A Wish for You

PinExt A Wish for You

May this Christmas fill your home with love, peace, and happiness. I hope you will find time to cook with your children this holiday and help create happy memories for them.

DSCN0132 300x225 A Wish for YouThis is me baking cookies with my young friends. Cooking is a fantastic way to interact with your family and friends and have fun doing it.

Merry Christmas!

Lee Jackson

 A Wish for You
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5 Holiday Food and Fun Ideas for Children

PinExt 5 Holiday Food and Fun Ideas for Children

Help create happy memories for children by involving them in holiday activities.

Here are 5 ideas from Amy Houts’ book, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids: Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun, that can be the start of fun family traditions.

1. Memories and baking cookies are a big part of the holiday season. Get friends together and have a cookie baking or exchange party.

2. Children can help create simple holiday gifts from the kitchen, such as Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar, Holiday Spice Mix, and Hearty Soup Mix.

3. As a way to recall the many blessings received during the year, place five or more kernels of candy corn in a zip lock bag and give to each child. Decide together what blessing each kernel symbolizes.

4. Check out a cookbook from the library with recipes typical of those used by your ancestors. Make a traditional cookie or bread recipe from that country.

5. Take time to remember the birds. A gift for them, or to a bird lover, could be a pinecone bird feeder you and your child create. Don’t forget to give the birds water, too.

Journalists, newsletter publishers, bloggers and others: You may reprint this blog or any of the blogs as long as you include the website: http://www.cookingandkids.com/blog.

 5 Holiday Food and Fun Ideas for Children
PinExt 5 Holiday Food and Fun Ideas for Children

Baking with Kids – Fun Cookie Recipe

PinExt Baking with Kids   Fun Cookie Recipe

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Image by janielianne via Flickr

Cooking with kids can be fun and create memories for years to come. Remember when the kids kept snatching cookie dough from the refrigerator? You finally had to put a toothpick in the dough with a note that said to not even think about eating it.

Here is a cookie recipe that will be tempting, either in the dough form (which they shouldn’t eat) and in the baked form (which will be hard to resist).

This recipe lists red food coloring as an ingredient. You may want to avoid using artificial food coloring by using natural products. You can  purée or juice a beet to get a very effective red dye. Mix a drop of this juice into the dough to make it pink or add a little more for red. Just keep your fingers protected unless you want red fingers for the next few days. You can also use a little pomegranate juice.

This cookie recipe comes from the childrens cookbook, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids – Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun by Amy Houts.

Holiday Candy Cane Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
1/4 crushed peppermint candy
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Children can help measure butter, shortening, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and crack egg into large mixing bowl. Children can mix with large wooden spoon or adult can beat with electric mixer until well mixed.

Note: there is no baking powder in this recipe.
Stir in flour and salt. Divide dough in half. Add red food coloring (or alternative)  to one half of dough. Pinch off about a teaspoon of red dough. Children can shape into about a 4-inch rope by rolling back and forth on lightly floured board or cloth. Repeat with plain dough. Set side-by-side and twist together. Place on ungreased baking sheet, curving one end down to form handle of cane.

Repeat process, placing candy canes about 2-inches apart on baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes, until very light brown. Meanwhile, mix peppermint candy and sugar. Sprinkle on cookies right when they come out of the oven. Then remove to cooling rack.

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

Happy baking!

 Baking with Kids   Fun Cookie Recipe
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Harvest Pumpkin Bread

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294107348 24412133eb m Harvest Pumpkin Bread
Image by Kristin Brenemen via Flickr

What do you serve drop-in family and friends when they stop by your house this season? Here is an easy entertaining idea that is sure to please your guests. It is one of my favorite breads to have on hand during the fall season and on into the holidays. Pumpkin Bread has been my mainsty for a number of years. It combines the mellow pumpkin flavor with cinnamon and nuts, plus, it freezes well. You can make it into smaller miniature loaves for gift
giving if you want. Children like to make it into cupcakes. Simply pour the batter into muffin tins about two-thirds

Pumpkin Bread

3 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/3 cup milk or water
2 cups (16 oz. can) pumpkin
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts

In large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; add the rest of ingredients. Mix well. Stir in nuts. Fill
two well-greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pans one-half full. Bake in 350 degrees oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick
inserted in the center comes out clean. Leave in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out on cooling rack.

Makes 2 loaves

This bread is high in sugar and oil so keep those slices thin and without butter!  But pumpkin is loaded with much
nutritional value and I like to think the high sugar and oil consequences are overshadowed somewhat by the
pumpkin’s nutrients! Again, moderation is the key.

The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant,
beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. In the conversion to
vitamin A, beta carotene performs many important functions in overall health.

Current research indicates that food containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of
cancer and offers protection against heart disease. It has also shown to be effective against the degenerative aspects
of aging.

Here are the nutrition facts for 1 cup cooked, boiled, drained, without salt pumpkin:
Calories 49
Protein 2 grams
Carbohydrate 12 grams
Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg
Iron 1.4 mg
Magnesium 22 mg
Potassium 564 mg
Zinc 1 mg
Selenium .50 mg
Vitamin C 12 mg
Niacin 1 mg
Folate 21 mcg
Vitamin A 2650 IU
Vitamin E 3 mg

Just a little pumpkin trivia: Pumpkins range in size from less than a pound to over 1,000 pounds. The largest
pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds. That would make quite a few pies! The largest pumpkin pie ever made
was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of
sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake. I have one question: Why would anyone want to do this? Other
thoughts also linger with me — who will eat this and is good food being wasted?  Remember, pumpkin pie should be

May you enjoy good, healthy food.

Lee Jackson
Books for cooks and apple lovers
children, families and parenting professionals


 Harvest Pumpkin Bread
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Healthy Tasty Treats Remind You of Mom’s Love

PinExt Healthy Tasty Treats Remind You of Moms Love
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Image by pamplemoussen via Flickr

We have a guest post today, especially for those of you with children “leaving the nest”. Read some of the recommendations given by Edina Jones, our guest blogger for today.

Are you wondering how your grown child will get along living on his or her own? He or she may be at college now or away working at a job. You remember how they depended on you; how they asked you for favors; how they could never do a thing without your help. You hope you have given them a good foundation and taught them basic skills, including how to cook. However, once your son or daughter leaves home, you start fretting about him/her.

Stop worrying! Instead, focus on how to convey your love to your young adult. You can email, phone, write a letter or send some photos. Do you know what they would really love? Yes, you are right, care packages full of their favorite foods! In addition, you can include healthy recipes in the packages.

Delightful goodie baskets

Here are a few ideas to try out.

Organic food basket
– Put together a selection of organic fruits that your child loves. Choose fruits like apples, pears, oranges, peaches, and others. Include dry fruits like cashews, strawberry flavored fruit preserves, whole-wheat crackers, tortilla chips, peanut butter, green tea, and other easily packable items. Who said health and taste didn’t go together? Your health conscious son/daughter is sure to love this gift.

Chocolate basket - Opt for an assortment of chocolates, dark chocolates, milk chocolates, cupcakes, or whatever he/she likes, to put in this basket. Add chocolate-coated almonds, raisins, walnuts, and chocolate cookies, chocolate dips, chocolate snack mixes, and others. It will be a welcome sweet treat for your son or daughter.

Pizza basket – Want your child to really be impressed? If they have a way to do some baking, send a collection of bread baking mixes for pizza making. Include some tomato basil sauce, smoked pepperoni, and spices like peppers, onions, and garlic and herbs to make a delicious pizza. A nice gift along this line would be to include a pizza stone and rack to make the baking process easier. Every time they bake a pizza, they will be reminded of home and, of course, mom’s special touch.

Seafood basket – Is your young adult a connoisseur of seafood? Student care packages filled with smoked salmon, mackerel, herring, mussels, oysters, etc. are sure to delight a seafood lover. You may also include tasty treats like clam or lobster chowder, oyster crackers, sauces, and many other related foods. Just make sure that the package will maintain the correct temperature for the safe eating of its contents.

Ice cream basket - Most young people love ice cream. The idea of this basket is to enhance the experience of enjoying a scoop. No, you are not going to send ice cream; as delivering it would be a difficult job. Add contents such as colorful sprinkles, cones of different flavors, chocolate or raspberry sauces, almonds, peanuts, cookie crumbles, banana chips, chocolate crunch, etc.

You can prepare the food baskets yourself. Or, you can choose one ready-made or order custom gift baskets. There are many companies online and in catalogs that deliver the type and kind of basket you specify at the appointed time.

Edina Jones is a self published author and food critic. She writes articles on many food themes such as Dessert Recipes, Picnic Recipes and similar topics. For more information on Healthy Recipes and Salad Recipes she recommends you visit: http://www.womansday.com

 Healthy Tasty Treats Remind You of Moms Love
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AP Stands for Apple Pie – America’s Favorite

PinExt AP Stands for Apple Pie   Americas Favorite
300px Motherhood and apple pie AP Stands for Apple Pie   Americas Favorite
Image via Wikipedia

Apples are flying out the door at stores and orchards and roadside stands. They are at their peak of flavor.

I was at another orchard this past week-end and “loaded up” on Jonathans, one of my favorite varieties for cooking purposes. I plan to make up extra apple pies to freeze and have ready for the holidays.

Pies can be frozen either baked or unbaked. Cool baked pies completed and wrap well in wax paper or plastic wrap and cover with aluminum foil or slip them into a gallon size resealable bag. For unbaked pies, which I prefer, prepare them for freezing in the same way. Label and date.

When ready to use, defrost unwrapped baked pie in the refrigerator. Then heat the pie in 350 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. For frozen unbaked pies, unwrap and place directly in 350 degrees F oven without defrosting and bake for about 50 minutes or until nicely browned and juice bubbles through the slits in pie top.

Some people like to assemble their fruit pie filling and freeze it without the crust. For this, they would place plastic wrap on the bottom of a pie pan, pulling out enough plastic wrap to go around the entire filling. Then they pour the fruit filling onto the plastic wrap, cover with the wrap, then aluminum foil, or place in  resealable bag, and freeze. After this is frozen, they slip the filling out of the pan and, if there are several pan-fuls, they stack the frozen fillings one on top of the other in the freezer. The pie pan can then be used again and it doesn’t tie up the pie plates in the freezer. Each filling is taken out when needed. The crust is prepared and made ready for the filling. The pie is then baked same as the unbaked pie above.

I invite you to sign up for my newsletter coming out soon that will feature some special apple recipes and other tips I want to share with you.

I hope you are fortunate enough to have an apple orchard nearby to visit this week-end.

Happy eating!

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

 AP Stands for Apple Pie   Americas Favorite
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Yummy Baked Apple Recipe

PinExt Yummy Baked Apple Recipe
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Image by elana's pantry via Flickr

With the bountiful apple harvest this year, it’s a rare person who doesn’t end up with a bushel, a peck, or only a pound of apples. But what to do with them?

In my apple cookbook, From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers, I have over 150 ways of preparing apples. In this expanded edition I included recent favorites as well as many “oldies but goodies” that were not in the first edition.

Below is the Baked Apple dish I made last night for supper. It is an easy and tasty apple dessert, low on calories and high on fiber and flavor.

The apples were hand picked and the cider used was pressed a few days ago at an outside cider making session. I like to think this added to the flavor of the dish, as I got to turn the handle on the press a few times.

Baked Apples

4 Granny Smith apples
2 tablespoons dried dates, chopped or
2 tablespoons raisins
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup apple cider

Wash apples. Core out each center, leaving about ½ inch at bottom to provide a base for the rest of ingredients. Peel a section at the top of the apple.

Mix remainder of ingredients except apple cider. Fill each apple with mixture. Place apples in baking dish. Pour apple cider around apples in dish. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 45 minutes. Baste apples with cider every 15 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Makes 4

To your enjoyment of apples,
Lee Jackson
author of From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers
Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards
The Littlest Christmas Kitten

 Yummy Baked Apple Recipe
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Cookies and Snow Days Go Hand-in-Hand

PinExt Cookies and Snow Days Go Hand in Hand

We in the Midwest have had a lot of snow days recently. This is the time you want to huddle up by the fireplace with a cup of hot cider and a cookie. I know it’s the New Years and we want to cut down on sugar intake and think very seriously about healthy living. However, done in moderation, most foods are good for us. Moderation and portion size are the key words.

Here is a cookie recipe I’d like to share with you from Amy Houts new cookbook, Cooking Around the Country With Kids: USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities. This is from the section of her cookbook highlighting Midwest ingredients and food products. Her comment about this recipe says: “Minnesota is the leading oat-growing state in the United States. Besides eating oats as a breakfast cereal, oats give baked goods a wonderful texture and taste.”

Can you identify the ingredients that come from this grain in the following recipe?

Whole-Grain Goodie Bars

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup oil
2 eggs
2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons cloves
1 cup raisins
1 cup coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Children can grease a jelly roll pan, 15-by-10-by 1-inch or use a 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan.
Children can help measure sugar, oil, and eggs into a large bowl; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add oatmeal, white flour, wheat flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, raisins, and coconut. Mix well. Pour and spread into prepared pan.

Bake about 15 minutes for jelly roll pan, 15-20 minutes for 9-by-13-inch pan, just until center is set. Cool; cut into bars.

Again, portion amount is very important. They are nice and chewy and it may be difficult to eat only one, but they stay so moist they will still be very good tomorrow and the next day and the next…

Enjoy those snow days!

Lee Jackson
Books for home and family living

 Cookies and Snow Days Go Hand in Hand
PinExt Cookies and Snow Days Go Hand in Hand

Going Food Shopping at the Farmers’ Market

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300px Onions Going Food Shopping at the Farmers Market

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Going to the local farmers’ market with your child helps him or her learn where their food comes from. Here your child will see the many varieties of fruits and vegetables that are grown right in your own region.

Understanding that the corn in the can or frozen package really started as corn in the husks on the cob is sometimes hard for children to comprehend. Seeing carrots with bushy tops and not perfectly scrubbed clean in plastic bags can be eye-opening for them as well. Even seeing the quantities of melons in the back of pickups and truck beds piled high with corn is really quite a sight.

I always think of the hard work that goes into growing this food and getting it to market. I know that those who work the soil are always dependent on Mother Nature to bring the rain and sunshine just at the right moments. The fruits of their labor relies on cooperation from the elements.

Even though farmers’ markets offer food at the peak of freshness, we still must be concerned with maintaining the freshness and keeping it safe for eating. It’s always a good idea to go right home to get perishable foods in the refrigerator.

Some produce can be ripened on the kitchen counter and then stored in the refrigerator. Foods such as peaches, nectarines, pears, and plums fall into this category.

Some foods taste best at room temperature, such as onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and squashes. They need to be stored in a clean, dry, well-ventilated place, away from direct sunlight and areas where meat is prepared.

I always like to prepare what I bought as soon as possible. The last time I went to market I bought some beautiful looking onions. I hadn’t baked onions for a long time but remembered how my grandmother used to just set the onion on the top of the cover from a metal coffee can. (I suppose because aluminum foil wasn’t readily available and the juices do run out – can you remember the time before aluminum foil)??

Anyway, baked onions are delicious.

This is what you do…and it’s easy enough that kids can help and be part of the “going to market and then using the fresh food” experience.

Baked Onions

Cut off both ends of the onion and peel the outer skin. Cut an X in the center of the onion and dribble on some olive oil or add a dab of butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place each onion on a piece of foil and wrap tightly. Set in a baking dish. Bake for about 1 hour, or until tender. You can sprinkle top with freshly grated Parmesan, or crumbled cooked bacon, or some fresh herbs.

Serve with any meat dish or pasta.

 Going Food Shopping at the Farmers Market
PinExt Going Food Shopping at the Farmers Market

Father’s Day Strawberry Shortcake

PinExt  Fathers Day Strawberry Shortcake
300px Fraises 1 Luc Viatour  Fathers Day Strawberry Shortcake

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I want to share with you my absolute favorite strawberry shortcake recipe. This is not one of those individually wrapped bland cakes always found in the strawberry aisle of your grocery store. No, yours will be a piping hot, melt in your mouth treat, heaped with juicy, luscious strawberries.

Your Dad will want you to make this dessert again and again – until the strawberries run out…

Strawberry Shortcake

2 pints fresh strawberries

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup milk

Wash strawberries in cold water with a dash of vinegar. Swish and drain. Children can help remove stems by using a plastic knife and cutting each in half. Add about 1/2 cup sugar over berries and let stand at room temperature about an hour.

Grease 1 – 8 x 1 1/2 inch cake pan. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, measure flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening using two knives or a pastry blender until shortening pieces are the size of peas. Stir in milk and stir with fork until just blended. Spread batter into prepared cake pans. Dot with butter.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly brown and crusty.

Cut into 6 or 8 pieces. Split each piece in half on serving plate. Have butter available at table so each can spread butter on hot shortcake according to individual wishes. Then pass the strawberries that have oozed some of their juice upon standing.

Enjoy, and wish your Father a Happy Day!

Lee Jackson
Books for children, families, and parenting professionals
Check out a FR ee Recipe Sampler at:

  Fathers Day Strawberry Shortcake
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