A Whale of a Roll

 

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When you’ve been having a whale of a good time with your Baleen Whale crate from Kiwi Co., you continue the fun with these adorable whale bread rolls. These would be fantastic in a bento box, if you’re into lunchtime art!

To start, Travis made ovals about the size of his fist from store-bought bread dough, which we arranged on a baking sheet.

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Shape smaller portions of dough into the fins and tails. (Note: he had trouble shaping the tails, so I made a rough V-shape for each, which he stuck to the whale bodies).

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Next we pressed a raisin into each “whale” for an eye; make sure to press these in quite deep, or they will pop out during baking.

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Use kitchen scissors to snip a small slice into the front of each whale, and pull open slightly to make a mouth.

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Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes.

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Let cool, then poke a hole in the top for each blowhole – a straw worked nicely.

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As the finishing touch, I cut Daiya cheese sticks into small slices, and divided these into thirds to be the spouting water; carefully insert one water spout into each blowhole.

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Thar she blows!

 

Rosemary Focaccia

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The second recipe from Travis’s “Fireside Feast” Raddish kit was for focaccia – a true, yeast bread. I was quite impressed, since I didn’t make bread with yeast until I was in my twenties, and here I was coaching my four-year-old through the process!

The recipe said to start with warm water, and from my own baking days, I always make sure that the temp is between 100 and 110 degrees F before adding yeast. Travis loved helping use my thermometer, watching it inch up to 100.

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We put the warm water in a bowl and added 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 packet yeast, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. This was a great chance to talk about yeast: that it’s actually an alive microorganism. Travis couldn’t believe it, and loved learning that the yeast eats sugar, and then dies once it’s heated in the oven.

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Next we stirred in 4 and 1/4 cups flour and 1 tablespoon salt to the yeast mixture.

Turn the dough out onto a surface and knead for 8 minutes; the recipe helpfully featured kneading directions on the back. I was so proud of Travis getting the little heels of his hands right in there! This was definitely a messy recipe, but so worth the fun we had!

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Set the dough aside to rise for 1 hour, loosely covered with plastic wrap. Not in the recipe but a helpful tip: coat your bowl with cooking spray so the dough doesn’t stick.

Coat a baking sheet with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and turn the dough out onto the sheet. Flip over so both sides are coated in oil, and pat to the edges of the pan. Use your fingers to make holes in the dough, pressing all the way through to the pan.

Next we needed to explore rosemary. Your child can help strip the rosemary leaves from the stalks, and you can talk about the smell and appearance of it. Then mince to equal 1 tablespoon.

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Sprinkle the rosemary over the dough, along with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup vegan Parmesan sprinkles. Bake at 400 degrees F for 17 minutes.

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The recipe was done, but not the fun! The card suggested truly making this a fireside feast, but failing to have a fireplace in our apartment, I drew one on craft paper, and set up tealights and a picnic blanket.

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Travis loved that this was where we had dinner! We even added ambient sound from the internet for a crackling fire, and talked about how gathering at fires is one of the oldest human traditions alive. I asked Travis about other traditions he could think of, and we settled on singing songs.

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To continue the “fireside” fun, we returned at dessert time. This was super cozy, with mugs of hot cocoa, plus roasted chestnuts and marshmallows, even though we didn’t actually roast them over our fire.

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We played a round of Charades, and read a winter book (Jan Brett’s The Snowy Nap) for extra hygge points. Once again, I’m quite impressed with the depth of each lesson and recipe in Raddish Kids. Stay tuned for the final Fireside Feast recipe soon!

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Rainbow Sugar Cookies

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Kids are all too often over-scheduled these days, and I’m as guilty of it as the next parent. That’s why I love the afternoons that I deliberately keep wide open for my son and me. It’s the perfect excuse just to play or, one of our favorites, to bake! This cooking project is messy, that’s for sure, but so worth the smiles.

To start, we made a basic sugar cookie batter. In a bowl, cream together 2 sticks (1/2 pound) Earth Balance butter and 1 cup sugar using a wooden spoon or fork. Travis loved this step! Usually we use our stand mixer, and it was so fun to get in there with muscle power.

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Add 2 Ener-G eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, stirring until combined.

Carefully stir in 2 and 1/2 cups flour just until blended. Travis pretended he was a stand mixer on “slow” setting for this step. Loved it!

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Now for the messy part. Divide your dough into about 4 or 5 portions on a floured surface. Working with one portion at a time, knead in colors of the rainbow. We didn’t make a full rainbow, but soon had red, yellow, green, and blue portions, using the all-natural food coloring from Watkins.

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You’ll notice Travis took a moment to steal some leftover batter!

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Wrap each portion of dough individually in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour (longer is fine).

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When it’s time to bake, coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Pinch off a section of each color and roll into a long worm, then make rainbows on the baking sheet.

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Bake at 375 degrees F for 7 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and repeat with the remaining dough until gone. (Note: we made two batches today, and the dough easily freezes for future rainbow-making).

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Kid-Friendly Granola Bars

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These granola bars are kid-friendly in two senses – both to make them and to eat them – and they are chewier and have far less sugar than store-bought brands. Adults love ’em too, especially to nibble on before or after a workout! Feel free to vary the ingredients below depending what kind of nuts or dried fruit you have at home.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 and 2/3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/2 cups raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 6 tablespoons melted Earth Balance butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cane sugar syrup or corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, raisins, almonds, and coconut. Set aside.
  2. In a second bowl, whisk together the melted butter, vanilla, maple syrup, cane sugar syrup, and water.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, along with the peanut butter, and stir until the mixture is moist.
  4. Press into a 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. If it’s sticky, place a piece of plastic wrap on top so you can easily press the mixture into an even layer.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.

Note: Our bars came out a bit crumbly. I would add a little more liquid sweetener or water next time, for even better results!

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Baking Crate

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For my boy who loves helping in the kitchen, our latest crate from Koala Crate may have been the favorite of all we’ve received in 2 years of our subscription. A quick warning though: This crate is messy! But in the best way, of course. So grab some newspaper to cover your work surface and get “baking.”

First up, every chef needs a toque, so we decorated the Chef Hat that was project #1.  Squeeze the provided paint pens onto a paper plate, and use the provided foam shapes to decorate.

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Travis had fun dotting the stamps here and there, but I showed him a few of the suggestions in the instructions, too, combining shapes to make ice cream cones, lemons, or apples.

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More fun than the decorating was simply wearing it. Look at that baker’s joy!

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Next up was frosting the Pretend Cake project.

Squeeze out air-dry clay (from adorable little “pastry bags”) onto the provided foam triangles, and spread your frosting with a craft stick.

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Travis loved that this was just like a Daniel Tiger episode he had seen, and frosted all 8 pieces so seriously and carefully. I showed him how to stack them into a layer cake, and then we used the provided punch-out decorations to add berries and candles.

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Another quick note of warning: The toque and cake will both need to dry for several hours, so make sure your children know there will be a waiting period, to avoid disappointment! Travis was so happy once he could finally play.

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Next up was Measuring Fun, a far more technical and mathematical lesson about cooking, with almost endless variations. First, encourage your child to line up the cups by size.

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Then try filling the cups (which came in 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/4 cup and tablespoon denominations) with rice or another dried grain. Travis loved leveling with a spoon!

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We moved on to a wet ingredient (water). Get down at belly level and see the meniscus.

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Show your child how you need different numbers of each cup to make 1 cup of water – 2 of the 1/2 cup, 3 of the 1/3 cup and so on. And a whopping 16 tablespoons!

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I sort of lost Travis at this point, because he had his own game going, spooning the water into the dried grains and mixing up a “recipe” – a true chef!

There are 3 activity cards that go with the measuring cups, meaning we played for days thereafter. First up was the yellow card, with two color mixing activities: Rainbow Color Mixing and Shades of Colors.

For the former, we squirted our paint pens into three cups of plain water to make red, yellow, and blue, the primary colors.

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To make the secondary colors, we mixed these primary colors at a 1:1 ratio (using our tablespoon as a guide), and soon had a full rainbow!

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For the latter, we used different ratios of colors to make varying shades. 1 tablespoon of yellow + 8 blue made a very bluish-green, whereas the reverse (1 blue + 8 yellow) made a lime green. Travis loved this, and soon was mixing up oranges, purples and more.

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After lots of playing mixologist, we only had variations of beige and brown.

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While he gleefully poured colors back and forth, we talked about how chefs use this same method – measuring ingredients in varying combinations – to make a recipe.

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Next up was the green card: Measuring Fractions and Measuring Volume. For the former, line up 3 cups of identical size, and show your child that you can make 1 cup of rice in each by using: two 1/2 cups, three 1/3 cups, four 1/4 cups, or 16 tablespoons.

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A neat trick is to show them that the second (bottom) number on the cup (i.e. the denominator) is the number of times they’ll need to use that cup to make 1 full cup. Travis loved helping count out, especially the full 16!

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Then we played around with volume. I poured 1 cup or rice into each of three containers – a tall cup, a short cup, and a wide bowl. Just like most kids will, Travis guessed that the tall glass had the most rice, a cute first lesson on volume. You can try this with different containers and water, too!

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For a final day of fun, we played with the red card. Now it was time to make recipes, one edible and one not.

For Trail Mix, use your cups to combine the following: 1/2 cup cereal, 1/3 cup pretzel twists, 3 tablespoons raisins, and 1 tablespoon chocolate chips.

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Yum!

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Then we mixed up Bubble Water. Use the measuring cups to combine 4 cups water (8 of your child’s 1/2 cup), 1/4 cup dish soap, and 2 tablespoons sugar.

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Not only was this fun to mix…

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…but it made for fantastic end-of-summer play outside on our patio, blowing bubbles, popping them in the grass, and catching them.

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What else can you do with your measuring cups? We tried whipped up a fruit salad:

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I encouraged Travis to measure each fruit before he added it to the mix, though truth be told he was more interested in eating the fruit than the measuring lesson.

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If you like, write down the recipe you create on an index card so your little chef can repeat it in the future.

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Whew, that was a lot! Apologies for the long post, but thank you for the fun, Koala Crate!

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