Kid-friendly treasures

Foodie pen pals | December 1, 2012 | By

Ooh I’m a bad, bad penpal.  This month was my second time participating in “Foodie Pen Pals” – a foodie gift exchange open to anyone who wishes to participate.  Everyone with a blog posts about their experience on the same day of the month, which happens to be…1.5 hours ago.  I fell asleep.  Wine and pasta are not a good combo when you need to get something done after the kids are in bed.  At least my conscience woke me up again.

This month I was paired with a foodie keener, and I say this as a compliment.  Jessica Bergen sent me a detailed questionnaire about my likes and dislikes, so I was very interested to see what would come back.

And what did?  A little bit of everything, each item with its own recipe, all within a kid-friendly theme.  I prepared the first one tonight, and while it was tasty, I think it might have had sleeping potion in it.  I’ll describe that one last, so hang on until the end to see how it went.  Here’s the rest of what Jessica sent:


  1. Pumpkin pie cupcakes
  2. Jello Fishbowls
  3. Chicken rice casserole
  4. Baby apricot muffins
  5. Pasta primavera

1.  Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

  • 2/3C flour
  • 1/4tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp baking soda
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1 can (15oz) pumpkin puree
  • 1Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (provided by Jessica!)
  • 1/2C white sugar
  • 1/4C brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4C skim milk
  • Whipped topping and pumpkin pie spice for topping

Directions:  Preheat to 350.  Line cupcake wrappers in a muffin pan.  In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.  In a larger bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and milk until smooth.  Add dry to wet.  Mix until just combined (batter will be runny).  Fill liners ¾ full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until brown.  Once cooled, add a dollop of whipped topping into the concave centre and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.

2. Jello Fishbowls

  • 1/2C blueberries
  • Blue jello (provided by Jessica)
  • 1 handful swedish fish candies
  • Small clear bowls or plastic cups

Directions:  Put blueberries in bottoms of bowls or cups.  Prepare jello mix and pour over.  When jello has partially set, push a fish or two in and allow it to set further.  Jessica suggested cutting fish out of apple, but this was beyond my artistic capabilities, so I made a slight substitution!

3. Chicken Rice Casserole

  • 1C wild & brown rice (part of my package)
  • 1 package onion soup mix
  • 2 chicken breast halves
  • 1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
  • 2 cans water

Directions:  Preheat to 350.  Grease 9×13 pan.  Add rice and sprinkle with onion soup mix.  Place chicken on rice.  Mix creamy soup and water and pour over.  Cover with foil.  Bake for 2 hours.

4. Baby apricot muffins (a dangerous food for sure, since I’ve never actually cooked with baby food!)

  • 1 3/4C flour
  • 1/2C sugar
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/3C dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4C cooking oil
  • 213mL apricot baby food

Directions:  Preheat to 400.  Measure first six ingredients into a large bowl.  Stir, and make a large well in the centre.  Beat egg in small bowl until frothy and mix in oil and apricots.  Pour into well and stir just to moisten.  Batter will be lumpy.  Fill greased muffin pans ¾ full.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from pan after 5 minutes.

 5. Pasta Primavera

  • 1 package whole wheat pasta (I chose fusilli), prepared per package instructions
  • 1 head broccoli, deflowered (ha ha)
  • 1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1C shrimp
  • 1C scallops
  • 3 handfuls frozen peas
  • 2C chicken stock
  • 3/4C cream
  • Glug of olive oil
  • 1 Clubhouse pasta primavera seasoning pack (Includes dill weed, dehydrated minced onion, dehydrated minced garlic, coarse grind black pepper, thyme leaves)

Directions:  Prepare pasta.  Meanwhile, in a stir fry pan, heat glug of olive oil.  Add broccoli and cook until bright, about 2 minutes.  Add seafood and cook until no longer opaque, about 2 minutes.  Add peas, red pepper, chicken stock, cream, and spices.  Bring to boil and simmer until reduced, about 5 minutes.  Combine sauce with drained pasta.  Voila!

Results:  Easy, quick and delicious!  A great shortcut meal for days that prep seems tiring.  Thanks for everything, Jessica!

Tune in again in a few days to see me return to my regular theme where I cook weird ingredients.  Up next – Quince.  Also, click on over to the Foodie Pen Pals site where Lindsay is suggesting donation to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy rather than trading food packages with one another.  Check this great holiday idea!


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