Wild Eats and Adorable Treats: 40 Animal-Inspired Meals and Snacks for Kids, written by Jill Mills, features a variety of recipes crafted for kids. Shape your child’s meals into their favorite animals such as Whole Wheat Walrus Waffles, Horsey Hot Dogs, Gorilla Granola Bites, Mini Shepherd’s Sheep Pies, Beary Cute Cupcakes, and more.
Jill Mills is the mother of three boys and is based in Atlanta, Georgia. She first started creating kid-friendly treats with her second son. He was a picky eater and she used them as a way to incorporate healthy foods and new textures. She started her blog, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, in 2011 to share her creations with others. She is a regular contributor to Kellogg’s Kelloggsfamilyrewards.com and Parade magazine’s communitytable.com and has been featured in publications such as Food Network Magazine, Babble, the Huffington Post, FamilyFun, and Parenting magazines.
Chapters are divided based on course: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner, and Treats.
Jill focuses on practical foods that she knows will work for her family based on experience. She uses everyday ingredients and a little creativity to transform meals into fun treats. Every single recipe is accompanied by a photo of the finished product. Measurements, when amounts are listed, are provided in US Customary. I love that each recipe is followed by a tips and tricks section with helpful hints and possible substitutions. There are also facts for each animal featured.
This book is a great pick for those looking for new ideas for cooking with children or trying to introduce new foods in a fun way. Most are easy to make along with any little helpers who want to lend a hand. Recipes range from savory breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to sweet treats and snacks. Nearly all of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store.
Cheetah Cheesecakes are a special way to dress up a simple dessert for children or those young at heart. A cinnamon graham cracker base is topped with a whipped cream cheese filling. After chilling in the refrigerator for a few hours to overnight, the cheesecakes are covered with a variety of toppings to form the cheetah’s face. Marshmallows and chocolate chips make up the eyes. A tootsie roll and mini chocolate chips create the nose and mouth. More chocolate chips are placed for the spots and mini vanilla wafers form the ears.
Evan loved helping me make these cheesecakes. The hand mixer is currently one of his favorite appliances, so he worked with me from start to finish. There is no baking or sharp knives involved, so this dessert is perfect for even the smallest of helpers. Evan started making a cheetah with the toppings, but ended up veering off and made a forest instead.
I love that Jill includes options and variations for some of the ingredients. I don’t keep tootsie rolls around, so I used almonds for the Cheetah noses instead. She also mentions that you can use raisins as a healthy alternative to the chocolate chips.
If you want the Cheetah Cheesecake base to have a brighter yellow color, you can mix in a drop or two of yellow food coloring.
I also made the Pink Piggy Smoothie and Bagel Breakfast, Panda Pita Pizza, Pigs in a Snail Shell, and Foxy Fruit Snack.
The Pink Piggy Smoothie and Bagel Breakfast is a great start to the day. A banana strawberry yogurt smoothie is topped with a slice of strawberry and chocolate chips to make a pig’s face. To accompany the smoothie, a bagel half is also topped with strawberry cream cheese, a strawberry slice, and chocolate chips. Evan loved everything about this breakfast. Claire picked off and ate the chocolate chips, then asked for more (it was her first time trying chocolate chips and she was a huge fan).
The Panda Pita Pizza is another great meal that the kids can help create. Pita bread is topped with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. Pepperoni slices are arranged to make a panda face (while cutting one piece to make the nose and mouth). The eyes are formed with provolone cheese and a piece of olive (which I did not have available so I used a piece of raisin). Claire in particular enjoyed these pizzas.
The Pigs in a Snail Shell is another recipe that can be made with minimal ingredients. Hot dogs are sliced and wrapped with crescent dough to form a snail shell. The eyes are formed with provolone cheese and raisins and the antennas are made with cut pretzel sticks. This recipe was the most tricky for me as I had a some difficulty keeping the hot dogs from snapping as I wrapped them with the crescent dough. After the first couple, I eventually got the hang of it.
The Foxy Fruit Snack was another favorite for Claire. An apple is cut into the shape of a fox and pretzels, raisins, and cranberries are shaped into the ground and tree. It only took a little time and was such a special treat.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own.
Adapted from Wild Eats and Adorable Treats
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8 ounces) package cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
Tootsie Rolls or Almonds
Mini chocolate chips
Mini vanilla wafers
In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix in the melted butter until well blended. Divide the mixture among 5-6 (5 inch) ramekins or other small round dish. Refrigerate until firm.
In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese and lemon juice. Pour in the heavy cream and beat until thickened. Add the sugar and beat until stiff. Divide the mixture among the chilled ramekins over the prepared crust. Spread the top with a spoon or small spatula to create a smooth surface. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to overnight.
To decorate: Cut the tips off the marshmallows with scissors and place two on each cheesecake to create eyes.
Place the tootsie roll on a small plate and microwave for 7-8 seconds to soften. Cut it in half and shape each piece into a nose. Repeat with more tootsie rolls to top the rest of the cheesecakes. Almonds can be used as a substitute for the tootsie rolls.
Add mini chocolate chips under the tootsie roll/almond to make a mouth. Place a chocolate chip on each side for the cheeks, three across the forehead, and one over each marshmallow for pupils. Add a few mini chocolate chips around the larger ones on the cheeks and forehead to add more spots.
Place the mini vanilla wafers on the top sides for ears.