Kids in the Kitchen: Ice Cream Floats

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Do you have a picky eater in the house? One of my favorite ways to get kids to overcome picky eating is by exploring and understanding flavor combinations in a totally fun way with ice cream floats. Kids already love the simple ingredients of ice cream floats (ice cream and soda), so it will be less intimidating for them to experiment with flavor combinations. Get them in the kitchen scooping, pouring, and tasting some new flavors.

Need some inspiration? Here are my favorite ice cream float flavors:

  • Root beer and vanilla ice cream
  • Cream soda and vanilla ice cream
  • Orange soda and vanilla ice cream
  • Grape soda and vanilla ice cream
  • Cola soda and vanilla ice cream
  • Sparkling apple juice and vanilla or cinnamon ice cream
  • Lemon-lime soda and lime sherbet
  • Lemon-lime soda and pineapple sherbet
  • Cherry soda and pineapple sherbet
  • Cherry soda and lemon sorbet
  • Ginger ale and orange sherbet
  • Cherry cola soda and chocolate cherry ice cream

That’s a good start, but why not take the kids to the store with you and get inspired? Talk about adding fresh mint or berries or chunks of cookies. Have fun and see what they concoct on their own. They might come up with a new favorite recipe.

HINT: The best way to build a float is with this pattern: soda first, then ice cream, then a bit of soda on top. This method will keep the annoying froth off the top!

Kids in the Kitchen: Frozen Treats

Frozen Grape Skewers

We’re beating summer boredom (and teaching lifelong skills) by sharing some great tips and delicious kid-friendly recipes to get your kids in the kitchen and having fun. Last week I shared my favorite no-bake recipes. This week, I’m excited to share a handful of delicious frozen treats that kids can make on their own or with a little adult supervision, depending on their age or skill level.


Teach kids proper hand washing techniques. Talk to your kids about keeping germs and disease from food by thoroughly washing hands: wet hands first with water, apply soap, and scrub hands thoroughly while singing the Happy Birthday song twice (about 20 seconds). Teach them to scrub the backs of their hands, in between fingers, and especially under fingernails.

Explain freezer safety. We’re used to teaching kids about hot stoves, but freezer burns are real (and painful). Make sure hands are completely dry before handing any metal from the freezer, or use hot pads as a precaution. If skin gets stuck to something frozen, teach them to run warm water over the skin to release it.


Frozen Grape Skewers
(shown above)

1/2 pound red grapes, washed and dried
1/2 pound green grapes, washed and dried
bamboo skewers

Using the spear end of bamboo skewers, pierce through a grape and slide it to the end. Alternate with red and green grapes until skewer is full. Place skewers on a freezer-safe tray at least a 1/4 inch apart and freeze for at least 3 hours or until grapes are frozen solid. Once frozen solid, transfer skewers to a freezer bag or air-tight container.

Watermelon Ice Pops

Watermelon Ice Pops
from Eat Yourself Skinny 

5 cups seedless watermelon
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 pint lime sherbet, softened
Puree watermelon and sugar in batches in your blender or food processor until smooth and strain into a medium bowl. Cover and freeze until puree is slightly slushy, but not quite solid, about 2 to 3 hours.  Remove from freezer and stir in chocolate chips. Place twelve small disposable cups in a shallow baking pan and spoon watermelon puree into cups, leaving about a 1/2 inch space left from the rim.  Place pan in freezer for 2 hours, or until puree is solid, but not rock hard.
Allow lime sherbet to soften before spreading on top of each cup, filling it nearly full.  Smooth sherbet with the back of a spoon and cover each cup tightly with plastic wrap.  Cut a small slit in the center of each cup and insert a popsicle stick.  Freeze until solid. Before serving, allow pops to sit at room temperature for about a minute, then gently pull out from the cups.

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Bites

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Bites
from nom! nom! nom! blog
2 large bananas
1/4 cup peanut but­ter
1/2 cup choco­late chips
2 tbsp-1/4 cup milk

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice bananas into coins about 1/2–3/4 inch thick. Spread a lit­tle dol­lop of peanut but­ter on top of each one. In a small bowl, com­bine the choco­late chips and milk. Microwave in 15 sec­ond increments, stirring between each one, until you can whisk them together. It should be thick enough to coat the bananas, but not too thin. Add a splash more milk if nec­es­sary. Dip the banana chunks using a fork, dip­ping them into the melted choco­late. Place choco­late coated bananas on the pre­pared sheet and place in freezer until com­pletely frozen (about 3–5 hours). Remove frozen banana chunks from the sheet and store in a freezer container.

Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag

Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk or half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 heaping tablespoons sugar
1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
1 quart-size plastic food storage bag
rock salt

Fill the gallon-size bag 3/4 full of ice cubes and sprinkle a handful (about 1/4 cup) rock salt over the ice. In the quart-size bag, add cream, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Seal the bag, removing excess air, and place inside the larger bag and seal it as well. Shake the bags vigorously (probably outdoors) for 5-10 minutes, or until the ice cream in the inner bag gets thick and hard. Remove and dry the inner bag to keep the saltwater out of your ice cream. Discard the larger bag. Serve immediately in a bowl or right out of the bag.

For Chocolate Ice Cream: Add 2-3 tablespoons of chocolate syrup and reduce the vanilla to 1/4 teaspoon.

For Strawberry Ice Cream: Add 3-4 tablespoons sweetened, pureéd strawberries.

For Mint Ice Cream: Replace vanilla with 1/4 teaspoon mint extract and add 3 drops of green food coloring.

Kids in the Kitchen: No Fail, No-Bake Recipes


For the next few weeks, let’s beat summer boredom by getting the kids in the kitchen to create recipes and learn skills that will come in handy for the rest of their lives. I’ll share my favorite kids-in-the-kitchen tips and my favorite kid-friendly recipes. Today’s I’m sharing my favorite no-bake options, perfect for quick results and no unnecessary heat!


Teach kids how to read a recipe. Before you begin preparing food, read the recipe from beginning to end together. Explain any terms that are unfamiliar, and talk through individual steps.

Mise en place. This French term means to gather and measure all ingredients and equipment before you begin. (Hey, it’s a French lesson, too!) This is an especially important idea for kids because it ensures accuracy and speeds up the actual cooking or baking process, creating a more satisfying experience.

Teach safety one recipe at a time. Kids can learn to properly handle knives, heat and other dangers as they practice with your supervision. They’ll feel empowered as they learn to master safety in the kitchen.

Keep them involved. Maintain their interest and involvement in the kitchen by inviting them to choose recipes and shop for ingredients. This is a great idea for picky eaters who are more likely to try new things when they’re involved in the process.

Aim for fun, not perfection. Resist micro-managing and let them learn through experience.


No-Bake Rocky Road Cookies

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup chopped cashews
1 cup chocolate chips

In a heavy saucepan, bring the sugar, butter, cocoa, and milk to a boil. Allow it to boil for one minute, then add peanut butter and vanilla and stir until combined. Remove from heat. Stir in the oatmeal, marshmallows, nuts, and chocolate chips. With an ice cream scoop, form balls of dough and set on wax or parchment paper until cool.

S’more Bars

4 c. graham cracker cold cereal
4 c. chocolate puff cold cereal
1 10-ounce package marshmallows
5 T. butter

Melt butter in large pot over low heat.  Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.  Remove from heat and add both cereals.  Stir with a large spoon until thoroughly mixed.  Transfer to a greased 9 x 13 pan and allow to cool.  Cut into squares and enjoy!

No-Bake Energy Bites
(from Smashed Peas & Carrots)

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then using a cookie dough scoop or melon baller, divide and roll into bite-sized balls. Store in an air-tight container and keep refrigerated for up to one week.

HINT: Substitute peanut butter for your favorite nut butter (almond, cashew, etc.). Nutella also works great for a chocolate-y twist.

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