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Food, glorious food!!!

Cooking is the perfect activity for children to engage science skills with the use of their senses, math by adding and doing fractions and language arts by expanding vocabulary all the same time. Cooking is something all children love, maybe not eating, but always cooking. One tip? Food that might not otherwise be eaten, if it can come with a dip like red peppers AND Ranch Dip, always seems to make food more desirable!

  1. Chicken with Crushed Potato Chips is definitely a hit with children and grown ups. Use chicken cutlets (one per child) cut in strips and dip them into 1 cup of flour, which you have put in a cereal bowl. Then take potato chips and have the kids smash them in a plastic bag. Beat several eggs with a whisk and put those in another bowl and dip the chicken strips with flour in the egg and roll them in the crushed potato chips. Put these on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

  2. Dirt and Worms (Chocolate pudding, crushed Oreos and gummy worms) You will need: a box of chocolate pudding, Oreo Cookies (or any chocolate cookie),gummy worms and clear plastic drink cups. Make the pudding, when it has set, put some in the cup 2/3 of the way up, add crushed cookies and then place the worms in. This never ceases to amuse children.

  3. Pizza Faces These can be made on English Muffins, Pita bread, bagels or real pizza dough. Pour tomato sauce over the base, then add shredded mozzarella, then any of the following to make a face after or before it is cooked: cherry tomato halves, thinly sliced carrots, onion, zucchini, broccoli, bell pepper rings, sliced olives, mushrooms etc. Use your imagination.

  4. Ka-Bobs Anything tastes better on a stick! Try cooked chicken cutlets and a vegetable and alternate OR cherry tomatoes halves and mozzarella balls, OR bananas, melon, grapes, strawberries, apple or pear OR deli turkey rolled and cut in 1/3s and cheese rolled and cut. Anything works and is fun to eat this way.

  5. Salad in a Jar: You'll need mason jars or any empty jars you have at home. Pour any dressing you like (for example: honey mustard- 4 Tbs. olive oil, 3 Tbs vinegar, 2 Tbs mustard, 2 Tbs maple syrup or honey, salt and pepper, this is enough for 2 jars) in the bottom of the jar and then layer with whatever you like. Tomato, cucumbers, asparagus, celery, peppers, carrots all diced OR mushrooms, zucchini, beans, lentils, peas, corn, feta cheese and lettuce cut in small pieces OR 7 layers of beans OR different bite sized fruits with a Yoghurt dressing OR Black bean and Corn OR ....Store in the fridge for when you feel like eating.

  6. No Bake Snack Bars with Cheerios: Ingredients- 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, 1/4 cup of honey,( or light colored corn syrup and this actually keeps the bars firmer), 1/4 cup light brown sugar packed, 1 Tbs of vanilla extract, 3 cups of Honey Nut Cheerios or plain cheerios (less sweet), 1 cup raisins (optional, or 1 cup of honey roasted peanuts, 1 cup of chopped almonds or 1 cup of trail mix) and @ 1/2 cup of chocolate covered sunflower seeds, also optional (Trader Joe's are great) and a pinch of salt. Line an 8 inch square pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Combine in a bowl: butter, honey, brown sugar and heat in microwave on high for 1 minute to melt. Stop and stir (will be quite granular) Put back in microwave and heat for 1 more minute on high, stir and repeat. It will become bubbly, remove carefully from microwave. Stir in the vanilla, then the cereal and then the raisins or nuts if you are using them. Put in your pan and pat down with a spatula, smoothing the top. If adding the chocolate sunflower seeds, sprinkle evenly on top with the salt which cuts the sweetness. Cover the pan with foil and put in the fridge for 2-3 hours or overnight. Slice and serve! (these stay fresh in the fridge for 2 weeks or the freezer for 6 months.)

  7. Mini Lasagna Cups: Ingredients-1 Tbs olive oil, 1 cup of marinara sauce, 1 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese, Kosher salt and pepper, 24 two inch wontons wrappers, 2 Italian sausage links without the casing (skip if your kids won't eat this)1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese and 2 Tbs parsley (optional for children who won't eat green things!) Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly spray with nonstick spray one 12 cup muffin tin. Heat the olive oil and add sausage, if your kids don't eat sausage, skip and just put in marinara sauce in a medium pot for a few minutes. Put wonton wrappers into each muffin tin, leaving an opening in the center, fill each cup with 1Tbs of ricotta cheese (seasoned with salt and pepper),1 Tbs of marinara sauce and 1 Tbs of mozzarella and repeat the pattern for one more layer. Put in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the wrappers are golden brown. Serve immediately.

  8. Taco Pizza: Ingredients- 1 pound of ground beef, 1 envelope of Taco seasoning mix, 1 (10 oz) can of Pillsbury pizza dough, 1 (16) ounce can of refried beans, 2-3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (you can use Colby and or Monterey Jack as a substitute), 1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup of sliced black olives (optional) 4 green onions, chopped (optional) Heat oven to 375 degrees, brown beef in a large skillet, drain grease, add taco seasoning. Unroll pizza dough onto ungreased cookie sheet, let sit for 5 minutes then bake for 8-10 minutes. Microwave the beans for 1 minute and spread over the dough, top with hamburger meat, sprinkle with cheese and the tomatoes, olives and green onion. Return to oven and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

  9. Breakfast Cups: Beat eggs with salt and pepper and onion (optional) pour into muffin tins that have been sprayed with nonstick spray and add: sliced cherry tomatoes, cheese, bacon, chopped asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers---whatever your family will eat and they can each be individualized! Fill only 3/4 of the way as they puff up. Bake at 350 degrees until done, @ 20 minutes. Let them cool before removing them. These can be stored in the fridge in air tight containers for up to 5 days and reheated .

  10. Random act of kindness: make an extra batch of whatever you cook and deliver with a homemade card to an elderly neighbor, remember sharing is caring!

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