Sunday, April 28, 2013

It Was An Honor Just Being Nominated...

Photo from Yahoo Images and
So, I woke up this morning with some new Twitter followers and was surprised. Surprised because I never really  use Twitter except post my new blog entries there, that's it. I joined, as suggested by other respected bloggers as a way to try to increase traffic to my blog. 

I also joined, a community of consumers and other bloggers for the same reason. Today, I realized why I picked up those new Twitter followers. It is because I have been selected as one of the Bloggers of the day on This means that my blog is featured today on the Blogger home page and a "featured blogger badge" on my profile. It doesn't mean a lot except that traffic is flowing, and if by chance someone stops by and likes what they see, then I've connected to one more person successfully. And, I love to meet people, so when new people stop by, especially other bloggers, I get to connect to others and learn from them and see what they are doing. And for me, that is fun.

My blog started for me, just as a way to keep track of my family's journey, and it will continue to be just that. I never want to be a professional blogger by any means, but for me it's a way to write it all down, like one big journal and to keep me accountable to myself and my goals. And if others can enjoy any part of it along the way, then that makes me happy too.

I do appreciate the kudos though from acknowledgements like a featured blog of the day at and the Versatile Blogger Award, and I love hearing comments from my followers as well. I will never get an award for the best blog, or the most well written blog, or the funniest blog, or the most informative blog, and that's fine with me because I don't strive for that. But, these little acknowledgements and comments from readers are like Academy award nominations to me.  I will not win. I don't want to win. But, it was a pleasure just being nominated...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Recipe Review: Greek veggie Pita Quesadillas

Greek Veggie Pita
I LOVE Greek and Mediterranean flavors so when I cam across this recipe on Pinterest, I thought it would be great...and it was.

I did just a few things differently. First, I scaled down the recipe because I was only making it for myself.   It was pretty easy to do. Second, I used  Light Flatout bread instead of pita bread, since finding a whole wheat pita bread here has become a problem. I also did not want to use Greek Pitas because I thought they'd be too thick.
Third, I left out the peppers because I am allergic. Lastly, I added a little olive juice to my yogurt, olive, feta spread.  This spread was so good that I could see eating it as a spread on any veggie sandwich.  I also think it would be good rolled up in a tortilla, sliced, and chilled like Mexican High Rollers.

Make this quesadilla recipe and you won't be sorry:  4 spoons for this one.

What I used instead of Pita bread.
The spread

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific, and You've Got so Much of it...

Six months ago when I last got my hair done, India, the girl who has taken care of my hair needs for nearly 10 years asked me, "What are you doing to your hair?"

At first, I wasn't sure what she meant. I was afraid that my hair was thinning even more on top and that she was going to tell me that I now had a definite bald spot or that it was coming out in clumps or something. Yikes...a nightmare, especially for girls.

Instead, she said, " I don't know what you're doing but your hair is thicker on top than ever before. You've got bunches of new hair follicles growing." 

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy, no pun intended (you'll see why later).

I explained to her that he only thing different was that I combined my already better nutrition with the use of more natural hair car products...Lush hair care products to be exact.

I had been using the Godiva shampoo bar for months. I still use it, and I wash my hair daily. It smells fabulous, has jasmine as its base, and lasts forever.  I had tried several of the conditioners, bars and liquids, and they were all okay, but recently, I found the conditioner for me: Lush's Happy Happy Joy Joy.  It smells like the beach and makes your hair feel soft and luxurious.  It make your hair smell terrific when dry too, much like the old TV commercial for "Gee your hair smells terrific!" 

I have another new favorite product as well that I feel compelled to tell you about. My hands have really been in need of an overhaul. I clean so much and do so many dishes and loads of laundry that they dry out terribly and even crack. After spending time with a lovely, knowledgeable Lush consultant, and after trying a few products, I settled on taking home a jar of Helping Hands Hand Cream. It's got chamomile, cocoa butter and almond in it. It smells great, is non greasy, and best of all, it is helping my sore, chapped hands. Score.

Godiva Shampoo Bar
Best Conditioner Ever!

If you have a Lush store near you, I highly suggest you go in and shop around.  Another reason I love Lush is that I can get samples of things before I buy so I know if I want a particular item or not.  They also have a great return policy.
You can't go wrong with Lush.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Chicken Parmesan a la Mom

My kids love this chicken. Plus it's quick and easy.

Chicken Parmesan a la Mom

This time I had some regular whole wheat
bread crumbs that I mixed with the Panko.
Mostly, I just use Panko though.

10 Chicken tenders
1 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c Panko bread crumbs, Italian style (the Panko gives the tender coating a great texture.
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
melted butter

Marinara sauce of your choice. I use the sauce from Cheese Ravioli in Primavera Sauce just without all the extra veggies

shredded Italian blend cheese

How to:
Make marinara first and let it simmer for awhile allowing for flavors to meld. Leftover marinara/spaghetti sauce works great for this.

Mix Parmesan through garlic powder in a large Ziploc bag.  Melt butter in a small bowl if using . Preheat oven to 400. 

Dip chicken tenders in melted butter, then into the Parmesan cheese mixture.
Make sure each tender is well coated. Place each tender on a foil lined pan
Finished chicken sans marinara.
and then cook till done and browned nicely, anywhere from 15-30 min depending on your oven and the thickness of your tenders. Mine usually take about 20 minutes total. I also usually put the broiler on for the last minute or two just to make sure that they are nice and brown.

Next, turn off the oven and remove pan . Put a little shredded Italian blend cheese on top of each tender. Return to the oven for about a minute to let cheese melt.

Serve with marinara sauce. Yum for meat eaters!

I served this with green beans and fresh fruit salad.

Chicken Parmesan a la Mom gets 4 spoons.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Whole Foods...Not As Whole As I Thought (a Short Rant)

I saw this story today. For the first time. Not sure how I missed it before. It just makes me angry. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I really am.

I must admit that while I don't buy a lot at Whole Paycheck, ahem, I mean Whole Foods, I do expect a certain level of authenticity from them. They have supported this idea of selling  natural and whole foods in the past from their advertising to their name itself. I, like others, thought Whole Foods meant only real foods, natural foods, and healthy foods.  I was wrong. And now they are literally jumping into bed with Mansanto. The article says that 2/3 of Whole Foods "natural" processed foods and animal products contain GMOs.  This is not the case for their organic products though which are virtually GMO free.  This is a betrayal, I think to the public at large and to organic food producers. I urge you to read the article. Before this, we were betrayed by our President when he signed the "Mansanto Protection Act" in March giving the industry giant free reign to keep manufacturing GMOs (genetically modified organisms), GE (genetically engineered) seeds, and foods containing them despite the health consequences and concerns associated with such man made crops.  He  betrayed the American people and America's farmers.

The only way of make sure you know what you're eating (short of growing your own fruits and veggies and raising your own animals) is to buy local and from farmer's markets when you can. Strive to get off of processed foods if at all possible. And, keep fighting the good fight for a healthier, more natural based food supply. Get involved and get knowledgeable.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cheese Ravioli in Primavera Sauce

I have had this recipe since my days as a single lady. I would make it , then eat off of it all week till it was gone. It was very yummy.

Tonight, I made it for my guys. It got mixed reviews, mainly because of the texture of the ravioli itself. Two of the guys didn't care for the "creamy, squishy insides." And, while none of the boys were wild about the zucchini (they just don't like it), everybody liked the sauce. DH and I ate our sauce with homemade tomato basil fettuccine....totally yum! For my oldest it was a mighty fine dinner, Miss Betty meal. That's what my dad always said when he didn't like something my mom made. It meant, please never make this again. It just doesn't appeal to me. My twins liked it and said it was good - 3 spoons, while DH and I loved it and gave it 4 spoons. The great thing about this dish is that it's fairly quick to make, low cost, healthy, versatile (you can add any veggies you want...whatever your family likes), and filling.  DH really liked the sauce, even better than my mom's staple sauce recipe that I've been using for years. He said it just tasted fresher. I like both sauces, but I do agree about the freshness.

I'm not sure where I got this recipe, but I did not make it up. I did make it my own though. I am posting the original recipe and I will tell you how I change it.

Almost ready to serve!

Cheese Ravioli in Primavera Sauce

1  9 oz pkg refrigerated cheese ravioli (or homemade, if you are so inclined)

1 Tbp olive oil (I do not use this)

1 onion diced (I used about 1/4 of a md onion)

2 garlic cloves minced or garlic powder to taste

1 c fresh mushrooms (I sautéed mushrooms and kept them separate since I am the only one who likes them)

2 carrots sliced

1 small zucchini, halved and sliced

1 can tomato sauce - 15 oz   ( I used Trader Joe's Marinara sauce)

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp each basil and oregano

1/2 tsp salt (I did not use)

1/8 tsp pepper (I did not use)

 parmesan cheese (I use Trader Joe's freshly grated)

In a skillet over md - high heat, heat oil and add onion and garlic.  Cook 1-2 minutes. I skip the oil and use water to sauté my veggies.  Add carrots, mushrooms, and zucchini and cook @ 6 minutes more till veggies are tender-crisp.  I cook the carrots for a few minutes first, then add the zucchini and finish cooking since the carrots take longer to cook than the zucchini does.

Next, stir in tomato sauce, lemon juice, and seasonings. I used a 28 oz can of TJ's marinara sauce and a half a jar of Prego Heart Smart, basically doubling the sauce. You can use any marinara sauce you like. I also added more seasoning to taste, including some Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and  then simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally. Just before serving I add a spoonful of  cheese and mix it in. Then I serve the rest of the Parmesan as a topping for those who want it.

While sauce is cooking, prepare ravioli or other pasta of your choice according to pkg directions.

When all is done, serve sauce over ravioli and enjoy!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Egg McMuffins

I made these Egg McMuffins today after seeing the recipe on The Yummy Life.   I used pork sausage patties that I rolled out and cut myself so I could get them the right size. I cut them a little bigger than my the circumference of my ramekins knowing that they would shrink up as they cooked. When I cooked the sausage, I kept pressing down on them with my spatula to help keep them flat. It worked great. Next time, I will mix the pork and turkey sausage, then eventually, I will just use turkey.
  I also used 2% milk American cheese. All of my boys liked it. I ate one too with just cheese and egg.

I must say that Monica's recipe is right on...very close to the McDonald's Egg McMuffin only healthier. The egg part came out perfectly, and like others on her site suggested, I used a knife to break up the egg yolk a little bit. Monica's step by step photos are excellent. I urge you to check out her full recipe post if you want to try to make these mcmuffins. I can't wait to see how they turn out when you freeze them and then eat them later. That would be a quick morning breakfast that my boys could grab and go.

Here is Monica's recipe:

Healthy Egg McMuffin Copycats
By Monica              Servings: 12 sandwiches
  • 12 large eggs (may substitute Egg Beaters or use all egg whites, if desired)
  • 12 100% whole grain English muffins
  • 12 slices Canadian bacon or cooked turkey sausage patties
  • 12 slices low calorie cheese (ultra-thin regular cheese or low-fat cheese; look for 45 calories or less per slice)
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • For directions and more about Monica's recipes, go to The Yummy Life

We give these a solid 3 spoons =  Good.  We enjoyed this recipe. I will make it again, but I may tweak it a little.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Alphabet Soup: A: "Fried" Apples Mom Style

When I was young, one of my favorite things for my mom to make was fried apples. It was simply yummy in the tummy. For 2 of my kids, it's "Fried " Apples, Mom Style.
"Fried" Apples, Mom Style
Photo by Shannon Recktenwald
Peel and slice up 6-8 apples like you would if you were making an apple pie. Toss them into a saucepan. Add 1 Tbsp. butter or vegan spread, up 1/4 c water, 1/2 c packed brown sugar, cinnamon (I start with 1 tsp. then add more after it cooks down. Adjust all spices to your own taste), a sprinkle of nutmeg (more or less to taste), and 1/2 tsp. cornstarch. Stir all to mix together. Then lid the saucepan and cook on medium heat for 30-40 minutes. Your apples should be tender, but not mushy. You want them to retain some of their  body.
I used a mixture of Granny Smith and Gala apples tonight, though my favorite apples to use are Granny Smith and Honey Crisp when they are in season. One time I mixed in a little apple butter and that was delicious too. Although when I added the apple butter, I lessened  my brown sugar. I know a girl who used 1/4 c orange juice instead of water, and her family loved them that way. This is a tried and true basic recipe, but play with it and make it your own. I don't make them often, but once in awhile, they are a great treat for the kiddos and they make the house smell wonderful.  Tonight it accompanied pork chops and green beans. Your kids will love you for making these, trust me.
A is for apples

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sick Food

What a day yesterday was!   I was busy in the early morning with errands, and then tried to get some much needed housework done. I scrubbed and cleaned both bathrooms, then put my hair up in my Aunt Jamima wrap to keep it out of my face while I mopped the floor. I looked very fetching if I do say so myself, and I smelled all PineSol and bleachy. Sexy, I know. So in the middle of mopping the kitchen floor, my phone rang. It was my oldest who needed to come home because he was sick.While on the phone with him, the middle school beeped in. When I clicked call waiting I heard a faint, "Mom, I threw up."   So, like a quick change artist, I whipped off my dirty shirt to put a new one, took my hair down and ran a brush through it (talk about hat head!), spritzed myself with my purse perfume, grabbed my keys, and got in the car to go. On the way to get my middleschooler, my highschooler was texting me where to go to pick him up. I had never even been to the high school office before and had no clue where to go. I dropped the puking child at home, made sure he was comfortable,  called the doctor's office and went to get my teenager. And that is how hectic my whole day went. I ran here, ran there,  visited the doctor's office, picked up medicines, did laundry, made dinner, cleaned up, and helped with homework.  I was never so glad to sit down! So with 2 out of 3 kids under the weather, here's hoping the rest of us sty well.

Last week, several family members were also sick , including myself. I started thinking about plant strong "sick food," and realized I don't really have any. I eat eggs so scrambled eggs are always an option for me, especially as I fight my way back to feeling normal. And, I can always count on whole wheat saltines, protein bars, applesauce, toast, oatmeal, and cream of wheat...yogurt too, if I'm feeling brave.

The main problem is that when your sick, if you're like me, you just want to grab something quick easy so you can lie down and rest, and not have to cook anything. But being vegetarian and plant strong is not always the easiest thing to be when your sick. When I was sick one day last week, all I wanted was some vanilla pudding. I admit I ate a sugar free snack pack that I found in the back of the fridge. It tasted blah but at the time it was better than nothing. I have a friend who recommended that I make "sick soup " -whatever soup I'd want when I'm sick, make it now, and freeze it for later. That's a good idea, but I know myself, and I won't do that. I'm not that forward thinking I guess.

So all of this got me thinking: what do other vegans/ vegetarians eat when they're sick? Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Recipes and Product Reviews

I tried two new recipes over the weekend. One was a recipe for homemade vanilla pudding. It had a great flavor, but never set up right. In the end, it had to be tossed.

Happy Herbivore Chile-Sweet Mango Noodles- photo by Shannon Recktenwald

The recipe I tried that was very good was Happy Herbivore's Chili-Sweet Mango Noodles. I can't post the recipe because it's in Lindsey's book, Everyday Happy Herbivore and not on her site, but it is really good. I didn't use any mangoes because no one in my family likes them, but other than that I followed the recipe exactly. 3 out of the 5 family members who tried it gave it a thumbs up. The other 2 are trying it tonight as leftovers. Next time I make it, I will add more veggies, but it's great just the way it is.  Lindsey's recipes are great, and if you've never cooked any of her recipes, you're missing out.

I also found a great snack cracker at Costco today. They are light, airy, crunchy, and delicious.  They are good plain or with Laughing Cow cheeses. I don't really eat much processed food, so I won't be buying these regularly, but they're good and made from good stuff. They may be a treat for me once in awhile, but not a regular thing since I try not to snack too much.