Product Reviews

July 18, 2011

Dinner @6 with American Express: Snow Peas with Sesame Seeds & Last Call!

Snow Peas

As you may remember from last week, this is my second post for the American Express Dinner @6 Giveaway! Today I am talking about my favorite way to prepare snow peas. I like to cook them for a very short time and blanche them almost immediately. Then I toss them with some salt, olive oil and toasted sesame seeds for a perfectly light and tasty summer vegetable side dish.

This post is officially my last call for recipe entries, see the guidelines below! Stay tuned for next Monday when I announce the winner and give you one final summer recipe!

Here are the guidelines for entering to win your very own $600 American Express Giftcard:

1. Leave a comment sharing your favorite summer vegetable side dish recipe that contains 6 ingredients or less. It does not have to be a formal recipe format, just tell me casually how the recipe works and what is in it.

2. Sign up for The Naptime Chef newsletter (upper left hand corner of this screen)

3. Like The Naptime Chef on Facebook.

4. Read the below information about the new American Express Blue Cash Cards

5. Entries can be submitted from July 18th at 6:59am ET through Sunday July 24th at 11:59pm. The winner will be chosen and posted on Monday July 25th at 12noon ET.

6. Yes, salt and pepper count as ingredients.

7. Contestants may submit multiple recipes!


 Snow Peas with Sesame Seeds



 2 cups snow peas
1 tablespoons sesame seeds
¼ cup olive oil
1 pinch kosher salt


1. Cook the snow peas for 2 minutes in boiling water and plunge them into an ice cold water bath to blanche them and stop the cooking.

2. In a small skillet toast the sesame seeds until lightly golden then add them to the snow peas. Toss in the olive oil and a pinch of salt and serve!

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July 11, 2011

Dinner @6 with American Express: Peppery Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

When American Express contacted me about joining them to celebrate the launch of their American Express Blue Cash Preferred and Everyday Cards I couldn’t quite fathom why. That was, until I learned about their interest in conveying to consumers the potential of using money to make simple, delicious meals with six ingredients are less. I love sending the message that meals do not have to be complicated to be delicious so I jumped on board.

For this program I’ll be posting every Monday for the next three weeks and sharing some of my favorite recipes for summer vegetable side dishes made with six ingredients or less. In return, I’d like you to share your favorite summer vegetable side dishes that are made with six ingredients or less for your chance to win a $600 gift card from American Express! (Yes, that is right, six hundred bucks for your grocery shopping! woo-hoo!)

To kick things off I am sharing my fun riff on caprese salad, a classic summer vegetable side dish. In my version I like to infuse the olive oil with fresh pepper and use small balls of mozzarella and grape tomatoes in lieu of big tomato slices. I prefer the smaller sized tomatoes and cheese and find them much, much easier to eat. I also love that this whole salad takes minutes to throw together. Sometimes I make it during naptime and keep it in the fridge, but it is just as easy to make it in a snap dinner time! I usually served it alongside grilled fish or chicken to round out our meal.

So, here is what is going to happen now. My delicious Peppery Caprese Salad recipe is below. Next week, on July 18th, I am going to return with another FABULOUS summer vegetable recipes using six ingredients or less and issue a last call for recipe submissions. The winner will be announced on Monday July 25th, along with a final recipe from me!

Here are the guidelines for entering to win your very own $600 American Express Giftcard:

1. Leave a comment sharing your favorite summer vegetable side dish recipe that contains 6 ingredients or less. It does not have to be a formal recipe format, just tell me casually how the recipe works and what is in it.

2. Sign up for The Naptime Chef newsletter (upper left hand corner of this screen)

3. Like The Naptime Chef on Facebook.

4. Read the below information about the new American Express Blue Cash Cards


About the New Blue Cash Preferred and Everyday Cards


  • With the costs of food, gas and clothing rising rapidly, the new Blue Cash® Cards provide a simple way for shoppers to put cash back in their pockets as they shop for every day necessities. With these new Blue Cash Cards, there are no spend minimums, cash back caps, ongoing enrollments or rotating categories of cash back benefits.  The benefits don’t change, as they do with some other cards.
  • Both Cards immediately offer cash back in categories in which prices are particularly under pressure: gas, supermarket purchases and department stores.
  • Whether when shopping online or in-store, offers an easy-to-understand rewards structure:
  • For Blue Cash Preferred, it’s as simple as 6%-3%-1% (6% cash back at supermarkets, up to 3% at department stores and gas stations, and 1% on all other eligible purchases). At 6% cash back, Blue Cash Preferred offers consumers the most cash back at the supermarket available in the market today. (Blue Cash Preferred carries a $75 annual fee)
  • For Blue Cash Everyday, it’s a simple as 3%-2%-1% (3% cash back at supermarkets, 2% cash back at department stores and gas stations, and 1% on all other eligible purchases) with no annual fee.To learn more about the Blue Cash Preferred and Blue Cash Everyday cards, visit
  • For more chances to win please visit these other blogs with this promotion:



 Peppery Caprese Salad



1 cup grape tomatoes
½ cup small mozzarella balls
3 to 4 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 pinch kosher salt




1. In a small bowl mix the olive oil, pepper and salt.

2. Arrange the basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella on a plate and drizzle the olive oil dressing over the top. Serve!



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As with all the posts on this ad-free Products Review page, I was compensated to participate in this program and provide the above information to all of you. The opinions and recipe expressed in this article, however, are completely my own. As is the food photography.

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June 17, 2011

S’Mores Season Has Arrived! Pass the Hershey’s Please…

Smores I

I LOVE S’Mores, as if you didn’t know that already, and I am excited to announce that this summer, the Hershey Company is encouraging families to create their own S’mores memories with the Say S’mores campaign. Starting June 15, families are invited to capture and share their favorite S’mores moments on the Hershey’s brand Facebook page for a chance to win S’mores-themed prizes.  The grand-prize is a Canon Rebel Camera, slate marble outdoor firebowl, $250 SnapFish gift card, roasting skewers set and all of the ingredients needed to make S’mores, including Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars. Families who visit the Hershey’s brand Facebook page on or after June 15 can download the Say S’mores application to participate in monthly photo contests and receive a $1 coupon good toward the purchase of any two Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar 6-packs.

In addition to all this great prizes I am participating in a secret campaign and will be posting about a secret S’More theme later this summer. Stay tuned!! :)

June 15, 2011

Strawberry-Rhubarb Tarts at King Arthur Flour Blog & Bake: Part 2 {Naptime on the Road}

Strawberry Rhubarb

By the end of the first day at the King Arthur Flour Blog & Bake I was exhausted. After madly taking notes on everything from how to make bread rise perfectly and the difference between flours, to Sara Moulton’s herbed spaetzle and how to properly debone a chicken breast, I had absorbed just about all I could. Following our elegant dinner at The Norwich Inn I turned in for the night and slept soundly until my alarm the next morning. Pizza dough was the first order of business on day two. We had begun making the dough starter the day before and set out to finish it in time for lunch. I was so glad to go through this exercise because I’ve always loved making pizza at home. I usually make it on a baking sheet in my oven and it works well, but I was eager to try the gigantor King Arthur Flour in-house wood burning pizza oven:

June 9, 2011

Summer Tomato Pie at King Arthur Flour Blog & Bake: Part 1 {Naptime on the Road}

Tomato Pie

I had the sincere pleasure of attending Blog & Bake at the King Arthur Flour headquarters in Norwich VT earlier this week. And when I say it was a pleasure, I really, truly mean that. You all know how I love to bake. Being invited to spend two days learning tips from the pros was an unbelievable opportunity. Some people may wonder why I would take basic baking classes when I just wrote a book with a whole baking chapter in it, but that is one of the best parts about cooking. It is impossible to know how to do everything perfectly. There is always more to learn about the craft, more techniques to know. The teachers at King Arthur were, in my opinion, unparalleled. Our two days of classes covered the basics: white bread, pizza dough, pate brisee (butter crusts), pate sucree (sweet butter crusts), and flour. Even though I’ve made all of these many times I learned all sorts of useful tips from the best way to make a make a flakey pie crust, to how to knead pizza dough so that is produces a perfectly crispy crust every time. We even got to take home everything we baked, including our gorgeous tomato pies.

In addition to the baking classes I learned a lot more about King Arthur Flour as a company. I’ve always used their flour because it works so well and I strongly believe in using unbleached flours. (Bleaching is an unnecessary process which adds carcinogenic chemicals to flour.)  Since my experience I have redoubled my affection for their products. King Arthur is committed to maintaining very strict criteria about the flour they sell. All of their wheat is purchased from farmers committed meeting their high standards, and they really make an effort to get to know their growers (just check out these cool videos!) They are also very particular about protein levels in their products. Protein levels in other commercial flours can vary greatly which means you can bake the same recipe with the same brand of flour, but from two different bags, and get completely different results. This won’t happen with King Arthur, their flours behave the same way every single time you bake with them.  I thought it was neat that the company is 100% employee owned. Everyone I met had a smile on their face and demonstrated a tremendous amount of pride in their work.

It is impossible to cover all of the great tips in one post so I’m going to break out my experience into two parts. One this week, one next week. So, let’s get started.

April 20, 2011

Folgers Best Part of Wakin’ Up!

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and Folgers.

Start the morning right!

With a toddler there is no sleeping in. My day begins bright and early at sunrise no matter how many light-blocking shades we install in her room. Luckily, I am a bit of a morning person so I don’t mind waking up early as long as I’ve gotten a decent night of sleep. When we wake up I try to focus on a good healthy breakfast and a nice dose of caffeine for me to get the day started.

Since breakfast is always our first priority in the morning my husband focuses on the coffee maker while I whip up whatever hot meal we are going to have. I know it is extra effort, but it makes such a difference to kick off the day with oatmeal, eggs, waffles or pancakes. They pair so well with juice and coffee and I firmly believe that a solid meal starts off the day right.

Once our breakfast plates are wiped clean and our coffee mugs are empty we kick off the rest of our daily routine. Work for my husband, the gym for me and my daughter. Then, she is off to school and I am back home to work. I’ve tried to start our morning routine many times without our normal breakfast and it simply doesn’t work.

Folgers wants all families to start the day off right with a solid breakfast and a great cup of coffee which is why I am so excited to be helping them spread the word about their Folgers Jingle Contest. To view the entries share your opinion go visit the “Best Part of Wakin’ Up Contest” site and check out the entrants. Best of all, when you vote you could win a some great daily prizes! For rules about voting be sure to check out the rules section. Then come back here and tell us which is the best in your book! I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks!

For more great articles about Folgers be sure to check out this great round-up on BlogHer. In the mean time, happy breakfast!


March 23, 2011

Cleaning a Lemon Mess with the Clorox Clean-Up Project!

Big mess!

The other day my daughter and I set out to do “mixing” together. That is our code word for baking project. That is also my code word for “way messy project coming up.” Obviously I don’t let the prospect of major clean-up time deter me from doing our projects together. She is still very young and messes are to be expected and maybe even encouraged. I love the look of glee on her face when she sees that she has created something wonderful, so keep the messes coming if that is what I get as a reward.

March 23, 2011

Panera on the Road

thai chicken salad

One of things I love about traveling is finding new places to eat and restaurants to explore. It is always interesting to find places that are the hallmark of a particular region like barbecue in the South, or tacos in Southern California. However, when I am traveling with kids on a dreary day down a major highway sometimes I just want to eat at some place that is familiar. Not as in golden-arches familiar, but a restaurant where I know we can get healthy food that will be nourishing and delicious.

As you can guess, last week when we were on a little road trip this very scenario happened to me. The weather was less than stellar, my daughter was grumpy with hunger and I needed a place to stop and rest. As luck would have it I spotted a Panera Bread sign on 95N just as I was reaching my limit and we pulled off immediately. Entering Panera was like entering a familiar, happy restaurant I knew would cure all ills. My daughter was ecstatic to start in her grilled cheese while I protein-loaded on the new Thai Chicken Salad (yum!). We both gulped down our lemonade (I am addicted) and then I got a hot chai to go while my daughter indulged in an iced Easter cookie.


Our stop took all of thirty minutes, but it was a thirty minutes that made all the difference. We had entered grumpy and frustrated at our long road trip, and left calmed and happy after a healthy, fulfilling meal. We leave for vacation next week and I am sure there will be some Panera locations where we visit. I am glad to know they will be there.

Panera Fun:

Don’t forget to follow Panera on Facebook

Follow Panera on Twitter @PaneraBread

Register for a My Panera card and enjoy awesome free stuff!

This is a compensated review program with Panera Bread

March 8, 2011

The Motherhood Cooking Connections Re-cap!

Last week I participated in a great cooking class with The Motherhood regarding picky eaters. It was so much fun to spend an hour chatting with friends and guests about ways to placate picky eaters and expanding their palate. Here is a summary of the show. It included so many great talking points, here are a few of my favorite take-aways I hope will help you!

Picky Eating is Normal!

As Stacie from One Hungry Mama said:

– There’s an evolutionary explanation for some picky phases. (some phases come at times of increased mobility, when baby might be exploring places without mama or papa immediately nearby to protect them. Pickiness, natural skepticism of new foods, prevented the cave baby from putting just about anything – like a poisonous berry – in baby’s mouth)

Just Try It

Many participants use the “one-bite rule” to get their kids to try a food before simply refusing it.

“Our rule is you just need to take a full size bite, chew, swallow and then say, ‘Yes, please’ or ‘No, thank you,’” said host Jennifer Leal, Savor the Thyme.

And Keep Trying It

“Always introduce food several times in several forms,” said host Kelsey Banfield, The Naptime Chef. “Kids will pick up on it eventually.”

“It can take upwards of 6-10 tries for a child to accept a new food – so it’s super important to the course by repeatedly serving healthy foods (openly!) and modeling eating them, too,” added Stacie Billis. “Even when they say they don’t like them!”

February 12, 2011

Panera in Winter

Panera Logo

One of the great things about Panera Bread is that it is always open for lunch, no matter the weather. The other week when there was a snow day and my babysitter couldn’t make it in I needed something to do with my daughter so we went to Panera for lunch. I always steer clear of taking her to junky fast food restaurants, but Panera is one place I never even think about driving to. I know each time we go our meal will be made fresh with quality ingredients. That kind of assurance as a diner and a mother is priceless.

February 5, 2011

Cinnamon Blueberry Waffles and a Valentine’s Day Waffle Maker Giveaway!

Heart shaped waffles

Like my friends at Big Girls, Small Kitchen, I think that breakfast is often an overlooked opportunity to woo a loved one. I mean, dinner and all that is great, but breakfast is the best way to start off the day. Why not start it off right with a delicious romantic meal?! Our breakfasts are rarely romantic these since our daughter is often munching away on her cereal while chatting our ears off about her upcoming day at school, but no matter. I just include her in the mix and go all out with a fabulous meal anyway.

heart shaped waffle maker

This Valentine’s Day I’ll be serving some fabulous heart shaped waffles for breakfast. Does this relate to naptime cooking at all? Yes! Because I make my homemade mix during naptime the day before. I used to use my mix to make regular shaped waffles on the waffle maker I borrowed from my parent, but then I received this amazing heart shaped waffle maker from my friend’s at King Arthur Flour and the whole game changed. Now I mix up my favorite batter and cook our waffles into heart shapes. My daughter gets a kick out of the whole thing and my husband graciously accepts my cheesy romantic overtures in waffle form. What can I say, sometimes being breakfast is the perfect occasion for silly romance!

Since I think we all should be getting in the spirit of romantic breakfast I am giving away a heart shaped waffle maker courtesy of King Arthur Flour! Entering is simple and fun! Also, stay tuned for some great waffle recipes this coming week. Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 1, 2011

Congratulations to our Crisco Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Brenda Y., the winner of our Mediterranean Inspirations Giveaway!