July 3, 2008

Cookie-Cutter Snacks

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Find more about snacks and treats, breakfast, lunch

"Dat spells 'Nolan!'" said my 5-year-old excitedly.

He wasn't reading a word I'd written on paper, or checking his school backpack to make sure he had the right one. He was pointing at his breakfast: scrambled eggs, a veggie sausage patty, and five little pieces of wheat toast, cut into the shape of his name using a set of alphabet cookie cutters. His brothers also had a side of namesake toast, spelling "Jackson" and "Aaron" in a semicircle around their plates.

I'd tweaked an idea from a friend of mine, who sends a heart-shaped PB&J sandwich in her daughter's lunch each Valentine's Day. On this weekend morning, there was no special occasion, but I'd picked up a set of alphabet cookie cutters and decided to spring some monogrammed toast on the kids, using the leftover bread to make breadcrumbs for other recipes.

While each boy was in a different place in terms of literacy, all could identify their names. They loved their special toast, but the treat was short-lived; when I showed them the cookie cutters, they immediately commandeered them for use with their modeling clay.

You can find basic cookie cutter shapes at just about any major retailer and grocer. Look for funkier ones at gourmet shops or even order customized shapes at www.kitchencollectibles.com.

Try these ideas with your favorite metal or plastic cookie cutters:

  • Jell-O Jigglers -- The original cookie-cutter treat (after cookies, that is). Visit www.kraftfoods.com and search for Jell-O under "products" for the recipe.

  • Scones & Biscuits -- Either dough works well when rolled out and cut into shapes.

  • Cheese & Lunch Meat -- We do a lot of cheese/lunch meat and cracker "picnic" lunches; cutting ham and cheese into fun shapes gets kids excited about mealtime.

  • Melon -- Cut into thick slices and then into shapes using cookie cutters. Place on popsicle sticks for a hand-held treat.

  • Baked Tortilla Chips -- spray with olive oil or nonstick cooking spray and bake. Optional: top with cheese for nacho-licious shapes.

    Looking for more creative solutions? Click here to see our best Dream Team stories.

    How do you get creative when cooking for kids? Click the comments link below to find and share ideas.

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