food · read aloud · slice of life

A Marvelous Monday with My Little Man

Ari admires his good egg cupcake.

My One Little Word of 2020 is RESTORE. Now that my parents returned home — after living with us for the better part of three months while I got back on my feet after injuring my ankle — it has been time for me to start restoring different parts of my life. Last week, I resumed more parenting duties (e.g., chauffeuring, cooking meals) and working in my office instead of sitting in bed with my laptop. As a result, I was exhausted. Next week, I have my first
overnight work trip to work with second, third, and fourth grade teachers. So this week, I’m trying to take it easier.

It’s hard to take it easy when you spend your mornings running with a three-year-old boy. But this morning, I found the perfect activity to enjoy with Ari that allowed me to sit around a bit too. We went to story time at Lancaster Cupcake, which is a local bakery that selects a different read aloud each week and continues with book-inspired cupcake decorating.

I wasn’t sure how the morning would go, but it went really well! Ari listened to a staffer read The Good Egg by Jory John and Pete Oswald, decorated an egg cupcake, shared the cupcake with me (because I was wise-enough to ask for a gluten-free one!), decorating a coloring page, allowed me to read the book to him again, and played in the bakery’s play kitchen for nearly an hour. And what did I do while Ari was playing? I sat on a cozy chair and sipped a vanilla latte made with almond milk. Perfection.

Not every morning this week will be this tranquil and perfect. BUT, I can live on mornings like this one all week!

food · slice of life

Reprise: It’s not a dog.

I was rushing to get a whole chicken cleaned off and into the oven by 6:15 p.m. this evening. While I was patting the chicken dry with paper towels, Ari declared, “It’s a dog.”

“It’s not a dog,” I replied. “It’s a chicken.”

“It’s a dog,” he said.

It’s been over two months since he thought the spatchcocked chicken I was cooking was a dog. He’s grown so much in so many ways in that time. But, gosh darn it, the kid thinks every whole chicken is a dog.

“No buddy. We don’t eat dogs. It’s a chicken.”

“It’s a chicken,” Ari stated.

“That’s right,” I said.

He grabbed a head of garlic and the lemon I was getting ready to stuff inside of the chicken. He picked up the garlic and said, “It’s an onion.”

“It’s not an onion, it’s garlic,” I replied.

“It’s garlic,” Ari paused. He looked at the chicken in the baking dish and declared, “And it’s a dog.”

I give up.

food · friends · slice of life

One Baby Coffee, Please!

If it were up to Ari, he’d drink my coffee every morning. But that’s Mommy Coffee (aka: caffeinated). Ari drinks Baby Coffee, which is 1/10 decaffeinated coffee and 9/10 whole milk with a couple packets of Stevia for sweetness. I don’t keep decaf in the house so Ari only gets to have Baby Coffee when we go out for brunch, which is infrequent.

This morning, my friend Rachel and I kept our old NYC tradition of going out to brunch alive. We invited Isabelle to join us, but Isabelle refused to try the new restaurant we wanted to check out in Hershey. Therefore, we took Ari instead. Naturally, he was happy to go out for brunch since that meant BABY COFFEE!

The line at First Watch was longer than we expected. By the time we got seated, I vowed to order Ari’s food and Baby Coffee as soon as our server came over (which was fast!) so that he could get started with his meal.

A smile spread across Ari’s face when his coffee arrived. Rachel took pictures. I shot video, which included him declaring, “I like coffee!” several times.

Rachel and I drank coffee too. However, I don’t think either of us looked as happy as Ari did while consuming it. You know what we were excited about? The Kale Tonic (aka: green juice) we ordered. That was delicious!

food · friends · slice of life

You had me at macaron!

“I know I can’t bring bagels anymore because you’re gluten-free,” my friend Rachel said. “What are you craving from New York that you can eat?”

I pondered for a moment. During my silence Rachel listed off several ideas. When she said macarons (and then added that there were even better than Ladurée, which she introduced me to in December), I was sold.

This afternoon, Rachel arrived on my doorstep from New York with a warm smile, an ear for listening, am overnight bag, and macarons from Martine’s Fine Bake Shoppe.

Clockwise from top left: Nutella, vanilla, raspberry, & salted caramel.

There’s nothing better than good food shared with a great friend.

food · slice of life

Who feels like chicken tonight?

I typically soak buttermilk roast chicken for two days prior to cooking it. But this morning, I looked in my fridge and realized I forgot to brine the chicken on Wednesday night. Whoops!

I had enough time to get the chicken in the brine before I walked out the door this morning. I’ve made this recipe upwards of 100 times so I don’t even need to look at the recipe for the measurements of the spices. I can prepare the brine and soak the chicken in less than five minutes. Except…

Ari noticed me taking the chicken out of the fridge and declared, “I wanna help make chicken!”

“Oh, you can help next time, buddy,” I said eyeing the clock. We only had twenty minutes before we needed to leave the house.

“Get my helper tower!” Ari commanded.

I ignored the brashness and focused on the time. “Next time. Mommy’s in a rush to get the chicken ready for Shabbat dinner.”

“I wanna help!” Ari said. “Please get my helper tower!”

He was using good manners. If I turned him down — for the sake of time — I’d be chipping away at his desire to help in the kitchen. I looked at the clock again. I had the time to make it happen if I wanted to make it happen. I glanced at Ari’s face. His sweet eyes did me in.

“Let’s get all of the ingredients out and then I’ll get the helper tower,” I said. Ari smiled. Giving in never felt so sweet.

Ari took the garlic out of the vegetable bin. “I like garlic!” he declared. Next, I grabbed the buttermilk. We placed both items on the counter. Then, I gathered the spices. Finally, I went into the other room to fetch his helper tower.

You’ll notice I kept my hand on the container. The last thing I wanted to do was clean up half a quart of buttermilk with spices from my kitchen floor!

While I typically place the buttermilk into the container first, I decided to start with dry ingredients. I handed the extra coarse salt shaker to Ari. BIG mistake. He shook it upside down and salt crystals scattered across the island and onto the floor. “Uh-oh!” he said. “I made a mess!”

I wet a few paper towels and cleaned up. Next, we dumped sugar, pepper, and smoked paprika into the container. I held Ari’s hand over the measuring spoon each time he dumped something into the container since I didn’t want another mess to clean. Next, we poured the buttermilk into the container together. From there, I taught Ari how to whisk the ingredients together. That’s when I noticed the problem. The dry ingredients were stuck to the bottom of the container — despite whisking rapidly. In my effort to keep things neat, I may have messed up the recipe. {Sigh.}

Finally, I cleaned the chicken and placed the pieces in the container. We shook the container with the chicken and the brine together, then placed it in the refrigerator.

“I made the chicken!” Ari declared when we were finished.

“You did, buddy. You helped make dinner.”

Ari beamed. It was worth the mess (and the extra ten minutes).


For those of you who read my other chicken story earlier in the month, you’ll be happy to know that Ari did NOT refer to the whole cut-up chicken as a dog. Whew!

food · slice of life

It’s not a dog.

I was flipping a spatchcocked chicken in a Dutch oven with a pair of tongs. Ari, who was watching from a distance, said, “It’s a dog!”

“It’s not a dog,” I replied. “It’s a chicken.”

“It’s a dog,” Ari said.

My stomach turned — as it always does — when Ari declared that the whole chicken was a dog. Clearly, I am not a vegetarian. However, the idea of cooking a dog on my stovetop makes me bristle.

And, yes, every time I make a whole chicken, Ari says “it’s a dog.” This kid knows what dogs look like. I don’t know why he thinks whole chickens are dogs. For now, I will chalk this up to him being two years old!

food · slice of life

Nothing is safe.

Ari and Puppy are pictured searching for juice. (NOTE: It’s on the top shelf.)

Our new refrigerator arrived over the weekend. I have to tell you… it’s wonderful. After nearly a decade of having a French door refrigerator with a bottom freezer (I detested the bottom freezer!), we have a side-by-side. Our new fridge is 2.2 cubic feet larger than our last fridge-freezer combo, so it feels like we upgraded from a compact car to a sedan.


Ari adores opening the new refrigerator’s door. And the thing is, he no longer needs to go to the trouble of pulling a chair over to the fridge (which we usually see and stop him from doing) in order to take out what he wants. Now he just hops right in and tries to grab things! (This makes having anything that’s opened or made of glass impossible to put on a lower shelf or on the door!) Not even the door alarm makes him reconsider his choice of raiding the fridge. Nope. He lets the alarm keep dinging until one of us asks him to close the door.

Do I regret my choice to get a side-by-side? Not a bit.

Do I wish our new fridge-freezer had a door-lock option? Absolutely.

food · slice of life

Date Night

Marc pulled the car out of the garage as I said good-bye to the kids. At first, neither Isabelle nor Ari came running. But just as I said good-bye to the adult in the room, both kids came running.

“But I don’t want you to go out…” Isabelle whined.

“You always say that before Daddy and I go out on a date. You’ll be fine,” I said kissing her on top of her head.

“You goin’ on a date!” Ari declared.

“That’s right,” I replied.

“Daddy’s goin’ on a date too!” he said.

“Is he going with me?” I asked.

Ari smiled. I gave him a kiss on the head too. However, he tried to follow me out of the door as I walked into the garage. Fortunately, he was redirected with, “Let’s go watch Mommy and Daddy from the window.”

With that, I slithered out the door and into Marc’s car for a much-needed dinner with my husband.

Pre-Dinner Selfie in the Fountain Lobby at the Hotel Hershey

The Circular made their chocolate fondue gluten-free by giving us extra cheesecake and fruit. Delicious!

food · slice of life

Little Kitchen Helper

I wanted to have dinner on the table by 6:00 p.m. That should’ve been doable since I began removing the items from the fridge at 5:20. And the recipe Ari (That’s right! He has taken to helping me with my grocery lists for the past two weeks.) selected would only take 30 minutes to prepare.


Ari was hanging around me in the kitchen as I removed the items from the fridge.


when I asked him if he’d like to help, he declared yes with enthusiasm.


I moved the helper tower from the dining room to the kitchen, handed Ari an apron, and relocated my cutting board to the island so we could get to work — together.

Ari kept squealing with delight, “I’m helping! I’m helping make dinner!” every time he placed an item in the bowl.

I wanted to have dinner on the table by 6:00 p.m. Dinner was served 15 minutes later than expected, but it was worth the late start.

My dressing game needs work.

Click here for the recipe.

food · slice of life

Grape Jelly (with a Side of Chicken and Cauliflower)

Here’s Ari… setting the table for the meal he wanted.

After a long day that included three meetings and more driving than I want to admit to, I was relieved tonight’s dinner was simple. I removed the spatchcocked chicken from the oven and set it on the counter to cool. I walked over to the fridge, opened the left door, and removed the cauliflower rice from the produce drawer. All I needed was a frying pan, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and I’d have dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes.

Best laid plans.

“I want some jelly!” Ari declared as he removed both squeeze bottles of grape jelly from the fridge. (Don’t ask me why we have two almost-empty bottles of grape jelly. That’s a mystery I’ll solve tomorrow.)

“We’re having chicken and cauliflower rice for dinner,” I reminded him.

He was unconvinced. “I want some jelly!” With his second declaration, he scuttled across the kitchen with both bottles of grape jelly, slammed them down on the kitchen table, and said, “I want some jelly!”

Aren’t you good at being two? I thought.

“I’ve made chicken and cauliflower rice tonight. It’s time to put the jelly back in the fridge.”

“I want some jelly!” he said forcefully enough to make me check the jelly-bottle caps to make sure they were on tightly.

“You can have peanut butter and jelly for lunch tomorrow. Tonight we’re eating chicken and cauliflower rice.”

I handed Ari the bottles of jelly and ushered him back to the fridge. I opened the left door and said, “Put it back in the refrigerator, please.”

He counted, “One! Two!” as he placed the jellies back onto the shelf.

I helped Ari closed the refrigerator door. I hoped he would forget about the jelly and just eat a good dinner. Thankfully, he’s a good little eater. He ran from the fridge to his booster seat, clipped himself in, smiled proudly, and said, “I want chicken now.”

We’ll work on manners tomorrow.

Bye-bye jellies!