Matoke (Plantain Stew)

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This hearty stew brought international flair to our kitchen tonight; the plantain-based dish is similar to those traditionally served at birthday celebrations in Kenya, a nice little addendum to some birthday learning Travis has recently enjoyed.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces meatless crumbles
  • 3 ripe plantains, peeled and chopped
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups water
  1. Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and meatless crumbles; cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chopped plantains and potatoes, then cover with the water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender.

 

 

Fairy Bread

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If children could invent a snack, Fairy Bread would probably be it. This treat, apparently popular at birthday parties in Australia, sure made our after-school snack feel like a treat!

Spread Earth Balance butter on slices of white bread. Trim off the crusts.

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Sprinkle with rainbow sprinkles to taste, then cut into triangles. I prepared the first slice for Travis, but let him be in charge of the sprinkles for the second.

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Clearly this indulgence is meant to be a once-in-a-while treat, but it sure put a big smile on his face today!

Mini Tamale Pies

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The final recipe from Travis’s Holiday Traditions Raddish Kids’ kit were these mini tamales, to make honor of Three Kings’ Day!

The vegan suggestion to replace 1 pound chicken was 1 can of unseasoned jackfruit. It was unclear if this needed to be baked in advance, as the chicken was. Instead, we skipped ahead to making the dough and then preparing the filling. We also could not find masa corn flour at the store, which meant using regular cornmeal. Although I knew this meant our dough base wouldn’t quite taste authentic, I also knew Travis wouldn’t notice the difference. Use true masa flour if you can find it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup vegetable broth, divided
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 (14-ounce) can jackfruit
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup diced mild green chiles
  • 1 cup shredded non-dairy cheese
  • 1/2 cup canned corn
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, optional
  1. To prepare the dough, stir together the cornmeal, baking powder, 2/3 cup broth, and canola oil in a large bowl. Stir to form a soft dough.Mini Tamales (3)
  2. Divide evenly among 12 muffin cups, using about a heaping tablespoon per cup. Press carefully into the bottoms and up the sides of the cups.Mini Tamales (4)
  3. To prepare the filling, drain and chop the jackfruit. Combine the jackfruit in a bowl with the garlic powder, salt, green chiles, cheese, corn, and remaining 1/3 cup broth. Spoon a heaping 1/4 cup filling into each muffin cup.Mini Tamales (6)
  4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan at least 10 minutes, then gently remove.
  5. Sprinkle with the cilantro before serving if desired. We skipped this step because our cilantro was a bit wilted!

The recipe card featured additional information on traditional tamale-making parties, as well as a matching game for holiday foods from other countries.

After the recipe, Travis and I did a mini lesson on Winter Festivals Around the World, starting with this kooky video. I checked out a host of books from the library about winter festivals, and as we read each one we pinpointed the corresponding country on a world map.

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This was a nice way to place our recent Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in context of the multitude of festivals worldwide. Raddish provided a helpful chart to make notes of where each holiday was celebrated, along with any traditional foods or celebration highlights.

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We wish we’d been able to attend a real Three Kings’ Day celebration, but perhaps next year!

Gingerbread Cookies

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The first day of the year always seems like the perfect day to nest, perhaps not even to get the kids out of their pajamas, to let everyone sleep in a little later (we made it to 7!) and of course, for baking or other food fun. Today, Travis woke up having dreamed about cookies, so we quickly set about making real ones, using a recipe from his Raddish Kids Holiday Traditions kit.

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 3 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 3/4 cup Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses

For the icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plain non-dairy creamer
  1. To prepare the dough, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add the Ener-egg and molasses; beat until combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until you form a dough.
  4. Divide the dough into two equal portions and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.Gingerbread Cookies (1)
  5. Once chilled, dust a cutting boat with flour and roll one portion of the dough to about 1/4-inch thick. (Note: alternatively roll the dough thinner for crispier gingerbread, but we like ours a bit soft and chewy). Raddish provided a gingerbread cookie cutter that made generously-sized people! Gingerbread Cookies (2)
  6. Place the cookie shapes on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Gather the scraps of dough and repeat until the sheets are filled, then bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes.Gingerbread Cookies (4)
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the icing: whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and creamer. Add more powdered sugar if your icing seems too thin or more creamer if it seems too thick. Raddish also provided a piping bottle, and Travis loved using this to apply the icing! That meant some of our gingerbread people had big globs, but some featured more traditional eyes, smiles, and buttons.

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These made for the perfect winter snack! We made up silly gingerbread man rhymes while he noshed and learned more about the history of gingerbread houses from the recipe card. Happy 2020!

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Crispy Potato Latkes

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This recipe from Travis’s Holiday Traditions Raddish Kids crate makes latkes that are cooked in the oven, not fried. Still, the recipe was a great deal oilier and saltier than we normally cook in our home, but as a special treat for the holiday, it was worth the indulgence. Travis loved all the steps involved to peel and grate the potatoes!

First, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 3 large potatoes and cook for 20 minutes.

Transfer the potatoes carefully to a large bowl filled with ice. Travis loved watching them cool, and heaping extra ice over them.

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The skins will begin to slip off as the potatoes cool. Use a peeler to carefully peel the rest of the way, then use the large holes of a box grater to shred the potatoes. Transfer to a large bowl.

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Add 2 Ener-G eggs, 1/2 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and 2 teaspoons salt to the shredded potato. Mix well.

Divide the mixture into 16 portions, about 1/4 cup each, and arrange on 2 baking sheets covered with greased foil (8 latkes per sheet). Coat the bottom of a measuring cup with cooking spray and press each portion into a circle.

Drizzle each baking sheet with 3 tablespoons canola oil and sprinkle each with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. Flip the latkes and bake an additional 10 minutes, until browned and crisp.

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We like these with non-dairy sour cream and applesauce. For the latter, use store-bought or cinnamon-laced homemade!

The recipe card featured a little background on traditional Hanukkah foods, as well as lots of suggestions for family traditions to uphold or begin. We know we love the following recommendations: checking out neighborhood holiday lights; reading holiday books; donating to charities; gifting baked goods to friends; and of course making holiday cookies!

Homemade Applesauce

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Sure, store-bought applesauce is super convenient. But there’s something so cozy about simmering a big pot of apples and cinnamon over the stove, making this recipe well worth your while!

Ingredients:

  • 4 large apples
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Peel and core the apples, and cut into 1 inch chunks.Homemade Applesauce (1)
  2. Transfer the apples to a large pot, along with the water, lemon juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until the apples are soft. Homemade Applesauce (2)
  4. Let the apple mixture cool slightly, then transfer to a blender and process until smooth.

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Flavor Bases Around the Globe

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It can be hard to get kids to try new flavors; Travis might enjoy eating his vegan chick’n nuggets, for example, but he doesn’t want them spiced in a new way! So I appreciated this unit on flavor bases from around the world, part of a lesson to go with the Raddish Kids‘ recipe Travis prepared for chickpea soup, one that used a French mirepoix as the base.

I kept the lesson very light for a kindergartner. We watched a quick video on how to chop a mirepoix (carrots, onion, celery), and then discussed how an aromatic base might differ in other countries, whether with a different fat (coconut oil in parts of Asia) or different aromatics (ginger, garlic).  Older kids can delve into math ratios for the best flavor here!

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The true challenge was to cook one protein in three different flavor bases. I knew Travis would never have the patience to prepare three recipes, but instead presented him with three sauces to spice his chick’n at lunch. We checked them out on a world map next to their countries, first!

He loved dipping into each. “Not the favorite,” he declared after one bite of Chinese hoisin sauce. Indian masala got a maybe, but Mexican taco sauce was the clear winner. He kept asking for more!

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Have fun flipping through food magazines or cookbooks as a finale to the lesson. Travis pointed out recipes that interested him, and I helped read the ingredients that went into the flavor base. This is a great way to get your little chef thinking even deeper about food and culture.

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Flavored Salts

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Homemade gifting fun continues, this time with a set of flavored salts we knew would be just right for a special family member this Christmas. Kids will love using a funnel to put the gift together.

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For each salt, Travis and I started with a base of 1/4 cup kosher salt. Then we made the following 3 variations:

Herbs and Garlic: Add 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, and 1 minced garlic clove

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Orange Rosemary: Add 1 teaspoon grated orange rind and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

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Chile Lime: Add 1 teaspoon grated lime rind, 1 teaspoon chile powder, and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

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Use the funnel to fill mini mason jars with each salt.

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We decided to keep a fourth flavor for ourselves: lemon pepper! Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind and 1 teaspoon black pepper to the mix. Store in an air-tight container.

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Rad Dog Treats

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We’ve been busy making holiday gifts for family and friends this year, but don’t forget any canine friends on your Christmas giving list! Travis loved making these dog treats (care of Raddish Kids) for his cousin’s dog.

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup flour
  1. Mash the banana in a large bowl. Stir in the peanut butter, then the flour, stirring well until you form a ball. If your dough is too floury, you can add up to 1/4 cup water, but we found we didn’t need any.Rad Dog Treats (1)
  2. Roll the ball to 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and set on a baking sheet. You can choose a classic dog bone shape, but Travis opted for holiday candy canes. We later added a few stocking shapes, too.Rad Dog Treats (3)
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Yes, your kids can eat these right alongside the puppy recipient! Travis loved eating one as a cookie, and little sister Veronika was a big fan of nibbling at the dough!

Fortune Cookie Gifts

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Travis and I hope to prepare several homemade Christmas gifts this year. This easy twist on fortune cookies is sure to bring a smile to the recipient’s face! It’s what Travis will be gifting to his bus driver this year as well as to a few special neighbors.

You can order fortune cookies online through Amazon, although many packages come in huge bulk quantities. I found one retailer with a more moderate quantity of 50, which was the perfect amount.

To decorate the cookies, heat 6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals, until melted.

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Working with one cookie at a time, dip half of it in the melted chocolate, then roll in sprinkles for decoration. White ones made a beautiful contrast to the dark chocolate!

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Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let stand until the chocolate is completely set.

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Travis loved cracking open a few extra cookies to read fortunes as we worked!

To package these, I purchased Christmas-themed takeout containers at the craft store.

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As an alternative, look for clear takeout containers and decorate with holiday stickers. Line each container with wax paper and nestle in about 7 to 8 fortune cookies.

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Add gift tags as a finishing touch!