Wednesday, December 29, 2010

NEW (I swear!) Lunch Ideas for Kids

While browsing through Ross a few weeks ago, as we all do from time to time ("Oh that yellow tea kettle would look amazing on my stove!" "Ooooh those heels are CUTE... and CHEAP!" "Oh yeah I DO need new bath towels!"), I came across their children's book section.  (Ross sells books??)  And while browsing through the randomly shelved books, I came across this little beauty:
Sesame Street Silly Snacks; Cooking with Kids.  For $3.50 (compare at $10.00... yay Ross!) I picked up oodles of new lunch and snack ideas that my toddler, and probably most other young kids, will actually consider eating!  Unbelievable!  I LOVE finding new lunch ideas for kids because they are so darn picky and don't want to eat anything healthy (even though that's all we ever have in the house!) and if I have to make one more box of organic mac 'n cheese I might barf! 
I want to share a few of my favorites with you, in case you feel the same way.  Right now.  Because I like you.

Lily Pads
2 Cups packed fresh baby spinach leaves (about half of a 6 oz bag)
2 eggs
1 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 Cup all-purpose flour (or a little less if using whole wheat)
1/2 Cup low-fat milk (although I always use whole, and find that 1/4 Cup is plenty)
Slices of your fave cheese

1. Put the spinach in a bowl of a food processor.  Pulse on and off until the spinach is coarsely chopped.  Add the eggs,, butter, salt, sugar and nutmeg.  Process until combined.
2.  Add the flour and process until combined.  Add the milk and process until the batter is smooth.
3.  In the meantime, lay the slices of cheese on a cutting board.  Cut out circles using a 1 1/2 inch cookie cutter.  Save the scraps for another snack.
4.  Heat a skillet over medium heat and brush lightly with butter (or spray with cooking spray).  Drizzle the batter onto the skillet in circles about 2 inches in diameter (like a silver dollar pancake).  Cook 1 minute or until the edges turn dull.  Flip each Lily Pad, then top as many as you wish with the cheese circles.  (I don't have a circle cookie cutter, so I sprinkle parmesan on top of each one.)
5.  Cover and cook and additional 30 seconds or until the cheese melts a little.  Remove the Lily Pads to a plate and repeat the steps with the remaining batter.

Yam Yums
1 large (or 2 medium) sweet potatoes
1/2 Cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp butter, melted
Salt and black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line a large baking sheet with foil.
2.  Cut the scrubbed but unpeeled sweet potato crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Place the slices on a cutting board.  To make the Yam Yums, use small metal cookie cutters about 1 1/2 inches in diameter to cut the potato slices into shapes.  Or, cut out shapes or letter with a sharp knife.  Save the scraps for another use.
3.  Stir together the maple syrup, orange juice and melted butter in a small bowl.
4.  Arrange the Yam Yums in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
5.  Season both sides of the Yam Yums with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Brush them generously with part of the maple syrup mixture.
6.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the Yam Yums are tender, turning the pieces over once and basting with the remaining maple syrup mixture.
7.  Remove the Yam Yums to a wire rack or platter and cool.

Frosty Orange Bowls (for a breakfast, side or dessert)
2 small navel oranges
1 container (6 oz) orange, lemon, or vanilla yogurt (the thicker the better)

1.  Wash the oranges.
2.  Cut off a quarter to a half inch or the orange from one end (taking the "top" off), revealing the pulp.  Cut a small amount of orange peel off the other end (giving a flat surface so the orange will stand up straight, acting as your bowl).
3.  Carefully cut the pulp from each orange with a small knife, grapefruit knife, or grapefruit spoon.  Save the empty orange shells for step 5.  (Ok, I think this is the tricky step.  The first time I tried these I used all the pulp as well as all the juice from inside the orange.  It works much better of you can use mostly just the pulp and save most of the juice for something else.)
4.  Place the orange pulp and the yogurt in a blender container.  Cover and process until almost smooth, about 12 seconds.
5.  Spoon the orange mixture into the reserved orange shells, slightly mounding the mixture on the top.  (Pour any remaining mixture in a small cup to be eaten now or frozen for later.)
6.  Place the oranges in a small container or individual custard cups.  Loosely wrap each with plastic wrap.  Freeze about 1 hour or until slightly firm and frosty.
These can be wrapped tightly and frozen overnight and up to several days.  Let stand at room temperature 15-30 minutes to soften before eating.

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