We’re really working on enjoying family dinner, but some nights it’s still easier to toss the tot a bowl of boiled noodles topped with butter and call it a night. Spring zucchini are seriously cheap at the grocery store right now, so I couldn’t resist bagging up a ton and bringing it home. And this easy and seriously healthy dish is so simple, my daughter basically made it.
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
Slice the fresh green zucchinis in half and then cut a bit off the rounded sides so they’d lay flat in your big pan. Coat the pan with a bit of olive oil and then create an even layer of the zucchini. Preheat your oven to 400˚F.
Now top the sliced zucchini with the tomato sauce — your favorite kind is perfect. And you can use as little or as much as you’d like. After my daughter got tired of dolloping the sauce, she layered on the cheese (after a bit of taste testing), and then sprinkled the breadcrumbs over the top.
Pop the zucchini casserole into the hot oven and let it bake and bubble for 25 minutes. Your baked zucchini Parmesan is ready! Serve with seared chicken breasts or enjoy as is for a delicious vegetarian dinner.
This last week I received several boxes of wonderful things in the mail. Instead of breaking them down and adding to the recycling, I decided to have some fun and create an easy word game for the tot. She’s right at the point where encouraging letter recognition would be a really good thing, and instead of heading to the store and paying big bucks on some plastic game, or one that she’d only play with for a week and then toss aside, I upcycled one of those cardboard boxes into a fun and interactive game that could be enjoyed — and then eventually recycled.
Simply cut away the sides from the cardboard box using a scissors or paper cutter. You probably won’t be able to cut completely through if using a cutter, but it does help create nice, straight scored lines, which can then be cut with the help of a scissors. I created four squares to use for creating matching letter and number games.
Now use the trimmings to create the squares for the letters and numbers. I found around a one inch square was the perfect size.
Use a black marker to write letters and numbers on the squares. You could do all capital letters, lower case letters for encouraging advanced learners, and numbers up to 100 — or even higher! I kept it simple and wrote out the alphabet in block letters along with numbers 1 to 20, reserving any blank squares for replacing lost numbers and letters later.
To create the game grids, use a ruler to mark each side of the cardboard squares and one inch intervals and then draw straight lines to create boxes. Now you can fill each box with a number or letter, create words, or even number combinations. Because my little one is just starting to figure things out, I kept things pretty simple. You can even have a theme for each square, such as one for only numbers, and others for letters, or short words.
I helped my daughter spread the letters and numbers on her work table and offered her a square to fill in. I was amazed as she found the first match and stayed engaged while filling in the rest. We spent over an hour going over the numbers and letters and finding their matching spots on the game cards and exploring number and letter recognition.
I was so excited my daughter loved her new game, but loved even more that it was made from a recycled cardboard box, which basically cost nothing to make.
Looking for another fun way to repurpose your cardboard boxes? Make a cardboard box oven for hours of pretend play….
There’s nothing like the soft sweet crunch of cornbread muffins. One of my favorite things while growing up where muffins from that little box of mix that only required an egg, a bit of oil, and a splash of milk to make. The other day I had an abundance of fresh spring zucchini and knew they would taste divine paired with cornmeal. I baked a batch of muffins and totally admit to winging the recipe. But after they were eaten within hours, I decided it was a good idea to whip up another batch — making sure to write the ingredients down. And with the Shine Supper Club all about revisiting our favorite childhood eats, this recipe mixes classic cornbread with healthy and fresh zucchini.
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pound shredded zucchini
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
Preheat your oven to 350˚F and get out a big mixing bowl. Measure and add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl and give a stir to break up any lump. You can also add the ingredients to a blender and pulse on low to create a really smooth and delicate cornbread muffin.
Now add the baking powder, baking soda, and shredded zucchini. Crack in the eggs, add the milk and oil, and stir to incorporate. That’s it — really.
Line your muffin tin with liners or slightly grease and then ladle in the batter. Pop in the hot oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden.
Remove the muffins and let cool for 10 minutes before eating. They’re wonderful topped with a bit of butter, drizzled with honey, or slathered with cream cheese.
It’s been a busy week, so there hasn’t been time for doing anything fun and crafty. A freelance job that I’ve really enjoyed for the last several months has turned into an actual position (YAY!), so instead of hanging out in my house being anti-social I enjoyed a bit of actual interaction with creative and smart ladies that I’ll hopefully be working with for a very long time. So if things seem a bit quiet over here, head over to POPSUGAR Pets and POPSUGAR Smart Living to see what I’ve been up to.
After the busy week, cookies were in order. I love cookies and am always trying to put a fun spin on things. I was craving carrot cake, but was feeling a bit too lazy for baking and had a demanding daughter that wanted something sweet that didn’t require any waiting. After gathering the ingredients, we were ready for making sweet and tasty cookies.
And you can put a healthy spin on these cookies by using whole wheat flour, which would also give them a bit more crunch.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup oats
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat your oven to 350˚F then measure and add the butter, sugars, maple syrup (which is really delicious in these cookies, but if you don’t have any, they’ll still be yum-o), salt, and vanilla. Use a hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together.
Now add the egg and give the ingredients another mixing. Now measure and add the shredded carrot, flour, and oats. Sprinkle in the baking soda and powder and then stir until incorporated.
Line your baking tray with parchment paper and scoop large spoonfuls of the cookie batter onto the tray leaving an inch or so between cookies to allow for spreading while baking. Gently press with your fingers to create rounds.
Pop the cookies into the hot oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and enjoy!
*Makes around 24 cookies, depending on how big you make them….