Barbecue Chick’n Pizza

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This recipe makes for a loaded pizza topping! Marinara sauce is spiked with barbecue sauce for a zesty update over standard pizza night.


  • 1 pizza crust (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
  • 1 (10-ounce) package Gardein chick’n strips, cooked and chopped
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 3/4 cup shredded vegan cheddar
  • 3/4 cup shredded vegan mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  1. Place your pizza crust on a baking sheet; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the marinara and barbecue sauce and spread evenly over the pizza crust.
  3. Top evenly with the cooked chick’n, red onion, and cheese.
  4. Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro before cutting into slices to serve.

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Halloween Countdown Day 7: Make “Gourd-geous” Faces

Halloween 7 Gourdgeous Faces (7)

One week into October, the kids are loving our daily countdown towards Halloween. Older kids can help put together this quirky craft, while younger ones will definitely need your assistance. That said, the materials turn the project into sensory play, with a little bit of learning and imagination thrown in!

To make each face, round up a collection of gourds from a local farm or market, and then use items from your craft bin to turn those bumpy silly shapes into little creatures.

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You can talk about the shapes of the gourds as you work, or ask your child to spot the biggest one, the smallest one, or the one with the most colors.

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I added wiggle eyes, bead noses, and red felt mouths to each of our gourd friends with hot glue.

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One had a decidedly lopsided look!

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Meanwhile, Veronika was busy with all those materials, and I could tell she was mimicking my motion of “gluing” the items on.

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When the gourds were done, Veronika immediately dubbed the smallest one the “baby”. She loved pretending to add cheeks to it with additional beads, and pointed out its features. “She has eyes!” she said with delight.

Then she tucked it into bed under a piece of extra red felt. “She’s warm and dry,” she told me.

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So there you have it: Halloween gourds are so much more than just decoration, but great for playing pretend, too!

Sensory Pumpkin Decorating

Sensory Pumpkin Decorating (8)

This activity is half sensory bin, half a way to decorate a pumpkin with your toddler without pulling out the carving knives. Which adds up to 100% fun!

I wanted an assortment of items to decorate our pumpkins, aiming for a variety of textures. I also wanted to stick to a white and black color scheme for Halloween. So in a shallow craft tray, I lined up: dried corn, black feathers, uncooked white rice, black birdseed, and white sesame seeds.

Sensory Pumpkin Decorating (1)

You can mix and match based on what you have on hand, but aim for a nice variety of texture and size. Veronika immediately wanted to dig through the items in the tray with little plastic cups, so things didn’t stay in their “area” for long.

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But I loved watching her explore all the texture. She especially seemed to like those fluffy craft feathers!

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Meanwhile, I set to work making the first pumpkin for her. Add big dabs of glue to a pumpkin with a craft stick, working around the stem. I then sprinkled one of our sensory materials on each portion.

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These made a neat ring around the stem once I had finished, and now she could feel along them for a great sensory experience.Sensory Pumpkin Decorating (4)

I left the decorating of the second pumpkin entirely up to her. She poured the glue around the top in a full ring, then used her little plastic cup to scoop and pour.

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The end result was a neat mishmash of all the items.

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I loved that the sensory play was part of both the decorating process and the final product.

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String Painting

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We’ve used string to help spread paint lately, but for this craft, yarn actually becomes the bristles of a brush. These long wobbly “paintbrushes” are sure to delight any toddler. Just one note of caution: there is a high probability that paint is going to splatter! In other words, it’s an activity best done in an old t-shirt and diaper.

To make the brushes, I cut about 5 strands of yarn per brush, and taped them securely to the end of a craft stick. Your yarn can be all one color, but I have a multi-hued ball of yarn that gave us some fun rainbow pop.

String Painting (1)

Place out a big sheet of craft paper and paints (Veronika requested yellow) and you’re ready to go!

At first Veronika was going to dip the handle end of her craft stick in the paint, but I quickly showed her how to dip in the strands of yarn instead.

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She loved it! The yarn creates beautiful stringy lines, and she enjoyed seeing the results of her work.

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As you paint, the yarn will start to clump together. This means you’ll get thicker lines, plus color mixing if you have more than one color of paint set out in front of your child.

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As with a recent pumpkin painting activity, Veronika sat in the middle of the paper while she worked, so I loved watching the string marks appear all around her.

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Needless to say, the yarn was fun for her to splat down on the paper, which sends drops of paint flying. But again, plan ahead, dress for the mess, and the messiness becomes half the fun!

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