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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book Inspiration

Anyone who blogs, knows that there is a very important thing you need constantly...Inspiration.  You can find it anywhere.  If you're looking to be inspired, creatively or otherwise, you see it all around you.  A unique mix of colors on a couch cushion, the way the breeze makes leaves on a tree dance, the breeze itself (because I'm not a fan of hot weather, ha!), the smell of garlic and onions hitting a hot pan...these are just a very few of the sights and smells that inspire me.

Lately, the main source of inspiration for me has been my two small children.  I admire how full of life, silly and perceptive they are.  Among other things, reading library books is a favorite activity of ours.  It can be an easy, fun and cheap activity to make children's book-inspired food.  I'll show you what I did this week.

Creepy Carrots
My son's absolute favorite book is "Creepy Carrots" by Aaron Reynolds.  It is a silly story about a rabbit named Jasper.  There is a certain carrot field from where he likes to steal carrots.  The carrots who live in the field decide to scare him away so he won't bother them anymore.  You will have to read the book to find out what happens.  It's really cute.

To make the Creepy Carrots, I peeled the bottom 3/4s of the carrots.  I left the top parts untouched for painting the faces.  Dry that part off really well (I didn't do that and I learned my lesson).  Using a black paint pen, I just went by the expressions on the carrots on the book cover and tried to recreate them on the carrots.  It was a little difficult to get the paint pen to work on the carrots....probably because I forgot the drying step. Ha!  
This was a good healthy snack idea, because my son gladly ate the carrots with faces on them, while we read his favorite book.

(If you want to purchase this book, 
here's the link.)

I love this book!  As you can see, I was inspired by it!  Stellaluna is a baby bat who gets separated from her mother.  She ends up in a bird nest with three baby birds and the mother bird takes care of her.  She has to change her bat ways to fit in.  So she has to learn to stop hanging upside down, sleep at night instead of during the day, etc.  It is not a sad story, because she reunites with her mother and the other bats.  She then has to relearn to be a bat.  But she still loves her three baby bird friends.  It's a sweet story of friendship despite differences.

The Stellaluna snack I made is Nutella Shortbread Cookies in a bat shape.
I used a recipe I found on Pinterest, that I've already blogged about and tweaked it a little.  The original recipe is in this post: The Chocolate Chip Cookie Mission
I just about have the recipe memorized, so I'll write it out here as well, including what I did differently for Stellaluna:
2 sticks of Butter (room temperature)
2/3 cup Confectioner's Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 cups of Flour
2 heaping tablespoons Nutella
1.  Cream the Butter and Sugar together in a large bowl, with an electric mixer.
2.  Add the Vanilla and mix until incorporated (don't mix too much).
3.  Add 1 cup Flour and mix until incorporated.  Add the other cup and mix until combined.  Might need to knead with your hand a bit.  (Need to Knead, Ha!!)
4.  Put the dough in a gallon ziplock bag and add the Nutella.
5.  Roll it flat with a rolling pin to work in the Nutella.
6.  Throw it in the fridge for a couple hours.
7.  Once it has cooled and hardened, preheat the oven to 325 degrees, cut the ziploc bag off of it and place on a floured surface.
8.  Get it ready to cut into shapes by rolling it out perfectly flat with a floured rolling pin.  Cut the dough into shapes.
*Note:  If you don't want to do cookie cutter shapes, skip the rolling pin step and just form into balls.
9.  Place cookies on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes.
10.  Serve and read an inspiring book!

I know this idea is not healthy, but all things in moderation, right??  You can tell my daughter is excited!  See what I mean about the silliness?

This is not the first time I've been inspired by Children's literature.  Here is a blog post with excellent Honey Cookies and a cute story as well: Bookie Cookies.  I'm thankful for the inspiration my kids give me.  I'm also thankful for the time we can spend together reading books and cooking.  I love any excuse to put my kids to work in the kitchen!  So many lessons can be learned through measuring and mixing.  And I always say, it's never too early to start them on the path toward the Foodie Life!!  Ha!