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Edible Eyeballs

I love bringing kids imaginations to life!
Years ago for my son's Halloween birthday party I was looking for a way to make edible "eyeballs" on the table a way that kids would actually eat and enjoy, I knew those little people were NOT touching an olive lol! So, I added a twist on those pretzel snacks that were showing up at holidays, turning them into "eyeballs" and the kids have loved it ever since...I mean all the kids...My sons class is always asking him to make them and bring them in! My children both have severe nut allergies to both tree and peanuts - so we make most of our treats at home.
Your kids will have a blast making, eating and sharing these!

round or square pretzels
white chocolate disks
chocolate chips
red jimmies

On a baking sheet, place pretzels in a single layer. Put one white chocolate disk in the center of each pretzel. Place in a 350 degree oven for approx 3-4 minutes or until chocolate is shiny but not melted or falling through the pretzel.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with red jimmies. Invert one chocolate chip in the center of each disk. Cool in your fridge or cold garage for 20 minutes and they will remain hard until ready to eat. They keep well for a week in a sealed container.

Happy Cooking!

Culinary Term of the Week

Cream - Many recipes tell you to cream butter and sugar.
That means you need to use softened butter, add in some sugar and either with a spatula, whisk or mixer work or beat the mixture until it becomes smooth and fluffy. Creaming the two together merges two separate ingredients into one, it will have a totally different color and texture.

Family Dinner Night

Fall makes me think of warm and wonderful family dinners!

How about planning a family dinner night where everyone is unplugged and focused on the task at hand...making dinner, then enjoying it as a family.

Plan it out in advance, who will be responsible for what...

Are the boys in charge of dessert while the girls work on the main course?

Assign out what everyone is responsible for from 2 to 92 everyone can play a role!
Once you sit down for your wonderful dinner, have each person talk about what they did to contribute..." did you make that dessert?" "Michael, I just love these string beans, how did you make them?" Can't you just see their little backs sit up a little straighter and their chests puff our while eyes sparkle??

Here is a family favorite, it usually please everyone, pair it with some white rice or roasted potatoes and a salad or try our wonderful Salad Cups recipe for extra fun!
If you want an easy dessert - how about Decorating Your Own Ice Cream Cones for use with purchased ice cream or sherbet - so fun it's a craft and a treat all in one!

Mark your calendars now for YOUR Family Dinner Night and I am sure in no time this will be a monthly event in your home too!

Chicken Francaise

4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup light olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup chicken stock
2 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS chopped parsley
thin lemon slices for garnish

In a pie pan or bowl, combine flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Lightly whisk eggs in a bowl. Set aside.

Make the sauce
Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan add in chicken stock, wine and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Stir frequently and reduce sauce by about half - about 6 minutes. Add in parsley and set aside.

Pound chicken breasts in a large Ziploc bag one at a time.(I use a rubber mallet that has been keeping me company in the kitchen for years. A couple of whacks with it is all you need) until about 1/4 inch thick. For thick breasts you can also halve lengthwise.
Dredge chicken breasts one at a time in the flour mixture, shaking off excess.
place on a plate for a few minutes until ready to cook.
Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Don't allow it to smoke.
Add in the garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Immediately begin dipping chicken breasts one at a time into the egg, shake off excess and place in the pan. Saute about 3 minutes a side until golden brown.
If necessary quickly warm sauce. Plate chicken, place lemon slices on chicken for garnish, pour sauce over and serve.

Happy Cooking!!

Our First Junior Chef Spotlight Winner is...


Congratulations Clarissa!

We hope you enjoy the $50.00 gift card, let us know your choice...the Toys R Us Card or the Barnes and Noble Card...Enjoy!

For all you other kids out there who like to cook, we still have room for 4Th quarter Junior Chef Spotlight Features, you could be our next spotlight and possibly a winner!

Pumpkin Muffins

When you think of fall one of the first images that pops in most minds right behind colorful falling leaves is a pumpkin!
Pumpkins for decorating, pumpkins for carving and pumpkins for everything from pancakes to pies, to breads to soups! What a versatile vegetable pumpkin actually is!

Besides versatile, pumpkins are an amazing source of vitamins and minerals too.
The amount of Vitamin A in a pumpkin is staggering...the vitamin A will help keep your eyes healthy! Pumpkins are also a source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, potassium, manganese, copper, riboflavin (a B vitamin), iron, folate, B6, niacin and more! Whew that is one hard working vegetable!

Ever roast your own pumpkin? If not try....squishing cooled roasted pumpkin between clean hands, preparing it for use in breads, cookies, cheesecake or muffins is great fun! Save the seeds too you may just want to roast them to enjoy later!

Roasting a Pumpkin
To roast your pumpkin cut your pumpkin in half...right down the middle...side to side of "the belly" area as my daughter calls it, so the top is intact and the bottom is intact. Place face down on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes (it depends on the size of pumpkin used).

Check it, if it is all mushy they you are good to go...if not in it goes for another 15 minutes. Keep roasting until perfect. Once pulled from the over, just let it sit as is for 30 minutes to cool, then scoop out the seeds (reserve for another use, and scrape all that beautiful pumpkin out leaving 2 "bowls" of pumpkin skin...which we have let dry, then filled with decorations for fall/Halloween. Wonder if many, many years ago these were used as bowls??

Mash your pumpkin with a potato masher or have fun doing it with your clean hands and place in a plastic bag until ready to use..keeps in the fridge for a few days or you can freeze it for later use.

You know fall is here in my neck of the when the orange and black Sweetzle cookie boxes start taking over the end caps in the grocery store.

You can make these with a topping like I did or just make them plain. You could throw a nice whipped cream cheese frosting on them, decorate for fall and call them cupcakes. You can also make them with a sweeter topping more resembling a crumble if you really want something, sweet, sweet, sweet!

Pumpkin Muffins with Oat Crumb Topping
1/2 c butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups cooked pumpkin *(1 small/med pumpkin)
2 TBS brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup crushed Halloween cookies I use Sweetzles (orange and black box)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup oats
2 TBS brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 TBS butter

*You can use pumpkin puree in place of roasting a pumpkin...if you do roast your own pumpkin, just add 2 TBS brown sugar to the 1 1/2 cups of roasted pumpkin you will be using for this recipe.

Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add in pumpkin mixture or puree and eggs and beat until incorporated. In a food processor, blend about 12 cookies until smooth crumbs, set aside. In a medium bowl add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and cookie crumbs, whisk until combined. Add dry ingredients to your batter and blend until combined.

Fill your muffin tin - either using cupcake liners or greasing your pan well.

In a small bowl combine topping ingredients, cut with a pastry blender or large fork or your fingers until crumble, sprinkle over muffins.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until tester inserted comes out clean.


And the Winner is!!

Congratulations to MMMgoode!!
Winner of the Today I ate a Rainbow Kit!

Please send us an email using our contact button with your mailing instructions and enjoy!!

Doughnut Muffins

Warning!! Addictive Muffins ahead!!

My kids first tasted Auntie Anne's Pretzels a couple of years ago.
They thought they were amazing (so does their Mom).
Not being one to go to malls often (since having kids), I decided the kids and I should whip up something similar at home.

What we landed on were Applesauce Doughnuts...they were really good, however they were not as good after they cooled I was still tinkering with them when I was lucky
to meet Jen of How to Simplify and sample some of her Doughnut Muffins! They were just what we were looking for!
Talk about addictive! They were a huge hit at the food blogger gathering I was at!Check out her site - she had some wonderful tips and recipes!

We made these beauties a number of times in the past few months - My kids keep asking to make them. My son loves rolling the muffins hot out of the oven in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Then he reaps the fruit of his labor...or in this case the muffin! Thanks Jen!

Doughnut Muffins
-How to Simplify

1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk

Cinnamon and Sugar Coating
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin well.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
Combine oil, sugar, egg and milk in a large bowl, add in your dry ingredients and stir only to combine.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. While muffins are baking, melt butter in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.
Flip or gently lift muffins out of the muffin tin while the muffins are still hot.
Dip muffins in the melted butter and then into the sugar and cinnamon mixture, coating thee whole muffin. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool and try not to eat them all soon after....really!

You can also cut out the milk and add in 1 cup of sweetened applesauce if you wish, for a bit of a different flavor (if using unsweetened, add in 2 TBS brown sugar).

Happy Cooking!

Today I ate a Rainbow Review and Giveaway!

I first heard about the concept of eating a rainbow a number of years ago, the concept stuck in my mind and was something I planned to include in our second book.

A few weeks ago I happened upon a site that took the idea of eating a rainbow and turned it into an absolutely wonderful product for children!!

I immediately was smitten, I contacted the owner, Kia, and asked her if we could do a swap...a couple of our Picture Me Cooking Books for a couple of her
Today I ate a Rainbow Kits. That way we could each try out the others product and report back!

I have 2 kids - A son, 8 (who was born a man, a serious man) and a daughter who recently turned 6 (who is as free spirited as the wind).
I introduced Today I Ate a Rainbow to them, they immediately "got it" and have been aggressively pursuing eating a rainbow every day since.

My daughter has taken full control, she reports out every few hours how many colors she has eaten, runs to the fridge to move her magnets every time she qualifies to she also tries to move her brothers as well...he then bolts over, moves it back, the again places it on the corresponding color. My daughter often reports out for my son as well who then attempts to regain's wonderful fun...and guess what...they are eating more fruit, they are eating more vegetables and they are thinking about these choices all day - even while at school, doing what they can to accumulate needed colors....and I feel like a sneaky genius!! Thanks to Today I ate a Rainbow!

The simplicity is brilliant!
My daughter did in fact on more than one occasion try to include colors of Fruity Cheerios as earning her magnets...but I quickly squashed that lol!

Here is the deal
For $25.00 you get the kit

The package contains the following:
• Complete "Today I Ate A Rainbow!™" Chart
• 1 chart
• 2 sets of square magnets
• 2 sets of circle magnets
• 4 achievement magnets
• 4 fridge magnets
• 1 grocery list
• The Rainbow Bunch Book

The kit accommodates up to 4 children (or family members, hey a bunch of adults could benefit from this concept too!!) Once you eat every color in the earn the coveted rainbow magnet to signify that YOU ATE A RAINBOW!!

In closing I would just like to say that anyone who struggles with picky eaters, anyone who is trying to get your kids eating more healthy this is one sure fire way to accomplish one or both...this as well as cooking with your child/children!
You need to pop by their website...which is a nice site in and of itself...and hear Kia's daughter sing the sweet rainbow song!

If you would like to enter to win your own set of Today I ate a Rainbow, do so by leaving a comment telling me what your biggest food challenge is with your child/children. You can gain a second entry by following us on Twitter and a third by becoming a follower.

You have until Thursday September 30th to enter.

Parent's Corner - Unleash Creativity

My kids love to paint (ages 9 and 5). If it does not move, they will try to paint it... so far that good news for our new puppy!
My husband recently installed new doors for the kids bedroom closets,
the new doors pull open to allow the kids to see their whole closet, they love it! Everyone was happy…or so we thought.

The kids came into our bedroom early one morning last week, very excited.
They said in unison that they wanted to paint the doors.
I thought that was cute idea...why not empower them to have a hand in how their rooms look. So I thought I will give them some off white glossy paint and they can have at it. That, of course, was not their idea at all.
THEY were proposing that they paint mini multi-colored murals on the doors.
The kids even drew up plans for their visions on paper and presented us with them...6:30 am in the morning no less...My husband groaned and went back to sleep, I of course got up and started the process.

My peace sign loving daughter wanted to “splatter” different colors of paint all over her doors and then have a big black peace sign in the middle.
My son wanted a multi colored door with a big, ugly green snake slithering up it. So much for the off white paint.

We went to our local home improvement store and happily discovered sample jars of paint. We bought a bunch of different colors in 7 oz sizes for only a couple of dollars each (who knew?) and came home to prep the doors.

Excitement in the air and plans at the ready...we began.
It took hours but they were both thrilled with the results.
They were so proud. Each room looks great, and in the end, the cost was less than $8 per door!

Here is a tip! While at Home Depot I came across an area that the sthey had considered “mistakes.” Maybe a customer requested the wrong color and had to reorder their paint, maybe they miss-measured a window and it had to be reordered? There are major bargains to be had buying these mistakes. We found a $5 gallon of paint that will look perfect in the kids’ bathroom. Again, who knew?

Take a Saturday morning and wander the aisles of your local home improvement store- who knows what fun, inexpensive projects will come your way? Also ask them about their free kid workshops (usually held on Saturday mornings, we have participated in a number at Home Depot) where the kids (with a little help) can make birdhouses, little wagons and other projects. Tons of fun, they learn how to use a hammer and it’s free!!