On a Mission to Appease the Candy Hound

Banana Soft Serve and Yogurt Pops

Growing up, I got dessert now and then, but candy was a rare commodity. All we had was a value pack of Trident in the kitchen cupboard, tucked between the mixing bowls and the vitamins. I had to hoard my Halloween stash and divvy it out slowly, making it last until Easter, which was the only other time of year that candy was prevalent.

Now I’ve got two kids of my own. For a while, both seemed equipped with the same level of restraint–despite the fact that I don’t mind having a little candy around the house–but once the oldest hit puberty, she went nuts. She’s become a maniacal candy hound, the likes of which I haven’t seen since The Great Cornholio. I don’t even know where she gets most of it. Now I find wrappers stuffed in the car door, on the bookshelf, in her pockets, bags, and between the cushions of the couch. “Why do you put the gummy bears in the cupboard where I can find them?” she asked one day, when I walked in and found her holding an empty bag.

It was time to find a way to satisfy her cravings for sweets without her sneaking around, binging on corn syrup and food dye.

Here’s what I have so far: two unbelievably easy, tasty, and reasonably healthy sweet snacks.

They’re too simple to call recipes.

First up:

Banana Soft Serve

What you need:

soft serve materials

Yep. That’s it. No kiwi? No problem. It’s also amazing without it.

What to do:

  1. Peel and slice the banana.

soft serve chop

2. Pop the sliced banana into the freezer for a few hours–or a few days, if you forget.

soft serve storage

3. When the bananas are frozen, cut the ends off the kiwi, and slice it in half the long way. Then, carefully scoop the fruit from the peel with a spoon.

soft serve peels

4. Throw the kiwi and frozen bananas into a food processor or some sort. Blend the fruit for what feels like EONS, until it is completely smooth, like soft serve. If your contraption has a hard time with the bananas, you can add a tablespoon or two of milk, juice, or water. With a Cuisinart, I didn’t need to do so, but the Magic Bullet had a tough time.

Please do NOT tell my kid that I borrowed her Magic Bullet without permission.

Please do NOT tell my kid that I borrowed her Magic Bullet without permission. I may never be forgiven.

5. Voilá. Sooooooo tasty. Even Miss Twelve likes it, despite the fact that she hates bananas. I swear. In fact, she likes it best without the kiwi.

soft serve!

Next up: Yogurt Pops

What you need:

popsicle materials

Yogurt and popsicle molds. I’m showing the Yo-Baby sized yogurt because a) it’s delicious, and b) one container fits well in each popsicle. But you might want to be more environmentally conscious and buy in bulk. We have tried blueberry, vanilla, mango, peach, and strawberry, and they are all delicious.

What to do:

  1. Pour the yogurt into the molds. Duh.

popsicle air bubbles

2.  This leaves all kinds of air pockets. The best way to get them out is to tap the molds gently on the counter until they go away. Do NOT tap vigorously. I made that mistake, so you don’t have to.

popsicle done

3. Put on the covers, and freeze for several hours.

4. Enjoy! Miss Ten and I love eating these for breakfast.

Got some suggestions to add to our repertoire? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

5th of July Fudgsicles

posted by Beret

On July 4th, it was ridiculously cold and foggy where I live. Too cold and foggy to see fireworks, or even to muster enthusiasm to watch the fog change colors. Instead, we went home and made hot chocolate.

July 5th dawned sunny and warm, and I found myself pouring the extra hot cocoa into a popsicle mold that had been sitting in the dish rack. Honestly, I just didn’t want to deal with the leftovers, because who wants hot cocoa on a warm day? A few hours in the freezer and voilà: I had accidentally made fudgsicles! Simple and tasty. In fact, waaaaay better than store-bought ones.

Here’s what you need: ten minutes and… Continue reading

Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid: Part II

posted by Beret.

Ring of Kool.

Ring of Kool.

Several weeks ago, I posted a few project ideas for that strangely bewitching chemical tonic called Kool-Aid. As my friend Peggy explained to her uninitiated daughter: “Kool-Aid is a hair dye that people drink sometimes.” Cheers to that.

For your enjoyment and edification, here is Part Two. Included are:

  • Better-smelling volcanic eruptions
  • Moon Sand

There were supposed to be a bunch of other fabulous projects included in this post, which I will explain in my sob story at the end. On to the successful projects!

Continue reading

Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid: Part I

posted by Beret.


I never really cared for the taste of Kool-Aid, but oh, how I have always loved the smell of it. That aroma smacks of childhood, warm days, and cheerfully destructive running pitchers:

I don’t really want my kids drinking Kool-Aid, either; luckily, there are plenty of other things to do with it. For the first installment of this two-part series, I hereby present the following projects: scented play dough, hair dye, tie-dye, and slime. Continue reading

Jello Worms


Mmmm. Delish.

posted by Beret

Ages:  This project is suitable for any age, though very young children might have a hard time squeezing the worms out of the straws.

At first glance, this project may seem better suited to the Halloween season. It would certainly be fun then as well. In a few short days, however, the winter holidays begin, and small people everywhere will have long stretches of unstructured time. It is always a good idea to have a couple of projects up your sleeve. You know, in case someone breaks their sibling’s favorite new toy, or loses Sorry! for the fifth time in a row, or–even worse–discovers that their best friend’s Santa brought an iPod Touch. Who knows, maybe you just want to pry their little eyeballs off of a screen for a few minutes. In any event, it’s nice to have a game-changing activity on hand.

Jello Worms were a little messy, but great fun to make and to eat.   Continue reading

Ghost Cake with Flaming Eyes! + Halloween Science Projects

©2013 Beret Olsen

©2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Age Range:  almost any, depending on who handles the fire.

When I was eight years old, my mother gave me a copy of the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls. Not the first edition, people. This cookbook has been around since 1957.

My copy looked exactly like this:

From Saveur100.com

I believe we had matching wallpaper, too. From Saveur.com

It was full of frightening recipes. Weird little polka dot pizzas made with frankfurters. A cake that looked like a hamburger on a sesame seed bun. Recipes calling for instant minced onion, pickles, Bisquick, and bottled dressing. I pored over the pictures in it, but I only ever made two things: a gingerbread ski chalet (of course!) and the GHOST CAKE WITH FLAMING EYES.

Now, you can make one, too.   Continue reading