Archive for April, 2010

Playdate/Slumber Party Food Ideas

April 27, 2010

In my parent ed. class one of the mothers shared how her son is having a few of his friends sleeping over. She was asking for some fun ideas for them to do. I thought I’d list a few here that you can try at your next playdate ect. Now with summer quickly approaching, it might be good to have a few of these on stand by. Depending on the ages of the kids, most of these can be assembled by the kids. The recipe is already on the blog so I will just list the title and you can scroll down to it. I will try to tell you the post title so it isn’t hard to find. Also, some of the recipes under “Go ahead and play w/ your food” will work for a smaller sized group.

Meal ideas

BBQ chicken pizza, Turkey Hummus Tortilla Rolls, Fettuchini Alfredo (adding Rotisserie Chicken is good touch) These are Under the Whole Foods Demos, “BRC” Beans Rice and Cheese  burritos, Scrambled Egg Sausage and Cheese Breakfast burritos, Cucumber Avocado Carrot sushi roll, make your own pizza or calzones (Trader Joe’s has a nice wheat uncooked pizza dough)


Oatmeal Raisin cookies, Baked tortilla Chips with guacamole, Banana in a blanket, Butterfly carrots, Healthy Rice Krispy bars, fruit juice popsicles, Smoothie and Go Go, (5/22/10 Whole Foods Class)Roll the can Ice cream, (I have done this with my kids at home and at cooking class.) recipe under Seasonal recipes, Oven baked Churros, Hummus with baby carrots/celery/jicama, apple sauce, sweet potato latkas, Zucchini bread (seasonal recipes), Fruit kabob with yogurt (play with your food), Frozen Crunchy Skeleton Bone “frozen banana dipped in chocolate), Witch’s Brew (smoothie), (under Spooky recipes for a bewitching Meal)

Simple Guacamole by Sonia Chung at Whole Foods Market

Guacamole is best when mixed up right before serving. If you do have to store it a few hours before using it, then put it in a narrow container and place plastic wrap directly on top of it. The plastic will prevent the air from oxidizing your avocados.

Hardware-big mixing bowl, potato masher, cutting board, knife, plastic juicer, mixing spoon, flatware spoon, zip top plastic bag, pizza slicer

Software-Ripe avocados, Fresh lime juice, Chopped Cilantro, Garlic salt, cherry tomatoes, diced red onions (optional)


  • Wash the avocados and lime
  • Rinse off the cilantro and chop it up by rolling the pizza cutter over the leaves. Remove any thick pieces of stem. Set aside.
  • Rinse off the tomatoes and dice. (optional) Set aside.
  • Cut the avocados in half by rotating the avocado around and keeping your knife still. Give it a twist and pull apart
  • Using your flatware spoon scoop out the shell into the big mixing bowl
  • Putting your hand under a kitchen towel, place the avocado half with the seed stuck in it on the towel. Wack the seed with a knife so that the blade is slightly embedded in the seed. Give the knife a twist to remove the seed. Place your hand over the back of the knife and pinch right behind the seed and this should make the seed fall off the knife w/out any threat of cutting yourself
  • Scoop out the shell into the plastic bag
  • Sprinkle it with garlic salt. Remember to use less because you can always add more later
  • Press the air out of the bag and zip it up. Mash up the avocados by squeezing the bag.
  • Cut the lime in half and put it in the juicer. Squeeze lime juice to a bowl.
  • Open the bag. With a teaspoon add juice to the bag.
  • Add the cilantro and red onions (optional) and smash it around in the bag.
  • Add the tomatoes and stir gently. Chill until ready to serve

I like to serve this with baby carrots, celery, and the oven baked no salt added chips or the oven baked flax seed Omega 3 chips. It is also great in sandwiches and wraps instead of mayo. Try it on your next BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato). I use the Applegate brand turkey bacon over at Whole Foods. Enjoy.

Beads on the Cheap

On freecycle someone was looking for beads for her preschool activity. Here is the email I sent her.

I taught kinder for glendale unified. in my class we used macaroni noodles since they are so cheap. to color them, put in a ziploc bag with liquid food coloring plus a teaspoon or less of rubbing alcohol (depends on how many noodles you have) and shake them around til the color is all over the pasta. The more food coloring you use, the deeper the color. Dump them out on wax paper and let them dry overnight. I used the tube and ring pastas for our thanksgiving Native American Indian necklaces.


Veggie Out at the YMCA

April 24, 2010

Hummus Veggie Pita Pockets by Sonia Chung at Crescent Canada YMCA

Hummus is a great alternative to mayonnaise. You still have the creamy spreadable texture w/out all the fat. You also get the added fiber and protein as an added bonus.

Hardware- cutting board, spoon for spreading out the hummus, plate to have all your veggies on, sharp knife

Software-Wheat pita, hummus (I use the spinach artichoke one), chopped carrots, shredded Persian cucumbers, julienned red bell peppers (optional), shredded bib lettuce/baby spinach, turkey deli meat


  • Lay a pita on your cutting board
  • Cut the pita in half so you have 2 semi-circles.
  • Spread hummus on the side of your pita pocket. The hummus will serve as glue for the carrots to stick to.
  • Lay your turkey slice on the inside of the pita pocket
  • Sprinkle the carrots on the hummus
  • Sprinkle the lettuce on the carrots
  • Tuck in the slices of cucumbers
  • Tuck in the bell peppers if you are using them

You can substitute other veggies in this roll. I have substituted low fat cream cheese for the hummus and julienned pears or apples for the bell pepper.

Perfect tie in for the book Katie No Pockets

Banana in a Blanket

This is a healthy alternative to pigs in a blanket. The kids can assemble this at a playdate/slumber party. I make this for my kids often. They can eat it as a breakfast on the go or as an after school snack on the way to dr appts or lessons. I make it with peanut butter but for the YMCA event we used honey since there are so many peanut/nut allergies out there. The banana and honey add sweetness, the spread adds protein, and the wheat tortilla adds fiber to keep your blood sugar steady so you won’t run out of steam.

Hardware- cutting board, knife, butter knife, plate or paper towel

Software- wheat tortilla, banana, honey and/or peanut butter/cashew butter/almond butter/sunflower seed butter,


lay your tortilla flat on the cutting board. If it is larger than the banana, you may want to cut the tortilla down to the size of the banana.

Spread a thin layer of any of the spreads.

Drizzle a thin amount of honey all over

Place the banana on top of the spread towards the bottom edge of your tortilla.

Pull the bottom of the tortilla around the banana and continue to roll up the banana in the tortilla as you would roll up a sleeping bag.

Wrap it in a paper towel and you are ready to take you power snack anywhere.

I read the book Curious George for this snack.

Butterfly carrots

This is another snack that is great for kids to make on their own. It is perfect as a playdate activity and snack.  You can use regular cream cheese or any other flavor you like.

Software- baby carrots, small tub of low fat cream cheese, raisins, small twist pretzels

Hardware- butter knife, small plates


  • Place a baby carrot on your plate.
  • Using a piping bag or a knife spread on a layer of cream cheese.
  • Stick 2 pretzels into the cream cheese so they are at an angle. These are the wings.
  • Push on 2 raisins for eyes in the cream cheese towards the top of the carrot.
  • Enjoy your lovely little butterfly.

I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Charlie the Caterpillar as the tie in books for this snack.

I hope you have enjoyed the demo and feel confident about trying these recipes. To see more recipes check out my kids cooking blog

I will be teaching a free cooking class on April 20th and May 18th at the Montrose Public Library.

I can be reached via email at

You can find me at the La Canada Flintridge Community Center teaching my cooking classes, Young Cooks and Great Books. My next class will be in the Fall. To enroll for my class go to

I am also available to teach at boy scout, girl scout meetings and at birthday parties.

I Flipped For It

April 12, 2010

This post is dedicated to places and things that I flip for because I love something about them. I will list what it is and why I love them. I am not wanting to complain about others but merely to applaud steps I see in the right direction or to express gratitude to others. You can try it for yourself and let me know what you think. is a great website to learn about all kinds of fruits and vegetables. They have them listed by photo and name. When you click on it, you will get information on what to look for when picking it out, what the health benefits are, and suggestions on how to store it and cook it.

Portos in Glendale. This is an amazing success story. Betty Portos and her family run this delicious bakery and cafe. Her parents started with one small store on Brand Blvd. With their hard work and dedication to quality products, Portos has expanded to 2 large stores including a cafe. There are long lines to taste the wonderful treats that come out of the kitchen. Betty has a warm and inviting personality and personally gave my young chefs a tour of the bakery and a special tour of the underground set up that they have for the cake decorators.

Healthy Cheetos at Whole Foods there is a Cheese Puff that looks like Cheetos and has the same crunch with out all the junk in the ingredients list. I love the fact that they are oven baked. They have a low sodium count and is the 365 Brand (that is Whole Foods brand) If you have a child that love cheese puffs give these a try and I’m sure you’ll love them too.

Gluten Free Almond Cracker by Blue Diamond. I found these during my Autism Awareness Guacamole demo. I needed something for the kids to dip into the guacamole that was gluten free. My kids love these. I buy the one that has a hint of sea salt. Remember lower in sodium is better for you.

Dried Unsweetened Unsulfured Mango slices at Trader Joe’s. These are a great snack to keep in your purse, pack in your kids lunch, or take on car rides. I love the fact that they are unsulfured and unsweetened. You need to watch for those words. Although sulfur will keep your dried fruit looking pretty by keeping the colors, it is not healthy for you. Sulfur is a preservative.

The Dish in La Canada is a cozy restaurant that we go to often. Kevin, the owner, and Sasha, the pastry chef, were kind enough to have my cooking class come and get a tour and make a delicious Red Velvet cupcake. Some of the kids’ creations were so perfectly frosted it looked like it should be in the showcase. The Dish is a local favorite and often seen supporting various community events. Kudos to them.

Desserts and Others- Everything in Moderation

April 1, 2010

Oatmeal Fruity Breakfast Cookies

I love recipes like this because you can eat it and not have to feel guilty about it. I call it my breakfast cookie because it is a bowl of oatmeal fruit and more disguised as a cookie only less sweet. It is ready to be a breakfast on the go.

Oatmeal is packed with fiber, can lower your cholesterol, and gives your cookies bulk and chewiness. By adding the flaxseed meal you are adding Omega 3 fatty acids to your diet. Those are the healthy fats found in salmon that are good for your heart. As a added bonus flaxseed meal doesn’t have any possibility of mercury contamination. And wheat germ is the valuable part of the wheat plant. I double the batch since my family loves them. In the cooking class I teach, we made one batch with raisins and another batch with chocolate chips. The raisins were better. And as an added bonus cinnamon is an antioxidant. These cookies are best hot out of the oven so mix up a batch and store it in a tupperware so you can bake them for sudden drop in guests or potlucks. They will make your house smell amazing. Especially handy if you are having an open house or in laws over.

Hardware: cookie sheet, 2 mixing bowls, wooden spoon, mini blender/blender, flatware fork, measuring cups, measuring spoons, flatware teaspoon, flatware knife, Optional- disher (looks like a mini ice cream scooper), kitchen scissors

Software: 1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats, 1 Cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/8 C flaxseed meal, 1/8 C wheat germ, 3/4 C dark brown sugar, 1 large egg, 3 Tbspoon butter at room temperature, 3 Tspn canola oil, 1/2 C steamed zucchini, 1/2 c banana (one small over ripe), 1/2 tspn cinnamon, 1/2 tspn salt, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup raisins, 1/2 cup pecans (optional), 1/4 cup dried unsweetened mango snipped with kitchen scissors. I like the dried mango at Trader Joe’s because they are unsulfered and unsweetened.


  • Open oven door to check that it is empty. Preheat oven to 350 F
  • In one of your mixing bowls combine your dry team wheat flour, oats, flaxseed meal, wheat germ, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  • In the other bowl combine your wet team, add the butter and brown sugar. Using the fork smash the butter through the tings so that the butter is all mixed up with the sugar. The abrasive nature of the sugar should make it easy if your butter is at room temperature. If your butter is cold then zap the butter in the bowl in the microwave for 10 seconds and try again.
  • Once the butter and sugar are creamed together, Add the banana and smash it all up with the fork so it is mixed up with the butter sugar mixture.
  • add the egg and mix it with the fork to scramble the egg with the butter sugar mixture.
  • Add the oil and zucchini puree. Mix it all together.
  • Add the dry team to the wet team bowl in 2 dumps. stir after each dump.
  • Add the raisins, cranberries, mangos, and nuts. For a pot luck I leave the nuts out since people may be allergic to them.
  • Be careful not to over stir the mixture otherwise you will have tough cookies. Due to activating the glutens in the flour. You just want all the ingredients to not look dry.
  • Using the flatware teaspoon or disher, scoop out the batter onto a cookie sheet.
  • Bake for approximately 14 mins. -18 mins. It depends on the size of your cookies.
  • When they are Golden brown and delicious take them out of the oven and resist the temptation to pop one in your mouth at once. You will burn your tongue. Let them cool for a few minutes.
  • Enjoy with a cold glass of milk. Maybe even share some with friends.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Crunch Bars

There are some pairings that are timeless. Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Tom and Jerry, but I would have to say that peanut butter and chocolate are one of my favorites. There is something to be said for the richness of chocolate against the creaminess of peanut butter. Not to mention that dark chocolate is a good source of flavonoids and peanut butter has protein. These can’t be all bad. Just don’t eat the whole pan in one sitting. I use the mini marshmallows but a friend of mine recently told me about brown rice syrup. I bought some to try it. As of now I will write the recipe with the marshmallows. After I try the rice syrup in substitution for the marshmallows, I’ll let you know how it goes. This is basically like making a rice krispie bar.

Hardware: large soup pot, wooden spoon, lasagna pan, tupperware to store them in/take to potluck, one empty butter wrapper. (I save the wrappers in a ziploc after the butter is gone for these type of recipes), cutting board, sharp knife, parchment paper

Software: 2 tablespoons of butter, creamy or crunchy peanut butter without  hydrogenated oil, (I like the 365 brand at Whole Foods or Smart Balance with the added Omegas), 2 Cups mini marshmallows, original Cheerios cereal, Kix cereal, Cocoa Krispies cereal,  brown rice syrup, mini chocolate chips


  • Take the butter wrapper and rub the butter side all over the bottom and sides of the lasagna tray. This will prevent the finished product from sticking to the pan.
  • AHN- Adult Help Needed to set the stovetop to med. low heat to heat up the pot and melt the butter, once the butter is melted swirl it around the pot to coat the bottom.
  • Add the mini marshmallows. Stir so the butter coats the marshmallows. Wait a minute or two between stirs so that the marshmallows have a chance to melt together. Once they start to spread out then stir. You want to avoid getting brown color on the marshmallows. Reduce the heat if you need to.
  • Once the marshmallows have no more bumps then turn off the heat
  • Pour in 1/2 C peanut butter
  • Pour in 1/2 C rice syrup
  • Using the wooden spoon, stir to combine.
  • add the cheerios and Kix. Stir to coat the cereal with marshmallow.
  • Then add the rice krispy cereal and stir again. It will be hard but be sure to get the marshmallow evenly spread out.
  • Dump this sticky mixture onto your lasagna tray and spread it out with your hands.
  • sprinkle the mini chocolate chips on top and press them in. They should stick to the bar.
  • Let it cool for one hour. After it has hardened up a bit, place a cutting board on top of the tray and holding the sides of the tray and the board, flip them so the tray is upside down on the cutting board.
  • Lift the tray off. This should reveal your perfect chocolate peanut butter crunch bar.
  • AHN- have an adult use the sharp knife to cut the bar up.

Enjoy with a glass of milk. They will keep in the tupperware with parchment paper between the layers so they don’t stick together.

Oven Baked Churros

This recipe has all the flavor of Churros w/o the deep fryer. I did this one for a girl scout troop event and my Mexican Tacqueria during summer cooking camp. They all loved it.

Hardware- cookie sheet lined with foil, pastry brush, knife, cutting board, 2 teaspoons, 2 bowls, empty salt shaker/spice shaker (optional)

Software- fajita size flour tortillas, smart balance buttery spread, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 4 tsp white sugar,


  • AHN adult helped needed to preheat the oven to 375.
  • Lay out the tortillas on the cutting board. Cut them in half so you have a semi circle shape.
  • In the bowl combine the ground cinnamon and sugar. Congrats. You just made cinnamon sugar.
  • Carefully pour the cinnamon sugar into the shaker. You are ready to sprinkle this on your french toast, oatmeal, unbaked muffins, pancakes, I like to give my cake pans a light spray of Pam and sprinkle cinnamon sugar around to stick to the pam instead of buttering the pan.  (If your an adult, try it on your coffee)
  • Put some of the Smart Balance in a microwaveable bowl, cover it with a paper towel,
  • microwave it on high for 20 sec. Stir with a teaspoon,
  • If the buttery spread hasn’t all melted, repeat for 10 more seconds. Stir again.
  • Using a pastry brush, brush the tortilla with the melted Smart Balance
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar all over. Like you would glitter on glue.
  • Pick up the tortilla so the excess comes off.
  • Carefully transfer your tortilla to a foil covered cookie sheet
  • Have an adult put them in the oven.
  • Bake for 9-11 mins. or til brown and crispy.
  • When they are done, have an adult take them out of the oven.

This is the hardest part. Let them coool down before biting into one. Que Rico. Enjoy.

Roll the can Ice Cream

This is the recipe and method we use at home because I don’t have an ice cream maker at home. It comes out soft so you have to transfer it to a freezer safe container and stick it in the freezer overnight.

Hardware- 2 metal coffee cans with lids, one should fit into the other and still have room for ice to go around the smaller one. I have used a plastic jar for the inner can. Masking tape, freezer safe container, big metal spoon, 1/2 C rock salt, ice

Software- 1 Cup heavy cream, 1/2 C sugar, 1/3 C sliced strawberries, 1 C Milk, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract,


Starting with very cold ingredients will speed up the process. Combine ice cream ingredients into the smaller can. Place lid on the can. Put tape over the seams so salt water doesn’t get in. Cover bottom of the large can with ice. Place the smaller can inside. layer half of the the salt and ice around the smaller can. Place the lid on the larger can. Roll the can around The more you shake it around the faster it become ice cream. Empty the old ice and salt. Stir the ice cream to the center and repack the cans using new ice and salt. Roll some more. When the ice is melted, open the large can and enjoy. It should be the consistency of soft serve. If you want it firmer transfer it into the freezer safe container and stick it in the freezer for a while.

Guilt Free Ice Cream

Part of the boot camp experience is writing down what you eat in a day. Ice cream happens to be a huge weakness of mine. While trying to make a quick smoothie, I accidentally created this pleasant surprise. I hope you like it as much as I do. It has sweetness, creaminess, and the chill of ice cream w/0 the fat.

2 b finished later. please check back