Miss Priss has been on a cooking bender. I think she fancies herself a future Chopped Junior contestant. I was getting tired of monitoring the kitchen with her, so we moved over to no-bake recipes. I don’t have to be by her side the whole time, and she still experiences all of the joys of cooking. She is also gaining measuring skills, the ability to read and follow directions, and learning how to clean up after herself (my favorite side benefit). She has no idea she is actually learning these valuable skills, and I am not planning on revealing this little secret.
The best recipe she has made so far is a chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream bar. I found the original recipe and directions HERE. I helped cut the parchment paper to the correct size, and I licked the bowl, but other than that, I had no involvement.
Prepare the eggless cookie dough batter (CLICK HERE for recipe).
Line a 9 x 9 pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper strips. Put one strip horizontally across the pan and the other strip vertically. The ends of the strip should hang over the edges of the pan. This will allow you to lift the frozen cookie dough out of the pan later.
Press half of the cookie dough into a thin layer on the bottom of the parchment paper lined pan.
Put two new strips of parchment paper over the layer of cookie dough and gently press and smooth the paper. Spray lightly with Pam or another cooking spray.
Press the other half of the cookie dough on the second layer of parchment paper into a thin layer.
Fold the parchment over the top and put a weight on top to hold the parchment paper down (you could use a tupperware/bag of dried beans, bag of frozen vegetables, or something else in your freezer).
Freeze for 2-3 hours.
Gently remove frozen cookie dough layers from the pan and peel from the paper.
Put two of the strips of parchment back in the pan and gently place one cookie dough block back on the paper in the pan.
Gently spread one quart of softened ice cream over the cookie dough base.
Place the second cookie dough block on top of the ice cream.
Cover with a strip of parchment. Place a weight on top (dried beans or bag of frozen vegetables again) and put back in the freezer for 2-3 hours.
To serve, lift the cookie bars out of the pan using the bottom layer of parchment paper as a handle. Cut into squares with a sharp knife. Running the knife under hot water before using it to cut will help make slicing easier. OK– so I helped with this step too, and the cookie dough “crust” breaks very easily.
Reasons to Cook with Kids
Math skills– fractions, adding, dividing, proportions…
Science skills– heat and temperature, changing states of matter
Procedures and directions– following step by step directions and seeing the cause and effect if you go out of order (or stay in the order of the recipe), developing patience and waiting for results
Reading– recognizing and reading a recipe format as compared to non-fiction text or chapter books
Recently, I became unafraid to make pie crust from scratch. It happened when Miss Priss I needed to bake a pie after she won a persuasive writing contest at school. We had to bring in the pie she described in her essay for a class pie tasting. I put off making the pie until the last minute– as in really late the night before it was due– and I was forced to make a homemade pie crust since I could not get to the grocery store at that late hour to buy a pre-made one. Turns out, they are not that hard to make, and you really do notice a difference. I’ve tried a few different recipes and prefer the crust recipes that use Crisco as opposed to butter (see links below).
Miss Priss’ winning pie was a Chocolate Brownie Drizzle Pie from Paula Deen. Tonight we are having Strawberry Pie and last week (in honor of Pie Day) we ate this Sugar and Cream Pie that was heavenly.
Strawberry Pie Ingredients
1-2 pints fresh strawberries, stems and leaves removed
3/4 c. water
3 T. cornstarch
1 c. sugar
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 t. lemon zest
1 9-in. baked pie shell
1/2 pint whipping cream, whipped
Cut 1 pint strawberries into bite sized pieces and line the bottom of the baked pie shell with the strawberry pieces. I quartered the strawberries and dropped them into the crust, but you could slice them and place the slices evenly around the shell to make the pie more decorative.
In a saucepan, bring to a boil 6-8 whole strawberries with 3/4 c. water. Simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Combine cornstarch and sugar and add to the berries.
With a whisk, stir constantly until the mixture is clear and thickened. Pour thickened strawberry mixture through a sieve to remove any chunky pieces.
Add lemon juice and lemon zest to the strawberry liquid.
Pour liquid over the strawberries in the pie shell. Chill several hours.
Serve topped with whipped cream.
If you do not chill the strawberry pie long enough, the strawberry syrup will be runny and not hold together when you slice the pie. This does not affect the taste of the pie, but it looks pretty messy.
The original Crisco pie crust recipe can be found HERE. I use milk in place of the water.
Pioneer Woman has a good Crisco pie crust recipe HERE.
My caramel brownies are not the only reason TheRoomDad wanted to marry me, but the chocolatey, gooey goodness is definitely a contributing factor. This is the best Valentine’s Day sweet treat I know, and in the early years of our courtship, I baked a batch of these brownies every Valentine’s Day and some birthdays too. Until yesterday, it had been many years since I served them. My kids don’t remember ever eating them! What was I thinking?
I got the recipe from one of my mom’s friends when I was about nine years old. For years, I have been under the impression that we were a privileged few who had access to the secret. Then, I did a Google search. Damn. It is not a secret. Since my recipe (and many spin offs) are available online, I am going to go ahead and share the version I use.
1 11-oz. bag light caramels, unwrapped
2/3 c. evaporated milk, divided
1 box German chocolate cake mix
2/3 c. margarine, melted and cooled slightly
1 c. chocolate chips (~6 oz.)
Combine caramels and 1/3 c. evaporated milk in a double boiler. Stir until melted and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine cake mix, melted margarine, and 1/3 c. evaporated milk.
Press 1/2 of the dough in a greased 9″ x 13″ pan. Bake at 350 degrees for ~6 minutes and remove from oven.
Sprinkle the partially baked dough with chocolate chips.
Spread the melted caramel over the chocolate chips and gently spread evenly with a spatula.
Crumple the remaining dough over the caramel layer.
Bake an additional 15-18 minutes.
Remove from oven. Let cool and cut into squares to serve.
If you don’t have a double boiler to melt the caramels, use a metal mixing bowl on the top of a pan of water as a double boiler. The caramels can also be melted with the evaporated milk in a microwave. Heat in 45 second increments stirring at the end of each time until the caramels are melted completely.
In honor of the gardening unit Miss Priss and her class are completing right now, we will be sending Dirt and Worms for kindergarten snack tomorrow. Miss Priss thought it might not be a “healthy” snack, and she is probably right. I did a little rationalizing much like Bill Cosby’s reasons for serving chocolate cake for breakfast, and I think the milk in the pudding bumps the snack into the safe zone.
2 (20 oz.) packages Oreo cookies
1/2 stick butter (4 T.), softened
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
3 1/2 c. milk
2 sm. vanilla instant pudding boxes
1 (12 oz.) Cool Whip
Cream the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar together in one bowl. Mix pudding together with the milk in another bowl until stiff. Add the Cool Whip to the pudding mixture. Mix the cream cheese mixture into the pudding mixture until smooth (I use a whisk).
Crush the Oreos in a food processor. Start with 1 1/2 packages, then crush the rest if you need more crumbs.
For individual snacks, Layer 1 heaping tablespoon of Oreo crumbs, then ~1/2 cup pudding mixture, then another tablespoon of crumbs in 9 oz. clear plastic tumblers. Top with 1-2 Gummi worms. You will get ~20 individual cups.
Can be made the night before and refrigerated until time to serve.
Replace the vanilla instant pudding with chocolate. I think the chocolate pudding makes the snack too chocolate-y, which is why I use the vanilla. The chocolate pudding color is obviously more authentic as real dirt.
Use graham cracker crumbs instead of Oreos, and mini Swedish fish instead of Gummi worms, and top with a small drink umbrella to make “the beach”.
Line a flower pot with tin foil and layer crushed Oreos and pudding in the pot. Top with Gummi worms and a plastic flower(s).
There is a chance we will have one more kindergarten snack opportunity this year. Any thoughts? I don’t think I can top the Dirt and Worms.
It started out innocently enough. Miss Priss needed (wanted?) a shelf to hold all of the American Girl doll food we made at Christmas, so her doll restaurant would seem more authentic. I found a Recollections “Embellishment Organizer” for 50% off at Michael’s (A LOT of assembly required). It really looked like a display at a bakery. Crafty obsessive idea brain immediately took over. Hadn’t Sewing Sister made miniature cakes out of plastic bottle tops? If I just picked up a few supplies, I bet I could make cakes. Did we really have enough American Girl doll food from Round One to fill the display? Perhaps not. And so, food production began again.
Locate any and all plastic bottle caps. I used caps from anything I could get my hands on like water bottles, milk bottles, vitamin jars, juice bottles, and soda bottles. The more size variety you have, the better.
White plastic caps work the best, but I did use acrylic paint for the pale pink and pale blue cakes. It took about 3 coats of paint. If you have white bottle caps, no painting is required.
I like 3 stacked bottle caps the best. Stack them in graduating sizes. Run a bead of hot glue around the edge of a bottle cap and press it onto the center of the top of the bottle cap that goes beneath. Repeat for all layers.
Add decoration with the hot glue gun. I used satin flowers, 3-D flower stickers, thin lacy ribbon, and strings of mini pearls.
Collect twist off toothpaste caps. Thankfully, I had a stash of travel toothpaste tubes from the children’s last dental visit. My kids never put the lid back on the toothpaste tube anyway, so I did not think it mattered if I took the caps.
Drop a blob of hot glue into the bottom of a toothpaste cap. Squish one 3/4″ pom pom into the cap.
Smear a little Elmer’s glue around the top of the pom pom and sprinkle seed beads on the top.
Add a mini 5 mm pom pom if desired.
Taller, clear caps work the best for the milkshakes. The clear caps that cover the top of non-aerosol bug spray or suntan lotion are perfect. I also used small, clear bead jars.
Cut a straw to the needed length to stand in the milkshake cup. Run a small bead of hot glue on the edge of the inside of the cup and attach the straw.
Put a blob of hot glue at the bottom of the cup and press one 3/4″ pom pom to the bottom. Add a blob of hot glue to the top of the pom pom and press another pom on top. Try to avoid getting any hot glue on the edge of the cup because it looks smeary from the outside. Repeat one more time with a third pom pom.
Smear a little Elmer’s glue around the top of the pom pom and sprinkle seed beads on the top. I used rainbow nonpareils sprinkles on a few of the milkshakes too.
Add a mini 5 mm pom pom if desired.
Put a spoonful of powdered sugar in a small Ziploc bag. Add Cheerios and shake.
Put a spoonful of cinnamon in a small Ziploc bag. Add Cheerios and shake.
Remove Cheerios from the bags. You may need to brush excess cinnamon and powdered sugar from the Cheerio.
Using a round hole puncher, punch a ton of black and white circles from foam sheet.
With glue dots, build Oreo cookies. 2 black circles on the outside, one white circle in the center.
small mirrors, mini Altiod tins, flat wood shapes (to use as serving trays)
I have put the bakery display in Miss Priss’ room, although, I am not entirely comfortable with her actually playing with the doll food. It looked so perfect for a few short hours sitting on the shelf, untouched by little hands.