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Fun Halloween Facts from Kiddie Academy

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Want to keep your house safe from egg and toilet paper vandals on Halloween? Trust us, giving trick-or-treaters what they want is the first line of defense. Forget handing out raisins or carrot sticks and stock up chocolate candy bars. Snickers is the preferred choice for little ghosts and goblins, with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups coming in second.

Feeling guilty for sneaking candy from your kids’ Halloween night haul? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. A whopping 90% of parents admit to having sticky fingers!

For more fun Halloween facts (on everything from the most popular costumes to the largest pumpkins) just click on the infographic below. The statistics may surprise you.

Click here for even more Family Halloween Fun

Spooky Scoop Compiled by Kiddie Academy

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Benefit to Eating Organic? None, Say Pediatricians

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

On the heels of the Stanford University study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine,  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a similar report stating organic foods do not provide any nutritional benefits that children cannot get from conventionally grown foods.

What does this mean for those of us who have been spending more for organic food with the perception that it’s better for us? Well in some ways it still might be. Even though organic food is nutritionally no better than conventionally grown, organic produce contains less pesticide residue. Author Debbie Koenig outlined her reasons for continuing to buy organic, and we think she makes a strong case for shelling out the extra dough. First on her list: protecting her son from unnecessary exposure to pesticides.

For more information on what to buy organic, check out our Organic Food Shopping Guide, then take our quiz to see if you know your stuff!

Image: Different fresh vegetables on the table, via Shutterstock

 

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Cookbook Giveaway: Parents Quick & Easy, Kid-Friendly Meals

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Parents CookbookIf the question “what’s for dinner?” sends shivers down your spine, you’ve come to the right place. We’re giving away 10 copies of the new Parents Quick & Easy, Kid Friendly Meals cookbook.

The book is packed full of 125 dishes your whole family will love. From shortcut focaccia bread that’s great as an appetizer, to adorable monkey cupcakes perfect for a party, the Parents cookbook has a recipe for every occasion.

Just leave us a comment telling us your family’s favorite quick-fix meal for a chance to win.

Official Giveaway Rules

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Are You a Chocolate Lover?

Monday, February 13th, 2012

chocolate cookiesValentine’s Day is what comes to mind when you think of February, but did you know it’s also National Chocolate Month? With heart-shaped boxes of chocolates as a symbol of this love-filled day, the timing really couldn’t be better. It’s hard to find a single soul out there who doesn’t enjoy a chocolate goody. This year, Better Homes & Gardens is celebrating National Chocolate Month with a tribute to all things decadent and delicious. From classic cakes to gooey cookies, if you’re in the mood for something sinful, they’ve got a recipe for you.
Plus, they’ve also got an exclusive chocolate pairing guide and a fun chocolate challenge for their facebook fans.

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Sugar Cookie Tree Centerpiece

Monday, December 19th, 2011

The holidays are here! While you’re doing some last minute gift wrapping and decorating, consider DIY options for decor and gifts. Evette Rios, Rachael Ray Buddy on eHow Food, and contributor for The Chew, shares how to make a Sugar Cookie Tree Centerpiece.

 

Sugar Cookie Tree Centerpiece
Sugar cookies are easy to make, fun to decorate and are just about the most versatile cookie there is. Plus, almost everybody likes them which makes them such a great gift. Of course, you could give your cookies in a fancy box, tin or jar, but I thought making them into ornaments for a small tree would be much more dramatic, and makes a nice centerpiece as well.

 

 

Make Your Cookie Dough:

First, you will need to make your cookies. If you have a hand or a stand mixer it only takes a few minutes to make the homemade dough, so it’s worth taking the time to make them from scratch instead of buying a store bought mix. Here’s a recipe I have been using for years:

With your mixer, cream:

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp, vanilla

Once the mixture is creamed:

  • add 1 egg

and beat until light and fluffy.

  • Mix in 4 tsp. milk.

In a separate bowl, sift together:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Combine flour mixture with butter mixture mixing by hand with a spoon. Turn the dough onto a piece of waxed paper and form a tube or a ball. Wrap the dough in the paper and chill for at least an hour.

Once the dough is chilled divide it in half and keep half in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. Roll the dough on a floured surface until it’s 1/8″ thick. You can cut your cookies using a cookie cutter, but I just used a drinking glass which gave me a nice circular shape.

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees and bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and then move them to a rack to cool.

Decorate Your Cookies:

I almost hate to cover my beautiful cookies with frosting, but I knew what I was getting into when I started this project, so I’ll just have to get over it.

I make my frosting using a mixture of powdered sugar and milk—and a tsp. of vanilla. Basically, I start with about a cup and a half of powdered sugar and add the milk one tablespoon at at time until the mixture becomes a thick liquid (kind of like the consistency of Elmer’s glue). Then I add the vanilla. This frosting is great for cookies going in a gift box or jar because it hardens after a while, so the cookies don’t end up sticking together and your designs don’t get ruined like they would with a creamy frosting.

While the frosting is wet you can add colored sugar or candy which will adhere to the cookie when the frosting is dry. Make a pastry bag by cutting a small hole in the corner of a sandwich bag and your designs will level out once dry.

 

Wrap Your Ornaments:

Wrap each cookie with plastic wrap and twist the wrap on the back side of the cookie. Cut off any excess. Use a sticker or a label to keep the plastic wrap closed. Using a needle and thread, tie a piece of string to the plastic wrap.

 

Decorate Your Tree:

I bought this 24″ tinsel tree for $8 dollars at Target which makes this impressive gift an inexpensive one too. Decorate it with your cookies and wrap a dish towel or piece of fabric around the bottom as a tree skirt. You could even add a strand of lights to give the tree some sparkle.

However you choose to decorate it, your friends and family will love this yummy, handmade centerpiece.

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Peppermint Candy Gift Idea

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Peppermint CandyThe holidays are here! While you’re doing some last minute gift wrapping and decorating, consider DIY options for decor and gifts. Evette Rios, Rachael Ray Buddy on eHow Food, and contributor for The Chew, shares how to make Peppermint Candy

White Chocolate-Peppermint Candy
This candy is  easy to make (it only has two ingredients!), but it looks festive and impressive.

  1. First, put some peppermint candies in a plastic bag and smash them with the back of a spoon. Then, lay a piece of parchment paper over a cookie sheet. Next, in a double boiler, melt a bag of white chocolate chips. I use a metal bowl over a small pot of simmering water as my double boiler, but feel free to use a proper one if you have it. Stir the chips as their melting. Once they are all melted, remove the chocolate from the double boiler and stir until smooth.
  2. Spread the chocolate on the parchment paper with a rubber spatula until it’s about 1/4″ thick. Sprinkle the peppermint candy over the chocolate. Let cool for 2 hours.
  3. Break the candy into pieces (I got mine started with a pastry cutter) and pack into gift wrap. I used some clear cellophane and ribbon, a cupcake paper and a Mason jar with an ornament attached. Be creative with your packaging. Everyone will love this sweet, homemade gift.

 

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Pint-Size Chef Petey Rojas Makes Pumpkin Muffins

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

When this video of a cute-as-a-button 3-year-old baking vegan pumpkin muffins (and narrating the process in his adorable little voice) landed in my inbox, I knew I just had to share it.  The muffins, errrr, cupcakes, look divine and they’re so easy to make a toddler can do it. Really!

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Cake Tales: A Very Special Birthday

Friday, September 30th, 2011

I posted last week about how I was tasked with making the cake for my niece’s first birthday. I’m completely smitten with my sweet little Zoe and I knew I wanted to do something special for this milestone. Since I had already determined that she didn’t have a favorite flavor to dictate my direction, I decided to have a little fun and create a new “creature” in honor of the big day.

Meet the “Zoebra.” What could be cuter than a baby zebra cake for baby Zoe?! I used a recipe for classic yellow cake and made a 12-inch, a 10-inch and an 8-inch round. After letting them cool, I did some serious trimming and rearranging, and then frosted the cake with buttercream frosting. I added black food coloring to some of the frosting to make the stripes and I used some hot pink fondant to make the nose (although you could easily just dye some frosting pink). I was pretty pleased with how it came out, though when it came time to dig in, Zoe wasn’t all that interested. I thought babies love their first bite of cake! I guess she’s waiting for me to figure out how to make it Cheerio-flavored.

 

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