Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday Creative Nanny:Creative Cooking Fun

Creative Cooking Fun with Kids

Number salad

1 handful coconut
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
3 pieces orange
4 slices apple
5 cubes cheese
6 slices banana
7 pieces melon
8 grapes
Stir 9 times.
From Corrine

Color Change Celery

4 large stalks of leafy Celery
4 disposable cups, tall ones
4 food colors

Trim the end from the celery
Place half water in each cup
Put a few drops of food color in each cup
Place celery in each cup

Talk with the children about what is going to happen!

Leave them over night and check them in the morning.
I think let the kids cut them up, put toppings on and EAT!!!!

It's a fun science project....
Andrea in Palm Springs

I make crepes weekly.
1 cup milk (2% or whole),
1 cup of flour,
3 tablespoons of melted butter,
2 eggs,
6 tablespoons of water,
1/8 teaspoon of salt.
Mix in a blender, refrigerate for two hours.

Warm a ten inch pan over medium heat for two minutes.
Pour in 3 1/2 T of batter into pan rotating to even out the batter.
Cook until batter appears firm and then flip, approximately 50 seconds on first side and 30 seconds on the other.
You can use all sorts of toppings. My charges prefer cinnamon and sugar. I usually make a double batch and put wax paper in between each crepe. You can refrigerate or freeze them for later use
Southern California

Chicken Crepes
2 c. cooked chicken or turkey
4 tbsp. butter
2 sm. onions, chopped
1/4 lb. mushrooms, chopped
1 pkg. frozen spinach, cooked and thoroughly drained
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut chicken or turkey into small pieces.
Heat butter in skillet until bubbling.
Cook onions until they are clear and crisp, and add mushrooms and cook until they are slightly browned and soft.
Add chicken (or turkey) and combine with pan juices.
Cook frozen spinach and drain thoroughly.
Add spinach to chicken mixture with 1/2 cup of cheese.
Add a cup of cream sauce (recipe below) to chicken and mix well.
Set aside to cool.
(cooking with a child note: if you let this cool, its easy to allow a child to use clean hands to fill and roll the crepes)

Sauce3 tbsp.
butter3 tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. cream (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Dash ground nutmeg
Melt butter, add flour and stir until bubbly, but don't let the mixture brown.
Add stock and milk and bring to a simmer to thicken.
Stir well to prevent scorching.
For a richer sauce, add cream bit by bit and stir to combine.
Take off heat, add cheese, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.

Use approximately 1 cup of sauce to mix into Chicken mixture.
Set aside the rest for crepe assembly.
To Assemble onto each crepe, add just enough filling to be able to roll the crepe around filling.

Put seam side down in a 9x13 pan.
When all assembled, top with cream sauce, and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
Top with grated Gruyere cheese for the last 5 minutes of baking.
Carli in Michigan

My kids love to make Potato Chip Chicken.
Potato Chip Chicken (use Baked Lays to make it a littlehealthier)
1 LB Chicken Strips
1 Egg beaten
1 Bag any flavor potato Chips (we Like Mesquite BBQ)
Pour Potato chips in a ziplock bag.
Have the kids pound them up into very fine pieces. (I double bag the ziplock).
Then dip chicken pieces into the egg and then drop into the chip and shake until well coated.
Then place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.
Turn them halfway through.
Serve with a nice green salad and maybe some peas or green beans.
Bridget in Boston

Black Bean Corn Salad

1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
1/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 (15 ounce) cans whole kernel corn, drained
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
In a small bowl, mix together vinaigrette, seasoned pepper, cilantro, cayenne pepper, and cumin. Set dressing aside.
In a large bowl, stir together beans, corn, onion, green onions, and red bell pepper. Toss with dressing. Cover, and refrigerate overnight. Toss again before serving.

Vicki in Canada

Personal Pizzas
With both of the children I nanny for and with my step-daughters, we love to make pizza's. Either English Muffin Pizza or individual sized ones. It is great!
I put out the crust, either english muffins or store bought individual sized ones.
We then put some spaghetti sauce in a bowl with spoons, that way they can spread it on themselves. I put out a bunch of toppings . That way they can put whatever they want on it. It is great because they try new things on a pizza that they put together themselves.
One of the children I nanny for loves green peppers on her personal pizza but refuses to eat them anywhere else.
If you use English Muffins they go in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. If you buy the individual pizza crusts, you just follow the directions on the packages.

April in Michigan

Apple pie pockets
1 cup peeled and chopped apples (any sweet -- not tart -- variety)
1 cup pitted dark sweet cherries, fresh or thawed from frozen
4 large square egg roll wrappers (found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket with the other Asian items)
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. salt
2 drops almond extract
1 Tbs melted butter or 1 egg beaten

Directions:Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine apples and cherries in a medium bowl. Add lemon juice and almond extract and mix well. Set aside. In a small dish, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix well. Add to fruit mixture and stir to coat.
Set aside.
Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with foil and/or spraying it with nonstick spray. Set that aside as well.
On a flat dry surface, lay out two egg roll wrappers. Set out a small dish of water. Dip your finger into the water, and run it along all of the wrapper edges. (Repeat as needed while preparing your pockets, as it will help seal them.) Starting about 1/2 inch from the bottom, place one-fourth of the fruit mixture along the bottom half of each wrapper, leaving a 1/2-inch border on both sides. Fold the top half of each wrapper over, so that the top edge meets the bottom -- the mixture should be completely encased with a 1/2-inch border on three sides. Dab each border with water, and fold each inward about 1/4 inch to lightly seal all sides. Press firmly along the borders with the prongs of a fork to seal completely. Brush the top of each pocket with either melted butter or egg wash. Transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat this process with remaining wrappers and fruit mixture.
Bake in the oven for 15 - 18 minutes, until edges begin to brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before digging in!
A few notes of my own: They make the assembly overly complicated. You put the filling on half, fold the wrapper over, and seal all 3 edges with a fork. Before baking, you also might want to take a knife and make a few small slits in each pie to let the steam escape.
Carli in Michigan

WorldwideNannies is a yahoogroup for working nannies. It is an online support group where nannies come to talk about all the ups and downs of their jobs. Worldwidenannies has been around for 10 years. It is one of the longest running and most active nanny groups on the internet. WWN has weekly features and a weekly chat. You can get more info by contacting the owner djeterfann2(AT) or by looking up the group at

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lemon Granita

Here's another recipe from Bonnie :

Lemon Granita:
3 Lemons
Just under 1 cup of sugar
1 1/4 cup of water
Crushed ice (we used what came out of the fridge dispenser)

Peel one lemon being careful not to get any of the white with the peel. Cut the lemons in half and juice them and set the juice aside.
In a small sauce pan put the sugar and water and heat while stirring till comes to a boil. Turn down the heat and add the lemon peel to the syrup and simmer on low heat for about five minutes. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and stir to mix, and then set aside to cool slightly.

Fill a blender about halfway with crushed ice and add about half of the lemon syrup including half the lemon peel that’s in the syrup. Cover the blender and blend on high making sure to stop and stir to make sure the ice is being blended in. Add more ice and water to get the consistency you prefer then pour into glasses and enjoy. You can make another batch with the remaining syrup or store the syrup in an airtight container in the fridge. It should keep for a couple=2 0of days but I've never had it last that long so I'm not really sure. If you prefer more of a lemonade taste rather than the lemon peel flavor you can simply omit the lemon peel altogether though it's not really all that strong.

Bonnie caught the travel bug young (army brat) desperately wanting to travel and experience the world, though from her third year till her 25th she had never made it outside of the US (with the exception of Canada). She believes that part of understanding a culture is experiencing the native foods and for the past ten years has made it her mission to experience as many of them as she can in the most authentic way possible, even the ones that kinda turn the stomach (tripe sandwich anyone?), but most especially the yummy looking ones (in the name of cultural relations of course). Making up for lost time, she currently resides in Italy, but in the past ten years has also lived for brief or extended times in the Netherlands, France, Spain, and Hong Kong.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Making School Supplies your Own

There's something so special about going out to buy school supplies.

When I was growing up, we got pencils, crayons, paper and new ruler. In the 50's that was a big deal! These days, each class has a very specific list of supplies that they have to have for the school year.Add to that list a new backpack, a new lunch box, a water bottle, scissors, tape, markers, kleenax and cha ching!!!! It's easy to spend $75

When you have 2 or 3 kids that adds up pretty quickly so when you go out to shop, you often have to end up with the plain notebook instead of the really cool ones with the fun graphics.

A great end of summer project that I like to do with my now 10 year old charge, involves personalizing some of her school supplies.I sometimes just turn her loose in my office and let her scavenge through my craft stuff for what she wants. She likes to use my Cricut cutting machine and my Xyron sticker maker but for the sake of simplicity I am going to show you how anyone can do this project.
You can find scrapbook paper and wonderful stickers at Dollar Tree. I usually go to Dollar Tree every few months and just see what they have. When I see something I like I usually tuck it away in my sticker file so that I have it when I need it.They have lots of letter stickers in fun colors that are perfect for this project.

All you need is a ruler, a plain binder with the insert in the front and a little imagination. The notebook I am doing today is going to be very simple just to give you an idea of what you can do. You can make these as elaborate as you want and you can also change them out if you get tired of them.

Just take 2 pieces of paper and measure them to fit the front of your notebook opening. You want them about 1/4-1/2 inch smaller than the opening so that you can slide it in easily.

For my notebook, after I measured the paper for the front insert I cut one corner off and then used it for my pattern to cut the other corners off.

Then I laid the paper with the corners cut off on top of the other sheet and proceeded to add my stickers. I used a sticker on each corner and that also helps to hold the 2 sheets of paper together.

I did both sides of notebook and still had stickers left over. I don't usually put names on my kids belongings unless it is required by the school but I do use their initials. After the paper is decorated the way you want it, you simply slide it into the inside cover of the notebook.

You can also decorate a smaller notebook by tracing around the front of it and cutting where you traced. Remember to leave space for the spiral or the holes. I used scraps from the corner pieces and another sticker, or another variation would be to add their initial. You can simply put this on with double stick tape. A small 5" inch Xyron machine also works great for these projects.

There really is no limit to what you and your kids can do with paper, stickers, scissors and a little imagination but one thing is for sure, their school supplies will be fun and unique and the best part is that they can say "I did it myself!"

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Watermelon Day

Watermelon Day
Objective: We learned about watermelons using our 5 senses.
Vocabulary words for this week: watermelon, rind, seeds, inside, outside, red, green, white, black, taste, touch, hear, see, feel
Spanish vocabulary word for this week: watermelon -- sandía [san-dee’-ah] Review: red- rojo, green - verde, white- blanco, black - negro
Activity: Mr. Watermelon -- clue treasure hunt [Simple clues were written on the backs of several paper "Mr. Watermelon's".
Our charges wearing a watermelon visor (foam visor with black paint seeds) then solved the clues and found the next Mr. Watermelon.
The last clue leads to a prize.
The prize this time was watermelon playdough (see recipe below) to play with and some for each charge to take home.]
Skills we worked on: listening, thinking skills, working together Activity: Science: 5 senses
Skills we worked on: exploring a real whole seeded watermelon with our five senses by observing, touching, listening, smelling and of course, tasting.

Who knew we would have to go to 4 grocery store before finding one that could Special Order us a seeded watermelon. Seedless is the only type sold in our area! lol
Activity: Art: Melon Mobile [multi medium project: Karo syrup tinted red painted on half a strong paper plate with black art foam "seeds", paper circles of green, white and red glued to make another view of a watermelon with pom pom seeds, and paper "slices" colored with magic markers. A few holes punched in the pieces and a bit of thread and you have a mobile.]
Skills we worked on: creative expression, fine motor, following directions
Watermelon playdough
Koolaid Dough
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup salt
3 tsp oil
2 cups boiling water
2 small packages Koolaid (unsweetened)
We could only find watermelon/cherry.
Mix dry ingredients
Add water & oil.
*Helpful hint from Nanny Paula: use a gallon size freezer ziploc to mix dry ingredients and then pour the oil and boiling water right in the bag, seal, mix and knead for a no mess method. This is a great smelling dough! This dough will keep very well in a zipper bag for quite some time (months!), if you remember to always store it in the bag with all the air squeezed out. Refrigerate for a different texture.
Skills we worked on: tactile experience, small muscle, cause and effect

Activity: song:
The Watermelon Patch Song
tune: Are you Sleeping?
Watermelon, (Make a circle with your arms.)
On the vine, (Curve hands and arms beside body.)
On the vine,
Sweet and red and juicy, (Rub your tummy.)
Sweet and red and juicy,
Please be mine! (Palms together as though pleading.)
Please be mine!
Watermelon, (Make a circle with your arms.) Watermelon,
Thump, thump, thump, (Make a thumping movement with thumb and middle finger.)
Thump, thump, thump,
I think you are ready- (Point, resting finger on your temple.) I think you are ready-
Big and plump! (Make a circle with your arms.) Big and plump!
Skills we worked on: memorization, vocal rhythm

Activity: Young Chefs: fresh squeezed watermelon juice in a bag (ziploc bag, straw, watermelon and kid power) Skills we worked on: eye- hand coordination, cause and effect, independence and confidence
Lunch and storytime:
Down by the Bay by Raffi

One Watermelon Seed by Celia Lottridge

Watermelon Day by Kathi Appelt

Pete Spit a Seed at Sue by Jackie Koller

Watermelon Wishes by Lisa Moser

Kid Question: What did you learn about watermelons today
This is when we talk about what we did and what we learned today.

Each child get's a chance to talk about it and we usually record it.
We document our activities each week with Smilebox.
Next month we will tell you more about Smilebox.

A little more about Paula and Gael Ann: Paula has been a nanny for 9 years and working with her current family for three years. She enjoys working with the children and Gael Ann. Paula considers "Discover & Learn" to be very rewarding for the children and also on a personal level. Gael Ann has been a Nanny for over 23 years and with her current family for 3 years. She enjoys using her creativity to make learning fun for her charges.