Making Snack Time Fun

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(Pictured above –  A Crazy Taco, Chef Waffle and the Dabbing Apple)

My son is in Kindergarten and he’s required to bring his snack in a bag that is separate from his lunch. In the beginning of the year I would just toss his snack in a bag and write his name on the front but he complained that it was “so boring”. So then I started to draw quick, simple pictures on the front with a black marker or pen and for a while that was cool with him. But then one day I was in the mood to color and decided to start making his brown bags a little more fun and interesting and once I started, there was no going back!

I am by no means an artist or really even someone who can draw however, I consider myself to be a pretty decent “copycat“. I can look at most simple pictures and sketch them out but if you handed me a piece of paper and asked to come up with something on my own I’d really struggle. What I love about making these snack bags is that number one, it makes my little guy so happy but for myself, it’s just a nice relaxing activity. I enjoy the peaceful quiet and coloring when my kids are at school and I have some uninterrupted time to myself. Coloring makes you slow down, de-stress and relax which is why adult coloring books and apps have become so popular over the years. That being said, making the snack bags is also a fun activity to do with your kids as well. A lot of times they will be doing their own coloring or craft projects at the table and I’ll pull up a seat and work on the bags. They love sitting side-by-side while we all color, it’s great bonding time. We color, we chat, we giggle and we just have fun.

For some cute ideas on what to draw, think of the things your own kids like and do a Google® search but the add the word “cartoon” in front of whatever it is you’re searching for. For example, my son wanted me to draw him a waffle so I did a search for “cartoon waffle“. The images that come up are so much cuter and easier to draw than a standard image. You can find almost anything in a colorful cartoon version. My kids got a Nintendo® Switch for Christmas so right now I am working on characters from the Mario Brothers games and my most favorite character of all time, Yoshi. I can’t wait to see how those turn out! Check out the pics below to see some of the other snack bags that I made for my son over the last few weeks. Enjoy!

The Christmas Collection

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Kid’s Choice – The little blue guy is a character my son created named “Rock Boy”

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Mickey Mouse – I made this one the day before we were leaving for Disney World®

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Little Reindeer and his favorite squishie toy named, “Cubby”

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Squishie Toys and a Creepy Monster

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Mario Bros. Characters

mario bros bags

yoshi

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Chocolate Covered Apple Slices

apple slices

Sometimes it can be a challenge to get your kids to eat healthy, I struggle daily with this because I have two pretty picky eaters. Thankfully, my son at least loves fruit but my daughter will put up a fight over anything that isn’t junk food or a hamburger. So I thought that if we dressed up our fruit a little it would motivate her to at least eat something a little better than chips or pretzels. I used dark chocolate which is a bit “healthier” and with such a thin layer of the yummy stuff, this snack really is just fruit on a stick!

The little beauties pictured above were handmade by both of my kids. They were in charge of dipping and decorating and I think they did an amazing job! Plus, they were so excited to eat them since they were the sous chefs in charge. That is the great benefit of letting your kids help you in the kitchen, when they have some ownership over the food that is being prepared they are more inclined to want to try new things. No surprise, my daughter liked them!

For this batch of apples they decided to use sprinkles, diced pecans, mini chocolate chips and toffee bits for their toppings. You can really use almost anything you have in the pantry as a topping such as crushed cookies or graham crackers, mini marshmallows, crushed candy, sanding sugar, etc. This is a great opportunity for your kids to get creative in the kitchen. If you wanted to be a little “naughty” and amp these up a level, dip the apple slices into melted caramel first, let cool and then coat with chocolate. SO good!

Before you dip the apples into the chocolate I recommend that you give the slices a quick dip in lemon juice. The lemon juice will help to prevent the cut apple slices from getting brown and mushy. When you remove them from the lemon juice gently dry with a clean paper towel before you begin dipping them into the chocolate. Do not skip this step as you do not want to introduce any liquid into the melted chocolate because it can cause it to seize rendering it completely unusable. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2-3 unpeeled apples, cored and sliced
  • wooden skewers
  • lemon juice, for preservation
  • 1 bag of chocolate melting wafers or other chocolate
  • assorted toppings
  • wax paper, for workspace

Instructions

Thoroughly wash apples then core and slice them. Place them into a bowl of lemon juice and gently swirl them around for a minute or two. Remove and pat dry with a clean paper towel. Place a wooden skewer in each slice. Sort toppings into small bowls or cups.

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Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Dip the slices, one at a time, into the chocolate and then gently tap them on the side of bowl or pot to remove excess chocolate. Hold the apple slice over the wax paper and sprinkle on the topping.

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Gently place the apple slices on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat. Place the finished slices into the refrigerator and allow them to cool and harden for at least 20-30 minutes.  Store them in the refrigerator until serving.

apple slices

“Peachy Pie” Smoothie Monster Pops

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With summer in full swing you will no doubt have sweaty, hot kids begging you for a cool treat. Instead of the same old store-bought, sugar laden ice pops why not give them a healthier but equally as yummy treat. Whip them up a batch of Smoothie “Monster” Pops and you’ll feel good about giving them a treat that is healthier for them.

If your kids don’t like peaches, no problem! Just change up the fruit and make a flavor combination that they will love. Try pineapple with a little shredded coconut and a splash of coconut extract for a yummy virgin Piña Colada! Lemon Strawberry and Banana Berry are other really nice combinations to try. Creating your own smoothie flavor is easy, just keep the base ingredients of yogurt and milk the same and then throw in whatever fruit and spices you desire. Enjoy and stay cool!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen peaches, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup lowfat milk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla flavored lowfat yogurt

Instructions

Pour the milk into the blender along with the yogurt, vanilla extract and spices. Add the frozen peaches last. Blend until smooth. Pour into prepared ice pop molds and freeze until hardened.

**Tip – I use a little bit of Truvia® (stevia) to sweeten my smoothies. You can use granulated sugar, agave, honey or not use anything at all.**

Edible Pudding “Slime/Dough/Oobleck”

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My kids are obsessed with slime and dough so when I came across this “Edible Pudding Slime” recipe from The Soccer Mom Blog I though we’d give it a try. It is very easy to make as it’s just cornstarch, instant pudding mix and warm water. Three simple ingredients.

The kids really enjoyed making it and I have to say, using pudding mix made the slime/dough/oobleck smell delish! My daughter decided that if vanilla would work she would try chocolate as well and although it wasn’t as visually appealing as the vanilla dough it certainly had a nice rich scent.

As with any recipe made with cornstarch it’s very easy to use too much which results in a drier, tougher dough. My son made the vanilla dough and at first it was very sticky so we added a bit more cornstarch. I thought we had the right consistency but fairly quickly his dough went from pliable to crumbly. So we added a little more water to his batch and then it took on the consistency of an “oobleck“, it would run through your fingers like a liquid but it would hold together like a dough. With my daughter’s chocolate version we got it “just right” and even the next day it still had a nice, soft, pliable texture.

The key to getting this recipe to work as a dough is in using the right ratio of cornstarch to water. I started by following the recipe exactly as written and then I added a little more of each as needed until it came together the way we wanted. Don’t be afraid to play around with this recipe until you obtain the consistency (and scent!!) that you are looking for. Make it into a slime, a dough or some oobleck. The choice is yours! Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup instant pudding mix (any flavor)
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup warm water, more as needed

Instructions

In a bowl, add the pudding mix and half of the cornstarch. Stir in the water until slime begins to form.

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Slowly add in the remaining cornstarch and any additional water, as needed. Begin to knead together until the dough comes together.

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Turn the dough out of the bowl and have fun! When finished playing, store the dough in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container.

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**Please Note – While this recipe is considered “edible” I would not recommend kids actually eat any of it. It is not harmful but it won’t taste good due to all of the cornstarch. Plus, it’s unsanitary to eat a dough that you’ve been playing with.**

 

 

Chef Emerson’s S’mores Truffles

Emme Truffles

My daughter and little chef-in-training, Emerson, loves to cook and bake and the other day she asked to whip up a fun dessert. She decided to make these scrumptious and super easy S’mores Truffles. Aside from a little assistance with the measuring she made these completely by herself. They are a great dessert to make with your kids as they require minimal ingredients, most of which you should have in the house. Also, depending on their age, it’s something they can make themselves with little to no help which is fantastic for building up confidence in the kitchen.

If you don’t like s’mores or don’t have any marshmallows and graham crackers on hand, feel free to change these truffles up. Use the base truffle mix, roll them into balls and then coat them in crushed cereal, cookies, sprinkles, toasted coconut or even dusted with a little cocoa powder. They are also just as delicious plain as they are coated or in this s’mores version. Let your little one experiment and see what yummy concoction they are able to think up. This recipe makes about 20-25 truffles depending on how large they are rolled. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or half-n-half
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 20-25 miniature marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers

Instructions

Combine the cream, salt and vanilla extract in a bowl. Set aside.

Combine the chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a large microwave safe bowl. Heat in the microwave on high in 15 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until the chocolate is completely melted.

Pour the cream mixture into the melted chocolate and stir gently until well combined. Pour into a parchment lined 8X8 pan and refrigerate for about an hour.

Scoop out about a tablespoon of chocolate, wrap it around one marshmallow and roll into a ball. Roll the truffle ball in the crushed graham crackers and then place on a dish. Repeat until all of the chocolate has been used.

Store the truffles in an airtight container in the fridge, they will keep for a few days.

**Tip – A melon baller or small cookie scoop works great for scooping the chocolate.**

chef emmen

My little chef hard at work!

(Pampered Chef Glass Mixing Bowls – 3 Piece Set$35)