Sundays with Samantha: Berry-licious Lemonade

We Hazards are so incredibly lucky to live in California, where many of our friends and family have lemon trees. This means, bags of beautiful juicy lemons are graciously passed down to us.  Upon receiving them, my mind immediately wanders into lemon dessert land (see Lemon Ricotta Cookies) while Samantha’s goes straight to lemonade.

Fresh lemonade really is delicious, but here’s the dilemma: When you make fresh lemonade at home, you witness the copious amount of sugar needed to tame the tartness of the lemon juice.  It’s A LOT.  Or so we thought.

Together, Samantha and I came of up with a better way to combat the tartness.  Sweet, ripe berries!!  We were able to cut the sugar to only 1/3 cup by cutting it with fresh strawberries and blueberries.  That’s huge!  The result: Berry-licious, just as delicious, Lemonade!  Perfect for sippin’, selling at a lemonade stand or even pouring into popsicle molds for a frozen tart treat.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (from about 3 large or 6 small lemons)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4-5 cups of water, divided
  • 8 ounces fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 3 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries


Step 1: Halve and juice lemons.

Step 2: Place 1 cup of water and 1/3 cup of sugar in a small pot over medium-low heat.  Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute.

Step 3: Rinse berries and hull the strawberries.  Place in a small blender and process until very smooth.



Step 4: ​Pour puree into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl.  Press puree through the strainer with a rubber spatula, like so…

Step 5:​  Pour strained puree, lemon juice, water/sugar mixture and 3-4 cups of water (depending on taste) into a large pitcher.  Stir, stir, stir!

Step 6: Pour over ice and enjoy.  Alternatively, you can cover the pitcher and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Makes 6-7 cups.

Sundays with Samantha: Ice Cream in a Bag

A few years ago, my kids and I did a 3 day summer “adventure” class together.  Mondays we went to a local park, Wednesdays we went on a field trip and Fridays we went to a local beach.  It was awesome.

On one of the “park” days, our teacher taught us how to make ice cream.  She gave us the ingredients (cream, milk, sugar, salt, ice), materials (Ziploc bags), and instructions, and we were churning homemade ice cream in no time.  It was such a blast, for both the kids AND adults. And the best part was…we got to eat ice cream.  That we made.  In a bag.  At the park.

What’s the point of this story?.?.?

Well…THIS video and recipe called “Ice Cream in a Bag” (from Tastemade) recently showed up in my feed.  I, of course, had to share it with you. Check it out HERE.

Favorite Recipe Friday: Dutch Baby

Dutch babies hold a special place in my heart ♥.  My mom used to make them for us as a kid and any day that started with a Dutch baby was a good day.  These fluffy, souffle-like pancakes are so simple to make (kids can do it), require few ingredients, 1 bowl, and a whisk.  That’s it.   These babies are beautiful, delicious and the perfect vehicle for a mound of fresh fruit.

When I started making them for my kids, I initially used this NYTimes Food recipe.  It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I thought it had a bit too much butter and I wanted to add a little more flavor.  The great thing about Dutch babies is they are versatile like that.  Feel free to play around with it yourself.  They’re pretty forgiving.

Here is my version of the amazing, the beautiful…Dutch Baby.  Make it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.  Heck, make it as a snack.  These babies don’t discriminate.

Dutch Baby

Serves 4

Adapted from: NYTimes Food


3 large eggs

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup whole or reduced fat milk

1 tablespoon sugar

Pinch cinnamon

Pinch kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups fresh mixed berries (or any other fresh fruit)

Juice from ¼ lemon

Powdered sugar, for serving


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until light and starting to foam.  Add flour, milk, sugar, cinnamon, salt and vanilla.  Whisk until just combined.

Place butter in a 10-inch oven-proof skillet or metal pie dish*. Place in oven and allow butter to melt, 1-2 minutes (keep your eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn).  Pour batter into skillet/dish, return to oven and allow to bake for 18-20 minutes, or until set and browned on top.

Top with fruit and a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

*If you use a pie dish, spray the sides with oil after your butter melts so the Baby doesn’t stick.

Per serving: (1/4 pancake)  Calories: 220  Total Fat: 10.5 g  Saturated Fat: 5.5 g  Cholesterol: 158 mg  Sodium: 85 mg  Carbohydrates: 24 g  Dietary Fiber: 2 g  Total Sugars: 10 g  Protein: 8 g


Sundays with Samantha: Nerdy Nummies

IMG_5217One of the best ways to get kids to be more adventurous eaters is to let them help you in the kitchen.  And while sometimes you just want to get it done and on the table, it’s fun to set aside some time on the weekends to cook together.  You could make something as simple as a fruit salad or try something a bit more complicated like a baked treat from Nerdy Nummies.

Nerdy what?!?!

Nerdy Nummies is a YouTube channel, created by a peppy young girl named Rosanna Pansino.  Everything she makes, for the most part, is inspired by kid-friendly pop culture.  From her Hastag cookies to her Pokemon Pokeball cake pops, there’s something to spark the interest of any child. She’s funny, witty, and makes “geeking out” cool. Plus,  her adorable pug Cookie often makes an appearance on her show.

I recently make her Pokemon Pokeball cake pops (see above pic). They aren’t as easy as she makes them look but they turned out pretty darn good (the challenge, if you so choose to accept it, is keeping them upright while they dry.  Plan ahead and get a cake pop holder).  Also, she uses a lot of food coloring and dyed food-like substances so feel free to use more natural food coloring like processed freeze-dried fruit, beet juice or other more natural products.  We just make them as is because, hey, it’s a treat and I’m a firm believer in moderation.  AND it’s not often we eat Unicorn Poop shaped cookies.

You can check out her YouTube channel HERE or purchase her adorable cookbook HERE. Even when we aren’t cooking from her videos or cookbooks, we love watching the channel and flipping through the book together.


Sundays with Samantha: Samantha’s Soda

(From left to right: Pineapple, Grape, Cranberry Pomegranate, Orange Mango)

We are big bubbly water (seltzer and club soda) drinkers in our house so it was only a matter of time that Samantha started creating her own “fancy” drinks. AND, she gets SO excited to prepare her sodas for friends when they come over for dinner.

They really AREN’T anything fancy.  They are simple to make and contain only unsweetened, unflavored bubbly water and 100% juice.  The ratio of bubbly water to juice is 3:1. Add a few cubes of ice and stir.  Feel free to add fruit for garnish or a twisty straw for extra pizzazz. Serve them in a fancy glass or a (child-safe) plastic cup.

Bonus: The kids feel fancy and drink much less juice (which is a good thing).

P.s. These aren’t just for kids.  Kids and adults alike are big fans. Cheers!


Sundays with Samantha: Bento Box

For a long time, my kids lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a side of fruit for lunch.  I was astonished they could eat the Same. Thing. Every. Day. But, they didn’t seem to mind and frankly, I didn’t either.  But eventually, they went off to school where nuts are not allowed so I was forced to be a bit more creative.  Don’t get me wrong, we still have an occasional pb & j on the weekend or a turkey sandwich, but my daughter (who is almost 8) is OVER IT.  She got so bored with her lunch she just stopped eating it.  And, that is not cool.
SO, I stepped out of my sandwich comfort zone and thought…I’m gonna try something new.  Enter the Bento box .  For those unfamiliar, a Bento box is small box that contains separate little compartments, perfect for small portions of various things.  We have THIS one (see pic) and love it! No spills, leaks and it’s easy to clean.

(Just FYI: if you need to keep your kiddos lunch cold, you will need to buy thin ice packs like these or these and fit them in your average zipper rectangular lunch bag.)

I digress.

The Bento boxes I make are very simple and not at all fancy but feel free to be Pinterest-y with them if you dare.  You can make cute shapes with these.  Or include a yummy salad like this.

I was going to create combinations for you but then I realized, there are so many options, kids are so picky and many have food allergies, so instead, I’ll provide you with a guideline to pick and choose what works for your kids.  Feel free to combine the categories into one main dish like a pasta, sandwich, salad or soup.  But if you just want to fill the slots with healthy options, that works too.

Here you go:

Pick 1 Pick 1 Pick 1 Pick 2
Protein Grains (100% or mostly whole grain) Dairy Fruit/Veggies
Uncured lunch meat Crackers Cheese (sticks, cubes, shreds, etc.) Pineapple         Melon
Cooked chicken Bread Yogurt or drinkable yogurt Berries           Cherries
Turkey/Beef Jerky Pita, tortilla, or naan Dips (made with yogurt and/or milk) Apple            Avocado
Egg Muffin Low Fat or Skim Milk Grapes             Kiwi
Tuna Granola bar Pear               Mango
Smoked salmon Noodles Nectarines      Peaches
Vegetarian protein Rice Plums            Orange
Edamame Oatmeal Tomato          Bell Pepper
Nuts or nut butter Cereal Banana           Celery
Seeds or seed butter Carrots        Snap Peas
Hummus Cucumber       Peas
Beans or bean spread Cabbage     Leafy Greens
Lentils Cauliflower     Broccoli

Sundays with Samantha: 10 ways to get kids to eat more fruits and veggies


Fruit salad made by Samantha.

No doubt about it, it’s challenging to get kids to eat enough fruits and veggies.  But, in order to keep our kids healthy and strong, we must provide them a variety of healthy foods, especially fruits and veggies. They contain a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and more that are CRUCIAL to fighting off illness (fewer doctors visits), disease, and cancer (peace out free radicals). These nutrients help maintain healthy organs, aid in tissue repair (healing scrapes and cuts), and promote healthy digestion (hooray poop). And while we all know how difficult it can be to coerce a child into trying something new, if you keep these 10 tricks (I mean, tips) handy, in time, you should notice a less resistant and a more adventurous eater.

First and foremost..

1. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.  My son, Jack, is pretty picky. I put broccoli on his plate at least 10 times before he actually ate it. And now, he loves it and asks for seconds! At dinnertime, I always put at least a taste of everything on both kids’ plates, even if there’s a strong chance one of them will dislike SOMETHING. All I ask is that they try a bite and if they don’t like it, I don’t force it.  BUT, there is no doubt they will be trying it again the next time I make it.

2. Try them different ways. If your kid isn’t a fan of cooked veggies, try them raw.  If they won’t eat them steamed, try them roasted.  Cut them into smaller pieces or puree them and add them to spaghetti sauce or soup. Tune into WHY they don’t like it.  Is it the texture or flavor?  I know multiple kids who won’t eat anything mushy like mashed potatoes or cooked carrots but will eat them if they are crunchy or raw. Knowing what makes them tick is half the battle.

3. Smoothies.  If you can’t get your kid to eat whole fruits and veggies, try them in a smoothie.   Throw fruit (and veggies if you can get away with it) into a blender with water, milk or a little juice.  Make it more substantial by adding nut butter, whole nuts or seeds, or plain yogurt.  And if you are feeling really generous, toss a few dark chocolate chips or cocoa powder in for a boost of antioxidants and kid-friendly flavor.  Check out my kid-friendly smoothie recipes for ideas.

4. Limit “empty calorie” (foods with little nutrition) snacks. I get it.  Kids eat a lot.  It’s not realistic to expect them to snack on just fruits and veggies.  Crackers and other refined snacks are not great but they are OK, in moderation.  Just try to find the healthiest version your kid will eat (i.e., those with whole grains, protein, low in sugar).  Try offering a fruit or veggie alongside or allow them to have those snacks only after they’ve eaten a piece of fruit or veggie.

5. Let them help. Kids are more likely to try new things if they are involved in the cooking process. Teach them that tasting is part of the fun and let them be your tester. Teach them how to safely use a knife and let them make fruit salad.  Give them a peeler and let them peel carrots or potatoes.

6. Offer them any chance you get.  Offer them healthy snacks before the less healthy ones.  If my kids are hungry enough, they will eat it.  In my house, this is most successful right before dinner.

7. Be creative and branch out.  Try spiralizing veggies, using a cookie cutter to make fun shapes or make your own masterpiece on their plate.  For a little help, check out these plates. Or these. Or these. And sometimes, you just need to find something new and different.  For example, skip the apples and grapes and offer mango or kiwi.

8. Dress them up…or down. Veggies tend to be harder to swallow (pun intended) than fruits.  Try melting cheese on top or put dip on the side. On the flip side, if you are making veggies with a kid-questionable sauce or marinade, set some aside before dressing them up. Or, if you are making a salad or soup, for example, pick out the veggies your kid likes and serve those to them separately.

9. Don’t call them out.  Just put it on their plates and see what happens.  For a long time, my kids didn’t realize that fruit and veggies were the “healthy” foods.  It was just part of their meal and they were expected to try them just like anything else on their plate.  This may not work as well with older kids who know the difference but for young kids, it’s worth a shot.

10. Make it fun.  When my son was little, my husband used to tell him to eat a bite for Darth Vader or that all good ninjas eat broccoli.  Remind them they need healthy foods to be as big and strong as the Incredible Hulk or Wonder Woman. This worked often when Jack was in his really picky phase.

So how much is enough? Here is a handy chart I’ve borrowed from the USDA.  Good luck!  And may the force be with you.

Table: How much Fruit and vegetables do Children need? Click to view larger image and text.

(These amounts are for children who get less than 30 min/day of moderate physical activity, beyond normal daily activities. More active children may be able to consume more while staying within calorie needs.)