Archive | May, 2012

And the winner is…..

31 May

You have won a copy of Mari Passananti’s book, The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken!

As promised, I’m announcing the winner today for the new book, “The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken,” written by Mari Passananti.

The winner is……Sue Meyerson!

Congratulations Sue! I know you will enjoy Mari’s book. It will be arriving in your mailbox just in time for summer!


The Big Salad

31 May

You can load almost anything into a salad.

Anyone out there a Seinfeld fan?

Anyone remember the episode with “The Big Salad?” According to The Big Salad’s very own Wikapedia page, “”The Big Salad” is the 88th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. This was the second episode for the sixth season. It aired on September 29, 1994.”

So there you go. More information than we needed to know about that episode, and there’s even more if you click on the link to the page itself if you so desire, but that’s not crucial today’s post.

I recently got one of those emails for a Wonderful Berry Salad and when I clicked on it to see, it was a Raspberry Walnut Dinner Salad which looked so good and reminded me of my Strawberry Salad from a few weeks back. But it also reminded me of The Big Salad episode on Seinfeld and the fact that we often will make a Big Salad ourselves either as the dinner or to go alongside the dinner.

The one shown here is one we made a few weeks back. The thing I like about salads is 1) you can put just about anything you want in them and 2) people can eat what they want to and skip the rest that they don’t like, so basically it’s something everyone likes. I often get tired of the traditional lettuce/tomato/cucumber salad, and throwing in random “stuff” makes it more fun to serve and eat. I like hearing my family say that the love this part or that part of the salad. The salad above has lettuce, olives, craisins, cheddar cheese, strawberries and grape tomatoes.

So the next time you’re at a loss for what to make, consider The Big Salad. See what you have in your house and throw it all in there!


What’s For Dinner Wednesday: Chicken and Veggies with Rice

30 May

This may not have been on Alex’s Like List, but it sure was on mine!

If you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve been going through my friend Karen’s cookbook from college almost page by page, making all my old favorites again. Last week I made one that was a big hit with everyone, except Alex, who took one look and said, “THIS is NOT on the Like List.”

But for the rest of us it was. Don even had it leftover a day or so later for dinner and said it was just as good leftover as the first day.

Like List or not, I’d make it again. According to Karen, she still makes this at her house too, and she sometimes adds shrimp, which does happen to be on Alex’s Like List, so maybe next time I’d throw some in. It’s the kind of thing you can put in whatever you want, as you’ll see from the recipe.

Super easy, super delicious, super good.


I put all my fresh cut veggies into one bowl and threw the whole thing in at once when it was time. Saves on cleanup.


1 lb. chicken (I used tenders)

2 cups fresh veggies, cubed (she suggested broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, peppers, squash etc. I used broccoli, peppers, mushrooms and carrots. I almost did onion too, but quit while I was ahead.)

1pkg. rice pilaf (I might double it next time, I felt like we needed more rice for all the other stuff we had in there.)

1/4 cup parm. cheese

Italian Dressing


Marinate chicken in the dressing.

Cube and cook in large skillet on stove.


Prepare rice according to stove top directions in the same skillet.

Halfway through the cooking, add veggies. Cover and cook until rice is done. (This steams the veggies right in the rice.)

Add chicken and parm cheese, toss and simmer 5 more minutes and serve.

Quick, easy and delicious!

Top 10 Worst Foods for Kids to Eat

29 May

Do we cut them out altogether or just keep eating them once in a while?

It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of these lists and shared it with you, but since we’re just coming off a holiday weekend, I thought it’d be a good time to post this.

The list came from the Livestrong website. I see several foods we eat on this list. Do you?

I wonder to myself: do I stop feeding my kids these foods or do I continue to do so in moderation?

What do you think? No more hot dogs and mac & cheese???



Hot Dogs


Sticky Candy


Prepacked lunch kits

Sugary breakfast cereals

Microwavable prepackaged dinners

Juice Drinks

French Fries

Toaster Pastries

Memorial Day: Not just for cookouts

28 May

Last week on Facebook a cartoon was posted by the official page for “Wreaths Across America” and it really caught my attention. I even “shared” it on my own wall. Although it was a cartoon, and cartoons are often funny, this one really had a powerful message. It started me thinking, and I thought I’d share it here as well, to pass along a very important reminder on this Memorial Day.

In the above cartoon, the little boy holding his plate of food, is asking his dad, “How much did all this cost?” and the answer, rather than being about the food, shows what looks to be a military cemetery such as the one in Arlington, Virginia, but it could be any veterans’ cemetery anywhere.

I thought about it for days. I really made me remember once again, that freedom truly isn’t free, and it reminded me just how grateful I am to all those who serve our country, to all those who give up the things we take for granted, to give us those things that we do take for granted, such as time with our loved ones. In that, I include all of the moms, dads, siblings, spouses and children of those who serve. They too, sacrifice the time with their families so that I can have mine.

I have always treasured the time I have with my children and my other family members, and I have always put my family first above all. It is because of those who give their lives and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, that we are able to have our family time together.

I once asked a military wife that I know if she minded her husband being gone for the year-long tours of duty. To me that would seem unbearable. Her answer surprised me, staying with me to this day, and although I can’t remember her word-for-word answer, I’ll paraphrase:

“Being in the military makes him who he is. He loves it and it’s a part of him. How can I say no to that?”

Happy Memorial Day and God Bless all who serve our country, as well as their families.

The dessert that almost wasn’t: Brownie Dessert Pizza

25 May

The final product was well-worth the journey, although at the time I was questioning it!

Ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go quite right? Well Sunday was one of those days and we almost didn’t have dessert for our dinner company because of it.

It started out that I was supposed to hit the store on my way home from our troop’s car wash at 1:00 that afternoon to pick up the stuff I needed to make the dessert: brownie mix, strawberries and cream cheese.

I forgot. I hate that.

I got all the way home and I realized I hadn’t gone to the store.

I went back out to Aldi’s at 2pm.

Strawberries: check. Brownie mix: check. Cream cheese: check.

Go home, start the recipe, which I’ve had before as a Pampered Chef recipe, but came across my desk in an email from the 24/7 Moms blog that I follow, which listed five outrageous dessert pizzas. (Of course I had to check them out!) The email directed us to Simply Healthy Cooking with Pam to get the recipe, which I did. Apparently she changed it slightly to make it healthier. (Me throwing chocolate chips into the brownie mix probably canceled out whatever she did to make it healthy.)

The recipe said to use a 15″ round pizza stone and parchment paper so that the mix won’t run off the stone and into the oven. I didn’t have a round pizza stone but I had a large rectangular stone, so I used that.

Parchment Paper: check.

Big mess in the oven: check.

Using the stone didn’t quite go as I’d planned.

About five minutes into the bake time, I smell something burning. Sure enough it’s dessert. I peek in and the brownie is literally dripping down in big, huge, chunky drips, into the oven. I quickly pull out the stone, throw the whole thing into the sink next to me and proceed to wash the brownie mix down the drain.

“Hmmm…technical difficulties with dessert,” I post on my status update on on Facebook as I decide what to do.

Don volunteers to run back out and get me another brownie mix. I take him up on that (he’s such a good guy) and off he goes.

He comes back around 3:30, and in the meantime I’ve decided to use the large bar pan that Pampered Chef sells. It’s long like my pizza stone but has low edges, which apparently I needed to keep the  batter IN the pan.

So I try again. All goes well with the baking, the brownie pizza comes out looking just fine.

Brownie Pizza, Take II

I begin making my cream cheese topping with my block of cream cheese. But now, I’m looking at my topping and looking at my very long brownie pizza and I’m thinking, “I don’t have enough topping.”

My next thought: “I have to go back to the store for more cream cheese.”

I won’t write what my next thought was after that, but it’s at this point where I decide that I should’ve just put a bag of Oreo’s on the table for dessert and called it a day.

It’s now 5:40 pm as I sneak out the door while Don showers, and our company was due in 20 minutes.

This time I ran to Price Rite and got my second block of cream cheese and came home.

The good news is, it all worked out and everyone liked the dessert except Elizabeth who picked off the cream cheese layer and put the strawberries back on top.  Whatever…

I’d definitely make it again and you can too, in fact, I highly recommend that you try it. It was incredibly delicious.

The recipe and directions are below, and now that you know my story, none of these trials and tribulations will happen to you.

See? So beautiful! Sooooo delicious and so just not my day that day!



1 box Ghiradelli Brownie Mix (I wonder if this was my first problem. I just bought any mix and I wonder if it yields more batter than Ghiradelli does. )

Parchment Paper

1 lg. rd. 15″ pizza stone or a round pizza sheet (you now know, I used the large bar pan.)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I’d grab two, just to be sure you have enough.)

1/4 cup powdered sugar (double for two blocks of cream cheese)

Handfuls of fresh strawberries, sliced or any fruit you like with chocolate  ( I also served a bowl of extra strawberries on the side so people could add more if they wanted to.)

Melted Semi-sweet Ghiradelli Chocolate Chips (I used Hershey’s syrup instead)

Prepare the brownie mix as per the instructions on the box.

Cut the parchment paper to the shape of the pizza stone (I didn’t use parchment in the bar pan, I sprayed it with cooking spray.)

Spread the brownie mixture on the parchment paper within 1 ” of the edges. It’s important to use the parchment paper because it will help prevent the brownie mixture from seeping over the stone while in the oven cooking (we all now know how that worked out.)

Cook the brownies until the center comes out clean with a knife or toothpick (15-20 minutes).

Cool completely. Flip brownie crust over onto a cooling stone and carefully remove the parchment paper then flip the round brown crust back onto the stone or a nice plate for serving. (I did none of this and served it right in the bar pan.)

Mix the softened cream cheese with the powdered sugar well and spread on the brownie pizza base within one inch of the edge.

Layer cut strawberries around the crust and then drizzle with melted chocolate (or in my case, with Hershey’s syrup.)


A new book review and giveaway: The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken

24 May

You can read the full review of Mari’s book, and win a copy for yourself!

You all know how much I love to read.

Any spare second I have, I spend it reading, and I try to always have a book with me for those little wait times you often have as a taxi-driver-I-mean-mother.  In between the books I read for my book club, I try to squeeze in books I read by choice. The last one I chose was one written by a girl my brother went to high school with. I was so excited to hear she’d written a book, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Once I had it…I couldn’t put it down.

To see my full review of Mari Passananti’s debut novel, “The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken,” check out my “What I’m Reading Right Now” page.

To win your very own copy of the book from Mari Passananti, like her book’s Facebook Page and then leave me a comment on this post telling me why you’d like to win this book.

I will choose a winner on May 31, 2012.