Make Cookies Simple!

Tips for
Baking with Toddlers
( and a toy garbage truck)

Baking is a great tool for teaching toddlers about the senses. Kids can touch, smell, taste, see and even hear things while baking and cooking. However lately baking hasn’t been as much fun at our house . A certain 2 year old demands to use the mixer, and not in a safe way. When I say no, the theatrics start and the fun we were having comes to an end. So instead of giving up making cookies all together I came to a compromise, so we can keep learning and having fun.

  • Be realistic about your expectations, taste testing is pretty much guaranteed no matter how many times you ask them not to.
  • I use pre- mixed dough. I like store bought because I am irrationally terrified of salmonella, and I know my son will taste test , as will I. If your toddler and you can happily do the steps of making your own dough, by all means do. There are great lessons about measurement that come from that step.
  • Skip steps your child has had issues with in the past- don’t give them up forever just for now. For us this means no mixer, I’ll try again soon but not yet. It may be touching a hot stove that is a trouble spot for you, in that case focus on the mixing and bake after your child is in bed for nap or the night. Small adjustments can be made to keep having fun.
  • Put the premixed dough into a bowl and have your child mix it up, feel it and knead it.
  • Add fun things into the pre-made dough. This adds a step of mixing that can be done by hand, without a huge mess. I have added candies to sugar cookies, chocolate chips to peanut butter, dried fruit to oatmeal and in these pictures my son is adding toffee bits and chopped pecans to chocolate chip dough.
  • Allow your child to roll the dough into balls with their hands, use the rolling pin or cookie cutters!
  • Do not bake with your toddler when you NEED to have 3 dozen cookies for a bake sale or church party. The stress of making enough cookies may be too much if a bowl gets knocked over, or too much dough gets eaten.
  • After you bake enjoy your cookies and ask your child to tell you how they did that, you’ll be impressed with how well young kids can recount the steps you followed.

Easy St.Patrick’s Day Treats

 

shamrock treat for st.patrick's day

I am pretty health conscious , especially when it comes to what my family eats, but treats are not banned and candy has a special place in my heart. When my son and I made both the treats in this post he turned up his nose at the sugary one and gobbled up two spinach and banana popsicles in a row! I was proud and it made up for all the marshmallows he ate while we were making the shamrocks. You can win every time right?

Shamrock Crispy Rice Treats

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 5 1/2 cups of marshmallows, 5 1/2 cups of rice crispy type cereal, 1/4 cup of butter, green sprinkles, green candies , some non stick spray , a large sauce pan , 2 baking sheets and a shamrock cookie cutter. * I had food coloring out but didn’t end up using it, the sparkles bled enough.
  2. Stir the green sparkles and candies into the cereal.
  3. Melt the butter over low heat .
  4. Add the marshmallows to the melted butter and stir until smooth.
  5. Add the cereal mix.
  6. Mix well
  7. Put the mix onto one baking sheet that has been sprayed with baking spray
  8. Press down with the 2nd, this compacts it down perfectly
  9. Let cool in your fridge for an hour.
  10. Cut out with cookie cutter and enjoy.
St.Patrick's Day Pops for toddlers

These are my son’s favorite smoothies ( ooobies) poured into a popsicle mold
  1. Gather your materials. You will need a blender, banana or vanilla yogurt,some milk, frozen spinach,a very ripe banana and popsicle molds.
  2. Put all ingredients into a blender and blend.
  3. Pour into the mold and freeze for at least 3 hours.
  4. Pop out and enjoy!

Heart Shaped Pizza !

 

fun valentine's day food for kids

Making pizza is the perfect cooking activity for young kids, it doesn’t require you to be near a hot stove and they are practically a shoe in even for picky eaters. My son has recently started picking everything except meat and cheese off his pizza so I blend carrots and peppers into the sauce, mama always wins ! Also using tortillas makes it easy to shape the crust into a heart.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a pan, oven , tortillas, pizza sauce, pepperoni , mozzarella , kitchen sheers and a heart shaped cookie cutter.
  2. Start by folding your tortilla in half and cutting it into a heart.
  3. Next using the cookie cutter make your heart shaped pepperoni, you could do this with a host of other toppings as well.
  4. Time to gather the kiddos! Mine was a little hungry after nap and decided to taste test the crust.
  5. Spread the sauce on
  6. Add the cheese, I am not sure if he is putting it on or taking it off in this picture. Shred much more than you need if your little chef is a fan of cheese!
  7. Add the pepperoni! My son insisted the hearts were eyes, so we made a mouth too.
  8. Bake- I baked ours at 400* for about 10 minutes, checking on it often.Do you do something special for your kids on Valentine’s Day? Tell us about it!

Five Senses : Yummmmmmy!

Chocolate Covered
Frozen Bananas

To end our week of “Five Senses” I decided to make my son a fun and not too full of crap treat. We had theses at our friends house a few weeks ago and loved them, so thank you Mandy for the inspiration! For taste and smell ideas for preschoolers scroll down past the bananas, these two senses are tricky for really little ones so a cooking activity where you can give your child lots of chances to taste is a great option for both smell and taste!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need bananas, baking chocolate ( for 4 treats I used .25 lbs) , butter , popsicle sticks, wax paper, a dish and a freezer!
  2. Start by peeling your bananas , cutting them in half and insert the popsicle sticks.
  3. For every .25 pound of chocolate or chocolate chips, add 1/2 tablespoon of butter to make it easier to spread. Melt . I put it in the microwave for 20 seconds, stirred it and then another 20.
  4. Ooops have we been learning anything? If you want you can have your little one “taste” the bowl, ask them how it tastes, I think my son liked it!
  5. Spread over bananas and put them in the freezer.
  6. Let set

Preschool
Taste & Smell Activity

In years past I have done taste tests in my classrooms. They were always a hit and made big impressions, always a plus in a learning environment. Here is what I did:

  1. Make a chart- simple or big depending if you are doing this for one child or a class. On the chart list ( pictures for preschoolers, written words for school agers) 3-5 flavors of food ice cream, yogurt, and jelly bellies have all worked well for me. Make sure the flavors are simple like strawberry, lemon, vanilla etc…
  2. In identical cups put the food to taste.
  3. Have your child smell the first cup, ask them to predict the flavor- choosing from the chart’s list. Make a note of their prediction.
  4. Have them taste it. Ask them if they want to switch the prediction or keep it as is.
  5. Reveal the flavor.
  6. Repeat.

On paper this seems very simple but it’s fun and a fun way to learn about taste and smell as well as introducing young children to the process of a real science experiment !

Scary …and not in a good way.

Ghost Cookies
( in case you can’t tell what they are )

Well I tried, I failed but the important part is that I tried. While at the store I had a “Brilliant” idea for ghost cookies. You can see that the idea and the reality didn’t quite match up. I still decided to post the activity hoping to inspire some truly brilliant ideas !

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sugar cookie dough, candy corn ( although black jelly bellys would have been way better) , parchment paper, white sprinkles.
  2. Shape your cookie dough into ghost shapes. This was my first mistake, I should have used a cookie cutter, but live and learn. If you are going to shape them remember they will spread when they cook ( oops forgot that too!).
  3. Add white or clear sparkly sprinkles.
  4. Add some candy corn for eyes- so here was my next mistake, I should have waited until the cookies were done baking , although the melted candy looks sorta spooky, so a black candy would be cool all melted.
  5. Bake. I had to take the blob like half baked cookies out and shape them with a spatula and although I thought they were ruined at first, they actually looked spooky all wrinkly. So if you are going for cute- don’t use my directions , however I think I achieved a spooky ghost cookie. Wasn’t exactly my intention but they taste great!