Tag Archives: cooking


25 Family Friendly Food Ideas


A veritable cornucopia of ideas for kid friendly food that’s fun to make, healthy, that the kids can make- you name it. Here’s a sampling of some of the categories on offer for you:

  • easy after-school snacks
  • picky eater solutions
  • vitamin packed snacks
  • kid and adult friendly meals
  • gluten free desserts
  • + 20 more
Lots of good ideas here- check it out!

Family Meals – Recipes for Kids – Parenting.com.

Muddy Buddies Snack

Muddy Buddy Snacks

Muddy Buddies Snack

Photo from messforless.com

Here’s an easy cereal based snack the kids can put together themselves and everybody can enjoy 30 minutes later (15 minutes cooling time). Provided nobody has peanut allergies, it could be a party snack served in paper muffin cups.

There’s a full picture tutorial with the recipe, and your kids may even be able to follow without you being much involved. Thanks to messforless.com for the recipe and instructions.


9 Cookies

Homemade Cookies To Go

9 CookiesHave fun and save money with homemade cookie party favors. It’s something you can do with the birthday child to get him or her involved in the party prep and cooking together is always quality time well spent.

You can find number cookie cutters quite inexpensively– under $10 at Amazon and they make the perfect party favor cookie. But any fun shape will work just as well.

Thanks to the creative mom over at rocksinthedryer.typepad.com for sharing her cookie party favor ideas. She uses simple sugar cookies and even provides a recipe link for you. Make the dough ahead- it’s best after it’s been refrigerated anyways. Roll out, cut and bake the cookies another day, and decorate on yet another day. Spread out like this the process doesn’t become overwhelming.

Here’s the best idea yet- decorate with the icing in a squirt bottle, such as for picnic ketchup. Just about every party cookie afficianado I’ve read raves about Royal Icing, and it’s easy to make. Tint with food coloring- remember that the gel food coloring gives more intense colors. Dots, lines, and squiggles are all easy to make with the squirt bottle, and well within the capabilities of your birthday child.

Wrap your creations in clear cellophane bags (you can find these at Amazon too) with a cute label you’ve made with your computer and printer. Your label can be a “Thank You for coming to my 9th Birthday Party!”

DONE! And you spent very little money on these party favors and have had an enjoyable time making them with your birthday child.

Making Cookies

Cookie Making Birthday Party Theme

Making CookiesAlways fun for kids, and now at Holiday time, this traditonal family activity can work especially well as your birthday party theme (although it works great any time of year- when isn’t it cookie time?). Hats off to this New Jersey mom for turning cookie parties into a business, even with a permanent Cookie Party space inside the Times Square Toys ‘R Us, but your own kitchen will work just fine.

Depending on the age of your party kids, they can do it all or they can just do the decorating, or somewhere in between. You make the dough, you buy the pre-made sugar cookie dough, they make the dough. You provide the baked but unadorned cookies, or they bake them. You have different colored icings ready for them or you let them at it with the sugar and the food coloring. The choices are yours to make. You will need to provide the cookie cutters plus sprinkles etc. if you want to include these types of cookie decorations as well as the icing.

Plenty of inexpensive plastic table cloths draped (even taped down) over every available work surface should keep your kitchen intact. If they’ll be decorating on tables outside the kitchen, cover those and remember to protect your floors/rugs as well. I recommend lots of damp washcloths or baby wipes for sticky fingers.

Have the music going, sodas and snacks available, plus not very sharp knives (plastic will do) for spreading all the icings. Show the kids how to use plastic bags with a tiny corner cut out with a small amount of icing placed inside as a pastry bag for making designs with the icing.

Paper plates and colored cellophane with curling ribbon makes the cookies a pretty take home party favor too.

A cookie party at home isn’t all that different from going somewhere to do a specific craft, but it IS a whole lot cheaper!


Popcorn Balls

PopcornPopcorn is a snacking staple in my house, and it has made an appearance at every kids birthday party we’ve ever had, but I never thought to do popcorn balls! They’re way more fun, prettier when you include a little food coloring, and can actually be a party activity if your hosting a cooking party or something to keep them busy at a sleepover. So my thanks to Nancy Myers for reminding me about popcorn balls in the post over at  LJWorld.com about cooking with kids.

Use your air popper or the microwave popcorn, and even little kids can manage to make popcorn balls without too much help. You should probably be in charge of melting the marshmallows, margarine and corn syrup, but they can do the measuring and some stirring. And since they are in fact a bit messy to make, they’ll love it!

You’ll find a good recipe, at least according to the reviews, for popcorn balls over at allrecipes.com. Ms. Myers in her article does suggest the food coloring, but I’d keep the shades pastel (ie not too much food coloring) so the hands don’t get totally stained.

The kids will make the popcorn balls by shaping the gooey mixture with their hands– the messy/fun part! Have them coat their hands with either vegatable shortening or margarine so the mixture doesn’t stick to them. Have some colored cellophane and curling ribbon to wrap any they don’t eat to take home. And plenty of soap and towels for cleaning up the hands.

I love it when fun party food can actually be a birthday party activity and get the kids having fun being creative in the kitchen. It’s all to the good. You can even just make them with your kids or have them make popcorn balls for the family some home movie night.

Bear Face Pancake

Slumber Party Fun-Cakes

Thanks to howdini.com and Betty Crocker Kitchens for this great pancake idea for your next slumber party. Nothing is more fitting for a sleepover party than pancakes – and they can be served either in the evening or the morning to give the kids both something to do and something eat.

From personal experience, if you plan this as a morning activity I’d recommend getting everyone up at least an hour (preferably more) before the scheduled pick up time as they’ll be sleepy and slow until they get going. With some always having a game or something requiring early pick up, doing this in the evening can be a better bet.

The squeeze bottle for the batter is the key to letting your party kids make their own pancakes (assuming they’re old enough). The second important component here is to have a griddle big enough for the kids to gather around so it’s a group activity. Ask around and try to borrow one, or you can buy one for around $20 (as of this writing, at walmart.com) and then have fun with it with your own family’s pancake making after the party.

Your garnishes/decorations will be chocolate chips, blueberries, strawberries, banana circles, and of course whipped cream and syrup. Either set up your laptop and show the kids the video and then turn them loose, or make the pig and initials yourself to get them going. Don’t forget about funny faces with mustaches (bacon or lots of chocolate chips), hats (whipped cream), beards (as for mustaches). Perhaps you can make a face pancake while the kids make their first ones, and then they’ll get the idea.

It’s an extra bonus when your planned party food can also be part of your planned activities and help to keep the kids busy, especially when you’ve got them for all the long hours of a slumber party.


Healthy Hurry-Up Breakfast

SmoothieSchool’s back in session, and on hectic weekday mornings we all know how hard it can be to get a good breakfast in them before they head out the door. Having learned a lot about good nutrition as I try to lose some accumulated pounds, I’ve found a good solution to this problem I want to share with parents.

Protein is a key component of human nutrition and it’s the one most responsible for keeping us feeling full. It’s also the toughest to get at breakfast unless your making ham and eggs for your crowd every morning. The carbohydrates in cereal, especially the sugared up ones in kids cereal, are not a good replacement for the protein, and the sugar’s just a bad deal.

But a protein powder based smoothie gets them what they need to get to lunch without being distracted by hunger pangs. Protein powder is generally dairy based, so it’s not for the lactose intolerant. It’s not cheap, but then again the sugared up cereal is exorbitant in price, so it’s a very fair trade. Personally, I use ProGrade Workout protein powder (internet only), but you can find other brands at health food stores and Whole Foods.

Here’s the recipe I find has tons of taste and keeps the hunger away for hours. Follow the protein powder directions for the powder and the liquid, but cut the liquid back a bit- say from 1 cup if that’s what the manufacturer recommends to 3/4 of a cup. If your child doesn’t really need the extra calories in milk, go with water instead, and fill the measuring cup with ice up to your chosen amount, then add the water or milk. The more ice and the less liquid, the thicker the smoothie. Add 2 large or 3 small strawberries and 1/2 a peeled kiwi and blend it up good in your blender. It’s quite delicious.

You can whip this up in just a few short minutes in the morning, especially if you’ve cut up the berries and kiwi the night before. They can drink it while they get dressed, while they fuss in front of the mirror, while they gather up their homework- so it gets into them.

When I find good parenting advice that can be helpful as I’m searching the web for birthday party ideas, I feel compelled to pass them along.

Revolting Recipes

Recipes from a Twisted Mind

Revolting RecipesThe PERFECT gift for anyone who has enjoyed the twisted mind that created James and Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits, Mathilda, The Witches and so many other wonderful books. Raold Dahl was an absolute favorite in our house and had I known about this cookbook they’d have been in the kitchen making every one of these disgusting sounding recipes.

Of course, they only SOUND revolting. A nice serving of Stink Bugs Eggs sound good about now? You KNOW it will to the kids. Or maybe you’d like some Scrambled Dregs? Actually, the reviewers at Amazon indicate things taste really good!

Most of the recipes contained in these 64 pages do require some adult supervision, but for my money giving a gift that also gives quality time for parents and their children is a double good thing. And the part I like best is that maybe some of the recipes will even inspire some reading of books as yet unread. It’s hard to think of an author that’s more fun for the kids to read. And reading is always good.

Come to think of it, this book might be great as the star of a cooking party for kids at the upper end of their elementary school years- age 9 and up.  Follow the cooking up with one of the videos of his great books.

The gift of laughter is always precious, so these Revolting Recipes makes a marvelous birthday gift.

Muffin Cup Snacks

Muffin Cup SnackThere’s more to feeding the ever-hungry kids at your birthday party than just cake and ice cream. If you want them to stay focused for your planned activities, and yes you do, a little fuel along the way can help.

Your party snacks don’t have to be the usual salty, sugary junk food.  Here’s a great cereal based recipe that they’ll love, and that they can even make themselves at the beginning of your party to use up some activity time. Just let it cool and they can devour at will. Perfect if you’re hosting a cooking party- they can make this first, cool it off and then nosh as they cook your other goodies.

And this reminds me of the versatility of muffin cups – perfect for individual servings and pretty to boot. Buy good looking ones, or make them to complement your party theme as per the instructions below, and fill them with healthy fruit bits like berries and nuts, mini-pretzels, grapes, etc.

If you feel creative and have a few minutes to spare, you can make your own muffin cups that tie right in with your party theme. As I’m always saying, use graphics and clip art that you find on line. Re-size and re-orient them to paste around the edges of the paper circles  you’ll be pressing into muffin cups as per these directions. Or, place them in the center to be ‘seen’ when the snack is all gone and the muffin cup is empty.

Muffin cup snacks are a great way to limit their sugar intake with reasonably sized portions as opposed to huge and multiple handfuls that create that dreaded sugar high. So use this technique with or without fancy themed graphics on the cups to add to your party snacks without adding to the kinetic intensity of your party.