Cuties in Costumes & Toddler-Friendly Halloween Party Recipes

(From left:) Maurice, rocking a pirate romper; Lina, as Alex from Flashdance; Charlotte, a Jack-O’-Lantern; Zann, a golfer; Sal, a shark; and Mason, my dragon. Photo by Florence Liu (Charlotte’s mom)

Late on Saturday afternoon we got together with a group of LIC Mamas, their husbands, and their babes to celebrate Halloween. My friend Diane hosted the party at her place, which offers a panoramic view of the East River and the Manhattan skyline — the ideal backdrop for our babes’ first “real” Halloween party. The two little girls, Lina and Charlotte,  played quietly with toys while the boys chased each other around Diane’s apartment, in hysterics. The difference in the way our girls and boys play is amazing! Is it just that way with our kids, or do all boys and girls play so differently? We’re all first-time moms so we haven’t had much experience with this dynamic.

Mama and Mason: Growl all you want, Bug, that’s what little dragons do! Photo by Florence Liu (Charlotte’s mom)

Mason randomly hugged me while I was chatting. Totally. Awesome. Thanks for capturing the moment, Kerry Discioarro (Sal’s mom)!

Diane channeled her inner domestic goddess and went all out with the menu. We started with wine, smoked salmon, cheese, crackers, and pigs in a blanket (the later being her hubby’s special request, could you tell?). For dinner we feasted on two different kinds of stuffed chicken, basil-pesto cous cous, Parmesan broccoli, and macaroons (pics and links to recipes below). Maybe we can talk her into hosting the Halloween party every year?! I made a second dessert, a simple apple-cherry crisp. The babies loved everything on our plates but they were too exhausted to try dessert. Gotta love the power of hard-core play time! Mason passed out as soon as we got home and didn’t make a peep all night.

As Chris and I were driving home — yes, we wimped out and took the car since NYC was a snowy-rainy mess on Saturday — we were chatting about how much fun we had at the party. It was very different from the wild and crazy  Halloween parties we went to before we became parents, but it was so much better for so many reasons. For starters, we have our son who is without question the love of our lives. I also feel myself getting reflective and sentimental whenever all of the LIC Mamas are together. I feel really bonded with these women and this occasion was just one more reason to celebrate our children and each other. We’ve been able to watch our babies turn into toddlers together and we will move on to the next chapter together, too.

Diane, our awesome hostess, dressed in pink-and-green golf pants to match her son Zann’s golfer costume.


Best for Babies 12+ Months

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Gouda and Spinach (left) and Chicken Breasts Stuffed With Apples, Cream Cheese, and Walnuts — both by Betty Crocker. Delish!

Cous cous tossed with purchased basil-pesto, green onion, and cauliflower — Diane cooked it all together so the veggies would be nice and tender.
Simple Tossed Salad — lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and red onion tossed with balsamic vinaigrette; ideal with any meal.
Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli by Ina Garten — one of the best broccoli dishes I’ve ever tasted. Even the babes loved it.
Golden Macaroons from Better Homes and Gardens (Diane’s macaroons look just like the photo with the recipe!).

Cherry-Apple Crisp from Betty Rosbottom — Serve it warm with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream. I skipped the walnuts since several of the babes haven’t had nuts yet. The recipe isn’t online, so here’s how to make it:


6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup tart, dried cherries
1 stick butter (or half a cup)
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Vanilla or cinnamon ice cream (optional)


Combine butter, flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, and walnuts. Set aside. Grease a baking dish. Arrange apple and cherries. Top with dry ingredient and butter mixture. Bake on 375 degrees F for 30-45 minutes (until crumble is fully baked). Serve warm, topped with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.


What are you doing to celebrate Halloween?

Stomach Bug Gone, We're on to Beets, Lentils & Halloween Partying

Mason is into everything again. Fortunately the stomach bug that hit him at school on Wednesday was short lived. I’m thrilled to report that the little girl he threw up on did not catch it. I stopped by school Friday to bring her a gift from Mason —  new threads to replace the ones she was wearing Wednesday — and I was delighted to see her playing with the other kids. Mason wasn’t around to give her the gift himself, even though he was back to normal by Friday morning, because we kept him home for an extra day just to be extra sure he wasn’t contagious.

Mason is feeling so great he’s eating everything we’re offering him, no Mr. Picky act today. Once he ate (and kept down) our stomach bug foods, he moved on to cinnamon-raisin bagel with cream cheese, pear, cheese toast, green beans, and lentils. Today for lunch he enjoyed mac ‘n’ cheese and beets. As much as he’s loving real food again, he’s even more thrilled to get his beloved milk back. He drank two bottles of it first thing this morning.

With the stomach awfulness behind us, we’re heading to a Halloween party this afternoon. Lots of Mason’s little friends will be there and my friend Diane is whipping up an amazing spread. I’m bringing a Apple-Cherry Crisp for dessert (recipes to come Monday, along with pics of the kids in their costumes!). Do you have any fun plans for Halloween?

Perfect Pumpkin Recipes & Virtual Pumpkin Carving for Toddlers

Halloween is just a week away and pumpkins are everywhere I look: on porches, in Mason’s classroom, on my iPhone (more on that later). I’m sort of obsessed with pumpkins right now — really, with everything related to Halloween as we plan for parties this weekend and check Mason’s costume one last time to make sure it still fits — which is why I’m switching gears today and writing about pumpkins instead of a “Tuesday Timesaver” strategy or recipe. More time-saving strategies next week, I promise.

I love this time of year and all the pumpkin decor, but my favorite way to enjoy pumpkin is on my plate. Even Mr. Picky seems to feel the same way and he’s actually (gasp) eating the pumpkin goodies I give him. We put pumpkin in soups, breads, pasta, spreads — pumpkin is so versatile you can make it savory or sweet. It’s in season from mid-fall to Thanksgiving, so we have plenty of time to enjoy it, too. Check out some of our fave pumpkin recipes and ideas, and share yours.

Pumpkin Pancakes — Chris’ specialty — hopefully we can talk him into making a batch this weekend (hint, hint if you’re reading this Chris). We make a gluten-free variation with gluten-free, all-purpose flour from Bob’s Red Mill.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread — Make this the night before — it’s awesome on toasted cinnamon-raisin bagels.

Pear and Pumpkin Soup — This easy, tasty 25-minute soup makes a great side dish.

Pumpkin Muffins — This make-ahead bread makes a yummy snack or breakfast.

Pumpkin-Filled Ravioli — Purchase prepared pumpkin ravioli (like I do), or try this recipe.

And now for the “later” that I mentioned above…

In addition to eating pumpkin, Mason enjoys playing with pumpkins on my iPhone. He can’t get enough of the free Carve-a-Pumpkin app, and he’ll spend chunks of time fiddling around with it on his own. Of course he needs my help to actually do anything with the app, which is fine because I enjoy playing with it too. I’m also psyched that my iPhone holds a new attraction for Bug–otherwise he’d be dialing the numbers saved to my phone, scrambling the order of my apps, or (gulp) deleting something. Check it out and let us know what you think!