Posts tagged cooking
Mini Cooks: Enchilada Lasagna

It's time for another beautiful installment of Mini Cooks with my friend, Joy of

Frock Files

. She's cooked up an easy, hands on meal cheerfully titled Enchilada Lasagna. And it's perfect for our family and probably yours, too.

I am a huge pasta fan, favoring of course fresh pasta above all, but still a fan of ramen and even Spaghettios (oh, gees, I just admitted that). And yet I am raising three amazing children who have absolutely no interest in noodles or pasta. Joy's recipe today takes some of the flavors we adore and adds in tortillas - you've got to check it out.

It's what we're having for dinner. I wish it could look this pretty.

Thank you all for the amazing support of this collaboration! We've had a ton of fun planning and prepping it all for you and your families. Do you have an awesome recipe to share? Tag it with #minicooks so we can pin it to the

Mini Cook Pinterest


Catch all of the recipes and tips on these posts!

5 ideas for getting started with Mini Cooks

Egg in a Basket

Snack Granola Bars

Lunchtime Vegan Smoothies

xoxo, MJ

Mini Cooks: A recipe for success

Every Wednesday for the next six weeks join in for a fresh collaborative series called Mini Cooks. I'm teaming up with Sheri of Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt and Joy of Frock Files to explore the culinary world through the lens of children! We'll be offering you simple recipes and cooking adventures that you can do with your children, nieces/nephews, neighbors, and more.

We've been cooking up (pun intended) a fabulous series to give you practical recipes as well as helpful ways that children in your kitchen can get involved, learn important skills, and grow to love the foods they create. I'm delighted to kick us off with five ideas on how to enjoy time in the kitchen with your mini cooks!


Cooking is more comfortable when the tools of the trade fit your size. Take a look at your drawer or canister of kitchen gadgets and see what might work best for little hands. Utensils need not be used as they were originally intended... a brightly colored measuring spoon can work to mix ingredients and playful plastic cups can be a great substitute for larger adult measuring cups. Or maybe make a splurge for a magenta spatula or little egg whisk to let your littles know that they were thought of, too, in the process of food preparation.

Be sure they have a safe and secure way to reach countertops or consider taking the cooking process down to their height at a kitchen table or play table.

Dress up is always fun so consider if mini aprons and chef hats might be your thing!

Perhaps the aspect that keeps our children out of the kitchen more than any other is safety. Ovens, ranges, knives, and processors present very real concerns. Our job as the big chefs, if you will, is to make sure the space is set up for success and that we monitor mini cooks in the kitchen at all times.

First, be sure to alert children of possible dangers and help them understand safety zones. Model good locations to stand when cooking by the range, opening the oven door, or flipping on the griddle. Where are hot spots? What is breakable?

Remember to teach clean habits during the prep and clean up processes.

Of course, certain processes are not child appropriate, and mini cooks need to understand this, too. Children can still be engaged while adults take on the more risky elements.

This one I love. When my children are really involved and enjoying our food prep, it's a direct result of the pre-planning I did to make it a success. Having all of the pots, pans, bowls and tools washed and ready to use; thinking through the preparation process and what ages can handle what skills; talking with my children about what recipes they want to try.

In our house, it's a rite of passage to be able to use the hand-held mixer. And from the point that someone can stand on their own, my children know that they are welcome to hold the measuring cup over the bowl. My oldest, M, now 9 is excited to have the cutting board and dicing responsibilities now. Think early and often invitations to participate!

Forgive this former teacher, but I cannot pass up the amazing teachable moments found in the kitchen. From the history of recipes to the geography of the people who created them to the mathematics of measurement. From nutrition and agricultural learning to business and art lessons, the kitchen can become the most fertile learning ground in your house. Let it be!

Every child has her or his own limit on the messy they are willing to do. My younger daughter, C,  embraces and wears all things sloppy as she bakes. My son wants his hands clean as soon as they get wet. And neither perspective is good or bad. Try to expose your children to both sides. Engage in the messiness of goopy recipes that require hands on and use the tongs and scoops that can keep hands clean.

And remember that floors, sinks, counters, ovens, and even ponytails can be cleaned so that your mini cook can feel good making the necessary messes for his or her masterpiece!

Join us next Wednesday as Joy brings us a simple breakfast treat to entice your mini cooks into the kitchen.

Big thanks to Joy and Sheri for your incredible creative touch!

xoxo, MJ

Bring Joy and Janae: 12 Blogger Christmas

Happy New Year, pals!! It's 2014 - how did that happen? Thank you for all of your reading and applauding through 2013 for this here blog. Because of your support some fabulous changes are happening in 2014, and I can't wait to share a few things I've been keeping on the hush hush. May 2014 be a year of lasting hope and endless possibilities!

On this seventh day of Christmas, I'm BRINGing you JOY. If you have not yet discovered the force that is Janae from Bring Joy, let me convince you.

I wanted to share recipes & helps answer questions about my dietary choice to go vegan. When I first began blogging nearly 5 years ago, the www was a totally different place. Pinterest didn't exist. There was no such thing as a Facebook fan page. Twitter was just in its baby phase. So much has changed, but the reason I began is the reason I continue--to connect with others & to share. 


My blog has evolved over the years (as I hope all blogs do!) to be more than just a blog about being vegan & sharing recipes. I like to share snippets of family life, share how we're striving to be frugal & get out of debt, & discuss issues about relationships & parenting. I keep blogging, honestly, because of my readers. I have some readers who have stuck around since the beginning, & my interactions with them are my fuel to keep going. I love learning from them, & feel honored to have such a thoughtful, smart audience. 
The essence of my blog is sharing, community, with an emphasis on thoughtful, purposeful living. In a few words, I'd like to think I & my readers discuss ways in which to bring more joy to living, particularly as it relates to food, family, & money decisions. 
I don’t know. Except I do. Because I’m a woman & I’ve been guilty as anyone of this. In the past 6 months or so, I’ve been quietly working on changing my mindset. Striving to realize that my value as a woman, as a person, does not have anything to do with the shape of my body, or the size of my jeans. It’s hard to fight against this though, in our culture, where we’re sold this idea that a woman’s power or strength at least in part, is derived from the shape & size of her body.
Image courtesy of Freshly Picked
I just want to continue interacting with my readers in a very mindful, intimate way. I love nothing more than to receive emails & comments from readers that teach me something, or open my eyes in a new way. I feel like blogging is the 21st century version of extreme pen pal-ing. I get to interact on a regular basis from people all over the world, & not just any kind of people--some truly fabulous & wonderful people. 
When you head over to Bring Joy, you will quickly notice how engaged Janae is with her audience. Her smart, relevant, and challenging content stretches the gamut from frugal living to healthy eating to marriage and parenting conversations. And she has an almost magical way of beginning a conversation you want to be sure to join. So many times when I'm reading a post from Bring Joy, I find myself internally nodding and thinking "YES!" as I read her well selected content.
Janae's food photography is pretty awesome as well. Click on over to Bring Joy - and let's make it a habit to do so often in this great new year - 2014!

On the seventh day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Bring Joy.

On the sixth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Minnow + Co.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt.

On the fourth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Design + Life + Kids.

On the third day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Design Stitch Go.

On the second day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Trouvé Magazine.

And Lulu the Baker !

Donuts, Dresses, & Dirt and Sheri: 12 Blogger Christmas

Happy Monday to you! We're celebrating with style here on Pars Caeli as we march through the 12 days of Christmas with the fabulous ladies of the internet. Today's star is a one-of-a-kind. Sheri Silver writes, bakes, cooks, photographs, styles, and inspires over at Donuts, Dresses and Dirt. She brings the best in gardening, baking and cooking, as well as truly great “finds”.

It's so appropriate that Sheri is our fifth day of Christmas and the classy five golden rings.

A two-part question, I think! I found blogging after almost 10 years of building a business (landscape design) that I was no longer passionate about. I wasn’t ready to give it up yet but felt a strong need to find an outlet for my other interests. A blog felt like a low-key way to “dip a toe” into something new, while I figured out my next steps.

What keeps me blogging is how much I love it! While I achieved my initial goal of establishing a platform for all of the things I love, what I didn’t expect was the incredible community that I’ve since discovered. The talented and supportive writers that I am privileged to call co-workers and friends have been a joy and a gift that I cherish each and every day.


Donuts, Dresses and Dirt is a lifestyle blog that gives “voice” to the things I’m passionate about – baking and cooking, gardening, shopping and my adventures in and around NYC both solo and with my family. Here’s where I hang out!

Blog   Facebook   Pinterest   Twitter   Instagram

(Sheri is also a fabulous contributor over at Babble - do not miss her great project over there!)



Assuming your child goes the traditional straight-to-college-finishes-in-four-years route, you will have spent 17 of 22 years dealing with their education. That’s almost 80% of their lives. It’s a marathon, for sure, with scant time for “perspective”. For “taking a step back”. For “looking at the big picture”. Most of the time you’re spinning plates.



The “big” wish is that I always put the same heart and commitment into my blog as I did in the beginning. So easy to get caught up with what’s “hot” or “trending”, or to see a post that gets a lot of traffic and feel compelled to write another one “just like it”. Harder to stay true to my inner voice, but that’s when I put out the posts I’m most proud of. I hope that that voice always rings loud and clear for my readers.

Well of course I’d love to continue to see my readership grow. I’m so lucky to have a loyal and engaged audience and it would be great to expand my reach even further. And I’d love to continue to do more collaborative work with brands. I really enjoy partnering on sponsored posts that are germane to what I write about, and I hope to do more of that in the coming year. I also hope to collaborate with other bloggers as I’ve done this past year – those types of projects are pure joy, and one of the greatest benefits of being part of this lovely blogging community. Finally, I would love to be the new face of Madewell (they could use a 50+ model, don’t you think?)!

What a treat to have Sheri over today! I have been reading her inspiring words for parents and oohing over her recipes for ages. I had the true pleasure of meeting Sheri while in NYC, and she knows how to make a gal feel special - and this lovely trait comes through in her blog as well. This year Sheri became a Babble contributor as well - and it's been wonderful to see more readers enjoy her fabulous work!!

Sheri, Joy, and I will be launching a new series on Cooking with Kids in February, and I feel so lucky to join in with these all stars!!

Open up your blog reader and add to your list!! You'll come back and thank me!!

On the fifth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt.

On the fourth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Design + Life + Kids.

On the third day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Design Stitch Go.

On the second day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Trouvé Magazine.

And Lulu the Baker !

xoxo, MJ

PS. Wanna meet a mover and shaker of the interwebs? Come back tomorrow to meet a dynamo!

Lulu the Baker and Melissa: 12 Days of Blogger Christmas

Merry Christmas, lovelies!! I hope that your day of Christmas was filled with goodness and joy. We had a wonderful day in our pajamas, playing with presents and laughing together.

I'm so excited to enjoy another present with you! Over the next 12 days (straight through the weekend), I will be introducing you to twelve fabulous bloggers who write, design, craft, cook, make, and publish some of the most wonderful material on the internet. You'll learn what inspired them to begin, see some of their favorite work, and join in their hopes for 2014.

For those who don't blog, this series might just give you the itch to begin and at the minimum, inspire your everyday. For my fellow bloggers who create, day after day, meaningful, creative, and unbelievable content, I hope that you know how incredible you are, and what a great gift your art is to the rest of us.

Merry Christmas! And to start it off, none other than the incomparable Melissa of Lulu the Baker. You will be amazed!


I started my blog on a whim over 5 years ago because I wanted to participate in an online baking group called The Daring Bakers, and you needed to have a blog to participate! Just in the past couple of years, I feel like I've really discovered this amazing blogging community full of creative, intelligent people, and being part of that community is so rewarding and enriching!

My blog used to just be about cooking and baking, because until a few years ago, I had another blog for projects. But keeping up with both blogs got to be way too much work. Plus I felt like they both represented parts of me and that I needed all of that content in just 1 place instead of scattered all over the internet. Lulu the Baker was never a chore to post on, and when I thought long and hard about it, I didn't want to give that blog up, so that's the one I kept! Since then, it's evolved into more of a lifestyle blog with a focus on food and family.
I'm also guest blogging on the Better Homes & Gardens Style Spotters blog for a few months, and write monthly posts for Ciera Design and Rue Rococo.
I'm really excited about this series I started in October called The Harvest. It is proving challenging, but I love the first post and have a few others in the works right now. My "human interest" posts don't get tons of traffic, but I really love writing them and reading them over and over. Sometimes you just have to post stuff you love!
I had someone tell me (lovingly) at the beginning of the year that I needed to work on my photo styling. I've really taken that comment to heart this year! I've taken a few amazing online workshops on photo styling, and I'm really proud of the strides I've made in just a few short months. I think the photos from this post are really lovely. One of my workshop teachers even told me they were fantastic and that I was a star pupil. As an admitted nerd, that is music to my ears!


A list of my favorite posts wouldn't be complete without The Tale of the Carmelitas! I'd been blogging for a few years without much hullaballoo when I wrote this post. And I think it actually took another year for anyone to notice this recipe. But when it finally hit, it hit with a lot of force. It's still my #1 post of all time, and I'm not sure that will ever change!


I'd love for my blog's voice to really be an extension of myself--always. With all of the sponsorship opportunities and talk of numbers and traffic, it's really easy to lose sight of that. I want my blog to be a happy place that people can look forward to visiting, where they can be inspired for a few moments, and leave with yes, a recipe or project idea, but more importantly, feeling good and happy and peaceful. I feel like that's a tall order!

I've been trying for a while to write a book! I lost my way a little bit this past year; sometimes it's hard to keep yourself motivated when you have an open-ended project like that! But I've been working steadily on it again for the past few months and am really excited to be making headway. Cross your fingers for me!
I also really love collaborating with other bloggers. It's so inspiring to work with talented people. I'd love to have some fun, new blog collaborations this year.
Lastly, I've been wanting to migrate my site from Blogger to Wordpress for so long, and I'm finally going to do it, along with a redesign! I would actually love to have it done this year, but I waited too long and all of the designers I want to work with are booked through January! So keep your eyes peeled in 2014 for a new Lulu the Baker design!


Melissa is so humble and gracious - two of the many things I love about her!! She has become a force to be reckoned with in the blogging universe (she's a regular over at Better Homes and Gardens!). Her creative talents are endless - and her recipes keep me coming back season after season. She is a dedicated mom who is always finding new ways to connect with her kids, and I've been blessed to join in the Endless Summer series with her as well as the Fresh Holiday Traditions!

If you have a blog reader like Blog Lovin' or Feedly, add Lulu the Baker to your feed right now, as your first gift of Blogger Christmas!

On the first day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Lulu the Baker!

xoxo, MJ

PS. On the second day...I'm gifting one of my favorite artists...



Pennies for Love: A Taste

My husband is a fabulous cook. He runs the gamut on his menus from grilled brats and shiskabobs to Thanksgiving turkeys and Thai chicken wraps. I always thought that I would romance someone with my culinary skills, but he has certainly turned those tables around. I'm the main cook for our weekday meals, but he takes over on the weekends and special occasions, and I find every meal he cooks an extra special treat.

Though our three busy little people don't allow for it much any more, we love to cook together, side by side prepping and preparing. I reminisce now about our months of early marriage when we'd hunt out new recipes, scour the grocery store and farmer's market, and create a new medley of flavors (most of the time tasty) together.

These days we carve out time during the holidays to join forces for bigger family meals. Cooking together has come to be one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving and Christmas. My buttermilk cornbread to his ranch deviled eggs. My cranberry stuffing to his paprika spiced turkey. And all the prep time spent planning, cutting, sauteeing is the best kind of togetherness.

The amazing Joy is sharing a fabulous recipe on Frock Files today. She and James set aside Friday nights for going out, but sometimes, it's the staying in that tops the cake. Check out her special recipe for the kind of comfort food that we're all craving with the chill in the air. Hop on over to see this week's Pennies for Love post.

Is cooking a part of your romance?

xoxo, MJ

Must Dos for Fall

It's the beginning of September, and I've already collected handfuls of red and orange leaves from my trees. It is not yet fall, but I can smell its arrival on the way.

And, friends, I adore autumn. Dare I say, my soul needs it - the colors, the tastes, the fragrance - these carry me through the long bleak sea of gray that becomes our winter months.

I've forced, err urged my kiddos and husband to embrace the rituals of fall, and we've created our own bucket list for the season. Whaddya think?

What are you putting on your list for the season? I'd love to add some new adventures to the list this year!!

xoxo, MJ

Grown-up Goodness: Grill Time

What's up Tuesday! We're heading back into Grown-Up Goodness (to find more of this great stuff we adults can love all summer long, check out that word link over there ------>).

This week: grilling. When I was compiling my summer list, I thought of all the delectable tastes of summer. Last week I shared one of my new summer baking faves. And this week, I want to offer two super simple recipes that we've served to happy customers!

Grilling offers our family of five easy prep, splendid flavor mixes, and delightfully quick clean-up. My husband is our main grill master, which also means I get to take the night off when he mans the machine. Hoo-ray.

One mainstay on our grill: sweet corn. I'm a Midwesterner. And I love my corn. If you have not grilled the lovely ears yet, you must try it...the sugary, warm sweetness of it all.

Prep your corn by gently peeling back the outer layers of the husk. **Be sure that all of the husk remains attached at the base as you carefully dive into the corn silk.
Remove all the silk. Little hands are great helps here.

Wrap up your ears with the husks, turn upside down, and immerse in a large pot of water (with a dash of salt). This soaking helps prevent grill burn. We usually soak ours overnight, but in a pinch a lunch to dinner soak (4-5 hours) does the trick.

Grilling time is 10-15 minutes total. Make sure to turn the corn as you see a side of the husk drying or blackening. When the kernels turn from dull to shiny (and juicy!) then remove those golden ears.

From here you can just peel back the husks and chomp away. Or, you can grab a trash bag while you're out by the grill and keep the mess contained. Remove the charred husks outside and bring just the gorgeous kernels to the table.

I'm someone who could eat just corn for any dinner (my fave summer dinner = 2 ears of corn, salt, and a ripe tomato). The kiddos love lots of butter and a touch of salt on theirs. We've tried some great spices and parmesan cheese for other satisfying meals.
Another grill goody from this week: Feta Portabellas

First off, remove the stems from these jumbo treats. We grilled three for our meal. Wash the caps and set them aside to dry. In a bowl, mix 4T balsamic vinegar, and 4T olive oil. Add in 3t of minced garlic. Mix, mix, mix.

Pour the mixture into the caps. Pop it on the grill for about 15 minutes until the 'shrooms feel tender. For the last minute on the grill, add chunks of feta into the caps. Let those warm up and then remove.

So meaty, good, and flavorful.

My friend, Amy, has a great board with all kinds of grilling ideas for summer. Check it out!

Are you firing up the grill this summer for some grown-up goodness? Do tell!