Get On The Veggie Train With Your Lollipop

My kids love walking to the mailbox for one reason. It comes in the form of a brightly colored magazine called Clubhouse Jr. Within the pages are stories, life lessons, jokes and activities. They pour over every amazing detail together on the couch and then inevitably have some craft request from within. I am decidedly un-crafty. This month, the “craft” they were interested in was a fun food activity. Whew. Food crafty-ness I can handle. If you are looking to make vegetables incredibly delightful for your kids, or simply enjoy throwing some fun into lunchtime, try out these veggie train and lunchtime lollipop recipes, courtesy of Clubhouse Jr.

Veggie Train and Lunchtime Lollipops - Bakerlady

I went with the hummus version for the trains and added an olive for my smokestack on the engine. You can fill those little celery cars with peanut butter, cream cheese or whatever your kids love instead. And I’m sure there are much more creative veggie toppers than I used. Let your (or your kid’s) imagination run wild! My kids have officially reached the “awkward-never-a-good-picture” age. Notice my son’s olive engine is already gone. He loves olives with the passion of a thousand suns.

Veggie Train and Lunchtime Lollipops - Bakerlady

Print Recipe for Veggie Train and Lunchtime Lollipops

Veggie Train
adapted from Clubhouse Jr.

Ingredients

Celery stalks, washed
Cream cheese, hummus or peanut butter
Carrots
Toothpicks
Olives or cherry tomatoes
Bits of veggies, fruit or nuts (optional)

Directions

Cut celery into 2 1/2 inch stalks.
Spread one teaspoon of cream cheese, hummus or peanut butter in each stalk.
Cut a carrot into circles about 1/4 inch thick to make the wheels.
Push a toothpick into the center of a carrot wheel. Add a wheel to the other end. Repeat to make 2 sets of wheels.
On a plate, arrange the wheels 1 1/2 inches apart.
Place the filled celery between the wheels to rest on the toothpicks.
Repeat as neccessary for more train cars.
Place an olive (or cherry tomato) with a piece of green pepper (or broccoli) in the top on the front of on of the cars for an engine stack.
Add a piece of carrot (or a baby carrot) for the engine body.
If desired, load your train cars with raisins, craisins, peas, broccoli or nuts.

Lunchtime Lollipops
adapted from Clubhouse Jr.

Ingredients

cream cheese, softened
tortillas
lunch meat, sliced
lettuce
toothpicks

Directions

1. Spread thin layer of cream cheese on tortilla.
2. Cover tortilla with lunch meat.
3. Add lettuce, if desired.
4. Roll up tortilla tightly.
5. Poke in toothpicks, 1 inch apart.
6. Cut between toothpicks to make 1-inch pieces.

If desired, slip a 2-inch piece of straw over the toothpick. Wrap each lollipop in a 5-inch square of plastic wrap. Tie with curling ribbon at the top of the toothpick stick.

Gobble-Berry Lollipops: Fill tortilla with cream cheese, cranberry sauce and sliced turkey.

BLT Lollipops: Fill tortillas with herb cream cheese, bacon bits, thinly sliced tomato and lettuce. Eat right away—tomatoes can make the lollipops soggy.

Rainbow Fruit Lollipops: Fill tortilla with cream cheese and fruit leather or jam. Make several lollipops, using a rainbow of colors.

Pizza Pops: Fill tortilla with cream cheese, pepperoni, mozzarella and sliced black olives (optional). Dip in tomato sauce.

Sunny Hawaiian Lollipops: Mix 2 tablespoons of cream cheese with 1 tablespoon of well-drained, crushed pineapple. Fill tortilla with cream cheese mixture, shredded carrot and a thin layer of ham.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Here’s the chicken noodle soup I made with my homemade egg noodles. It is full of celery, carrots, onion and chicken. Perfectly homey and delicious. It was incredible.

Chicken Noodle Soup - Bakerlady

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Barbeque Turkey Sliders

I recently started dabbling in wine. I’ve always been more of a vodka girl personally, but it just seems so socially grown up to drink a glass of wine at a party. Who says peer pressure stays in high school? A while back I managed to finish my first glass, but it was Moscato so I hardly think that counts. My next attempt was a Riesling. I got a local wine called 14 Hands and found it to be delightful. I’m still a long way from attempting a musky red wine, but I feel I’m maturing.

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Pepperoni Pizza Poppers

Dun-dun-dun-dun. Ba-ba, ba-ba. (drums) Dun-dun-dun-dun!! Ba-ba, ba-ba! What? Don’t recognize that? Hmmm. I may be overreaching the bounds of my regular viewing audience here. Let’s try this.


That’s right! It’s back! Football season! Woo-hoo! Tonight is the return of Monday Night Football and I couldn’t be more pleased. My husband can’t wait until February 2013 when all the pigskin madness comes to a close. I know, we are NOT a normal couple. My Seahawks have two new quarterback prospects (who I’m every excited about) and a new wide receiver (who I’m trying to get on board with). It is going to be a great year! Surely I’ve mentioned before that I love football. Right? L.O.V.E. One of the beautiful things about NFL season is the food. Glorious game time snacks. There’s nothing better than settling in for three hours of helmet crunching, bone jarring hits with a table of munchies. They are one of my favorite things. Like these little poppers. Perfect for throwing back while you cheer on your favorite team. You may want to double or triple this recipe if you are having the whole gang over for a game. Pretty sure that in the heat of a the action I could take down half this batch solo. Yeah, I gain weight in the fall because of football…not holiday parties. Come on, I’ve been a Hawks fan since Kindergarten. I’m a stress eater. And usually, the Seahawks provide plenty of anxiety riddled games.

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Pizza Puffs

Sometimes, sandwiches just aren’t going to cut it for lunch. I mean really, I can’t expect my kids to eat them every day just because I can make them in my sleep. I made these pizza puffs to change-up our mid-day meal today and my two preschoolers ate the entire batch. They devoured them so quickly that all I got was a little taste and I had to beg for it from my daughter. I filled my version with some sautéed mushrooms, bell pepper and some ham. You could use pepperoni and sausage or just about any other pizza combo you can think of. Feel free to switch out the cheese too. Cheddar or pepper-jack would be delicious I’m sure. No matter how you prepare them, these light fluffy bites filled with big pizza-y flavor are sure to be a hit!

I used non-fat milk because it’s what I have in the house to use up. These still tasted fantastic, but were a little more difficult to get popped out of the muffin tin than if I’d used whole milk. So just keep that in mind. More fat = less bits stuck to your pan. I was planning to freeze some of these for a later use, but the ravenous children didn’t allow that to happen. I’m sure they’d freeze up very nicely though. Mmmm. Just look at all that cheesy goodness packed into a perfect mouthful!

These would be great appetizers for your next party or to celebrate the start of football season (it is less than 100 days away).

Pizza Puffs
adapted from Plain Chicken

3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
2 oz Canadian bacon (or deli ham)
1/2 cup mushrooms, sauteed until slightly cooked
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup pizza sauce

Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder , Italian seasoning and baking powder; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella, mushrooms, bell pepper and Canadian bacon; let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through. Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce for dipping.

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Do you ever want to pick up the giant box of frozen taquitos at the warehouse store but have no idea where you would store them? Well, with this recipe you can make your own, in whatever quantity you can manage to make room for in between frozen corn and random half bags of ice leftover from your last party. I made a double batch, half corn and half flour tortillas which ended up making 36 taquitos. Now I have them ready for when I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to come up with something for dinner (or lunch). 20 minutes straight from the freezer and you have a delicious homemade meal that you can feel great serving to your family. You could even make them, freeze them and have them for a party appetizer! Yum!

At the beginning of every week I poach a few chicken breasts. It’s really easy. Boil broth in a medium saucepan, add the chicken – making sure it’s completely covered by the broth. Cover and turn off the heat. Allow the residual heat from the broth to gently cook the chicken for about 20 minutes (or until it’s cooked thru). Remove from broth and then shred with two forks or throw it into your Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment and turn it on medium for about 30 seconds. Seriously. Shreds chicken perfectly. Like a restaurant. I keep a bag of it in my fridge pretty much at all times. It’s fantastic for throwing into casseroles, soups, making tacos or these taquitos.

So, I took a few cups of my already prepared chicken and added it to some cream cheese, spices, onion, salsa and fresh cilantro. Mix it all up and you’re ready to fill your tortillas.

Heat up a couple tortillas at a time to soften so they don’t break apart when you roll them. Corn tortillas will need a little longer in the microwave than flour. I put mine under a slightly damp paper towel for about 20-30 seconds. Put a couple of tablespoons of the mixture on the bottom third of the tortilla and then roll.

Repeat until all the mixture is used. Then you can freeze for later, or bake them up right away. If freezing, “flash freeze” them in a single layer on a  baking sheet. 15-20 minutes until they’re firm.

Then you can put them in a freezer bag and they won’t stick together. Easy easy.

When you cook these up they get all crispy on the outside with that rich chickeny cheesy filling melted up on the inside and are just divine. Use your favorite tortilla. Flour or corn works just as well. I know. I’ve tried both.

All ready to be devoured by your whole family. Mmmmm.

Creamy Chicken Taquitos
from Chef-in-Training

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup green salsa
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice from half a lime)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp sliced green onions
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican flavored cheese
  • small flour or corn tortillas
  • kosher salt
  • cooking spray
Preheat your oven to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, ground cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic. Once combined, stir in the cilantro and green onions. Add the chicken and cheese; mix thoroughly.
(If you decided to prep this in advance, refrigerate the mixture at this point until ready to continue.)
Working with a few tortillas at a time, heat them in the microwave between two paper towels until they are soft enough to roll (about 20 – 30 seconds). Spoon 2-3 Tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the lower third of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can.
Place the rolled tortilla seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas until the mixture is gone.  Make sure the taquitos are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.
Serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole.
**To freeze:  Before baking, flash freeze the taquitos in a single layer on a baking sheet then place in a labeled freezer bag and store up to 3 months.  To bake a frozen taquito (no need to thaw first): Preheat oven to 425˚F and bake for 20 minutes.  (Flash Freeze means freezing the taquitos in a single layer for 15-20 minutes so that when you add them to the freezer bag, they will not all stick together).

Turkey Taco Cups

Mexican food is a big time favorite in my house. We have some variety at least once a week. And it seems that whenever I make tacos, I always have leftovers. Not enough really for another meal though. I hate throwing food away, leftovers especially. I mean, I already made all the stuff right? What a waste! So, I borrowed an idea from “Just Us” using wonton wrappers and my leftover taco stuff to create a quick and easy lunch. Used up all my leftovers, but put a new spin on them so I wasn’t bored with my food. I hate being bored with meals.
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Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

(happy sigh) This chowder is heavenly. Full of broccoli and cheese and deliciousness. I made it on a snow day recently and just in the nick of time. Right after I took it off the stove and headed out to shovel some snow (with my belly full and warm of this amazing soup), my sister and her 5 kiddos showed up at my door. Hungry. Cold. Without power for over 24 hours because of the storm and no phone line to call in advance. This chowder was on the table in a flash and gobbled down by all of them. The perfect thing to take the freezing edge off your day. Even if you haven’t trudged thru a foot of snow to get some! As a side note (total tangent!) – it is that same sister’s birthday today. Have a great day Jess!

Homemade Mini-Corndogs

My kids LOVE corndogs. They would eat them breakfast, lunch and dinner if I let them. Seriously. If I ever make the mistake of asking what they want to eat, the unanimous enthusiastic response is CORNDOGS!! Here’s the problem-o though. My kids are still young enough that I’m paranoid about them choking on a hot dog. I still cut them in half lengthwise and then into small little bites for them. So, aside from not being that healthy, corndogs are kind of a pain. The kids can’t just dip them and eat them, it’s a big production for me before they can even touch their food. Annoying! I’ve found a great solution in these adorable mini corndogs made in my tart pan.
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Chinese Chicken Salad

One of my all time favorite light meals is Chinese Chicken Salad. I always thought it was hard to make, until my friend Emily shared her recipe with me. Wow. So easy and scrumptious. I love it! Crunchy almonds mixed with a slightly sweet, slightly tangy sauce take a plain old bag of coleslaw mix to a whole new level. Rip apart a rotisserie chicken and toss it all together for an incredibly quick and easy delicious meal! I love to make this salad to take camping as well. We take a big batch of this, throw it in the cooler and munch on it for lunch and dinner. Fantastic. [Read more…]

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