“Curious George” and Wee Chocolate Covered Frozen Banana and Peanut Butter Sandwiches!

Reading Group: 3 – 8 years old

His name says it all, doesn’t it? George sure is a curious little monkey!

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“Curious George” by H.A. Rey

H.A. Rey’s “Curious George (1969) tells the story of a nosy monkey named George and his friend, the Man In the Yellow Hat.

Now, George never tries to get into trouble… It just happens!

Like the time he saw the Man In the Yellow Hat use the telephone and he wanted to try it too…

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…Or the time he saw a little girl with a nice balloon at the park and he wanted one too.

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George means well, but he can’t resist being curious!

To celebrate “Curious George”, I decided to make a tasty chocolate-covered peanut butter and banana snack.

Curious George’s Wee Chocolate Covered Frozen Banana and Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Oh my goodness, are these ever delicious! I found it hard to eat just one of these little bites.

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What You’ll Need:

  • 3 medium-ripe bananas, sliced (under-ripe bananas won’t have enough taste; over-ripe bananas will be tough to handle)
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • 8 to 10 ounces baking chocolate

Instructions:

  1. Place half of the banana slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Spread the banana slices with peanut butter. This sounds easy, but I found spreading peanut butter on slippery banana slices to be pretty messy. Just remember: they don’t have to look pretty! They’re going to be coated in chocolate, so the messiness isn’t a huge deal.
  3. Top the peanut butter slices with the other half of the banana slices. Freeze the wee peanut butter-banana sandwiches for about an hour.
  4. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. It’s easiest to do this in the microwave. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put the pieces in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Continue to heat for 15 second intervals, stirring between, until the chocolate melts.
  5. Remove the peanut butter-banana sandwiches from the freezer one at a time (so the banana doesn’t thaw and get mushy) and dip them into the melted chocolate. Use two forks to dip the sandwiches and roll them in the chocolate. Use one of the forks to lift the peanut butter-banana sandwich from the bowl and the other to remove the excess chocolate. Place the wee peanut butter-banana sandwich back on the lined baking sheet and freeze until you’re ready to serve them.

Let the bites thaw slightly before you snack on them. They can be a little tough when they’re straight out of the freezer.

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What do you think? Would George be curious to see what’s inside these little tasty treats?

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“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” and Oven-Baked Turkey Meatballs!

Reading Group: 5 – 8 years old

What would you do if one day the sky started raining hamburgers, snowing mashed potatoes, and blowing in gusts of chicken noodle soup? What if the clouds above were made of fried eggs?

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Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” by Judi Barrett (with illustrations by Ron Barrett) (1988) tells such a tale. The story is set in the town of Chewandswallow: a place where no one needs grocery stores because everything they eat comes right from the sky!

A typical day in the town of Chewandswallow.

A typical day in the town of Chewandswallow.

To go with “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”, I decided to make some hand-packed, oven-baked turkey meatballs. Delicious!

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs’ Fast and Friendly Turkey Meatballs

These meatballs are lovely because they they’re nice and crispy, but you don’t have to fry them in a lot of heavy oil to get that texture.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (454 gram) package ground turkey (I decided to use ground chicken instead)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with 2 tablespoons olive oil and place it in the oven while it’s pre-heating.
  2. In a medium bowl, use your hands to mix together ground turkey, egg, and breadcrumbs. Spoon the meat with an ice cream scoop and form it into golf ball-sized meatballs. Place the balls roughly 1-inch apart in the hot baking dish. Press down on the balls to slightly flatten their bottoms.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, flip them over, and continue baking for 5 to 7 more minutes (or until somewhat crispy on the outside).

Try sprinkling the meatballs with a little bit of cheese for an extra kick! Or, throw them on a tiny bun with a little lettuce and tomato to make wee turkey burger sliders.

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What do you think? Would you still eat these meatballs if they came out of the sky and you had to collect them off of your front lawn?

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“The Tale of Peter Rabbit” and Honey-Glazed Carrots!

Reading Group: 3 – 8 years old

When you find a snack you love, sometimes it feels just so hard to resist it—even if you’re told to keep away from it!

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Beatrix Potter’s “The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902) tells such a story. One morning, Peter’s mother sends him and his sisters down the lane to gather blackberries while she goes go market. She tells them to have fun, but not to go into Mr. McGregor’s garden.

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But Peter, the little scamp, can’t resist all the vegetables in Mr. McGregor’s garden! He goes straight to the garden and under the fence.

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He gorges on all kinds of treats: lettuces, French beans, radishes, and parsley! He eats until he feels so stuffed that he gets sick and can hardly move!

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For Peter Rabbit’s snack, I picked a treat that’s universally loved by bunnies: carrots!

Peter Rabbit’s Honey-Glazed Carrots

I love this recipe because it makes carrots fun and super delicious. The original recipe called for baby carrots, but I decided to chop large carrots into slices instead. I thought this made the snack feel more like chips.

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What You’ll Need:

  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a rolling boil. Add a dash of salt.
  2. Cook carrots until tender (about 5-6 minutes) and drain.
  3. Add back to pot. Add butter, honey, and lemon juice. Return to medium heat and cook until a glaze coats the carrots (about 5 minutes).
  4. Season with salt and pepper.

This recipe goes great as a side at dinner, or just as a nice afternoon snack. The honey glaze sweetens the carrots making them a real treat.

What do you think? Would Peter Rabbit be able to resist these tasty carrot chips?

“Harold and the Purple Crayon” and Grapey Grapes!

Reading Group: 5 – 8 years old

It’s been nearly 30 years since I first read this book and I still smile whenever I think about it.

"Harold and the Purple Crayon" by Crockett Johnson

“Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson

Crockett Johnson’s “Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955) tells the story of an adorable little boy and his imagination. One evening—after thinking it over for some time—little Harold decides to go out for a moonlight stroll with his purple crayon.

When he sees there’s no moon in the sky for his moonlit stroll, he decides to draw one.

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Harold keeps walking, drawing anything and everything into his walk.

He decides to make a forest (but only with one tree so he doesn’t get lost)…

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…and a sail boat…

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Eventually he gets a little hungry. He draws a picnic lunch and, when he can’t finish his food, he draws some hungry friends so the food doesn’t go to waste.

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To go with “Harold and the Purple Crayon”, I searched for the most purple snack I could think of: frozen grape-dusted grapes!

Harold and the Purple Crayon’s Frozen Grapey Grapes

Hands down, frozen red grapes are one of my all-time favourite snacks. I buy a batch, wash them, and stick them in the freezer to snack on all day long. For this snack, I thought adding a little bit of sugar would be a sweet way to kick them up.

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What You’ll Need:

  • One bunch red grapes
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons grape Jell-O powder

Instructions:

  1. Place grapes in a large bowl and fill with water until covered. Soak the grapes for 20 minutes to thoroughly wash them. Rinse well. Spread the grapes on paper towels to let them dry.
  2. Remove grapes from their vines and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze grapes for a few hours until frozen.
  3. Place grapes in a large zip-top bag and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of grape Jell-O powder. Shake the bag until grapes are thoroughly covered. Serve in ramekins or small bowls.

Frozen grapes are also great for keeping a glass of juice nice and cool without watering it down.

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What do you think? Would Harold love these extra-purple grapes?

“Green Eggs and Ham” Green Eggs and Ham!

Reading Group: 5 – 8 years old

Many readers celebrate Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham (1960) as one of the greatest storybooks ever! It’s easy to read and, even better, it’s also super fun to re-read over and over and over again.

"Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss

“Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss

“Green Eggs and Ham” tells the tale of a no-nonsense narrator…

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…and pesky little Sam-I-Am—who simply won’t leave him alone!

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In the story, Sam-I-Am won’t stop asking the man to try his plate of green eggs and ham. The man says no. Sam follows him everywhere and does everything he can to get the man to try them.

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But the man still says no!

 

Sam-I-Am’s Green Eggs and Ham

The snack to go along with “Green Eggs and Ham” felt pretty obvious! This recipe actually marks the first time I’ve ever made eggs. I’m happy to say that it was pretty simple! The eggs in “Green Eggs and Ham” are sunny-side up, but I decided that kid-friendly scrambled eggs might be a better choice.

Green eggs and ham!

Green eggs and ham!

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 to 3 drops blue food colouring
  • Salt and pepper
  • A smidgen of butter
  • 1 package sliced ham
  • Sliced hard cheddar cheese

Instructions:

  1. Crack the eggs in a medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 2 to 3 drops of blue food colouring (You’d think green food colouring, right? I thought so too, but then I was reminded of the rules of primary school art class: yellow (yolk) + blue = green!). Whisk together until well blended.
  2. Heat a small nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Melt a small wedge of butter in the pan.
  3. Pour the green egg mixture into the pan. Cook slowly. Let the eggs set a bit in the pan and then stir them with a wooden spoon. Wait until the eggs look clumpy, but still shiny and then transfer them to a plate. They’ll keep cooking even after they’re removed from the heat.
  4. Serve with pieces of hard cheddar rolled in slices of ham.

To simplify this snack, I decided to use pre-packaged sliced ham instead of the minced ham recommendation in the original recipe. Then I rolled the ham around a thin slice of cheese to make it extra delicious.

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What do you think? Would Sam-I-Am love these green eggs and ham? What about the man he pesters? Would he gobble down this recipe?

 

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“The Stinky Cheese Man” Oven-Baked Mozzarella Sticks!

Reading Group: 5 – 8 years old

Sometimes you just want a little attention—but that can be hard to find if you’re super stinky!

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“The Stinky Cheese Man” from the collection “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales” by Jon Schieszka and Lane Smith (1992) is a funny little nursery rhyme that tells the tale of a lonely old lady and a lonely old man.

One day the lady feels so very lonely that she decides to make a friend made out of—you guessed it!—stinky cheese! She gives him two olives for his eyes and a slice of bacon for his mouth and sticks him in the oven to cook.

The Stinky Cheese Man

The Stinky Cheese Man

When the old lady opens her oven door, the Stinky Cheese Man runs away, singing:

“Run run run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me. I’m the Stinky Cheese Man!”

The only problem is that the Stinky Cheese Man is so stinky that the old woman doesn’t want to follow him! So he just keeps on running, looking for someone who wants to chase him!

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To go with “The Stinky Cheese Man” I decided to find a recipe that featured the Stinky Cheese Man’s delicious cousin: Gooey Mozzarella Man.

 

The Stinky Cheese Man’s Oven-Baked Mozzarella Sticks

I absolutely love mozzarella sticks. I mean, who doesn’t? And who knew that they were so easy to make?

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What You’ll Need:

  • One package of mozzarella string cheese
  • ½ cup of flour
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder (optional…because I hate onion)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Marinara or ranch sauce for dipping (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray heavily with cooking spray (i.e.: Pam). Set aside.
  2. Cut mozzarella sticks in half and freeze until hard (about 30 minutes).
  3. While the mozzarella freezes, take out three medium-sized bowls. Put the flour in the first bowl and the slightly beaten egg in the second. Whisk the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt in the third.
  4. Toss the hardened mozzarella sticks in flour to coat, then in the egg mixture, and then in the breadcrumb mixture. Dip the coated mozzarella sticks back into the egg mixture and again into the breadcrumb mixture.
  5. Freeze sticks another 15 minutes. This keeps the cheese from melting too quickly when you bake them.
  6. Place the mozzarella sticks on a single layer on the prepared (heavily sprayed) baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes. Turn the sticks and bake for another 5 to 8 minutes until golden, crispy, and delicious-looking. Allow the mozzarella sticks to cool slightly and then serve with ranch or marinara dipping sauce.

 

The key to this recipe is freezing the mozzarella sticks before baking them. This lets the cheese soften when it bakes, but it doesn’t melt too much.

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Unlike the other books we’ve read, I think we can say that the Stinky Cheese Man would not like this treat! Honestly, I’m sure he’d be a little upset about us eating cheese. But these mozzarella sticks are so delicious that I’m sure he’d understand! What do you think? Would the Stinky Cheese Man feel okay with us eating these gooey mozzarella sticks?