Class Cookbook from A to Z

front cover

Aaaah. The end of the school year. It’s the time of year when I start thinking of some little sirsee for my children’s teachers that will 1) remind the teacher of my child’s class in the years to come and 2) be something the teacher might enjoy using.

A few years ago, we created a class cookbook with photos from the school year. My son has aged out of this teacher gift, and my daughter is on the cusp, but if you have nursery school or kindergarten aged children, this is a fun end of year gift.

The year we gave this particular gift, the children were on a snack rotation (a little like Miss Priss’ snack schedule this year). The students had a letter of the week, and families started sending snacks that related to the letter of the week. By the end of the year, the kids had eaten a snack for each letter of the alphabet.

e and f pages

Parents sent me photos from events during the school year and any recipes they had; I compiled the photos and recipes into a Shutterfly photo book. We ordered copies for the teachers, and many of the families ordered copies as well.

I love this little book. I still use it when I need kid snack ideas (like the Worms in dirt or the Veggie dip). The nursery school teachers continue to use it as a resource for their classroom. The book has the class name on the front cover, a picture of the class and class year on the inside cover page, and a student list on the last page.

g page with photo

Here is what the children had for snack that year:

  • Apple sticks
  • Blueberry muffins
  • Cupcakes
  • Doughnuts
  • Elephant Ears
  • Finger sandwiches
  • Ghoulish Granola mix (served at Halloween)
  • mini Hot dogs in buns
  • Ice cream sandwiches
  • blueberry Jam
  • Key lime pie
  • Lemonade
  • Marshmallows
  • bird Nests
  • Oatmeal aggression cookies
  • Pizza
  • cheesy Quesadillas
  • Root beer floats
  • Sugar cookies
  • Tortilla wraps
  • Upside down cake
  • Veggie dip
  • Worms in dirt
  • chocolate X-plosion
  • orange Yogurt
  • Zucchini bread

I don’t know if all the snacks fall into the “healthy snack” category, but it is a great kid cookbook. I will mention that we did attach AmEx gift cards for the teachers to the cookbook, but I think they would have appreciated the little memory book anyway!

back cover

Chex Cereal, the Cadillac of Snack Ingredients

I never thought I would have a recipe box dedicated to one ingredient, but I am becoming dangerously close to having just that with my Chex Party Mixes. They are so versatile, and you can make them in large quantities for nursery school snacks, birthday parties, and adult get togethers. The almighty Chex cereal (and its distant cousins– Crispix and Golden Grahams) are the perfect base for sweet or salty snacking.

The neighborhood card sharks met in our backyard office Saturday night, and I made Tijuana Tidbits. This is the newest member of my Chex Party Mix recipe box. Watch out, it has a kick!

Do you have any Chex Party Mix combos I can add to my arsenal? I have many sweet Chex recipes like the Dinosaur Chex Mix, but I am looking for some more savory combinations.

Ingredients

  • 4 c. Fritos original corn chips
  • 4 c. Crispix cereal
  • 1 bag microwave popcorn (remove “old maids”)
  • 1 8-oz can mixed nuts
  • 1 c. cashew nuts
  • 1/2 c. light corn syrup
  • 1/2 c. margarine, not butter
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1/3 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper

Directions

  • Heat oven to 250 degrees.
  • Combine chips, cereal, popcorn, and nuts in a large bowl and mix gently.
  • Combine corn syrup, margarine, brown sugar, chili powder, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Heat to boiling and pour over Frito mixture. Stir until coated.
  • Pour coated mixture onto a roasting pan (sprayed with Pam). Bake 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and turn onto waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container.

Better Than a Brown Bag Lunch

Bring your child’s teacher a really good lunch the first week of school! In fact, this is a great little sirsee for a teacher’s birthday, teacher appreciation week, standardized testing week, or any random day. As mentioned in the Teacher Emergency Kit post, teachers are trapped in the school building all day.  Unless a planning period aligns with the moon on a Tuesday in January, they are not getting out of that building to go pick up a lunch. Most teachers (read: me) hastily pack a half of a peanut butter sandwich along with their kids’ lunches as they are racing out the door in the morning. What a treat it would to receive a good lunch one day.

The Bag: I sewed the bag in the picture above modifying a pattern I had for an art bag. I would not recommend sewing your own lunch tote. After 7 hours at the sewing machine, I decided I do not like my children’s teachers THAT much. Pick up a lunch bag at any store where you purchase school supplies or even your local grocery store.  A cute disposable gift bag would work well too. I really like the neoprene lunch totes if you want to upgrade the gift. Almost all teachers have access to refrigerators, so you should not need an insulated lunch bag.

The Food: I made a really good pesto chicken salad and put it on a squishy roll with arugula. I included pretzel crisps, raw veggies, and a small container of cashews, almonds, and dried fruit. I added a bottle of water too. Teachers usually have a microwave available, so you could send something yummy in a tupperware with re-heating instructions instead of a sandwich.

You can click on Fancy Sandwiches for the pesto chicken salad recipe and a few others. I realized after I decided to post these recipes, they probably have a bad breath factor to them. No problem– include a mint with the lunch OR make sure your child’s teacher has the Emergency Kit, so he/she has a toothbrush.

The Extras: Do not forget to add a paper plate, napkin, and any plasticware that is needed.

Pretzel Chocolate Snacks

I found this snack idea on Pinterest, and it actually looked like the original picture when we finished making them! These little bites are easy and taste delicious. They have that perfect salty and sweet combination. We are eating them so fast, they may not make it to our neighborhood 4th of July party (which is the reason I made them in the first place).

The Ingredients: Snyder’s Snaps Pretzels (the ones that look like a tic tac toe board), Hershey Kisses, M&Ms (plain and/or peanut)

The Directions: Line up pretzels on a cookie sheet. Put one Hershey kiss on each pretzel. Bake at 275 degrees for ~3 minutes. Take out of the oven and immediately smush M&M into the top. Refrigerate to re-harden the Hershey kiss.

Variations: Whatever holiday, smush the coordinating colored M&M. Halloween– orange. Christmas– red and green. Valentine’s Day– pink, red, and white. St. Patrick’s Day– green. You get the idea.

** I had a student give me a bag of these little morsels at Christmas.  He (and by “he” I mean the mom) made them to look like Rudolph.  I know they used the mini traditional shaped pretzel and a red mini M&M for the nose.  I ate them before I thought to pay attention to the construction.  If anyone has made the reindeer version, please let me know the details!

Animal Hospital Birthday Party

My sister threw an animal hospital birthday for my niece, and I adapted her idea a little when my daughter was turning three.  We lived in New Orleans at the time, and you can book a petting zoo there that will come to your house and set up a pen in your backyard with rabbits, turtles, goats, chickens, and few other small animals.

The Invitations: I like to order blank invitations from Fine Stationery.  I think they have a huge selection of almost every party theme you need. I printed the invitations on my home printer and included phrases like, “Join us for the third anniversary celebration of (name’s) animal hospital” and “Please confirm appointment with the vet” for the RSVP line.

Adopt a Pet: We placed enough Beanie Babies for all the guests in a pak-n-play by the entrance to the party.  Guests picked one out of the crib and could take their new pet to the vet table for a health exam and adoption certificate.

The Vet Table: One of our babysitters was a nursing student.  She wore her scrubs to the party and completed health exams for everybody’s new pet.  She used a play doctor’s kit and took temperatures, looked at eyes, examined the animal’s coat, listened to the heartbeat, etc. before filling out the forms.

The Pet Carriers: At a table, we had white gift bags with handles that you could decorate with stamps, stickers, or markers.  There was a circle cut out of the side of the bag, so the pet’s face could peek out.  We put paper from our paper shredder at the bottom of the bags like that nesting material pet shops use.

The Snacks: We filled bowls with bone shaped sugar cookies (dog food), Goldfish (cat food), and Chex mix (kibble).