Summer is here (for some kids) and that probably means a lot of playing outside or in the pool in the hot weather. A popsicle can be a nice treat and making homemade popsicles can also be really fun. Here are a few ideas–just pour the mixtures into popsicle molds or into dixie cups/regular plastic cups with those wooden craft sticks. If they aren’t coming out easily, run the plastic cup under some warm water and twist it to remove it.
1. Creamy Fruit Pops- In a blender, blend 2 cups of fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, mango, cantaloupe, or others) with a little bit of fruit juice or milk (1/4 cup). Stir in vanilla ice cream one scoop at a time until the mixture is the consistency of a thin smoothie. Pour into containers and freeze.
2. Chocolate Banana Popsicles- In the blender, combine 2 bananas with 1/2 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of plain yogurt, and a few large squeezes of chocolate syrup. Stir in chocolate chips if you want, then pour into containers and freeze.
3. Lemonade or Limeade Popsicles- Make lemonade with fresh lemon juice or lime juice according to your favorite recipe, adjusting it so that the lemonade is a bit stronger than usual. Pour into containers and freeze. You can also add a drop of red food coloring for pink lemonade popsicles.
You can also dilute your favorite ice cream with milk (or your favorite sherbet with fruit juice) and freeze in containers. Encourage kids to get creative with inventing their own recipes and mixing different fruits and flavors. Good luck and have a great summer!
Making breakfast in bed for a mom on Mother’s Day is a very nice present. However, most kids don’t even know where to start or what kinds of foods to make. My mom likes scones, so I’ve posted her favorite recipe here. It’s not as dry as scones are normally because it’s made with buttermilk, which keeps the scones moist and delicious. I add chocolate chips and dried cherries, but you can use all chocolate, all cherries, or other dried fruits if you want. Serving scones with hot tea, coffee, orange juice, or whatever drink your mom prefers can be a breakfast all by itself! Or you can make toast in the toaster and serve it with butter and fruit preserves on the side. If you know how to cook eggs, you can make an omlet or scrambled eggs and serve them along with the rest of the breakfast. Here’s the scone recipe:
2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
½ cup each chocolate chips and dried cherries
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend together with flour mixture using two knives. It should look like crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips and the cherries. Whisk together buttermilk and vanilla and stir into the flour mixture. Gently knead dough 4 or 5 times on a lightly floured surface. Pat dough into a circle and cut into 8 pizza-shaped slices. Make an egg wash of one tablespoon milk and one egg, beaten together, and brush it on top of the scones. Sprinkle tops with sugar and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Here are three candy recipes that I love. They are all really fun for kids to make and the last one is very easy for even little kids to make (it only has two ingredients):
1) Butter crunch– this candy is almost exactly like toffee except it is softer and chewier due to the low temperature at which the butter-sugar mixture is cooked. I found the recipe in a 1942 Woman’s Home Companion cookbook. To make butter crunch, melt 1 cup butter over low heat and add 1 cup sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add 1/8 cup of water and 1 Tablespoon of corn syrup. Cook over low heat until it reaches 290 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Stir slowly to prevent burning. Remove from heat and stir in 2/3 cup of almonds. Pour into a buttered pan and let cool. Melt 4 ounces of chocolate or chocolate chips and spread the melted chocolate over the top. Sprinkle it with 1/3 cup almonds that have been chopped finely. If you want, you can spread chocolate and almonds on the other side, too.
2) Peppermint Patties–this recipe is from the same cookbook: Combine 1 cup of water, 2 cups of sugar, and 2 Tablespoons of corn syrup in a saucepan. Stir gently over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, then cover and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the cover and keep boiling (without stirring) until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Tip: If crystals form on the side of the saucepan as the mixture boils. The cookbook recommends using a damp cloth wrapped around the tines of a fork. Pour the syrup onto a marble slab or saucepan that has been sprinkled with cold water. If you have marble countertops, you can do this right on the counter. Do not scrape the pan. Let the syrup cool to 110 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Once it has cooled, use a broad spatula or a knife/spoon to “work it smoothly, toward the center of the slab.” As it cools, it will begin to look like icing and then harden into fondant. Knead the mixture to soften it and then place the fondant into the top of a double boiler. Heat over medium heat (DO NOT BOIL) and stir in a teaspoon of peppermint extract. Drip the melted fondant onto wax paper with a spoon and make circular patty shapes. When they harden, dip them into melted chocolate and let them cool.
3) Peanut Butter Cups–Peanut butter cups are really easy to make. Just melt chocolate or chocolate chips and pour the melted chocolate into a cupcake liner in a cupcake tin (just enough to cover the bottom). Then place a few teaspoons of peanut butter on top of the chocolate and cover with more melted chocolate. Kids may also enjoy decorating the tops with M&Ms, sprinkles, or other candies. Refrigerate until the chocolate has hardened.
I made a potato salad a few days ago from a recipe in a book that my mom and I found a few years ago on vacation in Missouri. This is one of the best potato salads I’ve ever had! Here’s the recipe:
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped onion
1/4 cup vinegar
2 Tablespoons water
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 cups cubed potatoes (cooked)
1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped finely
Fry the bacon and onion together until the bacon is cooked. In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir the vinegar mixture into the bacon pan and cook for one minute. Add the cooked potatoes and the parsley.
Today, my mom told me about a cupcake frosting that she had which tasted just like marshmallows. It is called seven-minute icing, made by beating egg whites and sugar over a double boiler with a hand mixer for seven minutes. I tried it today and it turned out beautifully! Apparently, the recipe is an old southern tradition which TV chefs such as Paula Deen and Alton Brown have prepared on their shows. It makes a really fluffy, delicious, and pretty icing for cupcakes. It also looks very nice with sprinkles on it. Here is Paula Deen’s recipe, although there are many other ones on the internet: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/7-minute-frosting-recipe/index.html
*Tip: Don’t let the double boiler pan touch the water, or the icing will turn grainy. Good luck!
Foods that are “in season” can be a lot better tasting and a lot cheaper than foods that are out of season. This is because foods that are grown locally and at the peak of production are shipped over a shorter distance, making them more fresh and less expensive. Here is a map of the United States which shows the produce that is in season for each month: http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/seasonalingredientmap
The produce that is in season right now is very easy to use in foods that kids will enjoy. Lettuce and spinach can be used in salads paired with dressings that kids like (Ranch, for example) and fun toppings like cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, or another vegetable that kids like. Salad bars can be a lot of fun if kids are given interesting toppings! Strawberries are also in season this month. You can use them in fruit salads or eat them as an after-school snack with a sweet dip (store-bought or homemade: vanilla yogurt with honey and fruit preserves stirred in). Or for a dessert that kids will have fun making, you can melt chocolate chips and dip strawberries into them, then cool them on wax paper. Adding nonpareil sprinkles or drizzling melted white chocolate over the top can be a lot of fun too. Here is my recipe using strawberries for a tropical fruit salad from the summer class I taught last year:
1 can cubed pineapple
1 large can mandarin oranges
1 box fresh strawberries
A few drops of lemon juice
Sweetened flaked coconut
Cut each of the oranges in half horizontally. Scoop out the insides and put them in a blender or food processor. In a large bowl, combine the pineapple cubes and mandarin oranges. Slice the strawberries and stir them in. Pulse the orange insides in the blender and strain them into a bowl. Mix the juice with the lemon juice, and Pour it over the fruit salad in the bowl. Serve the fruit salad into the orange halves and garnish them with cherries and coconut.