Oh! It’s You, Oatmeal!

Now that I’ve surpassed the age of 40 (please don’t tell my girls – they think I’m 29), I’m quickly learning those few extra calories I grab here and there actually stick…and in places about which I’m not too happy. So I’ve vowed to stop performing the old “pick off their plates” routine I’ve lately perfected (letter “P” anyone?). And it starts with breakfast. Those last bites of their waffles add up, and who knew donut holes can have as many as 70 calories? Yikes! According to my new Lose It app, I have to walk almost a mile to burn that off!

shutterstock_97491371So I’m making a commitment to oatmeal. Every day. First thing. My hope is it will keep me full (because sometimes my schedule demands that lunch runs late) and that I’m doing all sorts of good things for my body when I eat it: fiber, protein, antioxidants, lignans – yay! And what I’ve discovered is that if the plain oatmeal routine gets too boring, I can always doctor it up. Here are some delicious takes on this breakfast staple:

Almond Joy Oatmeal

1 cup dry old fashioned oats, water (as directed), 1 tablespoon shredded coconut, 1 scoop (about 1/4 cup) chocolate protein powder, sugar-free Da Vinnici coconut syrup, sugar-free Da Vinnici chocolate syrup

Apple Walnut Oatmeal

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal (not instant), 1 cup low-fat milk, 2 apples – cored and peeled and diced, 1/2 cup crushed walnuts, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Banana Cream Oatmeal

4 cups water, 2 cups quick-cooking oats, 2 bananas cut into thin coins, 1/2 cup non-fat sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Blueberry Almond Oatmeal

1/4 cup steel-cut oats, 1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, 1/4 cup milk, 1 tablespoon slivered almonds, 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed

Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal

1 and 3/4 cups water, 1 cup quick cooking oats, 1/4 cup dried cherries, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons cherry jam

Now go tackle that drop-off line!

Cows Eat Asparagus Too

asparagusMy favorite party of the year is held by dear friends of mine each May.  They have a good old-fashioned backyard bar-b-que, and it is pure Americana: watermelon seed spitting contest, potato sack races, hula hoop contests and even a “cow-calling” competition for the grown-ups (traditionally scheduled mid-way through the party.  Everyone’s “moos” seem “moo-ier” after a beer or two…go figure).  While I did not win the cow-calling contest this year, I did knock it out of the park (or is that the barn?) with my appetizer contribution: Asparagus Rolls.  Since awards season is upon us and many of you are hosting fetes, I think this would also be a great addition to your party menu, so here’s the recipe:


1 lb. fresh asparagus

1 8 oz. package crescent roll dough

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated

1/4 cup bacon bits

1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped


Break off the tough ends of the asparagus, leaving just the tender tips.

Steam for several minutes until cooked just crisp tender.

Open crescent roll dough and separate at the seams.

Sprinkle some cheese, bacon bits and green onion on each roll, followed by an asparagus spear.

Roll up and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until rolls are browned.


Practicing for May: Mooooooooooooo!

The Only Thing Better than Singing is…a Danish! (not really)

My oldest daughter sings.  In the shower, at singing1the dinner table, in the car, into the karaoke machine…and yes, I do attempt to harness the passion, and so she sings in the school choir too.  Often, the school choir sings at church on Sunday, and following services, we’ll have a small breakfast.  Contributing the standard coffee and donuts to these breakfasts gets a little boring after a few months, and so I do try to mix it up when I can.  However, I knew thinking beyond Dunkin D this morning was going to be a little tough coming off the last of Christmas vacation, so I pulled this together because you can make it ahead and refrigerate.  Thought I’d share in case you’re staring down this week’s calendar and are feeling depressed by the need to once again strap on your uber mommy suit for the PTA coffee, church fundraiser, and mother-in-law “drop in.”  These are an easy cheat (and no one but us will ever know!).


2 8 oz. cans Pillsbury crescent rolls

2 8 oz. packages Philly cream cheese

1 can (approximately 15 oz.) blueberry pie filling

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla


Spread one can of crescent roll dough in a greased, 9×13 inch pan.  Press perforations together to seal.  Combine cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla.  Spread on top of the crescent rolls.  Spoon pie filling over the cheese mixture.  Place the second can of crescent rolls on top of the pie filling.  Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes.

And yes – these are delish even when there isn’t a song in the air!

Cookies with a Kix

When the girls were small, I used to go to Costco quite a bit.  What I liked about shopping at Costco were the free samples, which always entertained the girls well enough to get us through the excursions with minimal drama.  I also really loved the diapers in bulk.  I don’t ever remember making special trips to the grocery store at 10:00 p.m. because we were down to the last diaper, and I think the credit goes to Costco.

This being said, what I didn’t like about shopping at Costco were the storage problems following each trip.  Remember how I told you my home was built in 1929, and I have closet space issues?  Well, guess what?  Aside from plumbing and modern appliances, my kitchen remains in the same state it was in 1929, which means I have cabinet/pantry space issues as well.  There is simply no room for gallons of ketchup and a dozen boxes of rice.

kixI remember on one occasion, I bought Kix in bulk (someone must not have been sleeping through the night to prompt me to make such an egregious purchase mistake).  As you can imagine, when I arrived home, I was faced with an unsolvable dilemma: where to put the Kix?  I ultimately placed the cereal boxes on top of the dryer, but after the 10th load of laundry went in, the OCD in me kicked into overdrive, and I simply couldn’t handle looking at the Kix one more time.  So I started dumping them into casseroles, cookies and granola-esque bars in an effort to use them up and get them out of eyesight.  Most of these recipes don’t bear repeating, but the cookies were sort of a hit, and we still occasionally make them.  In case your Christmas cookies are gone and you too have over-purchased and are desperate to get Kix out of your garage, linen closet and foyer, here you go!


1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup butter

1 cup peanut butter

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

8 cups Kix cereal

2 cups chocolate chips


Combine all except Kix and chocolate chips.  Beat until fluffy.  Add Kix and chocolate chips.  Mix well.  Drop by teaspoon on cookie sheet.  Bake at 325 for 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

I’m not too sure whether to tell you to enjoy the cookies or the free space – maybe both!

Take a Bow!

child-actingLast night, my neighbors and I participated in a time-honored theater tradition: the neighborhood play. The plot was a little sketchy…something about a dolphin, and a dolphin family…all of whom had names reminiscent of Disney’s Dwarves: Splashy and Bubbly and Somersaulty and Frank (?). I believe the message was that dolphin safe nets are important to the environment (nice), and the soundtrack was a keeper – dolphins swimming along to Lady Gaga? Hey SeaWorld, eat your heart out! The actors, all four feet of them and all union of course, gave top-notch performances and I was impressed with how well the dolphin mother delivered her “Time Out for Bad Behavior” soliloquy in the second act. I’m sure she wasn’t drawing from real life experience…a-hem.

At any rate, after the final bow was taken and the curtain closed, it was time to feed the theater masses in my living room. While pizza and Christmas cookies sufficed beautifully for the cast, the audience was treated to Ina Garten’s lasagna, my absolute “cozy evening at home” fave. You don’t have to pre-cook the noodles, you can make it ahead of time, and yep – it’s delish (as if anything that includes three kinds of cheese and fresh basil leaves wouldn’t be!).  Here’s the recipe, in case your neighborhood actors’ guild has opening night scheduled for this weekend: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/turkey-lasagna-recipe2/index.html


Stop Smirking and Drink the Smoothie!

Ok, so I’ve told you I run.  What I haven’t told you, is that running is just about the only uber healthy thing I do.  I’m not a vegan, I don’t mind gluten, I only take vitamins when I suspect I’m getting sick, and I have no idea what it means to eat a macrobiotic diet.  While I think these choices mean I have quite a lot in common with most women, they also mean I have very little in common with the likes of Madonna, Gwyneth and Gisele (as if we didn’t know this already).

So imagine how riddled with doubt I was when a girlfriend recommended Gwyneth’s smoothie recipe.  I immediately conjured up images of seaweed, kale and flax seeds in my blender, and I subsequently balked.  My friend was not to be deterred, however, and so after our last run, she hit the kitchen.  I’m not gonna’ lie.  Gwyneth’s on to something, and it’s not just perfect gowns for awards season!  The smoothie was delish, and though there’s a few ingredients that raised my eyebrows (green powder?), from a taste perspective, this smoothie hit the spot, especially post-run.  Here’s how it goes (and yep, you might have to hit Whole Foods for a couple of the ingredients).

Into the blender:blueberry-smoothie

1/2 Cup of blueberries (the recipe calls for fresh, but my girlfriend used frozen)

1 Scoop whey powder

1 Scoop of green powder (my girlfriend used something called Macro Greens; I looked it up and Vitamin World offers something similar called Life’s Greens)

1 & 1/2 Cups of almond milk

Blend away!

I know, I can feel your doubt emanating from the pixels on my computer screen, and I promise, I was right there with you.  But you know what?  It was tasty, it was refreshing, and it was a nice way to start the day!  Despite the weird green powder, the only thing I tasted were the blueberries, which I love!  So go on….I dare you.

Tastes like chicken!

Going Bananas over Cereal

Every year, the second grade class at my daughters’ school holds a Rice Krispie treat sale.  Each second grade child brings at least ten homemade Rice Krispie treats to school, and during lunch, the treats are sold for 50 cents a piece.  The money is then donated to a charity.  I love this little event.  Not so much because my daughter gets to practice making change (important!), and is learning to give to others in need (even more important!), but because the moms (and dads!) knock it out of the park with the Rice Krispie treats.  Some are pink, some have sprinkles, some are drizzled with chocolate and caramel.  Some incorporate Fruity Pebbles, others use colored marshmallows, and there are always a few with candy bars crushed on top.  It is a Rice Krispie treat smorgasbord, if you will.  The kids LOVE it, and the table of over-the-top goodies outside the second grade classroom doors always gives me a laugh.

Last week, the girls and I were online trying to decide how best to doctor up our treats.banana-nut-cheerios-snacks  We ultimately cut them into the shape of a Christmas tree with a cookie cutter and gave them licorice garland and Skittle ornaments.  (Yep, it was a little too-much project, and in hindsight, I think I bit off more than I can chew for a weeknight after 6:00.)  But while online, we stumbled across this recipe for Cheerios treats.  I thought it looked promising (and I think the sunflower nuts at least give it the illusion of being healthier). I have several boxes of assorted Cheerios in my house right now, AND someone told me it is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day (now there’s a nice holiday), so why not give it a go?  In case you care to join us, here’s the how-to:

Banana Nut Cheerios Snacks


3 tablespoons butter (do not use spread or tub products)

1 bag (10.5 oz) miniature marshmallows

6 cups Banana Nut Cheerios cereal

1/3 cup roasted sunflower nuts

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon canola oil


Spray a 13×9 inch pan with cooking spray.  In a large, microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter uncovered on high for 30 to 45 seconds or until melted.  Add marshmallows.  Toss until coated.  Microwave on high 1 minute 15 seconds to 1 minute 45 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until mixture can be stirred smooth.

Stir in cereal and sunflower nuts until well blended.  Press evenly in pan.

In small, microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips and oil uncovered on high 45 to 60 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds, until melted and smooth.  Drizzle over bars.

Cool one hour until glaze is set.  Store loosely covered.

And yes, I’ll be throwing down some Kashi and GrapeNuts over the next couple of weeks in a desperate attempt to prove to you that I don’t always eat my cereal with assorted candy and marshmallows.


Fruit Fetish

My girls love fruit, and I mean they really love it.  We can go through as many as four pints of strawberries in a single day.  And that’s just the strawberries.  Don’t get me started on the flats of blueberries my neighbor brings us from Michigan, or the bags of clementines that are here one day, gone the next.  Sometimes I worry this fruit consumption is all a bit gluttonous, but I tell myself it’s all okay because we’re talking fruit, not Cheetos – right?

The good news about my girls’ eating habits is that I don’t think my little trio will ever have a vitamins A and/or C deficiency.  And I’m pretty sure they run around filled to the brim with antioxidants.  The bad news is just this: have you ever priced out what four pints of strawberries cost when they are not in season?  Holy savings account, Batman!  And so, I apologize for the recipe that is about to follow.  When not in season, this little salad can get expensive.  I recommend editing to accommodate what’s least expensive at the grocery store right now.  I also highly recommend shopping at your local farmers’ market so that at the very least, your hard earned dollars are going straight into the growers’ pockets (this is very preachy of me, and I’m sorry, but I do love to eat locally grown produce when I can).

Favorite Fruit Salad


1 pint of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

1 large peach, pitted and cut into bite-size pieces

2 plums, pitted and cut into bite-size pieces

2 kiwi fruit, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup dark, sweet cherries, pitted and halved

1 cup honeydew melon balls or cubes

1 cup cantaloupe balls or cubes

1 cup cubed, fresh pineapple

1 cup grapes

2 containers of lowfat vanilla yogurt


Lightly mix all of the fruit together until well integrated.  Spoon the yogurt on top and serve.

Albert Einstein said, “A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?”  I don’t know, Albert, but according to my girls, not even the dining room furniture and the musical instruments are necessary.

Bringing Home the Bacon

Last night, one of my friends attended a beer and bacon tasting.  Umm…..yum???  Ever since her description of the dessert bacon and beer pairing, I have been craving, and I mean craving, bacon.  I know.  Your cholesterol is going through the roof just reading this, and some of you are in training for Turkey Trots on Thursday.  I’m so sorry.  I just can’t help myself.

My favorite appetizer EVER is bacon with brown sugar, and I love this quick recipe from Paula Deen.  I thought I’d share in case you’re doing any entertaining this week, but let’s face it, I’m doing ZERO entertaining and I’ll make it anyway.


1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1/4 pound sliced bacon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large, plastic, zip-top bag, combine brown sugar and mustard.  Add bacon and toss to coat.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  Place a cooling rack on the lined baking sheet.  Put bacon on rack and roast in oven for 20 minutes.  Let drain for a few minutes on the rack and serve.

“Mmm…bacon” – Homer Simpson

Okay Jamie Oliver, Let Me See What You’ve Got!

So the men in my office who like to cook (a lovely quality) are devoted fans of Jamie Oliver.  I’m not sure if it’s because he’s a dude, or because he owns a pair of David Beckham’s soccer shoes, or because he plays drums in a rock band, or because he is married to a model.  I’m hoping, however, that despite the extra cool points for the soccer shoes and the drumming and the model, they’re also fans because he can actually cook.  And so I’m foregoing my own tried and true pancakes-from-scratch recipe tomorrow morning to give his “Pancakes USA Style” recipe a go.  Care to join me?  Here it is:


3 large eggs

1/2 cup plain flour

1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

5/8 cup of milk

a pinch of salt


Separate the eggs, whites into one bowl and yolks into another.  Add the flour, milk and baking powder to the yolks and mix to a smooth, thick batter.  Whisk the whites with the salt until they form stiff peaks.  Fold into the batter, it is now ready to use.

Heat a good, non-stick pan on medium heat.  Pour batter (to your preferred size – big pancakes or small) into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes, until it starts to look golden and firm.  At this point, sprinkle your chosen flavoring (see below for some great suggestions!) onto the uncooked side before loosening with a spatula and flipping the pancake over.  Continue frying until both sides are golden.  Repeat!

Jamie’s suggested flavors:

Fresh corn from the cob

Crispy bacon or pancetta



Stewed apples

Grated chocolate (yummmmmm!)

Let me know what you think!  (I’ll report back to the men!)