Thursday, June 30, 2011

Week TEN: Recap!

Today was the last class of the session, so we made party food! We ate watermelon and made cupcake, chex mix and sandwiches. We started the class with some summer fun -- using cookie cutters to chop watermelon.

We decided to spunk up some cupcakes with food coloring... some of our artists even mixed the food coloring to create a lovely marbleized cake batter. This is a fun recipe, and the colors can be altered to suit any holiday or event. Try red and green for Christmas, pink and blue for a baby shower, purple and red for Valentine's Day or use all the colors to make a rainbow-colored treat!

After our cupcakes were placed into the over, we went on over to our homemade chex mix station! Delicious! The wonderful thing about making your own mix is that there are no rules. You can use chips, crackers, nuts, dried fruit... even candy. Just have fun!

We ended class experimenting with our sandwich station. We had raspberry jam, orange marmalde and soy butter. We also tried brie cheese with honey that was still on the honeycomb! Very tasty! A sandwich station is an easy way to please everyone, and encourage diners to try new flavor combinations.

Week TEN: Sandwiches, Chex Mix and Red, White & Blue Cupcakes

  • 2 slices white or wheat bread
  • One or more of the following: grape jelly, bananas, Nutella, honey, apricot jelly, cheese, chips
  1. Spread one or more of your favorite ingredients onto one piece of bread, then the other.
  2. Stack bread pieces on each other to make a sandwich.

  • 2 cups criss-cross corn/rice cereal (like Crispix)
  • 1 cup tiny pretzel twists
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat wheat crackers
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat cheddar crackers
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon ginger stir fry sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
  2. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Combine butter and next 4 ingredients; drizzle over cereal mixture, tossing to coat. Spread into jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp, stirring twice.

  • White cake mix, and ingredients needed
  • Food coloring (red and blue)
  • Baking cups
  • Whipped cream
  1. Prepare your favorite white cake mix, then divide the batter evenly among two small bowls. 
  2. Add red food coloring (about 50 drops) to one bowl and blue food coloring (about 35) to the other. 
  3. Line 16 muffin pan wells with baking cups. 
  4. Evenly distribute the red batter among the cups, then the blue. As you go, gently spread each layer of batter with the back of a spoon to cover the color underneath.
  5. Bake the cupcakes according to the directions on the back of your white cake mix box. 
  6. Before serving, remove paper wrap, and top each with a whipped-cream cloud.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Week NINE: Recap!

Today we made flavored butter, popovers, and smoothies! Can you believe it's already week nine? Next week's class will be our last one of the session. Good thing we'll go out with a Fourth-Of-July theme bang (pun intended)! :)

Popovers can be tricky to make, so it is important to make sure the oven is fully preheated to 375°F. We made smaller popovers, so we cooked them for less time than the recipe called for. I would suggest using a popover pan if you try these at home -- it will simplify the process a bit. These are a real treat, and are best enjoyed wih a pinch of powdered sugar on top!

I love going to restaurants that have flavored butters. My personal favorite is maple butter, which is so easy to make! Just soften 1 tablespoon of butter in the microwave for about 10 to 20 seconds and add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. Stir together and voila! Maple butter!
You can also mix butter with your favorite jam, as we did in class. Keep in mind that the proportions are always half butter, half of the other ingredient. Today we made blueberry, blackberry, and orange butter. Yum! A perfect addition to a popover!

This was my favorite part of class today. Each child had a chance to press the pulse button on the blender and they were so excited! This is such a great healthy snack, and the possibilities are endless. Substitute your favorite fruit or even throw in some ice cream for a tasty dessert!

Week NINE: Popovers, Flavored Butter and Smoothies

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Grease 8 deep, 7-ounce pottery custard cups, or popover pans.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until frothy using a mixer on low, then beat in the milk and butter. 
  4. At low speed, beat the flour and salt into the egg, milk, and butter mixture. 
  5. Pour about 3/4 cup of the batter into each of the greased custard cups. Bake for 1 hour. 
  6. Make a slit in each to let out steam; bake 10 minutes more. Remove from oven, and from cups.

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • Flavoring of your choice (strawberry jam, maple syrup, orange marmalade, raspberry jam)
  1. Mix butter and flavoring at a 1:1 ratio.
  2. Serve immediately on your favorite baked goods, and refrigerate leftovers.

  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup frozen fruit (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries or peaches)
  1. Combine ingredients in blender.
  2. Blend until smoothie is desired consistency.

Week EIGHT: Recap!

This week we made fruit salad, doughnuts, and caprese sandwiches -- a Dad-friendly meal, to be sure!

This is a sandwich that is so easy and yummy - and regrettably I never think to make it! Sometimes the easiest things to make are the hardest to remember. These sandwiches are satisfying, hearty and fresh... especially right now, as tomatoes are in season. These were loved by both Taste Buddies students and their adult helpers!

Fruit salad is a delicious and healthy go-to snack. Use your favorite fruits or what's in season to personalize it just for you!


Wow! I was so impressed at how well the Taste Buddies came together, listened and carefully pulled these off! It was definitely a learning experience for both myself and them. Because they are fried in hot oil, we had some extra help from our grown-ups. Something we learned in class, that may be helpful for when you try these at home, is not to roll the dough, because that allows to much air in the donuts and they will not cook all the way. Tasty and fun, but be careful!

Week EIGHT: Caprese Sandwich, Fruit Salad and Doughnuts

  • 1 small ciabatta roll
  • 2 tomato slices
  • 1 slice of mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh basil
  1. Slice ciabatta roll in half, lengthwise.
  2. Place sliced tomatoes on one half of bread.
  3. Add mozzarella and basil
  4. Top with remaining bread half.

  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange
  • Pineapple
  • Grapes
  • Melon
  • Strawberries
  • Other favorite fruits
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon-lime soda
  1. Mix orange juice, lemon juice, and lemon-lime soda.
  2. Pour over chopped fruit.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
  • 1 quart vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  1. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. 
  2. Cut butter into flour mixture using your fingers.
  3. Add buttermilk and stir until a dough forms (dough will be sticky).
  4. Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and knead gently 4-6 times. 
  5. Flour dough and a rolling pin, then roll out dough to 1/2 inch thick.
  6. Cut out as many doughnuts as possible with floured cutter. 
  7. Gather scraps, re-roll, and cut more doughnuts.
  8. Heat oil in a 5-quart heavy pot until thermometer registers 375 °F. 
  9. Working in batches, slide doughnuts into oil and fry (about 1 minute per side or until browned).
  10. Transfer to paper towels to drain. 
  11. Cool slightly and toss in cinnamon sugar.

I’m Yours by Jason Mraz

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Choosing a back-to-work or stay-at-home path, and making the most of your decision.

Whether your maternity leave is almost up, or your youngest is going to start preschool this year, going back to work or deciding to be a full time stay-at-home parent can be a big decision.

First, you must consider the pros and cons of each. How much will childcare cost if I go back to work? Can we afford to live on one income? If finances don't come into play, one still must consider which path will be most fulfilling and provide happiness to you and your family.

Compiled below are some resources to help you make the decision, get started pursuing your choice, or help personalize whichever path you take.

MAKING THE DECISION: Get help from this checklist from the "Working Mom vs. Stay-at-Home Mom". Alternatively, have you considered "The Rise of the Stay-at-Home Dad" as outlined in this U.S. News article?
CHOOSING TO STAY AT HOME: Start by reading this "Stay-at-Home-Parents: Overview" from to get a grasp on the many facets of the stay-at-home parent choice, and then visit "4 Things Every Stay-At-Home Mom Should Know" from to read some insightful quotes from other stay-at-home parents.
CHOOSING TO WORK out of the home: Every working parent can benefit from the information in "Creating a Family-Friendly Work Arrangement" from For those of you returning to work after several years, read the Wall Street Journal article titled "Returning to Work After Years at Home" for some helpful tips on getting back in the saddle. Once you're back to work, try these "40 Mom-Tested Tips for Balancing Work and Family" from from members of their Working Moms Message Board.
CHOOSING TO WORK in the home: Although the series was never finished, author Candice Lindemann posted 4 entries of a 5-part series about how to begin a work-at-home career on Amid all the misinformation and work-from-home scams out there, this is a good, honest place to start. See her first, second, third and forth parts here. Next, read through this "Successful Strategies for Working at Home" article from

Whatever your decision, know that you are doing the best that you can for your child and family. Embrace your situation! Have any suggestions or thoughts on the topics above? Leave a comment!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Week SEVEN: Recap!

This week we explored how to make some healthy and delicious breakfast options! Make these as a family on your next Saturday morning together, or as a fun breakfast-for-dinner meal on a busy weeknight.

Making our omelettes was an exciting portion of class. Following new health guidelines, Chef Marc showed the class how to properly crack an egg on a hard surface rather that on a bowl. The class had quite a time cracking eggs! We then mixed them with our whisks and added chopped peppers and tomatoes. The wonderful thing about making omelettes is that you can put any ingredient you like into them -- vegetables, meat, various cheeses -- all are great options! Delicious!

We precooked some crepes from a crepe mix before class. The Taste Buddies students chopped strawberries and bananas, and put them in the crepes. Last, they added chocolate chips and topped with a dollop of homemade whipped cream! We used the big KitchenAid Mixer together as a class to make the whipped cream. It is really fun for a child to use a big standing mixer with a grownups help, it can be a fun way for them to take ownership in the kitchen!

I always ask the Taste Buddies students at the end of each class what their favorite part was, and several said their favorite part was the glazed carrots! They are delicious, and glazing this way is a fun way to spice up a vegetable. This dish is a great addition to any meal, both kids and adults will enjoy it.

Week SEVEN: Omelette, Whipped Cream for Crepes and Glazed Carrots

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper, if desired
  1. Beat eggs in small bowl with fork or whisk until yolks and whites are well mixed.
  2. Heat butter in 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat until butter is hot and sizzling. As butter melts, tilt skillet to coat bottom with butter.
  3. Quickly pour eggs into skillet. While rapidly sliding skillet back and forth over heat, quickly stir eggs with a fork to spread them continuously over the bottom of the skillet as they thicken. When they are thickened, let stand over heat a few seconds to lightly brown bottom of omelette.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese.
  5. Tilt skillet and run a spatula under edge of omelette, then jerk skillet sharply to loosen omelette from bottom of skillet. Fold omelette over and turn onto warm plate.

  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1/4 cup sugar, or to taste 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Whip heavy cream quickly with a wire whisk until it is slightly thickened. 
  2. Add the sugar and vanilla extract. 
  3. Continue to whip until cream forms soft peaks. Don’t whip beyond the soft-peak stage, because the cream will get stiff and curdle.

  • 1 pound carrots
  • 3 tablespoons butter 
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon or ginger
  • Salt, to taste
  1. Peel the carrots and slice into 1/4-inch half moons. 
  2. Place the sliced carrots in a steamer basket or in gently simmering water.  
  3. Cook until fork-tender, about 6-8 minutes. 
  4. Drain carrots and reserve pan.   
  5. Add butter, maple syrup, and spices to pan. 
  6. Once butter is melted, add carrots back to pan. 
  7. Toss to coat carrots and add salt to taste.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Week SIX: Recap!

This week we made some majorly fun foods: spaghetti tacos, baked beans, guacamole, and ants on a log.
The spaghetti tacos were delicious! Despite how strange these sound, the taste was spot-on. We pretended our spaghetti was worms and called them worm tacos.
The ants on a log are a great treat for packed lunches, they are fun, healthy and portable. The guacamole was fun to make and the baked beans were a nice addition to our meal.

The photos below were taken by Avery's mom, Kim. THANKS, Kim!!

Week SIX: Spaghetti Tacos, Guacamole, Baked Beans and Ants on a Log

  • 8 frozen veggie or turkey meatballs (cooked according to package directions)
  • 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning
  • 1/4 cup of marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 2 taco shells
  • 1 cup of cooked spaghetti noodles
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mash cooked meatballs and mix with taco seasoning, marinara sauce and salsa.
  3. Place cooked spaghetti inside taco shells and top with meatball sauce.
  4. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  1. Mash avocado.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients and serve!

  • 3 to 4 slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 can pork and beans
  • 1 can ranch-style beans
  1. Fry bacon.
  2. Sauté onion in bacon drippings.
  3. Add brown sugar, ketchup and mustard. Heat to a simmer.
  4. Add beans and crumbled bacon.
  5. Pour into a microwave-safe dish, stir, cover and cook on high for 20 minutes or desired consistency.

  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 box of raisins
  • 2-4 tablespoons of peanut butter
  1. Chop celery sticks in half.
  2. Spread peanut butter inside half of the celery stick.
  3. Gently press raisins on top of peanut butter in a line.

1 2 3 4 by Plain White T’s