Funny Food Made Easy Puts Creative Meals at Your Fingertips

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Funny Food Made Easy:
Creative, Fun, & Healthy Breakfasts, Lunches, & Snacks
by Bill and Claire Wurtzel
(Welcome Books; $19.95)

 

Funny Food Made Easy: Creative, Fun, & Healthy Breakfasts, Lunches, & Snacks book cover

 

 

Funny Food Made Easy is an entertaining book and sure to be one for both the coffee table and kitchen table! It’s beautiful and fun at the same time. I must say that Bill and Claire Wurtzel are extremely creative with simple ingredients. They can make broccoli look like a poodle dog or fried eggs with cheese look like a cute couple holding hands. They show you how you can make whimsical items and people out of cut watermelon or pineapple as well as oatmeal with a bit of raisins and sliced apples. They offer plenty of suggestions for variations but show a lot of step by step instructions too. Basically the title says it all.

I recently had some of my kids’ friends over and these 7-10 year olds were having the best reactions with the book. They would say, “Oh, that’s so cool!” one minute, to “Eww, I don’t think I want to eat that, but it looks neat,” to “I wish I could make that!” Sometimes they just laughed out loud delighting in devouring page after page of neat faces and food art displayed in this extremely original book, a companion to the always popular Funny Food from 2012. It was such fun to watch the kids enjoying the book so much!

Funny Foods Made Easy has very simple and healthy ingredients and the authors have put a lot of time and attention into detail. They have suggestions and instructions how to have your own funny food workshop and it seems like a great idea for kids and their parents. While you may remember your parents telling you not to play with your food, this book encourages lots of play with food. After seeing the array of all you can do with your meals and snacks, you may never look at toast the same way again!

  • Reviewed by Lucy Ravitch

 


Coloring Books To Brighten Everyone’s Christmas

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GIVE THE GIFT OF COLOR

BRIGHTEN YOUR CHILD’S CHRISTMAS BREAK
WITH THIS COOL COLLECTION OF COLORING BOOKS

 

Juli Barry’s dipped into them all and has this to say:

Christmas to Color
by Mary Tanana
(HarperCollins; $15.99, Ages 4 and up)

ChristmastoColorcvr_Looking for a way to keep the peace during holiday gatherings? Or do you need a way to get those eternally bored teens to put down the phone and interact with family members?  Try gathering those cousins around a table and color together! Mary Tanana’s Christmas to Color provides ultra-attractive, over-sized pages of beautiful Christmas scenes to tempt even the grouchiest Grinches of the family! Snowflakes, wreaths, ornaments in detail, and so many other festive designs are sure to add amusement to any family gathering. Tanana cleverly draws some designs that can be cut out and placed in outlined areas on facing pages. “Trim” an intricately decorated tree with colored pens or pencils, then place it in the blank center of a background of poinsettias and mistletoe. Or have the relatives color any of the pages of sleds or stockings, animals and stars and so much more, to create a collage of everyone’s work.

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Bright and cheery stocking colored by Juli Barry from artwork in Christimas to Color by Mary Tanana, HarperCollins, ©2015.

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Twinkling toppers colored by Juli Barry from artwork in Christimas to Color by Mary Tanana, HarperCollins, ©2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IHeartColoringFlowers.jpgColoring books are all the rage this year and they come in every size and theme. Lizzie Preston and Jane Ryder-Gray, Jess Bradley, and Felicity French all illustrate a new, smaller (6” X 6”) coloring book series appropriately entitled I Heart Coloring … These make great stocking stuffers and provide fun distractions during those holiday trips in planes, trains, and autos. Specifically, I Heart Coloring Flowers with artwork by Preston and Ryder-Gray includes intricate floral patterns and challenging motifs as well as lighter fare for those just starting out. You can mat and frame your completed pages and give them as presents, or cut out particular flowers and add them to hand-made cards. Use now or save for Valentine’s Day or Easter.

TheNeonColoringBookCheck out the bold, over-sized The Neon Coloring Book with its hints of neon orange and pink adorning pages of animals, skateboards (!!) and other funky objects. Black or neon-colored backgrounds radiate other pages of delights to color. So buy a pack or two of neon markers and join in the fun! Coloring provides both a quiet way to interact with loved ones and a creative break from all the work and stress of the holidays. And Price Stern Sloan has a tempting array of coloring books sure to brighten everyone’s day!

 

 

I Heart Coloring
by Felicity French
I Heart Cute Coloring
by Jess Bradley

I Heart Coloring Flowers
by Lizzie Preston and Jane Ryder-Gray

(Price Stern Sloane; $9.99 each, Ages 10 and up)

The Neon Coloring Book
by Richard Merritt, Amanda Hillier, and Felicity French
(Price Stern Sloane; $12.99, Ages 5-8)

 

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Best Hanukkah Books Roundup

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BEST HANUKKAH BOOKS ROUNDUP

Hanukkah arrives early again this year and so it’s time for our annual Hannukah books roundup featuring our faves for you to share with your children. All these books make great gifts, too, so why not give the gift of a wonderful story?


NONNA’S HANUKKAH SURPRISE
NonnasHanukkahSurprise by Karen Fisman with illustrations by Martha Avilés (Kar-Ben; $17.99 hardcover, $7.99 paperback, Ages 3-8)
This simple, seemingly straightforward Hanukkah story of girl gets Hanukkah Menorah (aka hanukkiyah), girl loses Hanukkah Menorah, girl gets new Hanukkah Menorah has several super, smile-producing twists. For one thing, Rachel’s haukkiyah is made up of 9 female Maccabees instead of males, and this year, Rachel’s Hanukkah celebration will be away from home, with Nonna, her Italian grandma. I love how Fisman’s put a 21st century spin on this charming Hanukkah tale of today’s typical blended family where one parent is Jewish and the other is not.  Rachel worries she won’t be celebrating Hanukkah at Nonna’s who celebrates Christmas, but her mom’s made sure to bring everything along including dreidels, candles, and traditional Hanukkah gelt so that the Festival of Lights will be just like at home. But when Rachel leaves her Maccabees menorah on the airplane, it’s Nonna and her sweet surprise that saves the day in this heartwarming tale of acceptance, respect, and a grandma’s love that knows no religion, only devotion to her granddaughter.

IS IT HANUKKAH YET?IsItHanukkahYet by Chris Barash with illustrations by Alessandra Psacharopulo
(Albert Whitman & Company; $16.99, Ages 4-8)
Like its predecessor, Is it Passover Yet?, Is it Hanukkah Yet? in under 200 words, successfully creates a holiday mood with its festive artwork and joyous tale. This picture book opens with a snowy scene of nature.
“When frosty winds blow and snow’s all around
And there’s no sign of green on the trees or the ground.
Hanukkah is on its way.”
Barash and Psacharopulo take us from the bucolic outdoors as animals gear up for the long winter to the indoors as a family makes their preparations for the arrival of family, friends and the joyous eight night long celebration of Hanukkah. From stirring, frying and baking traditional Haunkkah foods, to the lighting of colored candles “When the blessings are said and the first candles glow” to the singing of songs and playing dreidel, the small pleasures of the beloved Festival of Lights can be found and enjoyed on every page of this lovely book.

HanukkahisComing

HANUKKAH IS COMING! by Tracy Newman with illustrations by Viviana Garofoli
(Kar-Ben; $5.99, Ages 1-4)
From Hanukkah is coming! to Hurray! Hanukkah is here!, this 12 page board book with its gentle rhyme and repeating phrase, serves as a perfect introduction to the holiday for young children and builds anticipation. A brother, sister and silly dog mention all the special things they love and look forward to about Hanukkah. Whether it’s cooking latkes that “Hiss, sizzle, pop,” or spinning the dreidel with its nun, gimel, hay and shin, Hanukkah is coming and that’s something to get excited about!

 

SammySpidersfirstTasteof Hanukkah


SAMMY SPIDER’S FIRST TASTE OF HANUKKAH: A COOKBOOK
 by Sylvia A. Rouss and Genene Levy Turndorf with illustrations by Katherine Janus Kahn
(Kar-Ben; $16.99 hardcover, $7.99 paperback, Ages 2-8)
Making his 15th appearance, “Sammy Spider dangled from his web as Mr. Shapiro told Josh the story of the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil.” While spiders don’t celebrate the holiday,  Sammy could certainly watch as all the cooking began! In this latest installation of the anthropomorphic arachnid, we get a helpful intro, and recipes divided into sections of Simple Snacks, Miracle Meals (LOVE the Maccabee and Cheese), Tasty Treats (check out Melt-in-Your-Mouth Menorahs), Crafty Ideas (salt dough Hanukkah decorations are a personal fave) plus a section on Lighting the Menorah and Hanukkah Blessings. This is a terrific hands-on book for families this holiday season and definitely one to hang onto for years to come.

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel #Readukkah

Shop Indie Bookstores

Good Reads With Ronna is proud to be an IndieBookstores Affiliate. Doing so provides a means for sites like ours to occasionally earn modest fees that help pay for our time, mailing expenses, giveaway costs and other blog related expenses. If you click on an IndieBound link in a post and buy anything, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your purchase supports our efforts and tells us you like the service we’re providing with our reviews, and for that we sincerely thank you.


BAKING WITH KIDS by Leah Brooks

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BAKING WITH KIDS
by Leah Brooks with Photography by Scott Peterson
(Quarry Books, $22.99, Ages 4 and up).

Baking-With-Kids-cvr.jpg

My daughter and I were thrilled to get our “oven mitts” on BAKING WITH KIDS, the latest recipe and instruction book from Leah Brooks, founder of Young Urban Modern Chefs (Y.U.M. Chefs), a San Francisco cooking school for kids. Brooks’ well-organized kitchen guide is filled with tempting baking ideas and countless helpful tips. Lushly illustrated with full color, drool-worthy photographs, this book will send families rushing to the cupboard to collect bowls, pans and ingredients!

Although one might choose to dive right into the recipes, Brooks wisely offers an opening chapter on kitchen safety for kids. If you have not cooked with young people before, there are great ideas on how to teach safety around knives and sharp objects, proper use of oven and stovetop, and the importance of cleaning up as you work. Baking tools are defined in the next chapter, followed by tips on terms and techniques such as zesting, creaming and kneading.

Strawberry-Hand-Pies.jpg

Strawberry Hand Pies photo courtesy of Cathy Ballou Mealey, ©2015.

Recipes are grouped into breakfast (muffins and scones), breads and snacks (pretzels and crackers), desserts (pie crust and cake), and party perennials such as pizza, cookies, and cupcakes. My daughter selected the recipe for Mini Strawberry Hand Pies, and assembled the necessary ingredients and equipment independently. She was able to follow the simple, step-by-step directions on her own for all the steps, even declaring that “macerating” was her new favorite food preparation technique! The pies were tasty little treats that smelled heavenly and had a rich, buttery crust.

BAKING WITH KIDS makes it so simple and fun to create in the kitchen that you had best stock up on supplies at the grocery store in advance. We give it two spoons up for delicious family treats made with love!

– Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey and Grace Mealey

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Easy Drop Biscuits from Baking With Kids by Leah Brooks with Photography by Scott Peterson, Quarry Books, ©2014.

EASY DROP BISCUITS RECIPE
Light and flaky, these biscuits are delicious as part of an elaborate breakfast feast or with simple cherry preserves (see Cherry Frosting, page xx). These biscuits are quick to prepare and because they are drop biscuits, they clean up in a cinch as well!

Yield: 8-10 biscuits

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups (180 g) all-purpose flour

½ cup (60 g) white whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon (12 g) baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 stick (½ cup, or 112 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup (235 ml) whole milk

Tools needed:

measuring cups and spoons

liquid measuring cup

medium bowl

baking sheet

parchment paper

whisk

bench scraper

wooden spoon or spatula

Instructions:

1 Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2 In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Gently toss the butter with the flour until all the butter cubes are completely coated.

3 Using a pastry cutter, 2 butter knives, or your fingertips, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of peas, being careful not to overmix. Chill in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.

for smaller hands
Watch children as they mix because kids like to squeeze the dough between their fingers, warming it and potentially overmixing. This will result in tough and dense biscuits.

4 Add the milk and stir until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.

5 Using two spoons, scoop about a ¼-cup (60 g) of dough into mounds onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden.

Where Obtained:  We reviewed a promotional copy of BAKING WITH KIDS from the publisher and received no compensation. The opinions expressed here are our own.

 

 


Kohl’s Cares Beginner Books – A Great Way to Help Kids!

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 KOHL’S CARES IS BACK
WITH A GREAT SELECTION OF BEGINNER BOOKS!

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Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 6.34.33 PMEvery season the Kohl’s Cares program creates a great new reading opportunity for families at affordable prices. We’ll never tire of sharing the $5 book offers every chance we can. And what we love most is that Kohl’s Cares not only supports children’s health and education initiatives nationwide, but it also offers parents a terrific selection of some of the best picture books around at a low, low price making it easy to own new Beginner Books, encourage reading at home and start your own collection.

In addition to the books, the Kohl’s Cares program also sells plush toys and cookbooks for the hard-to-resist price of $5 for any item. That’s not a typo! It’s just the Kohl’s Cares philanthropic platform of the Kohl’s Department Stores. Your purchase of products from the Kohl’s Cares cause merchandise program helps Kohl’s give back not only to help children’s initiatives, but to support the fight against breast cancer and champion environmental issues, too. Click here now to be connected with the online program or head to your local Kohl’s.

Customers can buy these products on sale now through April 5th both online (including several online exclusives) or in stores, but don’t wait so that your first choices are gone. Choose from the following children’s books (recommended for ages 3 and up) and coordinating stuffed animals, along with cookbooks for adults:

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Put Me In The Zoo by Robert Lopshire, and Zoo character plush

1526388*Go, Dog, Go! by P. D. Eastman, and Dog plush    *A GRWR Blog Fave!

 

The Nose Book by Al Perkins with illustrations by Joe Mathieu, and Elephant plush

 

Hand, Hand, Fingers Thumb by Al Perkins with illustrations by Eric Gurney, and Monkey plush

15263901526385

 

Big Dog … Little Dog by P. D. Eastman, and Fred and Ted plush toys – ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

 

 

For adults, check out the following:

15263751526422Cook This, Not That! Skinny Comfort Foods by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding
including 125 fast recipes © 2012 Rodale

Delish – Just Four Ingredients Fast!  from ACP Magazines Limited including 152 recipes
© 2013 Hearst Books

For more info about Kohl’s philanthropic programs, please visit www.Kohls.com/Cares.