How to make homemade chewy fruit snacks

Yesterday my son walked through the doors of his elementary school for the first time. The milestone was bittersweet, of course. He had been going to daycare since he was three months old, but this was different. This was real.

Now that we have a baby in the house, it’s been startling to look at my firstborn. To see how his baby fat is melting away. To see how big his feet are getting as we buy yet another pair of shoes, the ones that take him into that big, unfamiliar school full of strangers.

My son inherited many of my traits, including my sensitivity. Kindergarten was a fraught-filled time for me, and while my son has more experience navigating the social world of children than I had, I want to do what I can to remind him that no matter what is going on during the day, he is loved.

One of the ways I express love is through food, and I thought his entry into elementary school would be the perfect time to expand my homemade snack repertoire. I’m trying to keep his packed lunches as healthy as possible, but we all deserve a treat now and then. These homemade fruit snacks fit both orders.

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Strawberry, Blackberry, and Goat Cheese Focaccia

Strawberry season down here in Texas wrapped up long ago, and while we try to eat as locally as possible, our family can’t resist grabbing boxes and boxes of organic berries at the grocery store.

My son can eat a whole box himself if left to his own devices, but I always try to hold some back in order to create a recipe.

Berry Focaccia with goat cheese on www.simplebites.net

Despite the heat, lately I’ve been feeling the need to bake bread, and I wanted to try a version with sweet fruit. Right now we’re still getting local blackberries (also called dewberries), and they really pack a punch in flavor, especially when paired with other berries. I decided to go ahead and make a focaccia, or as my son called it, “fruit pizza”.

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Stocking the kitchen for post-delivery days with baby

Now that I’m in the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I’m double-checking to make sure we have everything we need. This is our second baby, so we have a better idea of what to expect for those intense days and weeks after birth.

High on the list of priorities? Making sure there is a well-stocked kitchen to take care of our eating needs.

Whether you’re on your first baby or your fourth, chances are cooking is the last thing you’ll want to do in the days after delivery. Making sure you’re well-nourished, however (especially if you’re breastfeeding), is critical for getting through the tough first weeks.

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Chocolate & Jam Tea Cake

Chocolate & Jam Tea Cake

Written by Megan of Stetted.

With the temperatures warming and spring produce starting to emerge, my thoughts turn to the impending canning season.

I’m kind of a canning hoarder. Every summer I preserve food until I am sick of chopping and lifting jars, and convince myself that this will be enough to last us until the next season. But then once the new year rolls around, I get stingy with using that bounty. I calculate every last jar, trying to determine if it will last until I can get my hands on sun-ripened tomatoes or sweet strawberries.

As it always happens, thanks to food swaps, planning, and shifting breakfast choices, we have excess of jam when the spring strawberries pop up. While many preserves can last for more than one year if canned properly, I like to replenish my stores yearly for the best quality and flavor. That means cracking open a precious jar or two and finding creative applications.

This chocolate tea cake comes together quickly and is a great way to use up any older jars of jam you have hanging around. The jam lends a subtle flavor to the chocolate, making it easy to swap in any of your favorite flavors. I’m partial to strawberry, cherry, and pear, but feel free to experiment with your star preserve.

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Ginger Custard and Raspberry Parfaits {gluten free}

ginger custard

Written by Megan of Stetted.

Dessert is a special treat in our house. Anything more than fruit happens only once or twice a month, and although I have a mega sweet tooth, I prefer it this way. Not only does my son not take sweet treats for granted, but those occasional moments spent lingering at the dinner table while we enjoy a homemade dessert are even more special.

Parfaits are a favorite dessert – they are extremely customizable and they are the perfect-sized ending to a good meal. My family loves the classic combination of chocolate pudding and whipped cream, but this simple custard recipe is making its way into our regular rotation.

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