Jessie’s Ultimate Lunchbox Resource (FREE!)

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Jessie's Ultimate Lunchbox Resource |

I’ve been packing and sharing bento-style lunch boxes for my kids for over three years now. Every time I share a picture on Facebook or Instagram, I get a lot of, “Can you come make my lunch?” “How do you do this?”

If you know me at all, you know I wouldn’t do it unless it were pretty easy.

I love getting a little creative with my kids’ lunches, and they truly seem to appreciate it. I’m not great at many parenting things (playing on the floor, for example), but I love food and I want my kids to like good foods, too.

We’re working on that. They are all fairly picky eaters, which I’m sure you can tell from these lunch pictures.

My lunches certainly aren’t all healthy or homemade foods. They are just foods my kids will eat, the best I can do, with a little dose of fun.

So I’ve put together this PDF with pictures of 60 of our lunches, outlining what’s in each one, links to recipes if the items are homemade, and some how-to recipes throughout. They are all packed in either a PlanetBox Rover or a BentoGo Kids box. It also has a recipe index, links to all the tools I use in packing lunches, and a letter from me that might answer some of your questions.

And I’m giving it to you for free, because I want you all to be able to pack great lunches, too! I hope this will be a resource you can peek at if you are lacking in lunch box inspiration and just need a fresh idea that won’t take long to throw together.

Click here to open the PDF! (If you want to download and open in Adobe, you may need to right-click and pick “download linked file.”)

Jessie’s Ultimate Lunchbox Resource

Hey Y’all, It’s #CookoutWeek!

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So, it’s summer. And you know what that means: picnic, barbecues, camping, parties, and of course, cookouts.

{In full disclosure, I don’t do a lot of grilling myself. And most of it’s inside on a grill pan. We live in an apartment, our grill is up some stairs, down some stairs, etc. Plus it’s not working this summer anyway. But I love to eat what other people grill!}

Cookouts aren’t just about grilling, though, are they? I mean, I’m basically there for deviled eggs. Do you have any cookout obsessions?


This week I’m taking part in a fun round-up called #CookoutWeek, thanks to some great sponsors and the ladies at The Pintertest Kitchen. I had a good time back during #Choctoberfest, so I thought it was well-worth the recipe-creating investment to participate!

So along with about 50 of my blogging buddies, I’m talking about #CookoutWeek, and we even have a sponsored giveaway you can enter.

It’s super easy to enter, and one lucky winner will get:

It’s pretty much everything you need to host an awesome cookout this summer. It’s a prize pack worth over $300! Thank you so much to all of the wonderful sponsors listed above, who have made #CookoutWeek possible.

Enter now:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget to check back throughout the week with all of the bloggers participating to get some yummy #CookoutWeek recipes. Here’s the full list of participating bloggers:

The PinterTest Kitchen2 Cookin’ MamasA Day in the Life on the Farmaddicted 2 recipesAimee Broussard & Co.Amy’s Cooking AdventuresAngels Home Sweet HomesteadBakin’ and EggcerptsBalancing MotherhoodBody RebootedCheese Curd In ParadiseCindy’s Recipes and WritingsCook With 5 KidsCook. Craft. Love.Cookaholic WifeCricket’s ConfectionsCrumb: A Food BlogEat, Drink, Be Healthy!Everyday EileenFairyburgerFood ParsedGet the Good Stuff!Goodie GodmotherHezzi-D’s Books and CooksHome in the Finger LakesJennifer CooksJessie WeaverKate’s Recipe BoxLife on FoodLittle House Big AlaskaLittle Scratch KitchenMaking MiraclesMoore or Less CookingRhubarb and HoneySavvy In The KitchenSeduction in the KitchenSimple Food 365Style IslandThanks for Cookin’!The Food Hunter’s Guide To CuisineThe Hungary Buddha Eats the WorldThe Spiffy CookieThe Weekday GourmetThis is How I CookTramplingroseVintage KittyWest Via Midwest

I’m looking forward to sharing with you about True Made Foods and the delicious recipe I made with their Veracha sauce later this week. Stay tuned!

Recipes to Bring Sunshine to Your Winter

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When winter comes, I get kind of sad about food. There just isn’t the abundance of bright vegetables and fresh berries available that are there in the summer and into the fall.

What is available, though, is fresh citrus. Oranges are less expensive; you can get three lemons for a dollar. I am a little citrus-crazy, because it just makes everything taste so good. And like sunshine! So here are some of my favorite citrus-y recipes (with a mango one thrown in, because it feels sunshine-y to me, too) to help bring some light into your winter. Enjoy!

Lemon Cake Donuts

Gluten-Free Lemon Cake Baked Donuts

Mango Upside-Down Cupakes

Mango Upside-Down Cupcakes

Lemon Cake and Crumbs

French Lemon Yogurt Cake

orange-coconut sweet rolls

Orange-Coconut Sweet Rolls

Coconut Lime Cake

Coconut Lime Cake

Tilapia with Honey-Tangerine Sauce

Tilapia with Honey-Tangerine Sauce

lemon and white chocolate mini-muffins

Lemon and White Chocolate Mini-Muffins

A few other favorites:

Do you have any favorite “sunshine-y” recipes?

Cooking with Kids and The Motherhood

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You might remember that on June 15, I helped co-host an online cooking class with The Motherhood about cooking with kids. You can find a complete recap on their site.

Here are some of the highlights if you couldn’t make it to the class:

When the school year ends, most kids want to use summer vacation for playtime and forget about “learning” for a while.  But learning doesn’t need to be about sitting still, reading books and doing homework – interacting in the kitchen can make learning FEEL like playtime.

“We use cooking as a teaching opportunity in many aspects,” acknowledged Stacie, The Divine Miss Mommy.

Ways to incorporate learning into fun kitchen time:

Practice reading and comprehension: Ask your child to read the recipe and help you follow it to prepare the dish.

Practice math skills: All recipes use basic math like counting, measuring and following step-by-step instructions.

“I love teaching my daughter about measuring since they are covering that in school. It kind of sticks in your head easier when you understand 1/4 or 1/2 cup, etc,” said Tammy, Tammy’s Two Cents.

“Even my 2-year-old can work on her counting! ‘We need 2 cups of flour…’” added Jessie, Vanderbilt Wife.

Kids can start helping in the kitchen from a very young age – it’s just about assigning age-appropriate tasks.

Toddlers can help by snapping green beans in half, tearing up lettuce or helping you mix batter by hand. Grade-school kids can begin measuring dry and liquid ingredients, cracking eggs, juicing lemons, etc. Work out a progression of skills in the kitchen as your children grow.

“Fruit kabobs, veggie kabobs are great for little hands to assemble, or a good teriyaki chicken kabob can be assembled by the older kids,” noted Vanessa, The Sew*er, The Caker, The Copycat-Maker.

“My toddler loves dumping things into a mixing bowl (coordination!), counting, stirring, placing items (like on a pizza),” suggested Jessica, Vanderbilt Wife.

Jenna, A Mom’s Balancing Act, added, “My 3 year old loves helping wash the vegetables.”

And rounding out the toddler skill set, “When my youngest was two, she could set the table, hand us utensils and we even let her stir. She loved it!” said Stacie, The Divine Miss Mommy.

Going beyond quality time and healthier eating, there are a whole host of benefits to cooking with your kids, and you can find many of them in this article from Web MD:

Additional tips for cooking with kids (shared by Jessica, Vanderbilt Wife):


I would definitely encourage you to attend one of the cooking classes at The Motherhood if you’re ever able. I always enjoy chatting about food, everyone gives great suggestions, and the sponsors chip up some fun prizes! There aren’t any scheduled right now that I can tell, but keep a lookout.

The Motherhood chat was sponsored by ConAgra, and I was compensated for my time.

Wordless Wednesday: Mulberries

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I picked these beautiful berries off the tree in our backyard. It’s one of the things I really like about our rental house. Last year I just let the birds pick the berries; this year I grabbed some for me!

These are really delicious. A friend and I made some mulberry freezer jam with them, and I felt so Betty Crocker. My hope for this summer is to move on to canning tomato sauce and pizza sauce. High aspirations!

Added to Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Sometimes You Feel Like Breakfast, Sometimes You Don’t

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Congratulations to the $10 PayPal winner, thight!

Or is that just my problem?

I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. Except for those times my dad made us breakfast so we could be smart for tests or big days at school, I rarely ate much, if anything, before I headed out the door to classes.

Then I graduated college, got married, and got a job I had to be at by 7:30 a.m. I soon realized that if I didn’t eat breakfast, I would be gnawing my arm off by 9 o’clock. And if I didn’t eat the right things, arm-gnawing would commence as well.

A white bagel with jelly might get me two hours before I was starving again. A homemade breakfast burrito on a whole-wheat tortilla? I wasn’t even hungry at 11 o’clock, my usual lunchtime. Behold the power of protein and fiber!

Last week I was asked to help co-host a chat at The Motherhood about having a healthy breakfast. That link will take you to a recap of the chat, and here are some of the highlights I’ve gleaned for you:

  • Think outside the breakfast box. There’s no reason you can’t serve your kids half a turkey sandwich for breakfast if that is what they will eat. Christine shared that her son has an egg allergy and looking to other sources for breakfast protein will work for their family. Libbie often asks for peanut butter and jelly for breakfast, and as long as it’s on whole wheat I don’t see a reason not to oblige. (We also use natural peanut butter and simply fruit-type jams.)
  • Concentrate on dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. These are the four nutrients Americans are likely not getting enough of, according to the new Dietary Guidelines. Great sources of fiber can be fruit with skin, flaxseed, beans and legumes, and vegetables. Sneaking veggies and flaxseed into your food can be fun! My Chock Full of Healthy Muffins have apple, carrot, flaxseed meal, AND oat bran. What a way to stuff some fiber in your face early in the morning!
  • You NEED breakfast. It helps refuel your body after a night’s sleep, kick-starts your metabolism for the day, and should supply about 20% of your dietary needs each day.
  • Make breakfast convenient. You know I am all about freezer cooking, and there is always something for breakfast in our freezer.  Muffins, pancakes, waffles, breakfast burritos, egg cups … they all freeze well. Lately we’ve enjoyed having baked oatmeal for breakfast, too; one batch can last Libbie and me a workweek.

Are you a breakfast person? Leave me a comment telling me what you had for breakfast this morning and I will pick one commenter to win $10 (given through PayPal) that you can use to buy ingredients to make your favorite breakfast!

I thought outside the breakfast box this morning and had leftover ham and scalloped corn from Easter, as well as an apple.

Rules: You must either have your e-mail linked to your Blogger account or provide your email in your comment. I will pick a winner on Friday, April 29. You will need to be able to receive funds via PayPal to win.

The Motherhood chat is sponsored by Kellogg’s, and I will be compensated for my time and efforts.