Nothing says the holidays like baking. OK, decorating our home might shout it a little louder, but BAKING is a very symbolic way to welcome the season. Nostalgia wafts out of the oven just as significantly as the aroma of my Mom’s pumpkin roll baking. Memorable flavors, smells and experiences of childhood holidays inspire me to recreate these memories for my own children.
Traditional baked treats like pumpkin pies, sugar cookies, jam thumb prints, cinnamon rolls and pecan sandies are welcome in my home, but they aren’t all that kid friendly. There are some recipes that are just NOT easy to do with kids (ahem…cinnamon rolls).
My children love to help with the baking, and I want them to create memories. My kid friendly baking hack is to tweak simple, non-holiday recipes into seasonal favorites. They can easily be taken to a family dinner, or shared with your neighbors to spread some holiday cheer.
Pumpkin Pop Tart
Pop Tarts, not a holiday treat, easily turn into a holiday breakfast or snack with a pumpkin pie or cranberry jelly filling and of course… sprinkles. The inspiration for this easy treat came from a pumpkin pie pop tart from Martin City Coffee Shop made by Scratch Bakery. Natalie and I used this recipe from the Pioneer Woman.
7 Layer Bars
My son requests that we make 7 Layer Bars for every Chiefs game. For him, the bars create a feeling of celebration. This year we are going to make them as part of our regular Christmas cookie collection, instead of the walnuts that most recipes call for, we’ll add Andes mints or peppermint bark. Patch and I use this recipe. If we come up short on ingredients, we will happily use the McLains drive thru for a Monster Cookie that, like the bar, is packed with ingredients.
Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake
Cheesecake has been a part of every holiday celebration for my husband and pumpkin pie has been a part of mine. A few years ago, I started making layered pumpkin cheesecake. It is a delicious and simple combination of both desserts. When feeling fancy, I’ll make my own crust, when baking with my kids, the Keebler Elves pre-made graham cracker crust, is perfect. It is easy for the kids to add the ingredients to the mixing bowl and when that runs out I let them lick the spoon. If your family can’t finish the whole pie and just one slice will suffice, Cafe Gratitude has layered cakes and pies!
The first time I ate pretzel melts was in my college dorm room. One of my roommates had made them and I thought I had gone to heaven. You can use any candy to melt on the pretzel, Rolos are my recommendation AND you can experiment with different shaped pretzels. By changing the color of the candy topper, you can use them for any holiday. So versatile! Celebrating Valentine’s Day? Use red. Fourth of July? Red, white and blue. It is the easiest holiday treat to make, because it only has three ingredients. This recipe is heavy on the kid friendly.
Mom’s Fantastic Dessert
This easy recipe is from a book my Mom and Dad made. The recipe book contains many family favorites including, “Nancy’s Fantastic Dessert.” It feels nostalgic to me, but not totally seasonal. The walnuts can be replaced with any favorite Christmas candy.
1 cup flour, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 8 oz cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 large cool whip, 1 small cool whip, 2 small packages instant chocolate pudding, 2 1/2 cups milk
- Crust: Combine flour, butter, walnut (very delicious with graham cracker crust, too).
- Combine softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, large cool whip and spread on cooled crust.
- Make pudding according to box directions and spread on first layer.
- Spread small cool whip as the final layer and top with nuts, fruit, holiday candy, sprinkles, or chopped chocolate chips.
Dipping caramel apples turns out to be much trickier than I realized. It is messy. That is NOT the kid friendly part. The DECORATING, however, is super fun for kids. Keeping them at bay until the apples were ready for toppings is the key to success. If the caramel is too scary, you can always build memories by eating them together at Laura’s Littles.
1 Bag of Caramel Bits, 5 Apples, Popsicle sticks, Toppings
- Melt the caramel bits on low heat, do not boil
- Dip the apples
- Let them cool on lightly greased aluminum foil
- Dip/decorate with sprinkles, left-over halloween candy and graham crackers
Christmas Crack (Crunch)
Renamed by my four old, this holiday treat “Christmas Crunch,” (a more family-friendly name) is so delicious with butter, brown sugar, saltine and chocolate. Toffee-like flavor and kid-friendly steps, this a big win. We’ve only made this the last 2 years, and it has proved its place in our holiday baking line-up. Tip: If you have butterscotch chips we HIGHLY recommend adding them to the melted chocolate top layer. You won’t regret it.
Happy baking and memory making!