Library Love: February/March Toddler Favorites

I’ve finally decided to take this little blog of ours in a new direction. While cooking and discovering new recipes will always be a major passion of mine, motherhood has completely shaken up my life in all kinds of amazing/frustrating/terrifying/eye-opening ways and it wouldn’t be fair to not share that side of daily life. So here’s to the first of many more mommy/lifestyle focused posts and having more of a mix of content on the blog.

We love the library, and lately, we find ourselves there 2-3 times a week. D was just starting to get interested in looking for books during our library trips a couple of months ago…and then he discovered that they also have movies and all of his favorite tv shows. The library quickly became “the movie store” and it made me a little heartbroken inside. I am definitely grateful for the movies and digital media available (it’s totally helped our budget a bit on what we were previously spending on Redbox rentals), however, I am a book nerd through and through and have done my best to instill a love of reading in our boy from day one. I remember at his 18-month checkup the pediatrician said, “Now would be a good time to try to start reading to him on a daily basis.” and I was blown away because we started that in utero!

In the last two months, I’ve done a little research into books that have an interactive element to try to grab his attention and managed to stumble across a few gems just from eye-catching front covers. I have done most of the book collecting at the library, but he’s now getting really excited to read through everything once we get home. Today, he actually left the movies to run over to the book section and my little bookworm heart leaped for joy. Below are a few books that we’ve particularly enjoyed reading together during February and March.

Favorite Toddler Books February March

  1. I Wish That I Had Duck Feet by Theo. LeSieg
    • We’ve actually owned this book for a couple of years, but it’s become a favorite bedtime story of late and I couldn’t be happier. This has to be one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books and it has a great message of being happy with yourself just as you are.
  2. Secrets of the Rainforest: Shine-a-Light Books by Carron Brown
    • Grab a flashlight and prepare for your little one to be entertained for at least a good ten minutes. After reading it a couple of times with him and showing him how to shine the light behind each page to reveal the hidden images, he kept looking for hidden things while I was able to actually cook dinner without tripping over trains, tractors, buzz lightyear….
  3. Press Here by Herve Tullet
    • Such a cute interactive book of playful dots where your actions influence what happens on the next page.
  4. Mix it Up by Herve Tullet
    • This book opened up a whole world of conversation about what colors can be made by combining other colors. We took things to the next level with color bath tabs (throwing a blue and yellow tab into D’s bath to make a green bath, etc.). So much fun!
  5. Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer
    • This is just a pretty book with the cutest little illustrations of a penguin who just can’t seem to shake his case of the grumpies. Don’t worry, he figures out how to calm down and by the end of the story he is in bed and ready for a better day tomorrow. We renewed this one as many times as we could and read it more times than I can count.
  6. Harry and Horsie by Katie Van Camp, Lincoln Agnew
    • This was just a cute story that had bubbles as a main element and we are all about bubbles these days.
  7. Bedtime at the Swamp by Kristyn Crow, Macky Pamintuan
    • Get your southern drawl ready for this one, but it’s a cute short story and D loves the repeated sound parts of “splish splash rumba rumba bim bam boom”. The librarian actually recommended this one for us and said that it was a favorite of her boys when they were little. I can definitely see why!
  8. Thomas & Friends: Stuck in the Mud by Shana Corey, Richard Courtney
    • This was the first book that D memorized almost in its entirety so he could “read” it to us. Is there anything cuter than listening to your not yet three-year-old read to you?
  9. Bee & Me by Elle J. McGuinness

I’m always looking for new book recommendations! What are some of your favorite books for toddlers? 

Easy Breakfast Casserole

Easy Breakfast Casserole

This breakfast casserole can feed a crowd…or at least cover your family’s breakfasts for a few days. We ate the casserole by itself for the first couple of days and then transitioned to rolling up a slice of the casserole in a tortilla for quick breakfast tacos on the go the next couple of days.

This dish was cheesy and full of potato-y (Can we just go ahead and make that a word? ) goodness. With tasty turkey sausage, just enough egg, and a few seasonings, we absolutely loved this egg and potato breakfast bake and will definitely be throwing it into our regular rotation on busy weeks.

Give this easy breakfast casserole recipe a try and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Ingredients:

  • 12 eggs
  • 3/4 cup half & half
  • 20 ounces frozen Ore-Ida Diced Potatoes
  • 1 pound turkey sausage (or breakfast sausage of choice), cooked
  • 8 ounce block of sharp cheddar cheese (or cheese of choice), grated
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a large casserole dish (I used a 9 x 13 glass Pyrex) with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. Season potatoes with seasoned salt, onion powder, and garlic powder and heat in a skillet until mostly cooked through (the potatoes will continue cooking after the casserole has been assembled and placed in the oven).
  3. Prepare sausage until cooked through.
  4. Combine sausage and potatoes and pour into prepared casserole dish.
  5. In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs and combine with half & half and half of the shredded cheddar. Pour over the sausage and potatoes. Top with additional shredded cheddar.
  6. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes. Remove from oven when casserole is set, cooked through and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
  7. Allow casserole to rest for 15-20 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Three Ways

Crockpot BBQ Shredded Chicken

I almost hesitate to even call this a recipe because it is so ridiculously simple.I suppose if you want to be fancy you could make your own BBQ sauce from scratch to take it to the next level…but I kind of love taking the lazy approach from time to time when life gets a little extra crazy.

A jar of your favorite BBQ sauce, a couple of chicken breasts, a few seasonings for extra flavor and a crockpot are all you need to make a tasty dish that can be transformed into a number of awesome meals. A true leftover marvel!

Some of our favorite ways to use leftover crockpot barbecue chicken include:

  • BBQ Chicken Sandwiches:
    • BBQ Chicken + Storebought fancy hamburger buns from the bakery
  • BBQ Chicken Bakers:
    • BBQ Chicken + Baked potato with butter and cheese (or whatever your heart desires)
  • BBQ Chicken Quesadillas:
    • BBQ Chicken + Simple Cheese Quesadilla (or an Avocado & Cheese Quesadilla — Mmm…)

 

On to the Recipe…

To make the BBQ Chicken you’ll need:

  • 2 chicken breasts, thawed (you’ll need to increase the amounts of these ingredients for larger families)
  • 1 cup prepared BBQ sauce
  • 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

 

Directions:

  1. Place chicken breasts in a crockpot. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Mix BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl.
  3. Pour sauce mixture over the chicken.
  4. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.
  5. Remove chicken from crockpot and shred meat to desired consistency.