Antipasto Salad

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Welcome to Travis’s very own Italian restaurant! Thanks to his kit on this theme from Raddish Kids, he has a few yummy Italian recipes to make. First up was this appetizer salad and Travis was a big help with all the vegetable prep. And everything needed a taste-test along the way of course!

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Ingredients:

  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 English cucumber, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 4 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 (8-ounce) package vegan mozzarella (such as Violife), cubed
  • 1 (2.25-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 (6-ounce) jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. To prepare the salad, combine the lettuce, cucumber, tomato, basil, mozzarella, black olives, artichokes, and chickpeas in a large bowl; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and agave nectar, then add the oregano and salt. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly.
  3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.

Thanks to the chickpeas and cheese, this salad is almost hearty enough to be a main meal. That said, the recipe card listed 8 courses in a traditional Italian meal, a reminder that a salad like this would only be your second dish in that line-up, with lots more to come! Travis also took the recipe card’s quiz on restaurant roles like head chef and busser as we dined. And for a little added ambiance, we even played a Spotify list of Italian tunes!

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Alpine Pancakes

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These pancakes are definitely not a weekday morning recipe. But a snowy Sunday morning was the perfect time to make this leisurely final recipe from Travis’s Snowed Inn Raddish Kids.

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Ingredients:

For the apple compote:

  • 2 apples
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the pancakes:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter, melted
  • 1 cup plain soy milk
  1. To prepare the compote, peel and dice the apples and transfer to a saucepan. Add the brown sugar, 3 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, until the apples are tender. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the pancakes. Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, salt, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a blender. Process until finely ground.
  3. Add the melted butter and soy milk; process until combined. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Raddish included “alpine” themed silicone pancake molds (a pine tree and a snowflake), but you could also just cook this batter in regular circles or design alpine shapes free-hand.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons batter per pancake mold. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove the mold with tongs. Flip and cook for an additional minute.
  6. Serve warm with the compote.

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It was fun to imagine running our own little bed & breakfast (a Snowed Inn!) as we ate these cozy pancakes. Big kids can even design a brochure for a pretend B&B! Travis also learned facts about alpine environments and animals from the recipe card as he polished off the pancakes on his plate.

Chocolate Snowball Cookies

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How could we not make snowball cookies from Travis’s Snowed Inn Raddish Kids package on a snow day home from school? This was the coziest recipe to bring little “snowballs” safely back inside once the outdoor play was done.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 and 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed
  • 6 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 1 and 1/4 cups + 1/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. Whisk the flaxseed into the cold water until combined, and let stand for 5 minutes to make 2 flax eggs.
  3. Meanwhile, beat the butter and 1 and 1/4 cups sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the flaxseed mixture and vanilla; beat until combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms. Cover and transfer to the fridge for 1 hour.
  5. Set out two bowls, one filled with 1/3 cup sugar and the other with the powdered sugar. Scoop out 1 tablespoonful of dough and roll into a ball. Roll in the sugar, then the powdered sugar, and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough to make 30 cookies.Chocolate Snowball Cookies (5)
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack… Or nibbling on while still warm!

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Travis enjoyed the true/false snowflake quiz on the recipe card, as well as some fun facts about how chocolate is made. Plus we listened to a playlist of cozy winter tunes like Jingle Bell Rock as we baked, making this just about as cozy an afternoon in the kitchen as we could imagine!

Cozy Mushroom and Dumpling Soup

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What perfect timing! Travis’s Snowed Inn kit from Raddish Kids arrived just as we’re set to receive a winter snowstorm of over a foot. So of course we needed to dive into these recipes aimed at maximum winter coziness. First up was this hearty bowl of soup for dinner as the first flakes started to fall.

Travis loved so many steps of this recipe, particularly peeling the carrots!

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Ingredients:

For the soup:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups vegetable broth

For the dumplings:

  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 2/3 cup plain soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/3 cups flour
  1. To prepare the soup, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, carrot, celery, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook for 10 minutes, until the veggies are soft.
  2. Stir in the mushrooms, garlic powder, thyme, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook for 1 minute. Stir in 1/4 cup flour.Chicken and Dumplings (4)
  3. Add the water and vegetable broth; bring to a boil, then continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings. Travis was in charge of microwaving 2 tablespoons butter for 30 seconds, until melted.Chicken and Dumplings (5)
  5. Add the soy milk, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining flour, stirring just until combined. Here’s Travis’s delight when he learned we were going to plop this dough right into the saucepan to make dumplings!Chicken and Dumplings (6)
  6. Scoop out about 1 tablespoon batter and scrape into the soup with a second spoon. Continue with the remaining batter. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

To complete our cozy evening, Travis took the recipe card’s winter weather quiz as we dined, and learned about other types of dumplings from around the world.

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Thanksgiving Vegetable Trio

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We were feeling especially thankful (pun intended!) to Raddish Kids for including this trio of vegetables recipes in Travis’s Gourmet Gobble kit. And yes, you can make all three in the amount of time that a vegan roast cooks in the oven!

Spinach Gratin

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Ingredients:

  • 20 ounces frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 and 1/4 cups plain non-dairy creamer
  • 1/4 cup vegan Parmesan shreds
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella.
  1. Place the spinach in a colander and thaw under hot running water. Squeeze out excess water and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add the creamer, Parmesan, garlic powder, and salt.
  3. Spoon the spinach mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle with the mozzarella. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes, until bubbly.

Orange-Glazed Carrots

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  1. Peel the carrots and cut into 1/2-inch rounds. Transfer to small saucepan and add the orange juice, butter, and salt.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 7 minutes.
  3. Uncover and continue to cook for 20 minutes, or until the juice is a thick glaze. Sprinkle with the thyme before serving.

Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts

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Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds small Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 slices cooked and chopped vegan bacon (such as Lightlife)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  1. Trim the Brussels sprouts and slice in half. Transfer to a bowl and add the olive oil and salt.
  2. Spoon onto a baking sheet lined with foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chopped bacon and maple syrup.

The verdict was yum to all three of these! The recipe card had fun facts we could check out over our meal, including food differences between the first Thanksgiving and the modern era, and tips on getting kids to try new foods.

To wit: Next we want to try Brussels sprouts chips (the outermost leaves tossed with a little oil and baked at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes)…

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…or shaved raw Brussels sprouts tossed with dressing for a salad.

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Turkey Cheeseball Appetizer

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This appetizer is not only adorable, but delicious, too!

Ingredients:

  • 5 multigrain crackers
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 8 ounces vegan cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoon Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Crackers (for serving)
  • Pretzel sticks (for serving)
  • Red bell pepper strips (for serving)
  • Raisins (for serving)
  1. Place the crackers in a zip-top plastic bag and seal, then crush with a rolling pin. Mince the thyme and rosemary, and add to the cracker crumbs.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter, salt, garlic powder, and 1 tablespoon crumb mixture; beat until blended. Spoon the mixture onto plastic wrap, wrap up, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  3. To serve, spoon the cream cheese mixture into a bowl and shape into a ball with a smaller ball on top as the turkey’s head. Use additional crackers and pretzels as tail feathers, two raisins for eyes, and two bell pepper pieces for the wattle.
  4. Serve with more crackers, pretzels, bell pepper sticks, and raisins. Gobble gobble!

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Six Thanksgiving Games

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We’re celebrating Thanksgiving without extended family this year, and no doubt your family is, too. But don’t think little… Think big! To make the holiday special for the kids, I still wanted a big feast, special recipes, the parade on TV, and lots of silly or thought-provoking games. While recipes simmer in the kitchen, treat your kids to the following:

Turkey Feather Float:

For this first game, we took turns blowing a craft feather up in the air. The player than shouts out a Thanksgiving food (Sweet potatoes! Cornbread!) and then gives another huff to keep the feather afloat.

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It’s a lot trickier than it sounds!

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Kernel Counting:

Candy corn isn’t vegan, but we had some in the house for non-vegan family and it was the perfect seasonal candy for this activity. Give each player a bowl or plate filled with candy corn as well as an empty plate and a plastic spoon.

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Set the timer and see who can transfer the most kernels in one minute. Bonus parent move: you’re sneaking in some math, too! If you have big kids and want to make it trickier, have players hold the spoon in their mouth, instead.

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Potato Roll:

You’ll earn super-silly points for this one: Take a few extra potatoes from your mashed potato pile (round red potatoes worked best), and have kids move them across a room using only their nose. First one across is the hot potato!

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The kids not only got a kick out of this, but then wanted to play potato toss and potato soccer. On a rainy Thanksgiving day, why not?

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Thanksgiving Menu:

Print out a colorful menu template and and then talk your kids through the meal, everything from apps to dessert. It was fun for Travis to see it all written up, and older kids might want to write out the recipes themselves!

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Thanksgiving Poll:

While chatting with relatives (whether in person or over Zoom!) poll them on their favorite Thanksgiving foods, whether during the main course or at pie-time. Travis then tallied up the results in two ways.

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We used a bar chart for the main course answers and a pie chart (ha) for the dessert answers. More sneaky holiday math!

Thanksgiving Chatterbox:

This classic origami game is easy to adapt for Thanksgiving. We used a template from Raddish Kids with funny suggestions hiding behind the numbers like “Pretend it’s windy for the next 5 minutes” or “Make up a song about pumpkins and sing it”.

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Your kids can easily come up with their own actions, too. Needless to say, the chatterbox had us giggling around our dessert table. The above link has a reminder on the rules of the game, as well as a how-to for folding the chatterbox paper.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

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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.

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Ingredients:

  • 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.

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Baked Mac & Cheese

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Travis’s November kit from Raddish Kids is all about updates to traditional Thanksgiving fair (aka Gourmet Gobble), with recipes sure to bring comfort to your family this holiday season. We decided to make this one before Thanksgiving because it looked so yummy!

Raddish recommends having kids shred their own cheese, but truth be told we would buy shredded cheeses to save on prep time. For all the vegan cheese in this recipe, we used Violife.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta
  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups plain soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 8 ounces shredded vegan jack cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded vegan cheddar
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup shredded vegan Parmesan, divided
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions; drain in a colander and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup flour and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, for 3 minutes. Slowly add the soy milk, whisking to blend. Continue to  cook for 10 minutes, until thickened.
  3. Stir in the salt, ground mustard, jack cheese, cheddar cheese, and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  4. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and spoon the mixture into a 13×9-inch baking dish.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, and olive oil. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the pasta mixture.
  6. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes until lightly browned on top.

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Don’t stop there! The recipe card featured fun facts about the history of macaroni and cheese, as well as lots of mix-and-match options to customize your family’s next cheesy pasta. Orecchiette with butternut squash puree?

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Elbows with vegan bacon?

mac n cheese bacon

Shells with spinach?

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Rotini with peas?

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Radiatore with broccoli?

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Or even an Alfredo version that we added riced cauliflower to!

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Butterfly Migration Map

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As a final component of Travis’s Raddish Kids about the Day of the Dead in Mexico, he learned about the connection between the festival and the annual arrival of monarch butterflies. This made for a neat lesson on a day off from school.

We started with a read-aloud of Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead, helping Travis understand how the festival and butterflies were linked.

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We then printed a map of the migration paths and Travis drew red arrows for the different flight routes. Older children can draw their own map showing the United States and Mexico, rather than simply coloring a template from online. You might also consider watching a nature show or Wild Kratt’s episode on the monarch migration to help kids appreciate the dangers undertaken on the journey!

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Of course there was no better way to explain the migration than to make it hands-on. We’re lucky enough to live not far from a butterfly garden, so we took a special trip!

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The kids marveled as they watched the delicate wings of the butterflies, or paused to see them sip nectar from flowers and soft fruit.

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Travis’s favorite was whenever a butterfly landed on him!

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He even brought wings home from the gift shop for further exploration  under the magnifying glass!

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Now he could really appreciate what it meant for this delicate wings to fly 3,000 miles.