September 27, 2016

5 Tips for Packing Fruit in Lunchboxes

My kids are fruit fanatics. They love having fruit in their lunch boxes and for snack time. Of course I am happy to oblige but I do run into snafus now and then. Sometimes the fruit they want is out of season. Other times I have to pack fruit creatively so it doesn’t bruise or wither. It isn’t always easy to keep fruit safely contained in a lunchbox! Here are five of my favorite tips for packing fruit for school this season. Please share yours!

Packing Fruit in Lunchboxes | The Naptime Chef

1) Mix it up! – There is nothing worse than finding uneaten fruit that has made the return trip to your kitchen. My daughter used to do this when she said I packed “too many” of the same berry. My solution – making a berry “salad” and using a few of each variety to mix it up. Since I often use frozen fruit for this I am never worried about buying too many or too few of one thing. I also like to add coconut chips, toasted oats, and even whole grain cereals. It is a nice way to eat fruit and keep it healthy.

September 26, 2016

Everyday Breakfast: Bacon & Bagels

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. All opinions are entirely my own. #sponsored #ad

We are back in the school routine full swing, and I am back to making breakfast, or helping my kids make their own breakfast, every morning. We keep it simple around here with cereals, overnight baked goods, bagels and, always, bacon. I usually bake it or fry it up in the skillet while bagels are toasting. Sometimes I chop it up and fold it into an omelet, and other times I just serve it up on a plate for everyone to grab. It disappears in .2 seconds my family loves it so much!

Bacon & Bagels | The Naptime Chef The trick to making good bacon everyone will eat is buying the good stuff to start with. When I shop for bacon I make sure I buy the bacon that isn’t too fatty or it will shrivel right up when I cook it. I look for a thick cut and a rich color. There is nothing worse than thin bacon with no flavor! I also choose bacon that is thick enough that it will work well in other dishes in addition to our favorite breakfasts. I like it to have some good bite and texture so the flavor stands out and doesn’t get lost in a dish. This is why I really snap up Wright® Brand Bacon whenever I am at Stop & Shop, our store down the street. It is hand-selected and hand-trimmed and is made with the best premium cuts of meat.

September 21, 2016

Yogurt & Fruit “Sundaes” for the Lunchbox

Yogurt & Fruit Sundaes | The Naptime Chef

I am so thrilled to announce that this year I’ll be working with Cascadian Farm to produce exciting content on The Naptime Chef and for their website featuring their amazing selection of frozen fruit and vegetables. I’ve been a longtime fan of their frozen produce and frequently use it in my cooking working together is a natural fit. There is so much wonderful family-friendly fare that can be made with frozen produce, let’s dive in together!

Yogurt & Fruit Sundaes | The Naptime Chef

Smile! Blueberry Yogurt with Blueberries, Frozen Peaches & Meusli

Since it is back-to-school season and I am also in back-to-school mode with work I thought I’d start off with a simple, yet delicious, lunchbox treat my kids adore: Yogurt & Fruit “Sundaes”. Instead of making it a formal parfait with studied layers we prefer to take the sundae route. This means filling a jar or plastic container with our favorite flavor yogurt (this changes on a daily basis in our house, just use what flavor yogurt your children prefer), and topping it like a sundae with loads of fruit and some crunchy cereal or granola.

September 20, 2016

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cake for My Birthday

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cake | The Naptime Chef

It’s time again for my annual birthday cake. In case you missed it, I am never one to shy away from birthdays. There is nothing about getting older that worries me or makes me want to run and bury my face in a pillow. Birthdays are for celebrating and having fun. In an attempt to pass this spirit onto my children, this year I got them involved in the baking of a brown sugar chocolate chip cake. They have not always been invited to participate, but this year I wanted them to join in. They both still enjoy cooking with mom and this flavor is super kid-friendly, so why not make it a family occasion.

September 15, 2016

Fall Cookbook Pre-orders

Fall is super duper cookbook season and I have been doing a lot of pre-ordering lately. Here are few that I’ve paid for and can’t wait to arrive. I am curious, what books are on your list?

Fall Cookbooks 2016 | The Naptime Chef

Mad Hungry: 120 Essential Recipes to Feed the Whole Crew by Lucinda Scala Quinn. I have loved the Mad Hungry series since the very first book. Even though I don’t have a crew of teenagers in my house (yet) her recipes still speak to me as a family cook. Lucinda always has the perfect answer when it comes to putting a fresh twist of roast chicken or making a new and exciting salad that the whole family will love.

Fall Cookbooks 2016 | The Naptime Chef

Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsee to Streuselfkuchen by Luisa Weiss. I am a longtime fan of Luisa’s writing and recipes. Her deep knowledge of the German kitchen is not to be missed. It is rare to find a German-American so in touch with traditional recipes on both sides of the pond. I think German baking is often eclipsed by its French neighbor so I am excited to learn more about traditional German recipes and there is no better teacher than Luisa.
Fall Cookbooks 2016 | The Naptime Chef

French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments from a Village in the Vineyards by Mimi Thorisson. I discovered the magic of Mimi’s life in Medoc last spring was instantly sucked in. Her latest book promises to share a new collection of delicious, accessible French recipes from her home deep in the wine region of Bordeaux.

Fall Cookbooks 2016 | The Naptime Chef

Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan. Dorie’s books never fail to amaze. Her exquisite baked goods are awe inspiring yet completely doable. Baking from her books is like hanging out in the kitchen with you best friend. I can’t wait to crack the spine of her latest tome and start baking.

Fall Cookbooks 2016 | The Naptime Chef

Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten. The magic of Ina Garten is ongoing for me. I’ve cooked from her books consistently ever since the first once was released. I can’t wait to see what this book holds and am thrilled that a new show is in the works.

 

September 13, 2016

Skillet Chicken Cacciatore

Skillet Chicken Cacciatore | The Naptime Chef

We are finally in back-to-school mode with both kids. It was a great summer but my little guy wore me right out and I am very happy to be back into the regular routine. This routine, of course, includes weeknight cooking. Depending on our daily schedule I will sometimes prep food while they are at school. If I don’t have time to do that I’ll review some of my oldies but goodies, or the ingredients in our fridge, to come up with a quick and easy dinner recipe. Recently I made this easy skillet chicken cacciatore because I had the last couple of peppers from our garden in the crisper and a fresh packet of chicken to be eaten.

September 8, 2016

Late Summer Peach Caprese Salad

Peach Caprese Salad | The Naptime Chef

Last weekend we were supposed to endure the rains of Hurricane Hermine and they never came. It has been a long, hot summer in Connecticut and our garden so desperately needed the rain and cooler temperatures so I was excited. I am glad we did not have to endure any crazy hurricane weather like our neighbors to the south, but I honestly didn’t mind the idea of part of our long weekend being rained in. Naturally we had some party plans and I was all for preparing food to take to friend’s homes, including this peach caprese salad which is just fine, rain or shine.