The M&M trick

November 17, 2015

CKT: The M&M trick How has life been lately? I recently snuck away for an amazing girls weekend in Wisconsin. We did one night in Milwaukee and one night at Kohler. It was so fun to be away with my girlfriends getting to talk (without interruption!), let loose a bit, and feel pampered (everyone wore robes at the hotel, so when in Rome…).

On the trip, I mentioned how crazy life has been lately. It seems that teething and “stages” are all going down at the same time over here. I am most definitely that mom running after my kid down the street every morning while trying to wrangle everyone in the car. I kind of feel like all of the neighbors are staring out their windows thinking, ‘wow…no control in that house…’ Not to mention that once in the car, a certain 2-year-old boy, does not want to be buckled in (he could seriously take me). My friend, Abby, suggested a small bribe.

Of course! Why was I not doing this? Why was I making this so hard on myself? Sometimes we just need a good friend to point out the answer to our problems. This week, Nora and George got one M&M when they were in the car and buckled. M&M’s–you are the best!

What tricks do you use?

Adults only

November 5, 2015

CKT: Whiskey Bread Pudding

This dessert is for adults only! It’s a whiskey pretzel bread pudding, and no, the alcohol is not cooked off. It’s actually just poured on top after it’s done cooking. And then you add more to the sauce and then pour that on top. Guarantee: warm and fuzzy feeling.

When I was trying to decide the best whiskey for this dish I had to enlist the help of one of the Trader Joe’s “crew” members. By the end of the conversation I’m pretty sure the guy wanted to ask me out. I was unshowered with three screaming kids in tow…I had him at whiskey bread pudding.

My dad found this recipe and my family has been making it ever since! Bread pudding is a naturally delicious dessert. But what makes this one so good is the whiskey sauce. The sauce starts with toasting butter to bring out the caramel notes and I stick with regular salted butter to enhance the pretzel flavor. I also use half pretzel bread and half French baguette just to create a little nuance in the texture and flavor. The original recipe called for raisins, which I love, but never add them, because, you know, there’s always that person at the party who will deny the dessert just because of the raisins (you know who you are). And we don’t want ‘said person’ to miss out.

**Must be served warm and with ice cream if you want to go all out.

Whiskey Pretzel Bread Pudding
serves 12
adapted from The Foster’s Market Cookbook

12 TBS butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar – firmly packed
1/2 of a day old french baguette – roughly torn
1  day old small pretzel baguette or 2 pretzel rolls – roughly torn
4 cups whole milk
5 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 TBS pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup whiskey – I use Maker’s Mark
1 recipe Whiskey Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush a 13 x 9 x 3-inch baking dish with 4 tablespoons of the melted butter. Then sprinkle the brown sugar evenly and set aside. Place the torn bread in a medium sized bowl. Pour the milk over and let rest for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, remaining butter, and vanilla; whisk until blended. Pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture and stir until blended. Pour the bread mixture into the prepared dish. Cook for 50-60 minutes covered. Then bake for 15-20 minutes until the bread is puffed and golden. Broil for a a minute or two if necessary (keep a close eye).

Once baked, pour the 1/4 of whiskey on top. let sit.

Whiskey Sauce
8 TBS butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whiskey

Place the butter in a saucepan and over medium heat, swirl until it is slightly caramel colored and has a nutty aroma (be careful not to burn). Turn the heat down to low and whisk in the sugar, (1/2 cup at a time) and stir to mix until all the sugar is blended. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and whiskey until everything is incorporated. Pour directly onto the top of the pudding while it is still warm. Serve immediately.

**If making in advance; make the bread pudding and sauce separately. Both can be placed in the fridge covered for two days. Let the pudding come to room temperature and then place in a 375 F oven for roughly 20 minutes or until heated through. As for the sauce, place in the microwave for one to two minutes. Pour over the pudding and serve.

Do you ever feel like this?

October 30, 2015


Like one of life’s greatest challenges is buckling in an unwilling two-year-old into a car seat. That or pushing a cart at IKEA. (yes, George is playing with a toy hand)


Like, sorry kids, we didn’t make it to the pumpkin patch this year.


Like, um, I guess we’ll take baby steps. Didn’t have the heart to tell him the potty is a no-pants party.


Like a real parent. We work on dioramas now. (also, pajama day at school)


Like, where did my baby go??

Bold Brows

October 22, 2015

Right about the time that bold brows came en vogue, mine disappeared. I have an unpromted video of 2-year-old Nora crying (sobbing actually) because she was worried that I had no eyebrows. Brutal. I mean, I want something to frame my face too, kid. She must get the flair for the dramatic from someone. (???)

Did I look like this? And then this made me laugh…(start at min 2:55),

So my journey for decent eyebrows was on…first I tried dyeing them, but that got old fast. Just recently, Ashley and Becky turned me onto Gimme Brow by Benefit. It’s like mascara for your brows and is foolproof (trust me, If I can do it, you can too). It looks totally natural and gives that much needed boost for the bold brow.

Do you do anything to your brows?

Snacks for the kids, beers in the fridge

September 29, 2015

CKT: snacks for the kids, beers for the kids A couple of weeks ago my friend, Gretchen, was telling me of her friend who just moved to the suburbs. The friend was amazed at how social the new neighborhood was, and almost a little shocked. One of the dads on the block told her, “you always have to have snacks for the kids and beers in the fridge.” Because, well, you never know when someone is going to swing by, or an impromptu party will break out.

I kind of love that.

I realized my friends and I have been saying that now…snacks for the kids, beers in the fridge (new mantra?).

I have definitely had family or neighbors stop by and been underprepared and it’s the worst to peer into the empty fridge only to then renege the drink offer.

I recently read these great posts (here and here) about how you make people feel in your home. It’s all about worrying less about what you are serving, or the way things look, and focusing on how your guests feel about themselves. My mom is the best at this. From the minute you walk in the door, you start to relax and enjoy the moment.  And what’s better than that?

How do you feel about impromptu gatherings?

Peach Week (the dessert)

September 13, 2015

CKT - Peach Dessert We will finish up Peach Week with the dessert! I have tried peach crisps and peach pies, but I always end up feeling a bit underwhelmed. But but, but, peaches as dessert are, in fact, an excellent idea. This dessert is great to make last-minute, packs the punch, and is a great recipe to have up your sleeve. They key is the peaches (naturally). You want them to be ripe but still a bit firm to hold up in the broiler.

The butter browns, the sugar caramelizes, the ice cream gets melty and there are crushed potato chips (yes)…what’s not to love?!

CKT Peach Dessert
serves as many as needed

1/2 peach per person
1 tsp butter
1 tsp (scant) brown sugar
ice cream (I like the French Vanilla from Trader Joe’s)
crushed potato chips (I like the Sea Salt Potato Chips from Trader Joe’s)
pure maple syrup -optional

Place the cored halved peaches on a cookie sheet. Place the butter in the cavity where the pit was, then dust with the brown sugar. Place under the broiler and let cook until the butter has melted and the sugar browns. Remove from oven and top with a scoop of ice cream, crushed potato chips, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Serve immediately.

Peach Week (the salad)

September 10, 2015

CKT - Peach Salad Peach Week continues and today is all about the salad. It’s a simple salad…peaches, red onion, and basil drizzled with a touch of balsamic and olive oil–tossed with salt and pepper. Sometimes we add spinach and avocados, but its the peaches and the onion really make this dish stand out. This is the salad of the summer (or, eh, beginning of fall)–it’s fresh, sweet, and a bit tart. You will love it!

CKT Peach Salad
serves 4 (as a side)

4 ripe peaches – sliced (I get my peaches at the Farmer’s Market or Costco, nowhere else has really impressed me)
1/4 red onion – thinly sliced
handful of basil – rough chop
1 1/2 tsp balsamic
1 TBS olive oil
s & p

Toss the peaches, red onion, and basil. Lightly add the balsamic, oil, and season with salt and fresh ground pepper to your taste. 

Peach Week (the smoothie)

September 9, 2015

CKT - Peach Week Have you been loving the farmer’s market lately? This is the prime, people! So much is in-season–this is the month chefs live for! At our house we’ve been eating as many tomato sandwiches as humanly possibly, but, the peaches…the peaches have been unreal. There’s nothing better than a perfect peach! So I thought that in true CKT-fashion, we’d do Peach Week. 

First up, the smoothie! I make smoothies on the regular at 4pm. They are the perfect energy boost. And if you’ve met my kids, they are always hungry (always!). We usually head to the park or run an errand around this time of day, so I pour them up in our to-go cups and we hit the road.

This peach-berry smoothie is Nora and George’s favorite–sweet, tangy, and smooth.

CKT - Peach Smoothie

CKT Peach Smoothie
serves 4 kids or 2 adults (or 1 adult and 2 kids if we’re being honest)

1 peach – peeled and cored
1 banana
1/4 of a pineapple
1/2 cup blueberries
1 lime – juiced
1/2 cup ice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water 

Place in blender and blend!

and we’re back!

August 31, 2015

Well hello! It’s been a while. Sorry for the unannounced blog break, but summer took over, babies needed snuggling, and there were a few meltdowns to attend to, but alas, here we are…ready to get this started.

I hope you had an awesome summer! We packed it in–here are some snapshots.

CKT - Summer Vacation

George at the 4th of July parade.

CKT - Summer Vacation Someone liked her new bday clothes! (don’t mind the pacifier in the 2-year-old’s mouth)

IMG_2674 On the lookout.
IMG_2667 Beach life.
IMG_2957 A day on the boat!

IMG_8426 Looking for rocks.
IMG_2919 Michigan sunsets are a little bit of paradise.
IMG_3045 Baby love.
IMG_8430 Brian’s early morning dune hike, solo. (literally)
IMG_8394 Making it rain.

**Beach photos are from Northern Michigan. Leland, Glen Arbor, and Charlevoix.