Fresh cranberry lemon yogurt bread

Now that Thanksgiving is over you may have a few leftovers hanging out in the fridge. We happened to have half a bag of fresh cranberries that were starring at me every time I opened the fridge. The tot started calling them “grapes” and really wanted to eat them and then would get angry and confused when I told her they wouldn’t taste very good. But, she was determined, so I let her have one.


She was excited about the idea of using them to bake something, so I gathered a few ingredients we sat down for some serious stirring. And this bread turns into a really awesome fine motor skill activity if you encourage your tot to only add one cranberry at a time — and it also keeps your little one busy for a good amount of time….


1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 cups cranberries

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Dash of salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 1/2 cup flour


Invite your child to measure and add the yogurt, vanilla, and sugar, giving the ingredients a stir. You can preheat the oven to 400F so it’s nice and hot when you’re finished mixing.

Now offer your tot the cranberries and encourage her to add a few at a time, and then give a stir. While she’s busy, go ahead and zest the lemon over the bowl and then add the fresh squeezed juice.

Measure and add the milk and vegetable oil, inviting your child to continue mixing the ingredients — and adding the cranberries.

Once the cranberries have been mixed into the batter, add the egg, baking powder, baking soda, flour, and dash of salt. Give things a final stir.

Now your child can help grease a loaf pan and then add the batter. Pop the bread into the oven for 45-minutes to an hour, or until the top is toasty brown and a toothpick comes out nice and clean.

Let cool for 30-minutes before slicing and enjoy as an afternoon snack or in the morning toasted with a slathering of butter — my favorite way to eat this tasty, healthy bread.



My Set, My One-Pot Quick and Healthy Chicken Stroganoff

Have you ever wished you could customize a cookware set for the way you love to cook? Well now you can, with Your Set by Calphalon. I was lucky enough to receive two incredibly versatile pieces, and I used them for some of my favorite dishes.

See how I used the AccuCore Stainless Steel 3-quart Sauté Pan for My Set, My Healthy Chicken Stroganoff.

Click here to read my post and enter for a chance to win one of 16 prizes worth $8,500! You can win a $1,000 cash gift card or one of 15 $500 Your Set by Calphalon gift cards so that you can build your own perfect set!

Click here to start customizing Your Set right now!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

There’s nothing like a one-pot dinner that’s also heathy — and seriously easy to make. With the help of a seriously amazing AccuCore Stainless Steel 3-quart Sauté Pan, I had dinner on the table in no time and in serious style. I’m always trying to find ways to put a healthy spin on dishes and experimented with a twist on the traditional stroganoff by using skinless boneless chicken thighs and swapping sour cream for yogurt.

-keep reading for how to win your own set of Calphalon pans and for my recipe!

Crafting with Kiwi Crate

This is a busy time of year, but it’s also so much fun. It always seems like the span from Thanksgiving to Christmas goes by in a snap, making it tough to fit everything in. We also dabble a bit in Hanukkah, so I’m always happy with anything that makes my holiday-season life easier. When I received an email from Kiwi Crate asking if I’d be interested in checking out one of their new holiday crafts, I responded with a really loud, “YES!”

In only a few days the compact package arrived in the mail, containing everything I needed to create an adorable, and child-friendly, holiday wreath with my tot.

I gathered the tot and she went to work, seriously. I didn’t even have a moment to discuss with her the steps for creating the adorable mini-holiday wreath. Included in the kit is a simple instruction card that even a toddler can figure out. I helped by cutting the squares of green tissue paper while she dabbed bits of glue and then scrunched and positioned.

Once the ring was filled my tot selected only the red glittering puff balls to decorate her finished wreath (her favorite color is red…) and then we gave it a few minutes dry.

That simple.

AND there were tons of materials left over for making more wreaths. You could repurpose an old cardboard box into the base for another wreath or even cut out the inside of a paper plate for more wreath fun….

I helped by tying a section of the included red ribbon for a festive wreath that we hung on our front door. My daughter gets so excited every time she sees it — and so do I.

Along with cute holiday wreaths, Kiwi Crate is offering several other seriously cute and interactive holiday crafts, including ones perfect for Hanukkah. And, just so you know, I wasn’t compensated in any way for writing this post, only sent the craft to experience with my tot. If you’re looking for something fun and festive to create with your child, but don’t have the time to hit the craft store for supplies, Kiwi Crate has everything you need packaged together — and it won’t bust your budget.

Kehoe Beach (on Thanksgiving)

I’d normally be sharing pictures and recipes from my Thanksgiving feast right about now, but this year we are postponing our turkey making until the weekend. Instead we acted like today was just like any other day, which didn’t stop us from being seriously thankful. It turned out to be a glorious day, making a trip to the beach the perfect way to spend the day together as a family. Kehoe Beach is tucked away in West Marin past Olema and through some of the most glorious cow fields I’ve ever seen — and I’m from Wisconsin.

After walking a short trail, flanked by some of those seriously happy cows, you come over a ridge to spectacular stretch of beach that seems endless, and it is also dog friendly. This was the first time we’d taken the tot on a “hike” and she loved every minute of it. We checked out worms on the trail, barnacles on the beach rocks, inspected the various footprints in the sand, and determined the water was way too cold for any swimming…

Happy Thanksgiving — I hope you all had a wonderful day!

(Get ready for turkey pictures on Sunday…)

*And thanks to the husband for the awesome pictures.

Homemade mocha café au lait

This time of year I’m always reminded of the scents of the season. From sharp peppermint to soothing cinnamon, I get so caught up in baking and cooking and creating heavenly smelling goodies. And nothing goes better with all those holiday treats than a big cup of coffee. So I figured combining the two would be heavenly.

When a big batch of Dunkin’ Donuts® coffee arrived on my doorstep, I knew I had to combine that coffee with some delicious scents of the season and concoct a hot and steamy holiday drink. Nothing evokes the joy of the holidays like sharing memories with family and close friends over a cup of delicious coffee.

And some of my first memories of the holidays involve the scent of coffee. For some reason the smell of that coffee brewing in the morning takes me back to my little self and the anticipation of what may come. From opening exciting gifts to spending time with loved ones, that sharp dark scent always reminds me of the holiday season even to this day. My husband often brews an individual cup of coffee for himself early in the morning, so the smell doesn’t linger — it’s usually gone by the time the tot and I make our way upstairs.

Such a shame.

The other morning I indulged and made a whole pot of some Dunkin’ Donuts® gingerbread flavored coffee and mixed it together with a few ingredients to create a sweet smelling and eye-opening morning brew. There are so many flavors to choose from: Original Blend, Dunkin’ Decaf® and special seasonal varieties including Mocha Mint, Pumpkin Spice and Gingerbread Cookie. But act fast as these seasonal varieties are only available for a limited time at your local grocery store.

-keep reading for the homemade mocha café au lait recipe!

Toilet paper tube fall garland

With Thanksgiving just days away, I figured it was time to do a bit of holiday decorating. We always have a bountiful collection of toilet paper tubes hanging around just begging to be reused for some sort of crafty activity and came up with the idea to use them for a rustic fall garland. And this project is so easy, making it a perfect craft to do with toddlers — or kids of all ages.

It’s as easy as cutting the tubes into 1-inch sections and glueing on various fall goodies. The tot and I used real leaves and pinecones from the yard along with silk leaves I had hiding in the back of the craft drawer.

After letting the glued items dry over night, I popped holes in either side of the cut tube and then we strung with an orange ribbon. It looks just lovely over the fireplace and has us all in the mood for Thanksgiving.

And we discovered that the decorated cut toilet paper tubes also make adorable napkin holders.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Spicy chicken pot pie

There’s nothing like a dinner that makes the whole family happy, which is harder to pull off than you might think. My tot isn’t excited about this or the husband isn’t in the mood for that. So the other night, when I tossed together this seriously simple dinner, I was amazed when everyone asked for seconds — and thirds.

Along with being healthy and a go-to weeknight dinner, this dish also cooks in one pan, making it fitting with this month’s Shine Supper Club Challenge. With tasty one-pot dishes as the focus, I knew my twist on chicken pot pie would be perfect. With a little help from pre-made cornbread mix, a can of beans, fresh veggies, and my new Calphalon 3-quart sauté pan, this spicy twist on the traditional recipe is a fun dinner and makes enough for lunch the next day. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you could also swap the chicken for shredded leftover turkey, which would also be seriously delish.


1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 pound skinless boneless chicken

1 small onion

2 carrots

2 ribs celery

1 clove garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 15-ounce can pinto beans

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Hot sauce

1/2 cup salsa

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon flour

1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 8.5-ounce box cornbread mix

1 egg

1/3 cup milk


Place a 3-quart sauté pan over medium heat and drizzle with vegetable oil. Chop the onion, carrot, and celery and add to the pan, giving a stir.

Once the vegetables have cooked for four to five minutes, chop and add the garlic as well as the chicken. Give things a stir and then sprinkle with the salt, paprika, and oregano. Allow the ingredients to simmer together for around five minutes, or until the chicken starts to brown.

Deglaze the pan with the apple cider vinegar then strain and add the beans. Go ahead and add the salsa and water, creating a nice bubbling pan of goodness. Let the mixture simmer while you grate the cheese and make the cornbread muffin batter.

Preheat your oven to 425F. Follow the directions on the cornbread muffin box, mixing with the milk and egg. Don’t forget to grate the cheese, and you could totally use cheddar instead of Monterey Jack, which would be tasty too.

Stir the chicken and then turn off the heat. Sprinkle with the flour and mix together until it’s incorporated. The flour will help pull the liquid together, creating a really flavorful sauce. You can also add a few dashes of hot sauce if you like things nice and spicy.

Sprinkle the cheese over the mixture and then cover with the cornbread mix, using a spoon to spread the batter evenly around the pan.

Pop the spicy chicken pot pie in the oven and bake for 20-minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Serve with extra salsa, a dollop of sour cream, a fresh salad — or all on its own for a delicious weeknight dinner.

Cooking with tots: Butternut squash coconut milk muffins

I had an odd collection of items in the fridge that needed using in some way or another. An end of a butternut squash, half a can of coconut milk, steamed spinach, a bag of cooked pasta…. I had a fleeting idea of tossing everything together into a butternut squash coconut curry pasta dish to enjoy for lunch, but then the tot caught sight of those noodles and she just had to have them.

As soon as she finished her lunch she demanded some sort of “treat” as a reward.

Damn Halloween.

But our candy was fresh out and instead of her begging for “A TREAT A TREAT A TREAT,” I thought it would be wonderful if we baked a treat together instead. And mixing together the high-in-antioxidants butternut squash and coconut milk had the beginnings of a really flavorful and healthy baked goodie. Coconut milk is nut-free, vegan, and vegetarian, making it a fitting alternative to milk when baking and cooking. And it’s nutrient rich, high in protein, and packed with healthy fatty acids. I love cooking and baking with my tot because it’s not about how pretty things turn out, it’s all about creating something together — and making it taste good while being healthy.


1/2 cup cooked butternut squash

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup coconut milk

1 egg

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash of salt

1 1/4 cup flour



Let’s be honest, there’s not much to this recipe. Preheat your oven to 375F and then invite your child to help measure and add the ingredients into a mixing bowl. Slowly stir everything together until the batter comes together. And if a little more of this or that ends up in the mix, I’m sure your muffins will still be tasty.

Then pop liners in a muffin tin and then invite your child to (attempt to) evenly distribute the batter in the tins. Drizzle with a squeeze of honey for extra yummy flavor. My tot assisted with the drizzling while her favorite stuffed animal watched, making sure she got a big glop on each muffin.

Place the muffins in the oven for 20-minutes or until the tops are nicely browned and slightly cracked. Let cool and then dig in.


Mystery picture salad spinnner art

Someone gave me a salad spinner at some point. It may have been a wedding gift or a baby shower gift — or a holiday gift. I really don’t remember (and hopefully whomever gave it to me isn’t reading this now (and if you are, sorry!)), but it’s been shoved in the back of one of the various cabinets of the houses I’ve lived in over the years.

Last weekend I decided it was time to let that never-been-used salad spinner find a new home. But before I was able to cart it off to our local donation spot, the tot decided it was her new favorite toy. And the minute she discovered that she could make it SPIN, she wouldn’t let it out of her site.

After we did a bit of good ol’ spin art, I thought it might be fun to give the colorful project a bit of a twist. I cut a small square of white paper and then drew a picture on it using a white crayon.

Then I popped the paper in the spinner and invited the tot to drip water-downed watercolor paint over the picture. I knew I had drawn a collection of fishes, so offered her shades of blue.

After she was happy with the amount of paint she’d dribbled over the paper, she spun and spun that spinner. Expecting to discover a wonderfully colored creation, my tot squealed when she saw the fish that had appeared on the paper.

And, of course, she wanted to do it again, and again, and again. Because crayons are made from wax, they push away the liquid paint (oil and water don’t mix, right?) creating a fun resist artwork. Your child can experiment with creating lots of drawings in white, use black crayons to make dark outlines, or lots of colors to draw exciting creations and then pop in the spinnner for lots of colorful fun.


Easy homemade tomato sauce

We’ve had a bit of rain, and a couple of cold nights, which means it’s time to harvest all the veggies before they go bad. Down the road there’s a local farm that welcomes members to pick all the goodies and leave some cash based on the honor system. I headed over and loaded up on tomatoes, brought them home, and picked the few remaining from our sad little vines. I haven’t made homemade sauce before, but knew it was the best way to savor the wonderful flavor of the ripe red beauties.

I started by peeling the tomatoes, which is as easy as using a sharp knife to make a big X on the bottoms of the tomatoes and then tossing them into boiling water for a couple of minutes. I had around four pounds of tomatoes and figured that would make a good amount of sauce…

Place the hot tomatoes in a bowl of ice water and let sit for a moment.

Now the skins will just peel away from the tomatoes. While you’re removing the skins, place the tomatoes over a bowl with a strainer over the top, and give them a squeeze to remove the seeds, but save the juice in the bowl beneath.

Warm a tablespoon of olive oil with a few cloves of crushed garlic until the cloves start to sizzle and then add the crushed tomatoes and juice, ditching the seeds and skins. Sprinkle in some salt, a pinch of sugar, and a good dash of Italian seasoning. Let simmer for 10-minutes.

Now remove from heat and blend the tomatoes with a hand blender or in batches in the blender. Be careful — this stuff is hot! Give your sauce a taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

Place the sauce back in the pan and simmer on low for at least 30-minutes, reducing the sauce and deepening the flavor.

Once you’re happy with the consistency and flavor, turn off the heat and let the sauce cool before ladling into jars. Use for topping your favorite pasta, making tasty lasagna, or as a pizza sauce.