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Cuisine Critters

Bake, barbecue, blend, and beat, cooking is a great way to become more engaged in your child’s development. Cooking is not only a great opportunity to spend time with your child, but it is also a great way to develop school readiness skills. These skills include vocabulary, a better understanding of numbers and letters, working with fractions, and even precise coordination. To make cooking a little more fun and exciting, we decided to offer you a few fun animal recipes that are healthy and enjoyable to cook.

Chocolate Spiders

What you need

  • 1 (8-oz.) chocolate bar
  • 1 package of fried noodles
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 package of miniature M&M’s

Melt the chocolate and peanut butter together in the microwave. Your child can now mix in the fried noodles and stir until they are completely coated. Drop teaspoons of the mixture onto a lined baking sheet. Use M&Ms as eyeballs.

Ants on a Log

What you need

  • 3 stalks of celery
  • Peanut butter
  • Raisins

Cut the stalks of celery into 3 equal pieces. Have your child fill the inside lip with peanut butter. Then instruct your child to top the peanut butter with a line of raisins (ants). If your child is allergic to peanuts, then you can use cream cheese instead of peanut butter.

Makes 9 servings.

Deviled Mice

What you need

  • 8 eggs
  • 4 ½ Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 6 full lettuce leaves for plating
  • 16 green olives with pimientos
  • 64 toothpicks

Hard-boil all eight of the eggs in boiling water. Once the eggs are boiled, cover them with cold water and let cool for five minutes. When the eggs are fully cooled, crack and peel them. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out the yolk. Save the yolks in a small bowl. Mash the yolks together with a fork and add the mayonnaise. Fill the egg whites with the yolk/mayonnaise mixture. Cover a platter with the lettuce leaves and scatter the egg halves, yolk side down. These are the mice bodies. For the eyes and nose, pull the pimentos out of the olives and cut them each into three pieces. Insert them into the egg as eyes and a nose. The toothpicks are used for the whiskers. Slice about 16 thin, lengthwise strips in the olives to create tails for the mice. Out of the remaining olives, cut 32 small rounds to make ears. Make two small slits above each eye and wedge the ears into each slit. There you have it: cute and tasty mice hors d’oeuvres.

Makes 16 servings.

Bunny Salad

What you need

  • 2 large lettuce leaves
  • 4 raisins
  • 2 red hot candies
  • 4 slivered almonds
  • 1 chilled pear
  • 2 Tbsp. of cottage cheese

Place the piece of lettuce on a plate to garnish. Cut the pear in half and set it upside down on top of the lettuce. Use the narrow end of the pear as the bunny’s face. Make two slits for eyes and stick the two raisins into these slits. Cut another slit to make a nose and put one red hot candy into this hole. Stick two blanched almonds into two small slits on the top of the head and make the ears stand straight up. Take one Tbsp. of cottage cheese and form it into a ball. Put this ball at the end of the body to construct a cute cotton-tail. Repeat on another plate for the other half of the pear.

Makes 2 servings

Pigs in Blankets

What you need

  • 1- 8oz. can of refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 4 hot dogs (cut in half crosswise – NOT lengthwise)
  • 4 slices of American cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the hot dogs in half crosswise, creating eight pieces. Partially cut each piece in half lengthwise. Cut each slice of cheese in half, making eight halves. Tuck one cheese slice half into each of the hot dog halves. Unwrap the crescent rolls and roll one dog up neatly in each triangle. Place all the covered dogs on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with ketchup, mustard, or even relish and onions.

Makes 8 servings

No-Bake Snakes

What you need

  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp. group cinnamon
  • Shredded coconut or finely chopped nuts

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and peanut butter over low heat and stir with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the honey and the vanilla. Have your child stir in the oats, toasted wheat germ, dry milk powder, cocoa powder, and cinnamon until it is thoroughly mixed. Your child should now roll the mixture into ropes about ½ inch thick and as long as you’d like. Spread the coconut or chopped nuts on a piece of waxed paper and roll the snakes in it until coated. Chill in the refrigerator until firm.

Makes about 72 inches of snakes.

Edible Play Dough

What you need

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1-1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups powdered milk

Mix all ingredients to get a consistency for easy molding. This recipe is great for children to explore their creativity and create their own crazy critters, and to eat them when they’re finished! You can also use raisins, M&M’s, cereal or any other candy to create eyes, noses, spots, etc. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

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