Editor's note: Helping children eat healthy meals can be a challenge on the best of days. From creative meal ideas to helping children learn to cook to a nutritional guidebook, here is a review of one of the cookbooks that have crossed our desks recently.
"NOODLEMANIA! 50 Playful Pasta Recipes," by Melissa Barlow, Quirk Books, $15.95, 112 pages
Author Melissa Barlow zeroed in on a family staple when she created “Noodlemania! 50 Playful Pasta Recipes.” Regular noodles transform into monsters, cowboys and insects in this easy-to-navigate children’s cookbook.
Salt Lake City-based Barlow teaches readers the art of perfectly cooked noodles, with hand-drawn images of 28 different noodles by artist Alison Oliver. This colorful cookbook is sure to satisfy little tummies and creative minds.
Each recipe is either coupled with a picture to aid the creation process or a basic illustration. “Noodlemania” is suitable for toddlers and up — your teenagers may not admit it, but certainly they'd to enjoy the Robot Bites.
Little Ladybug Salad
Makes: 4-6 servings
2 cups mini penne
1 (8-ounce) container cherry or grape tomatoes
1 (2.25-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
3/4 cup mini pepperoni (Hormel)
3/4 to 1 cup Bernstein’s Cheese Fantastico salad dressing
2 whole olives, cut in half
Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water and then let cool completely.
Wash the tomatoes and then set 3 of the biggest and most oblong-shaped tomatoes aside. Cut the rest in half or quarters.
In a large bowl, combine the pasta and the cut tomatoes. Add the drained sliced olives, keeping 2 or 3 slices out with the reserved tomatoes. Stir in the mini pepperoni. Toss with the dressing and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To make the little ladybugs for your garnish, slide a toothpick through the center of each reserved tomato lengthwise and then stick an olive half on one end to make the ladybug’s head. Cut the reserved olive slices into little pieces to make the ladybug’s “spots” and then place on the tomato. Place ladybugs on salad before serving.
— “Noodlemania! 50 Playful Pasta Recipes,” by Melissa Barlow