Posts Tagged ‘fun’

Ever heard of Aebleskivers?

June 19, 2010

Last week, the Blog Pantry, our Twin Cities women’s blogging group, met at Local D’Lish to make aebleskivers and collect donations for the Minneapolis Crisis Nursery.

Local D’Lish is a neighborhood grocery store featuring many, many local, organic, and sustainable foods, located at 208 N 1st Street in downtown Minneapolis.  Their local spring produce provided a feast for the eyes as well as the palette.  If you live in the Twin Cities, I’d definitely check it out!  They’ve even got an urban farming set up where they use fish in a tank to fertilize small indoor crops of greens.  Your kids will think it’s cool!

Aebleskivers are Danish spherical pancakes and they are a blast to make.  My mom made them when I was a kid, but I hadn’t had one in years.  You use a special pan to cook them and can put a sweet or savory treat in the middle as they brown.  We filled ours with bacon, apples, chocolate, herbs, strawberries-you name it, and dipped some in jam, honey or homemade caramel sauce when we ate them.  (They’re also great with butter and syrup.)  Yum!

Chad from Aunt Else’s Aebleskivers was there to demonstrate how to turn them with a stainless steel chopstick as they cooked and we had a contest to see who could make the best one!

Kids would have a great time making these (with proper supervision, of course.)  I think I’ll buy an aebleskiver pan for my parents’ cabin, where we have time for fun, leisurely breakfasts.

If you’re looking for a pan, or anything else you need to make these Dutch treats, go to Aunt Else’s Aebleskiver‘s website.  They’re a local company that makes organic aebleskiver mix, gluten-free aebleskiver mix & aebleskiver pans.  (Their pans are made at a small, local foundry.) They also make fresh aebleskiverseach Saturday at the Mill City Farmer’s Market, which is a great family destination!

My favorite food find at Local D’Lish was the garlic pepper jelly from Lucille’s Kitchen Garden.   They make delicious savory pepper jams that are friendly to the Minnesota palate and a new line of Little Lucy’s fruit spreads with amazing combinations like Strawberry-Vanilla & Raspberry-Lime.  You can find their preserves at  stores and their booth at the Mill City Farmer’s Market.

Do you have any favorite, fun foods you like to make with your kids?

Nature Bracelets

June 11, 2010

IMG_2660Today is the last day of school and I’m looking forward to sleeping in and not having to make cold lunches every morning.  My kids are looking forward to running free.  They’re also looking forward to being allowed to have screen time on weekdays, which I don’t normally allow during the school year.  Being the TV referee gets old quickly.

Nature bracelets are a fun craft project for a beautiful summer day when you want to get your kids out of the house and into the fresh air.   They require no work at all, other than taking a walk and assembling your discoveries on your wrists to create wearable art.   It’s simple to do and perfect for all ages.  I even had fun making my own bracelet! 

All you need is duct tape and your walking shoes.  Cut the tape so it fits comfortably around your child’s wrist and tape it around like a bracelet, sticky side out.  Take a walk in a park or down your own street and have your child find small leaves, flowers and other natural artifacts to adorn their wristlet. 

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Almost everything we tried stuck to the tape pretty well.  We wore our bracelets all afternoon and several people mistook them for real jewelry.  My older daughter thought they looked even prettier as the leaves and flowers wilted and flattened out on the tape.  If your child wants to keep their bracelet, cut it off and leave it to dry.  (Eventually, they’ll forget about it and you can throw it away.)

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Get those kids outside!

Tasty Pretzel Wreaths

December 19, 2009

Here’s an idea for some quick, easy holiday treats that your kids will love to make and you will all love to eat.  You’ll  just need circular pretzels (they have them at most grocery stores this time of year), almond bark or white chocolate, and green sprinkles.  I found some sprinkles at our local grocery store (Byerly’s) that looked like holly leave and berries and looked great on the little wreaths.

Melt the chocolate or almond bark in the microwave.  Have your child drop the pretzels in the melted goo and fish them out with tongs or a chopstick, shaking off the excess.  Lay them on some waxed paper or a cookies sheet and , before they dry, sprinkle them with whatever you want.  We put some sprinkles on the waxed paper before we put the pretzels on so there would be green on both sides of the wreaths. 

Voila!  Enjoy!

Fun with Marzipan

December 14, 2009

For my book club holiday party last week I decided to make a “Buche de Noel”, or Yule Log cake.  I’ve always wanted to make one, just to see whether I could do it.  It was helpful to watch the how-to video (courtesy of Nick Malgieri, author of Perfect Cakes) at  http://tinyurl.com/ydw4eqo  The marzipan link is http://tinyurl.com/yejoalp  and you can find the other videos for finishing the cake on the same page as these videos.

Most people either love marzipan or hate it.  I don’t feel that strongly about it either way, but it is REALLY fun to play with!  Last week, instead of making it, I bought it pre-made and colored it by kneading in food coloring or cocoa powder.  Then, the kids and I used it to make little mushrooms and pinecones to decorate the Yule Log cake that I made.  It would be great for decorating birthday cakes and cupcakes. 

 Marzipan is made from almonds and sugar, so if your child has a nut allergy, this might not be a project for you.  

The video shows you step-by-step how to make marzipan pine cones, mushrooms and holly.  Even my three-year old could make the berries and smear cocoa on the mushrooms. 

Try it sometime!  You and your kids will love playing with this edible play dough.

Note:  I used Nick Malgieri’s recipe on foodnetwork.com.  The cake was great, but next time I’ll make chocolate buttercream frosting. (The kids didn’t love the espresso and rum in the frosting.)

Puppet Show

November 28, 2009
Our Thanksgiving craft evolved into the creation of a full-blown puppet show.  The kids stuck wooden skewers into the cones and balls and created a cast of  “pixies” and “aliens” named with names like Rainbow, Star and Tippie.  Soon, they were making up stories and doing puppet shows.  I loved the creative storylines they came up with. Check out my last post for more details, but all you need are styrofoam balls and cones, pipe cleaners, markers, ribbons, sequins, buttons, pins, or anything you can find in your craft bin and around the house.  Skewers work well as handles, but your kids could use chopsticks or sticks from outside if you don’t have any.   Watch their imaginations run wild!

Festive Cranberry Garlands

November 18, 2009

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Before I had kids, I would buy wire frames and painstakingly weave evergreens to them to create Martha Stewart-like wreaths for the holidays.  I also designed and hand-made our Christmas Cards every year.  Now, I struggle to get my photo cards in the mail and I buy my wreaths at Costco.  Although I sometimes mourn the loss of my adult craft projects, I’m comforted by the fact that I’m blessed with three children who fill our holidays with more joy and beauty than any decoration could ever bring.  I’d trade anything for a hand print turkey made by my three-year old!

This year, we will continue our tradition of making cranberry garlands.  They’re pretty, environmentally friendly, and will look nice at Thanksgiving and even through the holidays.  Last year, the berries looked pretty for a long time, even when they were a little wrinkled.  You can hang them outside on a tree or shrub when you’re tired of them and the birds and squirrels will have a feast of their own.

You will need fresh cranberries, fishing line or dental floss and a yarn needle.  Yarn needles are plastic, not too sharp and can be purchased at craft and fabric stores.  I bought 7cm needles. (Susan Bates brand to be exact.) Make sure the eye isn’t too big, or it will ruin the cranberries.

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First, we pulled a yard or so of fishing line out from the spool and taped it to the spool so that no more could unwind.  Dental floss works well too!  Then, I knotted the free end of the fishing line to the needle so it wouldn’t pull off and had my kids start stringing.  Last year, it was a little challenging for our two-year old, but she could do it with help! 

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You can make the garlands as long as you like.  Just tie them off when they are the length you want.  I love to string them on the chandelier in our dining room for Thanksgiving.  We may make a few strings for our Christmas tree too.  It would be a great project for people sitting around watching football, assuming they’re not on a white couch! 

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Cornstarch Goo- Liquid or Solid?

November 3, 2009

My son, the science-nut, turned nine on Tuesday, so I’m posting one of his favorite projects.  It’s easy, non-toxic and so much fun that it is worth every bit of the mess it makes.   Your kids will love it!

All you need is a cup of cornstarch and half a cup of water.  Let your child measure everything out.  (He or she will enjoy it much more than you will.)  Simply add the two ingredients to a medium-size bowl and let your child mix them together with a spoon or their fingers.

Then, play with the mixture!  You will discover that it behaves like a solid when you agitate it, or move it quickly,  and like a liquid when you let it sit still.  Pour some onto plates or into bowls if you want to.  We poured it directly onto our table which was pretty messy, but lots of fun!  Hold a handful on your palm and watch it drip between your fingers!  Have your child roll it into a ball.  If it gets too dry, just add a little more water.

Cornstarch molecules are like long ropes.  When you leave them alone, or move them slowly, they can slide past each other and look like a liquid.  However, if you squeeze them, stir them or roll them around in your hands, the ropey molecules get “tangled up” and they look and feel more like a solid.

Have fun!

Creepy Meatball Caterpillars

October 19, 2009

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The kids loved making this creative, kid-friendly finger food for our Halloween lunch.  Best of all, they could easily do most of it all by themselves.  All I did was put the caterpillars in the oven and move them onto serving trays.   Thanks again for the idea, Pillsbury!

All you need to make your meatball caterpillar is a can of Pillsbury Golden Layers refrigerated flaky original biscuits (I accidentally bought the extra big ones, which worked just fine,) and a bag of frozen pre-cooked turkey meatballs, which have been thawed ahead of time.  Shoestring potatoes or chow mein noodles make cute legs for your caterpillar, but we forgot to put legs on ours.  You will also want to slice up pickles, carrots, olives, peppers and anything else you can think of for your kids to use as decorations.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Cover two cookie sheets with foil and spray them with cooking spray so your caterpillars won’t stick.  I forgot to spray mine, but was able to get the meatballs off.

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Have your child separate the dough into individual biscuits, and then separate each biscuit into two layers.  We found that the biscuits pulled apart easily.  You should now have around 20 pieces of dough.  Show your child how to wrap a biscuit around each meatball and line the wrapped meatballs up on the cookie sheet in a curved line, touching to form a caterpillar shape.  You will be able to make two caterpillars of around 10 meatballs each.

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Now it’s time to decorate!  Let your child place veggies and herbs on each meatball (or every other one to leave some plain for picky eaters.)  Some of the decorations may fall off during cooking, but my kids didn’t seem to care.  Put the shoestring potato legs on at this point, if you have them.  Bake your creations for 13 to 16 minutes, or until the bread looks done.

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Move your caterpillar onto a serving tray, if you want to.  It will probably come apart, but just reassemble it on the tray.  Serve with ketchup and mustard, or marinara sauce.  We served baby dill pickles with our lunch and called them goblin fingers.  The kids loved it. 

Coming soon:  Marshmallow Monsters and Yummy Hot Dog Mummies.

Halloween Feast: Gobble-up Ghosts

October 16, 2009

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Yesterday, my kids and a few friends spent the morning making a creepy, delicious Halloween feast.   They had at least as much fun making the food as they did eating it.  I’m going to post the recipes in a series of blogs over the next week.  All of the ideas are from a Pillsbury Halloween magazine.  Thanks  for the great ideas Pillsbury!

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These Gobble-up Ghosts were fun to make and taste as good as they look. 

You’ll need pretzel sticks, some fruit roll-ups, a package or two of white vanilla baking chips or almond bark and some mini chocolate chips.

Have your child line a cookie sheet with waxed or parchment paper.  Then, have them unroll the fruit snacks and cut them into pieces around 1 inch long.  Show them how to cut a 3/4 inch fringe on the long side of the strip.  Then, have them stretch and wrap the uncut end of the fruit roll-up around the end of a pretzel stick to form a broom.  Have them space the brooms out on the waxed paper.

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Melt the white chocolate according to the directions (I like to use the microwave so I don’t burn it) and help your child drop the melted chocolate onto the pretzels to look like ghosts.  Remind them that they look better if they’re NOT perfect.  Ghosts are blobs, after all.  Then, have them put mini chocolate chips on the ghosts to form faces.  Be sure to do this before the white chocolate hardens.

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Let them cool and harden and peel them from the paper.  Voila!   Try to share them with your kids, even if you want to gobble them all up yourself.  I know I couldn’t resist them.

Coming soon:  Creepy Meatball Caterpillars, Yummy Hot Dog Mummies and Marshmallow Monsters

Pizza Box Solar Oven

October 9, 2009

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When my friend Sheila, who works at NREL (the National Renewable Energy Laboratory) sent me this project, I couldn’t wait to try it out.  Unfortunately, it’s fall.  That means it’s cool outside and the sun isn’t very high in the sky.  We decided to attempt the project anyway on a cool, 60-degree day and, much to my surprise, it worked.  The oven didn’t get very hot, but we were able to warm a chocolate chip cookie enough to make it soft and melt the chips at about five o’clock in the afternoon with only about half an hour of sun.  NREL suggests using your oven to make s’mores, which would be really fun.  I just didn’t have the ingredients on hand.  The solar oven is surprisingly easy to make.  I think it only took us 10 or 15 minutes, with my help.

You will need: 1 pizza box from a local pizza delivery store (Little Caesars, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, etc.), newspapers, tape, scissors, black construction paper, clear plastic wrap, aluminum foil and a dowel or stick to prop the lid up.  You will also want to have some food to warm in your oven-marshmallows, chocolate, etc.

Make sure the cardboard is folded into its box shape.   Carefully cut out 3 sides of a square in the lid of the box.  Do not cut out the fourth side of the square, which is the one closest to where the pizza box lid hinges.  Gently fold the flap back along the uncut edge to form a crease.  See photo below!

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Now, Wrap the underside (inside) face of the flap that you made with aluminum foil.  Tape it so that the foil is help firmly but so that there’s not too much tape showing on the foil side of the flap. 

Open the box and place a piece of black construction paper so that it fits the bottom of the box.  Tape it by the edges. (We used two pieces.)

Roll up some newspaper and fit it around the inside edges of the box.  This is the insulation.  It should be about 1-1 ½” thick.  Use tape (or other materials you can think of) to hold the newspaper in place.  Tape it to the bottom of the box so that you can close the lid. (We taped it to the sides and had to cut the tape so that we could close the lid.  Luckily our newspaper fit in tightly enough that we didn’t really even need the tape.)

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Finally, cut plastic wrap an inch larger than the lid opening on the box top.  Tape it on the underside of the lid opening.  Add another piece of plastic wrap to the top of the lid opening.  This creates a layer of air as insulation that keeps heat in the box. It also makes a window your children can look through at the food they’re “cooking.”  BE SURE THE PLASTIC WRAP IS TIGHT.

You are almost done!  According to NREL, the oven needs to sit at an angle facing the sun directly so you’ll need to make a prop.  You could probably just use a book or something under the hinged side of the oven.  However, I missed this when I read the directions and we just put it flat on the ground.  The flap of the box top needs to be propped open—a dowel or ruler works great.   We used a wooden skewer that I broke the sharp point off of.  This way your child can change the amount of sunlight striking the oven window.  Let them play with the angle of the flap to see how much sunlight they can get to reflect on their food. 

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Your child can check every once in a while to see how well their food is being heated by solar thermal energy.  Best of all, the results of this experiment are edible!  If your child is interested in finding out how the sun cooked their food, go to http://www.nrel.gov/  NREL’s website has great information on solar energy and many other sources of renewable energy.