Looking to share the story of Creation with your little ones? This sweet board book, God Made the World, is the perfect way to do that! 
Reviews

Book Review: God Made the World

Looking to share the story of Creation with your little ones? This sweet board book, God Made the World, is the perfect way to do that! 

Looking to share the story of Creation with your little ones? This sweet board book, God Made the World, is the perfect way to do that! 

description of the book from the publisher:

Who made the sun, the stars, the moon, and the animals? God did! And who made me? God did! God made the entire world! Author and artist Sarah Collins brings a fresh approach to her illustrations using geometric designs to create bright, beautiful, and exiting pictures that preschoolers will want to look at over and over again.

God Made the World board book tells the story of creation in simple, easy to remember rhymes with art that is engaging and fun for young children. And it is sure to become a classic introductory creation storybook that will be used by countless families and teachers.

As usual, my five point review:

  • What a great board book! It is absolutely beautiful to look at it and feels good too. I know that’s a little weird to say, but we read a LOT to our toddler and the more high quality board books (in terms of construction) just feel good in your hands. Thick pages that stand up to drool and being thrown, bent, and otherwise abused (parents… you know this is true!!) are important. We do teach good book behaviors, but it’s a process. 🙂
  • God Made the World covers the story of creation as told in Genesis 1. The author shares creation’s story through a series of fun rhymes that are enjoyable to read and enjoyable for a child to hear. They aren’t sing songy (which can be annoying) but are fresh and new.
  • Speaking of the Christian message of this book… it’s straight from the Bible, and that’s important to me. I want my son to be exposed to Christianity through a variety of sources–family, daycare, church, music, books, and more. I want the Bible to be repeated to my son over and over and over again, and Biblically based storybooks are great for that!
  • The illustrations are awesome. Bold and bright colors as well as fun geometric shapes and patterns make this book pleasing to look at too. I think this also holds the interest of babies and toddlers better.
  • In general, I think this is a fabulous board book! It would be a great gift idea for a baby shower, first birthday party, or even to gift to your church nursery or daycare. It’s read on repeat at our house… the test of a good book!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Tyndale House for the chance to read this great book!

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Breakfast, Egg Dishes, Recipes, Reviews

Cheesy Ricotta Frittata Cups #TheLostFamilySupperClub

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum’s newest novel, The Lost Family. I received an advanced copy of the novel to join with other bloggers in a virtual supper club to celebrate the book’s June 5 release. I was not compensated in any other way, and was not asked to provide positive feedback. All opinions are my own. 

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

Click here for more information about #TheLostFamilySupperClub, and to find what the other bloggers brought to this party!

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

Happy Sunday! First let’s start with the book… and then the food.

A description of the book from the publisher:

The New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us creates a vivid portrait of marriage, family, and the haunting grief of World War II in this emotionally charged, beautifully rendered story that spans a generation, from the 1960s to the 1980s.

In 1965 Manhattan, patrons flock to Masha’s to savor its brisket bourguignon and impeccable service and to admire its dashing owner and head chef Peter Rashkin. With his movie-star good looks and tragic past, Peter, a survivor of Auschwitz, is the most eligible bachelor in town. But Peter does not care for the parade of eligible women who come to the restaurant hoping to catch his eye. He has resigned himself to a solitary life. Running Masha’s consumes him, as does his terrible guilt over surviving the horrors of the Nazi death camp while his wife, Masha—the restaurant’s namesake—and two young daughters perished.

Then exquisitely beautiful June Bouquet, an up-and-coming young model, appears at the restaurant, piercing Peter’s guard. Though she is twenty years his junior, the two begin a passionate, whirlwind courtship. When June unexpectedly becomes pregnant, Peter proposes, believing that beginning a new family with the woman he loves will allow him to let go of the horror of the past. But over the next twenty years, the indelible sadness of those memories will overshadow Peter, June, and their daughter Elsbeth, transforming them in shocking, heartbreaking, and unexpected ways.

Jenna Blum artfully brings to the page a husband devastated by a grief he cannot name, a frustrated wife struggling to compete with a ghost she cannot banish, and a daughter sensitive to the pain of both her own family and another lost before she was born. Spanning three cinematic decades, The Lost Family is a charming, funny, and elegantly bittersweet study of the repercussions of loss and love.

This book was absolutely captivating from start to finish. Even though it’s being released at the beginning of summer (well, almost), don’t think this is a light, beach read. Jenna Blum writes with such passion and depth that you will be drawn to the pages. It’s hard to put down!

I will warn you though, this story is bittersweet from start to finish. Every character’s flaws are readily apparent, if not to themselves, to those around them. Such is the human experience. Parts were tough to read, especially as you understand the various ways that Peter, June, and Elsbeth seek to deal with their individual pain and the shadow of Peter’s war experience on the whole family.

See, Peter lost his wife and twin daughters in the Holocaust, and has spent every moment of his life dealing with his grief and loss. Work is his method of coping, and Masha’s (named after his late wife) is the essence of their pre-war dreams. Sadly though, Masha’s does not survive either, and that (to me) seems to be a catalyst for change in the new family’s lives. And yet… there’s beauty in their pain, and redemption in their stories. I won’t give away the ending (READ THE BOOK!) but it is satisfying. The mark of a good story, in my opinion!

When I first started reading this book, I immediately understood WHY this book was being celebrated with a virtual supper club. The food is almost like a character in this novel! Jenna wrote all of us bloggers a sweet note (and sent chocolate!) about her love of food and the inspiration of many of the dishes in this book… “I LOVE FOOD, and I had a joyous time creating and kitchen-testing all the recipes for Masha’s menus in The Lost Family (there are two, Spring 1966 and Fall 1965). I relied on my German friend Christiane’s mother’s recipes, my childhood memories of my Jewish grandmother’s dishes, the Mad Men Cookbook and similar cookbooks from the 1960s, and ingredients from my garden.” Food was celebrated throughout the novel–everything from fancy German and Jewish cuisine served at Masha’s, to family meals, to Midwestern fare that June and Elsbeth eat when visiting June’s mother, and much, much more.

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

The two dishes that compelled ME the most though were not from any of these experiences. Actually, they came from the end of the book–scrambled eggs that Peter makes for his family on the regular, and a mushroom soup that he works to perfect with his daughter by his side. I was *this close* to recreating his mushroom soup (and I still might!) but it has been roasty toasty in Nashville lately, so soup hasn’t been something I’ve been craving.

But these eggs… don’t they sound delicious? This whole breakfast spread, really. “Sometimes, on Saturday mornings, if the Claremont had had a good night the evening before, Peter didn’t go in right away. He got up with Elsbeth, and they made breakfast: fresh-squeezed orange juice–naturally, Peter would not hear of juice from a carton or can. Braed toasted in the oven so it would crisp all the way through, Elsbeth turning it carefully with tongs. And Peter’s special scrambled eggs: first he caramelized onions in a pan, cooking them very slowly in butter until they were translucent; then he added eggs whipped to a froth, heavy cream, ham, fresh dill, and the secret ingredient: a dollop of Neufchâtel cheese. Elsbeth was always allowed to drop this last onto the dish from a wooden spoon. She had her own jacket with her name stenciled on the lapel, a mini chef’s hat, rubber clogs, and a special stool to stand on while she helped Peter stir and mince and measure. The Fabulous Rashkins, the called themselves, and when the food was ready to be served, they presented it to June at the table with a bow, Peter sweeping his hand to the right and Elsbeth to the left. “Ta da! The Fabulous Rashkins! Lo and behold!” (page 277)”

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

I am just in love with that scene. There’s so much happiness and joy between father and daughter. With the knowledge of what comes before and after (it’s actually a memory), it’s very poignant in the life of Peter, June, and Elsbeth. There’s performance and ritual and relationships… and caring for others through a purposeful, planned, and delicious meal. Though my eggs aren’t just like Peter’s in ingredients, they are in spirit: a way to care for my family through good food. These are the frittata cups that my son loves most for weekday breakfasts at school. And why wouldn’t he? These light and fluffy egg muffins are full of three types of cheese. The ricotta contributes to the lightness of the frittata cups, the Parmesan gives them a salty bite, and the cheddar on top gets all brown and crispy. Yum!

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

What I also love about the family breakfast scene is how Elsbeth helps her father in the kitchen. You can tell that this is a usual occurrence, not just an occasional thing. That is what I hope to accomplish with my son as he grows up, and he actually helps me make these muffins. He’s getting good with the whisk and loves to top them with cheese (and eat some too, haha… he is only two after all). I hope you enjoy these Cheesy Ricotta Frittata Cups, and The Lost Family. Let me know if you read it… I’d love to know what you think! 🙂

one year ago: Copycat Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno Dip
two years ago: Baked Tilapia with Coconut-Cilantro Sauce 
three years ago: Southwestern Cilantro Mac and Cheese
four years ago: Black Bean and Rice Soup
five years ago: Blueberry Burgers
six years ago: Parmesan Garlic Rolls
seven years ago: Lemony Kale Pasta

Cheesy Ricotta Frittata Cups

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

from The Kitchn

Ingredients:

  • 12 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded (I’ve used Gruyere, mozzarella, and cheddar but fontina is suggested in the original)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray, or line with silicone liners (paper liners probably would stick, but I haven’t tried them).

Combine the eggs, ricotta, milk, Parmesan, and a generous amount of black pepper in a large bowl. Whisk to combine until the eggs are beaten. Transfer to prepared muffin tins, filling each well 1/2 to 3/4 full. Top with shredded cheese and chives.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the frittata cups comes out clean. Tops should be puffy and edges should be golden brown, just pulling away from the sides. Allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove individual frittata cups to a cooling rack to cool completely. If you do not use silicone liners, a butter knife can be used to loosen the frittata cups from the pan.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Frittata cups can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

Be sure to follow the author and sponsors!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary, advance reading copy of The Lost Family by Jenna Blum for my participation in the #TheLostFamilySupperClub party. All opinions are my own. I received no further compensation for this post.
How I Eat

How I Eat: Have a Starting Point and Eat Your Leftovers

Welcome to How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People. (If you missed it, click over to read more about this series on The Pajama Chef.) This series is meant to inspire readers (and myself!) with tips and tricks for meal planning and getting dinner on the table. Whether you’re cooking for one or a crowd, I firmly believe that good food shouldn’t be sacrificed just because life is busy.

How I Eat, Wendy: Have a Starting Point and Eat Your Leftovers

Today’s feature on How I Eat is Wendy, the blogger behind A Day in the Life on the Farm. Wendy lives in Michigan with her husband–and fun fact: she’s a retired cop! I love reading about her adventures in the kitchen and am excited to share her meal planning insights with all of you!

Tell us about yourself. Who are you cooking for? What else influences how you get meals on the table?

I am retired and suffering from empty nest syndrome. Having been used to cooking for a crowd, it is hard for me to cook for just 2 now. I have learned how to plan and repurpose leftovers into meals all week long.

What meals do you plan?

  • Dinner

In a typical week, approximately how many meals per week do you plan to eat at home or prepare to take with you (e.g., to work or school)? No shame… curious minds want to know! For this, I would include any food purchased at the grocery store (e.g., rotisserie chicken, bagged salad mix, etc.) but not takeout.

  • 16-18: I eat out 3-5 times per week, maybe a few days for lunch or so.

What is your basic meal planning method?

Being a food blogger really dictates my menus. I belong to a lot of different blogging events. I write each event on a calendar along with everything else that is going on in my life. Once a week I sit down and make a Weekly Menu. I look to see what events I have in the next few weeks and how I can incorporate those events into my meal planning. For example: this week I am having a dinner party for my family that lives up north. On the menu for that evening are items that will be blogged during five different events. Minestrone (Kitchen Matrix Cooking Project), Borscht Salad (Kitchen Matrix Cooking Project), Chicken Alfredo Lasagna (Comfort Food), Black Forest Bundt (Bundt Bakers). I will serve a Sauvignon Blanc with this meal to write about for my Wine Pairing Weekend group.
Any leftover soup will be used for lunch during the week along with bread that will be written about in the Bread Bakers group. In the off chance that there are any other leftovers they will also become lunch….or breakfast, if there is cake left. You can do that when you are retired and not trying to set a good example for the kids!!
How I Eat, Wendy: Have a Starting Point and Eat Your Leftovers
The above is just one night’s meal but, of course, we don’t eat like that every night. The rest of the week might look like pot roast one evening that is turned into pot pie for another dinner and hot beef sandwiches for a lunch. Or perhaps a roasted chicken that is served with mashed potatoes and a vegetable one evening, turned into chicken and dumplings for another meal and then tossed with pasta for a third meal. When there are only two of you (and a toddler, occasionally) you can often get three meals from one original dish.

What are your favorite weeknight meals?

I kind of answered that question during my explanation of meal planning… but here are a few!

How I Eat, Wendy: Have a Starting Point and Eat Your Leftovers

How I Eat, Wendy: Have a Starting Point and Eat Your Leftovers

What are your “no-brainer” meals? Or what meals do you make when there’s “nothing” to eat?

I always have pasta in the house and we are carb addicts. Pasta is a great foil for practically anything you have on hand. Open the refrigerator grab out those last few mushrooms, that last handful of spinach and that quarter of an onion. Saute them up in olive oil and some seasonings, toss in your cooked pasta and dinner is on the table in less than half an hour.

Do you use any tools to help you create your meal plan and/or execute it?

I do use tools ie: my calendar, my vast collection of cookbooks, internet searches which usually lead me to allrecipes.com and searches of other food blogs. I also post my Weekly Menu each week on my blog.

What is your best advice for someone who is just starting to meal plan?

Have themes for each day of the week. Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Fish Friday, Soup Saturday, etc….having designated days gives you a starting point. Also try to incorporate those leftovers into the plan or else you will find yourself throwing away some unknown green fuzzy item when you open your fridge. That leftover rice from Tuesday and leftover pork from Wednesday makes a kick butt fried rice dinner on Thursday with the addition of some frozen mixed veggies.

Anything else you want to add?

I just want to thank Sarah for including me in this fun little project. I love the food blogging community.

How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People - a new series on thepajamachef.com inspiring YOU in the weekly routine of meal planning!

Thank you, Wendy! I love your advice to just have a starting point. Whether you do themed days like Wendy suggests or just plan to cook on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, a starting point can help you accomplish your goals!

Connect with Wendy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for more inspiration.

Layered sweet potato and sausage scrambled egg muffins to make your mornings better! These little treats are so flavorful and delicious. They're toddler approved and freeze great!
Breakfast, Egg Dishes, Recipes

Sweet Potato + Sausage Scrambled Egg Muffins

Layered sweet potato and sausage scrambled egg muffins to make your mornings better! These little treats are so flavorful and delicious. They’re toddler approved and freeze great!

Layered sweet potato and sausage scrambled egg muffins to make your mornings better! These little treats are so flavorful and delicious. They're toddler approved and freeze great!

Little man takes his breakfast to school most days. Along with being a time-saver (hello, we leave the house at 6:45 am), food is also the ULTIMATE distraction in toddlerland. I just can’t bear to leave him when he’s grabbing at my leg and wailing. #theworst So… food it is! (Heaven help us on the days I go in late. Seriouslyyy it.is.so.sad.) He is always psyched to sit down at the little table with his pals and dive in to some breakfast.

Layered sweet potato and sausage scrambled egg muffins to make your mornings better! These little treats are so flavorful and delicious. They're toddler approved and freeze great!

As with everything when you’re busy, making things ahead is KEY for success. Or at least, less stress. HA! Lately I’ve been making a big batch of scrambled egg muffins on the weekend for little man to enjoy for breakfast at school. We usually pair a muffin for him with some fruit or a quarter of these homemade applesauce waffles (that I also make in batches and freeze). This obsession started with a ricotta egg muffin recipe I found (will share THAT recipe soon, I promise!) and escalated into these tasty treats.

Layered sweet potato and sausage scrambled egg muffins to make your mornings better! These little treats are so flavorful and delicious. They're toddler approved and freeze great!

I seriously adore everything about these scrambled egg muffins. They’re layered, similar to a breakfast casserole, but instead of a bread base, I roasted up some sweet potatoes with lots of yummy herbs. Then I cooked some sausage, crumbled it over top of the sweet potatoes, and poured the egg mixture over everything. Top with cheese, bake, and enjoy. SO easy. You could make these with your kids… that’s what I did! My little guy had so much fun filling up the muffin cups with all the ingredients (I did pour the egg mixture but he did everything else–including helping me whisk the eggs). Since my son is still pretty young I did let the sweet potatoes and sausage cool before he handled it, but he had a blast helping his mama in the kitchen. Lately he’s going through a bit of a picky eater phase, but I really believe he’s been enjoying these scrambled egg muffins so much because he helped make them! It’s the sweetest thing. Hope you guys enjoy these as much as we do!

one year ago: Lentil Veggie Mac & Cheese
two years ago: Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Bars
three years ago: Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart
four years ago: Oatmeal Fudge Bars
five years ago: Neely’s Lemon Pasta Salad
six years ago: Pineapple Apricot Teriyaki Chicken
seven years ago: Chicken Pot Pie

Sweet Potato + Sausage Scrambled Egg Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound)
  • 1 1/2-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence (or other dried herbs)
  • 8 ounces breakfast sausage
  • 10 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Gruyere)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Dice sweet potatoes into small one inch cubes, then toss with oil and herbs. Place on a single layer on a large baking sheet, then roast in the oven for 30 minutes until soft, tossing once or twice.

Meanwhile, cook sausage and drain grease.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and Dijon mustard.

Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray, or line with silicone liners.

When sweet potatoes are cooked, divide between muffin wells. Top each with crumbled sausage, then pour egg mixture on top. Repeat until ingredients are gone–amounts may vary slightly, as my silicone muffin cups are a little small. Top with cheese, then bake for 22-25 minutes until set.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Also freezes great!

Layered sweet potato and sausage scrambled egg muffins to make your mornings better! These little treats are so flavorful and delicious. They're toddler approved and freeze great!

Reviews

Book Review: How to Be a Perfect Christian

Read on to learn more about the NEW book from The Babylon BeeHow to Be a Perfect Christian.

Read on to learn more about the NEW book from The Babylon Bee--How to Be a Perfect Christian.

A description of the book from the publisher:

With a biting, satirical style reminiscent of The OnionHow to Be a Perfect Christian takes a humorous look at the quirks of cultural Christianity while subtly challenging the reader to search for more than a cultural faith.

Written in the trademark style of The Babylon Bee, this book humorously satirizes cultural Christianity while peppering in subtle challenges to the reader. Through humor and sarcasm (and a handy meter to rank your “holiness” as you progress through the book), readers will be called to find a more biblical understanding of the Christian faith, all while poking fun at the quirks of the modern, American Christian community.

As usual, my five point review:

  • Alright, let’s make sure we have this straight: THIS BOOK IS SATIRE. So, don’t get all cray cray on me thinking we can really be “perfect Christians.” You and I know that isn’t exactly true (or possible). But now that we’re clear… this book is hilarious–it is a must read if you enjoy The Babylon Bee. I have to admit I picked up this book for my husband. He LOVES The Babylon Bee, and I love watching him chuckle while reading their amusing articles. Ben and I don’t exactly have the same sense of humor, but I can appreciate some good sarcasm and satire every now and again, so I like some of The Babylon Bee’s stuff too.
  • How to Be a Perfect Christian is such a clever book but you have to read with a critical thinking mindset… and also realize that they are trying to make a subtle point about our faith practices through humor and satire. Each chapter analyzes a different aspect of American Christianity and pokes fun at everything in the modern church, from how Christians do devotions (i.e. social media images of your Bible and coffee) to worship (choosing the holiest place to sit) to spiritual growth practices (of all types). Prepare to be slightly offended, and maybe a little convicted too.
  • On the vein of being “slightly offended,” there’s lots in this book that could offend. So just be aware of that. I highly doubt that they’re intentionally trying to offend (or maybe that’s the point? I don’t know!). I think most of that is harmless, but depending on your views about language there could be some offending points. Also (and this is just a note), they are sort of casual when talking about Jesus, calling him “our homeboy” and mentioning things about “breathing down Jesus’ neck” in relation to holiness. I would have to reread and consider this more, but considering who we believe Jesus is (God), this is potentially a little too much. Yes, it’s satire, but it may go too far at times. Maybe that’s just me though. I’ve seen similar things on their site in the past. The last chapter shares the gospel much in the same way… so again, your appreciation of this book may vary based on your ability to separate satire and truth.
  • One great thing about this book is its ability to make you question your motives as you practice faith. Are you doing something because it’s Biblical or because it “feels” holy? This book, though funny, has the potential to be so much more… to challenge Christians to consider why they believe or do things, and not just do whatever the modern church tells them to.
  • Overall, I recommend this book. You’ll laugh and cringe, and hopefully come away with a better understanding of you as a Christian as well as how the world perceives you. Maybe you’ll also make changes in your life as a result, or at least examine your motives. As for audience, it would be enjoyed by high school-aged students on up. It could be a great gift to a college grad as they embark into the “real world” and learn how to be a Christian outside of a protective bubble of childhood and the college campus. If you regularly read The Babylon Bee, you may recognize some content or themes, but there is a lot of new material too.

Interested in this book? It releases on May 1, 2018 but for now you can read an excerpt here

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Blogging for Books for the chance to read this great book!