Tag Archives: Recipes

A Compilation

Every once in a while I find I have collected a few photos from activities that don’t become a blog post on their own but I’d still like to share them.  These are a few from the past month;

This was the result of nearly an hour of independent play after we got past the ‘There’s nobody else here to play with me’ stage;

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Here is a picture of a cooperative game these two enjoyed;

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I thought this was a pretty amazing tower built by a three-year-old;

 

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And this two-year-old sorted these blocks like this several times, every day for more than a week!

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Finally, this was something I made to use some extra acorn squash.  It was definitely not my favourite squash dish but it had the preschoolers clamoring for more.

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  • 3 cups acorn squash, cubed
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp margarine, melted
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together and place in a greased baking dish. Bake, covered, in preheated 375 F (190 C) oven for 30 minutes; uncover and bake for another 20 minutes or until squash is tender.

 

Lumpy Dough

Play dough and other sensory materials are very popular with children of all ages.  I like play dough because unlike paint and many of our other sensory activities there is little set-up time required for play dough.  I always have a batch of prepared play dough stored in my refrigerator.  The fact that it is cold at the beginning of the activity and warm at the end is an added sensory experience.

The recipe I like to use most often is;

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 3 Tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Combine flour, salt and cream of tartar in a medium sized saucepan.  Add water and oil: cook over medium heat stirring constantly.  When mixture pulls away from side of pan and forms a large ball, remove from heat and let cool.  Knead dough, divide and add food colouring if desired.

I do usually add some time of colouring to the dough and sometimes I add herbs, spices or some other scented material as well.  I have plenty of tools to use with play dough – knives, scrapers, icing decorators, cookie cutters etc but I find that many of the children become so focused on tool ‘ownership’ that the play dough gets forgotten.  Since this is a ‘process’ activity there is never a required product so I rarely offer tools unless the children specifically ask for them.

I chose not to add any colouring or scents to the latest batch of play dough.  Instead, I started the activity by introducing foam ropes and tissue paper.  The children then got to rip the tissue paper into tiny pieces and cut the foam rope – this was more challenging than I anticipated.  The foam was so dense that none of the children’s knives could cut through it.  Scissors worked but the cut pieces tended to fly everywhere – amusing to some of the children but annoying to anyone (me) trying to collect all the pieces.

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The children then had the opportunity to mix the foam and paper into their dough – three very different textures.

15-10-LD02Some chose to add their ‘decorations’ one at a time while others did so by the handful.  Some used tools and played with their play dough as usual during the decorating process.

15-10-LD03Interestingly several of them mixed the paper and foam pieces in the dough and then meticulously picked them all out and then mixed them in again.  In fact, we have played with this dough several times since we first made it and ‘undecorating’ it has been a very popular activity – fantastic for fine motor skills.

15-10-LD04By far my favourite response to this activity came from the school-age children.  When they arrived after school and went to wash their hands for snack they saw the post-activity play dough on the counter.  They were super excited about having ‘cookies’ for snack – followed by a little disappointment that it was just play dough.

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Squash

I love how many different types of squash we get in our CSA share from Wild Earth Farms.

15-10-squash01Each fall we collect some of the seeds from each of the different types of squash and try to grow our own plants in the spring.  We can usually manage to get them to sprout and sometimes even move them to the outdoor garden but beyond that we haven’t been very successful.

The squash we get from the farm is very interesting. There are so many different sizes, shapes and colours.  The textures of the stem, skin and innards are all so fascinating.

15-10-squash02We compare the weight of the various sizes;

15-10-squash03And of course we taste them too.  All the muffin, cake and loaf recipes made with squash are very popular.  The savory items are more challenging.  Still, we try.  They may never become permanent menu items but it is always fun to see what we can do with all our squash.

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Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili

1 medium red onion, chopped
• 1 green bell pepper, chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• salt and pepper
• 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
• 1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed
• 1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
• 1 medium squash, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
• sour cream, sliced scallions, sliced radishes, and tortilla chips, for serving

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid), beans, squash, and 1 cup water. Cover and cook until the squash is tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours. Serve the chili with the sour cream, scallions, radishes, and tortilla chips.

Squash

This year we got a lot of squash in our CSA box from Wild Earth Farms.  We got a lot last year too but this year there was more. Luckily squash keeps longer than the other types of fresh produce so I didn’t have to use it all at once.  Some of it made a nice addition to our Fall decor.

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I like that we got so many different kinds of squash and some I had never tried before.  I find it interesting that as I search for new recipes it doesn’t seem to matter what type of squash I use in the search I still get many similar recipes.  The only exception is the spaghetti squash which has some unique recipes that would not work as well if you used another type of squash.

I have roasted the various squash and used them in stir fries and stews.  I love squash however, it has been a challenge to get the children to eat it.  If it is not baked in a pie, loaf, or cake they will usually just leave it on their plate.

This week I tried something different.  I cut up an acorn squash, coated it with egg and a mixture of bread crumbs, flour, cornmeal, and taco seasoning.  Then I baked it until it got crispy – about 30 minutes at 425 F.  I served it along with our Mexican Chicken and Rice.

I loved it.  The baby inspected it very closely then dropped it off the side of the highchair without ever even tasting it.  The 2 year old children expertly gnawed all the breading off every squash nugget but left the innards. The three year old never even touched the squash.

After eating every last bit of her chicken and rice she pushed her plate away and announced that she was done.  The rest of our conversation went like this;

  • Me: You didn’t try your squash.
  • 3 yo: I don’t like it.
  • Me: How do you know that if you haven’t even tasted it.  It’s like a chicken nugget.
  • 3 yo: It’s not a chicken nugget.
  • Me: Try a little one.
  • 3 yo: No, I don’t like them.
  • Me: Why do you think you won’t like them?
  • 3 yo: McDonald’s doesn’t have squash nuggets.

Sigh.  No they don’t.

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The Review

Often when I write posts about one of our activities or changes I’ve made to our spaces I will include links to the products we used or the stores where we purchased them.  I do this only because I want to, I don’t receive anything for doing this. I know that when I read other blogs and see something interesting I want to know where they got their supplies from.  If there are links then I don’t need to search for the items.

However, I have been asked – three times – to review products in exchange for free stuff.  Once, a clothing company offered to send me samples of their children’s outerwear for us to use and evaluate.  After a few email conversations they backed out due to my location – I think they were concerned that their clothing was not suitable for some of our extreme weather conditions.

The second request came from a product that I had no interest in reviewing – it was not something I would have ever purchased and I doubt I would have had anything good to say about it – I refused that request.

Today though I am going to write about a book that was recently sent to me to review.  The National Geographic Kids Cook Book by Barton Seaver. Now, honestly, I would never have actually gone looking for a kids cook book – or any cook book.  Even though I occasionally look for new recipes I’m unlikely to ever find a book with more than two or three that I’d like to try – hardly worth paying for an entire book.

The recipes in this book range from very simple ones that even toddlers could help with to more elaborate recipes and everything in between.  The book is arranged as a year long calendar with many seasonal recipes.  There are recipes from around the world along with  interesting facts about the country and the ingredients. I found several recipes that I liked and selected two to try before beginning this post.

Poached Pears is actually the last recipe in the book but the first one I made – maybe I’m a little backward.  This recipe interested me because I love pears but the ‘fresh’ pears in the store are always green and hard and taste horrible.  I buy them but then it takes so long for them to ripen and then they are only ‘nice’ for a day before they start getting brown and mushy – yuck.  This recipe let me use the green pears and made them taste truly wonderful.  I served them for snack along with my Cinnamon Biscotti – all the children loved them!

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The second recipe I tried was the Sweet Potato Latkes.  I didn’t weigh my sweet potatoes until after I had grated them all – oops, I had 4 times the amount I needed so I quadrupled the recipe.  It took a really, really long time to cook all those pancakes but they were so good I had no problem finding people to eat them all.  I didn’t even get to take any pictures.

This book isn’t just a recipe book.  In fact, I only counted 49 recipes and the book has 160 pages.  There is a lot more in there too – cooking tips, games, crafts, and tons of information about the environment and where our food comes from.  There are stories about some wonderful people, places and traditions from around the world.

The children have enjoyed looking at all the colourful photos on every page – this book won’t be sitting on the shelf with my other cookbooks.  This book will be out all the time because there is always someone who wants to check it out.

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How about you?  I was given THREE copies of this book.  One for me and two to give away.  So, one I am donating to the Manitoba Nature Summit to use as a door prize for our AGM – the meeting date hasn’t been set yet but it will be posted on their website and Facebook page so check back often.

The other one will be given to one of the readers of my blog.  If you want a chance to win a copy of this book then post a comment below and tell me what you think of this post, what you find interesting about this book, or why you would like a copy of your own.  The winner will be selected by a random draw (done by one of my toddlers) on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 and announced on Saturday, November 8th.  Good Luck!

Feasting

Here in Canada today is Thanksgiving Day.  Soon my husband, my children and I will be heading over to my Mom’s for our family dinner.

I’m making a Thai Red Curry Kabocha Squash as my ‘non-traditional’ contribution to the holiday dinner.  My mom asked me to make something using one of the unusual items that I received in my CSA box.  I had never heard of kabocha squash until it arrived in the box last week.  As for the recipe…we’ll have to see how well it goes over later today.

In the meantime I’ll share a couple recipes that have recently been added to our childcare menu.

The first is an afternoon snack item that has proven to be very popular with the little ones.

Quinoa Pudding

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2 cups quinoa, cooked
3 cups milk
½ cup brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cups raisins

Combine all ingredients. Pour into greased baking dish. Bake in 350-degree oven until set, about 45 minutes. Serve hot or cold

Admittedly I don’t like the texture of the quinoa – it doesn’t get as soft and mushy as rice pudding but that didn’t seem to bother the children.  It was surprisingly sweet given there is only ½ cup of sugar.

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The second recipe was from the lunch menu and may be one of my all-time favourites – probably because it contains many of my preferred ingredients.

Spinach Strata

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6 cups whole grain bread cubes
4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup diced bacon, cooked
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
6 eggs
2 cups milk
¼ cup fresh basil

In a greased 8 cup (2 L) casserole; layer half the bread cubes, half the spinach, half the bacon and half the cheese, sprinkling each layer with salt and pepper.  Repeat layers, ending with cheese.

In a small bowl; beat eggs with milk and basil.  Pour egg mixture over the bread, spinach and cheese layers.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Bake, uncovered, in preheated 350 F (180 C) for one hour or until puffed and set in centre.

Sorry, I didn’t take a picture of the finished dish – only the partially assembled ingredients.  Mmmm, I’m getting really hungry just looking at them but that’s probably because I skipped lunch to save room for Thanksgiving dinner.

Happy feasting!

Oriental Casserole

I haven’t done a major overhaul of the lunch menu for quite a while but there have been a few minor changes.  One of the more recent additions – about four months ago – was the Oriental Casserole.

This recipe was originally added because I needed a new rice recipe – I try to have a mixture of rice, pasta, potato and bread/sandwich lunches on the menu each week.  Now, I’d also have to say that, when they were young, my own children would have refused to eat Oriental Casserole or any other rice dish.  Now that they are all adults there is still only one that actually likes rice.

However, many of the children in my care today actually do like rice and for some reason they all LOVE the Oriental Casserole.   Even the really picky eaters eat it.  There was a lot of excitement at lunch yesterday because it was Oriental Casserole day.  I listened to the comments made throughout the meal and I think I know what ingredient in particular makes this dish so poular.

This is a short excerpt from the lunch conversation;

  • “You’ve never had this before? Oh, you’ve got to try it!  It has bamboo in it.”
  • “I didn’t know you could eat bamboo.  Now I know why panda bears like bamboo.”
  • “I think Cheryl should be on ‘Chopped'”.
  • “I can’t wait to tell my dad that we had wood for lunch.” (giggle)
  • “I wonder where you can buy bamboo?”
  • “I think they sell bamboo at IKEA.”

Just for the record, I don’t think opening a can of bamboo qualifies for participation on ‘Chopped’.  Here’s the rest of the somewhat vague recipe I use to make my Oriental Casserole.

Heat olive oil in pan and stirfry 4 stalks of celery (sliced), 2 onions (chopped), and any other veggies like peppers that I have on hand and feel like tossing in.   Add one or two cans of sliced bamboo shoots (drained), one can of water chestnuts. and a pound of cooked, ground pork.  Heat through.

Cook 2 cups of Basmati rice in 4 cups of water/chicken stock with several Tbsp of soya sauce.  Combine cooked rice with stirfried veggies and pork.  Serve immediately or put in a casserole dish to reheat in oven later.

I think it is really a pretty simple recipe but the children really enjoy it.