Autumn is in the Air: Time to Turn on the Oven and Bake a Cake


I love the fall…cool crisp mornings and warm sunny afternoons.

Here in Colorado, the aspen leaves will be turning to gold, while back in New England where my daughter and her family live; the maples will be wearing flaming headdresses of scarlet, crimson and purple.


Many parents will be helping their children plan their Halloween costumes and decorate the house with pumpkins and sheaves of autumn wheat and Indian corn.  Years ago, our local library had an annual pumpkin-painting contest and all of my children looked forward to choosing the “perfect” pumpkin to decorate and enter…hoping to win the coveted first place prize ribbon.


As the weather cools down, many of us start getting out the muffin pans and cookie sheets in preparation for holiday baking.  I encourage parents to include their children in meal preparation…and holiday baking is an especially fun time to have your kids in the kitchen. If you are looking for simple child-friendly recipes, you’ll find dozens of them in my book, Show Me How!

Here’s a wonderful recipe for Carrot Cake that doesn’t appear in the book.  It’s special enough for festive occasions, but simple enough so that young children can help.


The best thing about this cake is that it is very nutritious (one pound of carrots in each cake) and easy on the digestive system.  I recommend it for anyone who suffers from IBS or GERD problems.


You will need: 1½ cups flour, ¾ cup sugar, 1½ tsp baking powder, ¾ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 egg beaten, ½ cup canola oil, 1 tsp vanilla, zest of 1 orange, 1 pound baby carrots grated, ¾ cup pineapple chunks with juice (about ½ cup), 2 bowls, 1 Bundt pan lightly greased, blender or food processor.

  1. Mix in large bowl: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  2. Mix in another bowl: brown sugar, beaten egg, canola oil, vanilla, orange zest.
  3. Use a blender or food processor to grate the carrots and add the pineapple chunks and juice and blend until fairly smooth.
  4. Add the carrot/pineapple mixture to the brown sugar/egg mixture and stir well till blended.
  5. Add this to the flour mixture and stir gently but thoroughly..
  6. Pour/spoon into lightly greased Bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
  7. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.  After 30 minutes or so, turn upside down on a serving plate and allow the cake to continue cooling.
  8. For storage, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator up to one week.

                                                                     For parents who are local to the Colorado Springs area





Saturday, September 24, 2011

12 to 12:45pm

Family Christian Store: 7165 N. Academy

719-598-1500 to RSVP

Or email

  • Bring your young children and listen to a story
  • Help your child make a simple craft project
  • Get a free flyer: Have a Healthier School Year

Vivian Kirkfield is a local author, former kindergarten and Head Start teacher and mom of three. Her parenting program and award-winning activity book for ages 2-7, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, has helped thousands of parents build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a stronger parent-child connection.

Make-A-Meal Monday: Holiday Treats for Easter and Passover

The Last Supper

Image via Wikipedia

Right now, we are in the middle of two important week-long religious celebrations…for Christians, there is  Easter which is next Sunday, but the entire week has significance as yesterday was Palm Sunday and Thursday is Maundy Thursday and Friday is Good Friday.  For those of the Jewish faith, there is Passover, which starts tonight with the first Seder and continues for an entire week.  For more detailed information about either of these holidays, you can go to

I thought it would be fun to see if I could find a recipe from my book for parents of preschoolers that would be appropriate for each of these important celebrations.  When you invite your child to help with food preparation, you help build their self-esteem.  It is also a wonderful way to teach young children about holidays and traditions that are important for your family.


Here is a really simple recipe that is similar to Noodle Kugel, a delicious treat enjoyed by many during Passover week.

You will need: 4 cups cooked wide noodles, 2 eggs, ¼ cup honey, ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 cup grated apple, ½ cup  raisins, 1 Tb margarine or butter, a large bowl and a 2-quart greased casserole dish.

1.     In a large bowl, combine eggs, honey and cinnamon and beat well.

2.     Stir in apples, raisins, noodles and butter.

3.     Pour into a greased casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

4.     Be careful when you pull away the aluminum foil…there may be a lot of steam!

5.     Makes 4 lunch-size servings or many more side dish, snack or dessert servings.



This simple recipe forgoes yeast and uses muffin tins…so easy and delicious; you’ll want to enjoy it all during the year, not just at Easter.

You will need: For the buns: ½ cup orange juice, ¾ cup seedless golden raisins, 2 cups flour, 1 Tb baking powder, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ cup milk, 1/3 cup canola oil, 2 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla extract, zest of 1 orange, 3 mixing bowls and a 12-cup greased muffin tin.  For the icing: 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1 Tb orange juice.

1.     Combine orange juice and raisins in a micro-wave safe bowl and micro-wave on high for 1 minute.

2.     In another bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon.

3.     In a smaller bowl, whisk together milk, oil, eggs, vanilla and orange zest.

4.     Add the milk mixture and the raisin mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened.

5.     Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean and dry.

6.     Remove the muffin tin from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before placing the muffins on a rack to cool completely.

7.     When the muffins are completely cool, prepare the icing (in a small bowl, mix confectioner’s sugar and 1 Tb orange juice until smooth) and drizzle on top of each muffin to form a cross.

Please stop by tomorrow…and don’t forget that THE HOPPY EASTER EGGSTRAVAGANZA GIVEAWAY BLOG HOP starts here on Wednesday…and at over 200 other blogs.  You will be able to enter to win a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking and then hop over to the other blogs to enter their giveaways.

Make-A-Meal Mondays: Child-Friendly Veggie-Loaded English Muffin Pizza

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

Image via Wikipedia

Some things just go together.

Peanut butter and jelly.

Children and buckets of sand to make sand castles.

A good movie and a bowl of popcorn.

A good book and a comfy corner.

When it comes to finding things that children like to eat, you can’t go wrong with PIZZA.

I remember when my children were young, English Muffin Pizza was a hand’s down favorite and it was so simple to make, they were able to help me with the preparation.

Here is a really HEALTHY version of this family favorite.


You will need for each serving: 1 English Muffin, 2 Tb fresh diced tomato, 2 Tb fresh diced green pepper, 1 Tb fresh diced onion, 1 Tb small broccoli florets, 1 tsp grated Parmesan cheese, 1 Tb shredded mozzarella cheese and 1 cookie sheet.

1.     Split the muffin and top each half with the veggies and cheeses.

2.     Place the muffins on the cookie sheet and bake about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, until the cheese is melted and the veggies are soft, but not mushy.

3.     Let the muffins cool before serving to young children…be CAREFUL because the veggies under the cheese can be VERY HOT!!!

4.     You can add or substitute other veggies or fruits such as sliced mushrooms, diced zucchini, small cauliflower florets, diced pineapple…use your imagination!!!

This is only one of 100 child-friendly healthful recipes you will find in my book, SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  Saturday was the last day of the half-price sale and giveaway of the collection of craft supplies.  The winner is Baxter at  CONGRATULATIONS!!!

If you visit my website, you can check out this valuable resource that just WON the KIDLUTIONS PREFERRED PRODUCT AWARD.  Hurray!!!!!

I’m also thrilled that I’ll be interviewed on May 24th at 10am by Lisa Hein, Radio Talk Show Host of Everyday Parenting.  Hurray!!!!!

And, last, but certainly not least, tomorrow I will be hosting Max the Dog and Anthony, his partner who are on a 36-day book blog tour.  You can check them out at  Please stop by here tomorrow and find out all about Leader Dogs for the Blind and an awesome new children’s book!

Make-A-Meal Mondays: Child-Friendly Banana-Raisin Bran Muffins


Image via Wikipedia

The theme for my posts this week is companions.

The dictionary defines companion as one that accompanies another comrade or associate, a friend who is frequently in the company of another.

When I think about ingredients that are happy companions of each other, this simple, child-friendly recipe for BANANA BRAN MUFFINS comes to mind.

After all, how can something with applesauce, bananas, cinnamon and raisins taste badly…and when you add oat bran and whole wheat flour, you get a muffin that packs an enormous nutrition punch!!!!


These highly nutritious muffins make a wonderful snack…or team them with a vegetable salad or soup for a terrific lunch!!

You will need: 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1½ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp baking soda, ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 cup oat bran, 3 Tbs milk, 1 egg, ½ cup canola oil, 1 cup mashed banana, ½ cup raisins, 1 cup applesauce, 1 tsp honey, a large bowl and a lightly greased 12-cup muffin tin.

1.     In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well.

2.     Add milk, egg, applesauce and oil and blend together.

3.     Mix in raisins and mashed banana.

4.     Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.

5.     Cool well before serving.  Makes 12 regular size muffins.

This recipe is just one of 100 easy child-friendly healthful cooking activities you will find in SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  This book is a wonderful resource and shortcut for busy parents and teachers who want to provide educational fun-filled activities for preschoolers.  Visit my website to take advantage of the 50%-off-the-cover-price sale, going on until April 9th!  You can also enter to win a great colection of craft supplies for your preschoolers by purchasing a copy or by just filling in the contact form on the website or leaving me a comment here on why you would like to win the craft supplies.  Make sure you leave your email so I can notify you if you are the winner.  Winner will be announced April 10th.

Please stop by tomorrow for Quotable Timeless Tuesdays for some great quotations on Companionship.

Make-A-Meal Mondays: Child-Friendly Sweet Raisin Irish Soda Bread

Some of the bakers with some newly baked bread

Image by National Library of Scotland via Flickr

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day…here’s a simple Irish Soda Bread recipe that your child can help prepare.

You will need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 Tb margarine
  • 1 beaten egg (reserve 1 Tb)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk or sour milk
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 2 Tb honey
  • Large bowl
  • Medium bowl
  • Greased baking sheet

The bread is supposed to serve 16, but it will probably be less, because everyone will want seconds and thirds. 🙂

1.   In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2.   Cut in margarine until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

3.   Combine raisins, beaten egg (minus the 1 Tb) and buttermilk.

4.   Add this to the flour mixture and stir until moistened.

5.   On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough gently for 1 minute.

6.   On a greased baking sheet, shape dough into a 6-inch round loaf.

7.   Cut a 4-inch cross, ¼ inch deep, on the top.

8.   Brush with reserved tablespoon of egg.

9.   Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes until golden and cool on rack.

Important tip: When I made bread with my own children and the children in my daycare group, we always made enough dough so that EACH child could make his or her OWN small bread.  The families of the daycare children definitely looked forward to our bread-making day each week…and how proud each child was, clutching his wrapped bread loaf as he made his way home!

Why do I always encourage parents to invite their young children into the kitchen to help cook and bake?

When your children help measure and mix the ingredients, they are gaining a sense of competence and confidence, two of the building blocks of high self-esteem.

When you spend time with your children, participating joyfully in an activity, your children understand that they are worthy of your precious time and they are people of value…these are also important factors in acquiring a positive self-image.

Would you like 99 other simple child-friendly cooking activities?

Just visit my website and buy a copy of SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING…still on sale for 50% off the cover price!  This is a unique resource for parents, daycare providers and preschool teachers.   It also provides 100 easy eco-friendly craft projects and 100 summaries of picture books your young child needs to hear.

Oh, and don’t forget…we are awarding a CRAFTY EASTER BASKET, filled with craft supplies for your preschooler, to ONE LUCKY WINNER!  If you purchase a copy of the book, you will be automatically entered to win…otherwise, you can fill out the contact form on my website for a free entry.

Please stop by tomorrow for Quotable Timeless Tuesdays.

Make-A-Meal Mondays: Homemade Butter

Butter making woman

Image via Wikipedia

Although it happened over fifty years ago, I still remember licking the cream off the cardboard caps that sealed the bottles of milk that the milkman had delivered to my grandmother’s house. 

These days, most of us buy all of our groceries at the store, including milk and butter.  And, because of the push many years ago to replace butter with “margarine” or other butter-like spreads…which more recent health studies show are probably worse for us than the natural product…many children these days have no idea what real butter tastes like. 

Take this opportunity to make some real butter at home with your child!


You will need: 1 cup heavy whipping cream, electric mixer and a large bowl.

1.   Pour the cream into the bowl and beat on medium till stiff peaks form…about 1-2 minutes.  This is REAL WHIPPED CREAM!  Taste some for an out-of-this-world treat!

2.   Continue beating…about 4-8 minutes…and soon the curds will separate from the whey.  You could sing “Little Miss Muffet” with your child while you are doing this.

3.   Pour off the whey and you will be left with a lump of pure butter.

4.   Enjoy with crackers, bread or toast.

5.   Put in a covered container and store in the fridge.

6.   Instead of using an electric mixer, you could put the cream in a glass jar with a lid and shake…but this will take between 5-30 minutes and little hands might get tired.

Cooking with young children is only one of the many activities that builds self-esteem, develops pre-literacy skills and creates a life-long parent-child bond.  If you are looking for more child-friendly healthful recipes or other educational fun-filled activities, grab a copy of my new book for parents and teachers of preschoolers, now on half-price sale with FREE shipping till March 9th, at my website.

And please stop by tomorrow for Quotable Timeless Tuesdays

Make-A-Meal Mondays: President’s Day Special

A pair of cherries from the same stalk. Prunus...

Image via Wikipedia

Every four years, the citizens of the United States have the opportunity to choose a new president who will hopefully lead the country on an upward path of economic and social reform, while staying within the budget.

Every day, three times each day, moms (and sometimes dads) have the opportunity to choose a new dish to serve to their families that will hopefully provide good nutrition and good taste, while staying within the budget.

Hmmm…have you also seen the similarity between running the country and running a household? 🙂

It is true, though, that the responsibility of putting high quality, highly nutritious¸ good-tasting, affordable meals on the table is a heavy one.  I thought that since today is President’s Day, I should offer up a recipe that includes CHERRIES as one of the ingredients.

Why cherries you might ask? 

I’m sure most of you know the story of our first president, George Washington, and the incident with the cherry tree.  As it was told when I was in school, young George went out into the garden with a new hatchet and chopped down a young cherry tree.   When questioned by his father as to whether or not he did it, George replied, “I cannot tell a lie.  It was I who chopped down the cherry tree.”   His father, impressed with his young son’s honesty, did not punish him, but praised him for telling the truth.

Of course, the moral of the little tale is that we should always tell the truth…no matter what we have done or what the consequences of our actions might be.  I know this is what we teach our children…and this week I’ll be examining the topic of honesty in many of my posts.  And, if you are looking for any information or resources about President’s Day, hop over to Mirth and Motivation.  The author of that blog is the consummate researcher…a great writer and funny to boot!  And she is having a Mega-Blog Hop…if you join, you will meet a bunch of awesome bloggers!

But for now, I’d like to provide you with a recipe for lovely child-friendly fruit crisp…full of super foods…and with the option of using cherries (sometimes they are available only in season and can be quite expensive) or substituting other fruits.


You will need: 5 cups mixed fruit, washed and then sliced if necessary (peaches, plums, apricots, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, apples), ¼ cup white sugar, ¼ cup orange juice, 1 tsp lemon juice, 3 Tb flour (for the fruit), ¼ cup flour (for the topping), 2 cups rolled oats, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ cup healthy margarine softened, a greased 9×13 inch pan, and 2 large bowls.

1.     In a large bowl, gently toss fruit with white sugar, orange juice and lemon juice.

2.     Sprinkle with 3 Tb flour, toss gently again and spread in the greased pan.

3.     In another bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and the remaining flour. 

4.     Add the margarine and mix till crumbly.

5.     Sprinkle crumbly mixture over fruit.

6.     Bake 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown.

7.     Serve warm or at room temperature.

8.     Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge.

9.     Serves about 12.

This recipe has so many super foods: oats, orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon and all of the fruits…even though it is a dessert, you can rest easy giving it to your family because it is so high in nutrition and fiber while being fairly low in added sugar and fat.  Plus, it is really simple to prepare…your young children will love to help with the measuring and mixing.  It’s only one of the 100 easy-to-make child-friendly healthful recipes you’ll find in my new parenting book, on sale now for a limited time on my website for half price!  Check it out…I think you’ll be glad you did…it takes the hassle out of planning activities with preschoolers.

I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow for Quotable Timeless Tuesdays…for an honest look at honesty.