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3 Bears Kitchen Fun!

Everyone has special childhood memories of  mom or dad in the kitchen and family dishes they enjoyed. The kitchen is also a great place for kids to have fun! It’s an amazing activity center that feeds creativity and encourages camaraderie among the family. Following is an afternoon of fun for the little ones! We’re going to create Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear in their beds. I’m going to tell you how to make one set, so just multiply by the number of kids participating.

Here’s what you’ll end up with! 3 different sized bears on Quesadilla beds:

14-decorate blanketsTo make the beds and blankets for the bears, you will need:
8 MexAmerica flour tortillas, 1 MexAmerica corn tortilla
3 hot dogs, 6 Lit’l smoky Links
9 pieces of American cheese slices – or other cheese
1 cup grated cheese
Decorations for the blankets
(I used life savers, yogurt covered raisins and dark raisins)
6 dark raisins for eyes, 2 Maraschino cherries for mouths,
3 Extra-Extra-Large marshmallows for pillows
2  pieces chocolate licorice for bed posts

To make the bears, you will need to make some chocolate cookie dough with no leavening so it doesn’t rise. This is also a great dough (without the chocolate) for making decorated sugar cookies – particularly because they stay flat, which is perfect for decorating. I always use this recipe for decorated cookies at Christmas time. Plus, you can make the cookies, freeze them in air tight containers ahead and then thaw however many you want to decorate, which really helps out at that busy time of year. You can make just a half recipe if you only want to make a few bear heads – or make more and freeze them for another fun afternoon.You will need:

1 cup butter (at room temperature), 1-1/2 cups sugar, 3 eggs,
2 teaspoons vanilla, ½ teaspoon salt

4 ounces cocoa (to make it brown),
4 to 4-1/2 cups All Purpose flour (Make a soft dough)

Baking spray, A small amount of soft butter.

Mix it up like a regular cookie dough. First the butter and sugar; then add the eggs, vanilla and salt. Then the dry ingredients – the cocoa and enough flour to make a soft dough.

2-Draw around formsNow you need to make some patterns for the bear heads. You only need the heads… You’ll see what I mean in a minute. So take a bear cookie cutter and draw just around the head on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Then connect the chin and simply make a straight neck. That’s your Baby Bear head. Cut it out and use it as a pattern to make the Mama head. But draw this head about 1/8″ bigger, using the Baby Bear head as a guide and cut it out. To make Papa’s, use the Mama head as a guide and make it 1/8″ bigger than that. Cut it out as well. Now you have your patterns.

Roll the cookie dough out to 1/4″. Cut out the heads using a knife and place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Don’t worry if the edges are a little ragged. These are BEARS! They have fur, so jagged is good.

3-Roll out dough and cut forms

Now make the faces. I cut raisins in half for the Mama and Papa and smaller for Baby. Then I made little round noses from cookie dough, wet one side of it and pressed it into the nose area. The mouths are little slivers of Maraschino cherries. Press your index finger into the ears to shape them a bit. Press your index finger into the ears to give them some shape. Use a sharp knife to cut in eyebrows and other lines. Then bake the heads in a preheated oven at 375 F for 10-12 minutes, just until set. Let cool on the cookie sheet.

4-Make faces

Next, cook the hot dogs and smoky links either on a grill or in boiling water. Drain if you use water and place them on paper towels so the moisture will be absorbed.

8-Grill hotdogs

Now comes the three Quesadillas for the beds. The fillings can be as simple as 3 slices of American cheese between two flour tortillas, cooked in a Panini press or on a frying pan (and flipped over to brown both sides). Or you can use any fillings your kids like. Here’s where they can use their imagination and have some fun making the beds out of combinations of things they like to eat. The beds can be thick or thin so don’t worry about that. Let them make the Quesadillas any way they want.

5-Make Quesadilla while boiling dogs

I made my Quesadillas in a Panini press.

7-Grill the Quesadilla

Cut slices from the Extra-Large marshmallows to use as pillows. If your knife is sharp and hot, you will have the best luck cutting through the gooey marshmallows. I put my knife under my hot water tap, dry it off quickly and make a cut. I do this each time I need to cut through something like this. It’s a good tip also for cutting clean slices of cake! 🙂

10-Cut Marshmallows for pillows

Now go back to your hot dogs and cut a slit about an inch into each one on the end. then make three sizes of hot dogs. These are  the bear’s bodies. So Papa’s can be a whole hot dog, Mama’s a little smaller and Baby’s about 1/2 a hot dog.

9-Cut slit in ends of hotdogs

Cut rectangles out of the Quesadillas for the three beds, sizing them for each head. In other words, Papa’s will be the biggest, Mama’s a little smaller and Baby’s, of course, smaller still.Stick the cookie head in the slit and lay each one down on the appropriate bed with the heads on the pillows. The smoky links are the arms, so if you put a little butter on one end – just a little bit – it will help them stay in place while you make the blankets.

11-make beds

You should have 2 flour tortillas left, so warm those and one corn tortilla between two pieces of paper towel in the microwave for 40 seconds. (If you don’t have a microwave, heat them on a grill.) Tuck the two flour tortillas around Mama and Papa. For Baby, you will have to cut the corn tortilla circle down about 1/2″ for it to fit, so do that and fold the corn tortilla around the baby. Baby’s is corn just because the tortilla is smaller to begin with. You could certainly cut down a flour tortilla if that’s all you have.

12-make blankets

Cover the blankets with different colors of grated cheese. Place under the broiler, keeping the heads toward the edge of the oven so the marshmallows don’t burn. It’s OK if they toast a bit though. All the better! Watch carefully and take them out as soon as the cheese is melted.

13-add cheese and place under broiler

14-decorate blankets

As soon as your bears come out of the oven, you can decorate the blankets. I used dark raisins, yogurt covered raisins and lifesavers, but use your imagination to make them your own. Add pieces of chocolate licorice dipped in spreadable cheese for bedposts. (The cheese is just to help the bedposts stand up.) I also gave Baby Bear a little red gummy teddy bear for a toy.Now all that’s left is to smile and eat ’em up! Enjoy!

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