Kitchen products

Handy Kitchen Gadgets for a New School Year

I’m a sucker for kitchen gadgets. They can be so handy, so cute, so clever! But if I gave in and bought every great kitchen thingy out there, I wouldn’t have any room to actually cook in my kitchen. Much like all of the baby paraphernalia we’re told we must have, you really only need some essential things in the kitchen that make cooking easier. I found two things that I highly recommend.

Kitchen products

The Fasta Pasta cooker put an end to having to bring pots of water to a boil and waiting, waiting, waiting.

The first is the Fasta Pasta cooker. We make pasta often for dinner and my kids make it more often than I do for lunches. But it isn’t really fast to make. By the time you get the water boiling and then cook the pasta, you’re talking 20-25 minutes. Plus the kids aren’t good about sticking around to make sure the pasta doesn’t boil over and accidents and messes happen.

With the Fasta Pasta cooker, the two circle openings in the lid help you measure just the right amount (it accommodates 1-4 servings at a time). Lay the pasta in the box, fill it with water to the right point and put it in the microwave. For the majority of pastas, and at four servings, it cooks for 11-13 minutes, much faster than cooking on the stove. And cooler too since the stove isn’t on. The first time or two, I recommend taking a fork and lifting out a noodle after the minimum time to see if it’s done to your liking. Keep adding a minute until it’s the way you want it. Put the lid on, remove it from the microwave and strain it through the lid.

The pasta comes out perfectly and doesn’t glob together like it does when I make it in a pot. I haven’t tried it yet but they say you can cook a variety of shapes of pasta plus cook veggies, soups, casseroles and rice in it! As much as I have enjoyed cutting down on the time and heat used to cook pasta this way, I’m going to sacrifice and give the Fasta Pasta to my daughter in college. This will be perfect for her in her small apartment. College students live by their microwaves anyway. I’m glad to know she can make a variety of things with the Fasta Pasta, which retails for $14.99. That’s such a deal, I’ll be buying myself another one.

I love that

I love that this lunch box container makes room for itself in my cupboard!

The other product can be used just for storage or for lunches and snacks on-the-go. The D’Eco Collapsible Lunch Box comes in two sizes, one for kids ($12.99) and one for adults ($19.99). Two silicone compartments can collapse down to 1/3 their original size for storage. But I have also collapsed them down after eating from them to take up less room in my bag on the way home.

The lid is sturdy and clamps on for a secure seal. There’s a cute eating utensil that’s a spoon on one end and fork on the other that snaps into its own compartment – one less thing to have to pack!

Whether I’m using it on-the-go or storing it away, I love, love, love that it collapses. It’s a handy gadget that doesn’t take up much space! I’m all for that.

Both products are available on and from specialty retailers.

We were provided with sample products to facilitate our review. However, our opinions are our own and accurately reflect our experience  with the products. 

Back-to-School Food – Ideas from Readers By Edan Goode

We asked and you answered! We had a big response to our Back-to-School-Food Ideas blog which inspired us to ask our readers what they are serving the kids now that school is Lunchboxback in session. Here are some suggestions for school breakfasts, lunches and snacks from our readers. Thank you, everyone!


For breakfast, I make a fried egg, cooked in olive oil, and put it between two slices of whole wheat bread for a sandwich. It’s protein-rich and the kids can take it with them in the car if we have to rush.


Tacos. In her thermos, I mix ground beef and refried beans. In a separate container, I give her lettuce, taco shells and whatever else she wants that day for tacos. At lunch, she mixes the thermos and the taco shells together and makes herself a taco salad. Anything left over, she has for a snack at school.


For breakfasts, I make smoothies with protein powder and yogurt. For lunches, I make mini quiches and mini meatloafs ( using muffin tins ) and pack them in their lunchboxes. You can freeze a bunch and defrost them in the microwave or in the fridge at night.  I also do waffles with peanut butter. For after school snacks or sides in lunches I mix nuts and Cheerios or send apples and cheese.  ….or cuties ( kids seem to love ).


I make chicken noodle soup with tons of noodles. Then for lunches, I heat it up really hot and put it on thermoses meant for hot foods (as opposed to drinks). By the time lunch rolls around, the temperature is just right and my daughter has her favorite meal.


I spread a thin layer of cream cheese (sometimes flavored) on a whole wheat tortilla and add deli meat, cheese and shredded lettuce. I roll it all up and cut it into bite-size “sushi” pieces, facing up so that my son can see all of the colors.


No matter what kind of sandwich I make, I cut them out with cookie-cutters. My daughter’s favorite is a butterfly shape. She’ll eat any sandwich I send as long as it’s in a shape. It’s all about presentation!

Come! E.A.T. with us! 

Twitter: @CoParentEATblog


Back-to-School Food Ideas By Edan Goode

In our last post, we asked you to send in your ideas for back-to-school breakfast, lunch and snacks that satisfy the kids, are healthy and keep them going. We’re still gathering ideas from readers and invite you to keep sending them in. Either reply to this blog in the Comment section or email us at

Meanwhile, here are some great ideas and recipes from our friends at LiveWell Colorado who are all about feeding kids right, in school and at home.

Each of these breakfast ideas can be made ahead and reheated. The last two can even be frozen in individual serving sizes for a quick breakfast.

Creamy Harvest Oatmeal. Photo courtesy LiveWell Colorado.

Creamy Harvest Oatmeal. Photo courtesy LiveWell Colorado.

Creamy Harvest Oatmeal – Quick morning tip: Soak the oats overnight. Toss in healthy toppings, even if you don’t have everything the recipe calls for, such as nuts, fruits and spices. Each of these breakfast ideas could be made ahead and the following two can even be frozen in individual serving sizes.

Apple-icious Oatmeal Bake – With the idea of a coffee cake, this recipe is filling and healthy and could even be served as an after school snack.

Frittata – This is another make-ahead/freezer option for egg lovers. Get creative throwing in bits of veggies.


Fruity Kabobs. Photo courtesy LiveWell Colorado.

Fruity Kabobs. Photo courtesy LiveWell Colorado.

Chicken Panini Wrap – This recipe is kid-created and kid-approved.

Fruity Chicken Kabobs – It’s purely psychological, but it works – kids are more likely to try things (including fresh fruits and veggies) if they are on a pick or skewer.

Snack (or lunch accompaniment):

Beet Chips – Toss these chips in your child’s lunch for a healthier crunch than the standard chip fare.

Beet Chips. Photo courtesy LiveWell Colorado.

Beet Chips. Photo courtesy LiveWell Colorado.

Roasted Chickpeas – A make-ahead, protein-packed lunch addition that will help keep kids full for the rest of their school day.

Please continue to send us your ideas and be sure to look at the LiveWell Colorado website for additional ideas for healthy meals all day long and many other helpful resources.

Come! E.A.T. with us! 

Twitter: @CoParentEATblog


Pizza in a Stick – An easy schoolnight meal By Edan Goode

Pizza comes in various incarnations: the traditional round, square or rectangular, with stuffed crust, with deep crust, etc. It’s all good, am I right?

Recently, out of boredom though, and with a blob of dough staring at me from my cutting board, I decided to amuse myself and my

Grilled Pizza in a Stick. You can bake them in the oven too if you don’t want grill marks.

kids with another variation – pizza sticks. Just to go all crazy about it, I grilled them!

Because I made this up, I’m not going to give you an exact recipe. I’ll leave it up to you to add your own variations in toppings and sauces.

Step 1:
Roll out pizza dough into a big rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, cut long strips 3-4 inches wide.

Step 2:
Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, spread pizza sauce* on one half of the dough strip being careful to leave borders clear.

* When sauce and fillings are going to be hidden like this, it’s a great time to smuggle pureed spinach in the sauce or finely-diced veggies.

Step 3:
Add your toppings such as sausage or pepperoni (I took a clean kitchen scissors to cut stacks of pepperoni slices into quarters to fit better along the dough).

Add cheese. Again, be sure to keep boarders clear in preparation for the next step.

Step 4:
Fold the plain half of the dough over the filled part. Seal the edges.

Pizza in a stick, in the works. Not so pretty but really tasty!

Step 5:
Brush a little olive oil over the top of the pizza sticks, keeping some extra around for when you cook them.

Step 6:
Bake the pizza sticks on a sheet pan at 425 degrees for about 7-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Or, you can grill the sticks, as I did to avoid heating up the already-hot house during the summer. If you do this, you get nifty grill marks (see photo). When grilling, turn the sticks over part-way through and brush more olive oil on the other side. Grill 5-8 minutes per side or until golden brown.

Step 7:
Serve them with or without pizza dipping sauce but beware, they are really hot inside.

Not only do these make an easy meal on a busy school night, but since kids love to take cold pizza to school, this is a space-saving way to give them what they want while providing a great conversation topic around the lunchroom table, such as, “Dude, your mom must have been really bored with pizza-making when she came up with those righteous sticks!” – or at least that’s what I’m hoping for.

“Expert” advice for making school lunch-packing easy and fun!

It’s almost time for the kids to go back-to-school. Among many things to look forward to and dread, there are school lunches to pack, day in and day out. As with so many things in life, being organized about it helps make the task easier.

That’s why, in some obscure and twisted way, it made perfect sense for Edan Goode to sit down with the queen of all that is good in food storage and organization, Ms. Dixie Longate. Dixie is in town through August 21 with Dixie’s Tupperware Party, playing at the Garner Galleria Theater. It’s a show and party unlike any you have ever, well, been party to.

First, a little background on Dixie. In the grand tradition of glorious women like Dame Edna, Dixie is a big-haired, brash, sweetheart who will tell it like it is, tell you what you are and then say “well aren’t you the sweetest thing”, all in one breath, and with a southern accent gained from life in a trailer park in Mobile, Alabama. With her three children in tow, Wynona, Dwayne and Absorbine, Jr. and three ex- and deceased husbands, Dixie set upon making her life better by selling Tupperware. Touring the country really, truly selling Tupperware at her shows (a catalog will be on your table), attending Dixie’s party is a hoot and a half, perfect for a girl’s night out or even a date. While the overall message of the show is all about empowering women and reaching for dreams, the fun is gender neutral (men will love it too).

As I sat down on Dixie’s couch, surrounded by Tupperware, I was quickly aware that this interview was going to be filled with tongue-in-cheek raunch and shock aplenty. So keep that in mind, as I present Dixie’s tips for getting organized to feed the kids healthy lunches.

Edan Goode: Dixie, packing lunches for the kids every day can be very stressful for a parent.  Do you have any tips for making the process a little easier?

Dixie Longate:  I sure do. Get the kids involved in the process of preparing and packing the food. Turn it into a game. Have one child put meat on all the sandwiches, another one puts on the cheese, another child can put in the apples’ and so on.

It’s very important to get the kids helping because it teaches them important skills. Plus, it eases mamma’s load to free her up for some “me” time to read, have a glass of wine and have sex for instance. Mamma’s just don’t get enough “me” time!

EG: What kinds of containers work best for kids’ lunches?

DL:  Get the kids their own sets of Tupperware containers so they feel it’s something all their own and special, like the cute character lunchboxes and food containers we sell.  There’s even a line of microwavable containers with a little vent so the contents don’t go splashing all over the inside of the microwave. I give my kids soup in those and they just love it. Did you know that Tupperware was the first company to make their products BPA-free? That’s right they were so you don’t have to worry about anything bad leaching into your food.

EG: I know other parents are like me and worry that if we invest in some decent storage-ware, the kids are just going to lose them.  What can we do?

DL: They’ll bring those containers right back, especially if they are cute ones that they chose.  Besides, it’s not like it’s something real important like forgetting a child somewhere. Kids find their way home, even when you don’t want them to. Even when you move to a different trailer park…they just keep finding their way back.

EG: What are some of your other tips for getting organized for the kids’ meals?

DL: I believe in cooking big batches of things ahead.  My kids love my soup so I make a big batch on Saturday afternoon, and portion it off into smaller containers and pop ‘em in the freezer. Then the kids can grab one and microwave it at school (remember the little vent on the lid). I  make big casseroles and do the same thing. I also like to give the kids salads with all sorts of goodies in them. I put the different ingredients in containers and let them put together their own salads. They love it. They put in chicken, cheese and different grains.  As I always say: Make it once then serve it every day!

To learn more about Dixie’s Tupperware Party, visit To learn more about Dixie herself, visit her website,