Cooking and the holidays seem to go hand in hand, but not everyone is equipped for cooking gourmet meals and desserts with the kids in the kitchen. You can have fun cooking with kids, however, if you keep the ingredients and steps simple. Start with some engaging holiday symbols, such as Santa and Christmas trees, to capture the kids' attention. Then provide the ingredients and some direction. Kids should be able to create the snacks with little assistance.
Rice Snack Santa
Give kids rice cakes and a few other ingredients to make Santa face snacks. Parents wanting to offer healthy snacks often turn to rice cakes as an option. For a sweet treat, mix vanilla yogurt and honey or cream cheese and marshmallow fluff to use as a topping. Allow kids to spread it on the rice cake. They can create Santa's hat with some strawberry jam spread on the top quarter of the rice cake, and the hat's tassel with a few mini-marshmallows attached to the side of the rice cake with extra yogurt or cream cheese. Provide raisins for eyes, strawberries slices for cheeks, a red licorice piece for a mouth and a red gumdrop nose. To create a savory version, spread the rice cake with a mixture of cream cheese and dry ranch dressing mix. Give kids a crescent-shaped salami slice for a hat, a cream cheese dollop for the tassel, olives for the eyes, grape tomato for the nose, red pepper piece for the mouth and tiny bologna circle cheeks.
Muffin or Cupcake Santa
Let the kids help you bake a batch of muffins or cupcakes using your favorite recipe. Try substituting yogurt or applesauce for the eggs and oil in your recipe for a healthier version. Make frosting from vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt mixed with some powdered sugar. For Santa's hat, color part of the yogurt frosting with red gel food coloring and let the kids mound it on top of the muffin or cupcake. They can place miniature marshmallows in the frosting around the edge of the muffin for a hat brim, then top it with a marshmallow for the tassel. Let the kids use uncolored yogurt frosting with small fruit snacks and pieces of fruit leather to create Santa's face on the side of the cupcake.
Melt marshmallows and butter together, then stir in green-colored, apple-cinnamon cereal. Once it's slightly cooled, have kids create inverted cones with the cereal mixture. Provide tubes of white icing they can use to decorate the Christmas tree snack with piped lines. Direct them to add decorations of fruit snacks on the white icing lines, and to attach a marshmallow star to the tree's top with a drop of icing. Fill muffin papers with white coconut and have the kids set their trees into the coconut "snow."
Cheese Ball Tree
Offer your kids a healthy cheese snack to boost their calcium intake. Thoroughly mix cream cheese, ranch dressing mix and their favorite shredded cheese together to form a thick mixture that holds together. Let the kids create a large, tree-shaped cheese ball with the mixture. They can use nuts, olive pieces, pretzel pieces and chopped vegetable pieces to create decorations on the cheese tree. Place the cheese tree on a platter and surround it with assorted holiday-shaped crackers.
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