Here’s a little creation we made earlier in the year and it was a HUGE hit. You could make it for Christmas – we didn’t have the patience to wait. (Yes, I know, I only have myself to blame for Crackers’ premature obsession with Christmas. It probably also doesn’t help that I’ve been telling him I have Santa on speed dial when he misbehaves…).
I’d seen a few versions of this tree making the rounds on the net, and I’d actually made one as a ‘cake alternative’ for my husband’s birthday (he was slightly miffed that I’d deprived him of the customary chocolate cake, but had to admit it looked pretty cool). The problem was that all the versions I’d managed to find used an apple and a carrot as the base, and toothpicks to secure the fruit into the base. This makes for a nice tall tree and looks great but, as I painfully discovered, turns your hands into pin cushions.
I knew it would be a hit with Crackers so I started thinking about ways to make it a bit more kid friendly. Hence this version, using a pear for the base and matchsticks instead of toothpicks.
What you will need:
- a ripe pear
- a selection of soft fruit (strawberries, kiwi fruit, grapes, blueberries and melons work well)
- a knife and cutting board
- a star-shaped cookie cutter
- lots of matchsticks (we used about 40 here!)
1. Cut the bottom off the pear to create a flat base.
2. Cut your star out of the slice of pear you cut off (alternatively you could use rockmelon for your star).
3. Stick your star on the top of the pear with a matchstick.
4. Stick matchsticks all around your pear.
5. Cut your fruit into triangle-ish shapes of different sizes.
6. Stick the fruit onto the matchsticks, with the larger pieces at the bottom and working your way up to the top with the smaller pieces.
7. Voila, you’re done! Yep, it really is that easy…
A couple of months ago, we found this great little recipe for an almond butter and banana (open) sandwich. Not only did it look really yum, it also looked like the perfect platform to build a snake. According to Crackers, this is the Gruffalo snake. If you wanted to simplify it a bit, you could replace the nut butter mix with peanut butter but I highly recommend trying it with the almond nut butter as it’s really good!
What you will need:
- a banana
- 2 tsp almond nut butter
- 2 tsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 2 tsp honey
- a piece of fruit leather (a thin fruit leather is easier to work with here, if you can find one)
- small amount of cream cheese
- a knife and cutting board
1. Cut a couple of small circles out of your fruit leather to use for the eyes. If you have a any cookie cutters with a rounded edge this can help with getting the circle shape right (we used a small love-heart cookie cutter). You can do it just with a knife but it’s a bit harder to get a nice circle.
2. Using a chopstick, put a small blob of cream cheese on each of the eyes, leaving some of the fruit leather showing. Then, clean the end of the chopstick and use it to remove a small dot out of the cream cheese. This will be the pupil of each of the eyes. A little tip here: if you used a cookie cutter in the step above, use this again to create a sharper edge to the cream cheese blobs.
3. Cut out some triangles and a forked tongue out of your fruit leather.
4. Cut your banana in half lengthways, and then cut each piece in half across-ways.
5. Take the bottom half of each of the banana lengths and swap them, so you get a curvy snake shape.
6. Mix together the almond nut butter, tahini and honey and spread it over the ‘bottom’ banana. Then top with the other half of the banana.
7. Add forked tongue, eyes and triangles to complete your snake. To serve, cut into bite-sized pieces to make it easier for little hands to hold.
Okay, I have a confession to make here – we TOTALLY cheated on this one! We found this cool little egg mould on Lime Tree Kids. It was a lot of fun to make though and it has a very high ease-to-impressiveness ratio (i.e. looks like you need a lot more skill than you actually do). The only trick is that it requires a bit of precision egg cracking because you have to try not to break the yolks. Luckily my apprentice foodie (otherwise known as Crackers, for reasons not related to his egg cracking ability) is a blackbelt in the art of the egg crack. We only had one sacrificial egg in the making of this little guy.
What you’ll need:
- an egg owl mould, which you can buy on the net
- two eggs (and maybe a couple for backup, depending on the reliability of your egg-cracking!)
- a strip of pancetta or bacon
- a couple of basil leaves or parsley
- a frypan
- a flat metal egg flipper
1. Fry the pancetta or bacon.
2. Crack two eggs into small bowls or cups, taking care not to break the yolk.
3. Carefully pour each egg into the ‘eye holes’ in the mould. The mould is designed so that the yolks will stay relatively well contained while the egg whites will spread into the rest of the mould.
4. Once the egg is cooked to your liking, remove it with the egg flipper and extract the mould. Arrange on a plate with the pancetta/bacon and basil/parsley.