Magic is in the air, mixing with powdered sugar, sprinkles, nutmeg and a whole lot of holiday ingredients perfect for making this season bright. That's right, it's time to turn your kitchen into a winter wonderland by whipping up festive dishes for and/or with your kids. Sure, decorating Christmas cookies is always fun, but what if you upped the ante and made other themed treats. From breakfast to lunch to dinner, here are some of our favorite cooking ideas.
Rise and shine with a pile of themed pancakes. It's not so hard to make whimsical shapes with the batter, and if you want to give it a holiday twist even better. We're talking snowmen with blueberry buttons, chocolate chip eyes, bacon arms and an orange slice for the nose. Or however you want to deck out this frosty figure. Better yet, let the kids build their own snowman with round pancakes and all the accoutrements.
Another great way to serve breakfast is by making green waffles that you can separate into triangles to form a Christmas tree. To do this add a couple drops of food coloring to the batter and pour away. The trees can be decorated with just about anything from sprinkles to bacon bits to jelly beans. Keep it candy-free by using blueberries, cut up strawberries, nuts and raisins. For the finishing touch let the powdered sugar "snow" down on your kids' creation.
Don't underestimate the power of a stainless steel cookie cutter, it can be used for way more than just sweets. For example, cut watermelon into 1/4-inch-thick slices and take simple star or Christmas tree and punch out some festive designs (best part, you can snack on the scraps at the same time). You can do this with sandwich bread and sliced cheese as well to create lunchtime stocking and Santas.
Pretzels have a lot of tasty potential too, after all, they look a lot reindeer antlers. Press two into that cheese sandwich, add a red M&M for a nose and something your kid likes to eat as eyes and presto, you have a Rudolph for the lunchbox. This food also makes good snowman arms when stuck into the round white cheese wheels, circular sandwiches (again the cookie cutter or just use your knife skills), or mound of home-made tuna salad.
For a side dish sprinkle pomegranate seeds over green grapes, or mix red and green grapes together. Snap peas can be skewed into the shape of a Christmas tree with a grape tomato on top. Or, let them build a snowman with rounds of jicama, raisins, pretzel sticks and carrots.
For the final meal of the day you have a lot more space to be creative, and hopefully time. Something you can make ahead is meatballs, which work well for a brown-colored snowman. Then take a cheese grater and Parmesan and let it snow all over the plate. This later technique can be used for almost any meal at the dinner table, and should be. Another way to build a snowman is with scoops of firm mashed potatoes. Use your favorite recipe or try this one for Peruvian causitas .
Consider a make-your-own pizza party. A Mind Full of Mom blog posted the idea of making the pizza dough shaped into candy canes and using the toppings as the stripes. The blog post also has a recipe for making a festive veggie platter that looks like a Christmas tree, which you can do with raw greens or cooked. Who knows, it might even get your kids to down some broccoli and red peppers.
You can also make loaves of Santa bread for some extra special dinner fun, and try adding a little red or green food coloring into butter for a festive spread. Baked potatoes can be posed to look like reindeer heads with a cherry tomato for the nose, black olive slices for eyes and cheese cubes stuck together with toothpicks for antlers. You can even add a pat of butter or sour cream for the "hair," just don't make it too cute to eat.
Making holiday snacks might be the funnest food to create. You can do almost anything! For starters, slice off the green top and pointy bottom of a whole strawberry and place the larger piece on a plate. Next dollop some whipped cream or a little cream cheese on top to make a "beard." Place the other part point-up for a "hat" and then add a couple sesame seeds, chia seeds or anything small and tasty as eyes. Voila! It's a sweet little Santa.
For a holiday version of ants on a log try making a reindeer instead. To do this fill the celery with peanut butter or Nutella and use a red M&M or Skittle for the nose, pretzels for antlers and raisins for eyes. Going back to the Christmas tree in veggies idea , why not build conifers with pea pods, broccoli, cucumber slices, tomatoes, peppers and carrots. It's a fun to make and with your favorite dip makes a great snack.
Buzzfeed has a fun post all about seasonal snacks and we're particularly fond of the chocolate-dipped marshmallow dreidels and Christmas puppy chow. We also found the cutest cheesy snowman by Martha Stewart that would look great on the snack table, and it's easy for you to make with the kids.