Easy Tips for Quality Family Time on Valentine’s Day

I hope you are planning to spend time on Valentine’s Day with your family. Here are some easy tips for quality family time to help you express your love to others in a fun way.

  • Set out paper place mats and decorate them with a Valentines Day theme.
  • Write an “I love you” note with soap on your bathroom mirror.
  • Listen to your children with your eyes and heart as well as your ears.
  • Plan a treasure hunt by leaving little notes around the house expressing your appreciation for something others did. End with a riddle or clue to the next hiding place where they will find a candy or special memento. Have something special at the last hiding place such as a toy or treat.
  • Show your love and appreciation to others. Affirming statements such as “I love you just the way you are; I’m so glad you’re my (son, daughter, mother, father, friend)” need to be given often, not only on Valentines Day.

There are lots more suggestions for this and other special days  in Cooking Around the Calendar With Kids — Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun. This is a fun book you can read and use all year long.

Lee Jackson
Family and Parenting Studies

 

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What to Do With All Those Apples?

Now, what are you going to do with all those apples? With hundreds of ways to enjoy apples, will you use them in pies, desserts, salads, breads, jellies, or other?

Following is a recipe for a super easy way to use apples in a coffee cake for Sunday morning breakfast or anytime. It’s from my apple cookbook, From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers. Kids will enjoy making this simple but yummy and quick coffee cake.

APPLE BISCUIT COFFEE CAKE

2 cooking apples, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup raisins
1 can refrigerated ready-to-bake biscuits

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 egg
1/4 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in bottom of 9″ round cake pan. Arrange sliced apples over butter. Sprinkle raisins over apples. Cut each of the 10 biscuits into fourths and place over apples.

Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, corn syrup and egg until well blended and sugar is dissolved. Pour over biscuits. Sprinkle walnuts overtop. Dot with 1 tablespoon butter.

Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes. An adult needs to invert on serving plate, spooning juices over top. Place larger plate over cake pan and invert – use hot pads and lots of care as it is hot and gooey and can be tricky.

Yield:   6-8 servings

Enjoy the fruit of the season!

Best to you,

Lee Jackson
Apple cookbook author: From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers and
Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards

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Six Tips for Picking and Storing Apples

English: food , fruit , fruits , apple , apples

This crisp Fall air brings with it the wonderful smell and taste of fresh picked apples.

Here are six tips for picking and storing apples:

  • Twist or turn the apple from the branch. If you pull it, the buds next to it will break off and not bear fruit next year.
  • Don’t rely on redness as a guide to flavor.  Apples come in all shades of reds, yellows and greens. Choose clear colored apples. Often those with an intense green undercast or undertone are not completely ripe. Those with a dull yellowish-green undercast may be too ripe.
  • Choose apples that are free from bruises, blemishes and skin breaks. They should be firm with no soft spots or bruises.
  • When apples are thumped lightly with the knuckle, they should sound hollow, but not dull. Their smell should be flowery and aromatic.
  • For crisp, juicy apples, store in their plastic bag in the crisper part of the refrigerator, at 30 to 32 degrees. The freezing point of apples, which is damaging to the fruit, is about 28 or 29 degrees.
  • Wash just before using, as their protective coating helps keep them from becoming dehydrated and bruised.

Apples are best when at their freshest. Orchards and roadside stands are overflowing with their best products of the season.  This is the ideal time to visit apple orchards, stands, and produce centers, and savor the delectable fruits of the harvest.

I’ll be at Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure in Nebraska City, Nebraska this week-end, September 22. Hope to see you there!

Best to you and your family,

Lee Jackson
author of From the Apple Orchard – Favorite Recipes for Apple Lovers and
Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes from America’s Orchards

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Author Meets World of Apples

I’ve had lots of nice comments on the recent story in the St. Joseph News-Press by Sylvia Anderson about my apple

Various apples

cookbooks and my work with apples. You can see the story here.

Lee Jackson

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Secrets of a Blog Writer

I'm at an apple orchard event.

I’ve been writing this blog for the past 3-4 years. I know a little about you – that you’re interested in kids and cooking. But you probably don’t know a whole lot about me because I’m usually on some topic about eating tips and helping kids stay healthy or about Mom’s helping kids stay well – my top passions.

Today I want to include some things you may not know about me. Yes, I’m a long-time blogger, but here are 5 other things about me:

1. I taught high school family and consumer science classes for over 20 years.

2. In my first year of teaching, I taught all the “home ec” classes, biology classes, and PE (physical education) classes.

3. Love apples. Growing up, we had an apple orchard on our farm –  this whetted my appetite for that bountiful fruit.

4. I was a child-recipe-clipper. While my young friends cut out paper dolls, I cut out recipes.

5. I just sent out a large mailing for my apple cookbooks this week. If you’re one of my customers, expect some mail. If you’re not, just email me at Lee at images unlimited pub.com and I’ll send you a charming flyer with all our books illustrated in full color. Be ready for apple season.

I know I’m off topic today but I thought this might be fun – besides, it’s too hot to think too deeply. Please continue to visit  here– share your thoughts and concerns and ask questions. What are some topics  about which you’re needing more information? I’ll try to help by searching for answers. Let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

Best to you and your family,

Lee Jackson
Food Writer
http://www.imagesunlimitedpub.com

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12 Food-Related Kids Projects

Recipes

Here are 12 fun, food-related projects you and your children can work on this summer. This will help them further explore their interest in food and cooking. Who knows, your children’s skills and enthusiasm for working with food may be taken to another level.

Children can:

  • begin a food journal by listing favorite foods. Include best food and holiday memories.
  • plan certain meals or menus for a week, then note results in journal.
  • collect favorite recipes and create own cookbook.
  • take a field trip to the farmers market with family.
  • grow radishes, green onions, and/or lettuce.
  • learn new cooking skill, such as how to cream, whip, or knead.
  • find recipes to try from different cookbooks.
  • make a list of proper table etiquette and include in journal.
  • clip coupons from newspapers and magazines.
  • sketch out the grocery store’s layout to help know where items are located.
  • when shopping, compare organic food prices to other food prices. Discuss advantages and disadvantages.
  • try some dishes with a regional or international flavor.

Here I have included a seafood recipe taken from the cookbook, Cooking Around the Country with Kids: USA Regional Recipes and Food Activities by Amy Houts. Her cookbook shows how different cultures in America came to co-exist, yet continue to celebrate their uniqueness through food. This recipe comes from the section on “Cooking in New England“, which describes the region and includes recipes from the  breads, soups and salads (like Manhattan Clam Chowder), main dishes/meats, vegetables and side dishes (such as Boston Baked Beans), and dessert categories.

Shake and Bake Scallops

1 egg
1 pound fresh scallops or 1 pound package frozen scallops, thawed
2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan. Children can beat egg in a medium-sized bowl. Add scallops and stir until coated with egg. Measure bread crumbs and pour into a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag. Using a slotted spoon, scoop scallops into bag with crumbs. Pour into prepared pan in one layer. Drizzle with butter. Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Variation

Peel and chop 1 small onion. Seed, rinse, and chop 1 small green pepper. Rinse and chop 1 rub celery. Saute onion, pepper, and celery in a skillet on medium heat for 5 minutes. After drizzling breaded scallops with butter, top with vegetables. Bake as directed above. Serves 4.

One way to keep children active and interested this summer is through food focused activities. Let this be the start of an engaging summer.

To your health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson, CFCS

http://www.imagesunlimitedpub.com

Books for kids, families, and parenting professionals

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3 Best Ways to Get Kids Cooking

Do your children like to help in the kitchen? Have you asked them and encouraged them?

Most children love to “help” in the kitchen. This help may not always be appreciated but their enthusiasm should be encouraged. Being excited about working in the kitchen is a good trait for any child.

Here are three excellent ways to get kids cooking:

1. The #1 way to get kids cooking is to encourage and involve them in the work of the kitchen.  Give them simple chores to do, depending on the age of the child. Setting the table, mixing ingredients, and washing food, such as lettuce in a colander are jobs even preschoolers can do. It may take a little more time and patience sharing your kitchen with young ones, but the smiles on their faces will more than compensate for a little flour on the floor or other spills.

2. Give children choices. The #2 way of getting kids in the kitchen is to give them choices in what they can do. For example, “Do you want to grease the pan or measure the sugar?  Or you can ask “Would you like to put the napkins on the table or the silverware?” Eventually you may get them interested in doing both chores. Just make it sound interesting! Let them know this is a special job just for them. You may say: “You’re the only one in this family who knows where the knives, forks, and spoons go.”

3. Prepare simple foods with them and let them sample when it’s ready. Children feel good about the food they prepare and want to taste it. This is a good time to give them a little more information about the food. You can tell them where it is grown and some of the processes it went through to get to the stage it is now. Let them feel the food and talk about the color and the shape. What else do they know that is that color or that shape? How does it smell?  Is it hot or is it cold? When they taste it, is it salty? Is it sweet? Have them describe how it looks and tastes.

By following these suggestions you will have excited and willing help in the kitchen  –  perhaps even promising young chefs. Many great cooks attribute their skill and interest in cooking to their earlier years when they were encouraged to help their parents or other adults prepare food.

For help in selecting recipes to prepare with children, check out the children’s cookbook, Cooking Around the Country With Kids: USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities by Amy Houts. This cookbook helps parents and children work together in celebrating America’s cultural diversity through foods from different regions of the country and shows where food is grown or harvested.

To your health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson
Nutrition Advocate
http://www.healthykidseatingtips.com

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WANT TO USE MY ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE?

You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it.

Copyright (C) 2012 www.cookingandkids.com Lee Jackson, CFCS  All rights reserved.

Chicken, Anyone?

Say “chicken salad” and immediately a soggy chicken salad comes to mind. People have the notion that this is a way to use up left-over chicken by just adding some mayo.

Well, chicken salad can be anything but soggy when you add in a few veggies that not only add nutrients but increase the crunchiness and fiber.

Kids can help with the chopping and grating of vegetables and become part of the kitchen crew – which might also tempt them to try something new.

Here is a recipe for Crunchy Chicken Salad taken from Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids by Amy Houts. It is a perfect spring-time recipe, especially if using new green onions and lettuce just out of the garden.

Crunchy Chicken Salad

1 cup cut-up chicken
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup cut-up onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (1.7 oz.) can shoestring potatoes
Lettuce

Children can help with chopping celery, grating carrots, and perhaps cutting up the onion. Mix vegetables with chicken and mayonnaise.

Just before serving, mix in the shoestring potatoes. Serve on lettuce leaf.
Yield: 4 servings

Need more springtime recipes? Order Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids for more springtime and anytime recipes now.

Best to you,
Lee Jackson

Feel free to forward and share this email with your friends and family.

WANT TO USE MY ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE?

You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it.

Copyright (C) 2012 www.cookingandkids.com Lee Jackson, CFCS  All rights reserved.

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Bunny Salad Idea for Easter

A pear

A pear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is an idea for a bunny salad kids will love to create. Children enjoy working with food, especially if provided with encouragement and inspiration. Carrying out the bunny theme with food is not difficult and they will be pleased with their results.

Bunny Salad

1 fresh pear cut in half, remove seeds and stem
or use canned pear halves
Raisins
Red cherries, candied or maraschino
Shredded cheese
Marshmallows
Lettuce

Prepare fresh pear or drain juice from canned pears.
Wash lettuce and put a lettuce leaf on individual plate.

To make bunny:

Place pear halve face down on lettuce leaf.

Put 2 raisins on the pear for the eyes.

Use a red cherry for the nose.

Put several pieces of shredded cheese on each side of face for whiskers.

Cut two marshmallows in half and use for ears of bunny.

Add a marshmallow for the bunny’s tail.

There you have it – one sweet bunny. These salads multiply well for any number of guests. Recipe taken from Amy Houts first book in the Food and Fun series, Cooking Around the Calendar With Kids: Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun. See more at Cooking/Calendar.

To your childrens’ creativity,

Lee Jackson
Nutrition advocate and author
http://healthykidseatingtips.com

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See How Easily You Can Come Up with Food Ideas

Popovers-1

Popovers-1 (Photo credit: stevewhitaker)

Here are some more suggestions for different foods using the ingredients given on the previous blog. I have listed them from those that are the fastest to prepare for eating to the slowest. If you are very hungry and don’t have much time, start at the top. If you have more time, go further down the list.

Here is my top 6 list. Can you add more?

1. nuts or raisins to eat in hand
2. cornflakes with milk
3. prepare oatmeal and raisins
4. “boil” eggs for cooked eggs
5. make vanilla or chocolate pudding (cupcakes have come back in popularity, so why not pudding?)
6. custard, in individual cups or in a baking dish

Having butter or oil available would open up the possibilities for a wide assortment of different foods. These ingredients help add lightness and flavor to products and keep foods from sticking to pans. With oils you could make many other foods, such as popovers, pancakes and waffles, oatmeal cookies, sugar cookies, granola, popovers, muffins, cakes, scrambled eggs, omelets, and many different ways to use eggs, among others.

When we’re short of ingredients, we need to use our creative thought processes to come up with interesting and healthy foods, using what we have on hand. That is, unless we have a grocery store next door. Cookbooks and the internet are important resources in giving us suggestions for what to prepare. See our list of cookbooks here at the side for more food ideas.

I hope you’ve had fun thinking through this project.

Best to you,
Lee Jackson
http://www.imagesunlimitedpub.com

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