Naptime Simple Tips: Fun & Essential Tips for Your Kitchen

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!


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 & 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.

WFM Truffled Roasted Walnuts

Day 2: The 2012 Naptime Chef Favorite Things Holiday Giveaway! {Naptime Simple Tips}

Today I am thrilled to bring you my foodie holiday gift guide for 2012! Not only is this a gift guide of a few of my favorite foodie items, I also have the great fortune of being able to giveaway one of each of the items below. That’s right, it is kind of like Kelsey’s favorite foodie finds for the holiday season Oprah-style. I had such a blast putting this guide together. I hope you all get some good ideas from this list. Stay tuned for more holiday shopping tips and giveaways later this week!

Roasted Red Pepper & Spinach Dip with Kettle Chips for the Holidays

Roasted Red Pepper & Spinach Dip with Kettle Chips for the Holidays & Visa Card Giveaway! {Naptime Simple Tips}

When I talk about party food this time of year I am thinking about all the fun dishes to serve when you open your home to friends and family in November and December. In my case, I usually focus on recipes that are festive but simple to pull together in advance. I also like to make things that can be paired with store bought food. For example, this awesome roasted red pepper and spinach dip is perfect for Christmas because it is a beautiful shade of light red with little green flecks and it tastes delicious when served with a variety of Kettle Chips.

Spinach with Feta & Pine Nuts via The Naptime Chef

Spinach with Feta & Pine Nuts and Some Thanksgiving Menu Suggestions {Naptime Simple Tips}

Last week I got the new Barefoot Contessa cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust. As I always do with her books, after only a couple of quick passes I tabbed dozens of recipes to try and kicked off with this one last weekend. I am slipping this into my week of Thanksgiving food because, although I have never served it for Thanksgiving, I can honestly say it would be a great addition to any Thanksgiving table. While creamed spinach may be more traditional at Thanksgiving, this lightened up version with salty feta and crunchy pine nuts would be welcome break from the tried and true. I’ll be reviewing the book more in the new year but I promise this one is a great place to start!

Madness Sales at Whole Foods save money

Whole Foods for $100: 10 Ways To Save at Whole Foods Market {Naptime Simple Tips}

Last week I revealed a little bit about on my recent collaboration with Whole Foods Market. In mid-October, pre-Sandy, I spent one whole week feeding my family exclusively from Whole Foods on a strict budget of $100. It was not easy considering the “whole paycheck” reputation of Whole Foods Market but I found it surprisingly doable. One of the keys to the challenge was changing my Whole Foods Market shopping habits. I’ll admit, I’ve never been a super-strategic shopper at Whole Foods Market and was surprised at how much money I could save when I actually applied myself to learning the signage and zeroing in on a set meal plan. Today I am going to share my new favorite tips for shopping Whole Foods Market and tomorrow I will share the menu we enjoyed for the week.