Penne Pesto with Baby Spinach (and Leprechaun Traps!)

Last night I made one of my staple dinners: Penne Pesto with Baby Spinach. pennepestowithbabyspinachThe kids always love it, and I really need to remember to double it. I omit the Parmesan, and make my own pine nut-free Chunky Almond Pesto Sauce that features basil, cilantro, and almonds. I have a Sunflower Seed Basil Pesto recipe I enjoy that is completely nut-free and has a sunflower seed base that I use as a runner-up to the almond pesto, depending on which ingredients I have in the pantry. Both recipes are vegan.

People always ask me, “What do you eat?” and I often wonder what in the world I do eat! I now realize why I don’t recall, which is because I try so many recipes that are failures that we eat only because the food is right in front of us, but it’s definitely not worth making again. Enter last night’s side dish: Sweet Potato & Kale Baked “Meat” Balls (sorry, you don’t get a link to the recipe for this one!) sweetpotatokaleballsObviously they tasted nothing like meat, but the point was to eat something hearty. Unfortunately, they just weren’t very good. Maybe if I added some allergy-free toasted bread crumbs or some different seasonings, or cooked the sweet potatoes differently, the recipe would have been a success. But I just don’t have that kind of patience, so I simply throw the recipe away and never look back. That’s actually the reason I created this blog – to document the recipe successes I encounter along the way, so you don’t have to work so hard to find the good ones!

Today’s cooking project in my son’s classroom was sticky goo for the children to place in their Leprechaun Traps! They only get homework a couple of times a year, and this particular assignment is to build a trap to see if they can catch a Leprechaun. My intention was to create a goo that they could place their coins and shiny objects on, so the Leprechauns would get stuck, and they would catch one on St. Patrick’s Day Monday morning when they return to school.

This was one of my favorite projects so far — the kids were engaged, it was so easy, there were only a few ingredients, and they were able to play as soon as it was made! Arun and I made a total of six batches, and each one turned out differently.


My favorite batch of sticky goo.

My favorite batch for the traps was the one that was gooey and slimy, but didn’t stick to anything.Definitely capable of catching a Leprechaun with that one. The kids’ favorite batch was the foamy one that bounced when it was shaped into a ball!

If you have some Borax, Elmer’s Glue, and maybe even some food coloring (we used neon) sitting around, give this one a try! Unfortunately, we have no idea how we created our favorite batch because we followed the directions closely, but the kid’s favorite batch directions were followed exactly (not just closely)!


The K/1 students’ favorite batch of sticky goo.

You can find the recipe here. Warning: It does not come out of clothes or carpets, so encourage your kids to play with it while sitting and throw it away when they’re done (I know, good luck, right?!)


Happy (Healthy) Halloween!

Today’s K/1 cooking project was a ton of fun. It was the day before Halloween, and I wanted to prepare something festive, but without any sugar because I knew the students would be getting a ton of it tonight while Trick or Treating. I Googled a few ideas and consistently came up with Tangerine Pumpkins and Banana Ghosts. Super cute ideas, but together the projects would only take a few minutes, and I have each group of students for 45 minutes. So, I referred to my favorite blogs Choosing Raw and Oh She Glows to find some allergy-free favorites.

On Choosing Raw, I found Sweet Potato Jack-O-Lanterns, which were cooked sweet potatoes cut into discs, then decorated with chocomole, which is an avocado-based dessert with pudding-like texture made with only dates, raw cacao powder, vanilla extract, and water! We put the pudding in plastic baggies and cut a hole in the end and assisted the students piping the faces onto their veggies. They couldn’t get enough, and the chocomole tastes like heaven when hidden on fruits and veggies. We later tried mixing sunbutter with the chocomole, and it tasted like Nutella — only healthy!

On Oh She Glows, I remembered seeing Apple Mouths featured. We sliced apples, used sunflower seed butter and/or strawberry jelly for the inside of the mouths, and sunflower seeds for the teeth instead of the suggested almonds in order to avoid nuts.


Most of the students didn’t want to eat their creations because they were so proud of their creations. The best part? They ate tangerines, celery, bananas, sweet potatoes, apples, avocados, and dates without even knowing!