Super Bowl Appetizer

January 30, 2015

CKT: Superbowl Appetizer

What are you doing for the Super Bowl? I will be sitting on the couch watching or not watching the big game, but definitely eating this dip. Have you made it before?  I once ate an unrespectable portion of this dip at Nora’s friend’s birthday party. After the party, I quickly emailed the mom for the recipe. It’s salty, creamy, spicy, and perfect for this Sunday–trust me on this one (the pregnant lady knows).

Buffalo Chicken Dip (sorry for no picture, it does not photograph well)
(A recipe from Sara)

2, 12.5oz cans of canned chicken – drained
1 cup ranch dressing (such as Hidden Valley)
3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
8 ounces cream cheese – room temp
2 cups shredded cheddar or enough to cover the entire dip

Preheat oven to 350. Combine the first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add to a casserole dish and top with the shredded cheddar. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with a sturdy tortilla chip.

The Land of Nod / Jennifer Kaye Valentine’s Photo Booth

January 29, 2015

CKT: Land of Nod Photo Booth

A few weekends back the kids and I went to The Land of Nod Valentine’s Day Photo Booth event. We went with a few friends and let the kids explore the store before their little photo shoot. Each store partnered with a different photographer in the community, so we were excited that Oak Brook teamed up with Jennifer Kaye, who we’ve worked with in the past.  I loved the new heart rug they used as the backdrop. How am I to choose which prints to get? And who knew George was such a ham?

**Also…CKT is partnering with The Land of Nod for an event this March! Details soon!**

CKT: Land of Nod Photo Booth CKT: Land of Nod Photo Booth CKT: Land of Nod Photo Booth CKT: Land of Nod Photo Booth


January 25, 2015


Here’s what’s up for the week:

korean beef & broccoli stir-fry

chili-rubbed salmon and avocado toast

seared flank steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans with lemon butter

^^My friend, Emily, snapped some family photos this past weekend!^^


January 19, 2015

CKT - California We went to California a few months back, but I never posted any pics, because  I was newly pregnant (!!!) and couldn’t write about the trip until the cat was out of the bag. So, with out further adieu…I give you our west coast first trimester “babymoon.”

CKT - California CKT - California **Baby #3 is due this April and are thrilled to become a family of 5! We found out (for the first time) that it’s a *girl* and can hardly wait to meet this little lady.**

IMG_5198 destination: carmel, ca // accommodations: tickle pink hotel
points of interest: hiking, eating, and sleeping in

CKT - California We had never been to this part of California so it was so fun to drive the coastline and soak in the jagged ocean views. Everything at the coast is truly untouched…I felt like we were driving in the 60′s or 70′s. Most drivers had the same agenda: drive, pull over, gawk, repeat (cue up Lord Huron and roll the windows down).

I thought I was always the type of person who could stay anywhere–just give me a clean bed and I’ll be content. Turns out, this is not quite true. Once you’ve stayed at a place that provides plush robes, and perfectly fitting slippers, you think, … to hell if I’m going back to the Comfort Inn.  However, I do know that Brian and I can’t keep this up for long. We have kids and will be taking trips that last longer than three nights. But I have my fingers crossed; and I really like the slippers.

CKT - California CKT - California We woke up every morning to a cloud–I don’t know if it was fog or clouds, or really the difference, but it was strange and a little erie.  But, but, but…our last day we woke up to a horizon line off the coast and bright sunshine. We saw whales from our room–their tails flashing and even a jump in the very far distance.

The hiking was some of my favorite trails to date (Point Lobos!), the food was great, and we certainly enjoyed sleeping in until we wanted. Have you been to Carmel?

CKT - California do not miss: Big Sur hiking, Point Lobos hiking–do the full loop, Nepenthe for lunch, Mission Ranch for drinks, or the cute restaurants in Carmel (we really liked: La Bicyclette)


#CKeats Hope you had a lovely weekend, here’s what we’re eating this week:

rotisserie chicken tacos + roasted carrots with lime and cilantro

grilled pork chops + apple sauce + southern greens (it’s above 32 degrees, so that means it’s time to grill)

pasta with pesto and oven roasted tomatoes

^^The cheese counter at Zabar’s in NYC!^^


January 12, 2015


Time to get back to business with family meal planning! To start off the new year, I will be posting 3 meals each week. I have found that grocery shopping for 3 meals at a time is what works best for our schedule. What are you making this week?

lasagna and spinach salad

red beans and rice

lemon orzo chicken soup – did anyone make this after November’s post?

^^We went to the Art Institute this weekend. When Nora saw this painting she said, “Mom, it’s beauuuutiful, but I don’t like it.” She kills me.^^

do or be?

IMG_8660 Happy New Year everyone! We are just getting back into the swing of things after the holidays. We had a lovely Christmas with a new baby in the family, trains (!!), and lots of time to relax with our family.

CKT christmas ^^Katie and Cory welcomed little Harper who is as sweet as pie!^^

I have a few resolutions: less phone time, more yoga, and more reading. I also had a realization about my day-to-day frame of mind. And that is to focus on how I want to be, rather than want I want to do. So many times I create these unrealistic to-do lists of what I want to accomplish in a day (anyone, anyone?). And it is so unsatisfying/challenging/tiring trying to get. it. all. done. So…instead of only focusing on what needs to get done, I am going to try and focus on how I want to be. A much better way to live out the day, I think.

CKT Christmas

What about you? Any resolutions for the year?


December 15, 2014


Here’s what up:

Thai chicken soup

chipotle chili and cornbread

spinach and pepper quiche with a spinach salad

bison burgers (and all the fixins) and sweet potato “steaks”

^^ Tacos from Bien Trucha in Geneva (YUM!) ^^

Good Eaters?

December 12, 2014

CKT: Good Eaters? What makes a kid a good eater?  My friends always comment that my kids are good eaters; and while George is still in the stage where he will eat anything and everything at all times, my response (in my head) is always, “really?!”

As much as I love the compliment I still constantly deal with the I don’t like dinner talk, the strong will not to try things, and the overall small-portion dining.

So, are kids just born picky/good eaters? Is eating just another personality trait? I would think the answer is yes and no.  Can we probably nurture better outcomes? I think yes.

On letting kids run the show
As tough as dinner can be, I have found that I have to (usually) stick to my guns. Believe me, nothing gets me riled up like an argument with a 4-year-old over if the ham and cheese melt is good or not when they have not even laid a finger on it (and, clearly it’s delicious). But if I offered a new dinner option for the kids on the nights where they “didn’t like dinner,” then I would be doing that 3+ a week. Take that option away. It will make your life easier and theirs. (Some nights are just a bust, and that’s just life).

On giving them options
Speaking of options, I used to think it was best to always give Nora a lot of options so that she had the freedom to make her own food decisions, particularly at breakfast and lunch. And while I do want to give her the freedom to decide, it started to get a little out of control. So now, we still have options at those meals, but there’s a limit (anything goes at breakfast and 2 choices max at lunch). And dinner is dinner–no options there. Our dinners always feature something on the plate that everyone should like and then food that the kids may or may not like. Everyone is expected to try everything (and as little as a bite if it is new and/or scary). I constantly remind Nora that her taste buds are constantly changing, so you always have to give things a try; and it’s ok if you don’t like something. Exposure, exposure, exposure…sometimes it can take 15+ times for a kid to like something (and sometimes never, but…cross that bridge when you come to it).

On overly processed foods
We know processed foods are not good for us, but who can deny the convenience? The major problem I have with processed foods is that they mess with our taste since they are loaded with hidden sugars and salt. Things start to taste different after eating a lot of processed foods. I no longer buy any boxed mac n’ cheese, never have hot dogs/pre-cooked frozen chicken nuggets in the house (although, we do love lunch dates at Portillo’s, hello–we are normal people and live in Chicago), and have been trying to cut down on boxed snacks (but definitely still have a bunch in the house). My rule of thumb is: if I don’t like giving my kids XYZ, don’t buy it–it’s the easiest way to not serve it to them. Side note: both of the kids used pacifiers and the only way for me not to give them one was to not have one available. I think I have sold the point, but as parents, we are weak, I tell ya.
**it’s judgment free zone here; my kids will gladly eat boxed mac n’ cheese and chicken nuggets if served.

Instead of boxed mac n’ cheese – try buttered noodles with pre-grated parmesan, it’s just as quick (Trader Joe’s has awesome parmesan cheese)

Instead of hot dogs – get extra meat to cook at each dinner and then you’ll have that to serve the next day

Instead of boxed snacks – try trail mix (we do dried cherries and walnuts, and sometimes chocolate chips), popcorn, homemade banana bread, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, string cheese, peanut butter toast with honey, etc.

On trying new things and positive food talk
Continue to show them new food–don’t be afraid to take them to the Thai, or sushi restaurant (even if they are just eating avocados and noodles). Make it fun. Talk about food. Let them hang out while you are cooking (Nora sits on the counter and it’s our best time to gab). Take them to the grocery store–even let them pick out a new fruit or veggie to try. I think the more you introduce them to, the more they will like. It is  a rocky journey (no doubt), but worth it. Believe me not every restaurant outing is fun, but we keep at it.

On the reward system and breaking down
We do use the reward system…a lot–eat a good dinner and you can have dessert (even if it’s the world’s smallest piece of chocolate–it feels like a treat). And when all else fails, we occasionally invite them on our lap or sit next to them to help them along (literally feeding them like a baby–we need to find a new ‘break down’ tactic, Nora is getting too old for this). Sometimes you do what you need to do.

The road to a good eater is sometimes chance, sometimes luck, but always hard work. What are your tricks of the trade?


December 9, 2014


Our weekly meal guide!

classic chicken noodle soup and baguette

seared skirt steak salad (with mixed greens, avocados, red onion, blue cheese, homemade croutons, and balsamic vinaigrette) – the kids will eat the avocados, steak, bread before it becomes croutons, and carrots.

roasted vegetable pasta with goat cheese and walnuts

pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, and green beans

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