Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mud Pie to Celebrate Earth Day!

About Earth Day according to Wikipedia:
Earth Day, celebrated April 22, is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It is held annually during both spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year.

Awareness is key to learning about anything and everything for children. So let's make Earth Day this year a day of "America the Beautiful - Let's Keep it that Way!" Here's a great opportunity to talk to the kids in the kitchen about Earth Day and how they can help with something very simple like by not being a litter bug. If you want to go into more detail, have at it!

Meanwhile, the kids can stir up this delicious Mud Pie treat as a symbol of the "mud of the earth!" Anything this yummy will make an impression and in the future they might just associate "Mud Pie" with Earth Day and give a bit more thought about it.

Here's the ingredients list for our Earth Day Mud Pie:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/4 cup hot fudge sauce or topping
1 small container frozen whipped topping (thawed in the fridge)
2 to 3 "more" tablespoons hot fudge topping (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons caramel topping

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Have the kids grease bottom and sides of a 9 x 1 1/4-inch pie plate. (They love smearing butter around a pie plate)!

Let the kids measure out the following ingredients and dump them into a mixing bowl: sugar, butter, flour, cocoa, vanilla, salt. Now, stir until well combined.

Have them break the eggs in a separate bowl (just in case there's a little eggshell in there) and beat the eggs with a fork. Add the eggs to the dry mixture and stir some more! Stir in the nuts.

As an adult helper, how about you hold the pan and hand the kids the spatula? Let them scrape the mixture into the pie pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until edge appears dry and toothpick inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean (center will be moist). Immediately prick holes in pie with toothpick. Let the kids watch while you do this as the pie pan is too hot for them to work with!

Spread 1/4 cup fudge sauce over top. Set aside to cool completely, about an hour.

While cooling, clean up the kitchen and then reward the kids with some fun Earth Day coloring pages. Go here and print them out for free:
When the crust is cool it's time for the yummy part! Place the thawed whipped topping into a bowl and show the kids how to "whip it up!" Spread over fudge sauce.

Drizzle with 2 to 3 tablespoons fudge sauce. Muddy the pie up really good and add a drizzle of caramel topping with the fudge topping as the crowning "mud" on top of the pie! Cover and refrigerate for a short time before indulging... the kids are gonna love it!

Have a Yummy Earth Day!
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach for Kids

Friday, April 13, 2012

Be a Spring "Seed Explorer!"

All righty... planting time is near and I've got a really fun project for the kids to do. They're gonna love it... we're not cooking today but this is going to help them understand where their food comes from! 

Some kids literally believe that food comes from the "grocery store" and it doesn't go beyond that. Children need to learn everything about food as research proves that they will make better food choices and have healthier lifestyles as they grow.

Let's make a spring seed collection. You're going to need an empty egg carton for each child for this project. Your choice to either do this over several days or weeks or have a "treasure hunt" type adventure that completes the project all in one day or afternoon.

Tell the kids that they need to find seeds from fruits and vegetables... from trees... from flowers and from other plants. Their goal is to collect 12 different kinds of seeds from different places... the yard, the park, the grocery store... the garden from last year, a flower bed... the possibilities are all around us!

Here's some seed hints to make this a bit easier...
Watermelon, pumpkin, cantaloupe seeds
A walnut
Lima bean
Oranges, limes, lemons
Peaches, pears, nectarines
Peas, lima beans, other beans

Got it? Go for it! The kids will have a blast and be learning every step of the way... it doesn't get any better than this fun expedition!

If you want to get fancy (and depending on the age of the children), you can have them label (or help them) each seed group that they put in their egg carton.

As they sit down at their work table after collecting the seeds, grab a magnifying glass and let them examine the seeds... give them a title, "Seed Explorer"... have they look at each seed through the magnifying glass so they can see the little things on the seed. Have them smell the seeds... and be sure to have them feel them and their textures.

The kids will realize that their are all sizes, shapes and colors of seeds and they all look different! This is a great exercise in learning where food comes from!

I'd really appreciate any feedback you might have for me when you go on this little seed collection adventure. Please post your experiences, if you'll take a moment to do it! Thanks so much and have a great time with this one... more recipes and seed experiments on the way soon!

Happy Exploring,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach for Kids

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pastel Deviled Eggs!

This is a very fun twist on coloring eggs for Easter and the kids are gonna love it! Let’s color the whites of the eggs! 

This is a very fun twist on coloring eggs for Easter and the kids are gonna love it! Let’s color the whites of the eggs!

All righty... don those little chef hats and aprons... the kids can do almost all of this creation except for using a sharp knife to cut the eggs in half. Oh... you'll need 12 hard-boiled eggs! Can you tell I'm really excited about this little project?

Note:  Eggs that are about a week old are always easier to peel... the really fresh ones don't do so well!

First, make the colors that the kids pick out for coloring the whites. You do this just as you would for Easter egg dye for coloring the shells of “hard boiled” eggs.

Use glasses or mugs (whatever works best for you but it’s more fun with clear glasses so the kids can see the transformation actually taking place :-) The size of the glasses that you use will depend on how many egg whites you want to color at the same time!

Fill the glasses about 2/3 of the way full with cold water. Then add about 3 drops of food coloring (this will make the whites pretty pastel colors!). Add a teaspoonful of cider vinegar to each coloring concoction.

Peel the eggs... the kids love the cracking part! Adult helper, please slice each egg in half, long ways...

Let the kids pop the yolks into a small bowl (if there's more than one child, then divide the yolks so each child has a bowl). Set the yolks aside and let's get to the really fun part...

Carefully place the egg white halves in the colored water. While the eggs are magically turning pretty pastel colors, have the kids mix up the filling for the eggs.

Filling for Eggs:
2 teaspoons mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise (may not use the entire amount)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar

Using a fork, smash the egg yolks until fine... the kids will learn about textures and lumps!

Add the mustard, sugar and vinegar. Then stir, stir, stir. Add part of the mayo and stir as you don't want the egg mixture to be soupy... just really smooth. You may not use the entire 1/3 cup of mayo… just add until mixture smooth with no lumps! Put mixture in the fridge until colored egg whites are dry.
When egg whites are the color you want, remove them from the glasses and place on a plate with at least a double paper towel to drain and dry.

Fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture and put on a pretty plate. Cover with plastic wrap until serving time.

The kids will be hollering, "look what I made!"

Hoppy Easter!
Get Kids Cooking,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach for Kids

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Easy Easter Basket Cupcakes...

Easter is a time of celebration! And, of course, for the kids it's a time for jelly beans and chocolate bunnies.

If you're invited to an Easter egg hunt and need to take something make it special. The kids will love decorating these extra easy cupcakes and everyone will think you spent hours on them.

Have the kids stir up their favorite cupcake recipe and bake 'em! Frost them with pastel colored frosting... either use your favorite recipe or store bought for quick and easy.Sprinkle the tops of the cupcakes with green coconut (easy... just put coconut in a jar with a drop... maybe two of green food coloring and shake it up... the kids love doing the shaking up!). This will be the grass for the cupcake basket. Then let the kids decorate with jelly beans so it looks like eggs in an Easter basket.

Top the cupcakes off with red string licorice making the "handle of the basket."

The kids are gonna love 'em and have a great time with this "hoppy" project!
Get Kids Cooking!
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach for Kids