little things that work: simple Christmas shapes for sandwiches

gingerbread shaped sandwiches

ALL YOU NEED IS ONE BIG COOKIE CUTTER plus five spare seconds and lunch will be served with an equally large smile. (Save the outside of the bread to make eggs-in-the-hole later in the week. Another smile, coming right up.) I have a gingerbread, a snowflake (a ghost and a pumpkin too) and doing this one… 

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spicy pasta with chicken, spinach and goat cheese

chicken, butternut squash pasta

I’M BREAKING A PRETTY BIG RULE HERE. The idea of making two meals, one for the kids and another for the adults, is just too exhausting for me to even consider on most days. But for our Halloween lunch, I decided to spare the moms those mummy turkey dogs. Instead we adapted a recipe from… 

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halloween party food for preschoolers

halloween lunch trays

SHHH. SINCE WE’RE NEW TO THE U.S. this year, we’re skipping trick-or-treating…because our kids don’t really know what it is. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to dress up! So we had four friends over on Friday–a ballerina princess, a super hero, a unicorn-pegasus and a fairy princess, plus Pooh and Piglet (Tigger was… 

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spooky spider eggs

spooky spider egg, foodlets

THIS IS MY SECOND FAVORITE PINTEREST IDEA, from our Healthy-ish Halloween Ideas for Kids board. Like the string cheese witches’ brooms, they’re absolutely adorable but also…shockingly easy. My girls are egg people. They love eggs. Hard boiled eggs. Egg salad sandwiches. Scrambled eggs. So I knew this would be a hit. And it was. For… 

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tomato, basil & spinach soup with cheese tortellini (and bat croutons)

tomato, basil and spinach soup with cheese tortellini

DEAR INA GARTEN, YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU and your amazing recipes, but I can no longer spend 45 minutes roasting tomatoes BEFORE the soup making process truly begins. That is because there are three small crazy people living in my house now. I can however, make a simpler (and healthier) version of your wonderful… 

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even healthier pumpkin spice mini muffins

more healthier pumpkin muffins

THESE MUFFINS STARTED IT ALL. The first time I made our pumpkin spice mini-muffins in Rome, I knew we were on to something because the kids liked them, but I loved them. Finally a decadent tasting baked good that I didn’t have mixed feelings about. So we made spin-offs: carrot cake muffins, sweet potato muffins and more. But the original… 

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Ina Garten’s gazpacho becomes kid-friendly watermelon gazpacho

watermelon gazpacho, kid-friendly gazpacho on

SOME RECIPES FOLLOW YOU wherever you go. The Barefoot Contessa’s gazpacho is one of them, and I’ve been making it longer than I’ve been a parent. Maybe even longer than I’ve known Paul. There were big batches blended up in small New York City apartments, at least as many in Rome and now our first… 

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little sandwiches for lunch: rollie pollies kids can’t resist

peanut butter and jelly rolly pollies on Foodlets

THERE’S USUALLY A WAY TO MAKE it more interesting, but not always time. I went to a parents’ discussion at our local library last night, something that made me feel extremely grown-up, where the social worker who was speaking described parenthood in two ways: sometimes it’s about surviving, other times we’re thriving. Immediately I thought… 

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tomato & cheese tart

tomato and cheese tart

THIS WAS THE HARDEST RECIPE I’VE MADE in a long time. But I did it. And it was delicious, at least two parents and one preschooler thought so. Baby George and Estelle who is two, begged to differ. But here’s my theory: Phoebe helped me make it and when you’re a kid in the kitchen,… 

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how to pack amazing school lunches kids love, Katie Morford’s best tips

Best Lunch Box Ever by Katie Morford

UGH. THAT’S THE SOUND OF MOST PARENTS MAKING SCHOOL LUNCHES. But not Katie Morford. Katie heads up the popular blog, Mom’s Kitchen Handbook: Raising Fresh-Food Kids in a French-Fried World and just wrote a new book with a promising title, “Best Lunch Box Ever“. Brimming with fresh, creative ideas that look just as tasty as they… 

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An easy pop of color, half way to eating the rainbow

Colorful foods in the fridge

THEY SAY YOU SHOULD EAT THE RAINBOW, and when I say “they” I mean everyone from Grover to Oprah and Michelle Obama, also the editors of Whole Living and you know, the US Cancer Society. OK, we’re listening. But also, we’re very busy and that sounds complicated. Like a lot of shopping and chopping and possibly quite… 

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The best roast beef sandwiches you’ll ever have

roast beef sandwiches with gorgonzola spread

THESE PLAYDATE SANDWICHES WERE MADE WITH ON-THE-GO EATING IN MIND. Admittedly, they were more for the moms and dads than kids–who got turkey sammies smothered with honey mustard and mayo spread–but on this blustery fall day in Rome, every parent not only commented on how good they were, but couldn’t stop talking about the roast… 

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ham, cheese and apple melts

Ham, cheese and apple melts

RECENTLY I’VE GOTTEN A LOT MORE STRATEGIC ABOUT MAKING LUNCHES AND DINNERS. Our kids are so small that we always have tons of leftovers. And while none of us are crazy about eating the same thing over and over, I’ve found that many meals can be made into something tasty later in the week. That’s… 

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Frittata with spinach, pancetta & ricotta (a Barefoot Contessa makeover)

spinach, peppers and pancetta fritatta

MY BIG INDULGENCE IN ITALY, other than one trip to the Gucci outlet and one million bowls of gelato (which was probably more expensive in the long run!), has been an international subscription to the Food Network magazine. I’ve definitely learned a lot from Italians when it comes to food, family and the combination of… 

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Lentil sausage soup with spinach (a Barefoot Contessa lentil soup makeover)

Lentil sausage soup with spinach up close

IT’S HERE! I LOVE SOUP SEASON. Even though the Roman weather keeps playing tricks on us–one day it’s cool and crisp, the next is so hot and humid that everyone is sweating before we leave the house–we’ve started making soup. And even better, we’ve started freezing soup too. This recipe makes more than enough to… 

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no-cook dinner: antipasto with ham, cheese, breadsticks, melon and more…

proscutto e melone

IT’S BEEN OVER 90 DEGREES EVERY DAY in Rome for weeks. This is a normal summer in Italy but that doesn’t mean we’re not melting! Particularly those of us from the Pacific Northwest where it simply doesn’t do this. Ever. My Floridian husband, however, is soaking up the sun, humidity and all the heat for… 

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