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. I will also be sharing her recipe for a Cheetah Cheesecake following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for my honest review.All opinions and statements are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
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.
Wild Eats and Adorable Treats
Wild Eats and Adorable Treats 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.
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.
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 (or almond) 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. He 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).
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.
Looking for more fun food ideas for kids?
Cheetah Cheesecake Recipe
Excerpt 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 package (8 ounces) 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
- Chocolate chips
- Mini vanilla wafers
- In a small bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and mix until completely blended.
- Press the mixture into five or six small brulée ramekins (5 inches in diameter) or any other small, round dish. Chill until firm.
- In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese and lemon juice until blended. Add the whipped cream and beat with an electric mixer until the batter becomes thick. Add the sugar and continue to beat until stiff.
- Pour the cream cheese mixture into the chilled crust. Chill for a few hours before decorating.
- Cut the tips off of the marshmallows using kitchen scissors and place them on the tops for the eyes.
- Put a Tootsie Roll in the microwave for seven to eight seconds to soften and cut it in half. Shape the halves into noses and place on top of the cheesecake.
- Add mini chocolate chips for the mouth. Add regular chocolate chips for the pupils. Alternate the regular and mini chocolate chips around the face to look like spots.
- Add two mini vanilla wafers on the top sides for the ears.