kid-friendly · Recipes · Slow Cooker · Tips and Tricks

Super Bowl Ideas

I’m just going to assume everyone reading this is rooting for the Patriots like we are on Sunday … ha!

As a kid we watched football every weekend, though the Pats were pretty much abysmal until I went away to college (figures) so I struggle to imagine what it must be like to have grown up watching Tom Brady and Bill Belichick dominate the NFL for basically your entire lifetime. That said, I’ll enjoy the dynasty while it lasts. Once this particular season is over, I can focus on my favorite sport — hockey — and before you know it the Red Sox will have opening day at Fenway Park and it’ll be spring again.

Until then! Here’s what we love to cook up on game day. You know I’m going to start off with my Brown Sugar Kielbasa, don’t you?

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This one is a star for a reason. It has two ingredients unless you want to embellish it, and you just set it and forget in the slow cooker. Giving myself more time with my guests, and to prepare the rest of the game day food, works for me!

We also love to make delicious and simple Shepherd’s Pie. This one is so easy! My friends always ask for this and it is hands-down one of my husband’s favorite dinners that I make. All you need is ground beef, creamed corn and regular corn plus mashed potatoes, and somehow it all comes together and tastes so much more complex. This is a recipe I originally got from my mom, and she used to make it for me in little ramekins that I could take for lunch every day. I don’t even own ramekins!

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Another must-have for snacking is tortilla chips and salsa. I always, always make my own salsa, because it so fast and tastes approximately a thousand times better than canned salsa. I like to use Rotel, fresh tomatoes and heaps of cilantro and jalapenos, but you can very much customize things if you don’t care for the heat or the taste of cilantro.

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If you are hosting vegetarians and are in need of good chili options that involve more than just a ton of beans, I’ve got a few ideas. This recipe has literally four ingredients and very little simmering time, and can be made with ground beef or vegetarian “meat” crumbles, which I normally don’t love but end up tasting delicious here. Morning Star Farms and Gardein both make excellent veggie crumbles.

Another awesome recipe that packs a little heat with a hint of sweetness is this tasty Soy Chorizo Chili, which I usually make by shopping all Trader Joe’s ingredients, from the chorizo itself to the sweet potatoes, black beans and salsa. Serve it with some vegan shredded “cheese” on top or, if dairy is an option for your crowd, some sour cream or (even healthier) plain Greek yogurt. Yum! And spicy!

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You really can’t go wrong with food, friends and football for any game day, so no matter who you are rooting for, I hope you have a blast this weekend and that this post gave you some good ideas. As Georgia says, “go ball players! you’re doing a great job!” haha.

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Boston Day Trip · kid-friendly · News · Tips and Tricks · Travel

August Day Trips from Boston!

It’s definitely late August now. Georgia has had her birthday party, my Florida squad has left town after their annual visit, and the fall calendar of meetings is already filling up at work (big, heavy sigh). I’ll share more photos of G’s party at the Stone Zoo soon, but here’s a sneak peek plus a couple snaps from some day trips that we have been taking while warm weather is still around us here in Boston. There’s nothing like summer in New England!  

We made trips to the Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford, Gary’s Best Hot Dogs, Bedford Farms Ice Cream, the waterfront and shops in Newburyport, and a fun new restaurant called City Streets where they put cooked pasta on top of tossed salad — what?!? Sounds crazy, tastes really good.


Order like a native with the works: mustard, relish, onions and celery salt. Junk food overload not required but encouraged.img_8312Awesome waterfront dining in Newburyport at the Black Cow, where I sampled an amazing veggie burger, fries and cole slaw alongside a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio.We rolled up on the night of a gigantic classic car show, complete with propped hoods and blaring 50’s music. It was awesome!img_8234img_8236

This past weekend, we had the rare treat of Mark being off both Saturday and Sunday, so we decided to take a trip to Revere Beach, home of the famous international sand-sculpting festival, which takes place every July. We love this beach because, at 9 a.m. on a weekend morning, you can have the place to yourself, and there’s parking right on the parkway along the shore. On Sundays, the parking is free and pretty easy, especially if you arrive early! Georgia was over the moon that Mom and Dad were off work at the same time, which hasn’t happened probably since we flew to Florida as a family this past winter. She kept Mark busy building sand castles and wading with me in the low tide for hours, and we made it home in time for lunch and a nap. Sometimes I can’t believe we are lucky enough to live within 15 minutes of the subwayhiking, and the ocean.

I feel like we’ve done our best to make the most of our summer before Georgia starts preschool in early September. Where did my baby go?? In preparation for going to the “big kids school” after Labor Day, we all decided it was time to give up the pacificer, which G has used for naps and long car rides since she was less than a year old. Last Sunday morning, we set the binkies out on her window sill, and after church we came home to find that the “Binky Fairy” — whose arrival we’d been discussing together for months — had swapped her binks for a big girl preschool backpack and lunch bag, some sticker books, some fruit snacks and a couple new stuffed animals to cuddle. She even left Binky Fairy Dust! So far, it’s been over a week and she’s made barely a passing comment about wanting them, so I am ready to call it a success.

I also wanted to share that we lost a dear family member this past week — Georgia’s Great Granddad, who lived a long, full life and passed peacefully just a few weeks after turning 94. He was very special to both Mark and G, who always wanted to be held by her Great Granddad and lovingly referred to him as “my friend.” Here are a couple of my favorite photos of them together, from the year she was born and again this past winter. He will be so very missed.

I’ll be back after the services ~ hope you all have a very restful week ahead.

kid-friendly · Recipes

Cream Cheese Stuffed Strawberries

It’s strawberry season in New England! These berries have a very short window of availability each year, and this summer the crop is peaking late — like right now — so it’s time to pick up some fresh berries at the farmer’s market and get baking. My brother’s girlfriend Michelle, who you may remember from this popular Stuffed Mushroom recipe at Christmas, makes one of the best strawberry treats I’ve ever had: strawberries stuffed with sweetened cream cheese. Auntie Shelly, as Georgia calls her, brings these to every summer gathering and they are always the absolute most popular item on the potluck, including last weekend when we had a barbecue for Mark’s birthday at our house. They were gone in a flash and I felt lucky to grab a couple before they disappeared. In addition to being a crowd pleaser, they are very simple to make. Read on to find out how.

Cream Cheese Stuffed Strawberries

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 packages of fresh strawberries
  • 8 oz of regular cream cheese
  • ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Graham crackers (optional)

DIRECTIONS

First, take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator. It needs to be at room temperature in order for everything to blend well.

Wash the strawberries, and remove the stems. Cut the bottom off of each strawberry where the leaves are so they can stand up on their own.

Make an “X” cut on the pointed side of each strawberry and set them aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and start mixing on low speed. Start slow to make sure the confectioner’s sugar doesn’t splatter everywhere! Increase the speed to medium/high until the mixture is a light, fluffy texture. This usually takes about 3-5 minutes.

Put the cream cheese mixture into a piping bag with a small tip. An easy way of doing this is to use a tall, empty drinking glass, which holds the bag so you can have both hands free when pouring the mixture.

Insert the piping tip into the middle of the “X” cut on each berry, and squeeze the filling in until you can see it starting to peek out the sides.

Finally, an optional last step is to put some crushed graham crackers on top of the berries. This can make them look extra fancy!

{{ Serve at room temp and watch guests devour }}


If you really, really love strawberries — as Georgia does — try these Strawberry Mini Muffins, my Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, this Strawberry Yogurt Cake or my Creamy Strawberry Smoothie. We really love strawberries in our house!

Looking for places to pick your own strawberries this month? Here’s a great guide to you-pick spots and local strawberry festivals in and around Boston in June. Or, just follow the Facebook and Instagram posts from your family and friends for of-the-moment tips. Happy picking!


Tiny Prints - Flash Sale

kid-friendly · Tips and Tricks

Apple Picking at Shelburne Farm

Happy Fall in New England! While I promise a few apple-centric recipes soon, for now I’m just going to share photos from our recent family trip to Shelburne Farm in Stow this past weekend.

We picked macouns, empires, mackintosh, cortlands and red delicious, and I’ve got lots of plans for them! This past Sunday was exactly the one and only day all three of us were free for a fall family activity, so we went all out and took a hay ride (or as Georgia called it “the hay choo-choo”), ate cinnamon donuts and drank mulled cider, sat in the pumpkin patch, and visited the petting zoo with Llamas, Alpacas, Donkeys, Sheep and Goats. (As we were leaving, Georgia kept waving “bye bye, animals! I love you!”)  
All in all it was a fun day, and last winter produced such a great crop of fruit this year that there’s plenty of time to get out there and get picking if you haven’t already!

  
If you do go to Shelburne, here are my tips. Get there before 11 a.m. or expect a mob; know that there are only porta-potties; plan on having some of their food for lunch, since they have an outdoor snack stand with picnic tables and a live band for entertainment; and bring extra cash for the pony rides, hay ride and corn maze. Oddly, there were a ton of people “tailgating” in the parking lot when we got there and when we were leaving, which I did not realize was a thing. (Have you done that? If so, explain! We didn’t get it).


The cowboy boots go everywhere. We found it to be noticeably cooler out west as compared to the city, so layers is probably a good idea. I love that there’s no admission fee here and a peck of apples (10 pounds) — more than enough for a small family to eat and bake with — costs just $20, with a full bushel only $28. Another farm we loved to visit last year, Lookout Farm, is right in the town where Mark and I grew up, and it’s another awesome choice for families, although much more expensive at $15 per person just for admission (and only kids under two are free!) They also have animals to pet, food, a playground area, and an adorable train that takes you to each part of the orchard. It was a great choice for a 14-month old who couldn’t really walk up and down the rows of trees just yet!

It also pays to have a really tall person in your apple-picking gang.



The refrain of the day was definitely Georgia’s new catch phrase: “My do it MYSELF!”

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Have a wonderful remainder of the week everyone, and stay tuned for two new apple recipes next week!

Beauty & Fashion · Tips and Tricks

Stop Melting Makeup (and get back to enjoying summer)

This is random, but it’s 90 today and it’s so stressful if you need to get dressed up for a baby shower, wedding, birthday party or — you know — WORK, in this kind of humidity. I don’t know what I’d do without these two items on days like this, one pretty cheapie and one more pricey, but both 100% worth it!

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I buy the Baby Skin primer at Target (but you can also find it at Ulta and Walmart) and the Urban Decay setting spray at Sephora in-store or online. I don’t like to wear lots of makeup any day, but when it’s steamy and you have no choice, you really can’t go wrong with these for preventing slide-off. Urban Decay also makes an amazing eye shadow primer and NYX makes the best knockoff version of it.

I used to think these kinds of items were a waste of money, but when I realized how much longer they make makeup last, it made sense — no more reapplying midday or wasting product, especially pricey ones you’ve invested your hard-earned money into.

These aren’t affiliate links, just a couple products I can’t do without in summer. Since nobody can think about cooking in this kind of weather, this is what I’m doing instead. And, if the heat is getting you down, a few inspiring images to remind you why summer in New England is worth waiting for all year: the Fourth of July, lobsters, fried clams, picnics, splash pads, and sparklers. Have a great week, everyone 🙂
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