Grilled Cheese with Squash & Corn Puree

Grilled Cheese with Squash and Corn (1)

Take grilled cheese to the next level with this easy upgrade.


  • 1 cup cubed butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 4 slices vegan smoked provolone (such as Violife)
  1. To prepare the puree, combine the squash, corn, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then continue to cook for 8 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
  2. Transfer the squash mixture to a blender and process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. To prepare the sandwiches, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Spread 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Earth Balance over each bread slice. Spread the other side of each slice with 1 tablespoon puree; reserve the remaining squash puree for another use.
  4. Place two slices of bread in the skillet, buttered side down. Top each with 2 slices provolone, then cover with the remaining bread slices, buttered side up.
  5. Cook for 3 minutes on each side.

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Can You Find Your Knee?

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Veronika can readily touch the obvious features on her face (eyes, and ears, and mouth and nose!) but it can be helpful to talk about less common body parts with toddlers, too. To make the game extra fun, just add bubbles!

We headed out to the patio in gorgeous sunshine and I asked her, “Where do you want your bubbles?” At first, she requested them on her hair!

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Then I started naming other parts of her body, and gently blowing the bubbles in that direction. In this way, the bubbles tickled at her ankles and knees…

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…and neck!

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Take the time to point out other new vocab too. Setting the bubbles aside for a moment we found our fingernails and our nostrils.

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And eyelashes! Just don’t blow bubbles at those.

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Then, we turned back to more familiar body parts (like hands and feet), but got thinking about how to use them in new ways. I encouraged her to clap in order to pop a bubble, instead of simply poking it.

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Or she could stomp them with her feet.

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Maybe your toddler can pop them with a nose or a chin!

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Note: This is also a fun game to take to the bath, especially because bubbles behave differently if you try to clap them while they’re wet.

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Plus in the bath all those body parts are easily visible! Have fun with it and see what new words your toddler picks up.

Nesting Cans

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Although Veronika has a set of stacking cups, she always seems to prefer using what I’m using, rather than her toys! I made this quick set of nesting cans from real kitchen supplies instead.

You’ll need at least three sizes of cans to make this activity, but certainly feel free to use more! I had a 28 ounce, 14 ounce, and 6 ounce can. Once the cans are cleaned, rinsed, and dried off, tape around the tops with duct tape to cover any sharp edges.

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They’re ready to nest!

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Veronika adored stacking them (one, two three!) and then taking them apart to do it again.

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Turn them upside down and they can be used for towers instead!

The cups were excellent for keeping her occupied while I cleaned up breakfast. Because the “toy” stows easily, I can trot it out as needed any time she needs a quick distraction.

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Activity Tubs

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Here’s a final post in a series of ways to keep your toddler entertained should you find yourself dealing with older kids and remote schooling this fall.

I used an old storage bin and turned it on its side to create a series of themed bins. Each of these was an open invitation to Veronika to play with familiar items, with the hope that seeing them set up deliberately would encourage her to play in new ways. Over one week of big brother’s school, here were 6 ways to set up the bin.

Bin 1: Tools and Trucks

For the first variation, I set up the bin with Veronika’s plastic toolbox, her set of take-apart trucks, and a few other items that could be conceived of as tools, like a wide bristle paintbrush.

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She approached it with excitement; this girl loves trucks, and she was very busy driving them around. The toolbox inspired her not just to drive, but also to take her trucks to the “mechanic shop”.

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She used her saw to “cut” and her wrench to fix them up. The paintbrush was used to “sweep” the trucks clean.

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The actual mechanics of the battery-powered drill are beyond her skills right now, but she loves helping out by adding the wheels before I drill in the plastic screws.

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In sum, we’ll dinfinitely revisit this set-up.

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Bin 2: Dolls and Dresses

Veronika loves her dolls, but they’ve been neglected lately. To make what’s old seem new again, I once more tipped the bin on its side and carefully arranged the dolls on their mattress with clothes to one side and food to the other. I also added in a few other types of “doll”, including Duplo figures and dress-up magnet dolls.

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The set-up definitely intrigued her. For the first time in a while, she spent time feeding her “little babies”.

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She also enjoyed dressing them or just parading them around. This was a good example of “what’s old is new again”.

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Bin 3: Cars and Chutes

This was the most extended version of the bin, taping the lid off the back end so it was angled like a ramp, and then leaving a smaller basket at the bottom to be the “garage”.

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Add toy cars and let the fun begin! I also included a cut-up gift wrap tube so the pieces of it could be tunnels for smaller cars to drive through.

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Veronika wasted no time zooming cars up and down the ramp, which was definitely the biggest draw here. She was less interested in the tube tunnels.

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Bin 4: Stuffed with Stuffies

We have a game we sometimes play when I need the kids safely contained called “All the Stuffies in the Crib”, which is exactly what it sounds like: We toss every stuffed animal into the crib and the kids sit and play in the huge pile.

This bin was a more curated version of that. I added a toy tree house and  woodland creatures that fit the theme to go through its doors and windows. Her dog and cat went in, along with a few vet tools. Teddy bear sat next to the tea pot in case anyone wanted a teddy bear tea party. And a couple of dinosaurs stood guard over plastic eggs.

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She was most interested, though, in an old snake toy I draped over the top that makes a crinkly sound. She loved slithering it along the top of the bin and turning to me to say, “hiss!”.

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The other big draw was giving dog and cat some vet care.

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Overall, this one was a big winner.

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Bin 5: Awesome Art

For this one, aim for arts and crafts items that your toddler can safely use solo without making a mess. In other words, leave the paints and watercolors for another day!

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I included a Daniel Tiger coloring book and jumbo crayons, which are just right for little hands.

Then I added extra paper for her to scribble on (or crumple, or rip up), as well as safety scissors for practice and pieces of tape.

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She loved when I stuck several lengths of the tape to the top of the bin so she could grab them down and use them like stickers on her artwork – or herself!

Bin 6: Gadgets Galore

Let’s call this final bin the miscellaneous leftovers. Think anything with buttons your little one can push (old remotes, old cellphones, old cameras) as well as anything that spurs the imagination.

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Okay, Veronika is too young to really play detective, but armed with a magnifying glass, flashlight, and balance scale, perhaps she could start to dig up clues.

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Certainly she caught on to my excitement when I pretended this was the game!

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Simply having all these old gadgets out is sure to fascinate your toddler. And yes, this is when parents realize that the items from our childhood are now antiques.

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