Tag Archives: Recipes

Making Halloween a Little Less Scary

With Halloween right around the corner, I have been giving a lot of thought to the menu for our annual block party. We are hosting the party at our house this year, and I hope to serve some delicious finger foods to fill up our bellies before hitting the streets.

I haven’t settled on the menu yet, but here are some items that I am considering:

  • Vampire Drool
  • Orzo with Roasted Seasonal Vegetables
  • Sticky and Slightly Spicy (Bat) Wings
  • Spiced Pecans
  • Marinated Mini-Mozzarella (eye) Balls with Pita Crisps
  • Sour Cream and Scallion Dip with Sweet Potato Chips and Carrot Fingers
  • Mummy Pizzas that the kids will make themselves (Just pull apart string cheese and lay it on an English Muffin topped with a little marinara…Add some sliced olives for eyes and voila – you have a mummy pizza!)
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Brownie Cake – Absolutely delicious! (We had a bit of buttermilk left over from waffles this weekend, so I used that instead of the sour soy milk she recommended.)

Update: Here are some photos of our food from the Halloween party.  Pictured, you will see Vampire Drool with a Green Ice Hand, Marinated Mozzarella Eyeballs with Pita Crisps, Orzo with Roasted Vegetables and Bat Wings.  Everything was a hit, although I was reprimanded by my daughter for not making enough Bat Wings.  They were gone in a flash!

Vampire Drool with a Green Ice Hand      Marinated Mozzarella Eyeballs    Orzo with Roasted Vegetables     Bat Wings

Although I can control the quality of the foods I’ll be serving at home, I can’t control what will be doled out by the neighbors.

Kids are often afraid of the sights and sounds that meet them when the doors at each home creek open…but the truly frightening experience lies in the ingredients of the foods that they are collecting: partially hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, alkali, chemicals, artificial colorings and more…

There is no sense in banning candy – that will only make everyone want it more (parents included…admit it!). But it might be worth a few moments to read some of the labels in your stash, just to see what you are consuming and how it will affect you. It just might help prevent you from over-indulging.

In some homes, parents have created a wonderful compromise – Kids select a few of their favorite treats to keep and trade the rest with you for a toy, trip to the movies or some new books.

If you would like to promote a Healthier Halloween yourself, leave the candy at the store. Instead, pick up some flower or herb seed packets, pencils, colored markers, stickers or small card games to distribute instead.



Filed under Meal Planning, Musings of a Cooking Teacher..., Nutrition and News, Recipes

Creepy Cuisine and Potent Potions

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Halloween - Jack O’Lantern

While preparing for some upcoming kids Halloween Cooking Classes, I realized that you might appreciate a few recipes for Creepy Cuisine and Potent Potions that weren’t quite as sugar and fat laden as the majority of recipes you’ll find online.

Vampire Drool

Red Juice, your choice (cranberry, pomegranate, cherry etc)
Bubble Water
1 pkg frozen organic cranberries
1 latex glove
1 cauldron

  1. Pour water into a latex glove. Tie the end, and put it the freezer (be sure to store it flat, so that it retains the shape you want).
  2. When frozen, remove from the freezer and peel off the glove.
  3. Combine juices and bubbly water in a cauldron
  4. Add the frozen “hand” to complete the brew

Worms and Eyeballs

1 small onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
3 Tbs ketchup
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 lb ground dark turkey meat
3 Tbs olive oil
marinara sauce
1 can black olives, pitted

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, ketchup, parsley, Parmesan, Pecorino, salt and pepper to a large bowl and blend. Mix in the turkey.
  3. Shape the turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs.
  4. Place on baking sheet.
  5. Use an egg slicer to slice the olives into rings.
  6. Place one olive ring on top of each meatball, pressing lightly. This makes it look more like an eyeball!
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes or until the inside is no longer pink and the juices run clear.


  • Peel paper off the garlic cloves.
  • Crack egg.
  • Squeeze ketchup
  • Grate and measure cheese
  • Pick parsley leaves from the stem and tear into small pieces.
  • With clean hands, combine all of the ingredients and shape into balls
  • Wash hands afterwards
  • Slice black olives and press onto meatballs
  • Wash hands again.

Strawberry Monsters

4″ sucker sticks
Candy Melts (your color choice)
Black decorating gel

  1. Insert lollipop stick into strawberries and place them in the freezer for about 15 minutes, until they are cold.
  2. While the berries are chilling, heat one cup of candy melts, in a double-boiler, stirring constantly until completely melted.
  3. Remove the berries from the freezer and dip them lightly in the melted candy for a thin coating.
  4. To get a Mummy look, swirl them a bit to look like layers of white wrapped around it. Ghosts can be dunked to make a little twisted peak on top. Frankenstein can be dunked and a spoon used to flatten the candy on top.
  5. Set on a baking sheet lined with parchment to cool and harden. You can refrigerate them if you would like to speed this up.
  6. After they harden, you can add faces. Using black decorating gel and a toothpick (as your brush), draw a spooky face.


Use green melts for Frankenstein, Orange for Jack-O-Lanterns & white for ghosts and mummies


Filed under Cooking with Kids, Recipes

Lunch Lessons

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Changing The Way We Feed Our Children

Ann Cooper is on a mission to change the way our children eat. She’s out to reform school district spending policies and commodity-based food service organizations to ensure that kids across the country have wholesome, nutritious, delicious food at school.Her National School Food Challenge, Oct. 15-19, 2007, is a week-long opportunity for schools, families and advocates to work together to provide healthful, nutritious foods for kids at school and at home. Families and advocates are challenged to ask local administrators about the foods served in school lunches and help their kids make strong nutritious meal choices. Schools are challenged to find sources of local, fresh foods that can be served in cafeterias.

“Together, we can keep nutrition at the head of the class,” Cooper says.

Check out her informative website at lunchlessons.org to learn more and take a look these recommendations you can put to work right away in your own family.

Lessons from Ann Cooper’s Lunch Lessons:

  • Eat breakfast.
  • Encourage exercise.
  • Don’t make food a reward or a punishment.
  • Don’t be a short-order cook; make the same dinner for everyone.
  • Involve your kids in shopping and meal preparation.
  • Grow food with your kids, even if it’s just in a window box.
  • Take your kids to the farmers’ market so they’ll understand that food doesn’t come from a grocery store.
  • Practice what you preach—eat well yourself.

Recipe from Lunch Lessons For more of Ann Cooper’s recipes—from Apple Date Bars to Breakfast Polenta Casserole—go to lunchlessons.org/html_v2/recipes.html

Turkey Meatloaf


1/2 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 pounds ground turkey
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1/2 cup Japanese bread crumbs (panko)
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons ketchup, optional


1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Heat oil in a small skillet. Add onion, garlic and carrot and sauté until soft. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
3. Combine carrot mixture with turkey, parsley, bread crumbs, eggs, salt and pepper; mix well.
4. Pack mixture into an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan. Bake 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 140F. Slice and drizzle with ketchup, if desired. Serves 8.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Lunch Lessons by Ann Cooper and Lisa M. Holmes (Harper Collins, 2006).


Nutritional Information

Per serving: 169 calories, 9g fat, 17g prot., 4g carbs., 0g fiber, 366mg sodium.

To purchase her book, please visit: Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children


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Filed under Recipes, School Lunches

Cooking with Kids 101…(ages 5 and under)

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Let’s face it…parenting doesn’t usually come with a lot of positive reinforcement. Nor does it come with a handbook on even the most basic concepts, such as getting our kids to eat! Even though I run a successful business cooking with children, my own daughter staged frequent protests at dinner time. Finally a light went on in my head. It was time that I started to practice more of what I teach to my students and their families. She needed to participate more in both the selection and preparation of our family meals!

Here are some tried and true suggestions to help you feel more confident in bringing your kids into the kitchen:

How Do I Start?

  • Read recipe names to your kids and see what sounds good to them.
  • Decide which 3-5 of the approved recipes you plan to make for the following week.
  • Make a master grocery list, so that you only have to go to the market once.
  • Purchase produce at your local farmer’s market. Kids love to eat food they have tasted and approved!

When and How?

  • Select a time of the day when your kids are well fed, happy, and eager to be with you.
  • Start meal preparation earlier in the day, instead of right before dinner. For working families, do this for several meals at a time on the weekend.
  • Before calling kids into the kitchen, get out all of the ingredients and tools required to make the meal.

What Can the Kids Do…even if they are young?

Even toddlers can help you in the kitchen! This list includes tasks for children ages 5 and under. Please use your discretion, as you know your child best.

  • Rinse and dry fruits and veggies
  • Tear up lettuce for salad
  • Break the tips off beans
  • Stir and mix
  • Help to measure
  • Pull cloves of garlic from bulb, and peel the “paper” (skin) off
  • Slice mushrooms, olives and other soft foods with a child-safe knife or with an egg slicer.
  • Crack eggs (do this into a separate bowl, in case you have to fish out bits of shell)
  • Dip chicken or fish in egg and then again in bread crumbs (this is called “dredging”). Kids love when food is “crispy” on the outside!

Some amazing things happened to me (and my family) when I started implementing these concepts. My meals were prepared and ready to go into the oven up to 2 hours (yes, hours) earlier than before. I was relaxed and able to spend quality time with my kids before dinner, after our prep work was finished. And my daughter was very proud of her work and started eating dinner with gusto! I love spending quality time together with my family in the kitchen, as I am sure you will enjoy with yours.



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