Thursday, November 12, 2015

Toddlers in the Kitchen Part 1

In honor of the release of my last cookbook, Idiot's Guide to Homemade Baby and Toddler Food,  I wanted to do a series on cooking with kiddos: Toddlers in the Kitchen.

I am not going to say I am an expert on cooking with kids, but I wrote my cookbook with my daughter, Baby G, at my side. G was my pint-sized sous chef. Every recipe in that book was made with her. And through that experience, I learned a lot of lessons, usually at the detriment to my sanity and the cleanliness of my kitchen.

To write one big post with two kids running around is a little intimidating to me (and why it's taken me so long to get anything written about the subject), I thought I would share a little each week. And okay G2 is not running around, but she sure demands more attention than I remember of Baby G. I guess that's why people have more than one kid, huh?

Here goes:

Safety first. At all times, keeping your kiddo safe is number 1 priority. G is cautious at heart, so I realize that I am lucky. She also fears pain, so if I tell her that something will hurt, she avoids it. Sometimes that has to be repeated, and now that she talks, I make her repeat it, i.e. "I will not touch that again". Before she was this verbal, it was about keeping her out of harm's way at all times. I love my learning tower  and do feel it is worth the money. It contains kiddos nicely.
When chopping, I go out of my way to make sure her fingers can't get to the knives and at the oven, I am on red alert keeping her away from burners and making it clear that she can't go near them. You have to stay three steps of your kiddo at all times. Yes, it makes cooking more work, but all the benefits outweigh the cost.

Keep it simple. Because of all I said above, keep it to one simple recipe per activity, and even better if you've made the recipes before. Your focus is on the kiddo, not 'will this turn out?' Because here's the deal, if you are cooking with a kiddo and it's a new complicated recipe, it won't turn out. Trust me. I was developing recipes with my kiddo. A lot didn't turn out. On the flip side, everything in the cookbook did turn out. They were simple enough to work.

Allow for at least double the time. Cooking with kiddos is an activity and treat it like that. Let them smell the ingredients. Talk about the ingredients...which leads to....

Be a Food Network Star. Narrate everything going on and make it fun. If the kiddo gets bored, your kitchen and whatever you are making will be trashed.

Be prepared. Before you bring your kiddo into the kitchen, get all the ingredients and tools on the counter, because you don't want to be half way through the recipe and realize you are missing something. The only exception to this is chocolate chips. Always keep them hidden until you use them. Particularly if you are also raising a chocolate fiend like Baby G.

Cook like a pro, clean as you go. We chant this (with clapping) every time we cook. As soon as you finish with an ingredient, put it away. Your kitchen will still be messy when you are done, but not nearly as messy.

Set your kiddo up for success.  Break down jobs into small achievable tasks so she can actually do it. For example, today G helped me make 'Kayla' salad (kale salad in G speak). I thought she'd be able to tear off the kale leaves and put them in the food processor. She couldn't quite tear them, so instead I tore them off and had her throw the leaves into the bowl of food processor. It wasn't efficient, but she could do it.
Other good jobs for little hands: dumping in ingredients, stirring with assistance.

Use a really big freaking bowl. This is especially true if you are letting them stir. Trust me and my messy kitchen on this.

That's all my tips for now. I hope to also include some kiddo friendly recipes and more tips as I think of them.

What recipes do you like to make with your kiddo?

Friday, October 23, 2015

TGIF Fun Facts

Since we last talked, a lot has changed. Alright, maybe just one major thing: we moved. So instead of just adjusting to life with two little G's, now we are in a totally different setting.

I asked my mother the other day, when I would stop feeling frazzled, when I could actually take a breath and relax. "Oh, when the girls are in school," she said. This led to more hyperventilating, "You mean in 4 years?! I have to wait 4 years to relax?!"

So, in that spirit, I am going to kick off my return to blogging with random statements said in no particular order, aka "fun facts." Let's hope for all of our sakes that my writing becomes more coherent in the upcoming days, weeks, months, YEARS, you know when I can actually relax.

1. We are kind of potty training now. I say kinda because I still don't want to and G is not totally there yet. But it does provide interesting dinnertime fodder. Like she wanted me to read her 'Curious George and the Chocolate Factory' while she tried to poop on the potty today.

2. When we were going through our moving/selling/kitchen remodel hell, we lost all standards. Chocolate shake for dinner? If it will make you not run around the restaurant like a crazy person, awesome! And you want to dip asparagus in the shake, all the better! That makes me feel better about myself even though I think it's gross. Yes, that happened. And it was G by the way, though I was getting close to that point since I was 9 months pregnant, due the next day, and not allowed in my house. Any rules about food we had, we abandoned for sheer survival. And you know what, we all did survive. We are slowly making our way back to normalcy and it's tough. We are trying to instill a 'no snacks after dinner' rule and if anything, it's making G a big breakfast eater. I think she ate 4 eggs this morning.

3. I now have a gas oven and I am in love. However, I did spend the first week burning everything. I'm sorry, Angie, but the lovely crisp you made was truly a crisp. I did dig out the bottom layer and that was delightful.

4. I also have drawers in my bathroom. Lots of drawers. And some cupboards. And a linen closet. I could live in my bathroom. I didn't have drawers for the last 6 years. This is a big deal people!

5. My book comes out in 2 weeks! I am so excited to finally share it with people, and to have my own copy as I was tired of having to look up my recipes on my computer or find one of the random index cards that I use for documenting. And I realize that I probably should have a better filing system. Maybe in 4 years....

6. On the subject of books, I went a month with no cookbooks. I have my books back and it's like hanging out with old friends. Is that sad? Anyone who says that cookbooks are going to be replaced by the internet has not found their true cookbook soul mate...and will not be invited to my book signing.

7. G and I have started doing Hip Hop Abs together, but she calls it Hop Hop Adam. I have a brother in law named Adam and apparently, she is referring to him. Can I just express he looks and acts nothing like Shaun T? She's a helluva trainer. I tried to do a different workout, and she was so relentless about dancing to 'Hop Hop Adam' that we eventually changed workouts. "Come on Mama, let's dance." It's a highlight of my day, but I am afraid she is going to show off my moves in a public setting.

8. I was so worried about selling out to Disney for Halloween that I didn't realize until too late that we sold out to another major corporation: G is going to be Bugs Bunny, my husband is going to be Michael Jordan from Space Jam aka he is going to wear a Toon Squad jersey, and G2 is going to be a carrot. 

9. Are we the only people who watch Space Jam on a regular basis? We have decided we are going to judge our new neighbors based on how they react to the costumes. If they recognize it, we will be friends. If they think it is cool, they have an automatic invite to dinner.

10. This weekend, my husband and I have our first no kids outing together. Unless you count furniture shopping, but we both hate furniture shopping, so that doesn't count. I'm excited to feel like a grown up for a few hours and it's even for a good cause. We are going to the Gio's Garden Gala, it's a non-profit you need to know about, so go check them out: Gio's Garden!

Happy Friday everyone!

Tell me a random fact about your week. I'd love to hear it. And I promise to be back to you with something useful next time.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

And Baby Makes Four....

Cooking is not a huge priority right now.
We welcomed G2 in our family a little over a week ago.

And we are moving in two weeks.
If I was a good little food blogger, I'd be telling you about all of the amazing freezer meals I made while I was pregnant. I would tell you how easy it is to have healthy meals at my fingertips and I would be boasting about freezer waffles, muffins, and quick breads that I was able to just pull out and enjoy.
But here's the deal, the two weeks ago our kitchen was totally torn apart because of water damage. And then during that, we had our roof replaced. Baby G still cheers about "No guys on the roof! No fans! No slivers! No strangers in the house!" Yeah, she's going to need therapy.
Before that, our back up freezer (and fridge) broke.
Oh yeah, and during all of that, we were selling our house.
So, all of that nesting that people do, it didn't get done. We are relying on the kindness of friends and family, convenient meals from a grocery store, and the occasional take out. I'll be back to the blog (and cooking) once our life slows down a bit. I have a sweet office and kitchen in the new house, and I will be blogging from there next time. Until then, my friends!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream Cones

It's been awhile since I posted. I have had tons of posts written in my mind, but between being pregnant, chasing a toddler, dealing with summer heat, and almost moving, writing them actually down has eluded me.

Even though I just finished a book on toddler foods, feeding a toddler still remains a mystery to me. Every day I learn something new and every day I am surprised. I thought I would share a few observations and then share with you a really easy and healthy summer treat. Maybe we can make amends for my prolonged absence from the blogosphere?

Feeding a Toddler

My two year old clocks in at under 24 pounds. This means there are some 9 month olds I know that weigh more than my toddler. As a food writer and recipe developer, sometimes I take this a little personally.

I have gone through phases where I thought I could fatten her up. The only thing that happened was that my waistline thickened. You can't force a kid to eat. Together, we made chocolate chip peanut butter cookies. She ate all the chocolate chips out of the cookies and then wanted watermelon. I ate three cookies. I made homemade macaroni and cheese for lunch. She only wanted cucumbers and I ate two helpings of mac and cheese. Probably not my smartest mama move......

Sprinkles are my gateway food. Are sprinkles the healthiest food in the world? Nope. But if they get my daughter to eat a 2-egg banana pancake for breakfast, I'm in. You will see I use them in the recipe below. I have no problem adding a sweet treat to foods when it's something I can control. I'm still not a fan of sneaky sugars (like sugar in flavored yogurts), but that's just me. And come on, sprinkles are pretty awesome.

We remain a one family, one meal household. I always serve something that I know she will like: bread, fruit, yogurt; but I am not making multiple main or side dishes. It's hard enough cooking one meal, I refuse to start making two.  And besides, do you know how frustrating it would be to make a separate main dish and then have her not eat it?

The best way to get her to eat is to have her help me in the kitchen. My daughter will try and eat anything that she has helped me make, but only if she eats it right after she makes it. Wait an hour, and she won't touch it. I don't get it, but I have learned it. She tries new veggies, salads, dips, anything, as long as she can dump it in or stir it or do something that contributes to making it.

Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream Cones

For me, summer is not summer without ice cream cones. I have no problems with the real deal ice cream cones, but I'm always looking for a way to turn a normal junk food into something reasonably healthy. My daughter loves Greek yogurt and she's only had plain, so that is her favorite. Throw in some sprinkles, cut up fruit, and graham cookies, and you have have a sweet, frozen treat.

 ***This recipe is based on approximations. Don't bother measuring, make them by taste.

6-8 mini ice cream cones

Few healthy dollops of Greek Yogurt

Handful of cherries (or berries) roughly chopped and pits removed (for cherries)

Few good shakes of sprinkles

Handful of smashed graham cookies or crackers

1. In a medium sized bowl, mix together yogurt, sprinkles, crackers, and fruit.

2. Place ice cream cones in an ice cube tray or another dish with sides. I find the ice cube tray works best as it keeps them upright and prevents them from freezing together. 

3. Spoon yogurt mixture in each cone and top with sprinkles. Freeze for a minimum of 2 hours. Serve out of the freezer.



What have you learned about feeding a toddler? What are your favorite summer treats?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fun Facts Friday: Pre-G Birthday Edition

TGIF! And TGIS- Thank Goodness It's Summer!

We are finally having some nice summer weather in Madison. Here are the fun facts for today:

1. G's big 2nd birthday party celebration is on Sunday. Even though I simplified my menu, I still feel like I am spending a lot of time prepping for meals. My parents are coming in to help (thank goodness), but they seem to think lunch is an actual meal. On weekends, we have a tendency to just alternate between snacking on carrots and hummus or egg whites and salsa. Not surprisingly, we also have a tendency to have an early dinner.

2. Because my parents both have an unlimited sweet tooth, I made these to put in the freezer.

They looked much better on Pinterest. Frozen bananas taste like ice cream so I am hoping they taste better than they look. I made sure to sample all of the ingredients and if the sum is equal to the parts, we are in a good shape. 

3. G has started calling me Big Mom. It's not as cute as it sounds.

4. In other G news, my toddler loves radishes. Isn't that weird? We got some in our CSA and I cut them up to keep in the fridge. On a whim, I gave some to her with some carrots and hummus. She devoured them and kept asking for more. It wasn't until my thirties that I could even tolerate radishes. Wonders never cease. Just goes to show that you can never tell what your kiddo might like.  

5. Sometimes I wish I didn't read labels. I really wanted to just buy some poppyseed dressing to make coleslaw (for my parents' lunch). But every bottle found had sugar as the first or second ingredient. One of them even had high fructose corn syrup as the first ingredient! I just couldn't buy it. I have a recipe that I made for the cookbook that's super easy. It does contain sugar, but at least I know how much is in there. It came together pretty easy and just goes to show that it is really simple to make your own dressing. But sometimes even I am a little cranky about it.

6. I did not make one to-do list this week and it felt amazing. In addition, I got a ton done. I may be done with to-do lists forever.....

7. We went to the pool yesterday and I have a feeling, our summer is going to look a lot like this:

8. So, if you were at a party and they served mini cupcakes (in addition to brunch), would you eat more than one? My mother is convinced that each person will eat 2 or 3 mini cupcakes. Did I mention my parents both have a huge sweet tooth? This is the same woman who also convinced me that I needed to also serve coffee cake. Two coffee cakes.

That is it for this week. Enjoy the summer weekend!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fun Facts Friday

Hi Folks!

I am going to try to keep this short. I'm actually writing this Thursday as we are leaving Friday for St. Louis for a weekend visit to my brother and his family. 6 hours in a car with a toddler: wish us luck!

Let's just get right into it, shall we?

1. I heard the best description the other day: to-do-list-itis. I suffer from that greatly. It's when your to-do list takes over your sense of self. Add on to that the fact that I think I can do way more than is ever physically possible, I feel defeated at the end of most days. Really trying to work on this. It's so hard because there is so much I want to do, but only so much I can do. Damn Donna Reed for making it look so freaking easy all the time.

2. Yesterday G got stuck in her crib. My mother was here and I learned a very important lesson: my mother is not a good person to have around in an emergency. G was screaming, her knee was completely stuck between the slats and my mother was wringing her hands and tell me that I had to call my husband because we'd have to cut her out of the crib. I don't think my mom realizes that my husband is not a handy man. God love him, it's just not his strength. G was stuck for quite awhile but we finally got her to lay down and we were able to slide her leg out. Everyone involved was traumatized. I think we will be getting her a toddler bed very soon. If I have my say, it'd be next week. We can no longer let her 'cry it out' at night because I'm worried she's stuck.

3. We totally fell off our meal plan this week. First two days went great (so what if one the days was going out to eat?) and then we had the crib incident. Abandoned the meal and we were supposed to use a bunch of the CSA in it. I'm going to try to use the produce in a frittata tonight.  I wonder if there is a condition called CSA-itis.....

4. Been obsessed with beet salads this week. Beets + Goat Cheese + Apple + Sweet Onion + Toasted Walnuts + Balsamic Vinegar + Spinach/Arugula/Sorrel = what I could eat every single day. Thank goodness for Costco where I bought beets, goat cheese, and balsamic vinegar in bulk.

5.  G is such a toddler now. We tried two outings yesterday morning and I wish I could drink because I could have used one. Took her to Barnes and Noble and things were fine until she decided to pull any book she could reach off the shelf as she ran through the store screaming. Rather than take her home (which would have been the right thing to do), I then tried to take her out to lunch with my mom as a belated Mother's Day treat. We were those people: G decided to just stand on her chair and scream. We took turns devouring our food and walking her around the restaurant. It was a nightmare. For the record, it was really out of character for her. So much for my extra special morning with my mom...

6. In happier news, I found some great maternity running/golfing gear!  I got some great tops at Impact Fitness Wear and some great golfing/running skirts at Running Skirts.  I've been really impressed with them and I actually feel kinda cute wearing them. Makes working out just a little bit easier.

7. I discovered three additional bins of maternity clothes in my basement that I forgot I had. It could not have come at a better time. I am moving into the next size of maternity gear and was thinking I would have to do more shopping. I am so thankful for my sister-in-law and best friend as it is almost all of their hand-me-down gear. It's also stuff that I couldn't wear last time because the seasons didn't line up so it feels like new clothes for me.

That's it for me. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Would love to hear a random fact from you about your week. Any adventures? Best discovery of the week?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Parsnip Oatmeal Cookies

This cookie solves two problems: getting your kiddo to eat veggies and using up parsnips. Parsnips are my CSA nemesis. I have a tendency to stockpile them in my fridge. I modified a recipe for some Carrot Cake Cookies (thanks Lexi!) to make these tasty, healthy treats.

Check out the recipe on my other blog: Badger Girl Learns to Cook.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Veggie-Packed Pizza Rolls

This post deserves a preamble. Mainly because a year ago, I would have never posted such a recipe or even considered it. Why? Because at that time, I had a very different definition of clean eating. It would not have even occurred to me to make a recipe out of refrigerated crescent rolls. It was not even on my radar.

I need to be clear this preamble does not mean that our family no longer 'eats clean'. We still follow the same rule that we do not eat foods that contain chemicals. We are loyal label readers. And I don't foresee that ever changing. 

But our eating habits have changed and I think that is worth addressing.

Defining Clean Eating Then and Now

THEN: we were a lot stricter in our definition of clean eating. With the exception of hummus, salsa, condiments (ketchup, mayo, etc), and occasionally marinara sauce, we didn't buy anything pre-made. If we wanted crackers, I made crackers. If we wanted bread, I made bread.  Not surprising that I wrote a book called Homemade Snacks and Staples, is it? Until Baby G was a year old, processed foods or even foods-made-by-someone-other-than-me never touched her lips.

Then our baby grew into a toddler.
And I got pregnant.
And I was writing another cookbook.
And I wrote that book with a toddler always at my side. My pregnant side. My first trimester pregnant side.

And we got a little looser in our eating habits.

NOW: We still don't eat chemicals, but we do buy pre-made foods that have all real food ingredients. My dad used to complain that there was nothing in our pantry that he could just take out and eat. That has changed. You will find crackers and even fruit snacks in our pantry. I am falling in love with a brand called Immaculate Baking Company.  They make refrigerated crescent rolls and cinnamon rolls with no chemicals. They even have baking mix with (gasp) all real food ingredients.  It's about damn time if you ask me.

Now that things are settling down, I foresee us having a balance between homemade and pre-made. I enjoy baking and making crackers, so I want to keep doing that, but I also forgive myself for buying shortcuts.

These pizza rolls are a short cut and I hope you love them as much as we do.

Veggie-Packed Pizza Rolls

If you are a mom and a fan of Pinterest, you have probably seen some sort of recipe for pizza crescent rolls. Most involved pepperoni, pizza sauce, and a hunk of string cheese. When I developed this recipe, I had these recipes in mind, but wanted something a little healthier. I developed this because G won't eat pizza and I happen to like pizza. A lot. And when I would order bread sticks for her, that meant I was also eating bread sticks with my pizza. Bread sticks that were loaded with cheese and had no redeeming nutritional value. So I wanted something bread-stick-y but with some added veggies so I could feel a little good about giving them to her (and eating them with my pizza). 



1 container Immaculate brand crescent rolls (or another brand that does NOT contain any chemicals)

approx. 1/2 cup pizza sauce

[1/4] cup shredded carrots, chopped

[1/4] cup spinach, chopped fine

[1/4] cup shredded mozzarella cheese OR 3 pieces string cheese cut in 1-inch chunks*

Sprinkling of garlic powder and Parmesan cheese

*Older kids may like the string cheese better, but for G, it was too much cheese. She just pulled it out or spit it out. She did better with the shredded cheese.


1. Preheat oven to 350 dg(F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, combine pizza sauce, carrots, and spinach.

3. Roll out crescent rolls. Put a thin layer of sauce on each roll. If using shredded cheese, sprinkle some on top. You don't need much! If using string cheese, roll dough around string cheese.

4. Sprinkle garlic powder and Parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Serve with leftover sauce.

This was a huge hit with Baby G. She devoured two rolls in one sitting. It wasn't as popular with her buddy, Hudson. You can't win them all, I guess. I liked them better than my pizza.


I think the shredded cheese works a little better for the toddler crowd. Older kids would probably like the string cheese version.

I used shredded carrots that I just cut up more finely. You could also grate carrots and that would probably blend into the sauce a little better. Finely chopped cooked broccoli could also work well here. When I cut the spinach, I rolled the leaves together and then cut it into thin strips. That was enough for the spinach to blend into the sauce.

What are some of your favorite chemical-free packaged foods?

Fun Facts Friday April 20-24

First of all, I owe you a recipe post. It's half written and if I get a good nap today, you will get it later today. If not, then soon. I promise. No more Fun Fact Fridays without a recipe. After today.

I am so glad it's Friday.

Here goes...

1. Both my husband and I are always exhausted by Friday. I used to get a little bonus sleeping in every morning but I have started running so good bye extra zzzz's. It's totally worth it, but what I would give for a morning to just sleep. Thank goodness for coffee. Do you remember when we all used to go out on Friday nights? Now I look forward to lounging on my couch and hopefully getting G to bed at a decent time. And going to bed really early. I feel old and boring, but I'm so tired I don't care.

2. Speaking of running, I have registered for a 5k and have a second one picked out. With Baby G, I ran until 32 weeks, but most of it was treadmill running. I have been running every day and am up to about 2.5 miles. I am really excited to do some races pregnant. Now, to be honest, to call it running may be a stretch. I can definitely say that I am not walking, but running? I won't even wear my Garmin because I don't want to know how slow I am going, but it makes me feel happy when I do it, so I'm going to do it til I can't.

3. In other preggo fitness news, I am having a heck of a time finding maternity golf wear. I am also determined to play golf until I physically can't.  I already don't fit into my regular golf clothes (thank you hips), but given the lack of selection and the price of what I have found, I may need to buy just bigger non-maternity pants and skirts, and then pair it with some maternity tank tops. Hope the club isn't strict on the collared shirt rule.

4. We went to Costco this week. Until this point, I have not been a huge Costco person. We don't eat a lot of packaged snacks or foods. I was super impressed with the produce section. I don't know if I should be proud or embarrassed, but this family of 3 has almost polished off 4 pounds of strawberries in 4 days. I think they should be gone by the weekend. In addition to snacking on them, I have been serving them as a dessert to Baby G (and me) with plain Greek yogurt for dipping. Yum! I will definitely have to add Costco in my grocery store rotation for produce.

5. This was my other big Costco find.

It came with 20 individual packs of freeze dried fruit for $18.  There were 10 packs of apples, 5 packs of red grapes, and 5 packs of strawberries and pineapples. No added chemicals, oils, salt, or sugar. I have tried them all and they have been great. I love throwing them in my diaper bag. I feel better about giving G these as a snack instead of crackers.

6. In other food news, G pays no heed to what I consider 'food rules.'

In case you can't tell, she is dunking freeze dried mango slices into roasted red pepper hummus. I am trying not to edit her. Maybe she will be a culinary genius? She has also dunked fresh blackberries into adobo sauce (think soy sauce and vinegar). Anyone else's kid like weird combinations?

7. I also want to point out in the above picture that she was two water glasses. My niece bought her a Frozen and Sophia the First (aka Ham the first in our household) glasses and she insists on having both of them at all meals and snacks. With ice.  She's a bit of a prima donna if you ask me.

8. Have you seen this article on creating wardrobe capsules? I am working on minimizing my clothes. I have decided on 2 plastic bins for pre-pregnancy clothes, 1 for post partum clothes, and probably 2 for maternity clothes. Yesterday I got rid of 50 pairs of socks. It felt amazing. I am a bit of a socks hoarder. I hope Goodwill accepts socks.....

9. I kicked butt on my meal plan this week. So far, all of the recipes have been super tasty and the right amount of work and we have kept up on leftovers. It's rare that it works this well so I wanted to celebrate it.

That's all I have for today. I have a recipe blog post I need to write (and laundry to do, a dishwasher to unload, a shower to take, the list goes on and on.....).

Have a great weekend!

Do you have any favorite Costco (clean eating) finds?
Does your toddler like any weird food combinations?
Do tell.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fun Facts Friday April 13-17

One of my favorite bloggers, Clean Eating Chelsea, runs a Fun Facts Friday series. It's just her sharing random facts about her week. For whatever reason, I just love reading it. I thought I would attempt to do my own version of Fun Facts Friday. I can't think of a better name so I'm just going to go with her idea and hope she understands that imitation is the best form of flattery.

1. I can't even express how happy the weather this week has made me. I love our house in the summertime. With our gated deck, I feel like we have an extra play room in our house. It has also meant Baby G has been taking great 2-3 hour naps since we have spent all of our mornings outdoors.

2. Speaking of naps, I continue to struggle with making the most of nap times. I know that I need to get some rest during nap times, but taking a nap leaves me feeling groggy. I can usually snap out of it after a snack and lots of pinning, but it also means I feel way behind on housework.   I also don't want to be working on housework/cooking the whole time. Today was an okay balance of house stuff (1 load of laundry, cleaning out bathroom vanity, emptying the dishwasher) and stuff for me (calling my mom while sitting on the deck, blogging, and hopefully paging through some new magazines).  As for actual working, I try to save that for when my husband is home because I get in a zone when I am writing and I don't like stopping in the middle. Any fellow SAHMs want to share what they do during nap time?

3. My aversion to meat is getting worse and worse. Since the beginning of this pregnancy, the thought of eating a steak has made me gag. Now the only meat I can even think of eating (in small doses) is chicken. And oddly, I am craving lunch meat like no one's business. I guess it's good I have a lot of vegan cookbooks, right?

4. We are planning to go out with another couple tomorrow night to a new-ish restaurant in Madison, Sujeo. It's been way too long since I have gone anywhere even remotely trendy. I am really excited. Oh, and Madisonians, if Sujeo is so last year, don't tell me. Let me live in my bubble.

5. I can't believe how much Baby G is changing every day. She talks like a magpie and it seems like every day she is saying more complete sentences. So far, it hasn't gotten me in trouble, but I know the day is coming soon.

6. I caved in and bought the Frozen soundtrack on my phone. To prevent us listening to it 24/7, I told her we can only listen to it when her friend, PJ, comes over. He comes over at least once a week, so it's often enough for her to accept it. I suspect that she is going to grow up really liking PJ and associating him with the joys of Frozen. I hope this does not lead to therapy of any kind for either of us.

I could probably go on rambling, folks, but I will stop here for now. I would love to hear one great thing you did or thought this week. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chocolate and Greens Smoothie Packs

This is going to be a short post. I wanted to share with you a recipe from my other blog, that grown-up one, Badger Girl Learns to Cook.

I just shared my recipe for Chocolate and Greens Smoothie packs.

With just a little prep, you can have a freezer stocked with healthy smoothie packs. It works wonders on busy morning and allows a chance for little hands to help you in the kitchen.

It's a great solution if you are having trouble getting your little one to eat vegetables, or hey, if YOU have trouble eating your veggies. And the best part? Tastes like a chocolate shake!

I will be back soon with some meal plans AND a recipe for veggie-packed pizza rolls. Here's a preview:

I promise they tasted even better than they looked. Even Baby G ate two of them!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Currently (and Meal Planning)

The cookbook is (almost) done. I still have some review left and a few articles to write, but the bulk of the work is done.

Here is what is going on currently.

Currently: we are no longer buying whole milk. Baby G has not been drinking much of it. It was part of our routine- get up, drink some milk. Before we put her down to sleep, we gave her milk.  We took it out with no problems. She eats enough dairy where I am not too worried about it. We have been offering her almond milk, but she's not too interested. My husband and I don't drink cow's milk, so it fits well with our life.

Currently: we are snacking on freeze dried fruit. I feel like I am the last one on the bus for this trend, but we are loving freeze dried mango, bananas, apples, and strawberries. They make a nice, crunchy snack for Baby G and me. I just love that it's a one ingredient snack! I have learned that you still need to read the labels, some brands add oil or even sugar. If there is interest, I am happy to share our favorite brands.

Currently: I am on a cooking strike. Well, as much of a cooking strike as I can be on. Planning to make lasagna this week, but it's because I need to test something for the cookbook. In addition to being tired of cooking, I am on my own for most dinners this week, so I am learning that life is a lot easier if I make something easy for dinner when I am on my own.

Currently: Baby G is obsessed with Frozen. I found a Frozen book so she gets most of her fix through the book. I don't know what Disney does in their movies but I swear there are subliminal messages.

Currently: Baby G is on a veggie kick. More specifically, a mixed-veggies-with-hummus kick. I buy the frozen mixed vegetables, cook them, and I give them to her with hummus so it's easier for her to keep them on her spoon. It works wonders. She had three servings one night! This is the same girl whose only vegetable for a whole month was salsa.

Currently: We are at the very beginning of potty training. I wasn't planning to do this for another 6 months, but she is really into going to the bathroom on the potty. Sigh. We are not pushing it, but we are not discouraging it. And let's be honest, we could still be dealing with this in another 6 months. The biggest problem is that she is too small for pullups. 

So, that's what is going on currently. Here is what we are eating this week:


Chicken Tenders, Sweet Potato Fries, and Sauteed Zucchini and Red Peppers: This meal was supposed to feature homemade veggie burgers, but I am missing an ingredient, and let's be honest, it was going to be a lot of work. Will have to do these another week....

Night out/Jimmy John's for G and sitter: Baby G can say 'Jimmy John's.' Should I be concerned?

Veggie Packed Lasagna, Garlic Bread, and Salad: Believe it or not, Baby G will have a few bites of salad. She really likes Thousand Island dressing. I am just going with it....


Panko Tilapia, Sweet Potato Fries, and Mixed Veggies: Baby G won't eat hot dogs or mac and cheese, but she will eat tilapia. She loves breaded fish.

Birthday Party

BBQ Chicken/BBQ Chicken Quesadilla: My husband pointed out the obscene number of BBQ sauce bottles in our fridge. Guess I need to do something with them....


Hot Dogs and Baked Beans: We did this today and it was a big old fail. I keep wanting G to eat some normal kid foods and all she wanted was cucumbers. I give up.

Avocado Sandwiches: This is one of my favorite lunches and it's another one I am trying to get G into. So far, no deal. However, she loves the veggie sub from Jimmy John's. What gives?? Will keep trying.


Hummus and Tortilla- An old standby.

Indian food: I plan on having this for lunch this week. I will offer it to G, but my guess is that she will end up eating veggies and hummus.

Grilled Cheese: I will try to slip some veggies into the sandwich. As long as she can dip it in ketchup, she doesn't seem to mind.

I realize that I am doing a lot of variations on sandwiches. Hmm....I would love to hear if you have any good non-sandwich lunch ideas!

Any recent food trends you are going through with your kiddo? What are you cooking this week? What are some of your favorite lunches?

Monday, February 16, 2015

I'm Baa-aa-ack: Meal Planning and Joys of Toddler Eating

It's no coincidence that my last blog post was right when I was getting started on the cookbook. Life has been a whirlwind of recipe testing and development, dirty kitchens, and toddler tantrums. I'm not quite done with the book, but can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So, I wanted to check in briefly about meal planning with a toddler (and writing a cookbook), and the what is new with feeding a toddler.

Feeding Baby G

Two major developments with Baby G: She refuses to sit in her high chair. This came out of the blue, and I have to be honest: we are not putting up a fight. We're not sure if it's a phase or not. She eats either in her learning tower or sitting on a regular kitchen chair. It's a little messy, but honestly, she's eating way more than she did before. I would rather have her eat than not eat much in her high chair.

The other weird thing is that suddenly Baby G, who is now 20 months old, wants me to feed her. This is the same girl that ripped the spoon out of my hand when I fed her the first time. Little Miss Independent wants nothing more than me to feed her. Is anyone else going through this? I thought she was supposed to get more independent as she got older. She eats more when I feed her, so again, I don't want to challenge it too much yet. I'm just happy she is eating.

Meal Planning

I have been pretty good about meal planning throughout the cookbook process. Usually I just do dinners, but after I realized that I was feeding her PBJs way more than I was comfortable, I decided to include some lunch ideas this week. By having a few lunch ideas written down, it helps keep me out of the rut.

Spaghetti, Veggie Noodles (from our spiralizer), Meatballs (from the cookbook), Marinara, and Garlic Bread

Rotisserie Chicken with the fixings (made by me or the deli)

Veggie Frittata and hashbrowns- Baby G would eat eggs and salsa at every meal. I'm trying to go with it a little more and am hoping to slip some veggies in with the eggs.

Babysitter! Will order Jimmy Johns for G and the sitter while I go out

Take Out Fish Fry


Hummus and Cheese Quesadilla

Chicken Salad


Coconut Rice and Mango (cookbook)

Baked Falafel (cookbook)

Cookbook to-do's

Nut Butters


Chicken, Kale, and Sweet Potato Puree




So, you'll notice dinners are made as easy as possible because there is so much other cooking to do.

What are some of your go-to lunch ideas for your toddler?