Tag Archives: kid-friendly

The Art of Toddler Food: Breakfast Time

Baby food days are in the past. I now face a pint-sized man who creates a challenge much larger than himself. Meal time.

I’ve been working eagerly to develop meals and snacks our whole family can eat, while staying in the parameters of what Lincoln is able to chew with the few teeth he has. It can’t be too spicy, too crunchy, to hard, to messy or too bold.

For years, my go-to breakfast has been Quaker instant oatmeal. It was always easy to bring to work and eat at my desk. But as Lincoln started to transition from baby food to the real thing, he wanted to eat my oatmeal with me. I realized after days of hunger pangs by 9 a.m. that the half bowl of oatmeal I was eating would no longer cut it. I didn’t want to waste a whole packet on Lincoln, so I started making my own. And I tell you this: I will never go back!

After a few days of practice, I finally had my recipe for banana bread oatmeal. Making homemade oatmeal takes much less time than I previously thought. This recipe is quick, easy and healthy. We both gobble it up!

Banana Bread Oatmeal
makes 2 servings

1 1/4 C milk (whole, 2% or skim)
2 TBSP light brown sugar
1 whole banana, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1 C old-fashioned oats
1/4 C chopped walnuts (adults only)

In a small sauce pan, mix together milk, brown sugar, vanilla and mashed bananas. Heat through to a low boil. Reduce to medium heat. Stir in oats, continuing until oats soften. If using regular old-fashioned oats, heat for approximately 3 minutes. If using quick oats, one minute will do. Remove from heat and serve. Top adult servings with chopped walnuts.

I’ve tried many variations on this recipe that are equally as tasty, depending on your mood:

Add one tablespoon peanut butter
Substitute vanilla with almond extract
Substitute one tablespoon of brown sugar with a drizzle of maple syrup
Substitute banana with 1/2 C natural applesauce

Whether this is for you, your toddler, or both, I think you’ll find it a nice way to start the day!

What do you feed your tiny tot for breakfast?



Filed under Breakfast, Cook, Healthy, Quick & Easy

Italian Sausage Sammies

This slightly grown up take on the classic meatball sub is a tribute to my hubs, Bill. With a good deal of Italian blood running through his veins and a serious love of all Italian meats, he always roots for the Italian in the sausage race.     As a bonus, this Italian Sausage Sammie recipe is super easy for weeknights and it’s pizza-y flavors makes it kid-friendly too!

Italian Sausage Sandwich

Italian Sausage Sandwiches
1 lb italian sausage (bulk or removed from casings)
1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
1-2 C spaghetti sauce (jarred or your own)
fresh basil leaves
4 buns

Form italian sausage into four patties to fit the shape of your bun. On the grill or in a skillet, cook sausage until it is cooked through and forming a nice golden outer crust, approximately 5-6 minutes per side. Meanwhile, heat spaghetti sauce in a small pan or the microwave.

Slice the mozzarella thinly and place several slices on the bottom of the bun. Microwave for 45 seconds or until cheese begins to melt. Place sausage patty and several basil leaves on top. Drizzle with sauce and complete with other bun. Serve with extra sauce for dipping and a Caesar salad.

Note: Italian sausage usually comes in “hot” and “mild”. If you’re like me and enjoy a little more zip to your sandwich, buy the hot!

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Filed under Cook

Holiday Gift Guide: For Kids

Anne’s Picks:

It is hard for me to pick a gift for a child without thinking of my own daughter.  Right now, she cannot get enough of play food.  I especially love Melissa and Doug toys because of their commitment to safe toys and adorable designs.  That’s why my top pick for kids this year is the Melissa and Doug Sushi Slicing Play Set.

From left: The Giving Tree ($16), Sushi Slicing Play Set ($20), Bear Slippers ($17), Fun on the Farm Stacker ($39)

Katie’s Picks:

Like many a little girl, I’m a sucker for sparkles which is the first reason why I love TOMS Silver Glitter Shoes.  But even better is the fact that for every pair you buy, TOMS donates a pair to a child in need.  A sparkly gift that keeps giving sounds just about perfect.

From top: Personalized Wire Hanger ($15), Animal Alphabet Poster ($28), Gap Boy’s Warmest Pants ($50), The Polar Express ($11), TOMS Silver Glitter Shoes ($38)

Stef’s Picks:

With my little bouncing baby boy on the way, I cannot help but be obsessed with GAP’s buffalo plaid collection this winter. The plaid trapper hat is not only adorable, but practical for cold Wisconsin winters, complete with a velcro chin strap to help keep the hat on your little ones head.

From left: GAP Buffalo Plaid Trapper Hat ($16.50), Playskool Explore n Grow Busy Ball Popper: ($25), American Girl – Rebecca Rubin ($118), Fisher-Price Little People Christmas: Nativity Set ($25), Gymboree Chairman of the Board Baby Boy outfit ($12-$21)


Filed under Fab Finds

Summer-Meets-Fall Tomato Soup

To me, nothing says fall like the return of comfort foods like soup and chili.  Not only can you pretty much include whatever ingredients you like but they’re easy and can be made in big batches for yummy leftovers.

Since tomatoes are still in season and plentiful in both stores and gardens, homemade Tomato Soup is one of my favorite summer-meets-fall dishes. I wasn’t always a huge fan of tomato soup but I discovered that a freshly flavored (and healthy!) homemade version is impossible to resist.


Summer-Meets-Fall Roasted Tomato Soup
2 lbs fresh tomatoes, mix of Roma, vine-ripe (whatever looks good)
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart chicken (or vegetable) broth
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp sherry
1/2C half & half
4 Tbsp butter
2 bay leaves
fresh basil, roughly chopped
Kosher salt, black pepper
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat oven to 450. Roughly chop fresh tomatoes and onion. Mix together on a baking sheet with the garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 20-30 minutes until peeling and soft.
Move the tomatoes, onions and garlic to a stockpot or Dutch oven, heat on med-high. Add canned tomatoes with juices, broth, butter, bay leaves, along with vinegar and sherry, to taste. Use a potato masher to smash up the chunks and simmer on med-low for 10-15 min.

Remove the bay leaves. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot. Or use a standard blender/food processor and work in batches to puree soup to a semi-smooth texture. Add half & half and basil, stir well. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.

Return to your childhood by serving with grilled cheese! Let soup simmer while you make your sandwich and garnish soup with parmesan cheese to serve.




Filed under Cook, Garden, Main Dish

Pinwheel Birthday Party

Our darling daughter, Isla, turned one last week and I knew I wanted to do something special for her first birthday party. Our neighbor has pinwheels in his yard and she loves to watch them spin around, so I decided a pinwheel themed birthday party would be perfect for our little girl!


The birthday girl wore a onesie created by sticheroos and a pinwheel headband from Kylala Boutique who also made her adorable birthday hat.


I found these simply stated and adorable invitations from Jack and Izzy which set the tone of the party


As party gifts, guest received small pink bags filled with candy. The bags were adorned with a small “thank you” tag created by fellow HAP blogger, Katie, and fastened with a mini clothes pin.

Guests were greeted by a Happy Birthday banner when they entered the house. Pinwheels were also put on the front door and scattered throughout the house in glass vases filled with orange Jelly Bellies. The banner and pinwheels were created by the amazing shana from crossroads cottage.


For lunch we snacked on sun dried tomato pasta salad, spinach salad with strawberries, blueberries and walnuts, sliced apples with homemade caramel dip, tea sandwiches, hot dogs and brats. The food was labeled with lovely orange name tags and pink handmade pinwheels.


Guests sipped peach slush, pink lemonade and soda from pink cups decorated with a pink pinwheel sticker from Jack and Izzy.

For dessert we had a 2 tiered pink cake that was created by Aly from Sweetness by Alice. It not only looked amazing, but tasted out of this world! The bottom layer was vanilla cake with cookies and cream filling and the top layer was lemon cake with lemon and raspberry filling. Isla also had her very own cake to dig into!


All in all, Isla’s first birthday party was a success! She played, opened lots of wonderful gifts, ate tons of cake and then took a long nap!

balloonsHappy birthday baby girl!



Filed under Birthday, Entertain, Family