Posts Tagged ‘lunch’

Rainbow Spaghetti & Art Class Sugar Cookies Inspired by Jackson Pollock

Art Class - Sugar Cookies and Rainbow SpaghettiJ has been taking an art class at a friend’s house since the end of October. Sadly, we only have one class remaining. She gets to paint and glue plastic jewels (which she LOVES) and I get to see friends. The class is an hour and half and includes a snack/lunch break for the kids.

At the start of classes, we signed up to take turns as “snack mom”. Each week of art has a theme and it turns out that snacks were also themed accordingly. I signed up for Jackson Pollock week and crossed my fingers that I could come up with something creative for a meal — after all, this is (kids) art class!

Painters Palette Sugar Cookie

The painter’s palettes look a little like brown pac-mans.

I knew I would make decorated sugar cookies for dessert. After some internet searching, I decided to make an artist’s palette and splatter design à la Mr. Pollock. Deciding what to serve for lunch proved to be a little more challenging as I wanted one stand-out item on the plate. I found a rainbow pasta recipe which looked easy, portable and kid-friendly.

I made the cookies first since I let them dry over night and needed two nights to work on them. Actually, it was three nights total. The first night I baked and cooled the cookies. The second and the third were spent decorating. Here is the sugar cookie recipe. I made 4″ round cookies for the painter’s palette and 2″ squares for the splatter design. Surprisingly, I don’t have a painter’s palette shaped cookie cutter in my arsenal of 100+ cutters.

I made chocolate royal icing for the palettes since they had to be brown. I added a bit of brown food color to make them a deeper brown. I didn’t want my palette to look like balsa wood.

Jackson Pollock inspired Splatter Design Sugar Cookie

I put one painter’s palette cookie and two of these little “paintings” in each bag that I gave to the kids.

For the white royal icing, I used some that I had frozen from Halloween. Yes, it really does freeze well!! I had it stored in two zip top bags and let it thaw on the kitchen counter. It may have taken 30 minutes to soften, which was really quick.

After piping and flooding the round and square cookies I let them dry overnight. The next night was the fun part! I took the remaining white icing and divided it into five bowls. I made red, yellow, green, blue and purple for the “paint”. It was flood consistency as I wanted it thin enough to splatter across the white cookies.

By now you are probably wondering where all the photos are of the cookie decorating process. Well, I was too tired to stop and take photos. And at night the light is very bad for picture taking.  So sorry!

I used a toothpick to drip the colors onto the painter’s palettes. For the splatter, I lined up all of my cookies next to each other in a giant square. Then I dipped a spoon into the icing and let it drip onto the cookies. It was a lot of fun to do and super quick.

Art Class - Painting in the style of Jackson Pollock

J is using a toy elephant to apply green paint on her canvas.

During J’s art class, the kids each made a splatter paint picture…or at least as close as three and four-year olds can come to replicating Pollock’s style.

Oops, almost forgot to talk about the spaghetti. So here’s the dichotomy of my rainbow spaghetti. I used organic spaghetti noodles and then soaked them in artificial food dye. Am I the only one that finds this humorous?! I do have natural food coloring that I will use if I ever make them again.

Rainbow Spaghetti noodles

I cannot think of anything less appetizing than blue noodles. However, the kids loved it!

Is it a surprise that I made a couple changes from the original recipe? Here is my version:

Rainbow Spaghetti
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: American, Kid
Serves: Varies
  • 1lb Spaghetti or linguine noodles
  • Food color (four or five colors)
  • Water
  1. Boil noodles according to package directions
  2. While noodles are cooking, mix food color with ½ cup of water in a color-safe bowl. (One that won't soak up the dye -- not a wooden bowl.)
  3. The amount of food color needed will vary depending on the intensity of color desired and if it's gel or liquid food color. I used ⅛ of a teaspoon of gel per bowl.
  4. Drain and rinse with cool water (that step was painful for me...I never rinse my pasta!)
  5. Divide pasta evenly among bowls and make sure the water covers most of the noodles.
  6. Let sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even color distribution.
  7. Gently rinse noodles to remove excess food color.
  8. If serving immediately, mix noodles together and toss with butter or olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. If saving for later, stir in a few drops of olive oil to each color of noodle to ensure they don't stick together. Keep colors separate until you're ready to serve so the color doesn't run. Store in bowls or baggies in the refrigerator.
  10. Note: One pound of noodles was about a half pound too much for 10 preschoolers.



I Got Stuffed at Betty’s Pie Whole

Betty's Pie WholeIt’s a restaurant…get yer mind outta the gutter, sheesh!

Betty’s Pie Whole is an adorable little restaurant and bakery on the corner of Encinitas Blvd and Quail Gardens Road (Encinitas, CA – that’s in San Diego). It’s in the Sunshine Gardens lot.

I’ve been here twice, both times after visiting the Botanic Gardens with J and her friends / my friends (i.e. play date or playgroup).

Betty's Pie Whole - Get Along Lil' Kielbasy Pie

Get Along Lil’ Kielbasy Individual size pie

The first time I ate here I ordered the individual size Chicken Pot Pie. This time I ordered the individual Get Along Lil’ Kielbasy Pie. Oh my, is this good! The crust has savory herbs (sage and I don’t know what else) and inside is poultry kielbasa, red potatoes, mushrooms, spinach and béchamel. I like to pretend it’s good for me since I’m eating my spinach…just ignore the cream sauce and flakey butter pastry that envelopes the ingredients like a cozy edible blanket.

Betty's Pie Whole - Mississippi MudJ gets an individual Mississippi Mud Pie for lunch. Yes, I let my daughter eat pie for lunch. Don’t judge. It doesn’t happen everyday. This is the description of the pie, according to Betty’s web site: Chocolate shortbread shell is filled with Belgian chocolate pudding,  house-made marshmallow, brownie chunks, butterscotch swirls, and finished with two kinds of chocolate drizzle! 

Now I’ve tasted this little bit of chocolately heaven and it is delish! My odd ball child won’t eat the hand made marshmallows, she prefers Jet Puffed. Kids!

There is a nice room to enjoy your meal and also an outdoor space where you can let your rug rats run free while you lick every last crumb out of the bottom of the pie tin (oops, I didn’t mean to say that outloud). The decor is saloon / western style with a little bit of humor — a toilet with a jade plant sits outside of the restrooms.

Betty's Pie Whole - Uncooked Individual Pies

They put a cute little “c” on the Chicken Pot Pie!

Here’s another GREAT thing about Betty’s Pie Whole, you can take a pre-made, uncooked pie and bake it at home (individual and full sizes)! Since Curt’s favorite food is chicken pot pie, I decided to be a nice wifey and bring one home. I also bought another Kielbasy. If you’re going to eat the pies that night, just refrigerate them. But if you want to serve in a day or two, they recommend freezing. You can cook straight from the freezer but it will add quite a bit of cooking time. Ask for printed cooking directions when you buy your pie.

After tasting the Chicken Pot Pie and the Kielbasy side by side at home, I will say that I prefer the chicken. BUT, don’t get me wrong, the Kielbasy is great. I would (and will) order it again. And the chicken.

For more information, visit Betty’s web site or stop by 155 Quail Garden Dr. Encinitas, CA 92024

Sausage, Mushroom & Broccoli Calzone Recipe

Sausage, Mushroom & Broccoli Calzone PlatedThis is a hybrid of other calzone recipes found online and also born out of necessity and my lack of ingredients. It’s the day before Halloween and I have the ingredients to make pizza. Only problem is that we’re having pizza with friends tomorrow night so I’m trying not to duplicate dinner two nights in a row.

I figured calzone would be a good alternative. Only problem being that most recipes call for ricotta to make it moist inside. Well, I have cream cheese…couldn’t be that bad as a substitute, right?

First, I took my pre-made pizza dough out of the refrigerator and cut it into four equal pieces. I use a bench scraper to cut the dough but a knife would work just as well. I use the scraper to clean the pizza stone too. (This is probably not a recommended use, but it’s better than dulling my cooking knives and it works great!) I placed the pieces of dough on a lightly floured pizza peel so they could come to room temperature and rise a bit. (I forgot to take a picture of this step.)

I also preheated my oven to 475° F and put my pizza stone in the middle rack. The secret to pizza with a crispy bottom crust is a hot pizza stone. Same goes for calzone. Sometimes I forget to turn on the oven and heat the stone because I’m so anxious to cook (riiiight). But don’t you do that!

I sliced a package of organic crimini mushrooms and threw them into a small non-stick pan with a bit of olive oil. You could use button mushrooms if you don’t have brown. I french cut a small organic yellow onion and added that to the mushrooms. I let them cook on medium-low heat until the mushrooms started to soften. Then I added a cup of organic broccoli florets. After a few minutes I added three cloves of organic garlic (chopped), a teaspoon of dried organic basil, a teaspoon of dried organic oregano, a pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of fresh cracked organic black pepper. I let everything cook until the broccoli was soft, a few more minutes.

Calzone - sauteed mushrooms, onion and broccoli

Side note: I have a small pan that I use for sauteeing ALL. THE. TIME. It’s the only thing I purchased from “As Seen on TV” that was not a gag gift. In fact, I got the deal where you get two pans and only pay S&H for the second pan. I gave the extra to my good friend she still uses hers. This was several years ago!

And now back to calzone…while the vegetables were cooking, I mixed about a half cup of organic spaghetti sauce with 4 oz of organic cream cheese, softened. It combined fairly easily, but looked pretty gross. I thought of dog barf. I don’t own a dog. Remember, this is my hack since I didn’t have ricotta. If you have it (ricotta), go ahead and use it.

Calzone Cream Cheese and Spaghetti Sauce

I remove the vegetables from the pan and added four sliced pre-cooked italian sausages. If you have fresh sausage, go ahead and use it. Squeeze it out of the case and break it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. I browned the sausage and then added it to my bowl of veggies.

Calzone Sliced Sausage

I let the veggies and sausage cool for a few minutes, then I added the dog barf, umm, I mean cream cheese and sauce mixture.

Calzone Sausage Cheese Mixture

Now it’s time to assemble!

I took one of the pieces of pizza dough and stretched it out to about a 1/4″ thick oblong disc. Maybe a little thinner. Make sure there are no holes in the dough. Add as much filling as you can to half of the disc while leaving enough room to fold the dough over. Add a handful of shredded organic mozzerella cheese to the mixture. Fold over the dough and pinch the edges together. It will look like it’s about to burst.

Calzone Assembly

Repeat for all remaining pieces of dough. You may end up with extra filling. I did and I put mine in the refrigerator. I hate to waste food so I will find a way to use it. I’m making mini-frittatas tomorrow and I may add the mixture to my eggs.

Carefully place the four calzones on the pizza stone. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with warmed spaghetti sauce.

Sausage, Mushroom & Broccoli Calzone Plated

Sausage, Mushroom & Broccoli Calzone Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 1 package organic crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small organic yellow onion, frenched (chopped would be fine too)
  • 1 cup organic broccoli florets, small pieces
  • 3 cloves organic garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried organic oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried organic basil
  • ½ cup organic spaghetti sauce
  • 4 oz softened organic cream cheese (or ½ cup ricotta)
  • 4 pre-cooked italian sausage links (or fresh)
  • 1 cup Shredded organic mozzrella cheese
  • Spaghetti Sauce for dipping
  1. Preheat oven to 475° F.
  2. Cut pre-made pizza dough into four pieces and place on a lightly floured pizza peel or cutting board.
  3. Saute mushrooms and onion in olive oil until soft. Add broccoli, garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Cook until broccoli is just softened. Remove from pan.
  4. While vegetables are cooking, mix spaghetti sauce and softened cream cheese (or ricotta) in a small bowl.
  5. Add sliced sausage (or uncooked sausage) to the pan and brown. If using fresh, cook thoroughly. Add the browned sausage to the vegetable mixture and let cool a few minutes.
  6. Stir the cream cheese into the vegetable sausage mixture.
  7. Stretch dough into discs and add the sausage mixture to one half. Sprinkle mozzerella on the mixture and fold the dough over to form a pocket and seal the edges.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving with warmed spaghetti sauce.


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