Lemony grain salad: An easy, healthy BBQ side dish

One of the many reasons I love summer: the laid-back, no-frills approach to summer entertaining. BBQs are the quintessential summer party, and for good reason: Guests bring whatever side or dessert they can throw together (or pick up from the store on the way over). You can grill just about anything. And summer BBQs give ample opportunities for a gal like me to practice making a signature healthy side dish like this lemony grain salad.

This lemony grain salad is an easy, healthy side dish to bring to a BBQ this summer! can also be made gluten-free. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

First off, I bring some version of this lemony grain salad to just about every BBQ and potluck we go to in the summer. (Sorry, guys, I hope you haven’t gotten tired of it yet!) I do it because it’s delicious and friends usually end up asking me how to make it—and because this easy, healthy, vegetarian BBQ side dish is so forgiving. 

You don’t have cucumbers? No worries, throw in some radishes—or whatever you have in the vegetable drawer! You like your dressing on the sweeter side? Go you! Add some honey. You’re gluten-free? No prob, use quinoa for the grain base!

Because this recipe is so flexible, I don’t usually follow a recipe—but the last time I made it, I actually measured ingredients instead of eyeballing it. So I am super excited to share my bona fide recipe for lemony grain salad.

This lemony grain salad is an easy, healthy side dish to bring to a BBQ this summer! can also be made gluten-free. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Sushi with kids: How to get picky eaters to try sushi

You CAN go to sushi with kids, even picky eaters. Here's how! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

When my mother-in-law was visiting recently, I wanted to take her out to dinner as a thank you for watching Kiwi and Peeper while I worked. She loves sushi but lives in semi-rural Michigan—not exactly a mecca for delicious combos of rice, nori and raw fish. So I suggested we go out to a local sushi restaurant with the kids—something I was semi-terrified to do, considering they are picky eaters.

I am actually shocked at how well sushi with kids went! The girls ate (a bit), and my mother-in-law ate a lot. (“You don’t like roe? More for me!”)

If you’re feeling brave, I have some advice, dear parent of fussy eaters. Here are my suggestions on how to get picky eaters to try sushi!

Even picky eaters can eat sushi! How to get fussy eaters to try anything. Ten Thousand Hour Mama
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Pretty Christmas cookies: Chocolate Candy Cane Pinwheels

Roughly 95% of the time I make cookies, I go for chocolate chip. They’re sure to please, I pretty much have the recipe memorized and I just drop scoops of dough onto a cookie sheet before—ta-da!—gooey chocolatey deliciousness. But for a Christmas cookie exchange party, I wanted to up my cookie game a bit. So I got all inspired and created these tasty, festive and pretty Christmas cookies: chocolate candy cane pinwheels!

Chocolate candy cane pinwheels are PRETTY Christmas cookies—and so festive! Ten Thousand Hour MamaVersion 2These chocolate candy cane pinwheels are festive, pretty Christmas cookies—perfect for a cookie exchange party! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Dark chocolate, sugar cookie dough and candy cane chunks come together in something that tastes just right at the holidays.  Read more

How to bake with kids

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Warm muffins, melt-in-your-mouth rolls and all the pumpkin spice you could wish for: hello fall! Now that autumn days are cooler and crisper, I’m ready to take my oven out of its summer retirement. It’s no wonder that Peeper has been wanting to help me in the kitchen, too: She asks to help me make muffins at least once a week.

Of course a preschooler’s “help” in anything, especially an activity that involves dumping large quantities of messy flour, requires a certain amount of air quotes. But she loves it—and inviting a child to participate in choosing, preparing and serving food can encourage her to make healthier food choices in the future, according to research. (Um, do chocolate chip cookies count as a healthy food choice?)

Through plenty of experience, I have come across tips on how to bake with kids—without them losing a finger on a hot oven (or you losing your mind).

How to bake with your kids - fall cookies & pumpkin spice muffins, here we come! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Chocolate strawberry pops {Kid friendly recipe}

Welcome back, strawberry season. And hellooooooooo chocolate strawberry pops!

If you haven’t been stuffing your face with fresh, just-picked, locally grown strawberries, what the heck have you been doing? Just walk by the farmers market and you’ll smell strawberries warming in the sun.

And it’s u-pick season! If you’re in the Portland area, check out this article about the best u-pick berry farms from PDX Parent.

Now, the girls and I aren’t opposed to simply eating strawberries plain by the pint. But if you’re looking for a healthy dessert your kids can help make, you’ve found it. Recipe below!

Chocolate Strawberry Pops Healthy Dessert Recipe Read more

5 tips to make bomb twice-baked sweet potatoes

Tips for Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Eggs

Twice-baked potatoes were one of my favorite dinners when I was growing up. I’d wait impatiently for them to bake and snag a top—a little piece of potato skin with melted cheese—as soon as they were out of the oven, inevitably burning my mouth. But it was so worth it!

Why I love twice-baked sweet potatoes

When figuring out what meal to bring another new mama friend (something was in the water about 9 months ago—I have so many friends who just had babies!), I thought back to how comforting twice-baked potatoes were and decided to make a batch—but with sweet potatoes. I love their flavor and all the extra vitamins and antioxidants that accompany their orange flesh.

Because I’m so bad at feeding myself, I made extras for my family, of course.

I love twice-baked sweet potatoes because you can throw in whatever you have on hand. I added onion, broccoli, peppers, tofu and cheese—not a bad combo, if you ask me. I considered whipping up a recipe to post here but the beauty of twice-baked sweet potatoes is that you don’t need a recipe. Just bake the potatoes, scoop and mash the insides, saute a combo of veggies-meat-whatever you need to use in the fridge, and bake ’em all again until heated through—usually around 20 minutes. That said, who couldn’t use a few tips to make even better twice-baked sweet potatoes? Read more

Awesomesauce pear sauce [recipe]

In case you haven’t looked out your window recently, know this: It’s fall! The best time of year! The season that smells like crisp leaves and votive candles burning inside pumpkins! The months when you get to snuggle in sweaters and flannel and cozy PJs! The time you dress up and eat candy or stay smugly inside and laugh at the fools who spend all that time and energy just to be uncomfortable in their costumes!

There aren’t enough exclamation points!

Picking pears - Ten Thousand Hour Mama IMG_4896

To take advantage of glorious autumn, we took a trip to the orchard and picked a bucket-full-o’ pears. Red and green Bartletts were in season, and they were easy to pick from the low branches at Sherwood Orchards. Eric was good enough to be primary Peeper wrangler while I focused on picking pears. Because we needed a lot of pears—pears for this almost-too-easy-to-be-true spiced pear sauce.

This spiced pear sauce recipe is insanely easy and tastes just like fall. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more