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


Easy Turkey Chili

I don’t know about you, but I have picky eaters.  I’m not too sure how this happened because I served, and they ate, everything when they were little.  But somehow my darling divas deviated from a well-balanced, well-rounded diet into beings who would prefer to subsist on mac-n-cheese and chicken nuggets alone.  I’m sure if I retraced my steps I would discover it’s my fault (yes, I suffer from loads of probably unnecessary mommy self-blame), but regardless, I now find myself hard-pressed to conjure up meals that are not processed, preserved and pretending to be nutritious.  And guess what?  I have had oodles of success with turkey chili!   Who knew my tu-tu clad gaggle of gals would dig into a dish commonly associated with sporting events?  Yay!  So in an attempt to rescue any and all of you also held hostage in your kitchen by discerning diners, here goes:


1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 onion, chopped (I use a whole onion, because for some bizarre reason, my picky eaters actually like their chili spicy!)

1 can kidney beans

1 can diced tomatoes (I actually use Hunt’s petite diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, see note above.)

2 cups corn, frozen or fresh

1 pkg of taco seasoning (you can cut back and use less if your family prefers only a little zing!)


Brown the turkey.

Add the onion and saute, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the beans, tomatoes, corn and taco seasoning.  Let simmer approximately 10 minutes.

Serve with low-fat shredded cheese.  (I also let my kids add a few oyster crackers!).

And if you, like me, are cooking after a long day of work and feeling tired and frazzled, what better way to brighten your day than to cook with pretty and/or fun cookware?  My chili gets whipped up in a Le Crueset stockpot.  I have it in “cherry,” which completely clashes with the color scheme of my kitchen, and for some reason this energizes me – you could even say I feel a little rebellious!  (Now don’t go judging – this evening I drove a carpool, made a compass out of paperclips and sewed some girl scout badges onto a sash.  If a bright red stockpot feels like a rebel yell to me – so be it!).

Enjoy the chili!


So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen Good Grill!

My neighbors are moving.  This breaks my heart into hundreds of pieces for too many reasons to count.  Put simply: they are a lovely family and add value to the community in which they live in every possible way.  The only silver lining to which I can point amidst the melancholia?  They gave their gas grill to me.  Apparently the new home has one built in (swanky!) and so I am the beneficiary of the old.  I have never used a gas grill before (I’ve always been a Weber-kettle-charcoal kind of girl) but I took my new Grill Master 5000 for a culinary test drive this weekend, and I have to say, I might be hooked.  I did chicken and some veggie kabobs, and everything was delish!  While I’m going to give the new grill most of the credit, there might have been a yum-factor in the marinade too.  This works well on either chicken or pork, and prep time is five minutes at best, so it’s a great go-to when you’re not in the mood to hang in the kitchen.


1 cup crushed pineapple

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves


Mix all ingredients together and use immediately or store in airtight container for up to seven days.


Dinner in No Time Flat!

I know, I know.  In your head I’m an uber glam mom making a four course dinner for my loved ones in a pair of Louboutins.  Ummm….reality check.  I’m really a mom who works full time, comes in the back door at 6:00, and then trips over myriad backpacks, tennis shoes and fairy wands while making her way to the cabinet for a box of instant Mac ‘n Cheese.  And confession – the dress code at work is casual, so on a good day I’m in ballet flats, on a bad day I’m in flip-flops.  (I just happen to really like the pretty pictures of the Louboutins!)

For those of us who are in need of a quick dinner for the kiddos that’s a little more than Mac ‘n Cheese but a little less than filet mignon, try this on for size: dice up some cooked chicken breasts (easy to prepare ahead of time, freeze and thaw), and mix the chicken with milk, butter and chive flavored cream cheese to taste.  Spoon the mixture into the middle of Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough, and then wrap the dough around the mixture to make individual “bundles.”  Bake according to the directions on the Crescent Roll package and voila!  Dinner in no time flat!  (Get it?  Flats?)

Enjoy, fellow moms!  And remember: regardless of our actual footwear, we’re all well heeled in our hearts.