Monthly Archives: June 2013

Finger Foods for Your Next Fête

I can’t get enough of all the adorable mini foods I am seeing on Pinterest these days. Not only are they cute as a button, but two-bite finger foods are less mess at parties.

I’m starting to think about Olivia’s 3rd birthday party, and I’m kind of bummed that I will be ordering food this year instead of making it all (I will be 8 months pregnant, and I am not a glutton for punishment!). So maybe I’ll have to keep some of these in mind for next year … or maybe for the holidays. Here are a few of my favs:

Mini Tomato and Mozzarella Tarts from Life as a Lofthouse

Mini Chicken and Waffles from Southern Living

Lemon Meringue Pie Shooters from

Mini Pancake Bites Four Ways from

Baked Spinach Dip Mini Bread Bowls from

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Coffee Cake Bites from

Mac and Cheese Bites by Yours Truly

Chicken Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese

Don’t you just love a dish that is just as good cold the next day as it is the night you make it? This orzo salad from Cooking Light is delicious for dinner and also perfect for your next cookout or potluck. You can really do it with or without the chicken, but the added protein makes it a complete one-dish meal.

The only negative feedback I got on this dish was from my two-year-old who didn’t appreciate that I was giving her “leaves” for dinner (there’s arugula in the salad)! To appease your picky eaters, you can always swap out the tomatoes, red peppers, and arugula for other veggies they like—zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, asparagus, or mushrooms would also be great in this dish!

Chicken Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese

1 ¼ cups uncooked orzo
3 cups chopped grilled chicken breast strips (use the frozen, pre-cooked kind to save time)
1 ½ cups arugula
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup chopped red bell pepper (I roasted mine ahead of time, but raw works too)
¼ cup chopped red onion
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
6 tbsp (1 ½ ounces) crumbled goat cheese (or more if you’re like me!)


1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well.

2. Combine pasta, chicken, and the next 6 ingredients (through oregano) in a large bowl; toss well.

3. Combine vinegar, oil, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle vinegar mixture over pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.

10 Cookbooks for Kids

Cooking with your children isn’t only about teaching them a valuable skill—it’s also about spending time with them and making them feel included as equal contributors in the family. When your child is old enough to go it alone, cooking can help build confidence, self-esteem, and problem-solving skills. And following recipes can also improve reading comprehension. Here are 10 great cookbooks just for kids, filled with simple, easy-to-follow recipes that your little one (and you!) will love.

Little Kitchen: 40 Delicious and Simple Things That Children Can Really Make

At the Farmers’ Market with Kids: Recipes and Projects for Little Hands

Twist It Up: More Than 60 Delicious Recipes from an Inspiring Young Chef

Betty Crocker Kids Cook!

Children’s Quick and Easy Cookbook

Baby Love: Healthy, Easy, Delicious Meals for Your Baby and Toddler

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes

The Kid’s Cookbook: A Great Book for Kids Who Love to Cook!

We Can Cook: Introduce Your Child to the Joy of Cooking with 75 Simple Recipes and Activities

Breastfeeding: Second Time’s a Charm?

I saw this article on Babble today, 9 Reason I am Dreading Breastfeeding. (Again.), and had such a visceral reaction that I was compelled to comment for maybe the fourth time ever. Then, as I thought about what I wanted to say, I realized it was way too much for one tiny little comment box. What I needed was a post purge.

While I was lucky enough to not have to deal with reflux and I did eventually make it to a point where I actually enjoyed nursing, I might have written every other word of this article. Just reading it brought back so much emotion and, now that I am expecting my second baby, some serious anxiety. I too am more than a little bit terrified of how my next breastfeeding experience will compare with my first.

When Olivia was born, the nurses at the hospital exclaimed over how easily she took to nursing, how strong she was, how well I was doing … for two glorious days I thought I was nailing this mama thing. And then we went home and it all went to shit. She went on a feeding strike for 24 hours, leaving me an exhausted, panicky, blubbering mess sitting in the pediatrician’s office and Olivia labeled a “failure to thrive.”

What followed was a litany of good times: plugged ducts, nipple shields, tongue tie, over supply, bleeding, thrush. My daily routine read like the troubleshooting section of a breastfeeding book.

Then there was the pain. Oh, the pain. I had friends who were also nursing at the time who reported some discomfort and soreness. If only. Picture someone putting your nipple in a vise and then slowly driving a dozen tiny nails into it. Yep, that was more my reality. I dreaded each feeding and cringed in pain, tears running down my cheeks, every single time.

Things got so bad that everyone I knew was trying to convince me that it was okay to give up. My husband, my parents, our pediatrician, my OB, my lactation consultant, everyone. Many of these people saw my struggles firsthand and I think, especially for my husband, they just hated to see me in so much near-constant pain. But I was determined.

And then something amazing happened—it just … got better. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment or even the cause, but sometime between months four and five I finally got what everyone was going on about. I continued nursing my daughter until she was 13 months old and was genuinely sad when she decided to give it up.

I am praying that things are easier this time around. But if they aren’t, I like to think that I’m a little older, a little wiser, and I have more than a few tricks up my sleeve—like popping soy lecithin supplements the minute this little girl is born to help combat the plugged ducts!

At least this second time around, I have something that I definitely didn’t have with my first: some perspective. To know what to expect. To give myself a break. To know that I can make it through it and that, when I do, the reward is being able to stare down into my baby girl’s eyes without a care in the world.

Mushroom Asparagus Risotto

It’s no secret that I love risotto. I’ve posted recipes before for Kale and Bacon Risotto and Butternut Squash, Chicken, and Asparagus Risotto. One of the things I like most about this rice dish is that, by changing out the mix-ins, you can completely change the meal for each season. For this Mushroom Asparagus Risotto, I used spring veggies and chicken to make it a one-dish meal. The best part is, I haven’t found a risotto recipe my daughter won’t eat!

Mushroom Asparagus Risotto

1 1/3 cup uncooked arborio rice
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth
2 medium chicken breasts
1 cup frozen peas
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
½ cup Parmesan cheese

1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook to 170°, turning occasionally. Set the chicken aside to rest and then cut into bite-sized pieces.

2. In another sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add asparagus and cook for a few minutes before adding peas and mushrooms. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until veggies are tender. Set aside.

3. Heat broth in a small sauce pan over low heat.

4. In a deep sauté pan or dutch oven, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add rice and stir for about 2 minutes.

5. Add in 1 cup of broth and stir continually until the liquid is absorbed. Gradually stir in remaining broth ½ cup at a time, stirring continually each time until the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ½ cup.

6. Once the rice is cooked and the broth is gone, stir in vegetables, chicken, cheese, salt, and pepper. Cook for a few minutes to heat everything through and then serve immediately.

Roasted Broccoli on the Side

Broccoli is one of those vegetables that you really want your kids to eat. It’s rich in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, calcium, folate, and more. These nutrients promote a healthy immune system, optimal brain function, bone health, regular blood pressure, heart health, and muscle growth.

Lucky for me, Olivia can’t get enough broccoli. She’s the only two-year-old I know who will pick through mac and cheese to eat the broccoli and leave the pasta for last. But I’m certainly not complaining! Her favorite way to eat broccoli, hands down, is roasted. The little booger will STEAL the broccoli from my plate when she’s done with her own. She can easily polish off an entire broccoli crown on her own when I cook it like this.

Something about the roasting process brings out the natural sugars and adds a nice caramelized crispness to the veggies. If your little ones normally turn their noses up to broccoli, I would give roasting it a shot!

Roasted Broccoli

2 fresh broccoli crowns
Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375°. Chop the florets off of each of the crowns and spread evenly on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until browned.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 16, so I am assuming most people will be out doing a little shopping this weekend. I know I always struggle with Father’s Day gift ideas; there’s no way I’m alone in this. So to help give you (and myself) a little gift inspiration, I’ve pulled together these fabulous gift guides.

POPSUGAR Moms’ 10 Great Father’s Day Gifts for Sports-Fanatic Dads

In the Powder Room’s Father’s Day Pinterest board

Real Simple’s 36 Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Huffington Post’s Father’s Day Gift Guide

Cool Mom Picks’ Collection of Father’s Day gift posts (everything from “Gifts for the Stylish Dad” to “11 Great Homemade Father’s Day Gift Ideas”)

Spicy Grilled Shrimp and Quinoa Salad

When I saw this recipe in the April 2013 issue of Cooking Light, it immediately went on our menu for the following week. I love making quinoa because it’s such a healthy, nutrient-packed grain and, luckily, my two year old can’t get enough of it! So I was eager to try this spicy grilled shrimp with quinoa salad because it was different than any other dish I had tried thus far. I did cut back just a little bit on the spice because neither I nor Olivia can hang with the heat, and I made a couple of other small adjustments to the original recipe—like more cilantro mixed right into the salad.

While this dish was delicious for dinner, I have to say that the leftovers were even better for lunch the next day after the flavors had really meshed together.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp and Quinoa Salad

¼ cup fresh lime juice, divided
10 tsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin, divided
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp hot pepper sauce
¼ tsp smoked paprika
4 garlic cloves, chopped and divided
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 lb)
¾ cup uncooked quinoa
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup water
½ tsp kosher salt, divided
½ tsp honey
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup diced peeled avocado
1 oz reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled
Cooking spray
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro


1. Preheat grill to high heat.

2. Combine 2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp olive oil, chili powder, ½ tsp cumin, black pepper, hot sauce, paprika, and 2 garlic cloves in a medium bowl. Add shrimp; toss well. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.

3. Rinse and drain quinoa. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add remaining 2 garlic cloves and quinoa; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 13 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Cool. Combine remaining 2 tbsp lime juice, remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, remaining ½ tsp cumin, ¼ tsp salt, and honey in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add quinoa mixture, tomatoes, chickpeas, avocado, ¼ cup cilantro and cheese; toss gently.

4. Remove shrimp from bowl; discard marinade. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining ¼ tsp salt. Thread 3 shrimp onto each of 8 (6-inch) skewers. Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 2 minutes on each side or until done.

5. Divide quinoa mixture evenly among 4 plates. Top each serving with 2 skewers. Garnish with remaining cilantro.