Photograph by Joe Polillio
Cone of Plenty
This miniature cornucopia is overflowing with healthy goodies and a harvest of surprisingly simple-to-make sculpted candy. For the horn, microwave a sugar cone until it's pliable, about 20 seconds, then bend the end. For the bow, microwave a fruit chew candy (we used Tootsie Fruit Rolls) for about 6 seconds to soften it, then roll it flat, snip a strip, and wrap it around the cone. Use other strips to finish the bow. For the fruits and vegetables, warm fruit chews and mold them with your hands into the shapes shown. Use a toothpick to make indents and to poke holes for any sprinkle stems. Fill the cone with the sculpted candies, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.
Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.
Photograph by Joe Polillio
A dinnertime favorite disguised as a prehistoric reptile? Now that's a dino-mite meal! To make each taco, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Fold an 8-inch spinach wrap in half and use kitchen shears to cut a stegosaurus shape as shown (click below for our template; for easier cutting, trace it with a black food writer).
Unfold and lightly coat one side of the wrap with cooking spray. Refold it (oiled side out) and lay it on a baking sheet. Place crumpled pieces of aluminum foil inside the wrap to hold the shell open as it bakes. Bake until slightly crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side (the wrap will harden as it cools). Once it cools, draw a face with a food writer. Add green olive feet as shown and serve with taco fillings.
Originally published in the October 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.
Photograph by Joe Polillio
Miles of Smiles!
Park this friendly bus in front of your child to celebrate the start of the new school year. Cut a slice of bread (we used pumpernickel) into a rectangle, reserving a strip of crust. Trim a slice of yellow cheese to fit the bread as shown. Cut another slice of cheese for the hood. Use the reserved crust for a fender. Cut headlights and grill strips from white cheese and set them in place. Use the pointy end of a grape tomato for each red light. Slice more tomato into a stop sign and smile. Finish with black olive tires, trimmed to lie flat, and pupils (we cut ours with a straw). Now that's a snack worth stopping for!
Originally published in the September 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski
Cool off with a frosty fruit look-alike. Our "watermelon" wedge is made from three flavors of frozen goodness and chocolate chip "seeds" too yummy to spit out. Cover the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper or line a round cake pan with plastic wrap (drape the wrap over the sides so that you can lift the pie from the pan when it's ready). Choose your favorite green-, white-, and red-tinted sherbet, sorbet, or gelato. (We used lime sherbet, lemon sorbet, and blood orange gelato.) Let the green sherbet soften at room temperature for 10 minutes, then spread 3 cups around the perimeter of the pan. Cover it with plastic and freeze it for 45 minutes. Add a ring using 2 cups softened white sorbet and refreeze. Stir 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips into 3 cups softened red sorbet, then fill the center with the mixture. Freeze the entire dish until firm, about 6 hours. Slice the pie into wedges with a hot knife and serve.
Originally published in the August 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.
Photograph by Beatrice Peltre; Idea by Kellie Strickland
On a Roll!
Make waves at the table with these easy-prep dinner rolls, each cleverly snipped and shaped into an octopus. Heat the oven to 350°. Use kitchen shears to cut apart the triangular portions of a package of refrigerated crescent roll dough. Evenly space the pieces on two baking sheets. For each octopus, snip seven 3-inch slits into the shortest side of a dough triangle. Stretch and bend the legs to shape them. To form the head, roll the remaining tip of the triangle toward the legs. Press on a pair of olive slice eyes. Bake the rolls until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Originally published in the August 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski; Idea by Norene Cox and Joy Howard
An Easy Treat for Father's Day
Let Dad or Grandpa know you think he's incredible with a personalized superhero cookie.
Originally published in the June/July 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.
Photograph By Tim MacKay
Grade A Graduation Snack
Here's a simple, allergy-free snack for a year-end classroom party. Cut 3 1/4-inch squares from colored card stock and add a message with paint pen. Punch a hole in one corner and secure two short lengths of ribbon as shown. With glue dots, attach the mortarboards to the top of fruit or applesauce cups and add a pair of googly eyes.
Originally published in the May 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.
Photograph By Heath Robbins; Flower Ideas by Norene Cox and Joy Howard
Mother's Day Bouquet
What's better than candy and flowers on Mom's special day? How about candy flowers? For each, start with a generously frosted mini cupcake, then press various candies (gumdrops, M&M's, licorice twists, mini marshmallows, and more) into the frosting.
Originally published in the May 2014 issue of FamilyFun
Photograph By Alexandra Grablewski; Idea by Jaymee Sire of eisforeat.com
Inspired by decorated eggs, these sweet strawberries make a deliciously colorful holiday project. In a heat-safe bowl or mug, melt 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave according to the package directions. Stir in 1 tablespoon of coconut or vegetable oil until smooth. Spear a washed and trimmed strawberry with a fork, dip it in the melted chocolate, and set it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue dipping (you should have enough chocolate for 18 berries). Place the sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until the coating hardens. Melt candy wafers in various colors according to the package directions. Place each color in a ziplock bag and snip a tiny corner from the bags. Pipe squiggles and dots onto the berries, then gobble them up before the Easter Bunny finds them.
Originally published in the April 2014 issue of FamilyFun
Photograph By Mark Mantegna
Two types of cheese give this savory, open-faced sandwich its sweet-as-can-be look. Trim a piece of sliced cheese to fit atop one half of a mini bagel. Cut a round muzzle and a pair of half-circle ears from more sliced cheese, then attach them with mustard or mayonnaise. Add a nose cut from a ham slice, plus a mouth and a pair of eyes trimmed from black olives. Finish with a sprinkle of shredded cheese between the ears. Now, aren't ewe clever?
Originally published in the March 2014 issue of FamilyFun
Photograph By Alexandra Grablewski
Pay tribute to a patriotic pair on Presidents' Day with these easy-to-assemble cookies. Each starts with a vanilla wafer head and a face drawn with black edible marker. Other features are attached with frosting applied with a toothpick. George's hair is made of mini marshmallows cut into pieces and rolled. His collar is a mini marshmallow flattened and snipped, then finished with a mini chocolate chip. Abe's top hat consists of trimmed sections of a chocolate bar, while his beard is formed from mini chocolate chips. We cannot tell a lie: both cookies are delicious.
Originally published in the February 2014 issue of FamilyFun
Photograph By Aaron Dyer
New Year's Eve Countdown Cupcakes
The movable cookie hands on this New Year's clock mark the minutes until midnight -- or the last bedtime of 2013. Decorate 13 cupcakes with white frosting and colored sugar sprinkles. Give 12 of them frosting numerals, piped on with a pastry bag and tip or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off. Arrange the cupcakes on a platter as shown. Trim two wafer cookies into clock hands and set them in place at the base of the center cupcake. It's a sweet way to ring in the new year!
Originally published in the December/January 2014 issue of FamilyFun
Add whimsy to a traditional Thanksgiving dessert with this cute-as-pie idea. Cut two fig bar cookies into triangles and place them on a slice of pumpkin pie. Add whipped cream where shown. (Tip: We found homemade whipped cream holds its shape best. To pipe it on, use a ziplock bag with a corner snipped off or a piping bag with a round tip.) Finish by pressing on brown M&M's for the nose and eyes. Eat immediately.
Thanksgiving Treat: Fox Pumpkin Pie
Photograph By Aaron Dyer
These owl crackers, topped with cream cheese and almonds, are a hoot as an after-school snack or a savory treat for a fall party. For each, spread a layer of plain cream cheese on a round cracker, using the tip of the spreader to make small indents for feathers. Press on a pair of mini round cracker eyes (we pulled apart a Ritz Bits sandwich and used a half for each eye) and attach raisin pupils with a dab of cream cheese. Finish by pressing on an almond beak and almond-slice feathers.
Photograph By Aaron Dyer, Idea by Lindsay Ann of DollhouseBakeShoppe.com
Chocolate Bar Chalkboards
Mark the start of a new school year with these edible chalkboards. Use a toothpick to etch a message into the smooth side of a chocolate bar. Sprinkle the bar with confectioners' sugar, then gently rub it into the etched letters.
Wipe away the excess sugar with a damp paper towel. Roll caramel chew candies into thin strips and trim them to fit the edges. Moisten the strips with a damp paper towel and press them into place. Add white sprinkles for chalk.
Photograph By Doug Merriam
Make a splash at a beach or pool party with an armful of these ocean-themed treats. You'll want to create one octopus at a time so that the frosting stays moist while you work. For each, cover a cupcake with vanilla frosting. Dot it with blue decorating gel, then use a toothpick to swirl the colors. Press eight sour gummy worms into the frosting as shown. Place a few tablespoons of vanilla and chocolate frosting into separate ziplock bags, snip off a corner of each bag, and pipe eyes and a mouth onto a large gumdrop. Dot the bottom with frosting and press it into place. For a finishing touch, sprinkle on some white nonpareil bubbles.
July 4th Regal Eagle Cookies
Celebrate Independence Day with a batch of cookies inspired by our nation's most famous bird. For each, spread white frosting on an oval cookie (we used Pepperidge Farm Milanos). Fill a plate with shredded coconut and press the cookie into it to coat it. Use more frosting to adhere a cashew beak, a mini chocolate chip eye, and almond slice feathers.
Photograph By Doug Merriam, Idea by Cristi Messersmith of Bentonbetterlunches.com
Indy 500 Racer Snacks
Refuel the kids with this healthy snack that's a tasty homage to the Indianapolis 500 (on May 26). To make a field of racers, core and cut an apple into slices and halve several grapes. Assemble each car as shown, skewering the grape wheels to the apple with toothpicks.
Indy 500 Fruit Racers
Photograph By Doug Merriam, Idea By Meaghan Mountford
Choose your own color and flavor combinations for these luscious homemade lollipops. For each, place three Jolly Rancher hard candies side by side on a baking sheet that's been covered with foil then topped with parchment paper. Leave space on the sheet for a lollipop stick. Bake at 275° for about 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately place the stick into the candy, rolling it a bit to ensure a good bond. Let the candy cool.
Photograph By Doug Merriam, Idea By Norene Cox of PartyPinching.com
This April Fools' Day, trick your family with a faux chicken dinner that's actually a sweet surprise in disguise. In a heat-safe bowl, whisk together ? cup each dark brown sugar and apricot jam, then microwave the mixture for 20 seconds to dissolve the sugar. For each chicken piece, mold a packaged Rice Krispies Treat into a drummette or wing shape and brush it with the apricot glaze. Mold mini green taffy candies around chopsticks to form the celery stalks. Serve your meal with a small cup of vanilla Greek yogurt.
Photograph By Doug Merriam, Idea By Deirdre Smith Of Jdaniel4Smom.Com
Over the Veggie Rainbow
This Saint Patrick's Day snack provides a golden opportunity to entice your kids to eat fresh vegetables. To make it, fill a small bowl with dip (we used guacamole). Slice four long strips of bell peppers in various colors and arrange them as shown. Cut two small cauliflower clouds, skewer each with a toothpick, then position one on each side of the peppers. Place sliced carrot coins beside the bowl for the leprechaun's pot of gold.
Photograph By Doug Merriam
Punxsutawney Pudding Cups
This homage to Groundhog Day is sure to disappear faster than a frightened woodchuck. Start with an oval-shaped sandwich cookie (we used a Pepperidge Farm Milano). To make the ears, halve a sliced almond. Trim another almond into teeth as shown. Cut off the points of two peanut butter chips to make them flat. Spoon chocolate frosting into a ziplock bag and snip off a corner. Use dots of the frosting to attach the ears to the end of the cookie. Attach the teeth and chips with more frosting, then pipe on frosting eyes and a nose. Slide the cookie into a chocolate pudding cup and sprinkle on chocolate wafer cookie crumbs.
Photograph By Doug Merriam and Idea By Lindsay Ann Of Dollhousebakeshoppe.Com
These plump marshmallow pals are adorned with sugar, spice, and everything nice.
To make four of them, combine 1/2 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ginger in a medium bowl and set it aside. Fill another medium bowl with water. Melt 1 cup white chocolate chips according to the package directions, then transfer the chocolate to a ziplock bag and snip off a corner. To form each pop, slide two marshmallows onto a lollipop stick. Use the melted chocolate to adhere mini marshmallow arms and legs as shown. Let the chocolate set. Dip the pop in the water, then roll it in the sugar mixture until coated. Pipe on a chocolate face, then use more chocolate to attach heart and confetti sprinkle buttons, bows, and bow ties.
Photo by Laura Johansen, Idea by Lindsay Ann of DollhouseBakeShoppe.com
Kids are sure to go wild for this forest full of sweet flora and fauna. Easily assembled from basic ingredients—including chocolate-covered cookies, caramel chews, and Vanilla Tootsie Rolls—these desserts make a great snacktivity or a special surprise after a hike.
Pumpkin Patch Dippers
Orange you glad to have a healthy snack to serve this Halloween season? To make our dippers, peel a large carrot and cut it into 1/4-inch-thick coins. Skewer each coin with a toothpick (for added realism, first slide a small curly parsley leaf on the pick). Thread a sliced scallion stem onto each toothpick. Serve the pumpkins in a bowl of hummus or your child's favorite dip.
Cool School Snacks
These savory bites, assembled from rice cakes, cream cheese, and fresh veggies, make a wholesome classroom treat or afternoon munchie.
Tint a small tub of plain whipped cream cheese with blue food coloring, then spread dollops onto mini rice cakes. Cut herbs and vegetables as shown (we used chives, red bell peppers, broccoli, and celery) and press them into the cream cheese. To curl the celery, cut slits into one end of a trimmed stalk and place it in a bowl of ice water for several minutes. Finish with mini fish-shaped crackers.
Snow Cone Cupcakes
Thanks to their two-toned sugar tops, these faux frosty treats look just as cool as the real thing.
Bake a batch of your favorite cupcakes. Working on one cupcake at a time, spread a smooth layer of vanilla frosting on it, then place it on a sheet of paper. Holding an index card over the center of the cupcake, as shown, sprinkle colored sparkling sugar on one side. Tap any excess sugar onto the paper and pour it back into the jar using the paper as a funnel. Transfer the cupcake to another sheet of paper and add a second color. Slide the cupcake into a paper snow cone cup (we bought ours online). Repeat the steps to decorate the rest of the cupcakes. To serve, set the cups in spiral holders (we found ours on Amazon.com) or make your own circular stand.
This Father's Day, surprise Dad with a personalized cookie pop made from Nilla Wafers and a chocolate filling.
To make one, microwave 2 tablespoons chocolate chips according to the package directions. Use a spoon to spread about a teaspoon of the chocolate on the back of a Nilla Wafer. Center a lollipop stick (available at craft stores) in the chocolate, then place another cookie on top. Let the chocolate set.
Mold and snip fruit chews and soft candy (we used Tootsie Roll Midgees, Tootsie Fruit Rolls, and spice drops) to make hair and other features. If needed, reheat the remaining chocolate in 10-second bursts until it's melted, then transfer it to a ziplock bag. Snip off a corner of the bag, then pipe on the chocolate to attach the candy pieces and white confetti sprinkle eyes.
Use a black edible food marker to draw pupils and other details. Finish by taping a card stock shirt (Get the four shirt patterns below. Just print, color, and cut them out.) to the lollipop stick.
Idea by Lindsay Ann Morton from Dollhousebakeshoppe.com
Father's Day Lollypapas
Chocolate Chili Poppers
Add some spice to your Cinco de Mayo with these strictly sweet, pepper-shaped candies.
Heat the oven to 200°. Place several unwrapped Tootsie Roll Midgees (you'll need two for each pepper) on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. When the oven is warm, turn off the heat and place the candies inside to soften (they can be left there as you work).
For each pepper, knead together two Midgees, then mold them around the tip of a pretzel stick, as shown. Let them cool.
Melt red candy wafers in a microwave-safe drinking glass according to the package directions. (We used about half a bag each of green and red candy wafers to make 13 peppers.) Using the pretzels as handles, dip the peppers into the melted candy, tap off the excess, and lay them on parchment to set. When they have hardened, break off each pretzel stem so it's a half-inch long. Melt green candy wafers, then dip the stems into the candy and let the green coating set.
Chocolate Chili Poppers
Real flowerpots and cookie-crumb dirt give our pseudo-sprout cupcakes their authentic look.
Bake a batch of your favorite cupcakes in paper liners and cover them with chocolate frosting. Crush chocolate cookies (we used Famous Chocolate Wafers) into crumbs and dip the frosted cupcakes into them. Use a wooden skewer to make a hole in the center of each cupcake top.
To form a sprout, roll a green fruit chew candy (we used half of a Jolly Rancher Fruit Chew) into a cylinder and taper the ends. With a toothpick, etch a line down the center, fold the cylinder in half and shape it as shown, then insert it into a cupcake. Put the cupcakes, in their liners, in clean 2-inch-wide terra-cotta pots (ours cost 70 cents each).
Crafter's Note: We made our edible cloud and raindrops from halved marshmallows and small pieces of blue Jolly Rancher Fruit Chews.
Welcome spring with an adorable chick made entirely from fruit.
For the body, cut a thin, round slice of apple (vertically or horizontally) and remove any core and seeds. For the feathers, place small pieces of pineapple on top, then add blueberry eyes, a strawberry comb, and a beak and feet of dried apricots.
Test Kitchen Tip: In a blender, combine your leftover fruit with ice, plain yogurt, and honey for a naturally sweet treat.
Originally published in monthly issues of FamilyFun magazine.