As our first-week-of-Spring low temps here in Western PA tank back into the 20s and 30s, we need a hearty soup to warm our bones! Again!! Hopefully for the last time! I love this recipe!!! So easy in the crockpot!!
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic pressed
4 carrots chopped
3 celery stalks chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 tbsp. each Basil, rosemary, thyme
1/2 tbsp. fennel seed
1 28oz. can LaValle San Marzano
1 cup dry lentils rinsed
1 32oz.box of low sodium chicken stock
1-1/2 lb. kielbasa, sweet or hot sausage link cut into 1 inch chunks.
3 cups chopped red potatoes washed and skinned.
Remember the superfood chia! Add your gel or the seeds right into to the soup!
Add olive oil to frying pan on medium heat.
Start with garlic and chopped onions.
Add celery and carrots and let cook 15 minutes.
Season with basil, rosemary, thyme and add fennel seed.
Add contents of frying pan and all other ingredients to the crockpot! Cook for 6 hours on high!
Always top off with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, grab a fresh loaf of ciabatta bread and enjoy!
My backyard was filled with goats, pigs, sheep, a miniature pony, a puppy, a llama and kittens. My kitchen was filled with chicken fingers, pasta, lasagna, meatballs, potato salad, baked beans, fruit salad, Caesar salad, Mexican dip, various appetizers and desserts. Overboard, you think? The animals?? No way! The food?? Oh Yes!
We bottle fed the babies!!
The On the Farm theme was a blast to plan and so easy using Oriental Trading! I ordered everything from their massive barnyard theme party arsenal! A personalized banner, #1 red balloons, tablecloths, paper products, cups, even a helium tank! The favors were Oriental Trading plastic cow cups and straws and a barn favor box filled with farm animal water squirties, crayons, coloring books and whistles! I still buy odds and ends from Oriental Trading. Lately, I have been finding really cool homemade decorations, favors and invites on Etsy!
So let’s talk food! I used to cook 6-8 dishes for a party this size! Why? Because my mother always had the same full spread- 2 or 3 long folding tables filled with food!!
I have learned to focus on a menu theme and stick with it! Have your menu make sense. Save yourself a ton of work! Here are some fast and easy kids party food menus…
Lunch theme– sandwich rings, 2 cold salads (potato salad and coleslaw) and chips!
Pasta theme– pasta bar, meatballs or sausage, a garden salad and bread with butter
Mexican theme– taco bar, tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole!
Pizza theme– pizzas, salad bar and fruit!
You get the idea!
Changing my party menu mindset has simplified the prep work and lowered my stress levels, leaving me countless additional hours to spend hanging paper tissue balls and front door signs to making theme decorated sugar cookies!! I love it all and wouldn’t trade my kids elaborate, exciting, entertaining, extraordinary parties for anything in the world!
This year…they say they are twins! (2 years and one month apart) They love each other so much and want a joint party! Phew! One party this year! I’m busy planning and can’t wait to share my ideas with you!
Chia seeds are a weight loss dream! One ounce of chia seeds contains 11g of dietary fiber! High in phosphorus, protein and omega 3 fatty oils, they help you feel full!
Need more stamina and energy? When eaten, chia seeds slow the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar giving us more strength and endurance!
Chia can be added to anything! It is a healthy lifestyle choice and I started today by incorporating chia into our breakfast routine!
Even though the seeds are tasteless…if you don’t want a gritty feel, make a gel and add it to any liquid!
Add 1/3 cup of chia seeds to 2 cups of water in an an airtight container. Shake vigorously for 90 seconds. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks!
In a PreventDisease.com article “Are Chia Seeds the Perfect Superfood?” Some benefits of chia are:
Lose weight without starving
Balance blood sugar
Add Omega-3 oil to your diet
Feel more energized
Bake with less fat
Add age-defying antioxidants
Cut food cravings
And many more!!
Hair and skin products containing chia are popping up everyday!! This really is a superfood for the mind, body and soul!
Buy some seeds!
Where can you buy chia seeds? Whole Foods for sure!
I found mine at Pennsylvania Macaroni in Pittsburgh’s Strip District! www.pennmac.com
Another step toward our quest for youth!! Count me in!
The term “superfood” is used by nutritionists, doctors and scientists to describe foods with extremely high nutritional benefits and obvious disease fighting chemical properties. Dr. Oz is pretty convincing in his arguments promoting superfoods for anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, cancer fighting, cancer prevention and the overall health of our bodies’ systems!
Some of Dr. Oz’s favorites: Sweet potatoes Kale Black soy beans Quinoa Red wine
In our crazy busy worlds, let’s try to add some superfoods a few times each week. Ever heard of chia?? It can add 10+ years to your life! Look for plenty of chia recipes coming soon!!!! All I need to hear is anti-aging, cancer preventing and red wine and I’m in!!
So Here it is:
Superfood Quinoa Crockpot Stuffed Peppers
5-6 whole peppers- hollowed out and de-seeded with the tops cut of (see photo)
2tbsp. Olive oil
2 cloves garlic pressed
1 small onion chopped
5 carrots peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks chopped
1/3 cup chopped spinach
1 35oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1-1/2 cups quinoa- cooked
2tsp. of Salt/pepper/sage
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cook quinoa according to package -3 cups water cook until tender,quinoa will absorb water
Add olive oil to frying pan on medium heat and add garlic
Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook 5-10 minutes
Add can of tomatoes.
Let it cook another 10 minutes
Add chopped spinach last
In a large mixing bowl, add quinoa to veggies and stir until blended.
Carefully spoon mixture into peppers
Add 2 cups of water to crockpot.
Set peppers in crockpot
Cook on low for 3-4 hours
**Careful not to overcook the peppers!! You cannot cook them all day in the crockpot or you will end up with Quinoa Stuffed Pepper Soup!!**
Serve with a simple salad.
Always top off with freshly grated parmesan!! Enjoy!
A great dessert is an essential, and the best part, of Sunday dinners. You know, everyone falls asleep on the couch with full bellies of spaghetti and meatballs and wake up to round 2!! Ding, ding, ding! If you are my brothers, it means another round of spaghetti and meatballs. But, for everyone else, it is coffee and a decadent dessert! I made this one today!
Dessert Ravioli With Ricotta Filling in a Strawberry Sauce
3 cups ricotta cheese
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp.vanilla extract
4 cups fresh strawberries diced
1/2 cup rum
1/2 cup sugar
31/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
3/4 cup water
Start with the filling:
Stir together the ingredients in a mixing bowl and refrigerate
The Strawberry Sauce:
Combine strawberries, rum and sugar in a saucepan on medium heat. Let cook 15- 20 minutes. It will bubble and simmer. Shut of heat and let it sit until ready!
In a mixing bowl combine the flour, eggs, and 3/4 cup of water. Gradually add the water until the mixture is forming a solid ball.
Powdered sugar rolling surface. Make 2 inch round balls and roll them in powdered sugar. With a rolling pin, roll out ball into a circle. Spoon filling onto circle. Close the ravioli by folding circle in half. Pressing dough edges together and securing with a fork press! Make sure they are closed all the way around!
Drop no more than 4 ravioli at a time into a pot of boiling water. After they float back to the surface, allow them to cook another 4 minutes. Remove very gently with a slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack to drain and cool.
Serve the ravioli with a spoon of strawberry sauce, a drizzle of chocolate, a scoop of ice cream and don’t forget a dollop of whipped cream!!!
Get creative!! My mind is racing- mascarpone cheese, Caramel sauce…Enjoy!
Get home at 5 and have nothing prepared for dinner? We are all there multiple times per week! Relax, my 20 minute pasta dish is healthy, easy and quick!! Best part…It looks like you have cooked all day!
20 Min.Gourmet Pasta in Pan Sauce
2 cloves of garlic presses
2 tbsp olive oil
1 35 oz. can LaValle whole tomatoes
Choose what you have in the fridge! If none – move on there is nothing wrong with a pan marinara sauce! Today, I have a pepper and a bag of spinach.
1 pepper chopped
1 cup fresh spinach
1 pack Mushrooms sliced
1/2 cup Italian olives sliced
1 zucchini sliced
1/2 cup Pepperoni
1 lb. of your favorite pasta- farfalle for us today!
Freshly grated Parmesan
Put hot water in a stock pot on the stove, add 3 pinches of salt and bring to a boil.
Heat your largest frying pan on medium/low heat.
Add olive oil
Stir with wooden spoon- remember no brown- if it is crackling it is too hot!
Add peppers (raw veggies) put a lid on and cook 5 mins.
Add can of tomatoes.
Salt and pepper
Put a lid on and let it cook. Totally fine to boil and bubble. You want to quickly cook the veggies and let the flavors mix together.
When water is at a rapid boil add pasta and follow directions and cook until al dente. Perfectly chewy!
Strain pasta in a strainer over the sink. Take advantage of the pore opening steam facial!!
Add a few spoonfuls of sauce in a serving bowl and coat pasta so it doesn’t stick. Mix in spinach last!
Serve with a nice ciabatta! I happened to have one in the freezer! OR Make a quick garlic toast in your toaster! Toast bread, butter it and sprinkle on garlic salt and Italian seasoning!
When asked to participate in a focus group at the Children’s Museum last year, I knew a new exhibit was being developed about love, kindness and individuality. I was totally excited to see what it would be in the end! I did not expect to be blown away by its life lessons, interactive exhibits, and its ability to keep 4 toddlers’ totally busy and happy for 3 hours!!!
Here were our favorites within the XOXO Love and Forgiveness Exhibit-
We stumbled upon a story time within the exhibit at 2pm! Songs and books about love and friendships!
Need something to do with the kids this weekend? Head over to the Children’s Museum!
Mr. Rogers’ Day is March 20th and the museum is offering free admission!
I clicked on an ad while perusing the web that shows a video of gorgeous artichokes being prepared with a lemon Dijon drizzle and fresh Parmesan…O wait!! What? This is a Kraft commercial/recipe/ad showcasing their “100% grated Parmesan cheese” packaged in a plastic tube and does not need refrigerated!! What????
Time to research!
As Larry Olmsted tells us in his Forbes magazine article “Most Parmesan Cheeses in America are Fake, Here is Why,” real Parmigiano Reggiano from Parma, Italy , has 3 ingredients- milk, salt and rennet.
Moms, take the kids! You can all make your own cheese at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Science Center in the Kitchen Works exhibit called “Say Cheese”!! We have made mozzarella many times!
Unrefrigerated, fugazi cheese also contains three other ingredients, cellulose powder, potassium sorbate, and cheese cultures, which are not found in real Parmigiano-Reggiano!! Fake cheese is illegal in Europe! Is that why the food is worlds more amazing in Europe? Real cheese!!
Did you know they have a Parmigiano Reggiano museum in Parma, Italy, where there is an entire room dedicated to the infiltration of fake cheeses!!
Parmigiano -Reggiano is known for its purity. It tastes amazing and is full of healthy vitamins because of this purity! It is the cheese of choice for astronauts in space! So why buy it with chemicals that will do who knows what to our bodies?
Yes, it SHOULD be illegal in America, too.
After a disappointing Elle magazine Spring fashion spread, I am please to announce that Anthropologie is giving me hope! The new arrivals offer everything Spring- bright colors, sexy softness, and flowing lines!
Miami had a jump on Spring style! What did I see? Flowy, graphic pants paired with fitted tanks, peplum tops with skinny jeans, and maxi dresses!
Photo courtesy of Anthropologie! Bricollage pants and …they come in petite!!!
Anthropologie’s Sapphire Flame Cardigan has Spring’s hottest colors! Turquoise, orange, and a little royal blue! Dress it up with navy ankle dress pants and wear it to church on Sunday!
I love a peplum top! It can really compliment any body type! The peplum top is slimming, hiding the muffin top and the pooch very well!!
Love, love love a maxi dress!
At $117, $128, $178, these are too trendy to buy at Anthropologie! Too hip and now to be classic “spend your money on pieces” because they will only be around one or two seasons! Be a super sleuth!! Find similar items at TJMaxx! Be on the lookout and let me know what you find!!