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: Ed Emberley’s Fingerprint Drawing Book

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The books we feature in the Cook with Books posts are usually stories, but this month we have a fun activity book to share with you!  Ed Emberley’s Fingerprint Drawing Book is a terrific book to bring out on those cold winter afternoons when the kids’ energy is high and yours is low.  Kids of all ages can follow the simple steps to make fingerprint pictures without much help at all, which makes this an excellent book in my opinion!  When they’re finished with their pictures, the kids can try out these easy thumbprint cookies, too!

thumbprint ingredientsThese cookies are so good and easy to make.  You’ve almost certainly got everything you need on hand!

butter and sugarStart by creaming your butter and sugar together.

eggsNext you’ll add your vanilla and the yolks of two eggs and then mix again.  My kids actually did really well for their first time trying this!

flour and saltAdd the flour and salt and mix until you get a smooth dough.  At first it will look very crumbly, like the picture above, but stick with it and a nice dough will form.  Let the dough chill in the refrigerator for half an hour or so.

jellyRoll the dough into one inch balls and then place the balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Press your thumb down into the middle of the dough ball to make a little indentation.  Fill the cookies with whatever kind of jams or preserves you prefer.  I love that everyone can have a different flavor if they want!

messSome kinds of fillings will make more of a mess than others, but even though they may not look Pinterest-worthy, they are still delicious!

finished thumbprintsThese are so easy and make such a pretty tea time snack!

Here’s the full recipe:


  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups of flour
  • jams or preserves of your choice


  1. Cream the butter and sugar together.
  2. Add the two egg yolks and the vanilla to the butter and sugar and mix well.
  3. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined.
  4. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
  5. Roll the dough into one-inch balls.  (I got about two dozen from this recipe.)  Place the balls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and press down with your thumb to make an indentation in the dough.
  6. Fill the indentation with your favorite jam or preserves.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 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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Cook With Books: Five Little Monkeys

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Five Little Monkeys Cooking Fun
Five Little Monkeys is such a fun story to share with your kids, and it’s even better if you have some Monkey Bread to go along with it!  This is a super easy recipe that’s great for a snack or for breakfast.

2You just need a few ingredients–most of which you probably already have!


Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and mix well.

4Cut the cinnamon rolls into smaller pieces.  I usually cut them into thirds one direction and in half the other way, but it’s up to you how large or small you want the pieces.

5Coat the cinnamon roll pieces in the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.

6Put half of the coated cinnamon roll pieces into a greased Bundt pan.  Melt half a stick of butter and pour over the pieces and if you want, add chopped pecans.  My kids don’t like nuts, so I only put it on one side.  Then add the rest of the cinnamon rolls and repeat the butter and nuts.  Pop it in the oven and you’ll have a delicious treat in no time!

Here’s the complete recipe:


  • 3 cans of cinnamon rolls
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)


  1. Spray a Bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together.
  3. Cut up cinnamon rolls and coat in the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  4. Place half of the cinnamon rolls in the Bundt pan.
  5. Pour half a stick of melted butter over the rolls and top with pecans.
  6. Place remaining cinnamon rolls in the pan and top with butter and pecans.
  7. Bake at 325-350 degrees (I usually set my oven at 335) for about 30 minutes.

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