Naptime Simple Tips: Fun & Essential Tips for Your Kitchen

Making Maple Syrup 2014 | The Naptime Chef

Sugaring Off: The 2014 Maple Syrup Adventure – Part 1

Last month we embarked on our first ever sugaring off experience and it was such a blast. Inspired by my friend Aimee, we tapped the healthy sugar maple in our backyard to see what would happen. As it turns out – a lot! This year was a learning curve for us. Next year we’ll definitely tweak our methods to make the process more efficient with a higher yield. Here is how it all went down:

How to Roast Garlic Final

Kitchen Basics: How to Roast Garlic

This is a quick post about a basic roasting method everyone ought to know. It relates to a great recipe I am posting next Tuesday and I thought everyone might want a little refresher. I use roasted garlic in lots of dishes. It lends terrific flavor to soups and sauces. It also makes the best kind of garlic bread when you squeeze it onto a piece of toast and sprinkle a little cheese on top. Next week I am going to use it in a new favorite way – in salad!

5 Ways to Brighten Your Kitchen Mood

5 Ways to Brighten Your Kitchen Mood

It is time to brighten the mood in here. I’ll admit this winter, with the endless gray skis and perma-layer of snow is beginning to wear me down. I am cooking a lot of the same old stuff and am feeling somewhat uninspired. Time to snap out of it! Luckily, to help me take a step in the right direction my pals at Sunkist sent me a huge box of amazingly fresh citrus last week. The little oranges and apples were perfect for my children’s hands, we’ve all been chowing down. I also made yet another batch of Meyer lemon marmalade because I am truly dealing with an addiction at this point. This sweet care package is definitely helping me move in the right direction mood-wise. So, I thought today we’d talk about getting back in the swing of things and thinking spring.

Apple Snack Muffins

Baked Goods for School Snacks 101

Moving is for the birds. For. The. Birds. I seriously never, ever want to move again. Though, I really do want to try living all over the world during my lifetime, the actual act of moving is the pits. Next week I’ll share some tidbits from our new location. But, in the mean time, I will chat a little more about school. This year I have to pack my daughter two snacks. One for morning, one for afternoon. All this on top of lunch. It is a lot of food every day! But, I know she needs it to keep her little body going so I am happy to take on the challenge of sending her to school with as much homemade grub as I can handle.

Back-to-School Cooking 101

Back-to-School Cooking 101

Today is the day. My daughter is back in school and we are in officially in back-at-school mode. For her this means a fresh start with a new teachers and classmates. For me this means it is time to revisit our quick dinner favorites, lunch box ideas, and stock the freezer with homemade snacks. While the jist of back-to-school cooking is that meals should be fast and healthy, there is still a lot that goes into it. A lot of things I make in advance and I am always mining the freezer for sauces and herb mixes I’ve made in bulk. I draw on all of my resources to get dinner on the table every night! Luckily, the new baby is on a great new nap schedule I can return to naptime cooking, but I still have to be smart about my time with everything else on the docket. Here are a few tips for your own back-to-school cooking and our family favorites I’ll be making a lot this fall!

Red White & Blue Food For All!

Red White & Blue Food For All!

I can’t sign off for Fourth for July without leaving you with a few goodies for your holiday. Here are some of my red white and blue foods for the season. Have a safe holiday and see you next week!

summer

10 Tips for Preparing Your Spring Kitchen

Over the weekend I am pretty sure everyone in Connecticut turned off the heat, threw open the windows, and breathed a deep sigh of relief. The thermometer was north of 50 degrees F for the first time in five months! Naturally, the minute I felt the rush of spring I indulged in some long overdue spring cleaning. Nothing too wild, just the usual rummaging through closets, cleaning out cupboards, etc. It felt so good to get rid of the dead weight and haul a few bags over to Goodwill! Since I know a lot of you are probably in the same boat – spring cleaning like mad people, relishing the chance to start the season anew – today I am sharing my top ten tips for preparing your kitchen for spring and summer. If you see anything I am missing, please let me know!

Method All-Purpose Cleaner Ginger

How I Keep a Green Kitchen with Vine.com & Shopping Discount!

Today I want to share how I keep a “green” kitchen. I’ll admit that I’ve only gotten really good about using natural, non-toxic cleaners in recent years. When I was first married I happily scrubbed surfaces with thick pastes and sprayed aerosol cans of toxic chemicals all over the place to “freshen up the air.” Then I started reading the horrible reports about air quality in homes. Each one cited that household cleaners contain thousands of toxins that are potentially harmful to children, pets, and just about anyone. I freaked out! Ever since I’ve been experimenting with natural cleaners and trying to the find the best ones to keep our house clean and safe, as well as smelling excellent.

whole foods gnocchi

Thursday Giveaway: Whole Foods Organic Meals & $25 Gift Card

Today I am thrilled to be offering up a Whole Foods Market Gift Card as a giveaway. The reason? I recently had the pleasure of enjoying their new Whole Foods Organic Frozen meals and I think you all need to go out and try some yourself. I usually don’t buy tons of frozen foods, but I am not opposed to a shortcut here and there. I love the general Whole Foods philosophy of cooking with real ingredients so if I do take shortcuts it is usually from that store. Of course, there is no better time for a shortcut then with a new baby in the house. It made perfect sense to give some of their easy to prepare frozen meals a try this month. Here is what we tried and liked:

New Mom Food via The Naptime Chef

Food for New Parents

Earlier this month we were having a lot of discussions on Facebook about food I was making and freezing in preparation for baby’s arrival. I also shared how I prepared my pantry for the next month when I won’t have the flexibility to dash to the grocery store like I usually do. Since I am now on the other side of all this I thought I’d share how things are going, what we are eating, and what people are bringing. I hope these help answer a lot of your questions regarding food suggestions for things to bring new parents. Also, as a reminder, I have a New Parents & Potlucks category in my recipe index if you need more ideas. I will definitely be including a chapter on New Parent Food in the next book. So if you have any requests for recipes or cuisines or food for special diets you’d like to see please let me know and I will do my best to accommodate!

Winter Pantry

Preparing My Winter Pantry

With baby due to arrive any day now I’ve spent the past couple of weeks stocking up my winter pantry. I know I’ll be spending quite a bit of time in the blissful infant fog over the next few weeks so I am making sure all of my go-to staples are filled to the brim to help me avoid daily dashes for food. Last week I spent some time flipping through my cookbook and jotting down ideas for easy healthy meals I want to focus on this winter.

Meyer Lemon & Ginger Tea Loaves

The Best of Naptime Holidays: Homemade Gifts, Party Food, Make-Ahead Breakfasts & More! {Naptime Simple Tips}

While I wrap up my holiday preparations in anticipation of next week I thought I would stop in with a quick recap of all of the best holiday food and party ideas I’ve been posting here for the past few years. These are some of our family favorites for the holiday season. The recipes I turn to again and again. Given my current state I had to be especially prepared this year (!) since lately I’ve been in no mood to stand on my feet for any great length of time. I am sure I’ll make up for it next year! In the mean time, I hope you and your families are looking forward to a fabulous and fun week ahead.