Sushi Cake

Our youngest son turned 5 in August and he requested a “sushi cake.” The child LOVES sushi and frequently requests it for special events. I share his love for sushi and was only too happy to oblige! I searched for ideas and then created my own version of a sushi cake using cake, candy, fruit roll-ups, rice krispies, marshmallows, chocolate, Swedish fish, and coconut. It was so fun and turned out better than I could have imagined! The only inedible part was the chopsticks. The base cake was mint chocolate as requested by the birthday boy and the sushi rolls were vanilla cake. Hope you enjoy!

Sushi Cake




Kids in the Kitchen: Chicken Strips

My boys absolutely LOVE helping me cook and it’s a great bonding activity! Recently we did a kids’ pick night. We pulled out all of our kid cookbooks and each boy chose a recipe. We went to the store for the ingredients we needed which they also really enjoyed! The menu was Crunchy Oven-Baked Chicken Toes, roated asparagus (my choice), ants on a log (celery with peanut butter and raisins), angel food cupcakes, and cherry punch. They helped with each part of the dinner and very proudly told my husband what was for dinner when he got home. It was a great evening!  

The chicken toes were so delicious and the dipping sauce (so sorry it isn’t pictured!) was excellent. The boys loved helping to get the chicken ready for the oven – the messy hands were a fun bonus for them. 🙂

(adapted from Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids)
Print this Recipe

1 c. corn flakes cereal, any brand
1 c. plain bread crumbs
2 Tb. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. allspice
3 Tb. oil
1/3 c. flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 lb. chicken breast tenders (you can cut these into 2 inch pieces but we left them as whole tenders)
1/4 c. honey mustard (I make mine with mayo, honey, and dijon)
1/4 c. barbecue sauce

Make the breading: Pour the corn flakes into a pie pan or shallow dish. Crush the cereal up with your hands. Mix in bread crumbs, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and allspice.

Drizzle the vegetable oil evenly over the breading. Toss and turn it to mix the oil all through the bread crumbs and crushed-up corn flakes.

Pour the flour into another shallow dish, and the beaten eggs into a third dish. Coat (dip) the chicken in flour, then eggs, and then in the special crunchy breading. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet coated with nonstick spray.  Place the chicken in the oven and cook until crisp and brown all over, about 20 minutes (until juices run clear).

Mix together the honey mustard and barbecue sauce in a small bowl. Enjoy with your chicken toes!

Kids in the Kitchen: Snowmen

I saw this cute snowmen idea in Midwest Living and had to make them for my kids who just loved them! You need:

vanilla ice-cream
string licorice
chocolate chips
regular sized marshmallows
a candy kiss or maraschino cherry for the hat

Place 1/4 cup chocolate chips in a freezer ziplock bag and immerse in hot water until chips are melted. Snip the tip of the ziplock bag and squeeze eyes, nose and mouth onto a marshmallow.

Scoop ice-cream onto plates, two scoops per plate, arranged on top of each other. Place chocolate chips on for buttons and set marshmallow head on top. “Glue” cherry or chocolate kiss to marshmallow with more of the melted chocolate chips.

Stick in licorice arms.

Kids in the Kitchen: Owl Cookies

*I’m so excited that Heather is back to share this post with us!!!*

I just happened to see these adorable owl cookies on Food Gawker recently and knew immediately they were the perfect thing to bake together with my six-year-old son. Before the day was up we had our own batch of owls perched in our kitchen. They were easier to make than I thought and the kids loved them!

Hoot Owl Cookies
(adapted from My Diverse Kitchen)
Print this recipe

12 Tbsp.  butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 unbeaten egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 tsp baking soda
white chocolate chips (or dark), for the eyes of the owls
whole cashew nuts (preferably unsalted and not roasted)

In a bowl, using a hand held mixer, cream the butter and sugar till soft and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and beat well.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the butter mixture and mix well to form a softish dough. (Note: I had to add about 1 tsp. of water to get my dough to come together.)

Melt the semi-sweet chocolate over warm water and allow to cool slightly.

Take 2/3rds of the dough out of the bowl and set it aside. Add the baking soda to the melted chocolate, stir well and add it to the 1/3rd portion dough which is in the bowl. Knead this well so that you have a brown coloured dough with no streaks visible. Chill both doughs for about 1/2 an hour to make the dough easy to work with. (Note: my dough was workable enough I didn’t need to chill it.)

Take the light coloured dough and divide into 2 equal portions. Also similarly divide the chocolate dough into 2 portions and roll each portion into a long cylinder/ rope shape about 10” long. Set aside.

Cut out a piece of wax paper (approx. 12” by 6”). Place one piece of light coloured dough in the centre of the piece of paper and roll it out into 10” by 4” rectangle. Place one chocolate dough cylinder/ rope in the centre of this rectangle.

Using the paper, wrap the light coloured rectangle of dough around the chocolate one from both sides. Your dough should now look like a long roll of light coloured dough with the chocolate dough in the center. Wrap the wax paper around the roll.

Repeat this with the other half of both doughs, and chill both rolls of dough for at least 2 hours or even overnight. (Note: we chilled ours in the freezer for about 15 minutes.)

When ready to bake the cookies, remove the wax paper and slice each roll of dough into 1/4” thick slices and place them on lined baking sheets.

For each owl, press two slices together to form a face. Pinch, or shape the outer corners of each slice to form “ears” and push an upside down chocolate chip in to the centre of each slice to make “eyes”. Press a whole cashew nut between the slices, with pointed side down to make a “beak”. Repeat with all the slices.

Do leave some space on the cookie sheets between “owls” as the will swell up and become larger as they bake. Bake the owl cookies at 350F for about 10 to 15 minutes till the edges of the cookies start becoming brown.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then carefully remove them racks to cool completely

This recipe makes 2-3 dozen owl cookies.

Kids in the Kitchen: Applesauce Cake

My boys love it when I invite them to help make something in the kitchen. Their eyes light up as they eagerly scrub their hands and get ready to help. They generally get along well and bend over backwards to take turns. I think cooking with kids is a great way to build relationships, teach skills, and create appreciation for all that goes into food preparation. And we always have a great time!

This cake was so fun – it’s all mixed up in the pan so both of the boys had a chance to stir it.

They were so proud of their handiwork and they really liked eating this cake, too!


1 1/2 c. flour (white or whole wheat)
1/3 c. sugar or honey
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. applesauce
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. nuts, chopped (we used pecans)

Mix dry ingredients in a greased 8×8 or 9×9 pan. Add the wet ingredients and stir with a fork until combined. Stir in the raisins and nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool and serve.

This is wonderful as is or you could dress it up with a soft whipped cream (add a little cinnamon and sugar) or for an adult dessert, a rum sauce.

Gourmet Gifts & Giveaway

My  kids absolutely love to be in the kitchen with me. They are thrilled to measure, stir, sprinkle, etc. And I enjoy the conversations, the teaching, the laughter and the wonderful memories being made.

So for Christmas this year, my older boys (age 4) will each be receiving their own gourmet gift “basket” of cooking things. I went to an inexpensive superstore and found measuring cups, spoons, cutting boards, scrapers, whisks, and more. I ordered safe cutter knives from Pampered Chef – there is no way they can hurt themselves using them and they are $3 apiece. Finally, I ordered aprons and hats from Etsy – they are yet to arrive but for an embroidered apron, personalized hat, rolling pin, and hot pad it cost me $15/child. I also included a kid’s cookbook which I found at a Half-Price books for $3 or less on clearance.

You can mix and match whatever you like for your child to personalize it and to find the price point that works for you. I tried to choose colors that are the boys favorite and make it personal for them. All told, they probably cost around $30-35 with the apron being half of that but you could do it for much less. I think this type of gift would be perfect for children age 3 yrs. – 9 or 10 yrs.

I’m putting a mix into each boys basket so that have the start of something for us to make together. Either mix would be perfect for a gourmet gift basket for an adult. Make a Breakfast Basket with Maple Syrup, Coffee, and Pancake Mix or a Snack Basket with Popcorn, a movie, and Cookie Mix! Don’t forget to attach a tag with instructions on how to use the mix.

4 c. flour
2 c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. sugar
2 Tb. baking powder
1 Tb. baking soda
1 Tb. cinnamon
1 Tb. ginger
1 1/2  tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cloves

Combine all dry ingredients and store in an airtight container.

1 c. mix
1 egg
3/4 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (opt.)

Combine but do not overbeat. Cook on a greased griddle until golden brown on each side. Serve with syrup, vanilla yogurt, or applesauce!


1 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3 c. oats
1 c. chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container or bag.

1 1/4 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 package of the mix

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, egg, and vanilla. Add the oatmeal cookie mix and stir until the mixture is well blended. Drop the cookies by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9-12 minutes. Cool 1 minute then remove to wire racks. Makes about 4 dozen.

VARIATION: Instead of chocolate chips, mix in 1 c. of raisins or dried cranberries and 1 tsp. of cinnamon.

So the giveaway today is a kid’s cookbook! It would make the perfect gift for a child in your life (son, daughter, niece, nephew, sibling, friend…)! My children love looking at the pictures and helping decide what we will make. They take such pride in the things they have made themselves and getting your child involved is a great way to get picky eaters to try different foods. The cookbook today is Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook. It has easy instructions, a variety of recipes, and is spiral bound.

To Enter:
– Leave a comment telling us one thing you remember making with your parents,  something you like to make with a child in your life OR your favorite food as a kid.
– One entry per person and the giveaway will stay open through Tuesday.
– That’s it! I should have it in the mail in time for you to receive it by Christmas.

Kids in the Kitchen: Sugar Cookies

What can be more fun for kids than helping mom (or dad) make Christmas cookies?! Both of us have fond memories of making cut-out sugar cookies with our mothers and siblings when we were children. We thought we’d each share our favorite recipe.

(Cookies for Christmas by M. Robbin)

4 c. flour
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 c. butter
1 ½ c. superfine sugar (or regular)
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt together with a whisk. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and milk to butter mixture and beat until well-combined. Stir in the flour mixture. Chill dough. Roll out on floured surface and cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Makes 5-6 dozen.

Depending on the age level of my children, or my energy level, we either sprinkle our cut-out cookies with sprinkles before we bake them or bake them plain and ice them with colored glaze (confectioner’s sugar, milk and food coloring) over which we then sprinkle colored sugar. If I’m very ambitious we actually use icing in icing bags with proper tips.


1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tb. cream or milk
3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, cream and vanilla and mix until blended. Add dry ingredients. Divide into 3 or 4 rounds and roll out. Cut with seasonal cookie cutters. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-8 min. until barely golden. Ice with your favorite frosting and top with sprinkles. Make 5-6 dozen.

The boys cut out the cookies with a little guidance and then we frost them and they decorate them however they like. For them (at age 4), the more sprinkles the better! The absolutely love making cookies with me!

Kids in the Kitchen: Easy Lunch

Some of my favorite childhood memories are in the kitchen. We learned to cook about as soon as we could count. I want my children to have wonderful memories of us cooking together so I’m always looking for creative ways to include them in meal preparation or in making snacks.

My older boys are 4 and they are always eager to help. And I find that if they have helped to make something, they are very likely to find it tasty. It’s a great way to help picky kids eat vegetables or different types of food. So my boys made lunch (with supervision, of course) and here is what they made.

3 english muffins, split*
1-8 oz. can of tomato sauce**
2 Tb. Italian Seasoning
1 – 1/2 c. shredded cheese

Mix the tomato sauce and the Italian seasoning together (or if your kiddos are older, they can do this themselves). Prepare any toppings you want. We used green pepper, cherry tomatoes, and chopped, fresh spinach but anything would be good – mushrooms, pepperoni, onion, pineapple, ham, sausage, whatever you have on hand.

Let the kids build their own pizza! Mine were very serious and very excited about this as they carefully created their masterpieces.



Put under the broiler (I set mine to low) for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starting to turn golden.



While the pizza where baking, I cleaned and cut some celery for the boys to make ants on a log.

Peanut Butter or Cream Cheese
Dried Fruit, Nuts, and/or Seeds***


I spread the peanut butter on the celery but again, if you have an older child, they could do that. We used a dried fruit mix and the boys went to work.


They loved making these and they gobbled them up!


*You could also use bagels, tortillas, or regular sliced bread. 
** There will be leftover sauce – you can save it for another day or put it in your pasta sauce or nearly any recipe that calls for tomato sauce.
***Raisins are the traditional topping for ants on a log but don’t let that stop you from trying something new! Even flavored cream cheese would be good! 

Enjoy cooking with your kids – yes, sometimes it takes longer and sometimes it messier but the memories you will make will more than make up for those small inconveniences!