Idea to keep your kids busy at a restaurant

Carry a few crayons in a small Ziploc bag in your purse just in case the restaurant doesn't have them.
At the restaurant, ask for a paper or styrofoam to go cup.
Allow them to color on the cups.
It kept my 2 year old busy for a little while. 


makes 8 wreaths

1/2 C pizza or pasta sauce
4 whole wheat bagels, cut in half
1 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 C steamed broccoli florets
cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
3 oz jarred roasted red bell peppers

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Spread 1 T pizza sauce on each bagel half.
Top each with 2 T cheese then arrange broccoli and tomatoes on top to resemble a wreath.
Cut the jarred red bell peppers into thin strips to make the bow for each wreath.
Place wreaths on a foil lined baking sheet or seasoned pizza stone.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.


This is perfect for a family that has different tastes or even a sleepover. 
Allow kids to decorate their own square.

makes 12 slices

1 T olive oil
1 lb whole wheat pizza dough (recipe below)
1/2 C tomato sauce
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
red onions, green beans, mushrooms, pineapple, cherry tomatoes, 
artichokes, pepperoni, basil, spinach, olives, green onions, pesto, corn, etc.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Lightly brush 15x10 pan with oil or us a seasoned pizza stone.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to a 15x10 inch rectangle.
Transfer to pan or stone stretching if necessary to fit.
If it's too big, just cut it to fit.

Spread tomato sauce evenly over dough; sprinkle evenly with cheese.

Use a knife to score the pizza into 12 sections.

Ask everyone to decorate a piece or two with their favorite toppings.

Bake 15 - 18 minutes.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

1 C warm water
1 pkt dry active yeast
2 3/4 C whole wheat flour
1 t sugar
1 t salt
2 T olive oil

Place water in a small bowl and stir in yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 C of the flour, sugar and salt.
Make well in the center and add the yeast mixture and olive oil.
Stir until dough comes together and forms a ball.
Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead for 5 minutes,
adding as much of the remaining 1/4 C flour as needed.
Form into a disk and place in a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil.
Turn disk over and cover bowl with plastic wrap.
Allow to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
Remove dough from bowl and punch down.
Roll out into desired diameter.

TIP: Make ahead and place in freezer in 1 lb balls wrapped press n seal wrap or in Ziplocs.
Defrost before each use.

Question #8: Why oh why does my beautiful cheesecake crack?

This question comes from Nancy M. in Texas: Why oh why does my beautiful cheesecake crack???

Answer: Cheese cakes are hard! Sometimes they crack for no apparent reason.
Here are a few tips to help prevent them from cracking/

When the internal temperature of the cake rises beyond 160 degrees while baking, it will always crack.
To prevent this from happening, use an instant read thermometer to test its doneness.
Take it out of the oven when the cheesecake reaches 150 degrees at the center to avoid over baking.

Even a wonderful looking cheesecake with no cracks can crack as it sits on the cooling rack because the cake shrank during cooling and clung to the sides of the spring form pan.
To avoid this from happening, cool the cheesecake for only a few minutes, then using a paring knife, free it from the sides of the pant before allowing it to cool completely.

When all else fails, fill in the cracks with sour cream, cream cheese or whipped cream.


Last year I gave you some of my favorite Holiday punches along with Eggnog.
Here are a few more with virgin & adult versions for each.


Stir together 4 oz apple juice, t t fresh lemon juice & 1/2 t grenadine syrup.
Pour over crushed ice and garnish with an apple slice.

Sub 1 oz of apple juice for light rum.


In a shaker, mix 4 oz cranberry juice, 1 oz orange juice and 1 t honey. 
Shake then pour over ice. 
Top with a splash or two of chilled club soda and a cherry.

Sub champagne for club soda.


Combine 3 oz low fat milk, 2 oz French vanilla 1/2 & 1/2, a drop each of peppermint extract, 
vanilla extract and green food coloring. Shake and strain into a class rimmed with crushed candy cane.

Sub 1/2 oz vodka and 1 1/2 oz Bailey's Original for the 1/2 & 1/2.


This is a great alternative to the big turkey. 
Your guests will be so impressed with how everyone gets their own 
little "turkey" on each of their plates.

My husband said this is a great alternative to stuffing for people that don't like traditional stuffing like him. Of course you can always add your own stuffing recipe in place of this one.

makes 4

3 T butter
1 C chopped onions
1/2 C chopped celery
1 1/2 C diced, peeled & cored apples
2 t chopped fresh sage
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
4 C 1/2" cubed cornbread
1 lg egg, beaten
1/2 C packed shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
6 T apple cider or apple juice

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. 
Add onion and celery; sauté until beginning to color, about 5 minutes. 
It will smell aromatic.

Not it's really about to smell aromatic and delicious!
Add apples; sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. 

Oh yum! I love fresh sage.
Mix in sage, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; transfer to large bowl. 
Let stand until almost cool, about 10 minutes.

Mix cornbread into vegetables. 

Add egg and toss to blend. 
Mix in cheese (optional), then enough apple cider by tablespoonfuls 
to form stuffing that is moist but not wet.

Cornish game hens:
4 Cornish game hens, rinsed & patted dry
1 T chopped sage
2 t salt
1 t pepper
1 T olive oil
4 bacon slices, each halved crosswise

Sprinkle cavity of each hen lightly with salt and pepper. 

Pack 1 cup stuffing into each 
(place any leftover stuffing into buttered ramekins and cover with foil). 

Skewer cavities closed with toothpicks or turkey lacers. 

Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together to hold shape. 
Mix sage, coarse salt, and pepper in small bowl; sprinkle over hens.

Preheat oven to 400°F. 
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. 
Place 2 hens in skillet. 
Sauté until brown, turning often with wooden spoons 
(to prevent tearing skin), about 10 minutes. 
Transfer to rimmed baking sheet, breast side up. 
Place hens in a soaked clay pot. Do not preheat the oven.

Repeat with remaining hens. 
Drape 2 bacon strip halves over breast of each hen. 
If desired, use kitchen string to tie bacon strips in place. 

(Place any ramekins of stuffing on baking sheet with hens.)

Place hens (and extra stuffing) in oven. 
If using a clay pot, only start the cold oven after you have the pot inside the oven.

Roast hens until cooked through and juices run clear when thigh is pierced, about 45 minutes. on baking sheet OR bake approx 60 min in a clay pot after it reaches 400 degrees then remove lid and bake another 10-20 minutes to brown the tops. 
Only roast stuffing 30 minutes.

If used, cut off string.
Transfer hens to plates. 

Make HOMEMADE BUTTER with the kids

Allow your child to help measure 1 C heavy cream and pour into a jar or Tupperware container that holds at least 24 oz. Put on the lid and make sure it's tight.

Take turns with your kid(s) shaking the jar and rolling it around on the floor. After 2 o 3 minutes, the heavy cream will turn into whipped cream. Let the jar and your arms rest for about 10 minutes as the cream deflates.

Shake for another minute or more until it separates. 
Strain any excess buttermilk and get the bread ready!

Scrape it out and form it onto a butter plate.
It may not be much, but the kids will have fun and be proud of what they made.
It's also a great "science experiment" to teach your kids in cooking.

TIP: My friend Mindie D. in Michigan says that placing a cleaned marble in the jar will speed up the process.
Thanks, Mindie for the great tip!

TIP #53: How long will hard boiled eggs still be good to eat?

If they are refrigerated soon after they're cooked, they should last 5-7 days in the refrigerator.
Fresh eggs should last this long.
Store bought eggs will only last 2-5 days, unfortunately. 

TIP #52: Make your kid's old shoes look newer

Kid's are hard on shoes. Some shoes are easier to clean than others.
Here's an easy way to make your kid's tennis shoes look a littler better.

Wet a Magic Eraser with warm water. 
Rub the soles and rubber rim of the shoes until the scuffing and marks come off. 
Dry with clean towel.


One cleaned, one not.



One cleaned, one not.


WHAT'S FOR DESSERT? Non corn syrup PECAN PIE - Diabetic recipe too

Hope all of you are getting ready to make all kinds of pies next week for Thanksgiving. 
It's my favorite part of the meal.

Now that I may have gestational diabetes, I'm quickly trying to find some holiday options for myself. Yikes!
So far, this is my favorite! This may not be your regular pecan pie, but it's fabulous!

makes 1 pie

1 unbaked pie crust (Diabetic: make your own crust with whole wheat flour)
1 C light brown sugar (Diabetic: Splenda brown sugar)
1/4 C sugar (Diabetic: non sugar sweetener like Stevia. If you only have packets, use 16.)
1/2 C butter, melted
2 eggs
1 T flour (Diabetic: some type of vegetable gum - acacia, guar, carob or xanthan)
1 T milk
1 t vanilla extract
1 C chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy and stir in melted butter.
Stir in brown sugar, sugar and flour. Mix well.
Add milk, vanilla and nuts.

Pour into unbaked pie shell. 

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees then reduce temp to 350 degrees and bake 30-40 minutes or until done.


makes 4-6

1 lb ground beef
1/2 chopped onion
2-4 cloves minced garlic
8 oz can tomato sauce
15 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
salt, to taste

Add beef, onion and garlic to a medium high heated skillet with a little oil or water. Cover and cook until meat is browned. Add the rest of ingredients. Turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 30 minutes to meld flavors. 
Serve on a bun.


This is for my friends that only "cook" out of a can or in the microwave.
I love the taste of fresh vegetables...and their lack of sodium.

Wash your broccoli or cauliflower under running water. Slice off the end of the stems. 
Add water to your stock pot, just enough to cover the bottom, maybe about 1 inch of water or so. 
Add the steamer or colander bin.
Turn the stove onto high heat.
Arrange your broccoli and/or cauliflower in the pot.

Cover with a tight fitting lid.

Once the water starts boiling, set timer for 5-10 minutes depending on how crisp or soft you like your vegetables.
When done, turn off the heat and sprinkle shredded cheese or place sliced cheese on top of broccoli/cauliflower and quickly cover with lid to melt the cheese for a couple of minutes.

Sprinkle with sea salt and serve or cut up then serve.


When you're sick in the fall with all that sinus junk, sometimes you want more to a chicken noodle soup than the name brand thin chicken noodle soup.


1 young chicken or 4 chicken thighs
any vegetables you desire (peas, corn, onions, green beans, edamame, carrots, potatoes, etc.)
minced garlic
1/2 t chopped bay leaves
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 C pasta or rice

Boil chicken in water. You can even use frozen chicken. Boil until cooked or almost cooked. If frozen it will take 30 to 45 minutes. 

I prefer to use the chicken on the bone because I believe that all those healing qualities from the bones come through in the broth. 

Remove chicken from the water and let rest on a cutting board for a few minutes to cool. 

In the meantime, strain your broth. I even wash out the stockpot before adding the strained broth to it. 

Remove the skin, cartilage and bone from the chicken. Shred or cut into bite-size pieces. 

Add chicken back to broth in the stock pot.

You may add more water at this point. Turn heat to medium.

Add minced garlic and don't be stingy, mainly because garlic has natural antibiotics in it.

Add salt to taste, bay leaves, pinch of cayenne pepper, all chopped vegetables and pasta. 
You may wince at the thought of cayenne pepper but it cuts through the mucus. 

Cook on medium heat for at least 30 more minutes or until pasta is cooked and vegetables are soft. 
You can always add more water for thinner soup or to stretch it out further.

Serve warm with homemade bread or crackers.