Easy Bake Oven Redux – and where to get cheap mixes.

It’s been four years since I got Mika (now 9 1/2 yo) an Easy Bake Oven (a model which has been recalled since).  When I first got it, and for years afterwards, the kids had little interest on it.  The mixes were boring, the portions too small and it took too long to make them.  We did go through all the mixes that came with the oven, but after that we put the oven away.  Indeed, if I wasn’t so lazy I would have sent it back when they had the recall.

But I’ve come to learn that a toy that doesn’t interest a child when you get it, can really interest them years later.  A couple of days ago we went to the 99-cents only store and found a bunch of Easy Bake Oven mixes for, well, 99-cents each.  These are the full size packages, each containing about 4 mixes (each of which makes enough for one cookie-size recipe).  While 99-cents for the equivalent of 4 cookies may seem expensive, these packages usually retail for $6 to $10!  Mika saw them, wanted them so I bought a couple of packages.  She knew exactly where the Easy Bake Oven was (in the garage, I think) and somehow we managed to find the necessary tools that went with it, so she went ahead and made the brownies.  She needed a little help putting the pan inside the oven – it’s a bit tricky – but she got the hang of it and it went well.  Well, not great, because she did not put the timer so the brownie came out too dry, but well enough.  Cookies are next in the menu.

If she (or Camila) show more interest I may go back to the 99-cents store and get more mixes, at that price they can’t be beat.  But I daresay they’ll get bored with it again pretty soon.


Mika’s First Cake

Yesterday Mika decided to make a cake all by herself. I wasn’t allowed to be anywhere near the kitchen. She started with an Angel food cake mix, to which she added milk, an egg, coconut, sugar and mashed banana – she didn’t measure how much of each she put. She baked it in a 350F for about half an hour (until golden). The results were amazing. The cake had an almost flannish consistency, a bit gritty because of the coconut, but that worked out very well. The coconut-banana flavor was subtle, but present. The cake kept its moist consistency and it tasted great. Kudos to Mika!


Betty Crocker Peanut Butter bon bon Mix – Review

Betty Crocker Peanut Butter bon bon MixCamila and I just made some bon bons from a Betty Crocker Peanut Butter bon bon Mix that my mom got me (no idea why). I have to admit I’m quite impressed. The bon bons were very easy to make – so much so that Camila barely needed any help – and they are fun too!
Basically all you do is mix some butter with the bon bon mix and peanut butter. You roll them into balls and then dip them into melted chocolate. Well, let me tell you, 5 year-olds find rolling and dipping more fun than you would expect.
These things do not need to be baked and only require fifteen minutes in the fridge for the chocolate to harden – great, given how little patience children have.
More importantly, they are quite delicious. Mika couldn’t believe how good they were and she hugged Camila thanking her for making them.
As for Camila, she decided she wants to own a candy store when she grows up, given how good she is at making candy 🙂
Update – I just saw the bon bon mix at Grocery Outlet for $1.50 for the 14oz, single, package. It’s supposed to make about 20 bon bons.


Häagen-Daz fat free sorbet & yogurt bars

sorbet.jpgA few days ago I discovered Häagen-Daz fat free sorbet & yogurt bars at Grocery Outlet (raspberry & vanilla). As far as treat goes, I think they are pretty good. They have mostly OK ingredients (except for corn syrup, but it’s not the high fructose kind) and only 100 calories each. Most importantly, the kids love them – even more than other treats. They sell for $1 each, so they are not the most affordable of treats – but I rather pay more and have something somewhat healthier for them.


Strawberry popsicles recipe

I got this incredibly simple recipe from Highlights High Five magazine (a wonderful, if very expensive, magazine for preschoolers). Camila (my 4.5 yo) decided she wanted to make it today and she managed quite well by herself. I did do the blending (I used my rocket blender) and put the cups in the freezer, but she did everything else.
The original recipe calls for little paper glasses and popsicle sticks – I didn’t have either so I used small plastic cups and the handles of plastic spoons. They came out great, the kids loved them and they couldn’t be easier.
I also didn’t have vanilla yogurt, so I used plain yogurt, added a couple of drops of vanilla essence and a couple of teaspoons of sugar.

  • 1 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

Put strawberries and yogurt in a blender and blend well. Pour mixture into 4-6 small cups. Place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Put popsicle sticks in the middle of the popsicles and continue freezing for 2-3 hours.


Milanesas

Last night I made milanesas. I hadn’t realized how long it’d been since I last made them, but neither my 7 nor my 4 yo remembered them. For the uninitiated, milanesas are simply thin cutlets of meat that are pounded, passed through an egg bath and then breaded with bread crumbs (I use Italian style for extra flavor, and add salt & parsley flakes to the egg). You fry them in a little bit of oil (I use olive) and then eat them. They are particularly good with lemon juice squeezed on them.
As usually, the kids first refused to eat them – pronouncing them “yucky”. Also as usual, Mika, who was unusually hungry, agreed to try a bite – and she loved it! Camila followed and she liked them as well, though didn’t eat that much of it. Mika had seconds and requested that I make milanesas twice a week now. Well, that’s unlikely to happen but I will cook them more often.
The main reason why I made them was that now the girls have swimming until late twice a week – so on those days I need dishes that I can make very quickly. Milanesas are very quick to make (and you can even make them in advance), and you can cook them in the oven if you want to avoid using oil.


Easy baking with my girls

The Easy Bake Oven I bought Mika for Christmas has been recalled for the second time – this time permanently. Soon they will send me a box to send it back to them in exchange for some amount of credit on Hasbro products. Problem is, I have a bunch of mixes that came with the oven plus a couple of more they sent me when they sent the “fix” for the problem. They are really expensive – $7-$11! -, and I want to use them up. So, I suspect in the next couple of weeks I’ll be doing quite a bit of “easy baking” with the girls (don’t worry, I don’t let them anywhere near the oven by themselves).
easybakecake.jpgToday we baked the yellow cake with chocolate frosting, pictured in the left. You can see below how the cake actually turned out. It didn’t rise very much (surprise, surprise), but the chocolate frosting was yummy and the two went well together. My little girls were happy with it. They decorated with a cat cookie and pretended it was a birthday cake.
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Sandwich Cutters

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A mom told me about these sandwich cutters available at Safeway, and I couldn’t believe how useful and simple in design they are. My kids will eat crusted sandwiches, as much as they eat any sandwich, but I know kids who wont, and when I have kids over I always make sure to take off the crusts. It’s always a pain and it never looks nice.
I also cut the crusts when I make tea sandwiches, and these crustless cutters are the solution. The only ones I could find at Safeway were the heart one and the 4X one, but I think the 2X one would be better for my needs. Still, tr


Fun with eggs

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A year or so ago I saw some pictures of hard-boiled eggs in cool shapes on Craigslist. I decided I wanted to make some for my kids. The instrument apparently used was a sushimaker, so I got one (thanks Ebay) and then for one reason or another I didn’t do anything with it. I finally tried it some time ago and it sort of works. The key is using a small enough egg that fits, putting it when it’s stil warm and flexible, and then cooling it down. Alas, the egg usually breaks anyway and the shape doesn’t last for long out of the mold – but my girl still liked it.
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Cherry Tomatoes

cherry tomatoes
Michaela has discovered the pleasure of cherry tomatoes and they have now become a staple in her diet. I suspect that what she most likes is the size, she’s very size conscious and always wants a smaller cup, a smaller plate and, apparently, smaller food. She’s been a fan of quail eggs and baby carrots for years, and cherry tomatoes fit right in. They’re a great snack at home and easy to put in her lunch box for school. They are a good source of vitamin C and they’re very cute.