my foodgawker gallery

Kid-friendly dips

Finger foods are so much fun for kids. When dunked into various yummy dips, finger foods become even more fun! And if you are ever tempted to be a sneaky parent like I sometimes am, dips are great for masking certain other foods that might not be eaten in plain sight by a three-year-old. Vegetables become virtually invisible when processed or blended.

Elijah is such a funny little eater. He will eat certain foods so willingly and others he won't even look at. He will not look at a piece of meat, aside from pepperoni atop a greasy slice of pizza. One of the foods that he will look at, and eat very willingly, is hummus. This has always been a bit surprising to me because hummus has a bit of a "grown-up" flavor to it. But hey, I'm not complaining! There are some good ingredients in hummus and I am overjoyed that he is consuming them!

One of the regular snacks/meals that I make for him is a flatbread-hummus "sandwich." He loves it! My wheels started turning a few weeks ago and I wondered if maybe I could sneak little amounts of other types of food in with the hummus. I made the three dips from this post and added small amounts of each to his beloved hummus sandwiches and he didn't know the difference! I even got him to dunk a few pieces of pita bread into a few of the dips, which was a small miracle.

This is an avocado dip, which I found to be delicious when combined with cucumber slices. Yum! Pita bread and crackers went great with it, too.

Mix together in a small bowl until well combined but still chunky:

1 avocado

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 Tbsp lime juice

Salt, to taste

Click here for a printable recipe!

This is a black bean dip and all kinds of veggies went really well with it. I preferred red pepper strips and cherry tomatoes.

Combine the following in a food processor (or blender) and process until smooth:

15.5-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. lime juice

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt, to taste

Click here for a printable recipe!

This was my favorite dip of the three. Elijah's, too. It is a white bean dip and everything dipped into it tasted fantastic!

Combine the following in a food processor (or blender) and process until smooth:

15.5-oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small clove garlic

Salt, to taste

Click here for a printable recipe!

Feel free to go crazy with these recipes. Have fun with them and add and subtract ingredients as you wish!


It's not good to let snow sit on a roof, right?

Hey Elijah, let me get a picture of you and the gingerbread house!

Oh. But we..

..just got done..

..oh, nevermind.

I am sure Gingerbread Man is thankful for the snow removal assistance.


Scribble cookies

If you are a parent of a toddler, you might have a house littered with broken crayons like we do. Or did, I should say. We no longer have crayon bits strewn about our home. My friend Maren shared a brilliant idea with me a few weeks ago, and I will pass it onto you! Thank you, Maren!

Gather all of those crayon pieces that are buried beneath your couch cushions and collecting dust underneath your cupboards. If you're feeling crazy, you can even snap some unbroken crayons in two, just because it is fun.

First, make sure to remove the paper from the crayons. I ran the edge of a razor blade down the length of each crayon paper. This saved me a ton of time. Peeling those babies off with your fingers can get frustrating.

Pull out a muffin tin and place the broken crayon pieces inside the cups.

Have fun arranging the colors.

If you have just gotten done baking a loaf of banana bread or perhaps a batch of gingerbread cookies, your timing is perfect! If not, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Once your oven has preheated, turn it right back off and throw in the crayon-filled muffin tin. The wax will melt while the oven cools.

After a few minutes, the crayons will become beautiful pools of swirling color!

When I pulled these out of the oven, I had a major flashback to college art class. It must have been the smell of hot wax combined with prettiness.

Be careful not to slosh the wax around too much. Set the pan on a flat surface and allow to cool.

Once the wax hardens, turn the pan over and run under hot water. The "cookies" will fall out of the pan.

I considered calling these something besides "scribble cookies" because the name confused Elijah and he kept trying to eat them. But I love the way it sounds, so I'm sticking with it. Scribble cookies. A pretty way to clean up your crayon drawer and entertain yourself, I mean your toddler.


Grilled cheddar and cherry preserves sandwich

I wasn't joking when I said I had a grilled cheese obsession. I have opened a door that seems limitless! This is what Willy Wonka must have felt like when he bit into his first piece of candy. The basic grilled cheese template is my blank canvas and all of the ingredient options are my paints, waiting to adorn my canvas in their own unique, flavorful way. Nothing is off limits. Fruit, veggies, sugar, bacon, seafood, salami, pesto, peanut butter, salsa. The world is my grilled oyster!

This particular concoction took me approximately 18 seconds to consume, from first bite to last. Who would have thought jam would be so good on a grilled cheese?

Butter one side of a piece of white bread. Place it butter-side down on a skillet over medium-low heat.

Layer with:

Black cherry preserves

Aged cheddar cheese

Alfalfa sprouts

Fresh basil

Top with:

Aged cheddar cheese

A piece of white bread, black cherry preserves-side down and butter-side up

When the cheese closest to the pan melts, carefully flip the sandwich over. When the other cheese slice melts, remove from heat. Cut sandwich in half and eat! I hope you love this one as much as I did!


How to clone

I do not claim to be an expert in many areas. In fact, I can sadly only think of one and it involves cloning photographs. That classifies me as seriously uncool, doesn't it? Years of cloning the fat off slabs of meat and sizes off pizza packaging and flies off bread is the reason I have obtained these skills that you must be supremely jealous of.

Way back a long time ago, during the years when I worked my butt off creating Super Kmart ads, I hated cloning. I hated retouching photos. I hated creating ads. I guess when you do something day after day for months and years on end, with constant tight deadlines and loads of stress, you're bound to form ill feelings.

Now that I am long separated from those headache-inducing years, I am quite thankful that I can clone fat off a rump roast. Or garbage off my lawn. Or dried food off my little boy's shirt.

Cloning is usually the last thing I do to a photo, and I do most of my cloning in Photoshop. My typical photo-editing process goes like this: main photo adjustments and cropping in Lightroom, followed by minor tweaks, eye enhancement (if applicable) and any needed cloning, all in Photoshop.

In this photo, I have everything edited to my liking with the exception of eliminating the garbage from the lawn and the food smudge from Elijah's shirt.

See? Garbage and a smudge. I'd rather not have either of these things invading this cute photograph.

First I click on the Clone Stamp Tool on the tool bar (or hit S on keyboard).

And I make sure my separate layer specified for cloning is selected on my Layers palette.

When the Clone Stamp Tool is selected, options for opacity, flow and alignment appear under the drop-down menus at the top of the screen. I want 100% opacity and flow because I want to completely clone over the garbage. And this is just a personal preference of mine, but I like to clone non-aligned. To do this, I uncheck the Aligned button (I believe it is checked by default). This just means when I release my mouse and click again, the sample will restart from the original selection spot that I designated. I like to do a lot of resampling, so I prefer doing it this way.

When I am ready to clone, I hold down my Alt key and the below cursor appears over my photo. This indicates that it is ready to read information from the exact location that I want sampled. So, I hold down the Alt key and then I simultaneously click over the location that I want to sample from.

I release both. When I click again, I am cloning. The circle below is my Clone Stamp Tool. The + is the location the sample is being taken from, that I designated with my initial Alt-click.

Like I said, I like doing a lot of resampling because it makes the cloning look more believable. Here I am seeing the need for a resample, so I Alt-click again in my desired location.

I clone over the rest of it, and now the yard is garbage-free!

I zoom into the smudge (most likely yogurt) on Elijah's shirt.

Once again, I sample with an Alt-click. Determining where to sample from is something that I have learned over time. It's not something that can be easily explained, and I know this because I have been sitting here for fifteen minutes trying to think of a way to explain it. You will need to determine which patterns and shades should be replicated. The only way you will learn this is through trial & error and experience. Mostly experience.

After a bit of cloning, another resampling is needed so I Alt-click in another location.

I finish off the rest of the food smudge and then eliminate a few other pieces of shirt lint.

I zoom out to make sure the cloning looks natural.

Much better! A lawn sans garbage and a clean-shirted little boy. Thank you, Clone Stamp Tool, you have saved yet another of my images.