Kids LiveWell!

July 28th marks the Fourth Anniversary of the National Restaurant Association’s initiative of the Kids LiveWell Program, dedicated to providing healthy, nutritious meals at restaurants across the country.  Participation in this program ensures that the restaurants involved provide healthy meal items for children, aimed at increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and low fat dairy, while limiting fats, sugars and sodium.  This helps parents make healthy choices for their children.  Gone are the days of choosing only between grilled cheese, (sub-par) chicken nuggets and hot dogs!


Just this weekend I was able to see firsthand what a meal like this might look like. After more than two weeks babysitting my two young grandsons, age 3 and nearly 1, while their parents took a much overdue vacation, I realized how difficult it must be for today’s working parents to creatively shop for and prepare healthy meals on a budget for their families.  I also realized how tempting it is to go out for a meal just because it might be faster, easier.


Upon their much anticipated return (I may have shed my own joyful tears), my son and his wife suggested we all dine together at Mill Valley Kitchen, a nearby restaurant in Minneapolis.  Their 3-year old son, Coleman, chose from the children’s menu the entree option of chicken and rice for his dinner (this seems to be his preference, in a multitude of forms, when dining out). 


Served in a contemporary cafeteria style tray, with separate compartments (keeping food from “touching”), Coleman enjoyed grilled chicken breast, rice, a fruit salad including melon and grapes, and steamed edamame.  This meal was 430 calories, with 15 grams of fat, 46 grams of carbohydrate, and 35 grams of protein.  For me, a culinary professional, I was thrilled to see healthy options that weren’t focused on high calorie carbs, suggesting that these seasonal and healthy options might help kids develop better eating habits as they grow older.

There are over 42,000 restaurants representing more than 155 brands, from independent restaurants, full service and national chain restaurants to quick service restaurants and museums, all participating in the Kids LiveWell Program.  By downloading the app, you can easily locate participating restaurants in your area!  Visit the Kids LiveWell website for more information.

 And celebrate not only the anniversary of this program, but take advantage of the options now available for the young children in your life, and share the news!  


Give thanks over a scrumptious holiday meal!

As the air has cooled around us and our culinary repertoire has shifted once again, I am pleasantly surprised at how my “favorites” have evolved through the years.

Last week I baked a batch of pumpkin bars and was immediately transported back in time to when bar cookies with frosting were the standard. For those who need to contribute something sweet to your Thanksgiving celebrations – I’m happy to share my pumpkin bar recipe below. Add some nostalgia to your baking this holiday!

And, for that extra special Thanksgiving, Catering By Design can help a little or a lot. Take a look at our holiday menu and please call us with your questions. Orders must be placed by Saturday, November 20 and will be available for pick up or delivery on Wednesday, November 24. Payment must be made at time of pickup or delivery, by cash, check or by Visa/Master Card. You may place your orders by telephone (816-753-8414), e-mail or Facebook.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and please let us know how the Pumpkin-Spice bars turn out for your family.



Sun-Dried Tomato Tapanade with Crostini (serves 10-12) $20/pt
Spinach & Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms $18/doz
Puff Pastry Spirals with Prosciutto, Honey Mustard and Parmesan (approx. 25-30 pieces – slice and bake) $20/roll
Curried Appetizer Cheesecake with Cranberry Chutney (serves 20 or more) $45
Smoked Salmon with Mustard Dill Sauce (2 1/2-3 lb. side) $85


Cranberry Ribbon Coffee Cake (8” loaf pan) $15
Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling $15/doz
Orange Currant Scones $21/doz
Traditional Scones with Blood Orange Marmalade $24/doz
Cinnamon Sugar Bombs (mini muffin size) $12/doz


Mashed Potatoes $15/9”pan
Candied Sweet Potatoes with Pecans $14/9”pan
Catering By Design Traditional Stuffing $14/9”pan
Traditional Stuffing with Sausage & Nuts $18/9”pan
Haricot Vert with Crispy Shallots $12/qt
Bourbon Carrots $14/qt
Roasted Seasonal Vegetables $15/qt
Cranberry Chutney $12/pt


Gingered Butternut Squash Soup with Pecan Cream $12/qt
Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup $12/qt
Pistou Soup $14/qt


Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger-Pecan Crust $48
Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting $36
Chunky Apple Walnut Cake with Calvados Cream Glaze $32
Chocolate Pecan Pie $24
Vanilla and Cider Panna Cottas $6.50 each
Cranberry and White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies $18/doz
Chocolate Dipped Shortbread with Orange Zest $21/doz


Recipe: Pumpkin-Spice Bars

4 large eggs
2 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4. t. ground cloves
1 c. raisins, if desired
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 c. chopped walnuts, if desired

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease bottom and sides of half-sheet pan (18”x12”), with shortening.
Beat eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin in large bowl until smooth. Stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger and cloves. Stir in raisins (if desired). Spread in pan.
Bake 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean – do not overbake!
Cool completely in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours. frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. Sprinkle with walnuts. Cut into bars. Store covered in refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 t. pure vanilla extract
3/4 lb. confectioner’s sugar, sifted

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract.
Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix until smooth.

Please note: this may yield more frosting than you will actually use. Refrigerate unused frosting in an airtight container for up to three weeks. Bring to room temperature and mix in mixing bowl until creamy.