There's the warm and fuzzy image of holiday baking with your kids, and then there's reality: smeared hands, gloppy spills and flour everywhere. You can't escape the mess altogether, but these one-bowl cookie recipes will help you minimize it -- while maximizing the fun. They're quick, easy and virtually stress-free. Try them:
Summer time brings out the fun in all of us - and certainly along with that comes the craving for cool and tasty drinks. Yet, while mixed-drink cocktails may fit the bill in some instances, it is sometimes nice to enjoy a non-alcoholic beverage or "mocktail" with the kids.
Kids love to play "grown-up," at times, so allowing them to partake in the party with their very own drinks can be fun - while at the same time even providing them with fruity - and somewhat healthy - refreshments.
Non-alcoholic "mocktails" can be just as beautifully created - and they can be equally as delicious as the "real thing" yet without the possibility of a hangover the next morning. Therefore, by enjoying the taste without the alcohol, some may even say that drinking mocktails is the best of both worlds.
One summer favorite kiddie-cocktail is the berry sweetheart. This tasty mixture includes 3 ounces of red cranberry juice, 3 ounces of apple juice, and 1 ounce of honey all mixed together and served chilled. You can even add a maraschino cherry on top for fun!
What better time than summer to serve a watermelon slush? This cool delight is a favorite for both kids and adults alike - and rightly so! To mix this tasty thirst quencher, start with roughly half a dozen ice cubes and 2 cups of seeded watermelon.
Place the ice in a blender and pulse until crushed. Then, simply add the watermelon along with a touch of honey into the blender until you have a slushy refreshment. You may also want to garnish the serving glass with an additional watermelon wedge for a great presentation.
Another wonderfully tasting favorite is the distant cousin of the fuzzy navel, the unfuzzy navel! For those who love peaches and pineapples, this is a true delight. To get this mocktail underway, start with 3 ounces of peach nectar and 3 ounces of orange juice. You will also want to add 3 ounces of pineapple juice along with a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Once you have all ingredients, combine in a shaker that is roughly half filled with ice and shake. For an even tastier effect, you could add in a dash of grenadine. In any case, your guests will likely be back for seconds.
Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri
For the strawberry lovers in the group, you must offer the virgin strawberry daiquiri. By combining one quarter cup of strawberries with 1 ounce of orange juice, 1 ounce of lime juice, and 2 teaspoons of sugar, you will have a real treat. A dash of grenadine can also be added here.
After combining all in a blender with ice, pour into a chilled glass and serve - but not before you dip the rim of the serving glass in sugar. This can be an especially tasty treat for the kids - and could even be substituted for a dessert.
And speaking of dessert, how about mixing up a concord cow? This masterpiece includes scooping some vanilla ice cream into a glass and then adding an equal mix of concord grape juice and lemon-lime soda over the ice cream. Yum!
Most kids love fruit punch - especially at summer parties. This easy to make mocktail includes 2 cups of frozen cranberry juice, 2 cups of oranges, 2 cups of pineapple juice, and 6 cups of water. To this mixture, you will add 4 liters of ginger ale. Once mixed together, you have a nice cool fruit punch that all can enjoy.
Peanut Butter Frappe
For those who prefer non-cocktail drink versions, you may opt for a peanut butter frappe. This yummy summer drink treat entails mixing one-quarter cup of peanut butter with 1 cup of milk. Then, pour chocolate syrup into the glass while also slowly adding in seltzer. Voila - you now have a great dessert drink for all!
Vietnamese Iced Coffee
Another summer favorite non-cocktail is the famous Vietnamese ice coffee. This refreshing combination includes pouring 3 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk over ice. Next, stir in 1 cup of cooled but strong coffee. This drink can be especially beneficial for those who may need to drive home after your summer get-together and are in need of that quick second wind.
As an alternate, you could also offer a peach-ginger iced tea. Here, simply mash 6 canned peach halves with 1 and ½ cups of the accompanying peach juice. By adding in 1/3 cup of sugar and one tablespoon of grated ginger, all you need is ice and you are ready to roll!
Janet Lynch is a published writer and blogger in the health industry. She also is passionate about delivery diets and other simple dietary solutions.
Everyone loves a classic PB&J sandwich. Now, with a little culinary creativity, your family can liven up lunch and win money for college.
Over the past 10 years, Jif(r) Peanut Butter has inspired thousands of kid chefs to reinvent the peanut butter sandwich for the chance of earning a fund for college. This year, in the 10th Annual Jif Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest(tm), families can foster creativity in the kitchen for a chance to win a $25,000 college fund, plus $10,000 to purchase educational products.
-Sandwiches will be judged on creativity, taste, nutritional balance, appearance and ease of preparation.
-10 semi-finalists will be selected to compete in a national online vote in January.
-Five finalists will be selected to compete at a live judging event in New York City in March.
-Four runners up will each receive $2,500 college funds.
Visit www.jif.com and www.jifenespanol.com between July 28 and October 12 for Official Rules and the entry form. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., between 6 and 12 years of age by October 12, 2011. Contests void where prohibited. See Official Rules for complete details.
The 2011 winner was 8-year-old Margalit M. of Raleigh, N.C. for her Wushu Chicken Tacos, pairing Jif Creamy Peanut Butter with chicken, asparagus and squash, all wrapped in a tortilla. Check out these other winning recipes for inspiration.
Wushu Chicken Tacos - 2011 Winner
Margalit M., Raleigh, N.C.
1/2 cup diced rotisserie chicken
1/4 cup asparagus pieces, about 1 inch long
1/4 cup yellow squash pieces
2 fajita-size flour tortillas (6-inch)
2 lime wedges, optional
Fresh ginger slice, 1/8 inch thick, peeled and cut in half
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons Jif Creamy Peanut Butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3/8 teaspoon chili paste with garlic
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 1/4 teaspoons sesame oil
3 1/2 teaspoons water
Chop ginger and garlic in food processor as finely as possible. Add next seven ingredients and process until sauce is completely smooth. If sauce is too thick, add more water. If sauce is too thin, add more peanut butter.
Toss about half the sauce with chicken and put aside in a covered bowl.
Boil about 1 inch of water in a large skillet and add asparagus. Cover skillet and turn off heat. In 1 to 3 minutes, lift off cover and remove asparagus using tongs.
Cut off ends of squash and cut into half-moon pieces. Put 1/4 cup squash pieces into microwave-safe bowl and add a little water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave about 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool slightly and carefully drain off water.
Place tortillas in microwave and cook about 15 seconds, or until warm and bend easily.
Put chicken in tortillas, top with asparagus and squash and drizzle with additional peanut butter sauce. Serve with optional lime wedges.
Do you make a side dish that's been a family fave for years? Or are you bored with the same old sides? Let's join up & share Thanksgiving side dish recipes. Maybe you'll start a new tradition or wake everyone from their tryptophan stupor with a new taste.
Go to the MomTalk Community and join the group Thanksgiving Side Dish Sampler.
Then start a discussion in the group, using the recipe name as the title. Piece o' cake (or pie, given the season).
Let's see if we can't refresh each other's Thanksgiving table!
Note: You'll have to join the community first, but that'll just take a minute.
Just when I thought we had no Thanksgiving tradition at all, my daughter taught me that tradition is simply whatever we do.
When I was a kid my mother rose early on Thanksgiving morning to wrestle with the turkey and jam it full of rosemary-scented stuffing before putting it in the oven. The house smelled of that heavenly rosemary all day long.
Back then we only had eight TV channels and all attention was on the one showing the Hudson's Thanksgiving Day Parade, with its school bands and toy commercials. My siblings and I jumped up and down screaming when Santa appeared on his sleigh, ushering in the Christmas season.
My dad was seldom around, but mom was amazing and managed to get everything on the table by herself, including the crispy turkey, creamy mashed potatoes and her fabulous stuffing. To this day, anytime I get a whiff of rosemary, I'm right back at that happy table.
But those were the olden days.
Today, my 6- and 8-year-old daughters have little interest in watching the Macy's-Target-American-Whozit's Parade that plays on one of our 120 channels. They're too busy with the Disney Channel or the Internet. But I can't really complain. I'm hardly the ideal Thanksgiving mom myself. I simply don't love the cleaning or cooking required to get through the day.
Yet nearly every Thanksgiving I end up hosting my family for the big meal. I try to get out of it, begging my mother or sister Cathy to host, but the bird duties always land on my doorstep. They say I have more space and somehow that makes it fair. Yeah, right.
The only saving grace is that while I have to clean my house, dig out the dusty platters and buy the food, at least it's not my elbow poking out of that turkey's hiney. Cathy and mom come over and play top chef in my kitchen. I focus my limited skills on the grunt work and my two specialties--devilled eggs and mashed potatoes.
But this year I had a new idea. Why not go out for Thanksgiving? There's absolutely no downside. We can get all dressed up and pay a charming waiter to ply us with food and drink till we can barely move. The only hard work will be lifting our overstuffed bodies from the restaurant table and squeezing them back into the car. What difference does it make? We hardly have a Thanksgiving tradition of our own.
The idea was a hit. My mom declared her turkey days over. My husband was thrilled I'd be in a good mood this Thanksgiving. Even my sister was beginning to weaken, when I suddenly made an about face and decided to do Thanksgiving after all.
Blame it on my daughter Patti. Apparently in her eight years on the scene, she's decided we're steeped in Thanksgiving tradition.
Our tradition is my coaxing them to watch the parade. It's having Grandma and Aunt Cathy argue and laugh with me while making a mess in my kitchen. It's playing with their cousin Trése and even watching me tussle with their dad over bringing those darned chairs up from the basement.
And it turns out that Patti loves my devilled eggs as much as I love my mom's rosemary stuffing. She begged me to have Thanksgiving at home.
So I'm doing Thanksgiving. And since mom says she's retired from turkeys for good, I have to cook it, too. But that's OK. Now I know I'm making more than just a meal. I'm making traditions and memories that will stay with my girls their whole lives.
It's a breathtaking responsibility, but one I realize I'm thankful for.
With after school activities, late workdays and long commutes or carpools, many families struggle to find time to sit down together to eat dinner. When they do, the meal may consist of prepackaged or fast food options, which can increase food costs and skimp on good nutrition.
What's a busy parent to do? While a home cooked weeknight meal may sound labor-intensive, it can really payoff economically, nutritionally and environmentally - all in the form of leftovers.
Child nutrition expert and mother Jodie Shield, RD, understands the challenges families face in trying to balance full calendars and tight checkbooks while serving nutritious and delicious meals. "Busy moms don't always have time to plan ahead and make two meals each day," said Shield. "Transforming last night's dinner into tomorrow's brown bag lunch, for my kids or myself, can save time and maximize budgets without cutting corners on nutrition."
Shield's tips - which incorporate plenty of nutritious vegetables - will help parents prepare family meals that stretch from dinner to lunch:
* Presto, chango! Transform last night's meatloaf into tasty tacos - crumble ground beef or turkey and sautÈ with taco seasoning. Enjoy wrapped in a soft whole-wheat tortilla or layered over shredded lettuce as a salad; add diced tomato and onions, low-fat cheese and a drizzle of Ranch light dressing.
* Kids like 'em hot! Reheat leftover vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, sweet potato or snap beans) in the oven at 400∞ F for about 10 minutes. Let cool five minutes, then serve warm with ranch dressing to dip.
* Get egg-cited for dinner! Serve your family a backward breakfast for dinner. Use leftover veggies like tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and new potatoes, and whip up a southwestern omelet, frittata or quiche.
For more great recipes, nutrition tips and activities, visit LoveYourVeggies.com.
1 bag (10 oz.) washed salad greens
1 can (15 ¼ oz.) Whole Kernel Sweet Corn , drained
1 (7 oz.) pouch or 2 (3 oz.) pouches Tuna, (Chunk Light or Albacore)
1 can (15 oz.) 50% less salt black beans , rinsed and drained
½ cup low-fat ranch dressing
½ cup mild or medium salsa
Place salad greens in large bowl.
Top with black beans, corn, and tuna.
Drizzle with dressing and salsa. Toss before serving.
BLUE CHEESE GREEN BEAN SALAD
1/3 cup blue cheese or gorgonzola cheese
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) Cut Green Beans , drained
1 cup red and yellow cherry tomatoes , halved
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sliced green onions
Mash cheese with oil and vinegar in bowl.
Toss with beans, tomatoes, walnuts and onions.
Serve on a bed of Romaine lettuce, if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired
HEALTHY SALAD TIPS for a slimmer summer
Limit extras like croutons and bacon bits
Use a variety of greens like spinach, leaf lettuce, arugula, dandelion greens, kale, watercress and basil leaves - full of flavor and nutrition!
Don't pile on fried meat - use heart healthy tuna -- a quick, easy protein (much lower in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than many other protein choices) that works for lunch or dinner.
Keep your pantry stocked with salad-friendly canned veggies to add pizzazz (and extra nutrients!) to your salad
Try squeezing some fresh lemon and olive oil on your salad, or use salsa, instead of drenching your salad with dressing