Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars alt

We’re starting to get in the mood for all our favorite Thanksgiving dishes, thanks to Travis’s Gourmet Gobble kit from Raddish Kids. This recipe is a fun spin on pumpkin pie, and a bit more kid-friendly to prepare. I love watching Travis’s confidence in the kitchen grow, particularly his insistence on using the stand mixer all by himself for this recipe.

Pumpkin Cheeseback Bars (2)


  • 5 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 1 (10-ounce) package gingersnap cookies (such as Mi-Del)
  • 16 ounces vegan cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  1. To prepare the crust, heat the butter in the microwave for about 40 seconds, or until melted. Meanwhile, transfer the gingersnaps to a blender or food processor and grind into fine crumbs.
  2. Measure 1 and 1/4 cups gingersnap crumbs and stir into the melted butter. (Reserve the remaining gingersnaps for another use). Press the butter mixture into the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until creamy.
  4. Whisk the cornstarch into the cold water to make vegan eggs. Add the cornstarch mixture to the cream cheese mixture, along with the flour and salt; beat until combined.
  5. Remove 1/2 cup cream cheese mixture from the bowl and set aside.
  6. Add the pumpkin and pumpkin pie space to the remaining cream cheese mixture and beat until combined. Pour over the prepared gingersnap crust.
  7. Transfer the reserved 1/2 cup cream cheese mixture to a zip-top plastic bag and seal; snip a small hole in one bottom corner and pipe onto the pumpkin batter in any design you like. Travis chose a spiral! Straight geometric lines or dollops would also look pretty. Run a toothpick through whatever design you’ve chosen, to swirl together.
  8. Bake at 325 degrees F for 40 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until firm, then cut into squares to serve.

Pumpkin Cheeseback Bars (4)

Make Your Own Diving Fish

Diving Fish (2)

This quick STEM project was intended as an extension of recent coral reef play for Travis, but it turned out that little sister Veronika loved it even more! There’s nothing like a good reaction of baking soda and vinegar to bring smiles in the morning.

Fill a tall clear container with 2 cups water. Make sure there is still room at the top of the container to add more liquid (e.g. a flower vase might work better than a drinking glass, unless you have very tall ones).

Diving Fish (1)

Add 1 tablespoon baking soda to the glass and then pour in 1/2 cup vinegar.

Working quickly, start adding “fish”. These can be just about anything light and small from the kitchen. We used raisins, but dried beans or rice would work, too!

“They’re swimming!” Veronika exclaimed with delight. We added the vinegar in increments, so each time our little fish would be set swimming anew.

The magical work of producing carbon dioxide!

Straw-Threaded Shoestring Necklace

Straw-Beaded Necklace (6)

Veronika is just starting to love dress-up, especially adorning herself with ribbons, beaded bracelets, and other accessories. She’s also at the perfect age to hone the fine motor skills needed for threading. So this activity combined the two perfectly!

To start, I set out a tray with colorful paper straws and her safety scissors. She wasn’t strong enough to cut through the straws, but she loved trying! Meanwhile, I worked alongside her and snipped each straw into several smaller pieces.

Straw-Beaded Necklace (2)

Give your toddler a shoelace or craft lace, and show him or her how to poke the tip into each piece of straw, then pull all the way through.

Straw-Beaded Necklace (3)

Veronika was delighted when she could do this alone, working with such concentration on her face. It was harder for her to pull the lace all the way through, but a little mommy assistance did the trick.

Straw-Beaded Necklace (5)

She loved deciding which color straw piece we should add next! Once the lace was full, I tied it into a knot so she could wear it as a necklace.

Straw-Beaded Necklace (7)

My little fashionista! She had so much fun that we made a second one for mommy to wear, too.

Straw-Beaded Necklace (4)