Cook with Books: The Parrot Tico Tango

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Cook with Books: The Parrot Tico Tango Fruit Trees

Cook with Books this month features The Parrot Tico Tango by Anna Witte. We read the colorful story about Tico Tango who flies through the rainforest snatching bright, yummy fruits from his friends. The book lends itself to great discussion about asking for things and asking for forgiveness.

After reading the book, we started on our Fruit Tree Snack. If your child is able, he can help wash and prepare the fruit by chopping it into small pieces.

For each fruit tree, you will need:

1/2 banana
thick slice of cored pineapple
handful of toothpicks
3 other fruits (we used strawberries, kiwi, and mango), diced

To assemble the trees, simply place the banana half in the pineapple.

Using toothpicks, add fruits all over.

Fruit Tree Snack for The Parrot Tico Tango (Cook with Books)

So simple. So healthy!

You can find a complete unit study for The Parrot Tico Tango at Homeschool Share.

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Cook with Books: A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee

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cook with books A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee

Fall is a great time for camping!  If you’re planning a camping trip, you will definitely want to check out A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee, by Chris Van Dusen.  This picture book tells of Mr. Magee and his dog, Dee, who have quite an adventure when they decide to take the trailer out for a weekend in the wilderness.  The entire story is done in rhyme and is fun and easy to read aloud.  You may recognize Van Dusen’s art style from his illustrations in Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson books.  Here, too, they are bright and cheery and go along well with the story.


Whether you’re camping away from home or in your own backyard, s’mores cones are a fun variation on the traditional campfire snack.  All you need are:

  • sugar cones
  • chocolate chips
  • mini marshmallows


Step 1:  Fill your cone with marshmallows and chocolate chips.


Fill it up to the very tip top!


Step 2:  Wrap the cones in foil and put them on your grill.  How long you have to wait will depend on how big your fire is and how melty you want your chocolate and marshmallows!

5Step 3:  Enjoy!  These are not as messy as traditional s’mores, thanks to the cone!  After we made these, we started brainstorming all the variations you could make…peanut butter, mint chocolate chips, peppermints…Just about anything you can think of!

Happy camping!

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Cook with Books: Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato

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Cook with Books Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato
St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and this month we have a wonderful book and recipe to help you celebrate!  Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato is Tomie dePaola’s retelling of an old Irish folktale.  Jamie O’Rourke is known for being the laziest man around, and when his wife, Eileen, is unable to dig up the potatoes, Jamie fears he will starve.  He heads to church to talk with his priest, but on the way he meets a leprechaun.  Instead of giving Jamie his pot of gold, the leprechaun talks him into taking a seed for the biggest potato in the world.  Jamie takes the seed home and plants it and soon finds that even though he’s not going to starve, he’s got a whole new problem on his hands!

This month we have a super simple recipe to share with you.  In fact, it’s so simple, I’m not sure it really can be called a recipe!  All you need are the ingredients pictured above.

hard to cutPeel your potatoes and chop them up.  This may be hard for your smaller kids to do.

cuttingWe had to switch to a kids’ knife, which was much easier to use!

choppingYou want bite-sized pieces!

mixPour some oil over the potatoes and stir; then add dry ranch dressing mix–or any other seasoning you’d like.

ready to bakePlace them in a baking dish and pop them in the oven.

finishedYou’ve got a simple and yummy side dish in just about an hour!

Here’s the “recipe” for you:


  • potatoes
  • oil
  • seasoning


  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Put the potatoes in a bowl and add oil and seasoning mix and stir well.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes.


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Cook with Books: Recipe Roundup!

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Cook with Books Round-Up

Over the past year we’ve shared lots of recipe ideas to go along with some of your favorite stories.  This month we’re focusing on books that have recipes in them already and that have units to go along with them (for FREE!) at Homeschool Share.

cranberry christmasIf you’ve enjoyed Cranberry Thanksgiving, you should definitely try Cranberry Christmas!  The residents of Cranberryport want to go ice skating, but Cyrus Grape claims the skating pond is his and won’t allow it.  It’s up to Mr. Whiskers to try to save the day for the town’s children!  This book includes a recipe for Maggie’s delicious cranberry cookies.

a song for lenaIn A Song for Lena, Lena helps her grandmother make strudel (the recipe is included) and hears a story from her grandmother’s childhood.  A wandering musician asks for some bread, but the family gives him some of their strudel instead, and the musician repays the kindness with a tune on his violin.  This same scene is repeated year after year, until one year when the musician no longer comes.  This is a sweet story of kindness you will love to share with your children.

thunder cake Thunder Cake is also a story of a grandmother and granddaughter cooking.  In this book, there is a rapidly approaching thunderstorm which frightens the young girl.  To take her mind off her worries, her grandmother has her help gather the ingredients to make a cake.

cook a doodle dooCook-a-Doodle-Doo! is a funny book that tells the story of Rooster, the great-grandson of the Little Red Hen.  When he remembers that his famous great-grandma is also a cookbook author, Rooster and his friends decide to make her delicious strawberry shortcake.  Each of the animals adds his own special something to the cooking process and you’re sure to enjoy the results!

goody o'grumpityIf you’re looking for a good historical recipe, Goody O’Grumpity is a wonderful book to share with your kids.  In this simple story, Goody O’Grumpity, a Pilgrim woman, bakes a cake that has everyone in town waiting to try a piece.  Your children may be surprised at the difference between cakes now and then, but no matter how different the outcome, they will love the story and the memories.

Hopefully this will give you a start on planning some fun learning experiences for the new year!  I’m so excited about some of the great things we have cooking up for Cook with Books in the coming months!  Happy cooking and reading!

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Cook with Books: Let’s Go Home

CWB Lets Go Home

Usually when I share a book for Cook with Books, the recipe is directly related to the story, but this month I’m going to get a little nostalgic with you all since the holidays are coming up!  One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read is Let’s Go Home, written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin.  This sweet book tells about all the things that make a house a home, no matter the kind of house it is.

“But no matter the kind of house, it is the living inside that makes it wonderful, what happens in each room that makes it marvelous.  It is what the house means to those who live there.”

One of my most favorite places as a child was my grandparents’ house.  It wasn’t big or fancy and you often couldn’t get TV reception without an awkward dance with the rabbit ears, but it was a wonderful place.  So many delicious meals were shared there as we all filled the tables every holiday–and many other days as well.  In honor of that home and my grandmother, who was an amazing cook, I’m sharing her pumpkin pie recipe with you.  Of all the mouthwatering dishes she made, this was my favorite, and every time I taste it I’m back in her kitchen.

jengma{Me and my grandma in her living room on my first Christmas.}

ingredientsThis time of year I try to have pumpkin on hand since there are so many yummy Pinterest ideas that use it, but I usually don’t have Milnot.  Most of the other ingredients are in my pantry year round!

crustsFirst, get your crusts ready.  Here’s where I make a confession.  My grandma made almost everything from scratch.  I do not.  I have learned the hard way that I cannot top a ready-made pie crust, at least not without a lot more time to practice.  If you’re a great pie crust-maker, you have my admiration.  If not, there’s no shame in unrolling the premade crusts!

eggsStart with your eggs and beat them well before adding the other ingredients.

sugarsYou’ll need both white and brown sugar.

milnotAdd your Milnot…

pumpkinAnd your pumpkin!

mixMix it all well!

cinnamonPour the batter into two pie shells and sprinkle cinnamon on top before baking.

yummyAnd there you have my favorite recipe that makes me think of home!

Here’s the complete recipe!


  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups Milnot
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 15 oz. can of pumpkin
  • cinnamon


  1. Beat eggs together
  2. Mix in all other ingredients except the cinnamon
  3. Pour into two pie crusts and sprinkle cinnamon on top
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, then reduce to 350 degrees and cook for about 20 more minutes.  When you have a soft spot in the middle about the size of a half dollar, it’s done.
  5. Let it set a bit after removing from the oven before cutting it.

Whatever special recipes you have in your family, this is a great time of year to share those with your children and Let’s Go Home is the perfect story to go along!

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Cook with Books: Apples to Oregon

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cook with books apples to oregon

September is a great time to learn about apples, and Apples to Oregon is a fun book that tells how some of the first fruit trees in the west made the journey.  This is a book that is enjoyable for all ages and if you want to take the learning deeper, we even have a free unit study available at Homeschool Share!

IngredientsI’ve got a yummy apple cake recipe to share with you this month!  This is actually more like a bread, but it’s still delicious!  Best of all, most of the ingredients are things you probably already have on hand.

Chopped applesStart by chopping your apples.  I usually use Jonathan apples, and I use my food chopper to dice them up small.

SugarThen pour the sugar over the apples and stir well.

MixAdd in the rest of the ingredients (see below for all the details!) and mix them together well.

Mixed upIt should end up looking like this!  Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and pop it in the oven.  It won’t take long for your kitchen to start smelling really good!  If you want to save some for another time, you can freeze the batter and then defrost and cook it later.

Finished LoafThe finished product!  So yummy!

Here’s the complete recipe:


  • 2 cups chopped raw apples
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour


  1. Chop apples and sprinkle sugar over them.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients until well blended.
  3. Bake in a greased loaf pan for one hour at 350 degrees.

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