Decorate Cookies!

All kids love to bake and/or decorate cookies – yes, I have a boy and he’s usually all in as well – or at least until 2 or 3 of his cookies become huge disasters and he gets the usual critical abuse from his sisters! Regardless, truth be told, for kids – there really is nothing as fun as making cut-outs (or as messy!).  In this busy season, you’re probably thinking “who has time for cookies and especially after school?!”  I agree heartily, however, I also am a huge believer in memory making.  Here is how I handle it.  First of all, make the dough ahead of time when the kids are in school or even a day or two ahead, it has to chill anyway and you can make it in a ‘down’ moment.   Have the frosting colors pre-mixed and in separate bowls.  Set aside a section of counter and have it ready for rolling out the dough and such.  Just simple preparedness makes everything run smoothly.  Have fun!

Welcome them home with an apple pie!

What a warm welcome home from school with a fresh baked apple pie…..steam still escaping from it’s flaky crust.  Whether you like yours with a slice of sharp cheddar or a scoop of maple ice cream, the all American favorite will have them asking for seconds.

Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

I came upon this recipe the other day – from Nestle!  If you can’t find ‘pumpkin spice’ morsels, I would substitute butterscotch morsels, or just eliminate completely.  The pumpkin in this recipe makes the cookies moist and very hard to resist!

2 1/3 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 1/3 cup sugar – divided

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 cup 100% pure pumpkin

1/4 cup molasses

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 2/3 cups Nestle toll house pumpkin spice morsels

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease cookie sheets.  Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a medium bowl.  Beat 1 cup sugar and butter until creamy.  Add pumpkin, molasses, egg and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in morsels.  Refrigerate dough for one hour.   Shape tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in remaining 1/3 cup sugar until coated.  Place 2″ apart on baking sheets.  Bake 11 – 13 minutes until cookies are set at the edges.  Cool slightly before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Not-so-boring Healthy Snack

Have you ever noticed how kids really like color?  Try making these brightly colored fruit kabobs.  Or, have the kids make them.  Stack brightly colored berries and assorted fruits as suggested here.  They’re sure to disappear quickly!

Faux Strawberry Margaritas

My kids love making faux strawberry margaritas.  We just use the traditional mix, blend it up with ice and add a few strawberries as well.  Serve in a fun glass and there you have it.  A great after school refreshing treat for when the weather starts to turn and those kids come off the bus looking a little droopy, this is sure to perk them up!

Mulled Cider, so welcome after the cold…

I’ve posted a few times that we live in the northeast, so at this time of year we are pretty deep into winter, not to mention snow.  I like to have something warm for my kids when the school day is over.  This is a quick recipe that chases away the cold, plus fills the house with a wonderful aroma, add candles and some favorite cookies and you’re sure to be “top mom” in your household!

Fill a medium sized pot with one gallon of apple cider.  Add, either in a cheese cloth tied with string or directly to cider, about 3 cinnamon sticks, 1/2. tbsp. whole cloves, 1/2 tbsp. whole allspice,  orange peel from 1/2 an orange (roughly chopped up) and a dash of nutmeg.  Simmer for over low heat for 45 minutes or until heated through.  Do not boil.  Strain the spices before serving, use the cinnamon sticks as garnish.  This recipe can also be made in a slow cooker.

Snow Day!!

Isn’t it ironic that any other day of the year, my kids just don’t want to get out of bed to get ready for school, but with the anticipation of a possible snow day the next morning, they are all up even earlier the next day because, yes, a snow day has been called.   Oh help!  So, for hours now, my back door has been opening and closing with the traffic of snowy, wet children going in and out for sledding.  It is good to be a kid for sure.  Welcome them in with lots of steaming hot chocolate and fresh cookies or try my easy chocolate cake recipe.  A snow day is a great day to include the kids in the baking.  Whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Fill the house with sweet smells, a glowing fireplace and lots of joy.  Don’t worry parents – they should be back to school tomorrow.

Adorable cookies

It’s starting to truly feel like we are into the holiday season.  I presented my children with these adorable cookies when they came home today.  No, I didn’t bake them, but once again, arrange on a cute platter, serve some hot chocolate or tea and you’ve satisfied all their desires, I’m sure!

Caramel Apples

Even though I realize our country faces a childhood obesity problem, I still uphold the practice of everything in moderation.  I also feel that children should enjoy the things that are so fundamentally American.  One of these is caramel apples.  Think about it, whether you loved them or not, aren’t they just a part of fall?!  So appetizing to look at and to eat.  Welcome your children off the bus with a plate of these waiting for them.  After all, there is an apple in there as well!

Presenting snacks..

Here they come, running up the drive, undoubtably hungry!  I try to have healthy snacks around for my children when they come home from the end of the school day, but truth be known, that’s not always what they’re craving.  I like to welcome them from time to time with something warm and sweet from the oven, the smells, the welcome!  However, that is not always feasible with busy schedules and after school sports.  Don’t put the pressure on yourself, it’s fine to purchase those goodies.  Like anything, it’s all in the presentation.  I like to buy brownies cut them up and stack them high on a cake plate.  Who wouldn’t be able to resist.  Purchase a cake plate or even a commercial style stand such as you would see in classic American diners.  Anything presented on a cake stand is immediatly elevated (no pun intended) to irrisistableness.