How to Tame Toy Clutter Once & for All

A Full Plate is a column about family life and the home by contributing writer Laura Fenton, who explores the intersection of sustainable living and home design through a mother’s eyes.

“Mama, I don’t play with these, you can donate them,” my son an…

A Full Plate is a column about family life and the home by contributing writer Laura Fenton, who explores the intersection of sustainable living and home design through a mother’s eyes.


Mama, I don’t play with these, you can donate them,” my son announced as he carried a box of beautiful wooden blocks out of his room. His birthday is coming up, and clearly, my message about donating a few toys to make room for new ones had gotten through. Of course, I had in mind the flimsy plastic cars and rubber ducks that had crept home from parties and the dentist, but the truth is, I could count on my hands how many times the Montessori-approved blocks had been deeply played with. So, I put the blocks in our “to donate” bin and made a mental note to spirit away some of those cars later.

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How I Cook for Myself & My Baby—at the Same Time

Before having my baby, Reva, in June, I imagined my maternity leave would be long strolls in the park, simmering pots of beans on the stove, and hunkering down with my husband every night to catch up. Boy was I unprepared.

No, I didn’t imagine the fir…

Before having my baby, Reva, in June, I imagined my maternity leave would be long strolls in the park, simmering pots of beans on the stove, and hunkering down with my husband every night to catch up. Boy was I unprepared.

No, I didn’t imagine the first two months would be one very long nursing session. I didn’t realize I would be jumping from question to question, Googling at 2 a.m., checking my child’s pulse for no reason at all. I didn’t think I would actually use The Nursing Mother’s Companion when I bought it, or that the book would lay open on my kitchen table, stained with milk drops and dog-eared beyond repair. Night after night, two things remained constant: the presence of new-mom paranoia, and an intense lack of sleep.

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Lockdown in Paris – plus some easy recipes for kids

Hello, Emily here. We are now on day 27 of official lock-down in Paris and day 32 since we decided to stay home with the kids. With other cities and countries also implementing stricter social distancing measures, I thought I would share our routine, favorite recipes and ways to pass the time, and hopefully pick up some ideas from you in the comments below! –Emily…

Hello, Emily here. We are now on day 27 of official lock-down in Paris and day 32 since we decided to stay home with the kids. With other cities and countries also implementing stricter social distancing measures, I thought I would share our routine, favorite recipes and ways to pass the time, and hopefully pick up some ideas from you in the comments below!

Emily

Lockdown in Paris – plus some easy recipes for kids

With a one-year-old, an eleven-year-old and a dog (not to mention I am also 6-months pregnant, which is wonderful, but can be overwhelming even during the very best of times!) in a Parisian-sized apartment, we had to quickly adapt to keep things manageable. I am self-employed so am working hard to keep my clients for as long as possible while supervising cyber-school and an Evel Knievel-like mini daredevil, who has just learned to walk. My husband Jérémy is also working from home but at a much more structured 9am-7pm job that is continuing as “normally” as possible. Renovations were scheduled to start on an extension to our apartment next week, to accommodate our rapidly growing family, but they are now on hold indefinitely as we try to figure out how best to welcome our upcoming baby with our current living situation. 

Continue Reading Lockdown in Paris – plus some easy recipes for kids...

Being Quarantined With My Kids Isn’t What I Expected

Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the novel coronavirus. This is a tough time, but we’re here for you—whether it’s a new pantry recipe or a useful tip for your kitchen, here are some ideas to make th…

Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the novel coronavirus. This is a tough time, but we’re here for you—whether it’s a new pantry recipe or a useful tip for your kitchen, here are some ideas to make things run a little more smoothly for you and your loved ones.


I’m a mom of four. There are six of us living in our house. One of us is a 15 year-old-girl who tested 98 percent extroverted on the Meyers-Briggs, and one of us is an 8-year-old boy who runs instead of walking, and yells out everything he says.

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What Makes the Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich?

A perfectly executed grilled cheese sandwich relies on a number of factors, the most important being: textural contrast, cheese that melts, and avoiding burnt toast at all costs. Read More >>

How to Make a Grilled Cheese on Food52

A perfectly executed grilled cheese sandwich relies on a number of factors, the most important being: textural contrast, cheese that melts, and avoiding burnt toast at all costs.

Read More >>

Peanut Butter Dip

Wow, do people love this one! This healthy peanut butter dip is just 4 ingredients and tastes like frosting! Perfect for dipping apples, pretzels or fruit. Want our best healthy snack trick? This peanut butter dip! It’s just 4 ingredients and somehow tastes like frosting. Really, Alex and I were surprised the first time we tasted it. How is this so good, yet so simple? It’s works for any occasion: a quick snack for kids, a family party, or a big snacks table. Or if you’re me, use it for a sweets craving after a meal! I’ve been making it for me and our toddler Larson, and it disappears in a flash. This is a go-to healthy treat for us: and we’re thrilled to share with you. What’s in this peanut butter dip? The other day, Alex and I feed our son Larson some apple slices with peanut butter. I joined in too, but the peanut butter was so thick it was hard to dip the apple slices and get it to stick. What if I made a peanut butter apple dip? I asked. Something creamier so it’s easier to dip? I threw together a few things in our fridge […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Wow, do people love this one! This healthy peanut butter dip is just 4 ingredients and tastes like frosting! Perfect for dipping apples, pretzels or fruit.

Peanut butter dip

Want our best healthy snack trick? This peanut butter dip! It’s just 4 ingredients and somehow tastes like frosting. Really, Alex and I were surprised the first time we tasted it. How is this so good, yet so simple? It’s works for any occasion: a quick snack for kids, a family party, or a big snacks table. Or if you’re me, use it for a sweets craving after a meal! I’ve been making it for me and our toddler Larson, and it disappears in a flash. This is a go-to healthy treat for us: and we’re thrilled to share with you.

Peanut butter dip

What’s in this peanut butter dip?

The other day, Alex and I feed our son Larson some apple slices with peanut butter. I joined in too, but the peanut butter was so thick it was hard to dip the apple slices and get it to stick. What if I made a peanut butter apple dip? I asked. Something creamier so it’s easier to dip? I threw together a few things in our fridge and pantry, and we took a bite. Whoa, said Alex. It tastes like frosting! Somehow what I threw together tasted weirdly good, and we’ve been making it ever since. Here are the secrets behind this peanut butter dip (scroll down for the quantities):

  • Greek yogurt: Use plain, full fat Greek yogurt for the best creamy effect
  • Peanut butter: Use all natural peanut butter if you have it! But whatever you have will do.
  • Pure maple syrup: None of the fake stuff! Use pure, all natural syrup.
  • Vanilla extract

That’s it! Mix them together, and you’ve got the tastiest bowl of apple dip.

Peanut butter apple dip

A quick tip: how to cut apples FAST!

OK, perhaps you already know this trick. But I made it into my 30’s without knowing the fastest way to cut apple slices. (PS Now that I’m a parent, this skill is clutch!) I use to think that I should core the apple with an apple-corer. Or, cut the apple into quarters, then use a paring knife to scoop out the seeds. Not needed! This trick is way easier. See the video below (but you don’t need to peel the apple in this case!).

  1. Holding the core of the apple, use a large chef’s knife to slice off four sides of the apple, cutting as close to the core as possible.
  2. Take one of the quarters and place it flat side down on the cutting board. Then cut it into thin slices.
  3. Repeat with the remaining quarters!
How to slice apples

What else to serve with this dip besides apple?

Green apples are our absolute favorite way to eat this peanut butter dip! I’m partial to the sweet tart taste of a green apple, so it’s our top choice. It also makes it a very healthy snack option. But if you’d prefer to dip with something else, here are all our dipping ideas:

  • Mix of green, red and yellow apples (looks stunning!)
  • Pineapple chunks (here’s how to cut a fresh one)
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwi slices
  • Pretzels (the sweet and salty would be perfect!)
  • Graham crackers (you know how people do that with frosting? Here’s the healthy version!)

Our readers always have great ideas for how to serve things! What else would you serve with this peanut butter dip?

Peanut butter dip

When to serve peanut butter dip

We love tricks like this peanut butter dip that work for so many different occasions! But if you’re like us, you easily forget about this idea when you’re on the spot. Like, you get invited to a party with a “bring a snack or side to share” note. Alex and I easily forget what’s in our arsenal (and we do this for a living!). Here are lots of times when it’s great to make this apple dip:

Peanut butter apple dip

A few similar dips!

Outside of this peanut butter dip, we have a few more options of quick and easy dip recipes that are similar! Check out these if you want a variation on this one:

  • Cinnamon Yogurt Fruit Dip Our classic fruit dip flavor! Flavored with vanilla and cinnamon, it comes together in 5 minutes.
  • Pumpkin Yogurt Fruit Dip A seasonal flavor! This pumpkin yogurt fruit dip tastes like fall.
  • Chocolate Hummus A sweet hummus that’s a unique dip for fruit and pretzels! It’s always a hit with guests when entertaining.

This peanut butter dip is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

Print
Peanut butter dip

Best Peanut Butter Dip (4 Ingredients!)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6

Description

Wow, do people love this one! This healthy peanut butter dip is just 4 ingredients and tastes like frosting! Perfect for dipping apples, pretzels or fruit.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Crushed peanuts, to garnish (optional)
  • Green apple slices, to serve (or pretzels, strawberries, pineapple chunks, graham crackers, etc)

Instructions

  1. Mix the Greek yogurt, peanut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract together in a bowl until smooth.
  2. Serve with green apple slices.

  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Healthy

Keywords: Peanut Butter Dip

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Butternut Squash Pasta

Everyone loves this butternut squash pasta! It’s covered in a creamy sauce blended with garlic, spices, and goat cheese. Top with Parmesan & serve! Say hello to our new favorite way to eat squash: this butternut squash pasta! Alex and I have been on quite the run of healthy pasta recipes lately, from creamy cavatappi with hidden cauliflower to our best ever vegan lasagna. But could you make room in your heart for your more? Because this one is darn good. Tender butternut squash is pureed into a creamy sauce with garlic, spices, and goat cheese. It’s savory with a sweet undertone, and the perfect sauce to cover al dente pasta. It’s a little like mac and cheese, but a little sweeter and loads healthier. What’s in this butternut squash pasta? The ingredients in this butternut squash pasta are simple: the squash carries a lot of flavor and color for the sauce itself! Here’s what’s in it: Butternut squash Olive oil & vegetable broth for sauteing and simmering the squash Garlic to bring big flavor Chili powder and nutmeg to add complexity Goat cheese to add creamy body Other than salt and pepper, that’s it! It’s quite simple to make. […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Everyone loves this butternut squash pasta! It’s covered in a creamy sauce blended with garlic, spices, and goat cheese. Top with Parmesan & serve!

Butternut squash pasta

Say hello to our new favorite way to eat squash: this butternut squash pasta! Alex and I have been on quite the run of healthy pasta recipes lately, from creamy cavatappi with hidden cauliflower to our best ever vegan lasagna. But could you make room in your heart for your more? Because this one is darn good. Tender butternut squash is pureed into a creamy sauce with garlic, spices, and goat cheese. It’s savory with a sweet undertone, and the perfect sauce to cover al dente pasta. It’s a little like mac and cheese, but a little sweeter and loads healthier.

What’s in this butternut squash pasta?

The ingredients in this butternut squash pasta are simple: the squash carries a lot of flavor and color for the sauce itself! Here’s what’s in it:

  • Butternut squash
  • Olive oil & vegetable broth for sauteing and simmering the squash
  • Garlic to bring big flavor
  • Chili powder and nutmeg to add complexity
  • Goat cheese to add creamy body

Other than salt and pepper, that’s it! It’s quite simple to make. The only time consuming part is chopping the squash…

Butternut squash

The best way to cut butternut squash?

OK, we know butternut squash can be a pain to cut! It’s worth it in the end, but it can be stressful to wrangle. We’ve created a video to show you just how to do it! The main pointers are that we cut off the neck of the squash, then peel both halves. Then you’ll cut them each into strips, then squares. It’s much easier to watch, so here’s a quick video of How to Cut Butternut Squash!

Fresh vs frozen butternut squash

Let’s say you want to shortcut the chopping part. Can you use frozen butternut squash instead of fresh? Yes! Frozen butternut squash makes this recipe a breeze, and cuts the prep time! With frozen butternut squash you can make this recipe in about 30 minutes. Are there any differences in the recipe? The only thing that you’ll have to pay attention to is the amount of broth that’s added in the blender. Keep reading…

Butternut squash pasta

Main tip: add splashes of broth until a creamy sauce forms!

Once you’ve cut your squash, you’ll saute it with garlic, then simmer it with the veggie broth, chili powder and nutmeg until it’s tender. Then you’ll dump it all in a blender and whiz it up! At this point, the ability of the sauce to blend will depend on the freshness of the squash and whether it’s fresh or frozen. So, add additional splashes of broth until the puree blends into a creamy sauce! Then, you’ll add the goat cheese and blend again: the goat cheese adds the final flavoring and creamy body.

What to serve with butternut squash pasta

And that’s it: a creamy, healthy butternut squash pasta full of nutrients and a total crowd pleaser! Our son Larson is very into this one (he calls it “mac and cheese”). While we’re not the type of people to secretly hide vegetables, we enjoy that this gets him to eat his veggies! To make it into a meal, here are a few easy side dishes that we recommend:

  • Easy Arugula Salad This easy arugula salad is fool-proof: you don’t even need to make dressing. It comes together in minutes!
  • BEST Kale Salad This is the BEST way to eat kale! A dressing of lemon, garlic and Parmesan cheese transforms kale into tangy goodness in this Tuscan kale salad.
  • Easy Garlic Bread Wow, is this easy garlic bread tasty! It’s crunchy on top, chewy on the inside, and full of flavor: the perfect side to go with pasta.
Squash Soup
If you’re looking for other squash recipes, this Curried Butternut Squash Soup is a stunner.

Some favorite butternut squash recipes

Alex and I are big squash fans over here! Confession: we used to skip it in favor of sweet potatoes because they were so much easier to prepare. But today, it makes frequent appearances in our fall and winter repertoire. Here are a few more favorite butternut squash recipes:

This recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

Print
Butternut squash pasta

Butternut Squash Pasta


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8

Description

Everyone loves this butternut squash pasta! It’s covered in a creamy sauce blended with garlic, spices, and goat cheese. Top with Parmesan & serve!


Ingredients

  • 1 pound penne pasta (or gluten-free pasta)
  • 4 cups diced butternut squash (1 small) or frozen
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, plus more for blending
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for the garnish
  • Finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, for the garnish

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside). When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot.
  2. Peel and dice the butternut squash. Mince the garlic.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the butternut squash and saute 5 minutes. Add the garlic for 30 seconds. Add the broth, chili powder, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Cover and bring it to a high simmer, bubbling constantly. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the squash is tender.
  4. Carefully transfer all the contents to a blender and blend until creamy, stopping and adding additional splashes broth as needed to come to a creamy texture (the exact amount will vary based on the freshness of the squash). Add the goat cheese and blend again until a creamy sauce forms.
  5. Stir the sauce into the pasta. Serve immediately, garnished with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Butternut Squash Pasta

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

pumpkin scones

Pumpkin Scones These scones are a family favorite, and might be what we wake up to this Christmas morning. “If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.” —Lucy Larcom NOTES: Putting another baking sheet nestled directly underneath the one t…

Pumpkin Scones These scones are a family favorite, and might be what we wake up to this Christmas morning. “If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.” —Lucy Larcom NOTES: Putting another baking sheet nestled directly underneath the one the scones are on helps keep the bottoms of the scones from browning too quickly before they fully bake. If you like the bottoms extra crisp, you can just use one pan. 2 ¼ cups (320 g) all-purpose flour 1/3 cup (66 g) sugar 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground ginger ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg ½ teaspoon salt ½ cup unsweetened pumpkin puree 1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing 1 large egg 1 large egg yolk ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks; 170 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½-inch pieces Maple Icing 1/3 cup pure maple syrup 1 cup (113 g) confectioners’ sugar ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract Pinch salt Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Stack two baking sheets on top of each other and line the top sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, […]

The post pumpkin scones appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

The Best Buttermilk Waffles, Courtesy of a 6-Year-Old

Welcome to More Ketchup, Please, our newest series that’s spilling the beans on all the different ways we cook for, and with, our kids. We’ve got some great guests stopping by to get schooled by their little ones on how to perfect family favorites. The…

Welcome to More Ketchup, Please, our newest series that’s spilling the beans on all the different ways we cook for, and with, our kids. We've got some great guests stopping by to get schooled by their little ones on how to perfect family favorites. The more (cooks) the merrier? We think so.


Clara Stubbs has never really left the kitchen. And she’s only 7. As a toddler, she sat across her mom (and co-founder of Food52), Merrill Stubbs, while she stirred things on the stove. Or played with the wooden spoons. These days, she invents family food traditions.

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The No-Cheese, No-Sauce Pasta Amanda Hesser & Her Kids Eat on Repeat

Welcome to More Ketchup, Please, our newest series that’s spilling the beans on all the different ways we cook for, and with, our kids. We’ve got some great guests stopping by, to get schooled by their little ones on how to perfect family favorites. Th…

Welcome to More Ketchup, Please, our newest series that’s spilling the beans on all the different ways we cook for, and with, our kids. We've got some great guests stopping by, to get schooled by their little ones on how to perfect family favorites. The more (cooks) the merrier? We think so.


If it surprises you how self-sufficient Amanda Hesser’s 12-year-old twins Walker and Addison are in the kitchen, then you probably haven’t read Cooking for Mr. Latte. The 2003 cookbook with memoir is an account of how her husband went from being a man with an empty refrigerator when they first met, to a pasta-making supremo after they had kids. If you have read Mr. Latte, then it’d be perfectly logical to expect this love of food and fearless cooking from her kids, whose starter lessons in the kitchen began when they were little.

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