Chocolate-Covered Apples

Chocolate-Covered Apples

If you love the idea of handing out holiday tins of homemade cookies but your baking skills are non-existent, gourmet caramel chocolate-covered apples are the perfect solution. They’re so easy to make that your child will barely need help, but the results are delicious and look beautiful.

What You Need:

  • Apples
  • Lollipop sticks (available at crafts stores)
  • Bag of caramels (or substitute peanut butter and skip Step 2)
  • Chocolate chips
  • White chocolate
  • Rimmed baking sheet
  • Tin foil
  • Cooking spray
  • Your choice of toppings: crushed nuts, dried coconut, colored holiday sprinkles
  • Clear baker’s wrap and ribbons

What You Do:

  1. Line the baking sheet with tin foil and spray lightly with oil.
  2. Unwrap the caramels and melt according to the directions on the bag.
  3. Dip the entire apple in the caramel, spreading with a knife if it’s too thick to coat evenly. Set aside on baking sheet to cool and harden.
  4. Melt chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 15 seconds until thoroughly melted.
  5. Dip the bottom 3/4 of the apple in the chocolate and set back on baking sheet.
  6. Let cool, then drizzle with melted white chocolate.
  7. While chocolate is still soft, dip bottom of apple in your choice of toppings.
  8. Let cool thoroughly, then wrap and give!



Kate from

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Apple Cider Recipe

Apple Cider Recipe

This apple cider recipe makes a perfect drink for a cold winter day. Freshly brewed apple cider is a perennial favorite for the winter holidays, and it’s one beverage that will please both kids and adults. Preparing this concoction is a process your child will genuinely enjoy and learn from as well! As he helps you prepare this delectable winter treat, he will learn crucial cooking skills, such as measuring, knife safety, and how to follow recipe directions.

The best cider is made by brewing it all day in a crock pot, but if you’re short on time or you don’t own a slow cooker, you can use a pot and simmer it on the stove, on low, for a few hours. Make our apple cider recipe with your child this holiday season.

What You Need:

  • 1 gallon apple juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped ginger
  • 3 orange slices
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp powdered nutmeg

What You Do:

  1. Have you child use a spoon to peel the ginger before you chop it, using the edge of the spoon to cut into the peel. This method takes less skin off than using a regular potato peeler.
  2. Chop or slice the ginger into small pieces. The longer you plan to cook the cider, the larger the slices can be because they will boil down.
  3. Ask your child the orange and lemon so you can slice it up. You will want to float the slices in the cider as it cooks, and you can eat the rest of the fresh fruit or save it for other recipes.
  4. Have you child pour the juice into the pot or slow cooker. Add the sliced ginger, orange, and lemon.
  5. Invite your child to measure out the remaining ingredients and add the cinnamon stick, cloves, and nutmeg. Help him stir the concoction, cover the pot, and set the heat on low.
  6. If you’re using a slow cooker, you can simply leave the apple cider to brew overnight for approximately eight hours. If you want the cider to be done faster, set the cooker on high and cook for only four hours. On the stove, you will have to monitor the cider so that it’s simmering on low but does not boil, and you can leave it for between two to four hours.
  7. When it’s done, ask your child to choose to either strain the extra ingredients or leave them in the pot as a garnish. Ladle the cider into warmed mugs, and serve it up to guests piping hot!

For variations on the recipe, add any of the following:

  • Cardamom for a richer, spicier taste
  • Black pepper for a surprising kick
  • Maple syrup or honey for extra sweetness


Kate from

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Get Cozy This Fall With These 5 Warm Drinks

Get Cozy This Fall With These 5 Warm Drinks

Whether you want to soothe a sore throat, boost your energy or just cozy up with a hot beverage during these increasingly crisp, cool nights, these simple recipes are the perfect solution.

1. Steeped Mint-Fennel Tea

Recipe: Pour one cup of boiling water over ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds, 2 teaspoons of mint leaf and 2-3 thin slices of ginger. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes.

Why it’s good for you: This aromatic blend will naturally stimulate your senses, giving you a boost of energy. Bonus: The strong scent of mint helps with nausea and stomachaches.

Steeped Mint-Fennel Tea


2. Warm Cardamom, Vanilla & Honey Milk

Recipe: Combine 1 cup of milk (or nut milk) and ½ teaspoon of brown cardamom seeds in a small saucepan until warm. Remove the pan from heat and add 3 teaspoons of honey and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir and let steep for 5 minutes.

Why it’s good for you: Cardamom is a peppery spice known for anti-inflammatory properties. This spice has also been known to alleviate feelings of anxiety — perfect nourishment for a cold, blustery day.

Warm Cardamom, Vanilla & Honey Milk

3. Ginger-Honey Cayenne Tea

Recipe: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2-3 thin slices of ginger, 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 lemon wedge. Add ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper and stir.

Why it’s good for you: The honey and ginger mixture will help relieve sore throat symptoms, while the dash of cayenne pepper will be just what you need to clear your sinuses.

Giner-Honey Cayenne Tea

4. Warm Pineapple Ginger Punch

Recipe: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup pineapple juice, 3 thick slices of ginger, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 whole cloves and a dash of pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy.

Why it’s good for you: Pineapple is an excellent source of bromelain, an enzyme that alleviates indigestion and can even help clear your sinuses.



Warm Pineapple Ginger Punch

And Finally…

5. Warm Water with Lemon

Recipe: Combine juice of half a lemon with 1 cup of warm water.

Why it’s good for you: Don’t be fooled by this recipe’s simplicity. Drinking lemon with warm water can give you a boost of vitamin C and potassium, help with digestion and act as a natural diuretic.

Warm Water with Lemon



Kate from

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Games – On line or Broad Games

Games – On line or Broad Games

On line games

I love playing Video Games, and not just candy crush and playing Guild Wars 2.  But on line games have been going to use keyboards more than mouse. I don’t use the keyboard much. Heroes of Might and Magic V, Rune Scape.


German-style board game

I got into German style board games.I like them a lot more than on line games.

Here is why I like them.

A German-style board game, also referred to as a German game, Euro game or Euro-style game, is any of a class of tabletop games that generally have simple rules, short to medium playing times, indirect player interaction, and abstract physical components.[1] Such games emphasize strategy, downplay luck and conflict, lean towards economic rather than military themes, and usually keep all the players in the game until it ends. German-style games are sometimes contrasted with American-style games, which generally involve more luck, conflict, and drama.[2]

German-style games are usually less abstract than chess, but more abstract than wargames. Likewise, they generally require more thought and planning than party games, such as Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit, but less than classic strategy games, such as chess and Go.

German-style games tend to have a theme (role-play element or a background story)—more like Monopoly or Clue, rather than poker or Tic Tac Toe.[4] Game mechanics are not restricted by the theme, however—unlike a simulation game, the theme of a German game is often merely mnemonic. It is somewhat common for a game to be designed with one theme and published with another, or for the same game to be given a significantly different theme for a later republication, or for two games on wildly different themes to have very similar mechanics. Combat themes are uncommon, and player conflict is often indirect (for example, competing for a scarce resource).

Example themes are:

  • Carcassonne – build a medieval landscape complete with walled cities, monasteries, roads, and fields.
  • Puerto Rico – develop a plantation on the island of Puerto Rico, set in the 18th century.
  • Imperial – as an international investor, influence the politics of pre-World War I European empires.
  • Bruxelles 1893 – take the role of an Art Nouveau architect during the late 19th century and try to become the most famous architect in Belgium.[5]

While many titles (especially the strategically heavier ones) are enthusiastically played by gamers as a hobby, German-style games are, for the most part, well suited to social play. In keeping with this social function, various characteristics of the games tend to support that aspect well, and these have become quite common across the genre. For example, generally German-style games do not have a fixed number of players like chess or bridge; though there is a sizable body of German-style games that are designed for exactly two players, most games can accommodate anywhere from two to six players (with varying degrees of suitability). Six-player games are somewhat rare, or require expansions, as with The Settlers of Catan or Carcassonne. Usually each player plays for him- or herself, rather than in a partnership or team.

In keeping with their social orientation, numbers are usually low in magnitude, often under ten, and any arithmetic in the game is typically trivial.

Playing time varies from a half hour to a few hours, with one to two hours being typical. In contrast to games such as Risk or Monopoly, in which a close game can extend indefinitely, German-style games usually have a mechanism to stop the game within its stated playing time. Common mechanisms include a pre-determined winning score, a set number of game turns, or depletion of limited game resources. For example, Ra and Carcassonne have limited tiles to exhaust.

Designers of German-style board games include:


Kate from

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Make Up – Wear or not to wear

Make Up – Wear or not to wear

A few weeks ago, I decided to stop wearing makeup for awhile. If I were being partially honest I would say this decision was based on the hot weather and humidity, which caused any makeup I applied to promptly slide off my face in an unsightly Maybelline mudslide.

I thought my makeup hiatus would last a few days, but I ended up enjoying the barefaced lifestyle so much that I didn’t open my makeup bag for two full weeks. This might not seem like a long time, but I’ve worn makeup almost every day for many, many years. A makeup-free vacation, weekend, or random weekday wasn’t uncommon for me, but to give it up for 14 days in a row for no particular reason was definitely a major adjustment. I learned some things about makeup, and about myself, in the process…

“Getting ready” time is important, even if it doesn’t involve makeup. When I took makeup out of my “getting ready” equation, I discovered I could be out the door in about 10 minutes (get dressed, de-frizz hair, locate keys — Boom! Done!). But one thing I realized during my makeup hiatus was that even though it was nice to streamline my routine, I actually missed the chunk of time I spent in front of the mirror. Leisurely applying my powder and mascara allowed me ample time to wake up, have a few solo dance parties, and mentally steel myself for the day. Now I know that even if I’m not wearing makeup, I still prefer to give myself a generous chunk of morning prep time.

Skincare is more important than makeup. Before my makeup hiatus, I put minimal energy into taking care of my skin and maximum energy into covering up any skin issues that arose from my negligence. Going without makeup made me want to switch up my priorities. The more TLC I give to my skin, the less makeup I want/need to wear.

 Removing eye makeup is a pain in the ass. When I wore makeup daily, spending a few minutes every night removing said makeup was just a given. No matter how tired I was, I knew I’d have to prop myself up in front of a mirror and wipe away my eyeliner and mascara — and I couldn’t rush it too much either, because hello, eyelashes are fragile. You know what’s awesome? Just being able to splash your face with water and go to bed. I could really get used to that. In fact, I kind of did get used to it during my makeup hiatus, and now taking it off seems even more annoying/time-consuming than usual.

I love the feeling of the sun on my bare face. This wasn’t a huge epiphany, because I don’t wear makeup on beachy vacations, but it was so nice to feel the sun on my face while doing everyday things like running errands or taking walks through my neighborhood. (Oh, and just in case my dermatologist is reading this, of course I was still wearing sunscreen!)

There are two very different reasons I wear makeup. One reason is rooted in self-expression. I might have the urge to play with a fun eye shadow color or wake up feeling kind of vampy and want deep red lips to match my mood. The second reason is rooted in insecurity and the belief that I don’t look good enough without makeup. The two weeks I spent not wearing any makeup really highlighted the difference between these two motivators for me. There were days that I felt like wearing makeup because I wanted to define my eyes for a night out or just really missed my hot pink lip gloss, and there were other days when I wanted to wear makeup . Ideally, I’d like my daily makeup habits to be motivated by creativity and expression rather than fear and self-doubt. It’s a challenge, but I think I’m on the right track.

Kate from

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Planning Family Time

Planning Family Time

Busy families everywhere are settling into the school year. September is a time for everyone in the family adjusting to new and often hectic schedules, routines and activities. Here are some ideas to help you and your family prepare for smooth running days ahead.

With everyone having different schedules, and needs, it’s important to keep track of everything so that things don’t get lost in the cracks. Preparation and planning again are crucial to a smooth running ship. A few minutes here will save you many headaches.

The Family Calendar and Bulletin Board

For those of you who like to have the written calendar in front of you or on the go, there are number of styles to choose from that you can drop in your purse or keep on your desk. For those of us drawn to on line tools, setting up an on line family calendar using sites like Google Calendar may be the way to go. On line calendars like Google Calendar can be accessed from home, work and even phone, and can be shared with and updated by all family members, as well. Time is precious… so is your family and your job. Use available tools to plan your day and your week accordingly, and find time to spare, just for you.

Essential in keeping everyone’s schedule in one place to avoid those double bookings or even worse, forgetting/missing an important event. A family calendar and bulletin board center allows you to keep track of reminders for yourself, due dates, parents’ night, etc. Using a different color pen for each person’s obligations is a good way to catch your eye and help the younger ones to know their schedule. Keeping a family calendar up-to-date will not only help you stay on top of things.

Make Family Time a Priority by Scheduling it into the Family Calendar

Give it the attention it deserves! When you make a doctor’s appointment, it always gets written on the calendar. Well, your family is just as important, and sometimes you may simply need to schedule family time into your week and mark it on the family calendar to make sure it happens. Time passes quickly and if you don’t plan time to share with your family, it will continue to speed by and you will have lost opportunities to build and strengthen your family bond.

Some Tips:

Your children need to know you value them and that your time with them is a top priority for you . You make kids feel valued by spending regular time with them.Of course, with busy and sometimes conflicting schedules of family members, time together is not always easy to come by. One way to ensure that you and your children spend time together is to block out time on your daily and weekly calendars to be with them, just as you would schedule a meeting with an important client. Some families set aside a regular time each week for family get-togethers. For example, keep Sunday afternoons free for family outings, day trips, hiking, going to movies, a dinner out and the like. It will help you stay bonded together.

You might want to designate one evening a week as family night. Explain to your children that this is a time for family activities and conversation. Plan to feature something interesting each week. It might be miniature golf or a baseball game; other times it might be an evening at home with games and popcorn.

Carefully evaluate your family activities. Simply wandering around a shopping mall as a form of family entertainment on weekends can leave everyone feeling unsatisfied and put the emphasis on wrong values. Instead of the mall, substitute active, family-centered activities such as a trip to a museum, a walk in the woods or a visit to a park or arboretum.

Family time can also mean getting work done together. Rather than dividing up household chores, let everyone help cook dinner, clean up the kitchen or do yard work, laundry and maintenance projects around the house. Not only will your children get to spend time with you, but they will learn to do new things and observe their parents working.


Remember to also Make Time for Yourself

With all you’re doing, you need a break too! Make sure to set aside time on the calendar for YOU. What hobbies or things do you like to do? What gives you a little extra boost? Perhaps it’s a walk on the beach, a scrap-booking class, or an undisturbed soak in the tub. Whatever you do, just do it! Remember the age-old saying – “If mama ain’t happy — nobody is.”

Take a look at your schedule. Make sure that you pencil in time for “quality of life” things with your family, as well as for yourself. A few minutes of preparation will go a long way in terms of maintaining connections and fun along with all the other tasks of life. So, plan them out, put them on the family calendar and JUST DO IT!

Kate from

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Tips to get organized for the holidays

Tips to get organized for the holidays

The holidays can be hectic and overwhelming at times. However, if you manage your activities and your time properly, you can have a peaceful and enjoyable holiday season. Follow these tips to get and stay organized.

I need to work on begin organize.

Make a holiday task list

Start by creating a master to-do list with everything you need and want to get done over the next several weeks. Use whatever system works for you, whether that’s an on line calendaring program, a voice-activated system on your smart phone or a large wipe-off calendar in your kitchen. Items you might want to include in your holiday task list include:

  • Christmas card list
  • Church events
  • Decorations
  • Gift shopping (budget, wish list, wrapping)
  • Party planning (guest list, menu, etc.)
  • School activities
  • Travel plans

Once you have created a main list of tasks, break each one down into smaller pieces and place deadlines for each piece on your calendar. Give yourself plenty of time in case you run into any snags along the way.

Maintain your focus

Don’t get overwhelmed this holiday season. You don’t have to say yes to every invitation. Maintain your focus and stick to events and activities that are meaningful to you and your family. Enlist the help of your hubby and kids to keep the house as neat and organized as possible. Don’t sweat the small stuff — it really doesn’t matter if you haven’t swept out the pantry or dusted the blinds this week.

Delegate some of the tasks on your to-do list to those who are willing to help. For example, it might be worth it to you to pay the teen who lives up the street $50 to do all your gift wrapping. Also, be sure to take time out for yourself. The holidays aren’t intended to be about a bunch of stress and obligations — you are supposed to enjoy them.

Create a command center

Here are more way to get organized for the holidays.

Organizational expert, fashionista and author of Lists for Life, Rory Tahari offers these helpful tips to get organized this holiday season. Tahari recommends creating a centralized command center in your home to manage all the activities.

  • Choose an area in your home that can be a designated command center. Pick any space that works for you, whether it is a home office or just a small corner in your family kitchen.
  • When it comes to arming your space, less is more. Don’t clutter your area with unnecessary items and instead, opt for fewer items that promote productivity and efficiency.
  • Manage all of your family’s after-school activities, sports games and holiday parties in one centralized calendar. Assign an area for each member of the family so that everyone can take a look back at the calendar for a quick reminder.
  • With all of the coming and going at different times in my family, Tahari and her family often communicate through Post-it® Notes. Leave the kids friendly reminders, create holiday shopping lists and jot down phone messages on Post-it® Notes. They have a set space where they stick their notes. Tahari says the Pebble Collection by Karim is sleek and she loves that it blends in with her home decor.
  • Tahari dislikes loose papers lying around, so she have a filing system for bills, receipts and even the kids’ school work. She assigns Post-it® Pockets for each family member. They stick conveniently to almost any surface and are suitable for any location.
  • Tahari could not live without her scanner. When she’s finished with any paperwork, she scans each document before it can be recycled.


Kate from

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

10 Reasons You Should Eat Blueberries Every Day

10 Reasons You Should Eat Blueberries Every Day

Life is crazy. Overs scheduled, nerve-racking and harried. And yet we all know that eating healthfully has to be a priority. Fueling your body with the best nature has to offer helps cope with those stresses and feel energetic, nourished and clean on the inside and out.

The good news is that there are shortcuts to getting the job done without cutting corners. Like eating a few handfuls of organic wild blueberries every day. Yep, we mean it! That’s 365 days a year. When you consider the cream of the crop of fresh-food options—accessibility, storage, taste and labor vs. nutritional payoff, absolutely nothing beats these purple little wonders. Here’s why.

1) Wild blueberries may contribute to the fight against your biggest health fears.

It seems like there’s hardly a bodily complaint that blueberries don’t have an answer for. Jam-packed with nutrients, the little globes get their unique purplish hue from anthocyanin, a potent flavonoid antioxidant that may help protect you from serious illness like cardiovascular illness, neurodegenerative disease and cancer.

2) They fight inflammation.

It’s today’s ultimate buzzword—and that’s because chronic inflammation affects so many people in the form of arthritis (and related joint issues), skin problems, metabolic syndrome and possibly even increased risk of the scarier diseases mentioned above. In one recent study, obese rats that ate the human equivalent of two cups of wild blueberries per day for eight weeks experienced a significantly improved inflammatory response.

3) They may help keep you sharp.

Flavonoids act to protect cells all over your body, including neurons, the nerve cells that transmit thoughts, feelings, memories and more. Keeping these crucial players in top shape will keep you on your toes, so to speak. Research shows that a diet containing blueberries or blueberry extract may enhance memory function, balance and coordination.

4) They help you maintain the brightest skin possible.

Organic wild blueberries’ vitamin A and C are necessary for the health of collagen, your skin’s support structure. Eating foods rich in these nutrients may help slow the development of wrinkles, sagging and dark circles. The berries also contain water, which keeps skin hydrated, bouncy and young looking.

5) In terms of antioxidant power, they’re the absolute best.

Maybe you’re thinking, Sure, but all produce contains antioxidants. The truth is that blueberries have more! In study after study, blueberries outrank other powerhouses, like strawberries, cranberries, blackberries and apples, in terms of their total antioxidant activity. And—if you really want to get specific—blueberries that grow in the wild pack at least twice the nutritional value as their cultivated counterparts. In fact, many researchers choose wild blueberries for their studies, since those are known to be so much more potent.

6) They’re tough.

Just because they’re small and cute doesn’t mean they don’t know how to survive. Some of the sweetest, nutritionally rich blueberries out there grow in the Alaskan wild, fighting to thrive in the frigid temperatures. This battle for survival yields a particularly hardy fruit that’s packed with mega doses of antioxidants and medicinal compounds.

7) They’re delicious.

Ultimately, we all know that this is the most important part. Blueberries taste good.

Incorporate them into your cereal, yogurt, smoothie, ice cream, muffin or other, and you’re sure to be upping the delish factor of your meal. One tip: Wild blueberries tend to do better in taste tests than the larger cultivated kind, so buy them when they’re available!

8) They’re all give, no take.

Sure, fruits like pineapple and pomegranate are healthy and tasty. They’re also a pain in the rear. All the peeling and chopping and discarding—you literally have to put muscle into harvesting your breakfast. OK, that labor can be worth it. But compare that to blueberries: All you have to do is rinse and dump into a bowl or gobble them up by the handful. Like candy!

9) You can totally save them for later, they won’t mind.

Blueberries are so tough that preserving them doesn’t hurt their nutritional power. Buy them dried or frozen, or get them fresh and preserve them yourself—they’ll keep for months. Aloha’s Daily Good Greens, a simple dried-powder pack that you can take anywhere, contains plenty of wild blueberry goodness.

10) Your kids will love them.

Monkey see, monkey do—especially when what you’re doing is eating something sweet, delicious and toddler-sized! Think of the wonders all those healthy antioxidants can do for your child’s young, developing body and mind. Snack time: solved.
Kate from

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

With new diseases appearing each day, it’s important to keep your child’s hands clean and germ free. As a parent, you want to do everything possible to ensure your child stays healthy, especially when a contagious virus spreads. Instead of stocking up on hand sanitizer at the store, try this activity where you’ll make your very own personal sanitizer! It’s easy enough for your child to help you with, which means she’ll be more willing to use it and remain healthy.

What You Need:

  • ⅓ cup of rubbing alcohol
  • ⅔ cup of aloe vera gel
  • 8–10 drops of essential oil (such as vanilla, lavender, grapefruit, peppermint, etc.)
  • One small mixing bowl and spoon
  • Recycled liquid soap bottle
  • Funnel

What You Do:

  1. Pick out a scented essential oil with your child. Essential oils can usually be found at health, beauty product, or aromatherapy stores.
  2. Help your child measure out each ingredient and pour them into the mixing bowl. Hand her a spoon and invite her to stir carefully.
  3. Put the funnel in the opening of the soap bottle and pour the mixed ingredients into it.
  4. Screw the pump back on.

Now you’re ready to battle those germs with your own fragrant hand sanitizer!

Besides the concerns already mentioned, alcohol is drying to the skin. To make a healthier and safer product, use 1/4 cup witch hazel instead. This herbal liquid extract can be found at drugstores or health food stores. Then to boost the germ-fighting power, choose an antibacterial essential oil such as tea tree, thyme, lavender, or citrus.


Kate from

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.

4 Guest-Friendly Make-Ahead Breakfasts

4 Guest-Friendly Make-Ahead Breakfasts

Serve up something great for a hungry crew without having to wake up at the crack of dawn.

Spinach and Jack Cheese Bread Pudding

Cheese and veggie-filled bread pudding satisfies any big appetite. Just pair with some poached eggs and a fruit salad to round it out.

A delicious departure from quiche, this savory bread pudding is easier to prepare and very satisfying.

Total Time: 30 min

Oven Temp: 350


  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cup(s) (1%) low-fat milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 pinch(s) ground nutmeg
  • 1 package(s) (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup(s) (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 8 slice(s) firm white bread, cut into 3⁄4-inch pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In large bowl, with wire whisk or fork, beat eggs, milk, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until blended. With rubber spatula, stir in spinach, Monterey Jack, and bread.
  2. Pour mixture into 13-inch by 9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish. Bake bread pudding 20 to 25 minutes or until browned and puffed and knife inserted in center comes out clean.
  3. Remove bread pudding from oven; let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tips & Techniques

For a Mexican-style variation, replace Monterey Jack with pepper Jack cheese and add 4 ounces sliced pepperoni. Serve with salsa.


Chocolate-Glazed Banana Bread Minis

Mini loaves ensure that every sweet-loving guest can grab a bite.

Bake breads in mini paper or foil pans — perfect bake sale packaging!

Yields: 6 loaves

Total Time: 45 min

Prep Time: 15 min

Oven Temp: 350


  • 2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 2 cup(s) mashed very ripe bananas
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup(s) (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup(s) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ounce(s) semisweet chocolate


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt. In another medium bowl, mix bananas and vanilla.
  3. In bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugars 3 minutes, or until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. With mixer on low, add flour mixture alternately with banana mixture, starting and ending with flour. Divide among 6 disposable mini (1/4-pound) loaf pans.
  4. Bake breads 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack.
  5. Drizzle with chocolate; let set.


Overnight Savory French Toast

A combination of cheese and chives transforms French toast into a savory wonder.

This savory, feeds-eight French toast — a cost-effective, cheese-crusted combo of baked bread, eggs, and Gruyère — rests overnight so you can sleep in.

Serves: 8

Yields: 8 main-dish servings


  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cup(s) milk
  • 1 tablespoon(s) Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup(s) snipped chives, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 loaf(s) (9 ounces) French bread (preferably day-old; see Shopping Tip), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 6 ounce(s) Gruyère cheese, shredded


  1. Grease shallow 1 1/2-quart ceramic baking dish. In medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, Dijon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper until well blended. Stir in chives.
  2. Arrange half of bread in bottom of prepared baking dish, overlapping slices to fit. Pour half of egg mixture over bread and sprinkle with two-thirds of Gruyère. Cover with remaining bread, overlapping slices. Pour remaining egg mixture over bread; gently press down to help bread absorb egg mixture. Sprinkle with remaining one-third of Gruyère. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until puffed and golden and tip of knife inserted in center comes out clean, covering top during last 15 minutes if browning too quickly. Let stand 10 minutes to set custard before serving. Sprinkle with snipped chives.

Tips & Techniques

Shopping Tip: Look for discounted day-old French bread in your market or bakery.


Pimiento Cheese Make-Ahead Quiche

With a made-in-advance quiche, you won’t have to worry about overcooking the eggs in the morning.

Pimiento cheese is a classic Southern snack. Here, it’s reinvented, by being used as the creamy, spicy, savory filling for a quick and easy quiche.

Yields: 6 main-dish servings

Total Time: 1 hr 30 min

Prep Time: 25 min

Oven Temp: 375


  • 1 1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 6 tablespoon(s) cold vegetable shortening, cut up
  • 3 tablespoon(s) (or up to 5 tablespoons) water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup(s) whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 2 cup(s) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 jar(s) (4-ounce) chopped pimientos, drained
  • 2 cup(s) green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoon(s) hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon(s) Worcestershire sauce


  1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In food processor, pulse flour, and 1/2 teaspoon each sugar and salt until combined. Add vegetable shortening; pulse until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle in 3 to 5 tablespoons water, pulsing between additions until dough is just moist. Pat into disk. Cover with plastic wrap; freeze 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 2 days.
  2. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll dough into 11-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch pie plate. Trim off excess dough. Tuck edge of dough under and pinch to create rim. Crimp to decorate edge. Line dough with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 15 minutes. Remove liner and weights. Bake another 10 to 13 minutes, or until edge is golden and bottom is no longer raw. Cool slightly on wire rack.
  3. Make the custard: Whisk together eggs, milk, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Stir Cheddar cheese, chopped pimientos, green onions, hot pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce into custard.
  5. Bake in 375 degrees F oven 35 to 45 minutes or until center is just set. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Tips & Techniques

    Make Ahead: Bake one (or more) the night before, cover, and refrigerate until morning. Reheat at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until warm. Time tip: To save 10 minutes, use a store-bought crust.

     Pimiento -Cheese -make -ahead-quiche-

Kate from

Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.