• Anita Schuckert

Tis' the Season and the Yearly Question...

"What to do for the families in our care???"

No matter what holiday you or your families celebrate, we all want to show our appreciation by giving.

Families are busy and stressed by all the demands of the holidays and they start turning to fast foods for convenience. I like to share a little comfort and joy by having the kids “make dinner” for their family. The kids take pride in telling their parents that they “cooked” dinner for them. I usually make a crockpot meal but you can also do an oven meal. If you have a large group, soup and chili can be made in a roaster. For ease, I ask the families bring their own crock pot and I use liners in the pots for quick and easy clean up. I know that finding a recipe may be daunting, so here is a list of ideas that I have used in the past:

Soups and Stews

  • Beef stew

  • Chili

  • Potato soup

  • Carne en su jugo (pork soup)

  • Ham and bean soup

  • Southwestern chicken (my favorite!)

Oven Meals

  • Chicken pot pie

  • Manicotti

  • Lasagna

  • Mac and cheese

  • Chicken tetrazzini

Southwestern Chicken (This is so easy!)

1 cup shredded cheese

2-4 chicken breast halves

1 medium jar of salsa

1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)

1 can of corn (drained) or package of frozen corn (keep frozen)

Have kids put corn and beans in the crock pot and mix a little. Place chicken on top. Have kids pour salsa over chicken. Put lid on and cook for 4-6 hours on low. Before the families pick up, add cheese over the top, put the lid back on, and turn off the crock pot. I also send home a package of soft street taco tortillas (corn or flour). Sometimes, we also make a pan of kale brownies. That's all there is to it! (rainbow magic sound effects here!!) Make sure you include the recipe for whatever you make because someone will ask for it.

Manicotti (Kids can squish up ingredients in a ziplock bag and squeeze into the noodles!)

Filling: 2 cups cottage cheese 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Put into a gallon size freezer bag and squish gently.

1 jar of marinara sauce 1 8oz pkg of manicotti noodles 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Spread 1/2 cup sauce in two 8x8 pans. Clip a small corner of gallon bag of cheese mixture and squeeze into uncooked manicotti. Put filled noodles into the 8x8 pans. Put 1/2 cup sauce over manicotti, then top with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Uncover and bake another 5 minutes.

So, from all of us here at Little Steps and Beyond Daycare...

We whisk (wish) you a very happy and wonderful holiday season!!!

A note about the author: Hi, I'm Anita Schuckert, the owner of Little Steps and Beyond Daycare and After School Program in Iowa City, IA. My program focuses on gardening, cooking, nutrition, outdoor activity, and family involvement . The children and parents LOVE it!! The older children help plan the logistics of the garden, and everyone has a voice in what we plant. All the children help plant the seeds and plants (even the one year olds). Each child has their own “garden” to plant their favorite veggie to take home. We do almost all of our gardening in containers and some are quite creative! We have strawberries in a plastic pool, peas in an over the door shoe holder and potatoes in laundry baskets. Every year, our garden gets bigger and bigger! This year, we are growing up! Literally! We are experimenting with a potato tower and have built risers for more space for our deck boxes. A couple of school age girls are learning how to clone plants and have been very successful. One of the girls wanted to try some hydroponic gardening. We made a very simple one that is on the kitchen table, and it works! Growing garden goodness, preparing new and yummy food, singing silly songs, and enjoying the great outdoors are what we are all about. My favorite questions…”Do you think we can…?” or “What would happen if we…?” If we don’t allow them to try, they may never find out why.

#familyengagement #food #Cooking #Recipe #FamilyEngagement #Culinary #ChildDevelopment

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