Snow Day Eats

School may have been canceled yet again, but your kids can learn something new on a snow day: that you’re a master chef. These super-easy (and delicious) snacks will prove it. We promise!

Single-serve mug cake. In a microwave-safe mug or dish, mix ¼ cup flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 egg, a drop of vanilla extract, and a dash of salt. Microwave on high until puffed, about 1.5 to 2 minutes. Serve warm so it’s gooey.

Edible bouquets. Give a plate of fresh veggies eye appeal by creating flower shapes with green or red bell peppers and celery. Slice the peppers into strips and place them in a circle as “petals.” Cut the celery into sticks for the stem. Place a small dish of dressing or dipping sauce in the center of the peppers to complete your “flower.” Or try your own veggie mix and design.

Upgraded PB&Js. Instead of the standard peanut butter and grape jelly on bread, skip the jelly and spread a thin layer of Neufchatel cheese and fresh blueberries over the peanut butter, or forgo the peanuts altogether and opt for sunflower or almond butter.

Snowman pancakes. These will make your kids giggle, for sure. Pour pancake batter onto a preheated griddle in small, medium and large circles that overlap slightly, so the result looks like a snowman. Size it so you can flip it easily, and serve with fresh fruit for the eyes, nose, and mouth.

End the snackfest with laundry duty. Snow play can make for wet, sweaty gear. When they’re done eating, have the kids cart their messy snow pants and thermal underwear—and if they got snack stains on their shirts, those, too—to the laundry room. Launder it all with a detergent that's made to deliver a powerful clean for both colored and dark loads, pancake splotches included.

 

Crazy for Cocoa?

When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing like a steaming mug of cocoa to warm you up and lift any winter blahs. For a real treat, give the classic homemade version a try. Start by heating four cups of milk (whole milk, skim, or try almond milk) in a saucepan, then whisk in 10 ounces of your favorite sweetened chocolate baking bar, cut into small pieces (chocolate chips work, too). When the chocolate melts, pour into four mugs and serve.

Once you’ve mastered the classic version, kick it up with different flavors.

• Stir a half teaspoon of vanilla extract or a tablespoon of a chocolate-hazelnut spread into the pot.

• Like mint? Place a candy cane in each mug as a stirrer.

• Sprinkle a quarter teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a dash of ground nutmeg—both of which are loaded with health-protective antioxidants—into your mug.

• Perk up the flavor (and your brain) by adding a shot of espresso.

• Keep your eye out for bakeries that sell flavored gourmet marshmallows for a flashy, yummy finishing touch.

Sounds good, right? Just be sure to enjoy it in your cup, not on your shirt. If you do spill your cocoa, simply rinse the stain in cold water as soon as possible, then pour liquid laundry detergent directly on the stain and let it set for 20 minutes. Afterwards, wash the garment in warm water with liquid laundry detergent. Taking your cocoa to go in a thermos? Tuck a stain remover in your bag, to be safe. Before treating any garment, refer to the instructions on the care label. Always test the solution on a hidden area first. If treating washable silk or wool, follow basic instructions, but hand wash.