Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

  I had my second breakdown of the week, and it was only Tuesday. 
  My four-year-old was crying and throwing a fit because the clothes I’d picked out for her weren’t jiving with her mood for the day.  She wanted a dress (in the middle of winter, mind you), and I’d picked out an adorable pair of skinny jeans, a pink sweater, and boots.  Rather than give in to my bartering like she usually does over clothes, she stood firm.  It would be a dress or nothing she told me in the strongest preschool voice she could muster.  I rolled my eyes and marched out to find my son to get him dressed.  I walk into his room; clothes strewn everywhere.  My little two-year-old also had his own fashion agenda, and it didn’t include getting dressed anytime soon. 
   We should’ve left the house ten minutes ago, I thought as his diaper came flying.  I sigh and give in, yelling at my daughter to throw a dress on; I really didn’t care at this point.  She claps in glee at her small victory, as I silently curse.  I know this will only mean trouble tomorrow morning.
   I wrestle my son down while he screams and writhes as I fight to put his diaper on.  By the time I’d finally found a pair of sweatpants in the piles of clothes on the floor, it was too late to find a matching sweatshirt.  I told myself that for one day…he didn’t have to match.
   After about five minutes of full on screaming (and maybe a curse word or two), I had both kids buckled in their carseats, ready to head out.  Tears were starting to form behind my eyes at the thought of being late, once again.  It was snowing and there was no way I could speed.
   Out of the backseat I hear a yelp.  “Bubba pooped mommy!  It stinks real bad.” 
   I sigh, put my keys back in my purse, and pick up my phone. 
   “Yes, hello Sandy.  I just wanted to let you guys know I won’t be coming in today.  Yes, yes, both kids are sick.  Thank you, yes, we will get some rest.  I hope to see you tomorrow.”   

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement ~ Buffalo Turkey Burgers with Blue Cheese Slaw

I absolutely love anything with Buffalo sauce.  I love spicy and so finding this recipe and Frank's Hot Sauce was a dream come true.  You think I'm kidding, but I'm not!  I now use Frank's on everything from salads on my meat, mixed in with my homemade ranch salad dressing, on all my burgers, and even sandwiches.  It's awesome!  Also, I'm not a huge fan of Blue Cheese dressing, but this homemade version in the slaw was amazing.  The burgers were great because they had veggies mixed in, and (I left hot sauce & slaw off of the kids') because they were so good, the kids couldn't even tell.  Clayton ate a whole burger, including the bun, which is a first in our house. I served them with grilled potato slices.  Yummo!


  • 1 1/2 cups cold or broccoli slaw (recipe calls for broccoli, which I couldn't find)
  • 1/4 cup skinny blue cheese dressing  (recipe below)
  • 1.25 lbs 93% lean ground turkey
  • 2/3 cup grated carrots (grate in food processor) 
  • 1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs (couldn't find whole wheat, used regular)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated 
  • 1 tbsp red onion, grated
  • 1/4 cup Franks Hot Sauce ( A MUST!  I poured more on our burgers as we ate them)
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • oil spray
  • 5 slices reduced fat cheddar
  • 5 whole wheat burger buns (I used Martin's 100 calorie Potato Whole Wheat Buns)
  • Grilled Potato slices as side (recipe below)


In a medium bowl combine slaw and skinny blue cheese dressing. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, carrots, breadcrumbs, garlic, onion, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Makes 5 equal patties, 5.5 oz each.

Heat a large skillet on high heat. When hot, lightly spray the oil. Add burgers to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Cook on one side until browned 4-5 minutes, then flip. Cook another 4 minutes or until burgers are cooked all the way through (keep heat medium-low to prevent burning);top with cheese and place on a toasted burger buns topped with broccoli slaw.

If grilling, clean grill well before cooking and spray with oil spray to prevent sticking.

Low Fat Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 6 oz fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a small bowl, mash blue cheese and yogurt together with a fork. Stir in mayonnaise, lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic powder until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 1 cup.

Grilled Potatoes:


  • 2 (13 oz total) medium russet potatoes, washed
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • (If you have a crinkle cutter - I didn't - it makes them look more authentic. If you want one, they are on amazon, but you don't need one)


Preheat grill to medium-high heat (indoor grill would work too).

Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices. Toss the potatoes with olive oil. Add salt, and pepper to your taste.

Reduce heat on the grill to medium and lay the potatoes slices straight onto the grill; close the lid. Cook until the potatoes are golden on one side, about 6 to 10 minutes, making sure they don't burn and adjusting flame accordingly. Turn and cook until tender inside when pierced with a fork, but slightly crisp and golden brown on the outside. Remove from grill, and serve immediately.

Happy Eating Friends! ~Trina

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement - Lemon Oregano Pork Tenderloin with Lemon Jus

I had a wonderful visit with my mom a couple of weeks ago!  We had such a great time and she was so helpful with the kids - it definitely showed me what I was missing by not living close to her.  While she was here, she kept talking about this new recipe she found. By the end of her visit, she decided to just go ahead and make it for us and everyone loved it.

Lemon Oregano Pork Tenderloin with Lemon Jus 

1 t oregano

½ T lemon zest

¼ t freshly ground pepper

1/8 t salt

1 Pork Tenderloin

1 T + 1 teaspoon olive oil

Lemon Jus

½ cup chicken broth

1 T lemon juice

1 T oregano

1/8 t sugar

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Preheat oven at 375.  Rub tenderloin with herb mixture and 1 t olive oil. Heat remaining oil in skillet over med-high heat.  Add pork tenderloin and sear until browned, 2 min on each side.  Remove to roasting pan.  Roast for 45 minutes or to 145 degrees on meat thermometer (for medium doneness.)  Take out of oven and let rest.

While pork is resting, combine jus ingredients and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Boil 8 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Slice pork, and serve jus over it. 

Buon Appetito!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vintage Girls – Moms Need Their Best Girlfriends (Repost)

vin·tage girls [vin-tij gurlznoun
1.      girlfriends representing the high quality of a past time.
“Don't forget your sisters. They'll be more important as you get older. No matter how much you love your husband, no matter how much you love the children you may have, you are still going to need sisters.”
One of my vintage girls sent that to me (as part of a longer email) exactly when I needed to read it; as if she had it stored in a folder marked “For Leah’s Next Crisis.” 
I get so swept up in the manic day-to-day life with two toddlers running from playdate to store to potty to doctor and finally home again that the only time I can seem to find time to call my vintage girls is when I’m in the car for that 15- to 25-minute drive to wherever I am headed.  Even when I’m at home, a phone call is pretty much me telling my kids “no, not now” and “here you go” and “don’t do that to your brother” while trying to listen to my friend.  I care.  I really,  really do!  In fact, I’d give just about anything to drop my kids off at the best preschool in town and meet up with that old friend for a cup of coffee and maybe split a vanilla bean cheesecake while we dish about our adorable little ones.  As many women experience in today’s transient world, it’s not always easy to do, especially when your vintage girls live in other states, across the country or even abroad.       
Memories of these girls rush in as random tidbits in the crazy hours of my every day.  They are my rock.  They knew me best before my husband met me.  They know all of my quirks and are often the only ones who can tell me what I’m thinking or open my eyes to my mistakes or let me know how close I am getting to my life goals, even if I’m too close to see it. 
They are the ones who were there for me. 
Vintage girls call you out when you moved to a new city and tried out a new, brass attitude.  Vintage girls stand in line with you at 6:00 a.m. in 22 degree weather for a chance to get free tickets to your favorite Broadway show.  Vintage girls drive cross-country with you when you move out west with all of your belongings shoved into a Cavalier because you read “White Oleander” in the midst of a cold New York City winter.  Vintage girls still believed in you even when you made mistakes.  Vintage girls cheer you on when you are found success. Vintage girls keep in touch with you no matter how far away you move from them.  
They are the ones who are there for me.
Vintage girls are the ones who will tell you it is okay to be exhausted and feel like you can’t do everything once you’re a mommy.  Vintage girls will tell you not to believe a word from that book about sleep schedules and your happy baby. Vintage girls will tell you, I’ve been there. Vintage girls will identify with your situation with your toddler and share a relatable story about their preschooler. Vintage girls will make time for you when you really need it.  Vintage girls will reach out.  Vintage girls have a story about their husbands that make you feel better about living with yours.  Vintage girls will let you cry.  Vintage girls get it.
They are the ones who will be there for me.
When my kids start kindergarten, I know my vintage girls will be the ones to remind me to cherish the memories of their younger years and to embrace the challenges and excitement of the rest of our lives.  When I get a call from a teacher or a coach, I know my vintage girls will stand by me to remind me that we all make mistakes and our kids will work it out for themselves and still be great people. When my kids go off to college, I know my vintage girls will be there to fill the empty space and time – even if it means an all-expense paid trip to Turks and Caicos.  <wink><wink> When I’m in my retirement years and need a reminder of who I was and who I still want to be, I will turn to my vintage girls.
My vintage girls. The girlfriends I cherish, trust and love with all of my heart. Drinking a little wine tonight?  Raise a glass to that, sisters!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Fall of a Legendary Football Coach...and More

Small successes in the Penn State Scandal - NCAA fined Penn State $60 million and withdrew all the school's victories from 1998 to 2011 (knocking Joe Paterno as major college football's #1 coach). Other penalties include a four-year ban on postseason games that will prevent Penn State from playing for the Big Ten title, the loss of 20 scholarships per year over four years and five years' probation. The NCAA also said that any current or incoming football players are free to immediately transfer and compete at another school.

And of course-Jerry Sandusky was found guilty, and is finally off the streets and no longer able to rape our children.  Think that's extreme?  Well, it's time someone got extreme and started calling the situation for what it is.  Molestation is not quiet strong enough of a word here.

I write this in my small office, feet away from my sweet little children.  They are laughing and playing together; the picture of a perfect family evening.  It's astonishing to me, that there are people in this very world; people with children themselves running around, innocent and harmless-who'd do whatever it took to protect a vicious monster like Jerry Sandusky.

When I wrote originally about the Penn State Rape scandal, I got some kickback.  People were on the fence about whether the legendary coach Paterno had done the right thing or not by not notifying police or stepping up in anyway to make sure that a predator like Sandusky couldn't act again.  It's amazing how fast people are to protect someone just because they are great at something; just because they are a celebrity.

Even more astonishing, there were more people involved in this scandal.   While Penn State’s leaders bear most of the blame for the body-and-soul-damaging abuse that Mr. Sandusky committed, the report shows that the entire university system — the police, the trustees, the athletic department — failed at just about every level by a string of emails reflecting their desire to keep the situation "quiet".  The emails are proof itself of the insanity of which our country has come to; proof that money and fame rise far above what's right and honorable.  Emails proving everyone wanted to keep the rapes secret and within the walls of the school.

There was no steps in the appropriate direction, other than a slap possibly on Jerry Sandusky's hand for putting school officials in that place to begin with by perprating these terrible acts on school property.  It was far more important to keep the school's image untarnished then it was to ensure another poor boy wouldn't be violated.  It was more important that Paterno could retire a famed football coach, rather than be involved in one of the hugest college scandals yet.  Too bad for him, fate had other plans.

I watched them take down Paterno's statue from the college grounds the other day on the news...and rather than feel happy as though I assumed I should; I felt only sadness.  So many young boys innocence could have been saved; by a single act of courage.  By someone standing up for what was right, and looking beyond the immediate ramifications; and only wanting to put a stop to the atrocities.  But, adult after adult knew about this, and only participated in trying to cover it up.  Instead, many young lives have been gravely affected and there's only a statue being removed, a few football credits gone; and a small fine in comparison  to show for all the misery and pain afflicted on these young boys.

In my previous article, I mentioned I hoped to see lawsuits....big lawsuits.  Because money talks more than anything; and this corruption might just bankrupt the school-which is more than what it deserves.   The NCAA said the $60 million fine is equivalent to the annual gross revenue of the football program. The money must be paid into an endowment for external programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims and may not be used to fund such programs at Penn State.  I'm ready for the families to start suing...$60 million doesn't quite cover it.

It appears that the police are reviewing the documentation found to see if further criminal charges can be made; and that's only fair.  Coach Paterno may not have to pay for his criminal acts (other than at the gates of heaven)...but the others should.  I believe that people who try to protect or cover up for a criminal and pedophile; a predator stalking our children such as Sandusky - deserve the same punishment as the rapist himself.

If we can't have faith in the people we are supposed to be able to entrust our precious children with...then who can we trust?  NCCA presedient, Mark Emmert had this to say: "Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people."  All I can say at this point is....I certainly hope so.  ~Trina

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movements ~ Light Cajun Chicken Pasta

Whenever you hear the word light, you automatically wonder if the dish can be good as it's fatty counterpart.  But, I guarantee you, this dish does.  It was delicious, and had a ton of veggies packed in so also...nutritious!  Try it with shrimp, or both chicken & shrimp to change it up if desired.

  • 8 ounces uncooked linguine (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 pound chicken breast strips
  • 1-2 tsp Cajun seasoning (I used Tony's Seasoning instead)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup fat free low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp light cream cheese
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • Smart Balance cooking spray


Prep all your vegetables. In a small blender make a slurry by combining milk, flour and cream cheese. Set aside. Season chicken generously with Cajun seasoning, garlic powder and salt.

Prepare pasta in salted water according to package directions.

Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; spray with cooking spray and add half of the chicken. Sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until done, set aside on a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. Set aside.

Add olive oil to the skillet and reduce to medium; add bell peppers, onions, and garlic to skillet, sauté 3-4 minutes

Add mushrooms and tomatoes and sauté 3-4 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season with 1/4 tsp salt, garlic powder and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

Reduce heat to medium-low; add chicken broth and pour in slurry stirring about 2 minutes.

Return chicken to skillet; adjust salt and Cajun seasoning to taste, cook another minute or two until hot, then add linguine; toss well to coat. Top with chopped scallions and enjoy!
Happy Eating Friends! ~ Trina

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Recipe - Mango Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I'm obsessed with pulled pork! I am always on the lookout for restaurants that have the best of the best and now I'm on the hunt for the best pulled pork recipes. This recipe has a touch of spice and mango which practically shouts out SUMMERTIME!  Enjoy this with your family on your backyard picnic table covered in a checkered cloth and fresh lemonade.

Mango Pulled Pork Sandwiches
for the spice rub:
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 lb pork tenderloin
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 jalapeno, minced
2 mangos, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic

Mix the ingredients for the rub together and coat pork evenly. Sear the pork on all sides in a hot pan. Add all remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Add tenderloin. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred pork and mix with sauce in slow cooker. Serve on buns.

Buon Appetito!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Delivering Grace - Teaching Lessons That Will Last A Lifetime

Original Post 12/31/2011

“Grace,” our son said proudly with one hand folded into his other, fingers intertwined.   We probably shouldn’t have, but we laughed.  We had just started saying grace at our dinner table a few weeks ago.  Instead of doing the “Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts” blessing I had been raised on; my husband and I decided to start our own tradition of grace by simply giving thanks.  We didn’t know how long it would take to catch on, but we were ready to give it a shot with a three-year-old and a twenty-two-month-old who each seemed to be picking up on so much lately.  So three weeks into our new routine when our preschooler volunteered to say grace, my husband encouraged him.

“Great Luke!  Go ahead, you say grace tonight.” 

So pure, so blunt.  He said it.  “Grace.”  And like I said, we laughed.  It was beautiful and he was proud.  Then we clapped.

The next night he wanted to say it again, but this time we invited him to continue. 
“Say what you are thankful for.”  Sure we helped him out and gave him ideas.  “You could be thankful for your family.  Your brother.  Your food.  Your home.” 

He got it immediately.  “I’m thankful for my mommy.  My daddy.  My ZZ,” he announced as he looked at each one of us around the table.  Then he glanced down and mentioned our dog.  “I’m thankful for my Yukon.” He paused in a slump; he had run out of living and breathing blessings.  Then with an excited charge he concluded, “and I’m thankful for my ambulance.”  His new favorite toy.  He smiled. 

Impressed, my husband and I looked at one another and then back at him and said, “Amen!”  He repeated it and his little brother with his hands semi-clasped, said his best Amen.  Then we clapped and told Luke what a great job he did and gave his little bro some props too for his participation. 

A week later, at Christmas Eve dinner with grandma and grandpa, he suggested he say grace.  “Grace.”  Now he’s doing it just to get a hearty laugh from his dad, which is delivered on queue.  But he does follow it up being thankful for each of us at the table, even grandpa twice.  Then out of the blue, he says he’s thankful for his Aunt Kathy who actually couldn’t join us this year.  With all fairness, he hears her name often, undoubtedly earlier in the day. 

The brilliant part of all of this isn’t that a three-year-old is hamming it up in front of family, or that it’s cute that he’s thankful for a toy or a missed aunt, but it’s seeing the whole purpose behind our efforts to set an example for our kids actually work.  Things can actually click.  Maybe even before you know it.  But it’s happening.  And here we are just weeks after starting our dinnertime blessings and not only were they catching on, but they were really getting into it!  I know what you’re thinking…just wait a few years and see who’s excited to say grace.  Probably not two boys who would rather go play with friends or their new DS game (assuming DS is the thang in 2015).

I know my efforts can have a great impact on my children’s lives.  I know this, but it still astonishes me at times.  For instance, a few months ago I started explaining to my boys after I had taken them somewhere really fun, like Chuck E Cheese’s or the pool, that it’d be really nice if they said to whomever took them, “thank you so much for taking me there.”  When I started saying it, I always felt like I was talking to myself, as I glance in the rearview mirror to see them just looking out their windows, never saying anything back to me.  But I kept it up for several weeks, never really thinking it would work.  Then one day we were leaving the park and out of the blue my boy says it.  “Thank you so much for taking me to the park with all of my friends.”  I was so excited I wanted to cry.  It worked!  I couldn’t believe it worked! 

Ultimately, whether or not they will want to actively participate in saying grace as they get older, they will be learning to be aware of what they are grateful for.  As my husband and I continue to try to lead by example and show them that gratitude can come in many forms-be it family, food on the table, toys or even an event or a feeling; they will start to recognize it in their own lives away from the dinner table, throughout their every day.  They will be conscious of it.  As they experience things they will have an appreciation of what is actually enriching their lives rather than just taking things for granted. 

Sometimes they are the lessons that seem so simple.  And they can be.  These are the lessons that can last a lifetime.  But it’s got to start somewhere and be nurtured.  It’s up to us to deliver grace. Then we have one more thing to be grateful for.  Amen!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Enjoying The Beautiful Things in Life

It's funny how much working 40 hours changes a person.  At least, me.  I had two very special days off a week, in which I was exceptionally choosy about how I spent them.  Whether it be just sitting around the house in my sweats because I never got to do it, or spending time with only my closest friends.

Now, I have time on my hands.  Yes, it's crazy and hectic with two young kids...but there's time.  I excitedly make plans, or try to, for four of five days of the week.  We've seen the fish hatchery, rifle falls, the little sprinkler water park, a hike or two.  We go to the library each week and get new books for the kids, and in a week they start swim lessons.  The beginning of August, hopefully Callie will start gymnastics, she's so competitive and great at things like that - and rather than dread having one more thing to do, I'm excited.  We have the time now.

Each outing isn't a rushed event, it's one done at leisure.  Yesterday I spent time with two neighbors and friends and their kids at the water park, and enjoyed the sunshine (and shade) chatting and watching our children have a great time.  Before we knew it, the morning was gone, and it was time to come home and make lunch.  During my "working" days, a day like that would have been a stretch.  There would have been housework and a laundry list of items to do.  I would have been rushed, and likely - not even able to really fully enjoy the day, knowing I had to make the most of each hour.  Instead, we were making plans for our next get-together.

I hear "aren't you supposed to be writing" a whole lot, mostly from people who work.  Of course they are joking, and it does make me laugh because all my pictures on Facebook are of me and the kids doing some fun activity and it looks like all pleasure.  And to be honest? It is.  I get up and write in the a.m.  I write at naptime most days.  I sometimes write in the evening if I can - there's no longer guilt because I spend all day with them. I can work a quarter of the time and do something I completely love...while also enjoying life rather than seeing the hours pass by swiftly on a time clock.

Everyone's different, and many people have to work so they make the best of their time and many people are wired differently then me and can totally appreciate their two days off and let things go they can't do and move on Monday a.m.  That's just not me though.  So, for now I'll be thankful I have this opportunity, pray I continue to see the little successes i'm seeing along the way...and enjoy the beautiful things in life. ~Trina

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement ~ Chicken Marsala with Pancetta and Cream

I love chicken marsala.  And this is by far one of the best recipes I've ever made.  I would suggest cooking with whole wheat pasta if desired, and doubling the ingredients for the sauce so you have enough to mix with the pasta.


  • Olive oil
  • 2 oz pancetta (about a 1/4 inch thick slice), cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (or you can use chopped shallots)
  • Flour for dredging (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 lb of skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut or pounded into thin cutlets
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 6 Tbsp 1/2 & 1/2 or heavy cream
  • Whole wheat pasta if desired, I used linguine and then doubled the sauce mixture - cream, marsala, salt/pepper, onion


1 Coat a large skillet lightly with olive oil and set it over medium high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until just crip and lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan, and set aside. Add the onions to the pan and cook until translucent and slightly browned, 5-10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan, and set aside.
2 Put the flour on a plate. Pat the cutlets dry. Season them on both sides lightly with salt and amply with pepper. Heat the skillet with the pancetta fat over medium high. Add more olive oil, if needed, to get about 2 Tbsp of fat in the pan.
3 When the fat is hot, dredge a cutlet through the flour on both sides. Shake off the excess flour and immediately put the cutlet in the pan. Do the same with as many cutlets as will fit in the pan without touching. Sauté the cutlets, turning once, until browned on both sides. If thin, they should cook through in just a few minutes total. Transfer the cooked cutlets to a plate and continue sauteíng the rest, adding more oil if necessary. Transfer these to the plate as well.
4 Pour off the excess fat. With the pan over med-high heat, add the Marsala and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the Marsala is reduced by about a quarter. Stir in the cream and boil until you get a nicely thickened sauce. 
Return the chicken, onions, and pancetta to the pan and turn the cutlets over to coat. Let them reheat for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Serve w/salad and bread also if desired.

Happy Eating Friends! ~ Trina

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Recipe - Shrimp Etouffee Recipe

Now that we live just four hours from New Orleans, it's almost impossible to go to a restaurant and not see a list of delicious creole and Cajun choices on the menu. So leave it to me to want to learn and try all of these recipes myself. This is a winner!  Click here for original recipe.

Shrimp Etouffee

2 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Onion, Finely Chopped
1/4 Cup Celery, Finely Chopped
1/4 Cup Bell Pepper, Finely Chopped
1/4 Cup Flour
3/4 Cup fresh Tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Stock
2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
I bundle of Fresh Thyme
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Hot Sauce (try Louisiana Gold)
1/2 Cup Green Onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp minced Italian Parsley
2 lb Good Quality Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined, Save shells for the stock
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
1 Recipe Creole Boiled Rice

Season the shrimp with 1 Tbsp of the Creole Seasoning.

Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet, add the onions, bell pepper, and celery, saute until translucent. Whisk in the flour to make a blonde roux, stirring constantly, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the remaining Creole Seasoning. Add a small amount of the vegetable stock, stir well to form a paste, add the remaining stock gradually, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. You may need a little more stock, but the end result should be the consistency of a gravy, not too thick, not too thin.
Add the tomatoes, garlic, Thyme, Worcestershire, and hot sauce, a little salt, black pepper, and Cayenne. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Add the shrimp, green onions, and parsley, simmer for 10 minutes more or until the shrimp are cooked through. Stir in the 3 Tbsp butter, and adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve over Creole Boiled Rice.

Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Today’s Forecast: Scattered Mom Likely

Original Post Date: 8-1-11

A peek inside the frenzied mind of an everyday mom:
Ah, my coffee.  We’re almost out of Splenda.  I’m going to have to remember to put that on my grocery list.  In fact, I need to make a run to Walmart today.  Let me start a list.  Where is the paper?  I thought I’d just put it in this drawer yesterday. 
What do you need, baby? Well, we’re having breakfast in about 10 minutes, just let me finish cutting these grapes.  Should I cut these grapes in fourths?  I’m going to just cut them all up now, then we’ll be good to go the rest of the week. Oh yeah, my coffee.  We’ve got plenty of cream to last the next week or two, that’s groovy.  And thanks to my dad for giving us a whole bag of his home-roasted Kona coffee beans.  That reminds me, I need to send him a thank you card.  I wonder if I have any cards left over from the last bunch I bought?  I’ll have to remember to look for one later, before I head over to the store. 
No, you may not have any chocolate.  If you eat your breakfast, I’ll think about giving you some chocolate milk.  Waffles!  I wonder if I should just go ahead and make a waffle for myself?  I know I was going to try and eat healthier today and cook up some scrambled egg whites, but this will save me time on cooking and dishes and well, it’s just easier.  What the hell, right?  I’ll make it up at lunch time with a salad.  I’m going to have to buy some fresh spinach though because I think what’s left in the fridge is bad.   As always, I’m so awful at letting vegetables spoil.  I know it drives Zac crazy.  Why isn’t he up yet? 
What happened to your clothes, young man?  You are supposed to go on a doggie walk with your father and I just got you dressed!  Go grab your undies!  There he is.  Good!  I’ll get five, maybe ten, minutes of quiet when he takes the boys and our dog for their morning walk.
No, seriously, I had him dressed just a minute ago.  I’m not going to spend my morning chasing him down 17 times to get him to keep his clothes on. Luke!  Grab your undies if you want to go for a doggie walk.  Otherwise, you’re going to stay here with me.
I’m so not going to stick to that threat!  I cherish these peaceful minutes.  I’ll check my e-mail once they leave.  I can start breakfast as soon as they get back.  I also need to look up our play date for today; I can’t remember if it’s at 3:00 p.m. or 3:30 p.m.  I hope it’s at 3:30 p.m., that always gives us – okay, bye, have fun. Be safe! – what was I just thinking?  Oh, I can’t remember.  Doesn’t matter anyway, I guess.  I have to go potty.  Did I just say potty?  But first, let me check my bank account to see if my little tiny paycheck went through.  I need to make sure my wallet is in my diaper bag too before I leave this morning.  I think I had it last when I met Susie at the movies and I really don’t remember transferring it back to the diaper bag.  Okay, good!  It’s in there.  I better go ahead and throw a couple of diapers in it now also.  I’m pretty sure I have to pick some of those up, too.
List!  I’ve got to start a list!  Finally!  Here’s some paper.  Milk.  Maybe a thank you card.  Diapers for ZZ.  What am I going to have for lunch today?  Oh, yeah, a salad.  Spinach.  I think I have everything else I need for lunch here. I could use some more Cherry Coke Zero.  Cherry Coke Zero.  Awesome!
My paycheck has gone through; I have money again!  Maybe I should buy Luke some new pool shoes from Once Upon A Child.  Does he really need pool shoes?  I can’t believe his birthday is coming up.  Well, it’ll be here before we know it after vacation in September.  That’s just eight weeks away.  And his birthday will be about six weeks after that.  What kind of party should we have? What’s he really into these days?  His daddy’s Jeep.  Can I have a Jeep party? What would that consist of?  I could get Diego plates and decorations but make his cake a Jeep cake and, well, then it’s a Diego party and not a Jeep party.  But I want it to be so special for him since we had a small affair last year.  What about a pool party?  In November?  Maybe a slight possibility since we’re in South Carolina, but nothing to count on.  I should see if there are any indoor pools in town.  I’m sure there won’t be since we are in SC, but maybe.  He loves the pool so much; he’d be in heaven!
Hey!  You’re back!  That was fast!  What happened to my quiet time?  I didn’t get anything accomplished.  Now I won’t have another moment of quiet until naptime and I’m not sure I can make that happen since Zealand woke up an hour before his brother.  I must try!  I’ll go to the grocery store right before lunch time and keep him awake!  What would you like from the store?  I hope my two favorite plates for the boys are clean.  They are not in the cabinet where they should be.  Not in the dishwasher.  I now know what my mom used to talk about when I was little when she’d tell us she was losing her mind because things are never in the place she left them.
Honey, where are the boys’ blue and green plates?  Ha!  I must’ve mindlessly grabbed them earlier when I first got to the kitchen.  I can’t believe they are sitting here right in front of me. Here you go boys: a waffle, grapes and yogurt.  It feels so good to sit down.  My boys are so sweet.  It looks like they’re hungry, too, which is always a good thing.  You know what would be perfect right now?  My coffee; which I haven’t touched since I poured it an hour ago.  Now where the heck is it?    

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Creating Your Own Hybrid Family

I've always wanted tons of kids.  That is of course, until I had kids.  I realized as much as I adore my children, I'm not the mother that can have a ton of little ones running around and maintain her sanity.  I came to the conclusion I love the idea of a large family, better than the actual number of bodies.  I pictured big Christmases and Thanksgivings, with little ones running around and me cooking a huge meal.  It was great, at least, as a dream.

Having two little kids is like constant chaos.  We've talked about having a third but sometimes I think you have to accept the mother you are, the mother you can be, and the parts of you that you are willing to compromise.  Good mothers do this...bad mothers don't.  So while I do feel a bit guilty about realizing that I'm not made for a huge family, I understand this is part of being a good person and accepting who I am.

For the fourth of July I went camping with my friend Amber and her family.  We have kids the same age and doing anything with Amber is just easy.  She's supportive, understanding, non-judgmental, and laughs at my many flaws and even embraces them.  She's made me realize that friendship should be easy, not work.  Even though it rained every night, causing us to corral four children in small tents and entertain them until it dried out (which, it never really did), we had a great time.

I thought about the time I was explaining to Amber about having children.  I was discussing my stresses about wanting to have more kids because I'd always dreamed of this bigger family, but how I wasn't sure how much more I could handle.  Even typing it hurts a little because I still am not quite ready to give up that dream.  She just shrugged her shoulders and said, "Trina, you don't have to have a lot of kids to have a big family.  Friends are the family you get to choose.  Create your own family.  Have the big holidays you want, with your hybrid family."

This thought had never occurred to me.  How brilliant!  And why not!?  Sometimes, or maybe even often times, you have a family that you not only wouldn't have chose but that you don't get along with, period.  Sometimes you add step-family into that mix and you get a whole lotta crazy going on.  Or, maybe you have the perfect family (sure you do!) and they live somewhere else.  The idea is a great one; one that I'm embracing.

I don't care what anyone says; friendships should be easy.  We work on our marriages, on our family- we work on ourselves.  We shouldn't have to work at friendship.  Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about being you and support your hopes and dreams.  Spend holidays and your free time with those that you love and that make you enjoy life.  Time is precious...so if you dream of having a big family but don't - make one.  A hybrid family is that family you always dreamed of having...you just have to create it yourself.   ~ Trina

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement ~ Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip CookiesI know we generally stick to actual meals for our Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement, but I think it's nice to throw an appetizer or a dessert in there once in awhile to spice things up!  These are the absolute best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had or made, stolen directly from Betty Crocker herself. I tell myself they are slightly healthier because they are made with whole wheat flour.  If you are going for lower cal, you can even substitute the butter for margarine.  Either way, they are delicious!

cup granulated sugar
cup packed brown sugar
cup butter or margarine, softened
teaspoon vanilla
cups Gold Medal® whole wheat flour
teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon salt
package dark chocolate chocolate chips (2 cups)

  1. Heat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Mix sugars, butter, vanilla and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.
Makes 3 dozen cookies

Happy Eating Friends! ~ Trina

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Recipe - Red Pepper Hummus

Homemade hummus...my whole family loves it! This recipe makes so much more than those little tubs of hummus you get at the grocery...and is way tastier! Serve with warm pita triangles!

Red Pepper Hummus

2 (16 ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained
1 c roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno, thinly diced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

In a food processor on low speed, combine the garbanzo beans, olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and jalapeno until the ingredients start to blend.  Process until smooth. Season with black pepper, cayenne, cumin and oregano.  Add red peppers and garlic, then turn the speed to medium, and blend to your desired consistency.

Buon appetito!  Leah

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The New Vacation - Life After Baby

“The New Vacation” is a peek inside the experience of many a new mothers this summer. No doubt, these  moms are looking forward to what they remember as vacation pre-baby to find out that no matter who is accompanying them, she is still the mom.  Vacation isn’t what it used to be...

The New Vacation
Webster’s dictionary defines it as “a respite.”  And that’s what I’ve always experienced in my annual beach vacations since I was a child.  Should I have known that it’d be different now that I had a child?  Well…not exactly.  I mean, I tallied the family and friends that would be there.  No doubt excited to hold and play with a baby so I’d get the ample relaxation I’ve worked hard for over the past 10 months.  I imagined sitting on the beach, gazing at the ocean (or a People magazine) while my little babe slept in that nifty beach tent I bought last week.  Visions of those wonderful guiltless vacation dinners swirled in my mind with images of Grandma or Grandpa entertaining our son as my husband and I sat back with a glass of wine.  I also pictured my baby so exhausted from the day’s events that he’d fall asleep at bed-time and sleep through the night. 
   The following is what vacation actually felt like this year.
   We arrived at the hotel just in time to unwind and catch up with family for a bit before going out for a casual dinner.  Prepared with milk and a variety of Gerber jars, we enjoyed cheeseburgers and fries at one of our favorite ocean front joints.  Near the end, just when he started to get fussy, Grandma took him outside to get some fresh air and to look at the tiki lights.  So far…so good.
   Back at the resort, I lay with our son as he guzzled a bottle of milk and drifted off to slumber.  We had a Pack N Play just the right size for him and I’d made sure to pad it with plenty of fluff, including his favorite blanket and his stuffed doggie.  Other familiarities of home included his turtle nightlight and a fan for noise.  I was so prepared!!!  I joined my parents, their best friends and my husband for a board game and some cervezas.  But I was shocked to find that with every excited shout, or high-five or tipsy burst of laughter, I tensed up. 
   Don’t wake up my baby, I thought.  Don’t they realize how loud they’re being?  Don’t they know who has to spend an hour getting him back to sleep if they wake him?  If I did join in on the fun, it’d be with a hushed giggle or just a nervous smile.  I wanted to cry.  Maybe if I showed them I was being quiet, they’d follow suit.  No deal!  Nobody cared.  Not even my husband seemed concerned.  (Or everyone realized that the baby probably will sleep through anything or would possibly wake up even if there was total silence.  So they were going to enjoy their vacation anyway.) 
   Finally, it was time to go to bed.  With our heads on the pillow, my husband and I kissed good-night, and I started to unwind.  Then he starts.  Not my son…my husband.  He’s snoring!  I always wear earplugs at home and can somehow manage.  But the baby!  Sure enough, our son wakes up to the noise (which the following year he would shout out – “Truck!” when hearing his dad’s snoring).  It’s close to 1:00 a.m.; he’s crying and I’m very aware that everyone in the house is trying to sleep and we’re in such close quarters. I panic.  I cry silently. I change his diaper, grab another bottle and curl up on the couch.  It’s freezing.  No doubt that the men in this place have cranked up the air.  So I shiver, figuring all the blankets were in the various bedrooms.  At least I’d grabbed Luke’s blankie to keep him warm.   Together, we eventually fell asleep.  Like clockwork, he is up and ready to go at 6:00 a.m.  If every night is going to be like this, it’s going to be a long week and coffee will inevitably be my best friend!
   Now we get to enjoy our first official day.  My mom wants to go to shopping this morning.  Immediately I feel guilty for asking my husband to spend our first morning of vacation with our baby.  I know I shouldn’t but I do.  And then I question my thoughts for doubting that I should.  Though I’m happy to be spending one-on-one time with my mom, I can’t get my mind off my baby boy.  We rush back, sooner than we would’ve in the past, just in time to give him his bottle for his morning nap.  Everyone is heading to the beach now; I assure them I’m happy to stay in the room while he sleeps.  Maybe I’ll nap a little, too.  And I do. 
   Before I know it, it’s lunch time.  We all eat together and it’s time to pack our beach bag, making sure I have plenty of milk and snacks, and the tent and towels and the float.  I slather my son in SPF 50 and top him off with a pretty stylin’ hat.  I grab my magazine.  On the way to the beach, we pass the hotel tiki bar.  Zac and I should definitely grab a cocktail before dinner one evening.  What fun!  Yeah, like this every actually happens!
   Finally set up at the beach, my dad is upstairs napping and their friends have chosen the pool.  Seems as though spending ample amounts of time with my cute little baby isn’t first on their vacation checklist. Hmmm!  But my mom is with us and she enjoys every second of hugging and playing with our little beachgoer…whom by the way, loves the ocean!  He crawls in and out of the tide pools, splashing away.  His daddy finds a little crab and he watches in amazement as it tickles his arm.  
   We decide it’s time to try out the pool.  We bought this awesome little raft with a sunshade and our angel enjoys the pool just as much as the ocean…he is our water baby and that pleases us immensely.  I’m happy to be in the pool because I think this hides those last few pounds of baby weight and I have fun swimming around his float and playing little games.  We return to the beach and to my mom and my dad (whose had a nice nap); my husband takes Luke out into the late afternoon sea.  He goes out far, safe in his daddy’s arms.  They jump the waves and my little boy doesn’t flinch when he gets splashed in the face.  With a huge grin on his face, hair slicked back with the salty water, my baby looks like a natural. 
   I am sitting in a chair, finally semi-relaxing and overwhelmed with happiness.  I may not be sipping a cocktail while reading up on Jennifer Aniston’s latest beau…but this is the closest to my vision of a family vacation, and I’ve waited for it my whole life.  There will be sleep and magazines again in my future, but at least I get to soak in these moments…and the sunshine…now!