Friday Night Bite

Friday nights in my house are “pizza picnic” nights.  We order pizzas, the girls spread a blanket on the floor, and we watch a movie together.  Sometimes, if I’m watching “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” for the 32nd time, I’ll multi-task and watch the movie while simultaneously pulling a “sip and flip” (translation: glass of wine and the pages of Vogue).

Pizza picnics are preceded by making dessert in the kitchen, and we take turns with the dessert recipes because I have two who love chocolate (way to go girls) and one who detests it (way to be your own person, sweetheart).  This past Friday night it was my anti-chocolate gal’s turn to indulge her sweet tooth in the kitchen, and so we basically made jello (bold move, huh?).  Here’s the recipe, in case you too have offspring who are missing the cocoa DNA strand.

Strawberry Yogurt Squares


2 (3 oz) boxes strawberry jello

2 cups boiling water

2 (10 oz) packages frozen strawberries

2 large bananas, finely diced

1 cup strawberry or banana yogurt


Dissolve jello in 2 cups of boiling water.  Add frozen strawberries, stirring occasionally until thawed.  Add finely diced bananas.

Pour half of the strawberry mixture into an 8x8x2 inch pan.  Chill.  Spread evenly with yogurt.  Pour remaining strawberry mixture on top of the yogurt.

Refrigerate until set.  Cut into 9 squares.  Top with whipped cream, or more yogurt if desired.

Enjoy!  And hey, you didn’t hear it here, but there’s a bag of chocolate chips waiting for you after the kids go to bed!

PB&J Mini Muffins

My seven-year old loves PB&J.  I find this endearing, since my other two are all about the yogurt-crackers-fresh-fruit kind of lunch in their lunch boxes.  Something about PB&J feels nostalgic.  Sentimental.  And I love it.

So I tee up PB&J just for my seven-year old, in all of its forms (and there are many!).  It’s our “thing,” and I milk every opportunity I can find to bond with her over this tried-and-true lunchtime staple.  These muffins are fun to make, mostly because she likes to do the dollop of jelly all on her own!


1 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/3 cup vanilla yogurt

3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons strawberry or grape jelly


In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a small bowl, beat the eggs, yogurt, peanut  butter and oil on low speed until smooth.  Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened.

Fill greased or paper-lined miniature muffin cups half full.  Top each with 1/4 teaspoon jelly and remaining batter.

Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack.  Yield: 2 and 1/2 dozen mini muffins.


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!


Pucker Up!

My middle child, bless her soul, loves all things sour.  At the ice cream store, she orders lemon sherbet.  When treated to dessert, she’ll request lemon meringue pie.  Her candy of choice is either a SourPatch Kid or a Lemonhead.  And she actually hates most lemonade because it is too sweet.  I confess, this is NOT my DNA at work.  I can’t relate AT ALL.  I mean, my go-to when closet eating is a handful of jellybeans.  Can you get more sickly sweet than that?

But, I do try to accommodate and encourage each of my girls’ quirks and idiosyncracies.  Who knows?  Maybe one day this one’ll grow up and revolutionize citrus farming.  And so, here’s my tried and true recipe for frozen lemon yogurt.  As an aside, it actually makes for a great dessert when entertaining.  Throw some fresh blueberries or raspberries on top or “accessorize” with a sprig of mint, and you have an attractive, refreshing way to finish a rich meal.


1 quart (4 cups) low-fat vanilla yogurt

12 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate (thawed)

1 cup half & half (fat-free)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar


In a bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemonade concentrate, half & half, lemon juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Chill mixture until cold, about 30 minutes.

Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker (1 & 1/2 quart capacity) according to manufacturer’s instructions, until motor stops or dasher is hard to turn.

Transfer yogurt to an airtight container and freeze until firm enough to scoop, about two hours.

Pucker up!

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.