As part of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Blogger program I received a gift card to Pay it Forward to a charity of my choice from Stonyfield.

Throughout the year, we make a point of teaching our children what it means to give back. It’s important for us that our children learn about social awareness and it’s a great way to teach generosity and kindness. Whether it is by donating or preparing food, a monetary donation, or providing services or physical labor to others these things build a community, our character, and lift us all up.

With the holidays upon us, we have many ways to Pay it Forward. Besides greeting the Salvation Army bell ringers at each store we enter and the food drives that the community sponsors, we have the children pick out a child that is their own age from the community Secret Santa tree. My daughter really enjoys doing this and she takes her time to find just the right child. She is six and really grasps what this is all about and really thought out what she wanted to give her recipient. This year she chose a girl who requested a winter coat and snow pants. My daughter figured this would be the best gift because every child needs warmth here in Maine, but because this young girl will be able to partake in all of the fun winter activities whether during recess or on the weekends. She decided that this gift was more important than any toy. I couldn’t have been more proud of her reasoning. She was right. This wasn’t just about providing warmth, it was a means for physical and social activity as well. She also decided to throw in some of her favorite books for when she was inside as well.

My son is new at this so he doesn’t grasp it completely at the age of three, but we talked about it and his excitement grew as he watched his sister. His donation of choice was through his school, providing a few pairs of warm and cozy pajamas for a local foster child program. He loved picking out some great pj’s that a fellow three year old would wear. Who wouldn’t love construction trucks and a silly moose?

We also decided to donate a few toys to Toys for Tots. A great national organization that collects tons of toys for kids who would otherwise go without.

Besides donating new items, we also cleaned and packaged our winter gear from last year and donated to our local community closet that provides for those in our neighborhood and neighboring towns.

There are so many ways to Pay it Forward and I hope that you find your own way to do so. It’s a lovely chain effect that will lift up your spirits as well as those you chose to help. With kind gestures, we teach each other how to give back and the rewards that that brings.

 

~ Wishing you all Happy Holidays!

Thank you Stonyfield for allowing us to give even more this year. Your generosity has allowed so many others to Pay it Forward.

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Sugared Cranberries

Sugared Cranberries ~ These sweet, yet tart cranberries make a wonderful snack on their own or a beautiful garnish on any festive dessert ~ The Way to His Heart

 

Why hello there! It’s been a while, because well, life. I’ll save you all of the details, but it’s been busy around here. Some good, some not so good, but there hasn’t been a lot of time for pausing and snapping pictures of our meals. Something had to give and it was the blog. I’ll be honest, I do have some posts planned for the upcoming month as the holidays approach and I’m in the kitchen more, but I don’t see any regularity coming back until hopefully after the New Year. Sometimes, though, a break is needed to refresh and revive the soul.

So, on to the food. I love all of the seasons because they bring great produce and a newness to your menu. For the most part, I think everyone is just about pumpkin-ed out, and while I love pumpkin, my favorite are cranberries. I’m fortunate to live in the Northeast where we have some great, local cranberry farms around. For the next month, my family will be inundated with cranberries from breakfast, snacks, to dinner. Besides their lovely tart flavor and vibrant color, they are just so healthy for you as well. Love!

These sugared cranberries are a great little snack to munch on during any of your holiday gatherings or you can use them for a garnish for any of your festive desserts. That’s why I just had to pop back on here and share these with you. So easy, so tasty, so pretty!

Sugared Cranberries

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 cup water

Make a simple syrup by bringing 1 cup sugar and water to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a bowl with cranberries and cool for 20 minutes. Once cooled, refrigerate overnight, stirring a few times.

Remove the cranberries from the simple syrup and let the remaining syrup drip from the berries by placing them on a baking sheet with a wire rack. Sprinkle the berries with 1/2 cup of sugar, turning over once to evenly coat. A little nudge from your finger will roll them enough without handling too much. Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl and roll each cranberry in it, giving it its final coat.

Let the cranberries sit until dry, about an hour and then place in an airtight container. The berries will keep up to one week.

Source: The Way to His Heart

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Creamy Steel Cut Oats with Cherries

Creamy Steel Cut Oats with Cherries ~ A make ahead breakfast that tastes amazing and is great for you in so many ways ~ The Way to His Heart

Thank you Stonyfield and Bob’s Red Mill for sponsoring this post as part of Stonyfield’s Clean Plate Club. As always, the opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Busy, cold mornings are upon us and I still want to make breakfast count before I send my daughter off to school each day. Thankfully, she loves oatmeal. It’s her first choice for breakfast, even over pancakes and waffles! My son will eat it as well, but not as often. I love this recipe because I can make a big batch and it can last the week. It becomes just as convenient as the instant stuff, but it’s so, so much better for you.

How good? Well, the way I’ve made it I’ve used some great ingredients from some great companies. Using Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats, I’m giving my daughter all of the nutrients that she can get from the oats. Toss in Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Sugar and I’ve given her a delicious taste, while not using as much sugar. Be forewarned, coconut sugar is lovely, but has a caramel taste and smell so use lightly until you’ve found your desired flavor. Next, I’ve used Stonyfield’s amazing Grassfed Yogurt. I’ve waxed poetic about this yogurt before, but suffice to say grass fed is best and I know that I’ve sent her off to school with a healthy gut which leads to a healthy mind, no really. It’s proven 🙂 Last, but not least, are the cherries. Yes, they are in there to add a punch of flavor and a pretty factor to the dish, but don’t be food, cherries are a great anti-inflammatory and help boost sleep and memory. Umm, I need to be eating a lot more cherries I think!

You all know me though, while I do care about what’s going into my family’s body, I am big on flavor and the flavor here is awesome. It really makes waking up early in the morning worth it, well almost!

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Creamy Steel-cut Oats with Cherries

Ingredients

To make the oatmeal:

Make this the night before you want your oatmeal.

Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the oats and brown them for 2-3 minutes, until they start giving off a toasted, nutty aroma. Pour in 3 cups water and salt, stir.

Bring to a rolling boil, then turn off heat and cover. Let sit over night.

To reheat the next morning, simply warm up on the stove top or scoop out what you’d like and microwave and put remaining oats in the refrigerator.

To make the cherries:

In the meantime, in a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and cornstarch; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir in the cherries. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until thickened and cherries are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add cherries to oats or refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble oatmeal:

Warm up oats, stir in yogurt, and top with warm cherry mixture. Enjoy!

Note: Both the oats and cherries may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The creamy factor is best when the yogurt is stirred in after warming.

Source: The Way to His Heart

Roast Carrots (Vegetables)

Roasted Carrots ~ How to roast vegetables for maximum flavor~ The Way to His Heart

I’m always sad to say, “Good bye” to summer but at least fall comes next which means lots of baking. My oven gets turned on as the leaves change, the apples and pumpkins get picked, and the last of my vegetables from the garden are brought in. While I eat veggies all year long, my favorite way to prepare them or eat them is by roasting. It really maximizes the flavor. If I’m trying a new vegetable out on the kids or my husband, roasting is always the way to go first. Give them the best so they wont refuse it the next time!

Since I’m picking the last of our carrots and roasting them I wanted to share with you a great way to easily roast your vegetables. There is nothing better than a carrot that has been browned and crisped on the outside but sweet and tender on the inside.

When roasting, make sure your veggies are cut to the same size for even cooking. Also, allow room on the pan for the heat to circulate.

Roasted Whole Carrots

Ingredients

  • 8 medium carrots
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

Scrub carrots and dry well, peel if desired. Arrange carrots in a single layer, well spaced on a baking sheet. If you are roasting other veggies, make sure they are cut to the same size for even cooking.

Drizzle with oil, turning to coat all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Tightly cover pan with foil. Bake for 10 minutes. Uncover and return pan to oven and bake an additional 18 minutes or until carrots are tender, turning once.

Source: Cooking Light January/February 2016

 

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