Author: Stacie Billis

4 all-natural sauces that cut weeknight cooking time in half

With Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (A.K.A. Thanksgivukkah) just three weeks away, the food conversation will soon turn to brisket and turkey, Santa cookies and pie. While I’m looking forward to holiday food as much as the next cool mom, I’m also wondering how I’ll make it through the hectic holiday season–cooking, shopping, baking, parties–while keeping up with my daily responsibilities. Can’t I just stop making dinner for a couple of months? No, I can’t. And you probably can’t either. (Sorry!) But we can make weeknight dinners easier than ever with these four cooking sauces. Add any one of these to...

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8 must-have holiday cookbooks for a super delicious season

With Halloween behind us and Thanksgiving–and Hanukkah!–right around the corner, it’s time to start collecting culinary inspiration for your perfect holiday menu. There are, of course, tons of recipes online, but it’s tricky to know which recipes are reliable. It may be old school, but I say that holiday cooking calls for hitting the bookshelf. These eight awesome holiday cookbooks will help make your holidays special. And if you’re not cooking, well, maybe you need to buy Aunt Sue an early holiday gift: it will pay dividends to all! Find all these books at our affiliate Amazon or your...

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6 easy, last-minute Halloween treats that are way more impressive than a bowlful of candy corn

You had big Halloween plans, right? And then…time slipped away. I’ve been there. Start by forgiving yourself: it’s just Halloween after all, and to a kid, everything looks delicious. Throw together a one of these super cute, last-minute treats with what you have on hand or can easily grab at the store. No trick here: these 5 festive, tasty treats from top bloggers are perfect and perfectly easy whether you’re bringing them to a friend’s house or serving them up at a classroom party.   Tell me this Halloween donut (at top) from Lovezilla doesn’t make you smile. My little one...

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6 freakishly easy, terribly tasty Halloween dinners

The age-old Halloween question: what to eat before heading out to trick-or-treat? It has to be a meal that’s quick or easy to fit between the mad rush of getting home from school and heading out for your annual candy collection. Plus it has to be appealing and filling so that the kids actually get some sustenance before the sugar onslaught. And it has to be fun because, well, it’s Halloween! These 6 Halloween dinner ideas hit all the marks, helping you fuel your kids with good stuff so that they have plenty of energy to stuff themselves with...

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Surprise your kids with 6 spooktacular Halloween lunch box ideas

I love beautiful bento lunch boxes, but some of them make you feel like you need an MFA in order to make your kid’s lunch. Especially holiday-themed lunch boxes! For Halloween I decided to come up with a few easy, festive lunch ideas. I found tons of excellently adorable inspiration from around the web. I’ve rounded up 6 of my favorite ideas to help you make a spooktacular bento lunch box, no artistic talent required. I recently shared my Halloween lunch box ideas with the the lovely HGTV star Genevieve Gorder. As a designer, Genevieve likes things to look...

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6 pumpkin-inspired sweets you can serve up without lifting a finger

Last week we talked apple treats, and this week it’s pumpkin time. You’re picking pumpkins this year, right? If only from the grocery store? Now all you have to do is seed, peel, and cube your pumpkin. Then roast and puree the pumpkin flesh and we’re almost ready to start. You have homemade pie crust ready, right? Heh. You were getting worried there, admit it. We’d never put you through all that. These six pumpkin-inspired sweets do not call for hours in the kitchen. In fact, they don’t even require a recipe. Hold on to your gourds, cool moms: you...

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Love yogurt to go? Two perfectly portable all-natural options we love

We’re big fans of yogurt here at Cool Mom Picks and with good reason. It’s an easy go-to that kids love because it’s delicious and we moms love because it’s (mostly) healthy. Unfortunately, some of the most packable yogurts are also the most sugary. Ick! Enter two new options, both of which come in easy-to-tote packaging and have something new–and better–to offer yogurt fans like us. –Stacie   If you’ve ever tried skyr, traditional Icelandic yogurt, you’ve probably tried a cup of siggi’s (above), the most popular brand of Icelandic-style yogurt here in the States. Now, siggi’s offers squeezable yogurt...

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How do you like them apples? 6 easy apple snack and apple dessert recipes

Apple season is in full swing, which means we’ve got to find things to make with all them apples! As much as I love them, I’m finding myself seriously challenged by the the huge quantity of fruit I end up with during apple season. It doesn’t help that everyone’s clamoring for pies, cakes, dumplings, and other sweets that take a lot of time to make. This year, I’m taking apples into my own hands with these 6 easy-to-make apple snacks and desserts, that go a little further than slicing apples up and dipping them in peanut butter. Still, your...

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Six of the very coolest Halloween party snacks, no hard work required

The ever-growing lead time on holiday marketing can be overwhelming. I’m really not ready to think about Hanukkah or Christmas. But Halloween? That’s a different story. Especially Halloween party snacks. Bring it on! We’ve already had a Halloween party (no joke) and I’m happy to report back with six simple, festive snacks that will get you excited to dress up and party down. These snacks are easy to make whether you’re hosting a big gathering or just a few friends. Yup, there’s no way I’m going to give you an excuse to let the Halloween season pass without a...

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8 quick, healthy breakfast recipes for even the busiest weekday mornings

Easy weeknight dinners, check. Simple school lunch ideas, check. Quick healthy breakfasts? Finally…check! Breakfast recipes–the kind that you can actually make on busy weekday mornings–are the final frontier of family cooking. But rest easy, cool moms. This pioneer woman (lower case “p” and “w”) has braved the wilds of the internet to bring you a round up of quick breakfast recipes beyond cereal, that will start your family off on the right foot (without setting you off on a late one). Turn plain yogurt and fruit into parfaits just by layering them in a tall glass. If that doesn’t look...

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9 playdate recipes and snack ideas that will make your house the most popular spot on the block

I can confidently cook for nearly anyone, but one type of guest stumps me over and over: the little ones who come over to play with my kids. In fact, figuring out what to serve on my kids’ playdates is way more stressful than planning a party for 10 hungry adults.  If you want something a little more than cracking open a bag of fruit snacks, I’ve rounded up 9 play date recipes all made with kid-approved ingredients in a mom-approved amount of time. And, of course, they are tasty, because what would be the point if they were’t?...

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Keepers: a book of tried-and-true weeknight recipes kids will love, every time

For most of us, the school year is all about “keeper” recipes. Dinners you can rely on. Easy sides that the whole family will eat. Recipes that make life easier and more delicious. We’ve shared some of our favorite weeknight dinners and best veggie side recipes to help you get back into the swing of school night cooking and now, thanks to two cool moms and former Saveur editors, we’ve got a whole book of keepers–and a couple of sample recipes right here to get you started.  The cookbook is appropriately called Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the...

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6 fast veggie side dishes your kids might actually eat

I consider myself a master meal planner, but there’s one thing that gets even me: veggie side dishes.  That’s right, even I–the self-proclaimed Queen of Meals–am often stumped for creative vegetable dishes to serve to the family with my pretzel chicken or one-pan pasta. Thanks to these veggie side recipes that can easily be whipped up at the last minute, I can ditch dinnertime cucumber wheels and carrot sticks for good. –Stacie    Nearly every vegetable tastes great simply roasted with oil and salt. But just a tiiiiiiny bit more effort can turn out a spectacular side dish in the...

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6 simple, delicious dinners for hectic back to school schedules

Now that we’ve covered awesome school lunch resources and simple lunch ideas–it’s time to tackle dinner recipes for the kids. Here are six fairly fast dinner recipes sure to fit into your back-to-school routine, no matter how hectic. These dinners are a little different and a lot delicious. No spaghetti here. –Stacie  I’m obsessed with this Asian Salmon Bowl with Lime Drizzle (above) from Epicurious and so is my family. It’s healthy and ridiculously delicious–even my picky 3 1/2 year old digs this tangy, garlicky dish. Best of all, it takes about 30 minutes to make and can be served in a single...

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6 helpful school lunch resources and inspiration for parents

The tips, ideas and best products for back-to-school have been flowing in from every direction all month long. But soon we’ll be back in the swing of things and the back-to-school chatter will die down, but there’s one thing you can’t do at the beginning of the school season and have it over with: School lunch. This is one back-to-school topic that isn’t just for back-to-school time, which is why we’ve rounded up 5 awesome, helpful resources that will help keep you–and your school lunches–inspired all year long. I can’t talk about school lunch resources that will serve you...

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9 simple school lunch ideas that have nothing to do with making (yet another) sandwich

At some point this school year–sooner than you think–both you and your child will grow weary of the humble school lunch sandwich. It’s a known quantity, which is comforting some days, but not every day, right? So here are 9 easy school lunch recipes–most of which require zero planning, the rest of which can be made ahead and stored in the freezer–that will inspire you to throw caution to the wind and ditch that sandwich bread. –Stacie Threading yummy ingredients onto skewers is maybe my favorite way to change up school lunch, especially when the results are as cute...

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Best Lunchbox Snacks: Back to School Guide 2013

Many of my Cool Mom Picks comrades swear they prefer backpack shopping to planning school lunches, but I admit it: I enjoy the challenge of getting creative with packed lunches. Sure, I get in a rut sometimes, but a pantry full of go-to school lunch snacks helps keep things interesting when the main lunch course is yet another PB&J. (Sorry, kids.) So check out my favorite healthier, store-bought snacks for kids, many of which you might not know. They’re all free of icky ingredients that lots of packaged snacks have, and still full of flavor. –Stacie Recently I offered up...

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3 healthier drink boxes for kids: half the sugar, none of the guilt

I admit it, I’m a bit of a loudmouth about the benefits of skipping juice for kids. Most options are packed with sugar–like 20 grams per single-serving box, nearly the same amount of sugar in a full-sized Hershey’s bar. Whoa! I know, I know. An occasional sugary drink never hurt anyone (hello, homemade lemonade!). Thanks to these 3 new delicious juice boxes, though, I can get down off my sugar soapbox. Fewer than 10 grams of sugar each, and the kids love the taste. Score. –Stacie   We’ve always been fans of Honest Kids by HonestTea (above), but when the...

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The best ice cream sandwich recipes. As if there could be a bad one.

Soon I’ll be carrying on here about school lunch gear, packed lunch recipes, and the best after school snacks. So this week, I want to take in summer. I want to take it in the biggest, baddest way that I can imagine. This week, I want to forget the school lunch sandwich and celebrate the ice cream sandwich with 5 of the most amazing ice cream sandwich recipes. Take that, fall. I chose recipes that call for you to make either the cookie or the ice cream, but not both. Not that I’m opposed to making both from scratch,...

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9 al fresco recipes for summer picnic perfection

One of my favorite things about summer is dining al fresco. Backyard meals, beachside bakes, picnics in the park: you name it, I’m in. If you’re grilling your eats, try one of these delectable 8 summer BBQ recipes. But if you’re planning an outdoor feast with no fire source, prep these easy recipes at home for a killer picnic spread. With your basket full of these picnic dishes, all you need to do is grab your pretty waterproof picnic blanket, portable speakers and, of course, the kids. No dinner clean-up required! Sandwiches are the obvious move for a picnic, but these Pressed...

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