Sheet pan harissa chicken with chickpeas and sweet potatoes.

Sheet pan harissa chicken with chickpeas and sweet potatoes.

So excited about this Sheet Pan Harissa Chicken with Chickpeas and Sweet Potatoes.

I know it is only Wednesday, but this week has already flown by. I hit the ground running on Monday with meeting after meeting and it was the best way to start my week. It’s odd, some weeks can be full of meetings (either on the phone, or if traveling, in person) while other weeks are full of testing and photographing recipes in the kitchen and talking to almost no one accept the people I work super closely with. So my mom, my brother, and my dad, aka the family. Both scenarios are great, but I always love having productive meetings that leave me feeling excited, and motivated to keep my butt working! Between some fun new projects, finishing up the studio (cannot wait for this to be done!), a little traveling, and of course, new content for HBH, we have so much to look forward to.

…and a lot of work to do. It’s both amazing and a little nerve-racking, especially looking at the to-do list, but at this very moment in time I’m feeling happy for it all. That said, let’s check in again about this all on Friday. I might be singing a different tune…

Sheet Pan Harissa Chicken with Chickpeas and Sweet Potatoes | halfbakedharvest.com #sheetpan #easy #dinner #chicken

Since things are semi busy these days, I’ve been relying on easy, healthy dinners like this sheet pan harissa chicken. It’s a complete dinner made all on one sheet pan and I could not love it more.

Full disclosure? This is one of those recipes that I didn’t actually think I was going to post on HBH, but it turned out so good that I had to share. I made this one night after typing away on my computer all day. Pretty sure I didn’t even start making it until nine or so, but I just threw what I had from the fridge and the pantry onto a sheet pan and it turned into this killer meal.

At this moment in time, my pantry is stocked with Harissa seasoning (which I buy at Whole Foods or from Amazon), sweet potatoes, and chickpeas. Before leaving for South Korea, I made sure to stock up on all the pantry essentials so that I would have a fully stocked pantry when I returned home. Basically anything that would not go bad in a weeks plus time I stocked up on. I know it seems weird to stock up on groceries before leaving for a big trip, but trust me, it is the best having a pantry full of ingredients upon returning home. No one want’s to come home to zero food in the house. Plus, if you’ve read any of my previous posts, then you know how much I hate going to the grocery store…SO glad my dad is back!

Anyway, point is, I was happy to have so many great ingredients on hand. It’s how I created this recipe, which if you can’t already tell, I LOVE.

Sheet Pan Harissa Chicken with Chickpeas and Sweet Potatoes | halfbakedharvest.com #sheetpan #easy #dinner #chicken

Here’s how this works. Season the chicken generously with that harrisa spice. Then add your veggies, chickpeas, and lemons. Give everything a good toss and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until the chicken is golden, the sweet potatoes tender, and the the chickpeas are crisp.

When the chicken comes out of the oven, finish off with olives, feta cheese, yogurt, and mint. Serve with fresh naan.

And DONE.

It’s simple, quick, healthy, so easy, and even more delicious. If you like middle eastern and Moroccan flavors, you will love this chicken recipe.

Sheet Pan Harissa Chicken with Chickpeas and Sweet Potatoes | halfbakedharvest.com #sheetpan #easy #dinner #chicken

I actually ended up making this last night…for like the fourth time in two weeks, for my parents who returned home from South Korea on Monday night. I was dying for them to try this because I knew they would love it. Mom loves roasted chicken and my dad loves anything with some good Moroccan Harissa.

They said it was the perfect welcome home dinner and loved every bite.

Also, all of the Gerard’s are now back on US soil. YEAH! While we all loved South Korea, it’s always nice to come home, and I think my parents, who were in South Korea for almost three whole weeks, are especially happy to be back. Mom is happy for breakfast bread and hot chocolate, and dad’s just happy not to have use chopsticks for every single meal…the chopsticks were a bit of a challenge for him.

And of course, they’re happy to be eating my meals again, meals like this chicken, which you should consider making tonight. Again, because it’s so delicious. For more recipes just Click Here..!

Sheet pan harissa chicken with chickpeas and sweet potatoes.
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Sheet pan harissa chicken with chickpeas and sweet potatoes.
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Christmas Craft for Kids to Make

Christmas Craft for Kids to Make

 

The holiday countdown has begun, we’re all very busy getting ready.  We’re shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating, entertaining, and crafting!  I know many of us are trying to get as much done before school lets out for the winter break.

Here are some crafty ideas to keep the kids busy when they’re home and gets them involved in this year’s holiday preparations.

If you’re playing the neighborhood holiday game “You’ve Been Jingled” let the kids join the fun!
They’ll love the idea!  They can help make up the gift baskets and older kids can even drop them off!
They’ll love the idea of ringing a neighbor’s door way and disappearing without being seen!
For FREE game printable click here!

Image from Savvy Nana’s 

Santa Paper Plate Craft

Stock up on paper plates for kids to use in these paper plate elves and snowman from Crafty Morning.  [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Snowman Paper Craft

Stick craft

Pick up some popsicle sticks from the craft store and have kids make these cool ornaments from  Chickabug. [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bead craft

Buggy and Buddy use beads and pipe cleaners to make these pretty ornaments.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Pom pom craft

Cut out candy cane and wreath forms from cardboard and have kids glue on pom-poms to make these ornaments.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

 

Button

Use buttons to make ornaments like this tree ornament by UK Lass in US.

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Dough craft

Make sweet smelling ornaments with this No Cook Cinnamon Salt Dough by Growing a Jeweled Rose.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

 

 

Paper Towel Roll Craft

Use paper towel rolls to make these star ornaments.  Learn how from Blog a la Cart. [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

 

 

Ornament

Recycle plastic container lids and make this glittery ornament from No Time For Flashcards. [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reindeer Thumbprint

Thumbprint ornaments are easy to make and will make a wonderful keepsake ornament for years to come.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

 

 

Reindeer Food

A great activity, have the kids get ready for Santa’s Christmas Eve visit,  make Rudolph and his friends reindeer food.

Get tutorial from Smart Schoolhouse here!

For more holiday craft ideas for kids follow my board on Pinterest!

 

DIY Cookie Exchange!! Free Printables

DIY Cookie Exchange!! Free Printables

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone we turn our attention to the winter holidays. That means lots of cooking, baking, cleaning, decorating, and shopping going on.  Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukka, or other winter holiday you’re probably wondering how you’re going to fit in all the seasonal activities.

One way to reduce your seasonal cookie baking is to host a cookie exchange and swap baked goods with friends and relatives.  It may take a bit of planning, but at least you’ll only have to bake one type of cookie and still have a variety to enjoy or gift over the holidays.  It’s also a good excuse for a girls day or night out!

Hosting a cookie exchange doesn’t have to be a big fancy affair nor does it have to cost a fortune.
You can easily host one with just your close friends and family on a tight budget.

Here’s a few tips to help you plan your cookie exchange!

1.  Decide who you want to invite.

You may want to keep the party small and intimate to keep it manageable.  It’s probably not the right time to throw a party with 50 of your friends and their families.

2.  Set your date and time.

Send out invitations.  Ideally cookie swap invitations should be sent out a month before, but if you haven’t already done so, you should schedule it as soon as possible so guests can plan to attend. Everyone is busy during the holidays, if your guests are able to attend weekday events it may be easier to have your cookie exchange during the week, otherwise you can schedule a weekend day at least a week before the holiday.

I like to send written invitations, but if you’re pressed for time invitations sent via email or text will do.  How ever you decide to send invitations always request guest to RSVP and if possible let you know what type of cookie they will be bringing.  This will help avoid duplicates and you can gently suggest an alternative before the cookie exchange.

Tell guests they must bring a dozen cookies per guest plus an extra dozen for tasting.  Suggest that the cookies they bring should be easy to pack and store.  You can also ask them to write down the cookie recipe on a recipe card if they want to share it.  Recipe cards can double as table cards and guests can help themselves to a card as well as the cookies.

3.  Bake your cookies.

You can make them well in advance and store baked cookies in the freezer.  Cookie bars freeze and pack well as do chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal, sugar, and snickerdoodles.  For a list of cookies that freeze well check out this article from aboutfood.com.
To learn how to freeze cookies click here!

4.  Purchase packing supplies.

You can use boxes, tins, or even ziplock bags. You may want to provide ribbons, tissue paper, tags, and other supplies so guests can pack up cookies for gift giving.

Favors

You may also want to have small party favors for each guests.  Nicely wrapped oven mitts, kitchen towels, cookie cutters, and wooden spoons are all inexpensive and useful items that would make cute favors.

5.  Decorate your house, cookie and packing table.

Set out platters and stands for the cookies.  To make your own tiered stands click here!

You may want to set up a table or counter to pack cookies aside from the table or tables for the cookies.

Table cards with cookie type is a nice touch, or if guests are bringing recipe cards to share they can double as table cards.  Here’s a cute and festive way to set up table cards, otherwise tent style folding cards work just as well.

Glue 3 candy canes together to form a tripod.  Place table card on the hook part.

6.  Offer guests coffee, tea, hot cocoa, or even wine.

You should also set out a few savory tidbits for guests to snack on.  Finger sandwiches, dips, and other bite sized savories are ideal and will ward off the sugar rush from sampling all those cookies.

7.  The star of the show are the cookies and the main event is the exchange.

Decide how you’re going to work the exchange to allow guests to choose the cookies they want.  You can have a couple of guests at a time choose all their cookies or you can have rounds with each guest choosing a dozen cookies at a time.  Guests can choose the same amount of cookies as they brought.

Free Cookie Exchange Printables from How to Nest for Less
Roasting the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Roasting the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

This time of year I get hungry for a juicy turkey dinner!  It’s no wonder, Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  It’s about the only time of year that I roast a whole turkey.

I still remember my first time roasting a turkey, I had no idea what to do.  Over the years I’ve perfected it, and my family expects a Thanksgiving feast every year.

In recent years deep frying turkeys have been real popular.  I’ve heard deep fried turkeys are delicious, but in our family you don’t experiment on a Thanksgiving turkey.  So I’ve always roasted my turkey in the oven using the brown bag method.  I’ve been roasting my turkeys this way for over 30 years.

It’s easy, no basting involved. You just place the turkey, roasting pan, and rack, in to a brown paper bag, slide it in to the oven and roast for the required time. You tear off the bag about 30 minutes before it’s done to get the nice golden brown color.  When the timer rings take the turkey out of the oven and let rest for 15 – 30 minutes before carving.

Trust me you’ll end up with a delicious juicy turkey everytime.  You’re family will love it!

Here are instructions for Savvy Nana’s Brown Bag Roasted Turkey!  Psst!  There’s a roasting chart on that post too!  Believe me it will come in handy!

My 24 pound bird last year.  Perfect!

Last year’s Thanksgiving feast at my house.

Thanksgiving at my daughter’s house in Colorado.  Smaller bird cooked the same way, perfect every time!

15 Cheap Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids

15 Cheap Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids

Thanksgiving is in a couple of weeks, that means the kids will be out of school for the very long weekend.  Keep them busy making fun inexpensive Thanksgiving crafts while you’re busy in the the kitchen preparing that delicious Thanksgiving Day meal.   You can also set a kids’ Thanksgiving table for your little guests and keep them entertained making their own craft projects to take home.

Many of these kid’s crafts are made using things you have at home or inexpensive supplies you can pick up at any discount or dollar store.  Recycle toilet paper and paper towel rolls, paper plates, baby food jars, and bottle caps for these crafts.

Paper Roll Turkey from Arstsy-Farsty Mama is a great way to recycle toilet paper and paper towel rolls.

Instructions here! [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

These Turkey Glitter Globes from ilovetocreate.com uses empty baby food jars.

Instructions here![spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

This Pilgrim Hat crayon holder by The Moody Fashionista would look great on the Kids’ Thanksgiving table.  Make one for each place setting and add a blank rectangular piece of brown Kraft paper.  Kids can make their own placemat!

Instructions here![spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
Take a tip from Martha Stewart.  Kraft paper placemats on the children’s Thanksgiving table will keep your little guests entertained.  Add the Pilgrim Hat crayon holder and you’ve got a cute and practical table setting.  Kids can take home their crayons and palcemats as party favors!

Instructions here! [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Take a break from making turkeys and make a Paper Pumpkin from All Kids Network.  It uses toilet paper rolls, constructions paper, and tape.

Instructions here! [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

I love this idea from Alittletipsy.com!  Handprint trees!  My grandson made me one for mother’s day using different colors.  My daughter added a poem and had it framed.  It proudly hangs in my family room!

Instructions here! [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

A variation on the handprint trees are handprint turkeys!  This craft from Terrific Pre-school Years makes a turkey placemat.

Instructions here! [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

More Turkeys!  Make a turkey hand puppet using a paper bag.  Great craft from Learn Create Love.

Instructions here! [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

Another puppet craft from Crafty Morning recycles plastic water bottles.  This craft takes a bit more time as it needs time to dry.

Instructions here!  [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

 

Paper plate turkey from I Heart Crafty Things.  Easy, Fun, and Cheap!

Instructions here![spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

Thanksgiving head gear!  Love these Pilgrim Hats from MPMK.  Grandparents can help kids make this!

Instructions here! [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

 

Take the head gear one step up and make this Turkey Pilgrim headband by BigKLittleG. [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

Done with Turkeys?  How about this Native American Headdress by Ankle Biter Art.  Your little Pocahontas will live it!

Instructions here! [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

 

Or forget Pilgrims and turkeys all together and make this Harvest Crown by Dana-Made-It.

Instructions here! [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

Gum drop turkey by Celeste Rockwood-Jones.  Yummy!

Instructions here!

For Easy Toddle Thanksgiving crafts click here!

For 12 FREE Thanksgiving printables click here!

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade View Tips

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade View Tips

 

Anthony Quintano/Flickr Creative Commons

The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade heralds in the Christmas Holiday season.  It’s one of the most famous holiday events in the world. Over three million people line the parade route to get a glimpse of celebrities, marching bands, floats,  and the huge floating balloons—Snoopy, Spiderman, Big Bird, Hello Kitty,  and friends.  50 million people are expected to watch it on TV as part of their annual Thanksgiving tradition.

This parade has been a part of my life forever.  I watched is as a child perched high atop my father’s
shoulders.  When we relocated to Hawaii we woke up early Thanksgiving morning to watch it on TV, when I had my own kids we did the same, and now the grand kids watch it every year.  When my youngest child was in her high school’s marching band they marched in this parade.  At that time Pearl City High School had a standing invitation to march in the parade every couple of years, they still may.  This parade is definitely part of our family’s Thanksgiving tradition.  It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if we miss the parade, live or on TV.

For those of you who will be lucky enough to watch it live this year here are a few tips to help you out.

1.  The fun doesn’t have to begin on Thanksgiving morning.  A pre-Thanksgiving tradition on the Upper west side in watching the balloons get inflated.  For many kids watching the balloons “come to life” is more fun than watching the parade itself.

This Thanksgiving eve event is on November 26, 2014 beginning at 3:00 p.m.  It takes place
along the perimeter of the Museum of Natural History, on 77th and 81st streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.

2.   The 88th. Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is on November 27, 2014.  It begins at 9:00 a.m.

The parade route starts by  heading south down Central Park West from 77th Street, east along Central Park South to Sixth Avenue and then south along Sixth Avenue to West 34th Street.  It ends in front of Macy’s in Herald Square.

3.  Arrive early and bring folding chairs, they will make the wait more comfy.   Crowds start gathering along the route as early as 6am. You’ll want to stake out your spot before 7am if you want the kids to be close enough to be able to see.

4.  Check the weather and dress accordingly.  From the time you stake out your spot until the last float passes by you could be standing out in cold weather for more than 5 hours.  Make sure the kids are dressed warmly and have hats and mittens.  Layering would be a good idea, you can peel them off if it gets warmer as the day wears on.  Bring umbrellas if there is a chance of rain or snow.

5.  Bring essentials such as snacks, camera, extra sweater, a lap blanket may come in handy.  I’d take it easy on drinks, hot or cold, bathrooms may be difficult to get to.

6.  Choose your spot wisely, a spot as far north as possible would be good.  Once the parade starts it takes 90 minutes for the last float to pass by.  If you’re near the beginning of the route you could be done before 11:00 a.m.  If you choose a spot near the end near Macy’s Herald Square you will be waiting much longer and be fighting larger crowds.

There are public viewing spots along Central Park West, on the both sides of the street from 70th Street to Columbus Circle to 65th Street and continuing on the west side of the street down to Columbus Circle. You can try further south along Sixth Avenue between 58th Street and 34th Street

It would be a good idea to stake your spot near a coffee shop or department store, this is a definite must with young kids, you can nip into the shop for a bathroom break when needed.

7.  Know your kids limits.  There’s no harm in bailing out early if it gets too cold or the kids get cranky.  Watching part of the parade is better than nothing, and better than bringing home sick or upset kids.

8.  Treat yourselves to a Thanksgiving Feast, after standing out in the cold for hours you’ve definitely earned it.  For NYC restaurants offering special Thanksgiving meals click here!

9.  Enjoy the other sights and events this city has to offer.  The Christmas Season is one of the most wonderful time of the year to visit the Big Apple.  For a list of NYC Christmas events click here!