Healthy layered spring zucchini casserole

Thank you Country Crock for sponsoring this post.

Layered Zucchini Casserole

There’s nothing like fresh veggies this time of year, which makes tossing together a quick, easy, and healthy casserole just about the best thing at the end of a long day. With my daughter really excited about helping to make dinner, and doing the grocery shopping, I ended up with a few more than the three fresh zucchinis that I had selected in my shopping basket the other day. Instead of putting them back, we happily brought them home for making this delicious and low-fat casserole, which is the perfect thing for celebrating spring. Instead of being heavy and covered with loads of cheese, you can enjoy this casserole as a side or on its own. Swapping butter for Country Crock cuts down on extra calories and you’ll never taste the difference when using low-fat cheeses and milk.

This recipe is seriously easy, so invite your little one into the kitchen to help make this light casserole. And if you love creating tasty concoctions as much as I do, head over to Country Crock Stars, enter a picture of your latest casserole, and share in 100 words how you demonstrate creativity and resourcefulness in the kitchen for a chance to win $5,000.

-Keep reading for the easy recipe!

Celebrate National Pi Day with, um, well, PIE!

Marie Callender's

In celebration of National Pi Day, which falls on March 14th, why not celebrate with the kind you can eat – pie from Marie Callender’s! I love pie, and realized my tot hasn’t experienced the wonders of slicing a fresh piece from a perfectly round perfection. And because Pi is all about numbers, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to learn about basic math while eating something delicious. And sweet pies from Marie Callender’s are made from real ingredients. Really. I had my eye on a chocolate satin mini pie, which was the perfect size for the delicious math activity I had in mind. And if you’re looking for other party ideas, recipes, or how-to’s, check out Marie Callender’s blog.

-keep reading for our tasty math activity and how to get our Marie Callender’s coupon!

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!

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!

Homemade play table

We have this spot at the top of the stairs on the side of our living room. It’s a “spot” we have no idea what to do with. It isn’t really part of the living room, not big enough to do much with, and has been the home to several different things, including a large plant, small bench, and mini pool table — all of which just sat there doing not much of anything.

I was getting really tired of just looking at that empty corner and watching it become home to a happy family of daddy-long-legs.

I was also getting a bit tired of the tot’s toys ALL OVER THE PLACE.

She needed a solution. I needed something. We talked about getting a toy chest (I had visions of pinched fingers), we dreamed of putting together a built-in bookshelf-slash-seating area (I had visions of power tool mishaps), and we chatted about buying furniture (and I had visions of lots and lots of fighting). So the corner sat deserted, the cat turned the mini-pool table into her new favorite lounging spot, and I kept vacuuming up the spiders.

While at O.S.H. picking up who knows what, I spied round cuts of plywood and knew I had to make a play table. But how to make it cool… Then we spied the big spools used for holding rope and I batted my eyes and inquired if we could have an old one. It was my lucky day and we headed home with the round and a spool.

After a nice sanding, and a coating of white stain, the husband took over and screwed the spool to the round and we had a table. I had plans for adding another round base to make the table sturdier, and to touch up the paint, but the tot had other plans. She got busy working the minute it was brought into the house.

Once she was tucked in for the night, I added a few other cute items around her area so she’d stay interested for more than a few days. On the other side of the play corner is our entry way buffet (that houses a bunch of the hub’s old CD’s) that will be cleared out for her toys so the area is comfortable for her to play and stay organized — and I’ll be able to slide the doors so they will magically disappear.

So for less than $20, we reinvented a spool into a fun play table that will hopefully be used for years and years.



Magic wand cat toy

My tot woke up today and decided that we should pick up a baby at the store. She spent almost an hour telling me all about how we should go pick out just the right one and that she was ready to have a baby. She also told me she wanted to be a baby when she gets big and that she wasn’t ever a little baby. Nope. We needed to go to the store and get a baby.

I was a little surprised about this new turn. We hadn’t seen any babies lately or had any big discussions about little ones, so wasn’t sure where this was coming from. The hubs and I haven’t even been talking about babies around her. It’s like she picked up on my hormones or something and was freely sharing my hidden desires for popping out another babe.

(We haven’t had much luck and are kinda moving on with the whole “trying-for-a-second-child” thing…)

So, anyway, back to heading to the store to pick up our new baby — I loaded her up and strapped her in as we made our way to the store. Once we arrived she tossed a bit of a fit that I had taken her to the wrong store. We weren’t at the BABY store but the CRAP store (which is how she says “craft” at the moment. Cute but not so cute when said loudly while walking through the store. “Mommmy? Mommmy? I just LOVE this CRAP store. This CRAP is SO cooool. Can I buy this to make a CRAP? Please, mommy, PLEAAASE?!”).

I gathered the stuff I needed for the day and asked her if she’d like to pick out something for herself. She decided we should make a magic wand cat toy, which would be perfect for playing with the cat while simultaneously doing magic tricks.

All you need to make your own unique magic wand cat toy are a wooden dowel, a bit of bright and sparkly ribbon, and a really pretty flower. I cut the dowel to a one foot long length and gave it a gentle sanding before starting.

I cut a few strips of the ribbon, piled them together, and then tapped them into the dowel with a small nail.

Then I cut away the bottom of the red sparkly flower and used my trusty hot glue to stick it in place. I had to remove the middle of the flower to make it flat, so hot glued a purple puff ball to fill the space.

The finished creation was attacked by both tot and cat within minutes of completion.

And there wasn’t any more talk about picking up a baby at the store for the rest of the day.

*And, yeah. Probably not the safest cat toy, so don’t let your kitty cat hang out with it unattended. And not guaranteed to actually successfully do any magic either.

Great kid art that’s fit for framing

I’m so excited to share another collection of creative art activities with! These projects are perfect for tots and the results are so awesome you might want to pop the finished artwork in a frame. In fact, I have the red sparkly painting that my daughter did for this slideshow hanging in my office.

No joke.

So check it out and hopefully you’ll be inspired to try one of these art activities with your little one!

GapKids Shine on Saturdays (the follow up)

This post is sponsored by GapKids. Check out all the fun Shine On activities at your nearest Gap store. For event dates and locations, visit Gap’s Facebook page and join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #ShineOn.

Remember how I told you about how GapKids was holding special Shine on Saturdays activities across the country? Well we had an awesome time at the event, which took place at my local mall (The Village at Corte Madera) last weekend. As an art teacher, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The idea of doing any sort of art activity in the middle of a clothing store, where the clothes were for sale, seemed a bit insane — especially if the art activity included paint! So when I walked in and saw a smiling helper in front of a table full of paint, I couldn’t wait to see what happened.

Keep reading to find out….

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GapKids Shine On Saturdays

This post is sponsored by GapKids. Check out all the fun Shine On activities at your nearest Gap store. For event dates and locations, visit Gap’s Facebook page and join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #ShineOn.

I am so excited to participate in this exciting campaign with GapKids! You know I love anything that encourages creativity in kids so I can’t wait to see what GapKids has in store for a fun creative series of activities inspired by Merrilee Liddiard of Mer Mag during the Shine On Saturdays! Designed around the GapKids and babyGap fall collection, this month select stores across the country will host Shine On Saturdays events — and one just happens to be taking place this Saturday in my hood at The Village at Corte Madera from 10 am to 1 pm.

Keep reading for all the details – hopefully I’ll see you there!

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Frozen summer sandwiches


Thank you COOL WHIP for sponsoring this post. Join us on Facebook for inspiration and recipes for everyday treats. What you add makes it. #coolwhipmoms


frozen summer sandwiches

There’s nothing like a cold treat on a hot summer’s day. I love making frozen desserts that are nice and creamy and fit perfectly in small hands. This way I can grab-and-go without worrying about dirtying a bowl or forgetting a spoon. And, if there’s any mess, we’re usually outside near the hose, or the sprinkler, or the kiddie pool.

You get the idea.

This is a super simple frozen summer sandwich, and with a little help from COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, things just got a bit easier. Pairing COOL WHIP with tangy vanilla yogurt makes a sweet filling for fudgy cookies and strawberry jam – the perfect everyday treat. You’ve probably got everything you need in your pantry, and it’s a totally kid friendly recipe!

keep reading for the recipe…