In this week's Martin & Sylvia story, “The Sick and Tired Day,” it's the third day of rain in a row, and brother and sister are sick and tired of it. Nothing sounds like fun, until Momma suggests they have a “Sick and Tired” day.
What’s a “Sick and Tired” day? A day to do things they would only do when they are ‘sick and tired’ of every thing else. Suddenly morning play, snack time, lessons, lunch, and even clean-up time becomes a game of finding things they have never done before.
For anyone who writes about food for very long, every meal can start to resemble Martin and Sylvia's game, as you look at your plate and think, “How could I make this into something new or more exciting?”
While the truly great chefs of the world make masterpieces with different flavor combinations or preparation techniques, when you're trying to change things up for children I often get more mileage out of simply playing with presentation.
Vegetables with dip in cute mason jars or cupcake holders. A few different kinds of berries skewered together to make a fruit kabob. A favorite kind of sandwich cut into a train shape with a cookie cutter. If you can look at your kitchen utensil drawer with creative eyes, there's a whole world of fun snacks and meals that you can clever up.
Another thought? Make mini food.
These tiny taco shells take just a few extra minutes to cut out and bake, but they're so cute for little hands. Below, I've filled ours with the comfort-food, Midwestern fixings of my childhood, but you should stuff them with whatever you like.
As with any “Sick and Tired” day food, you also simply must call them something fun. My five-year-old and I had some very intense discussions about the naming of these tacos — Fairy tacos? Troll tacos? — but, in the end, simple alteration won out.
12 small tortillas
1 cup cooked, taco-seasoned hamburger
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup lettuce
about 1/3 cup salsa
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
Using a biscuit cutter or wide-mouth mason jar lid, cut a small circle out of each tortilla. Spray the bottom of a muffin tin with cooking spray, then fold the tortillas between the muffin cups to make taco shell shapes. Bake the shells for 10 minutes, then allow them to cool completely to harden up.
(If you don't want to waste the tortilla scraps that will be leftover, cut them into strips and toss them with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake them at the same time you make the taco shells, and use them like croutons on salads.)
Once the taco shells are ready, spoon in the fixings — a little seasoned meat, cheese, lettuce, and a dab of salsa for each. Enjoy them immediately!
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.