Spaghetti Pie Casserole with Sausage and Cheese

I have a recipe up over on Recipe.com for this totally delicious Spaghetti Pie Casserole with Sausage and Cheese. It combines my family’s love of both pasta and pizza and was a huge hit. Plus it’s high in protein, comes together easily, and is really kid-friendly.

I can’t wait to make it again!

Get the recipe here.

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New Work, February

I have some new work on newsstands that I thought I’d share today. The first is a story in the February issue of Better Homes and Gardens. It’s Valentine’s Day crafts made by the incredibly talented ladies at Alabama Chanin. I was lucky enough to get to travel to their studio for the shoot and it brought back all sorts of memories of making my wedding dress.

I have a few stories in the current issue of DIY, including this stunning story on making paper flowers that Leslie Poyzer produced. Writing up such pretty projects really doesn’t feel like work!

And if you’re looking for some new recipes, this recipe for Banana Cocoa Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is up on recipe.com. It’s low in added sugar making it a great option for a kid-friendly dessert.

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Introducing…

If you know me, you know that I love cooking for and feeding my little girl. The process of figuring out how and what to feed her, especially after she turned one, was a challenging process though, as I imagine it is for most parents. So after many months of thinking about it, I launched Yummy Toddler Food as a place to share recipes, feeding tips, and real world experiences of feeding toddlers. Most 1-3 year old’s can’t (and shouldn’t) always eat the same food as us adults or even older kids, so the recipes are geared towards them—though they are yummy enough for the whole family, I promise.

Click here to check out the new site!

 

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Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts and Oatmeal Cookies

I have two recent posts up on recipe.com that I have to share with you. The first is for Lightened Up Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts—made in the doughnut pan that I am totally obsessed with. These are baked, rather than fried, so they are actually not as diet-busting as you might fear. They are moist, full of apple flavor, and are really good slightly warmed through.

The second post features a recipe for Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Fruit. I almost never make a cookie without adding some sort of chocolate, but I kept these simple with just dried fruit (apples and cranberries) and they are a comforting treat for this time of year. They are slightly lower in fat and sugar than many standard oatmeal cookie recipes, but the flavor and texture doesn’t suffer at all. Check out the recipe here.

 

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Toddler-Friendly A-Frame Graham Cracker Cabins

We had a few friends over this weekend to make gingerbread houses and it was the most successful play date we’ve had to date. The girls were 2.5, 3.5, 4, and 7 and this activity was perfect for all of their attention spans. The houses wound up being graham cracker A-frames, rather than gingerbread (because the idea of baking enough pieces to make four houses was entirely not appealing), but we all loved how they turned out. Here’s what we used:

Houses: graham crackers and hot glue. Each girl got an ice cream cone tree to decorate (or eat, in Linden’s case). You will need about one package of graham crackers per house, though get extra since some will break as you work.

Icing: this recipe or this one (if you can find meringue powder). I made a double recipe, divided it by four, and put each portion into a quart-size zip top bag. We snipped off one corner and the girls each piped icing onto their house.

Toppings: pretzel sticks, Cherrios, banana chips, pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds, dried cranberries, natural marshmallows

I definitely recommend assembling the houses ahead of time and letting the kids focus on the decorating because that’s really the fun part. I choose natural toppings because I knew that they’d eat as they worked and I wanted to at least limit some of the sugar intake. The icing may have defeated that purpose, but in the end, the monotone palette of these turned out to be super sweet and modern!

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DIY Advent Calendar (and Advent Ideas for Toddlers)

We always had the paper advent calendars when I was growing up and I remember that every third day (since I alternated with my siblings), getting to open the little box was so exciting. And it was just a photo inside! I have been wanting to have a pocket calendar for Linden ever since she was born (because I’ve long since love this one) and this year I finally got around to making one.

I didn’t do anything fancy—I simply found fabric that I love and sewed on little strips, then used decorative stitching to make seams—and some of my edges might still be unfinished. But there are hits of metallic thread and the pockets are big enough for small treats. And it adds a bit of holiday fun in the dining room, which is nice to see everyday.

Here are a few things that I tucked inside:

a bag of beads for us to string into a necklace
box of raisins
a roll of washi tape (so far, her favorite!)
tiny dark chocolate bars
a little ruler (because she likes to use the ones at school to make straight lines)
little colored pencils
holiday socks
a stamp (so we can make her teachers holiday cards)
activities like going to the nutcracker, making cookies with mama, or going to the library

And the one in the bigger pocket for Christmas Day? Bunny treats! I figured she would enjoy her absolute favorite treat on the most special of holidays.

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Baked Cocoa Blueberry Doughnuts

I have been wanting a doughnut pan for ages, which is funny, considering that I haven’t had an actual doughnut in years. I think I’ve stereotyped them as far too sweet for my taste buds, but I assumed that I could make them at home with a flavor profile that was more to my liking. So when I had the chance to get myself an early holiday gift, I opted for this Wilton pan and made my first batch within 24 hours of it arriving on my doorstep.

This recipe was inspired by the one in the Weelicious Lunches cookbook. That recipe had raspberries and regular flour; this one has blueberries and is gluten free. I’ve also added cocoa powder—I have a bag of this kind and wow, the flavor is so good—for a bit more depth and reduced the sugar by more than half. The pan made 6 doughnuts , though you only see 5 in these images because I ate the missing one warm out of the oven this afternoon with a small glass of milk. Miss Linden ate most of one for dessert tonight and declared, “I like it!”. (Which came after she had spit out the squash risotto I had made after taking a small bite…).

I plan to make another batch of these after holding the batter in the fridge overnight—because it’d be so great to have these warm for breakfast, without having to measure ingredients with bleary eyes. And I might even purchase a mini doughnut pan since that size would be better for kiddos. I’ll let you know how each of those ideas turns out.

In the meantime, I’m content to warm up one of the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.

Baked Cocoa Blueberry Donuts
Makes 6 full size donuts

1 1/4 cup gluten free flour blend* or whole wheat pastry flour (omit chia seeds if using regular flour and skip the resting time called for in Step 1.)
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 T cocoa powder
2 T butter, melted
2 T brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup whole milk
1 t vanilla
1 T chia seeds
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1. Mix all ingredients except the blueberries together in a medium bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes. Stir in blueberries.
2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a regular size doughnut pan. Spoon batter into a quart zip top bag, remove as much air as possible, and close. Snip one corner and pipe batter into doughnut pan, filling each almost full. Bake for 12 minutes, or until firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Serve warm soon after baking if possible.

Variations:
Use blackberries or raspberries instead of blueberries.
Skip the berries and add chocolate chips.
Drizzle with melted chocolate or dust with powdered sugar.

*I have a gluten free flour mix that’s 200 grams almond flour, 200 grams buckwheat flour, 350 grams rice flour, and 350 grams arrowroot starch. I use it for pancakes, muffins, and now, these donuts. It’s hearty and flavorful and really filling. You can try this recipe with a store bought GF flour mix or use regular flour (see note in the ingredient list).

 

 

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Iced Pumpkin Cookies with Cranberries and Chocolate

With the first snowfall of the season a few days ago, it’s really starting to feel like the holidays are here. I’ve started sewing an advent calendar, making gift lists, and stocking the freezer with food for a few social events coming up next month. And since it’s not the holidays without baked goods, I tried out a new recipe for pumpkin cookies that I wanted to share with you. These are cakey and moist, yet are very easy to whip up. They are just as good plain as they are frosted, and make for a crowd-pleasing dessert option either way.

Check out the recipe for Iced Pumpkin Cookies with Cranberries and Chocolate Chips here!

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Maple Cornmeal Muffins

I’ve had a goal to make a gluten free corn muffin that’s as good as those made with regular flours for a while now. Of all of the breads that I bake, corn muffins (and cornbread) is what I want the most during the chillier months. So after a bit of experimentation, I think I hit that mark with this recipe.

We love corn muffins alongside soup, stews, and chili—or warmed with eggs in the morning or on their own as a snack. I particularly love this recipe because (in addition to being delicious) each muffin is filled with protein and complex carbs, so they are more nutritious than the standard white flour variety. Plus, these muffins are moist and just a little bit sweet, with the pleasing texture that you’d expect from a corn muffin. You can make them sweeter with an extra drizzle of honey on top (and a smear of butter wouldn’t hurt either!), or spread with your favorite nut butter.

Maple Cornmeal Muffins
Makes 12 large muffins

2 cups cornmeal
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 t salt
3 t baking powder
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup melted butter, slightly cooled
4 eggs
2 T-1/4 cup maple syrup (depending on your preference)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a standard muffin tin.
2. Combine the cornmeal, almond flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Whisk the applesauce, yogurt, butter, eggs, and maple syrup in a separate bowl. Gently stir the wet ingredients in the dry until combined.
3. Portion into muffin cups, filling almost to the rim, and bake for 25-27 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 2 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled, as you like.

Variations:
Use canola or coconut oil in place of the butter.
Try honey instead of maple syrup.
Add in 1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries.

*Have little ones around? Try this recipe in a mini muffin tin. Just cut the baking time down to 16-18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

 

 

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Sweet Baked Apples

I recently made Sweet Baked Apples for recipe.com and it was such a good way to use some of the apples that we picked at a local orchard. The apples were fairly small, so they cooked quickly, and they made for a pretty delicious dessert—and breakfast, alongside thick plain yogurt, the next morning. My girl may have picked out all of the raisins before going near any of the apple, but it was still a great opportunity to talk about the memories of our orchard adventure. And fruit is fruit, right?

Get the recipe here.

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