Tomato Pops: Pint-sized Tomato Mozzarella Skewers (52 Foods, Week 34)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on September 10, 2012 1 Comment
tomato mozzarella skewers

Tomato mozzarella skewers with a kid-friendly twist, this easy recipe for Tomato Pops makes the seasonal bounty of fresh picked cherry tomatoes even more fun to enjoy with your kids!

Our local farmers’ market continues to be a wonderful inspiration for getting my kids to try new foods. Like a scavenger hunt, my kids weave through the market stalls searching for treasures the season has uncovered. Riding the wave into the peak of tomato season in California, my new food explorers decided that beautiful, blushing cherry tomatoes would top our list of new foods to try this week. Baskets overflowing, we headed home with a few simple ingredients to make our fun and easy recipe of the week: Tomato Pops!

Tomato Pops: Pint-Sized Tomato Mozzarella Skewers

Prep time: 5 minutes
Assembly time: 10 minutes
Makes about 4 to 6 servings

tomato mozzarella skewers ingredients


1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 cup mozzarella balls or cubes of your favorite cheese
¼ cup olive oil
A handful of fresh basil
¼ tsp kosher salt
12 wooden skewers

1. Wash the tomatoes and remove the green tops. Load the tomatoes into a large mixing bowl as you go.

tomato mozzarella skewers step 1

2. Add the mozzarella balls to the tomatoes.

tomato mozzarella skewers step 2

3. Add the olive oil and salt to the tomatoes and mozzarella. Stir gently.

tomato mozzarella skewers step 3

4. Alternating between the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil leaves, add to your skewers. Let the kids decide on the pattern they like most.

tomato mozzarella skewers step 4

5. Serve in a small glass vase or cup, like a bouquet. Mix together the remaining ingredients into a fresh caprese salad.

tomato mozzarella skewers

tomato mozzarella skewers vertical

Crunch a Color Kids Vote:

What we Liked: This kid-friendly twist on tomato mozzarella skewers was a fun addition to our farmers’ market fresh family table. They make a great lunchbox snack too! For more food fun, we served up our pops with a side of nut free basil pesto and healthy Caesar salad dressing and let everyone enjoy giving their pops a dip!

* What is your favorite way to serve fresh cherry tomatoes?

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Homemade Granola Bars.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- the award-winning nutrition games that make healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit kids’ nutrition programs. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun, easy and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at

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Easy, Homemade Tomato Sauce (52 New Foods, Week 14)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on April 09, 2012 4 Comments

That’s amore! No longer will plates be brimming over with boring buttered pasta. Enjoy a boost of color with this deliciously easy, homemade tomato sauce that will have your whole family singing the praises of simple Italian cooking.

My grandmother and her sisters were amazing cooks. Growing up in a traditional Italian family, as young women they learned the art of simple Italian cooking. Learning to cook and enjoying food was at the heart of the family experience. Each one had a specialty and worked it to perfection. I’ve never experienced anything quite like my grandmother’s homemade tomato sauce – but I guess it’s hard to replace what was a delicious, handcrafted weeknight staple at our house. You can imagine my shock and dismay when my daughter announced, “I don’t like tomato sauce!”

Feature Recipe: Grandma Yola’s Homemade Tomato Sauce

Buttered pasta and pizza without sauce just doesn’t cut it in my books! To get my daughter past her picky palate, I needed to bring her into the inner circle. Like my grandmother patiently taught me, it was time for me to teach my daughter the secrets of how to make a deliciously simple homemade tomato sauce. I certainly don’t have time on weeknights to whip up a homemade sauce. What I love about this recipe is that you can make it ahead, and enjoy the fruits of your labor in different dishes all week long. The sauce can be used for dressing homemade pizza, pasta, and chicken dishes – saving busy parents time and making weeknight dinners a breeze!

Grandma Yola’s Homemade Tomato Sauce

homemade tomato sauce

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: about 2 hours
Makes about 16 to 20 servings


5 28oz cans, Italian packed tomatoes
1 28oz can, tomato juice
½ large white onion, finely chopped
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
3 slices extra fine prosciutto
1 slice pancetta, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp marjoram
1 tsp sugar
A few handfuls of fresh basil and parsley
Salt and pepper to taste


1)    Over a large mixing bowl, run the tomatoes through a food mill with the finest sieve attachment (no seeds allowed!).

2)    Add the tomato juice to the strained tomatoes. Set aside.

3)    In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.

4)    Fry the pancetta until crisp, then remove.

5)    Fry the prosciutto.

6)    Reduce heat, add the garlic, then the onions and shallots.

7)    Add the marjoram and sugar. Mix well.

8)    Add the tomato mixture to the pot. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Bring to a strong boil.

9)    Add a handful of parsley and a few twigs of basil.

10)  When the sauce reaches a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

11)  Serve with whole-wheat pasta and top with a sprig of fresh basil.

Cooking tip: If you’re lucky enough to have fresh tomatoes from your garden, chop them into ½” dice and add a cup or two to the sauce during the last 20 minutes of simmering. This is a great way to add fresh, seasonal veggies to your delicious, homemade sauce.

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Delicioso!

What we liked: Making homemade tomato sauce is a wonderful Sunday afternoon activity. Together, we gathered our fresh ingredients and spent the day sizzling, simmering and stirring up a delicious meal. Putting my daughter in charge of the dish, and letting her add a few of her special touches like parsley from her garden, was the key. She proudly served her carefully prepared meal at our family dinner, and was eager to give tomato sauce another chance. Arrivederci bland white pasta, ciao ciao colorful, authentic Italian homemade tomato sauce!

What is your favorite Italian dish? Share your comments!

Next up: Italian Chicken

Chicken Parmesan is the perfect partner at any Italian dinner, but I was looking for a healthier alternative. Next up: a simple Italian chicken recipe that is so tasty you won’t miss the cheese and breadcrumbs!

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Kale chips.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit children’s nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook and Twitter to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes.

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Watermelon Gazpacho

Posted by Jennifer Lee on July 20, 2011 0 Comments

Watermelon is a summer favorite at our house. This is a great opportunity for the kids to 2x their points by trying something new! From NYTimes Recipes for Health: Watermelon Gazpacho.

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