These gondolas are adorable and the perfect colors- red, white, and green!
Having a pizza themed party? Wouldn’t these be a great veggie side?
Use this snack opportunity to explain the significance of a gondola to the kids! Here is a very brief description…
A gondola is a flat boat with a lifted stern that carries people along the canals in Venice, Italy. The person who rows is called a gondolier.
For centuries gondolas were the primary means of transportation in Venice. Today, gondolas are used to give tourists rides along the canals. Lovers kiss under every bridge for good luck in love during the romantic rides.
Gondola Veggie Snack:
1 red pepper
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
6 spinach leaves
Wash and take the seeds out of the pepper.
Slice horizontally in half and then 4 more times to create 6 gondolas.
Cut and scoop out the green avocado. Mix the fresh avocado with a spoon until smooth and spread a layer on each gondola.
Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper.
Lean a spinach leaf against the gondola as the oar.
Back to school for a mom of a preschooler and a half-day kindergartener means pick ups and drop offs all day long. Other than 4pm-5pm, there is little time to prep and cook dinner! Oh yeah, and on Mondays with baseball at 4:30 and dance at 5, there is absolutely no time!
On these busy days, a crockpot meal is a perfect option! And Mexican is healthy and super easy in the crockpot! Throw in frozen chicken or beef, pork, with the ingredients that you have onions, peppers, corn, beans, taco seasoning, salsa, etc. Let it cook for the day and your crockpot mixture is ready to be stuffed into fresh tortillas!
1 lb. Frozen boneless chicken (use any meat or no meat!)
1 35oz. can whole tomatoes
1/4 cup taco seasoning (you can substitute chili powder)
1/2 cup salsa
1-2 bell peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can black beans
1 8oz. bag frozen corn
10 of your favorite tortilla shells
For extra spice, add 1 tbsp. Of cayenne pepper and 1-2 tbsp. Red pepper flakes and/or chopped habanero peppers.
Additions: Making burritos? Add quinoa or rice-1 cup uncooked.
Throw it all in and cook all day 8 hours + on low or 4-6 hours on high!
Chicken and pork will shred easily with a fork.
Chop fresh tomato, lettuce.
Top with sour cream, shredded chihuahua cheese and guacamole.
The ingredients can vary based on your family’s preferences!
Family photos, what to wear? Should we all wear white or all wear black? Please don’t! Style your session, show your family members’ individual personalities, and watch them shine!
Our latest family photos were taken by the amazing Amy Wilson of Amy Wilson Photogrpahy www.amywilsonphotography.com. When I asked her what she wanted us to wear, she suggested a styled session.
I originally peeked at clickitupanotch’s styling tips!
Here are my top 5…
Styled Session Tips:
1. Choose the most colorful, patterned article of clothing and match other articles around that piece.
2. Don’t be afraid to use different hues of the same color.
3. Use different textures, they pop in the photos.
4. Use statement pieces- necklaces, earrings, or hair accessories to bring in a vibrant color.
5. Be comfortable! Uncomfortable models equals uncomfortable looking photos!
I let Bella, age 3, choose something she wanted to wear first because she is the most difficult! Ha! She chose a top by Pittsburgh Boutique Clothier, Miss Priss Kids.
https://facebook.com/missprisskids Bella chose her favorite Miss Priss piece, a swing top with different textures and beautiful patterns and colors.
I chose a slightly darker pink dress with tiny navy polka dots for myself with a beautiful yellow statement necklace and a similar hue in my shoes. To even out the brightness, Brady, age 5, wore an adorable relaxed blue dress shirt and dark grey beach pants from H&M. The blues and greys complement the pinks and purples from the girls. Since Brady had a light shirt and dark pants, I alternated with Kevin, giving him a dark blue shirt and light tan shorts.
Amy captured our personalities, styles, and memories from this moment in our lives. She is an amazing, talented photographer!
See for yourself…
Thank you Amy Wilson Photography for the gorgeous photographs!
To see more photos visit Amy’s blog! And “Like” Amy Wilson Photography on Facebook!
Packed with superfood quinoa and vitamins and minerals, these stuffed peppers maximize on taste and are super healthy! The kids love to eat out of the pepper bowl and then eat the pepper! So cute! Roasted Quinoa and Veggie Stuffed Peppers
6 bell peppers, any color!
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
6 basil leaves, chopped
5 Yelo tomatoes
Ingredients (cont.) 1 handful of spinach
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small saucepan, add 1 cup of uncooked quinoa and 2 cups of water on medium heat with a lid. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and cover. Let stand 15 minutes The quinoa will absorb the water.
Wash, cut the tops off of the peppers and clean out the seeds and white insides.
Place the hollowed peppers upside down on a Pam coated cookie sheet and roast for 25-30 mins or until peppers are softened and browning.
Meanwhile, in a frying pan heat the olive oil low to medium heat and add garlic and onions.
When the onions start to become transparent, add the quinoa and sunflower seeds.
Turn up the heat and toast the quinoa and seeds a bit, while constantly stirring.
Add tomatoes, basil and spinach and mix well.
Mix mozzarella and parmesan together to create a cheese mixture.
Fill the peppers with layers of the quinoa mixture and cheese mixture. Ending with quinoa mixture on top.
I am always looking for healthy, delicious, easy snacks for my family! Lots of chia seeds, kale, Greek yogurt, sweet potatoes…Anything that is really healthy and tastes great! We are not into the hold-your-nose-and-drink bitter green juices!!
Here is a great healthy snack recipe! Definitely not a chewy gooey, rich chocolate chip cookie recipe. Kid and mommy approved! Packed with chia seeds, fiber and a bonus, they are gluten free!
Super Chocolate Chip Snack Cookies
Recipe makes 24
1-1/2 cups oat flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp. chia seeds
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup Almond milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix all dry ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a mixing bowl.
Add Greek yogurt and mix well.
Add Almond milk little by little and mix thoroughly with each addition until a dough forms.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Scoop tablespoon-sized scoops onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 12 mins.turning cookie sheet at 6 mins. for even baking.
Oh yes, the chili connoisseur. We all know one if we are not one. Religiously making chili for every Penguin and Steeler game because they (or you- wink, wink) know it is the best! Secret ingredients on total lockdown…seeking the ever so close dangling chili cook off championship medal! Yes, the gratification! And to be simultaneously supporting a life changing, lives saving organization like the Sarah Heinz House, priceless!
Pittsburgh’s Sarah Heinz House provides leadership, gymnastic, swim, sporting, robotics, dance, and many other after school and weekend programs for kids preschool age through high school age. With Heinz’s countless club and gym activities and a staff of program directors like Maggie Martone, it is no surprise that most kids exceed enrollment requirements and consider the staff at The Sarah Heinz House family!
I met Maggie on a beautiful, warm and sunny afternoon at Allegheny Coffee and Tea Exchange in Pittsburgh’s Strip District! (Wonderful Coffee shop!) You could see her genuine enthusiasm for her work as she explained her role in the organization and invited our family to volunteer in the Comcast Cares Spring Clean Up event! So we went! All four of us!
Nestled in Pittsburgh’s North Side, the Sarah Heinz House’s campus encompasses the meaning of their mission. Traditional morals and values shaping Pittsburgh youth for generations and generations.
Amazed by the members and volunteers’ stories, my faith in the spirit of people was resurrected that day.
Mom, Melissa, and her girls Marleighna and Miranda volunteer as needed because they are so grateful for the advantages the Sarah Heinz House offers them. As a nurse, Melissa needs to streamline her girls extracurricular activities into blocks. With her husband Clint’s crazy schedule, the girls would never be able to be so immersed in gymnastics, swimming, as well as learning club activities without the Sarah Heinz House.
Did I mention that it costs $25? And includes dinner?
Ok, so back to your prize winning Chili…and a refreshing beer! Rivertown Brewing, Penn Brewery, The Church Brew Works and Four Seasons Brewing Company will all be there! The Sarah Heinz House is holding a BrewFest Event including beer tastings, apps and a chili cook off to fund their Science and Technology Programs on Saturday May 3 4-8pm!!
Enter your prize winning chili here!
Other ways to support the Sarah Heinz house in May…
Day of Giving May 6
Highmark Walk May 17
For more information visit
A carnival theme is a party planners dream!! So many awesome entertainment options- games, dunk tank, face painting, animals, clowns, photo booth, trapeze, magician…
Here is what we did for entertainment!
Al Mazing was booked for the kids birthday party before the carnival theme ever crossed my mind. We had seen him at another party and he is all my kids talked about for a whole year! Always a good idea to have some stationary entertainment!
Brady says Al’s best “trick” is when he chooses a girl and a boy to join him on stage and asks them how long they have been married! (Giggles!!)
This is the thing about Al, the kids (and the adults) did not stop laughing! I don’t remember the last time I saw my dad really belly laugh like that! Tricks, jokes, props, everyone was mesmerized the entire 45 minutes! He was Al Mazing for sure and did not dissappoint!
After the magic show, Dana Bush from Face Painting Designs by Dana was set up and ready to go! We loved the fact that she gave each child a number and they could go play/eat until their turn!!
FacePainting Designs by Dana
Her whole face designs are beautiful and detailed! The girls loved the ice princess paint finished off with blue lips and a jewel!!
We had a member from KISS, a tiger, and a simple mustache! Dana is a fantastic artist and is popping up at events all over Pittsburgh!
What good luck to get both Al Mazing and Face Painting Designs by Dana at our party! Thank you both for sharing your talent and bringing our family and friends joy and laughter!
Al Mazing and Face Painting Designs by Dana did not request, contribute to, or offer their services free of charge in any way in conjunction with this post. These are the opinions of Parmesan Princess. My family and friends loved them and we know you will, too!!
As we strive to learn the key ingredients in our forever young and healthy life recipe, we are experimenting with superfoods, eating more vegetables, and taking the processed “fake” ingredients out of our diets. A deli worker told my kids that cheese is white and yellow cheese is just white cheese dyed yellow. True statement, BUT they translated that into “fake” cheese. Ever since, I have been on a mission to make dishes with “fake” cheese alternatives. This led to our latest obsessions with Fontina, Manchego and my absolute favorite, Parano.
Gruyere is known to make the best potato casseroles, so I tried it for Easter!! 100% correct! Gruyere did not dissappoint! In fact, I can’t remember what cheddar scalloped potatoes even taste like anymore! Here is my recipe!
Gruyere Scalloped Potatoes
7 large potatoes scrubbed and sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 lb. freshly grated gruyere cheese
2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Warm the cream and garlic in a scauce pot and add 2 cups of Gruyere 1/2 cup at a time continuously stirring.
Add sliced potatoes to a deep baking dish.
Pour cheese/cream mixture from the saucepan over the potatoes.
Top with the remaining Gruyere cheese, the Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper.
Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes at 350 degrees. It will be creamy and bubbly. Mix well and let stand 10 minutes to thicken and serve hot!
Hot right now for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between, are the quickly trending gourmet toasts! Chefs are getting extremely inventive with a new spin on what was mainly a traditional totally boring breakfast staple.
Consider it the melting pot of appetizer and small plate chic, you cannot go wrong with a meal on a piece of toast. Call it portion control! For breakfast, indulge in almond butter on top of toasted whole grain bread smothered in bananas, a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of coarse salt!
Julia Turshen, chef and coauthor of Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s All Good” cookbook shared her faves in People magazine’s April 28 issue!
Toast country bread
Spread blue cheese
Top with celery
Drizzle with hot sauce
Toast country bread
Rub with garlic and a halved
Add slices of Manchego cheese
Top with a slice of prosciutto
Serve toasts as an appetizer or small plates for dinner while entertaining. Have kids? There are so many endless ideas with Nutella, peanut butter, almond butter, veggies, raisins, etc. Maybe even cookie cutter the bread into cool themes or seasonal shapes!!