I am always looking for ways to talk about colors with Asher. I created this color board a couple months ago without the shapes traced onto it, but Asher wasn’t picking up the concept of matching the colors. Recently Asher has become really interested in puzzles, so I thought making this a puzzle activity might spark his interest. It was easy to put together with pieces of other puzzles we had, big lego’s, and Easter eggs. You could use whatever you have lying around the house to make this! Asher loved it and I hope you do too!
2-3 objects per color
Cut paper into equal sizes
Tape down on a mat like I have, the table, or floor
Trace objects onto their matching colors
I hope you enjoyed this activity, if you tried it out I’d love to hear how it went! Please like, share and enjoy!
This weeks meal plan was so delicious I can barely stand it! I hope you enjoy the meals I’ve pick out and try them for yourself. This week Asher decided he was not all that interested in eating dinner. He is nearing two years old and toddlerhood is in full effect! It is totally normal for a toddler to love a food one day and reject it the next. As a parent this can be extremely frustrating, but the most important thing to remember is to stay calm. Your child will read your energy and throw it back at you ten fold. If you can make dinner fun you are more likely to have success on those tough days. I will share some of the techniques I used to try to encourage him to eat dinner, but if you are struggling on a regular basis with meals I encourage you to follow Feeding Littles on Instagram. They share so much great advice around feeding kids, you will find the link bellow!
Just a quick recap of what the meal plan includes…. 1 grown up meal prepped lunch, 3 dinners, intended to have leftovers every other night, and the last night of the week we either have extra leftovers, takeout, or a family dinner. Also important to note, I am only cooking for a family of 3 so you may need to make more for a larger family. I hope you enjoy!
Whats on the menu….
Mediterranean lunch prep
Sheet pan chicken gnocchi
Mediterranean black bean burger
Fish taco bowl
Fudge brownies for 2
Here is this weeks grocery list. I formatted it a little different this week, separating the groceries by meal and department. You likely won’t need everything on these lists as many of the items are pantry staples. Let me know what you think of this different format!
This recipe is so yummy I looked forward to lunch every day! It has a lot of elements but all totally worth it. It called for couscous but they did not have any at the store so I used quinoa. The recipe above makes 5 lunches, I only doubled the quinoa and the dressing to stretch it to 10. The quantity of the other ingredients was more than enough for 10 lunches. I will list the quantities of the doubled ingredients bellow. This recipe also called for za’atar seasoning which can sometimes be hard to find. I’ll list a substitute bellow as well.
2 cups quinoa/couscous – cooked according to package instructions using water or broth
This dinner was my personal favorite of the week! It was PACKED with veggies and took maybe 15 minutes to put together. I was super skeptical because you put the uncooked gnocchi onto the sheet pan and they cook in the oven with everything else! It was like magic I was so impressed.
This was the first meal Asher had trouble with this week. It had a bunch of unfamiliar looking foods in it and he was not having it! The first night he only ate the gnocchi and tossed everything else. The second night I decided to add peas to his. Peas are a “safe” food for Asher. If he can see them in there he is more likely to try it. I also put the gnocchi on the top of his bowl and cut back a bit on the unfamiliar ingredients, like the tomatoes, zucchini, and asparagus. Ultimately this worked and he ate his whole bowl! Zucchini and all.
These were hands down the best black bean burgers I have EVER made! 100% will be making them again. We served them with some sweet potato fries and a pre-packaged salad. We usually don’t eat burgers with a bun to cut back on carbs, but they would be yummy inside one! Also If you wanted to skip roasting the peppers and onions, you can buy a jar of roasted red peppers. Cooking the sweet potatoes fries is super easy. Just cut them up and coat them in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Either throw them in your air fryer, or roast them in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Give a stir half way through.
This picture is from the second night we had this dinner. The first night we plated his dinner in a plate that has 3 sections, he threw all of the burger and only ate his sweet potatoes. The second night I decided to make his a “burger bowl”, you’ll see those “safe” peas on the bottom. Ultimately this trick didn’t work, after a handful of peas went flying across the room. I shifted strategies and started placing different elements of his dinner around his placemat, which has different shapes and things on it. Asked him to put his peas on the circle, the sweet potatoes in the triangle etc. Taking the pressure off and letting him play with the food led to him eventually eating it.
This recipe has a lot of elements, but none are complicated and it is easy to put together. Also lets talk about a flavor punch! This meal is crave-able it is so delicious. The recipe on the website is for 2 servings but it has one of those buttons to scale up the recipe 2X or 3X. I made everything except the guacamole. I also prefer to use salmon rather than cod or tilapia. Asher had gotten over his dinner aversion by the time we hit this meal, and shoveled it into his mouth as quickly as possible.
Time for a super indulgent treat! I don’t make sweets very often, but this week I just had a craving for brownies! If you craving something sweet but don’t want to have a tray full of brownies tempting you for the next week this is the way to go! This recipe makes 2 brownies! Thats right only 2! The perfect treat to make after the kids have gone to bed and there will be no evidence of treats in the morning. I added a 1/4 cup of chocolate chips, and it was worth it! When treating yourself why not really go for it.
I hope you enjoy this weeks meals, I would love to hear about it if you try them out! Please eat, share, and love!
What is a busy bag? A busy bag is pre-assembled kids activity, that is easy to set up on the fly. I have found that these are great distractions when we are in the middle of a tantrum, or just gotten an ouchie that is hard to get over. Busy bags are also intended to be somewhat portable, easy to throw into the diaper bag for quick entertainment on the run. Like when going out to eat (if we ever get to do that again😛). I also think it is important that you child know’s about the busy bags, but they aren’t quite in reach. So when they are brought down it is a real treat to get to play with them. As you can see I just keep mine in ziplock bags that we reuse over and over, but you could keep these in whatever containers you want.
This is the only potentially messy activity in the bunch. It is a “sensory bag” filled with rice, dried beans, and oat meal. You could make this out of whatever you want, the idea is edible but not delicious. It is useful for lots of other activities too! Simply dumb it into a bowl with some scoopers, a few cups, perhaps a funnel. Instant entertainment!
If you are looking at this and thinking….that is a bunch of sponges… you are right. I picked these sponges up from the dollar store and cut them in half. They are super easy to stack! They make great towers to knock over. I have also seen this done where they are cut into more of a log shape.
Magnets are a hit for kids of all ages! This bag includes a magnetic fishing game that I made, and some letter fridge magnets. Soon I will put up a post about the fishy magnets.
I bought these cute Easter eggs at the dollar store. Asher thinks they are so fun to open and talk about the animals inside. Plastic Easter eggs are good for all kinds of activities, I highly recommend picking some up.
I am so excited to share my first meal plan! I unfortunately have to start this off by admitting that I am an imperfect human. I completely forgot to photograph one of the meals! My mom brain completely spaced it, but even though I will not have a photograph of what I made, I promise it was delicious! Also I am working on my food photography, so bare with me while I try to figure out how to make the photo’s look as delicious as they taste😝
Just for a little recap of how I do this…. I try to only cook 3 nights a week, leftovers are KING. If you don’t like leftover I think you are crazy! It is a homemade meal, made with love, that is already cooked! I plan 3 dinners, 1 adult lunch prepped for the whole week, and breakfast is a wild card. I want to note that I’m only cooking for a family of 3 so you may need to adjust proportions for your family. Part of how I plan the sides for my dinners is that I buy a weekly produce basket. The photo bellow is what we got this week. It is always a mystery what we are going to get, but it keeps us from always having the same thing. If you can find something like this where you live I highly recommend it! Also I try to incorporate a vegetarian/vegan meal into our week, it is one small way we are trying to improve our environmental impact.
What is on the menu…..
(Lunch)Quinoa salad, with garbanzo beans, corn, and Mexican seasonings
Italian sausage and white bean soup
Thai butternut squash curry
Grilled chicken teriyaki
The shopping list …..
Bellow you’ll find a full shopping list for the recipes bellow. Many of the items are pantry staples so you likely wont need everything on the list.
I altered the recipe a bit to make it work for our meal prep. I also substituted the tomatoes with red bell peppers because Kyle hates tomatoes, and added pumpkin seeds for a little extra crunch. A trick for making your quinoa or rice taste special is to cook it with chicken stock instead of water! So yummy! Bellow I will list the altered proportions for this recipe.
1.5 cups of quinoa (follow package instructions for cooking, but substitute broth for water if you want)
This soup has quickly become one of our favorites. It is so simple to make and super tasty. It takes 45 minutes to cook, but the hands on time is about 20 minutes. There are a couple differences for Asher’s bowl, the first being that I did not give him any bacon. It can be a choking hazard for young children so watch out for that. You’ll also notice that Asher’s portion also has peas. Frozen peas have become a hack for Asher’s meals. He is very sensitive to the temperature of his food, adding frozen peas is a really quick way to cool his dinner down, and he loves them! For this dinner I also made the unbelievably easy bread. Which is not necessary but is definitely delicious. You can find the recipe here…. https://turtlelion.com/2021/03/20/unbelievably-easy-homemade-bread/
Now it’s time for a imperfect human moment. When making my shopping list I misread the recipe. It calls for red curry paste and yellow curry powder. Well I bought both as paste. Good news is that it turned out delicious so either will work! This curry had a mild spice which did not bother Asher. If your child is super sensitive to spice you could mix in a spoonful of greek yogurt to cool it down. The store was also out of butternut squash so I substituted it for sweet potatoes. Mine is garnished with cashews, lime, and some roasted asparagus (a produce basked add on). Asher isn’t a big fan of asparagus but I did give him a few pieces to try out of my bowl to try to broaden his taste buds.
This made 4 adult meals 2 toddler meals Here is the meal I forgot to photograph!😢This recipe was simple to put together, and super delicious! The recipe calls for chicken thighs, but we had breasts so that is what we used. The chicken needs to be marinated for at least 30 minutes, but you could easily do this the night before. The best part… the marinade becomes the sauce! I initially wasn’t going to make the cucumber salad, but we got a cucumber in our produce basket. I am so glad I did! It really made the flavor more “grown up”. We served the chicken with steamed broccoli, and a roasted cauliflower rice. The recipe has a really yummy sounding coconut rice, but since we had rice with the curry I opted for a lower carb option.
Step 1-Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Roughly chop the cauliflower then quickly pulse the cauliflower in the blender until it reaches a “rice” like texture. Pour the cauliflower onto a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper
Step 2- Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, toss at around the 10 minute mark. You’ll know it’s ready when it is slightly golden.
There you have it, a weeks worth of healthy family friendly meals! I hope you give this a try, if you do please leave a comment bellow. I’d love to hear what you thought of these recipes, and if there are any suggestions to make this easier to follow. Happy eating 🙂
When the pandemic hit I, like everyone else, started baking everything I could think of. At that time of course bread was all the rage, and I wanted to give it a try. That being said, I like baking that has immediate pay off. So the idea of working on a bread for like 24 hours was not really up my alley. Then I stumbled upon this no-knead french bread recipe from Inquiring Chef. It is so easy I believe ANYONE could pull it off. It is only 5 ingredients, only takes 2 hours, and has about 15 minutes hands on time! You are definitely going to want to try it!
I will post the recipe below but be sure to check out all the recipes the Inquiring Chef has to offer! They have more than bread, but that is what I have focused on so far. I have also tried their focaccia and dinner rolls, delicious!
Flour- The recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but I had bread flour so that is what I used. I have also used AP and it works great.
Combine flour, yeast, sugar, and salt into a bowl. If you have a scale it can speed up your flour measurement, but it is not necessary.
Add the water, heated to whatever temperature your brand of yeast recommends. Mine suggest between 120-130 degrees. Then you simply mix until the ingredients are fully combined. I usually use a flexible spatula and then my hands at the very end. This dough is VERY sticky!
Scrape down the sides, and cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. I read on one of the Inquiring Chef’s recipes to place it in the oven with just the light on. It gives off a tiny amount of heat which works great!
After 45 minutes it will have doubled in size! At this point you need to decide if you are making 1 or 2 loafs. I usually just make 1, but the original recipe makes 2. If making 2 use a knife to split the dough in half.
Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured baking sheet, the parchment paper is optional. Now it is time shape it the best you can into a loaf. The dough is still VERY sticky! Mine never end up super tall. Then you cover it again and let it rise for another 45 minutes. You’ll also now pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.
After 45 minutes it will likely have doubled in size again. If it has spread out but not up, this is normal.
At this point you will take a sharp knife or scissors to slice the loaf across the top. I also like to sprinkle it with everything bagel seasoning, but this is optional! Pop it in the oven for 25 minutes.
Ta-da! You just made an unbelievably delicious homemade bread! We love to have this bread with homemade soups, I use it for avocado toast, and it’s also delicious just with some butter and jam! YUM!
Step 2- Add water, heated to the temperature your brand of yeast recommends. Mix until just combined. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
Step 3- Dough should have doubled in size. If making 2 loafs split the dough in half here. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured baking sheet, and shape the loaf. The dough will be VERY sticky, so do the best you can. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
Step 4- Dough will have about doubled again. Likely it will have spread out and not up. Take a knife or scissors and slice a few times across the top of the dough. If using, sprinkle the everything bagel seasoning across the top. Bake for 25 minutes.
Step 5- Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!
I hope you try this recipe out, it has become a staple in our house! Don’t forget to visit the Inquiring Chef, and If you enjoyed this post please bake, like, share, and enjoy!
In my many years as a nanny, I have tested out so many different types of homemade play-dough I could not count them! They are usually fine, but are dry, don’t have the right consistency, or after a couple days end up moldy! Recently a friend of mine sent me a link from Mother Could with tons of kid recipes including this play-dough! It feels like play-dough, they claim it will last up to 6 months, and after letting it sit for a few weeks I swear it even smells like play-dough! The blue batch pictured above is about 1.5 months old and is still in great shape! I will say that it leaves your hands with a slight floury feeling, but it easily washes off. So far every recipe I have tried from this list has been amazing! I will post the recipe bellow but I also recommend you check out all the recipes they have to offer. I am certain I will be sharing more of them in the future. https://mcusercontent.com/39d416d85bf7961fbbb56da88/files/8362431a-3bf8-4593-9568-dd71d5ba7505/SENSORY_RECIPES_2020_SMALL_FILE_SIZE_PDF.pdf
1 cup flour + more for kneading
1/2 cup salt
2 TBSP cream of tartar
1 TBSP oil
1 cup boiling water
Large bowl, possibly a few if making different colors( each batch is quite large you may consider reducing the recipe by half if making many colors)
A pot to boil water
Step 1- Add flour, salt, and cream of tartar to bowl and mix.
Step 2- Add oil, and mix the best you can.
Step 3- Add food coloring to the boiling water. This will ensure your color is evenly distributed. Add it to the bowl
Step 4- Mix until a dough forms and begin to knead until no longer sticky. At this point I dumped mine out onto the counter with small amounts of flour at a time and kneaded until the consistency was right. Let it cool down a bit before you play with it.
Step 5- Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months! (I’ll report back if this claim is true once we get there!)
I hope you try out this play-dough recipe! If you enjoy it please share and comment bellow, I’d love to hear what you thought of it!
This bubbly activity is sure to excite your little one! So simple to put together, and would be fun for kids of all ages! We originally tried this activity for Asher’s 1st birthday. We were all locked down in quarantine, but still wanted to make it special. This was just the thing! We also tried it just a couple weeks ago, added some trucks which blended the colors in the most amazing way! I could also see this used for older kids making potions or even a foam fight. I followed the recipe I found at Hello Wonderful, you can follow the link or find the recipe bellow.
Step 2- Mix until super foamy, and dump into where ever you are going to play!
Step 3- Repeat for other colors
The flour is optional. If you are worried about it clogging your drains you can totally leave it our but the bubbles won’t hold as long. I avoided this worry by playing in these bubbles in a large storage tub and dumping in the trash after.
If you use large amounts of food coloring it might dye your child’s skin. Obviously not harmful, but something to keep in mind.
I am So excited to share my adaptation of Served From Scratch’s graham crackers. I started making the original recipe for Asher a few months back and they are DELICIOUS, but I don’t eat any dairy. They were so hard to resist so I decided to try making them vegan. These graham crackers are sweet with a little hint of salt, way more flavorful than store bought. I hope you bake, love, and share!
Graham Flour/ Whole Wheat Flour – I have been unable to locate any graham flour. It is basically a special whole wheat flour, so I substituted it for a plain whole wheat and it works great.
All Purpose Flour
Full Fat Coconut Milk
A Large Bowl
A Pastry Cutter/ Fork
First you add all the dry ingredients, and gently mix. I used a fork to do this.
Next add the room temperature coconut oil. Using a fork/ pastry cutter press the coconut oil into the dry ingredients until you achieve a sandy texture.
Once the sandy texture is achieved add the remaining ingredients. I usually start with 3 TBSP of coconut milk. As I mix the the dough I decide if it needs 1 more TBSP. The dough will be a little crumbly but you want it to hold together when pressed.
Once the dough is holding together, pour it out onto a lined baking sheet. I like to put a second piece of parchment paper on top while I roll it out. Begin rolling it out trying to make it as square as possible.
Roll until it is 3/8″. If there is lots of cracking around the edges, simply break pieces off and roll them back in to fill the large cracks. When baking the edges get super crisp, so I try to make them as smooth as possible. At this point you are going to cover and let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350
After cooling, remove from the fridge and cut. I use a pizza cutter and ruler to do this. This could definitely also be accomplished with a knife. The ruler is totally unnecessary but it does make them all uniform and pretty. Then using a fork poke those signature holes into the crackers. Now it’s time to bake for 20-25 minutes.
You’ll know they are done when they are browned around the edges. Place on a cooling rack and let cool until you can easily handle them. I find they are easiest to break apart when they are slightly warm. Break apart and enjoy! When they are fresh they are slightly chewy and crisp up over the next few days. Store them in an airtight container on your counter.
Vegan Graham Cracker Recipe
1 1/2 cups graham flour/ whole wheat flour
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 TBSP room temperature coconut oil
4 TBSP molasses
3-4 TBSP full fat coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
A Large Bowl
A Pastry Cutter/ Fork
Step 1.-Combine all dry ingredients into a large bowl, and gently mix together.
Step 2- Add the 6 TBSP room temperature coconut oil. Either with a fork or pastry cutter, press the coconut oil into the dry ingredients until a sandy texture is achieved.
Step 3- Add the molasses, 3 TBSP coconut milk, and the vanilla extract. Begin to combine the dough. I mix with a fork and eventually finish with my hands. Mixing with a kind of pinching motion. You want the dough to be crumbly, but still hold together when pressed. If it feels like it needs a little more moisture, add 1 TBSP of coconut milk.
Step 4- Dump dough out onto a lined baking sheet, cover with a second piece of parchment paper and roll out into a square about 3/8″ thick. If you have large cracks around the edges, I would break pieces off and fill in those cracks. Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 min.
Step 5. Pre-heat oven to 350
Step 6- Remove from fridge and cut into squares. I use a pizza cutter and a ruler to cut into 2″ squares, but this is not necessary. They can be cut into any size. Then poke those signature holes into each cracker using a fork.
Step 7- Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are brown around the edges.
Step 8- Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Once cooled enough to handle, break apart the squares and enjoy! Store in an air tight container.
It is like Pintrest, but only for food blogs! I seriously look here for everything from cocktails to desserts. It’s a great way to search, store and find food inspirations. This is also a great place to search for recipies if you are trying to follow a certain kind of diet. We’ve tried paleo, keto, vegan, and the Mediterranean diet. Foodgawker has it all!
Everyone loves home cooked meals, but the idea of cooking 7 nights a week is definitely overwhelming. My secret is that in my house, leftovers are king. Leftovers get a bad rap, but in all honesty as a busy mom leftovers mean a night off! And lets face it, some food actually taste better the next day!
Ok here comes the good stuff, the meal breakdown. For breakfast we kind of fend for ourselves. Kyle usually eats some kind of overnight oats, or eggs, and I am an avocado toast fanatic. Asher eats pancakes, oatmeal, eggs, or the occasional bowl of cereal + a serving of fruit. For lunch I meal prep lunches for Kyle and I for the whole week. This requires a dedicated amount of time up front, but ultimately is worth doing in the long run. Usually it is some kind of quinoa salad. Asher often has a grilled cheese, PB&H or sometimes mac and cheese + a serving of fruit and veggies . Now dinner is where the planning really comes into play, and where we all eat the same thing. I try only to cook 3 times a week. So the rhythm might look like Monday- cook, Tuesday- leftovers, Wednesday-cook, Thursday-leftovers, Friday- cook, Saturday-leftovers, and Sunday-family dinner/take out. This rhythm has really worked for me since becoming a mom, and I hope it might work for you! In the future I will post exactly what the plan was for the week, with pictures, links, and everything you’ll need to know to do it yourself!
Lets face it, most of the time when we want to do an activity with the kids, it is on the fly. Here are a few of my must have activity supplies that I always have on hand.
I always have basic craft supplies like pipe cleaners, various sizes of popsicle sticks, feathers, and lots and lots of pom-poms! They are great for crafts but they come in handy for all kinds of activities. I bought a large craft supply kit that had all of this stuff in it for less that $15. I also recommend getting the jumbo pom-poms that are 2″ in diameter. They are so squishy and fun to hold, and much to big to be swallowed.
Painters tape! Useful for so many activities! It holds things down perfectly, and it’s easy to pull off without leaving a sticky mess.
Corn starch!!!! This pantry staple has become a necessity in our house. It is useful for messy activities and science experiments. Seriously useful to have on hand.
The other things I recommend are these plastic storage containers. You will see pictures of Asher sitting inside this big one all the time! It is a lifesaver with messy activities. The mess mostly stays inside the container, it’s easy to pickup off the floor when we are done, and easy to wash. It fits perfectly under Asher’s crib for easy out of the way storage.
I also recommend a couple of the smaller containers with lids. It allows me to prepare the activity up on the counter, and easily transport it into the larger bin. Then and when you are done simply pop the lid on and remove from your child’s reach.