Welcome to our blog

Our hope is to provide a forum for mothers, fathers,and caregivers to discuss ideas, share insight and "pay it forward". Neither of us attended Medill school of journalism and we are not psychologists. We are just two women who have cared for aging grandparents and diapered littleones. We will share our experiences, tips and questions with you. Please share back. We need all the help we can get!

Kirsten and Katie
Co-founders ChicksWithKidz

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Holiday Card dilemma

There is a lot of pressure at this time of year to get that perfect holiday card with the perfect picture of the perfect family. (I won’t even go into the Christmas letter)
I’ve done the picture card for many years. I always put a lot time, energy and thought into selecting the picture and the card.
But this year, I’ve been really busy, really stressed. I tried several times to upload a photo (or two!) to a site, to get that perfect card. I spent time selecting the photo, the card etc.. but it just wasn’t happening.
So I made the decision that it just wasn’t worth the additional stress to get the card done, addressed, stamped, sealed and mailed.
I decided to send the same picture but send it via e mail.

I sent the “card” out to friends and family and the response has been immediate and amazing!
I’ve received replies from friends wanting to catch up, connect and comment on the photo. (You never hear from people after you put that card in the mail!)

I’ve gotten e mails hailing me as “ahead of my time”, “queen of technology” and “being green”. Friends have even said they are going to jump on the e mail card bandwagon. (It seems everyone is running a little late and is very stressed this year).

So who knew I was starting a revolution!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Easy Recipes...

For holiday entertaining – these are my go to, never fail (EASY!), family favorites, recipes –

Turkey Wrap
1 pkg large fajitas
2 containers Aluoette vegetable cheese spread
1/2 lb sliced turkey

spread the cheese on the fajita
place the turkey on top
roll up
wrap in Saran Wrap
refrigerate for 1 hr or overnight
slice and serve
(makes about 40 slices)

Chicken Dip
3-4 boneless chicken breasts - cooked and shredded
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup Franks Hot Sauce
1 jar Marie's Blue Cheese Dressing

mix all together
bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and slightly brown
serve with tortilla chips

Totellini & Pesto
1 pkg tortellino
1 container pesto sauce
1 container sour cream

cook pasta until almost done - drain, rinse in cold water
mix pesto and sour cream
refrigerate both tortellini and sour cream mixture for 1-2 hrs. or overnight
serve in chip and dip bowl w/ toothpicks

Apricots and Blue Cheese
1 package of Sunsweet Apricots
fill indentation in apricots with small spoonful of blue cheese
serve at room temp.

Baked Brie
1 round of Brie
1 Tbsp. Craisins (dried cranberries)
3 or 4 dried apricots – sliced ---- optional
Granulated brown sugar

Place the brie in the freezer for 1 hr.
Using a knife, remove the white rind.
Grease a small baking dish
Break up the brie into the baking dish and sprinkle the
Cranberries and apricots throughout.
Bake in a 305 degree oven until melted and bubbly (about 10 – 15 minutes)
Sprinkle w/ brown sugar.
Serve warm

Artichoke Dip

2 cans (14 oz. each) artichoke hearts
1 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
½ cup Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350
Chop artichoke hearts coarsely
Mix mayo, sour cream and parm cheese.
Add the chopped artichoke hearts and mix thoroughly.
Pour into ungreased baking dish.
Bake for 20 minutes,
Serve hot.

Cheesy Bread
½ baguette, cut into 2 inch slices
½ small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/8 lb thinly sliced, cooked ham
¾ cup white wine
½ tsp black pepper
1 ½ cups grated Gruyere Cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees F
Place the bread in a buttered, ovenproof skillet or a 9 in sq. baking dish
Scatter the onion and ham over the bread
Pour the wine over the mixture
Sprinkle with the pepper and Cheese
Bake until the cheese has melted and begun to brown, about 20 mins.

Vegetable Salad Bars

1 can crescent rolls
1 pkg. (8oz) cream cheese
1 pkg. DRY ranch dressing
2 rounded tsp sour cream
2 rounded tsp mayo

½ small head cauliflower
½ sm bunch broccoli
2 sm carrots

Shredded Cheddar, Swiss or Monterey cheese

Shred the veggies in a food processor

Unroll the crescent rolls and lay out on the jelly roll pan – pinch together the seams
Bake as suggested
Let cool

Mix together cream cheese, dressing, sour cream and may – you can let this sit overnight.

Cover roll with cream cheese mixture
Pat on shredded vegetables
Sprinkle with cheese
Press firmly

Cover w/ Saran Wrap and refrigerate
Cut into bars and serve.

Will keep for several days

Tortilla Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion – chopped
2 garlic cloves – minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ tsp cumin
2 jalapeno peppers – finely diced
2 scallions – chopped (green & white parts)
5 cups chicken broth
2 cups diced chicken or turkey (pre cooked – get rotisserie from store)
1 cup frozen corn
At least 1 can kidney beans
2 Roma tomatoes
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips
Sour cream

Heat olive oil in large stockpot over medium heat.
Add onion, garlic, cumin, cilantro, jalapeno & scallions.
Cook for 2-3 minutes
Add chicken broth and bring to a boil
Simmer covered for 20 mins
Add beans, diced chicken, tomatoes & corn
Serve in bowls and garnish with more tomatoes, cheese, tortilla chips & sour cream

Breakfast Casserole

2 cups shredded cheese
¼ cup butter
1 cup light cream
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
2 t dry mustard (Coleman’s)
12 eggs slightly beaten
1 lb sausage – optional
Can use spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, whatever

Spread cheese in baking dish
Dot with butter
Combine cream, S & P, & mustard.
Pour half cream mixture over the cheese
Add beaten eggs
Add sausage
Pour rest of cream over top
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes – until bubbly

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas books for children

I thought I’d share some of my family’s favorite Christmas books.
(And these are in no particular order)
Happy Holidays

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

Alabaster’s Song by Max Lucado

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojceichowski

Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audrey Wood

Santa’s Book of Names by David McPhail

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry

Snowmen at Night
Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner,

This is The Star by Joyce Dunbar

Santa Calls by Willam Joyce

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck

Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve by Jan Brett

I’ve Seen Santa by David Bedford

The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett

Santa Mouse & Santa Mouse Where Are You by Michael Brown

Bright Christmas, an Angel Remembers by Andrew Clements

Rocking Horse Christmas by Mary Pope Osborne

How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Cookie Party Times Two

~About 10 years ago a neighbor and I decided to co-host a ladies holiday tea and cookie exchange. It started out as a lovely affair with a few neighborhood ladies. We used our holiday china to serve finger sandwiches and appetizers. Wine and wassail served in our good crystal, and we used cloth napkins and tablecloths.
Over the years it has developed (turned into!) a huge, much more laid back event with contests and prizes.
One year there were over 70 women. Who thought that having 70 women in my house would be fun?? The number of people wasn’t really the problem, the fact that each person had to bring at least 3 dozen cookies was. There were cookies everywhere – counters, tables, on the piano, the sofas, and chairs – basically any flat surface had cookies on it. And it took forever to distribute them.
That year I swore I wouldn’t do it again. Well, I did do it again, and again. It has been scaled back and now it is so much more fun. We serve wine in plastic cups and use paper plates and napkins.
We have contests and prizes - most Martha Stewart like, my kids’ helped (obviously!), most festive, best in show. The prizes are ribbons, cookie cutters, and the “big prize” is the golden spatula. The spatula gets passed from year to year to the winner of the best (worst!) overall.
My husband and kids love all the cookies we get, there is just no way I would (could!) make that many or that variety of cookies.
And it just wouldn’t be the holidays without the cookie party!
So again this year, we are off to host the cookie party. Tis the Season!

~The second holiday cookie party is the teacher/staff appreciation party that I started years ago at one of my kids’ school. It has now become a wonderful tradition that the teachers and staff wouldn’t dare let go away.

Here’s how it works ---
We ask each family to send in 2 dozen cookies. The cookies can be purchased, baked and even sliced and baked – it doesn’t matter, just as long as you send in cookies. (It is strictly voluntary but most families participate.)
After lunch on a Friday afternoon, we decorate the lunch room and spread out all the cookies.
We serve milk to go with the cookies and we play holiday music.
We give each teacher, staff member, janitor, etc. a box and let them fill it with any and all cookies they choose. Any leftovers are put in the teachers lounge/staff room for everyone to enjoy.

This is such a great way to say thank you to all the people that touch the lives of the students. And really, who says thank you to the person that cleans the building, or the teacher that your child sees only once a week?