I’ve added something NEW to the column this month “Tips For The Table” . Besides a few recipes, I thought I’d throw in some helpful tips that I did with my own children when they were little. Things that preserved my sanity when my “kids were in the kitchen”. I Hope you find them useful!
Tips For the Table:
Are you tired of dreaming up dinner every night? Are you sick of hearing: “What’s for dinner?” the minute the children walk in the door? Do you need to teach some responsibility to your children? Why not let each child take a day of the week to plan dinner. It can be their “secret”.
The rules: The dinner must be nutritious, The dinner must be within X amount of money for the budget, etc. Design your rules around your family’s likes and dislikes, allergies etc. Haul out the cookbooks or hit the Internet for ideas. This is a great way for them to expand their reading skills as well as develop a new hobby “cooking!” Who knows you may have a budding chef in the family! Then it’s off to the grocery store. Choose one day when you all do the shopping for that week’s meals. No one knows who is making what. Now isn’t that fun instead of boring?
Having a budget will make them conscious of how difficult the real world is and planning and making dinner will give them an appreciation of all that you do!
A big bonus is that cooking provides an abundance of math skills for your child + mom gets a night or two off depending on how many children you have! If your children are young, they can still get in on the action with your help. It’s still a win-win proposition!
I’ll take mine in a cup to go… When I’m serving fishy crackers, pretzels, animal crackers etc at school for snack time I put them on an opened napkin. As a mom I put them in a Dixie cup so that my children didn’t spill things; they worked far better than bowls. They could also tote them outside. I’d write their name on the cup with a marker so I knew whose was whose when they’d leave them here and there to go play. This was great for car rides as well.
Pass the Popsicle stick please: I use tongue depressor - size Popsicle sticks in my classroom for my students to use instead of plastic knives for Play-doh play. You may think that those plastic knives aren’t sharp, but they are, especially in the hands of an excited 4-year-old. They also work great in the kitchen when a young child wants to butter their bread or spread peanut butter or jelly on a sandwich by themselves. If they want to cut up their own vegetables a pumpkin carving knife works great, but I still supervise. I also use a kitchen scissors to cut steak, pizza, French toast etc. because it’s so much faster when you have 3 kids than using a knife!
Washcloths to the rescue: I kept soft baby washcloths in my kitchen drawer along with my dishrags for dirty faces and hands. Each of my children had their own color.
Special cupboard and drawer: Instead of keeping all of the cleaning stuff that was dangerous under the kitchen sink, I kept the Tupperware there. I showed my children where the “Kid’s off limits stuff” was so that it would not be a tempting mystery cupboard that was up high and out of reach, and they helped me paste a “Mr. Yuk” and poison control sticker on that cupboard. I also gave them their own kitchen drawer with their plastic plates, sippie cups, special folks, spoons, washcloths, place mats, the baby’s bibs etc. in it. They could all reach that and it made them feel helpful when we set the table.
Pumpkin Pancake Cookies: My grandson Joshua is teething so he will love a tiny pumpkin pancake cookie just the right size for his little hands, and I hope you will too.
- Pancake Mix + any ingredients they require.
- Cookie sheet
- Cooking Spray
- Orange Food Coloring
- Make a batch of pancake batter according to the box directions.
- Add drops of orange food coloring til the batter is orange.
- Drop tablespoons of batter onto a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray, I use Pam™.
- The amount of batter depends on how big you want your cookie. I like to make mine small, about 3”
- Bake at 250º for 15 minutes.
- Flip pancake cookie over and bake another 15 minutes.
- Set aside on paper towel to cool.
- They can be frozen too. Simply put them in a Ziploc baggy.
- If they are too moist when you thaw them out, put them back in the oven at 250º for about 10 minutes.
- Chocolate cake mix + any ingredients they require.
- Orange frosting
- Round cake pan
- Green decorator icing in a tube.
- Black decorator icing in a tube. (optional)
- Follow directions on cake mix box to make a single layer round chocolate cake.
- Frost with orange frosting
- Add green decorator icing to make pumpkin leaves
- Add black decorator icing to make a Jack-O-Lantern face
Painted Sugar Cookies
I enjoy making special cookies by painting them! Your children will have fun making an extra special cookie for someone they love too without a whole lot of fuss! Here’s how:
- Pre-made sugar cookie dough
- 1 egg
- Paint brushes
- Food coloring
- Mix paint out of 1 egg yolk and 1/4 teaspoon water + several drops of food coloring (the egg-yolk and water mixture can be divided before adding the food coloring to make lesser amounts of several colors.)
- Paint with a watercolor brush.
- The paint darkens when you bake the cookies. It also turns shiny! It’s fun to add a person’s name if you want.
- For October I add orange food coloring to the dough and then paint faces on my “Jack-o-lanterns”! You can also make green dough and make rectangular shaped cookies and paint on monster faces!
Mud Ball Crunchies:
- Smooth peanut butter
- Spoon 2 cups of peanut butter into a large bowl.
- Pour 2 cups of Cheerios into the bowl.
- Gently fold the Cheerios into the peanut butter being careful not to break the Cheerios.
- Spoon a large dollop of the mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. They should look like a ball of mud.
- Refrigerate. MMMM MMMM good.
Pumpkin Chex Bread: One of my student’s mommies turned this in for our Classroom Cookbook. In her “About the recipe” section she wrote: “Grama’s fall favorite.”
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 1 ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup finely chopped raisins
- 1 cup pureed cooked pumpkin
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ cup Wheat Chex cereal
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon.
- In another medium sized bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, milk, sugar and oil; whisk until smooth.
- Add to flour mixture and stir. Mix well. Gently stir in cereal and raisins. Be careful not to break cereal.
- Lightly grease a bread pan and transfer mixture.
- Bake 60 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from oven, cool 15 minutes, and remove from pan to cool completely.
Now that you’ve got some yummy treats, wash them down with these fragrant smelling ciders!
Apple Cranberry Cider:
- 1 quart apple cider or apple juice
- 2 cups cranberry juice
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
- In a large saucepan, combine the cider, cranberry juice and brown sugar. Place cloves and cinnamon sticks on a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and tie with kitchen string to form a bag. Add to pan.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. Discard spice bag before serving.
Apple Cider Wassail
- 2 quarts apple cider
- 1 1/2 cups orange juice
- 3/4 cup pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
- 1 dash ground cloves
- 1 dash ground cinnamon
- In a large saucepan, combine all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Toss out cinnamon sticks. Serve hot in mugs.
Does Pumpkin Custard with Peppery Pecans sound yummy? Click here for that recipe.
And if you’d like to whip up a batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins then click here.
Finally, I thought what fall dinner would be complete for any child without a meal of Chunky Cat Barf. If you’d like to try this delectable delight click here! Too funny!
Whatever you’re cookin’ up in the kitchen I hope you have a fall-fun-tastic time with your little punkin(s)!