Happy Birthday, Cooking for My Kids!!


Today is a special day.

And, as is the case with all special days, we celebrated.

One year ago today, I started this blog.  I honestly did not have a single clue what I was doing, and I never thought that it would be read by anyone other than family and friends.  I just wanted a place to write down our recipes, our story, our family journey.  I wanted a place to store the memories.

We were starting the gluten/dairy/peanut free journey with Ethan, and I had feelings of fear and hesitation until Sean told me one day, “Natalie, this might be your best moment.  It might be what you were called to do.” This is an excerpt from my first blog post.

I sit here wondering where to begin.  How do I describe our story, our family, in a single blog entry?  I can’t.  I remember playing Life as a kid, wanting the husband, the house, and the kids.  It always felt so good in the game…but not half as good as the reality.  Being a mom is not what makes me special; being the mom to my kids is what makes me special.  I have hesitated to start a blog for fear of failure, fear of not living up to expectations, and fear of not always knowing the rules.  I so want to describe everything in such a way that everyone will know how beautiful this journey has been/is for me, for us.  But, then I realized, this is life.  This is our life.  And, there are no rules in the real game of life.

I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every moment of sharing our story, testing out recipes, trying recipes that other bloggers have already created and tested, and virtually meeting some amazingly sweet people along the way.


Thank you for an incredible year.  Thank you for being here for us when Ethan had his ulcers, when we finally received his childhood apraxia of speech diagnosis, when we celebrated the big things and the small things, and when we just shared our family moments.

I have said several times that I wish I had started this little blog many, many years ago.  But, I didn’t.  I started it a year ago for a very special reason.  I needed a blank canvas to share. I needed to let go of the fear of failure and take a leap of faith.  I needed to share our journey because I wanted other people to experience the magic, the unicorns, and the rainbows.

Every good celebration needs a fantastic dessert.  A quick glance at my options, landed me over at Picky Palate.  I knew that her Bakery Style Cookies would be just what we needed to celebrate a special day.  Celebrate our day, celebrate the weekend, celebrate summer, celebrate Friday….just find a reason to celebrate.  And, if you need cookies to make the celebration just perfect, click here for the fantastic recipe.


Happy Birthday, Cooking for My Kids!  You have been such a fun 4th baby!

Weekend Things – Recipe: Chocolate Sheet Cake


We had a fantastic weekend.

1.  We went swimming on Friday, which was great fun for all.


2.  I walked in on this moment between Ethan and Summer.  Even though she can be quite bossy to him, they love each other dearly.


3.  We received more rain.  After our drought last year, all of this rain has been a huge blessing.


4.  We celebrated a special man’s birthday.  While he does not like to make a big deal of his birthday, I do. And, this year, it was perfect.  His parents came in for lunch, and my family came in/over to have dinner with us.  Sean smiled the whole day, happily enjoying all of the company.


5.  Even though I think that it is crazy that the school supplies are already out, we started some back to school shopping yesterday.  Let me explain exactly why.  I stay in denial about the fact that the littles have to go back to school right up until the moment that it happens. I deal with that denial by slowly starting the back to school shopping process early so that I am not rushing to do it the last two weeks of the summer break. Those are weeks that I cherish just having my littles at home with me.

6.  Sweet Gabriel developed an ear infection which landed us at urgent care yesterday afternoon.  While obviously that was not a good part of the weekend, we made the most of it by enjoying our one-on-one time and buying some fun treats at Target while we waited for his THREE prescriptions.  Bless his poor baby heart.

7.  Thankfully, this cake was waiting for me when I got home.  Sean’s favorite dessert is brownies and ice cream.  He said that he either wanted chocolate cake or brownies for his birthday.  I reminded him of the sheet cake that I made once, and he said that I could make that one.  I made it right after I discovered The Pioneer Woman, and I went through a stage where I tried almost everything in her recipe index.  Okay, well, maybe not everything, but I made so many recipes that the typical response was, “This is so good, is it Pioneer Woman again?”  She claims that her sheet cake is the best ever, and I would have to totally agree with her.  It is that good.  Try it for yourself.  For the recipe, click here.


Have a super week!



Happiness Is…Recipe: Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter Cookies


Happiness is summer break.  I love the freedom, the fun, and the absolute joy of it all.  I am holding on very tight to every single second of it.


Happiness is truly enjoying my family.  I have loved having such an intentional summer, filled with baking, swimming, fishing, trips to the park, movies, and fun.


Happiness is celebrations, both big and small.  One of the things that I love about celebrations is the extra time that I get to spend with my family.  The other thing that I love is planning the perfect, fun, celebratory menu, making sure that there is a little bit of something for everyone.


Happiness is watching Ethan’s language unfold.  The steps are small, sometimes even smaller than baby steps. But, when we step back and reflect on where he was and where he is now, we can definitely see that some of the steps were bigger than we thought.


Happiness is walking with my big sister.  We try to walk three miles each morning.  I enjoy getting up early to start my day with some exercise, and I love the chats that we have while we are walking.


Happiness is cookies.  I have mentioned before that we are making different cookies each week of summer break. I typically make them mid-week, but this week, I was craving cookies on Sunday.  Specifically, I was craving chocolate and peanut butter cookies.  I started thinking about how I could stuff peanut butter filling inside of my chocolate fudge cookies.  I finally decided to make my peanut butter cookie dough and stuff that inside. Sean declared them the best cookies that I have ever made.  They were delicious.  If you like chocolate and peanut butter, these cookies will make you very happy.

Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter Cookies


For the Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Chocolate Fudge Cookies

2/3 cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

5 tablespoons butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

7 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt


    Preparing the Peanut Butter Cookie Dough
  1. Combine butter, sugar, and brown sugar.
  2. Add egg and vanilla, and mix until combined.
  3. Scoop in peanut butter, and continue to mix.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture until just combined.
  6. Preparing the Chocolate Fudge Cookie Dough
  7. Combine butter, sugar, and brown sugar.
  8. Add egg and vanilla, and mix until combined.
  9. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt.
  10. Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture until just combined.
  11. Preparing the Cookies
  12. Preheat oven to 350.
  13. Prepare baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  14. Roll about 1 tablespoon of the peanut butter cookie dough into a ball.
  15. Using a cookie scoop, scoop out a ball of chocolate fudge dough.
  16. Press a hole into the center of the chocolate fudge dough, and add the peanut butter dough to it.
  17. Form a ball of chocolate fudge dough around the peanut butter cookie dough.
  18. Repeat until you have enough cookies to fit on your baking sheet.
  19. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  20. Remove from oven, and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before moving to a wire rack.

Have a happy weekend!