you, or do you even know anyone who has tried this method? Whenever I’m thinking  grilled cheese, there is never an iron and ironing board handy. Besides, it sort seems like a “only in the movies” thing anyway.

With peaked curiosity look what I found? Real life people cooking the Johnny Depp way. Grilled Cheese Social has a step by step pictorial for those wishing to perfect this method.

Jamie Oliver tips his toaster on its side for a revolutionary unconventional method of preparing a grilled (toatsed) cheese sandwich.  I see an I hate Jamie Oliver cheesy mess of a toaster here.

The cooking method is up to you. Totally Kids fun furniture & toys has the equipment for cooking up some super good pretend grilled cheese sandwiches.

We have the iron and ironing board.

We have the toaster, bread and butter. You add the cheese.

We have the traditional kitchen.

We even have a deluxe stainless steel frying pan.

Grab a can of tomato soup and have a Cheesy Celebration!