Archive for the 'kid friendly' Category

school lunches – it’s a marathon, not a sprint

dear world,

as this is the first year we’ve been responsible for providing lunch for V, i thought i’d look to the internet for help. i want V to eat well. i want V to have healthy choices. mostly, i just want her to eat what i pack. where to start?

well, the internet suggests about a million things and i kid you not, all these moms are making food that looks like owls for their kids school lunchboxes and i’m all like, oh shoot, i have to figure out what to pack for tomorrow and it’s 10pm.

last night, when this very thing happened, i wandered into the kitchen, stared deep into the fridge and decided on making her a quesadilla with peas on the side and threw in some leftover popcorn and a whole apple. then i almost burnt the quesadilla and totally exploded the peas all over the microwave. but, i think she’ll like it. it wasn’t pretty, but i covered my bases.

here’s what i learned:

  1. land’s end makes a lunch box that wipes clean and fits enough food for lunch.
  2. goodbyn makes a 3 section lunch holder and the stuff doesn’t leak into the other sections or the lunchbox (unless your child forgets to shut it when she’s done).
  3. it’s hard to think of a variety of choices so you don’t end up with pb&j 3 out of 5 days
  4. it’s kind of fun to use pretty toothpicks to hold a sandwich together

i went to a playdate/lunchbox party with some friends and got some good ideas. i bought a cookbook that is *fairly* optimistic in packing suggestions. for example, V thinks lettuce is only for grown-ups- kind of like coffee and wine, and this cookbook suggests things like skewers with tomato, fresh mozzarella, bread pieces and fresh basil.

and then, today, i read a post about the pinterest bitches who stay up to 4am making totally over-the-top stuff for back-to-school time. i’m thinking i can settle down. V is fed. she’s excited about what’s in her lunch and she loves her “coffee cup” which will keep milk cold for 7 hours.

happy eating,


ps – the second week of school, V very specifically asked for lunch money so she could buy her lunch at school including strawberry milk. oh well.



fresh strawberries

dear world,

friday night, my deal with V to settle down without fussing allowed her to choose her reward: 1. go to the book store in the morning and pick a book or 2. go to the farmer’s market and pick a treat. she picked go to the farmer’s market. (and she settled down without fussing!)

saturday morning, she asked first thing after opening her eyes if she had good enough behavior to go to the farmer’s market. she did, so we made the plan. she had to wear pants with pockets because she was going to get to carry her own money with her to pick out her very own treat.

this is the first time my daughter has left the house in jeans. she’s more of a leggings/skirt/dress type of girl.

at the farmer’s market, we picked out peas and asparagus for dinner. then, we examined each selection of strawberries before making our choice. she paid with 2 $2 bills, gifts from her great-grandma ann. she was so proud. she ate one in the car on the way home. she ate them for snack. they are now all gone and it’s only sunday evening.

peaceful bedtime in exchange for a quart of strawberries – yes please. i’m so trying that again next week,


holiday gifts for great-grandparents

dear world,

our children are fortunate enough to still have several great-grandparents around. however, this leads to a challenge at holiday time. they don’t want stuff, but we still need to give them gifts. the level of thoughtfulness has been increased. this past year, i decided that we wouldn’t get any great-grandparent something that couldn’t be consumed in some fashion- food, stamps, notecards. only useful, usable gifts from now on.

last year, we gave each great-grandparent two wallet size photos of V and two pretty magnets to hang them on the fridge. this year, V decided she wanted to make treats for them. this is our inexpensive, pre-schooler friendly treat solution. it kept V engaged for a long time and she asked to make more the following day. (i should note that the fun is increased by listening to christmas music the whole time.)

HERSHEY'S KISSES Milk Chocolatesingredients: 1 bag of small pretzels, 1-2 large bags of hershey kisses (depending on how many you want to make), 1 large bag of red and green plain m&m’s


  1. pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. line cookie sheets with foil and spray with cooking spray. (i think the spray is probably optional, but we had it so we used it.)
  2. take the wrappers off of a bag of kisses. put the kisses in one bowl and the wrappers in another.
  3. arrange pretzels in a single layer on a cookie sheet. fit as many as you can on there.
  4. put 1 kiss in the center of each pretzel then put in the oven for about 6 minutes. (you want the kisses to just start to soften, but not get too melty or the pan to get too hot.)
  5. remove pan from the oven and put 1 m&m in the center of each kiss and squish it down.
  6. let cool completely and store in a bag until ready to transfer to festive holiday bags.

the one warning i have is that if you have a young person helping you, be sure to warn her that the pan gets hot. V and i each accidentally touched the pan a couple times. no one got burned, but it is certainly not cool to the touch. we looked pretty funny making these last weekend- i had baby N in the front pack carrier, V stood on her step stool as we took off wrapper after wrapper. we had a ball.

happy for edible holiday treats,



apple time in ohio

hello world,

it’s finally fall in ohio. not only have the seasons properly changed, but the leaves are turning bright colors on the trees. we even had a couple days when i needed a sweater. not this past weekend, however. the leaves may be orange and red and yellow, but the temperature got into the 80’s.


who loves apples? V does!

this past weekend, we took V to an apple stand to pick apples and pick out pumpkins. i thought it was pick your own apples, but was mistaken. it was just a little farm shop with already picked apples in bushel baskets for purchase. V loved it though and reached right in to grab an apple from the nearest bin.


and proceeded to eat the entire thing! all this time, i’ve been carefully slicing apples into thin slivers to make sure she doesn’t choke for no reason. she can eat the whole thing off the core, peel and all! the apple she chose was approximately half the size of her face.

moving beyond carefully sized pieces of food,


roasted root vegetable salad

hello world,

this weekend, we tried another recipe from this month’s food and wine magazine. as always, i never manage to make the recipe exactly as instructed, but the results were fabulous. good enough that it’s on the menu again this weekend. the original recipe served 4 and called for well as more carrots than we had in the house. i doubled the dressing and attempted to double the vegetables as well.  here’s what i did:

roasted root vegetable salad

ingredients: 1 celery root, peeled and sliced in 3/4 inch chunks, 2 small carrots peeled and sliced in 3/4 inch chunks, 3-4 parsnips peeled and sliced in 3/4 inch chunks, 1 medium sweet potato cut into 1 inch pieces, 1 medium red onion sliced into 1/2 inch wedges, 1/2 a cup walnuts, 3 tsp lemon juice, 3 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp dijon mustard, olive oil, feta cheese, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, salt and pepper

  1. preheat oven to 425 degrees while chopping vegetables.
  2. toss vegetables to coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. arrange in a roasting pan with a lip and roast for approximately 45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until vegetables are soft and lightly browned.
  4. put walnuts in a pie plate and roast for about 6 minutes. let cool then coarsely chop.
  5. prepare dressing: in a measuring cup, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar and dijon mustard. add salt and pepper, then whisk in 2 tbsp olive oil. immediately before putting the dressing on the salad, gently fold in the chopped parsley.
  6. place roasted vegetables in a large serving bowl, add walnuts, pour dressing on top and stir through.
  7. crumble feta on top to taste. (original recipe called for 1/4 cup, doubled is 1/2 a cup. i didn’t measure.)

the original recipe was served as a side dish for sea bass, but we roasted ruby trout for our protein. i fell in love a little with this salad. it was warm and satisfying and the left overs tasted wonderful the next day, too. i would serve it with chicken, fish or meat in the future.

i should note that i’d never worked with celery root before and it was kind of weird. i found it terribly difficult to peel and ended up chopping the top and bottom off altogether. i cut it into pieces about 2 inches long and 3/4 of an inch wide. the carrot and parsnip pieces should be the same size as each other and the sweet potato should be cubed as noted above. that will allow the most even cooking.

enjoying an end of winter salad,


success in the kitchen: cm’s own meatballs

dear world,

i am a reasonably accomplished cook. i can bake bread and i have some old standbys, but mostly i make salads. in our kitchen, i am the beta cook to MHM’s alpha cook. this weekend, however, i succeed in making meatballs. ok, everyone can make meatballs, you say. but this is not true! i have failed miserably (several times) at most forms of meatloaf  and usually just avoid the forming of meat into a shape that is not burger.

yesterday i made meatballs without consulting a recipe, without asking any questions and with complete success! here’s what i did:

cm’s own meatballs

ingredients: 1/2 pound ground sirloin, 1/2 pound ground pork, handful of chopped fresh parsley, 1 egg lightly beaten, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper to taste, 2-3 tbsp olive oil, your favorite tomato sauce, 3/4 pound penne pasta

  1. combine the ground beef and ground pork in a large bowl with salt and pepper
  2. add parsley, egg and 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs and mix until evenly incorporated (add more breadcrumbs if mixture is too wet)
  3. roll meat mixture into 1 inch balls and set aside (approximately 12-13 meatballs)
  4. in a large dutch oven heat oil over medium high heat
  5. brown the meatballs in batches and remove
  6. remove some of the left over fat from the pan and add tomato sauce
  7. once the sauce heats through, turn heat down to medium low, add meatballs and simmer with the lid on until cooked through (1/2 hour to 45 minutes)
  8. cook the pasta, drain and stir through with the sauce
  9. serve with fresh chopped parsley and the cheese of your choice (i chose pecorino romano, MHM chose parmesan)

i am super proud of my culinary adventure this weekend. we used the last of the homemade sauce left over from summer tomatoes and V ate almost an entire meatball herself! i should also note that the recipe will serve 4 hungry people (or 2 adults, a small person and leaves at least 2 portions for leftovers). this meal was exactly what we needed on the sunday night before  a long work week.



meatless meal: tomato, basil and goat cheese

hello world,

our meatless meal this week is one of my favorite stand-by’s. we discovered it a couple years ago in a marcella hazan italian cookbook and have modified it to suit our week night dinner routine. here’s what we do:

tomato, basil and goat cheese

  1. make your favorite basic tomato sauce (or grab a jar of basic tomato sauce)
  2. boil enough penne, rigatone or cannelloni to feed your family
  3. when the pasta is al dente, move it from the pot directly into the pan of sauce and stir through
  4. turn off the heat and crumble in a small log of goat cheese, stirring until smooth
  5. tear fresh basil directly into the pan, stir through and serve

for our family of 3, we usually use about 1/2 a box of penne and 3/4 of the goat cheese. if you’re serving more people, just add more pasta and cheese. i do want to note that choosing pasta with a hole through the center is preferable for this dish because it allows sauce to get in every bite. with spaghetti or linguine the sauce just falls off onto the plate- clearly not as tasty.

enjoying our meatless monday success (on tuesday!),