Need a Little Inspiration for Halloween Goodies?

With Halloween just around the corner (less than a week away), it’s always nice to have some fun food ideas to share with the kids. Why not start the Halloween weekend off with some goodies to get everyone in the Halloween spirit? Check out a few ideas listed below that will have everyone begging for more.

Homemade Cheese Balls


Picture Credit:


  • 4 large green tortillas or wraps
  • 2 c. Cheetos, finely crushed into crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (4-oz.) package goat cheese, at room temperature
  • black pepper
  • black and green olives


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the tortillas into 24 bat-shaped wings. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry and crisp, but not browned, about 15 minutes: let cool. Line a second large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the Cheetos crumbs and seeds in separate small bowls.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, goat cheese, and pepper to taste. Using a 1 oz cookie scoop, scoop balls of cheese and round out, gently molding with your hands.
  4. Coat the cheese balls in the crumbs or seeds. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Once the tortilla wings are cool, gently press into the sides of each cheese ball. Thinly slice olives and place on top of each ball for eyes.


Jack O’Lantern Sandwich Bites


Picture Credit:


  • 1 box refrigerated pie crusts
  • 8 oz. Thinly sliced black forest ham or Virginia ham
  • 8 oz. Thinly sliced Cheddar or Swiss cheese
  • 1 large egg


  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil.
  2. Unroll pie crusts. Cut each crust into 24 pumpkin shapes with a 3” pumpkin cookie cutter. Using a 1/2” triangular cookie (aspic) cutter or a sharp knife, cut out eyes and a nose from 12 of the cutouts.
  3. Using a 2” round cutter, cut 24 rounds from the sliced ham and 24 rounds from the sliced Cheddar.
  4. Place 2 slices Cheddar in the center of each of the 12 solid pumpkins; top each with 2 slices of ham. With a small brush, brush beaten egg around edges. Top with remaining pumpkins with cut-out faces, carefully pressing on the edges to seal.
  5. Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with beaten egg. Bake 12 – 15 minutes until light golden. Let cool on rack 5 minutes before serving.


Meat Mummy Loaves


Picture Credit:


  • ¾ lb. white or yellow potatoes
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 large egs
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ c. panko or plain bread crumbs
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium carrot
  • ¾ lb. ground beef
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • 12 grape tomatoes
  • ¾ c. lowfat sour cream
  • 24 oz. Peas


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with foil liners. Place the potatoes in a pot, add enough cold water to cover, and bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp. salt, reduce heat, and simmer until just tender, 15 – 18 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire, ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper; stir in the bread crumbs. Add the garlic and carrot and mix to combine. Add the beef and pork and mix just until incorporated. Divide the meat mixture among the foil liners and push a tomato into the center of each one. Transfer to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the meat registers 155 F., 14-16 minutes.
  3. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add the sour cream and ¼ tsp. salt and mash until very smooth. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2” ribbon tip (Wilton 104). Transfer the meat loaves to a platter and pipe the potatoes back and forth over each top to resemble a mummy’s wrapping. Place 2 peas on each for eyes.

Little Ghost Sandwiches


Picture Credit:


  • 24 slices firm white bread
  • 3 c. chicken or tuna salad
  • 1 tub whipped cream cheese
  • Sliced black olives, for ghost face
  • You’ll need: 3.5 to 4.5” ghost-shaped cookie cutter


  1. Cut out ghost shapes from bread slices using the cookie cutter. Make 12 sandwiches, using a scant ¼ cup of chicken or tuna salad per sandwich.
  2. Thinly spread surface of top bread slice of each sandwich with cream cheese (about 1 Tbsp. per sandwich). Decorate with sliced olive eyes and mouths.
  3. You can make salads up to 2 days ahead and refrigerate. Short on time? Instead of making our delicious tuna or chicken salad from scratch, pick up your favorite prepared version from the deli.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

Check out all these recipes and more HERE

Back-to-school sleep tips


Summer vacation is almost over, and whether kids break from summer, winter, spring, or even a long weekend, they seem to want to stay up later. Late nights can lead to difficult mornings transitioning back into their normal school routine. It is important for parents to put healthy sleep on the back-to-school list of necessities. Here are some helpful tips to get kids prepared to go back to school.


  1. First, calculate how much sleep your child needs. Preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours of sleep. Ages 5-10 need 10 to 11 hours, and teenagers 9 to 10 hours.

  1. About 10 to 14 days before school starts, parents should gradually start adjusting their child’s bedtime schedules. Have them go to bed 15 minutes earlier each day before school starts. This will help set their circadian clock to school time. Try to also keep the same sleep schedule, even on weekends, to keep sleep rhythms regulated.

  1. Stick to an age-appropriate bedtime routine to help them wind down. For younger children this may consist of taking a bath before bed, brushing their teeth, or reading a bedtime story. For older children, they may want to read a book to relax or find a relaxation technique such as meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises.

  1. Control the sleep environment by keeping the room cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable. Electronics such as, cell phones, televisions, video games, and computers should be turned off an hour before bedtime.

  2. Limit caffeine intake after lunch or at least 6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and inhibits sleep. Healthy meals and regular exercise can help promote quality sleep.

  1. Avoid food close to bedtime, especially spicy foods that can cause acid reflux and raise body temperature, both of which inhibit sleep.

  1. Practice what you preach. Studies have shown that parents who set rules and abide by them themselves are more likely to have children follow their example. The right amount of sleep every night can help your child do better in school and help with mood and anxiety. 13717923_10205279444144540_1107853922_o.jpg

    These strategies can help you and your child have a healthy, successful upcoming school year.

Great Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Colorful_spring_gardenMother’s day is only days away. Show your mom how much you love her with a thoughtful gift straight from the heart.

  1. Plan an Outing:  Take your mom to her favorite restaurant, museum, play, movie, concert, or some other event she would enjoy
  2. Plan a Special At-Home Treat:  Make her breakfast in bed, or plan a night in, make her a delicious dinner, then watch a video and relax.morgan-making-smoothie-273x300
  3. Create a gift from things you have around the house, such as this no-sew t-shirt pillow:
  4. Make Her Kitchen Mason-Jar Herb Garden:mason-jar-planter-board-747x1024Use a piece of wood and affix the quart-size mason jars using heavy-duty stainless hose clamps, adding chalkboard strips for labeling. Place gravel or clay shards at the bottom of the jars to avoid rot.Click HERE for the full tutorial. 
  5. Paint a Tin-Can Mini Flower Pot: Transform tin cans into elegant containers for potted roses with a can of spray paint in a bright and stylish color.
  6. Give Her the Gift of Relaxation: Gift your mom a relaxing gift basket filled with assorted “tub teas.” pampering items, lotions, etc., to help with sleepless nights.
  7. Glass Vase Centerpiece:Shanty2Chic-Bottle-VaseUse recycled glass wine bottles in a pine or whitewood frame and with fresh flowers.   For a full tutorial on creating this gift, visit Shanty 2 Chic
  8. Recipe Ring:
    A great easy gift to help keep your mom’s special recipes. Type out recipes with 6” long and 4” tall dimensions so you are able to glue them onto note cards. Print the recipes onto different-colored paper. You can even color code them according to side dish, entree, dessert, etc. Cut out and glue to note cards; laminate if possible. Hole-punch the top left corner and add a ring. You can even attach a new bright spatula or whisk to the ring for a fun extra addition.  
    Click HERE for the full tutorial. 
  9. Head Outdoors:
    Enjoy the great outdoors with a trip to the park for a picnic, or plan a hike to a favorite outdoor area.
  10. Framed Memory: A picture can be worth a thousand words, so give your mom a favorite picture of you or your siblings, or even the two of you together.
  11. Send a Thoughtful Card: Skip the funny card from the card aisle at the grocery store and make your own. Include a note about how special your mom is to you.

This Mother’s Day, make sure to do a little something extra special!

10 Things We Could Do If We Didn’t Sleep In


It is 6:23 am and the alarm clock is going off again. You hit that snooze button for the 3rd time. Every extra 10 minutes of sleep feels like heaven in the morning, but is it the best use of time? Are we really getting more rest in those few extra minutes?

Instead of hitting the snooze button, there are many things we can accomplish to get a better start to our day. Here is a list of just 10 things that we could do if we didn’t squeeze in those extra minutes.

  1. Make your bedbed-1158267_960_720
  2. Enjoy your morning shower
  3. Eat a full healthy breakfast6283315247_8548ab4826_o_d
  4. Answer important emails
  5. Check the weather
  6. Pack a tasty and nutritious lunch7890484144_14045908c5_o_d
  7. Double check you have everything and are not forgetting essential items
  8. Take your time and enjoy your cup of coffee or tea, or treat yourself to a cup from your favorite coffee shop art-heart-caffeine-coffee
  9. Get to work on time
  10. Enjoy not being stressed and rushed

Start your day off right and don’t hit that snooze button. Have the peace of mind that you have everything accomplished in the morning so you can focus on the tasks of the day.

Don’t Forget Breakfast This Thanksgiving

As we gear up for Thanksgiving, we have the turkeys prepped and the menu planned. If you’re like me, breakfast is the last thing on my mind. Breakfast shouldn’t be too complicated, because from the moment the coffee is brewing, I am busy.

To help make the morning more enjoyable and less stressful, here are several recipes that are quick, easy and delicious. Some of these recipes you can make the night before and reheat that morning. They can even become a new yearly tradition.

Crustless Zucchini and Basil Mini-Quiches

2995536015_3a950ae2e4_oMakes 4 Dozen


  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil for pan
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small zucchini, grated
  • ¼ cup grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped

Heat oven to 450°F.

Prepare Batter: Put the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisking steadily, slowly pour in a 1/2 cup of milk, mixing until quite smooth. Whisk in the whole eggs and egg yolks, mixing again until smooth, then gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, the cream, the salt, and the nutmeg. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to one day. If using the next day, be sure to re-whisk.

Prepare Zucchini Mixture: In a nonstick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add grated zucchini and stir until just softened, another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Oil mini muffin tins well. Put a pinch of grated cheese, a teaspoon of zucchini mixture, and a pinch of chopped fresh basil, into each muffin cup. Pour 1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup.

Bake until the quiches puff and start to turn golden, 15-18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then carefully run a paring knife around the rim of each muffin cup. Carefully lift each quiche out of its cup.

Mini quiches freeze very well. Let cool, then freeze in a single layer in a covered container. Reheat on a cookie sheet in a 400° oven for about 5-10 minutes.

Spiced Crock-Pot Porridge

img_1555Makes about eight 1-cup servings; recipe can be doubled.


  • 2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 8 cups water
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped apricots
  • ½ cup chopped dates
  • ½ cup chopped figs or raisins
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1 orange

Toppings: Chopped roasted nuts, jam, fresh fruit, more dried fruit, milk, yogurt, leftover eggnog

Combine everything except the orange zest and toppings in the bowl of a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Set the cooker on its lowest cook setting (“LOW” or 8-10 hours), and leave overnight.

If you happen to get up during the night, give the porridge a stir as you pass by. If not, no worries.

In the morning, break up the thin film that forms over the top of the porridge and stir it in. Scrape the sides and bottom. Stir in the orange zest.

Serve with toppings. Leftover porridge will keep refrigerated for at least a week. Reheat with a little milk or water to make creamy again.

Lemon Scones


  • 2 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1 egg, plus enough milk to make 3/4 cup

  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven 425° F

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and pinch of salt in a bowl.

Add butter and mix in a processor on “pulse,” or rub together with your fingertips until it looks like a crumble or bread crumbs.

Break an egg in to a measuring cup and add milk up to the 3/4 cup mark, and lightly beat with a fork.

Add the egg/milk mixture to dry ingredients and mix just until well combined. (Do not overmix).

Feel free to add extras at this step, such as lemon zest, cranberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, raisins, pieces of apple, or currants. There are unlimited possibilities!

Place spoonfuls of the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Tip: Keep on eye on them, because depending on the size you make, they may cook more quickly. Also, leave some space in between the scones because they grow. Serve plain or with butter or jam.

Eat up and enjoy!

Healthy, Delicious, and Fresh Packed Lunch Ideas

8459976360_3c160f881d_bNow that the kids in back and school, the routines can begin again. In my house we prepare for school the night before by making sure the homework is checked, clothes are picked out, and lunch is packed. Often times, I find that we get stuck in food ruts and pack the usual sandwich and carrot sticks. To battle the food rut I look to the internet to search for new and healthy ideas, and I get overloaded with options.

Here are a few new favorite foods that are loved in our house so far:

Whole-wheat “Pita Pizza” (toasted in the toaster oven and then served cold)Pita_pizza_(17188259486)Organic Ham and Cheese Rolls

Whole-wheat waffle sandwich stuffed with fresh fruit or jelly

6995490557_690963d7ff_oPlain yogurt with a variety of delicious add ins

  • Granola
  • Peanut or Almond Butter
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Vanilla Extract and Coconut Flakes
  • Honey
  • Vanilla Extract and Mini Chocolate Chips



Frozen Smoothie

Apple with Peanut Butter

8466410432_65a56dbe8a_oWhole-wheat carrot applesauce muffins

Carrot_Cake_Muffins_(4135137580)Grilled Cheese with Pesto on Whole-wheat (served cold)

Whole-wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with Organic Cream Cheese

BLT on Whole-wheat

15169375890_5b513e327cAn other great choice that allows your child to have fun is packing lunches themselves. Here are two really terrific and yummy packed lunches from the Blog 100 Days of Real Food:

Build a Taco Lunch

  • Corn Tortilla
  • Shredded Pork Taco Meat with Bell Peppers
  • Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • and other desired sides100 Days of Real FoodConstruct a Pizza
  • Whole-wheat Pita
  • Organic Tomato Sauce
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Additional Desired Toppings such as Vegetables and Pepperoni, etc.

100 Days of Real FoodDon’t get stuck in a rut because there are a lot of great sources that help you to expand the food options you can pack in the lunches. Whatever you choose to pack, make sure it is delicious and nutritious!

The Organic Effect

What would happen if you only ate organic food? To answer just that the Swedish Environmental Research Institute IVL conducted a study on the effects of eating only organics. Watch this short video, The Organic Effect, to see the results.

The decrease in the amounts of pesticides present in the body after eating only organics is astonishing. Buying organic when possible is a great way to have less exposure to chemicals and pesticides used in conventional items. “There were a whole number of chemical removed from my kids’ bodies and I don’t want them back.”

For more information on the study and the full report, click HERE.