Taste Testing Tuesday – #8

Hello and a happy Tuesday to you! It’s a GREAT Tuesday for us because 4 of our grandchildren are here staying with us and we are having a super-duper time being together! 🙂 They helped me with this Taste Testing Tuesday but we were having so much fun I forgot to take very many pictures. Oops! So Taste Testing Tuesday #8 is all about tasting different kinds of cheese. We have 6 kinds to try out…Colby, Smoked Swiss, Smoked Cheddar, Swiss, Muenster and American.

We started out with me drawing in the faces on the chart for what we each thought of each kind of cheese. Halfway through the kids took over drawing their own faces to express their thoughts so things got even funnier. 😉

Now for some cheesy grins! 😉 Little Miss said she liked ALL of the cheese.

This guy was not too impressed with smoked cheeses but Muenster was a definite YES! Although when his brother tried to give him Muenster with chocolate powder on it, that was a strong NO!

Middle brother liked some of the cheese, but some he could easily leave alone.

This guy was a good sport and let his Grandma talk him into participating. 😉 His favorite is Swiss.

We hope you’ll take a Taste Testing Tuesday Cheese test too! (Wow, that’s a mouthful!) Thanks for stopping by!

Taste Testing Tuesday – #7

Here we are again with another Taste Testing Tuesday for you! (Wow, that week went by quickly!) We will be testing out ways to eat graham crackers!

I wonder what you think of when you think of eating a graham cracker? Do you like them plain or with something on them? When I was little, my mom would occasionally fix us a special treat by putting frosting on graham crackers. Yum! For our taste test today, I added a few sprinkles just for fun. 😉

What about adding peanut butter and jelly?

Dipping graham crackers into vanilla yogurt is pretty tasty!

When you think of graham crackers, do you immediately think of making s’mores over a campfire? Mmmm! If you’ve never had a s’more before, it’s made with a piece of milk chocolate candy bar, graham crackers and a marshmallow that’s been roasted over the campfire. You make a sandwich with the chocolate and marshmallow in between 2 graham crackers. It’s ooey, gooey, messy and quite yummy! But if you don’t have a campfire going, you can try making s’mores in the house. Melt some chocolate candy bar in the microwave oven and add just a little coconut oil and stir until it’s a uniform consistency. Dip one end of the section of graham cracker into the chocolate and tilt the cracker to make the chocolate spread a little further. Add 2 miniature marshmallows on top of the chocolate. Place the coated cracker on a piece of wax paper on a plate and put it in the refrigerator so it will harden. Or eat it while it’s warm!

That’s 4 ways to taste test graham crackers! Are any of those ways new to you? Which one is your favorite? Do you have any other suggestions for a good way to eat a graham cracker? I hope you have enjoyed our latest taste test! Thanks for joining us! 🙂

Monarch Butterflies Emerging From Their Chrysalis

Hello and welcome to another adventure in the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly! Last week we looked at how the Monarch caterpillar changes into its chrysalis. Today we’ll see what happens when it’s time for the butterfly to emerge from the chrysalis. (Hang on until the end of this post for the video!) So just to remind you, here’s what the Monarch butterfly’s chrysalis looks like.

When the time for the butterfly to emerge is getting close, the chrysalis will start to turn a darker color and look black. Notice in this picture that one chrysalis looks green but the one in the background is black.

Here is a closer look.

Did you notice that you can see the butterfly’s wing inside the chrysalis? My pictures aren’t super clear because they are taken looking through the plastic container, but here is a picture taken with a flashlight shining on the chrysalis.

Whoa!! How cool is that?! The chrysalis is now very thin and you can see the butterfly! Next, the chrysalis starts to slowly open. Can you see along the left hand side that the chrysalis is splitting open?

Then the split becomes a little wider. The butterfly is hanging upside down right now and you can start to see its head coming out first.

The butterfly is dropping down a little lower now. You can start to see its legs that are folded up close to its head.

It’s now beginning to slide out of the chrysalis!

Sliding farther out…almost there! The chrysalis will stay attached to the top of the container as the butterfly slides down and out of it.

And it’s out! Look how big it’s body looks right now and how small and folded up it’s wings are.

The butterfly grabs a hold of the empty chrysalis and it will hang right side up now.

As the butterfly hangs on the chrysalis, it will pump fluid into its wings and the wings will begin to expand and the body will become smaller. This next picture was taken 5 minutes after the butterfly emerged or eclosed. Its wings are still wrinkled looking.

Then 10 minutes…it’s wings are looking straighter.

And then here is 15 minutes after emerging.

It takes a couple of hours for the butterfly to finish this process and for it’s wings to expand and dry off. They don’t need to eat right away so it’s good to give them time to dry off and to begin to flex their wings. After a few hours have passed, I carefully open the container and put my hand close to the butterfly and they usually climb onto my finger. And then it’s time to set them free outside.

Here is a video I took of the process of the butterfly emerging from it’s chrysalis. It is so amazing to watch this happen!

It has been such a rewarding experience for me to help these beautiful creatures along in their transformation from a tiny little egg into an amazing gorgeous butterfly! This is my second year of raising and releasing Monarchs and I hope I can continue to do so for many years to come! I hope you have enjoyed coming along with me on this journey! 🙂

Taste Testing Tuesday – #6

It’s Tuesday again and time for your favorite blog post – Taste Testing Tuesday! 🙂 Today we’re checking out some tasty foods that go great with tortilla chips. (Most kids like tortilla chips, right? Let’s sneak in getting them to try some new foods that go great with them.) Get a piece of paper ready with your chart to write down what each person thinks of each taste test. Here’s the goodies we used this time: Tortilla chips…

Taco flavored hamburger…

Guacamole…

Refried beans with some cheddar cheese…

And hummus.

Guacamole and Hummus can be bought or you can make your own. I found LOTS of recipes for each online. Make it a fun time with your Taste Test by having everyone try the new things at the same time. Dish some of each food out on each person’s plate and give them a handful of tortilla chips. Letting each one draw a smiley face on their chart adds to the fun.

Feel free to switch out any of the food items we used and add some of your own. Salsa and sour cream could also be fun foods to add. Even mixing some of the foods together might be a hit. Enjoy! I hope everyone finds something new that they like! 🙂

Monarch Caterpillars Going Into Their Chrysalis

Hi there! Last week we ended our blog post about our Monarch caterpillars when they were starting to J-hang. They attach themselves firmly to the top of the cage or stick they are hanging from and then they hang like the letter J.

This week let’s talk about what happens when they go from J-hanging into their chrysalis. Here is a picture of 3 caterpillars in the different stages of going into a chrysalis.

The caterpillars hang in the letter J form for a day or so and then something amazing starts happening. They straighten their bodies out just a little and if you watch very carefully at just the right time, you can see little ripples moving up across their body. They are getting ready to shed their outside layer of “skin”. The “skin” will start to split open down by their head. They are hanging upside down so their head is at the bottom.

The split will get bigger and bigger and you will see more and more of the light green part appear.

Notice how the “skin” is getting all wrinkled up at the top.

Then finally, the bunch of old “skin” they don’t need anymore falls off.

They will wiggle around inside for a little bit and they will get shorter and shorter.

The outside of the chrysalis begins to look smooth.

Here is a chrysalis that is finished that we found outside.

Did you notice the gold colored dots and the gold ring around the chrysalis? Isn’t it beautiful?! The caterpillar is inside the chrysalis now and will be there for around 1 to 2 weeks. You won’t see much happening for a while but a wonderful, amazing transformation is taking place inside! Be sure to come back next week when we’ll talk about the process that happens next! That’s when the new butterfly emerges from the chrysalis! 🙂

Taste Testing Tuesday – #5

Hello! What day of the week is today? It’s Tuesday and that means….it’s time for another crazy adventure into Taste Testing! This time around we are doing things a little bit backwards from the previous times. We will be taste testing a yummy fruit dip and deciding which kind of fruit tastes best with it! Ready? Let’s go!

First the simple fruit dip recipe: 1 – 8 ounce package of cream cheese, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk.

Place the ingredients into a medium-sized bowl.

Beat the ingredients together until it is a smooth consistency. I used my small electric hand mixer and that worked great.

Scrape the fruit dip into a small bowl and place it in the center of a large plate. Gather and prepare fresh fruit and place it on the plate, arranged around the bowl of fruit dip. Can you name all 6 of the fruit in this picture?

The correct answer is red apples, kiwi, peaches, bananas, green apple and mandarin oranges. Divide portions onto small individual plates for each person to sample. Give each person their own little mound of fruit dip so no one is “double dipping” and sticking the fork they have eaten off of back in the dip. Ewww!

Do you like the fruit dip? Which fruit do you think goes best with the fruit dip? I think my favorites are the apples and the bananas. 🙂 Don’t forget you can make a chart of what you think of each kind of fruit with some fruit dip. Is it better with dip or better just plain? Have fun!

Tiny Monarch Caterpillars Grow FAST!

Remember these cute TINY little guys we looked at last week? There are 2 on the top left and 1 at the bottom. If you missed that blog post, you can find it here: https://thekidsniche.com/2020/08/21/monarch-caterpillar-babies-are-so-tiny/

You are not going to believe how fast they grow!! Check out this picture that was taken yesterday, August 27, 2020.

Can you say WHOA!! Now they look like fat little sausages! That’s because they eat a LOT of Milkweed leaves! If you find a Monarch caterpillar and you would like to raise it inside your house, just make sure that you have access to lots of Milkweed leaves for them to eat. They will only eat Milkweed leaves.

Would you like to see where we found a bunch of our caterpillars this year? Some were on this Swamp Milkweed plant. Swamp Milkweed plants grow pretty tall and they have pink flowers in the Spring. Can you find 3 caterpillars in this picture?

We found more caterpillars on this Butterfly Milkweed plant. Butterfly Milkweed plants don’t grow as tall as the Swamp Milkweed and they have pretty orange flowers in the Spring. Can you find 3 caterpillars in this picture too? One of them is hiding down low on the right side of the picture. 😉

Sometimes we have found caterpillars on the Common Milkweed plants. This is what it looks like. It’s leaves are much bigger than the other 2 Milkweed plants and it also has pink flowers in the Spring.

When we bring the caterpillars inside our house, they live in a cozy little apartment with a couple of sticks to climb on and Milkweed leaves to eat. We place a damp paper towel on the bottom of the apartment to make it easier to clean up after them every day. They also poop a lot!

We had 4 apartments but we kept finding more caterpillars and eggs so we added more apartments!

We house up to 3 caterpillars in each apartment. They eat and grow and poop to their hearts’ content until one day, it’s time for the next stage in their life cycle. They climb to the top of the apartment or on a stick and then they J-hang. Don’t they look like the letter J hanging there?

Usually about a day after they start to J-hang, they will go into their chrysalis. But that’s a topic for another day! Check back next week when we’ll explore the next phase in their transformation! 🙂

Taste Testing Tuesday – #4

It’s Tuesday again! Time for another fun adventure of letting our taste buds try something new! What shall we try today? It’s a light green color and comes in long thin stalks. Can you guess what it is? It’s celery! Wait, wait, wait! Don’t turn up your nose at celery until you’ve tried these 6 ways of eating it. You might just find that you like it! Ok, first we start with some cleaned stalks of celery. I cut each stalk into 3 pieces. You can try it plain first, if you like.

Remember to make a chart of what you think of each flavor. The first way we’ll try is with peanut butter. Yum! If you can’t have peanut butter, maybe you can have cashew butter or almond butter. Be sure to ask mom or dad if you have any food allergies. (I am actually allergic to celery which is kinda sad.)

Just fill the convenient little trough on the celery piece with peanut butter goodness.

Is your mouth watering yet? Eat the celery with peanut butter and mark on your chart what you think about it. Really yummy? Just ok? Not so great, no thanks?

For our second taste test, let’s try adding cream cheese to the celery.

Use a table knife to scoop some cream cheese into the celery.

The white cream cheese looks so pretty on the green celery. What do you think of this combination?

For our next test, let’s use some cheese. We tried a can of Easy Cheese. This one is rather fun because you get to make the cheese squirt out of the can into your celery. Try and keep it IN the celery, if you can! It’s a really warm day here so our Easy Cheese wanted to melt and run all over everything, so watch out for that!

So that’s 3 ways to taste test celery.

Are they still looking a little boring to you? Well, then let’s jazz them up a bit! Let’s go with the peanut butter ones first…we’ll add a few raisins. Looking better already and raisins will add some sweetness!

Let’s see…how can we jazz up the celery with the Easy Cheese? Let’s add some grated cheese on top. Yep, that looks better too!

And for the ones with the cream cheese…you’re going to like this idea…let’s add a few chocolate chips! Now that looks like dessert!

Yum! Now that’s a pretty appetizing looking plate of snacks!

Which one turned out to be your favorite? Leave a comment and tell me what you think of our celery snacks. Hope you and your taste buds had a good time today! 🙂

Monarch Caterpillar Babies Are So Tiny!

Hi everyone! Hope you are all doing great! We have hatched some Monarch caterpillars from their eggs for the first time and I just have to show you how cute they are! And TINY! You won’t believe how tiny! On Thursday, August 13th, I found my first ever Monarch Butterfly egg on my milkweed plant. I was so excited! I am trying to do my part in saving the Monarch butterflies, so I brought the egg inside to keep it safe from predators. Do you see the little round ball on this piece of a milkweed leaf? That’s the egg!

The next day I found 2 more eggs and brought them inside. Then on Saturday, August 15th, the first egg hatched! It was really hard for me to even find the tiny tiny little caterpillar. See if you can spot him in this picture. Look on the left side for the caterpillar…and on the right side and bottom for two more eggs.

Can you see him? His head is black and he is green right now, almost the same color as the leaf. The next picture I took was on Sunday, August 16th. What do you see? The caterpillar is already growing bigger and is a little easier to see. See all those teeny tiny little black dots on the white paper towel at the bottom of the picture? Can you guess what that is? It’s teeny tiny caterpillar poop!! Isn’t that funny? 😉

Now let’s look at the picture from two days later, Tuesday, August 18th. I put a dime in the picture so you can compare the caterpillar’s size to the size of the dime. Even though he is growing fast, he still looks very little beside the dime, doesn’t he? See the little hole in the leaf? That’s where he ate part of the leaf.

Guess what else happened on Tuesday? The other two eggs hatched! But wow, I had trouble finding them! See if you can spot one of them in this picture. If you found the “big” tiny caterpillar, then look straight up from him to find the brand new caterpillar.

The next two pictures are from today, Friday, August 21st. The new babies are just 3 days old. Aren’t they so cute?! 🙂

The “big” tiny caterpillar is just over one week old. See if you can find all three caterpillars in this next picture.

It is so fun and so interesting watching these Monarch caterpillars hatch and start to grow. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing just how very very small these caterpillars are when they start out. Stay tuned for more Monarch caterpillar information next week! 🙂

Taste Testing Tuesday – #3

Welcome to another adventure with Taste Testing Tuesday! What’s your favorite food to pair with Ritz crackers? That’s where our taste test is taking us today. 🙂

Let’s give this a whirl and see what you like best with your Ritz! Gather up any ingredients you have on hand that you think might possibly work with a Ritz cracker…and even a few that sound kinda off the wall. I’m going to share a few with you that I taste tested today.

The first one is simply peanut butter and jelly. I used apricot jelly because that’s the kind of jelly I have open right now.

Or if you aren’t into peanut butter, try some cashew butter and honey. Watch out, the honey tends to run off the top.

Next I tried a small piece of honey roasted smoked turkey and some honey mustard.

I bet you’ll go for this one if you like pizza! I used pizza sauce and some grated mozzarella cheese on top. One word of caution, fix this kind right when you’re ready to eat it because the cracker will get soggy if it sits too long.

You’ve heard of cheese and crackers, haven’t you? I paired some cojack or colby-jack cheese with a Ritz cracker for this taste test.

Do you like tacos? Then try some salsa and some grated cheddar cheese on a Ritz. Again, this one will get soggy if it sits for too long before eating.

Here’s a fun one – melt a few chocolate chips and add just a bit of coconut oil to the melted chocolate. Dip your Ritz cracker halfway into the melted chocolate. You can let it sit on wax paper for a few minutes in the freezer to help the chocolate harden up again. Who can resist chocolate??

So now you have 7 suggestions for toppings to try on Ritz crackers! What toppings did you use in your test? Which one did you like the best? Which one did you like the least? Did you make a chart to record your thoughts?

Hey, it looks like someone has been taste testing at our house!

Have fun with your Taste Testing Tuesday for this week! I hope you find a new combination that you love! 🙂