Memories and healthy recipes for your dinner table.

Month: May 2010

Quinoa Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers makes for a delectable main dish paired with a side of garlic toast or a light salad. It is one of those feel good meals I would choose over a piece of chocolate any day. Please Do Not let the bell […]

Quinoa, the Ancient Mother Grain

Ancient in its origins, Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) has been a staple in it’s native lands of Chile, Peru and the colonies in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, for almost 5,000 years. Quinoa translated in the Incan language meas “Mother Grain” and was once considered “the […]

Spinach Linguini with Ham and Broccoli

Several years ago during Christmas time my mom bought a package of lobster stuffed ravioli. We thought it would be interesting to try. I was a bit leery as to how the kids would react to salmon colored stripped pasta knowing their phobia to anything out of the ordinary. Surprisingly they devoured every last one. To this day they still ask for them. I was sitting at my desk trying to come up with a weeks worth of dinners when the oldest pipped up that he wanted the red pasta. I gently told him that I would do my best. I knew the grocery store would not have it and so opted for the spinach stuffed ravioli instead. May I suggest that if you have a picky eater you might consider vegetable stuffed pasta. I used the leftover ham from Sunday dinner at the inlaws and replaced the green spinach linguini with the spinach stuffed ravioli. Even the picky eater ate his fill spinach linguini with ham and broccoli.

Source: Martha Stewart
Serves 4
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 ounces cooked ham, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups low-fat (1 percent) milk
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 ounces reduced-fat bar cream cheese
10 ounces spinach linguine
1 head broccoli, stems peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick, florets cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

In a 3-quart heavy-bottom saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add ham, and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in flour; cook 1 minute.

Stir in milk, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until mixture is slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in cream cheese; cook until melted, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions, adding broccoli during final 3 minutes. Drain; transfer pasta and broccoli to a large bowl. Add cream-cheese sauce and Parmesan, and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Add A Bit of Ambiance

I learned long ago in music appreciation class about the surreal power of music. Years later I felt that power as I sat in the front row of the music hall, with tears streaming down my cheeks, listening to a classical pianist’s rendition of Chopin. […]

Banana Cookies

There is a never ending conundrum about what to do with old bananas. Banana bread is always a good option. It freezes well and makes nice little gifts. I did consider Frosted Banana Bars because they are oh so heavenly but decided against them because […]

May Share

Oliver Twist

I was in the parking lot loading the groceries into my car one morning when I was approached by an older woman begging for money. I recognized her from the previous month the familiar story of grief and financial woes. How do you know? How do you know if she really needs it for her hungry child at home or is she taking advantage of the economic backlash she is aware we are all suffering through? The store is not far from an area officially deemed as “tent city”. The population consists of thieves, vagrants and a host of inhabitants who are down on their luck reminiscent of the barrow as described in Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.” The book paints an illuminated picture of a dark 19th Century London plagued with contempt and greed. The only redeeming element is Oliver an orphan boy who remains pure-hearted and honorable despite a life of abuse and neglect as a result of the corrupt and flawed social institutions. Oliver was deemed a “troublesome” boy from birth with the propensity to amount to nothing when he was rescued by caring souls who saw him not as a delinquent but merely a lost soul in need of basic human sustenance. I surmise it was Oliver’s gracious gentle nature that procured a place in the hearts of those who saw fit to provide him with the opportunity escape his prison to prosperity. His story like many others touch us because they provide hope that anyone can overcome tribulation with their dignity still in tacked as long as they hold fast with integrity. His story also gives merit to those individuals who see a need and act to fulfill that need with selfless devotion.

Is there not someone in our mist that is in need of some form of Motherly Adoration? That when met with unbiased attentions could provide the healing power necessary to recover from years of torment and abuse? We pass people everyday on the streets, at work, at home, at school, in a store, at church who suffer in silence. They feel lost and helpless. Their afflictions come in many different ways from sickness, physical and mental abuse, peer pressure, financial worries, addictions, loss, shyness, embarrassment and pride to begin with. When in public they hide behind a facade that everything is ok. Their false appearance may sometimes present itself to others as haughtiness (they are better than us) or strength (their life is perfect). When in reality what they need most is a kind hello, a polite acknowledgment they exist or an invitation to chat.

I did not know this woman who approached me in the parking lot. I could not discern her true intentions. Whatever her story is she is human and so I gave her a few groceries to take with her. We never know when our acts of kindness will touch someone. Unbeknownst to Oliver his forgiving nature had an enormous impact on Nancy, a girl acquainted with Fagin’s group of thieves in London. The streets had been her home since she was a child. Through Oliver’s example she found courage and risked her life to save him.

This month’s resolution is Share. When I made my list of resolutions in January my intention was to write real letters instead of emails. Email is my favorite form of communication. It is fast, no waiting days for the letter to reach the intended. Phones calls have a way of interrupting at the worst possible time and I always forget to send snail mail. Share also meant to record Memories. I have really been awful about keeping memories since our second child came along. Then last month I had an “email” conversation with my sister about strengthening our families. I was already working on my immediate family as my resolution for April was Family. Originally I had planned on recreating stronger ties with my extended family but there were a few set backs in March that placed my focus here at home. I finished off the month accomplishing both. Then I almost lost a very close friend in childbirth. Baby and mom are well and safely at home thankfully. Later the same week I had a conversation with a group of friends over dinner about the negativity they often feel in social circles. The topic of Share began to take on a new meaning.

Sharing is not about us. When we teach our little ones to share it is because we want them to learn to think about other peoples feelings. When we share we help make another living being happy and in turn we feel joy. When we share advice ideally it is given with good intent to help that person through a difficult problem because we want to see them happy.

To share means to think about others. Some ways we can do this are:

  • Send your friend or family member a letter. Yes we live in a fast paced world but there will never be a comparable replacement for an old fashioned letter. Think of something uplifting to say such as how they were a positive influence on you and how much you appreciate them.
  • Share your feelings. The goal is to help not impede by keeping negative comments to yourself. If you are not used to sharing your feelings it can be quite difficult at first. Start out small by telling your children and those close to you how much they mean to you or how much you appreciate your son when he helps around the house.
  • Praise your children constantly. Avoid coarse and abrasive language. Think of your kids as a coworker. Would you talk to your boss that way?
  • Share your time. Help a young mother at church by offering to hold their baby. Set up a co-op to babysit for your friend one day a week for a couple of hours. Organize a service project.
  • Do not judge. We cannot know what another person is suffering. As moms we can be highly judgmental of each other. We need to band together not tear one another apart.
  • Share your talents: Start a book club, game night, dessert night, mom’s club, art class, babysitting club, cooking club and invite friends from church, school or work both young and old

Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Panini with Cilantro Pesto and Feta

If you are ever on the hunt for something exciting to eat try combing through the Closet Cooking Blogspot. This guy comes up with the most lively lip smack’n tantalizing recipes. There is no going wrong with cilantro, chicken, red peppers and feta. Cut them […]

Black Bean and Chicken Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

In the past I posted a Southwestern Chicken salad recipe and another recipe for Taco Salad. They are simple recipes with very few ingredients. This recipe for Black Bean Chicken Salad is a step up and showcases a zesty dressing that turns the ordinary into […]

May Website Review: Eating Small Potatoes


Small Potatoes is another blog on the subject of eating seasonally and locally. The blog was started to catalog their journey as they shifted into a more provident way of eating. Eating locally is about using the resources around you namely farms and ranches to get the most nutrients out of the food we eat. Farmers markets and CSA’s are usually certified organic meaning they do not use pesticides or other harmful chemicals to treat their plants. Choosing locally grown produce over those that are shipped in from elsewhere ensures the food is picked fresh and full of vitamin packed flavor.

Small Potatoes shares their struggles with staying true during the winter by overcoming the fears of preserving the bounty during the spring and summer. Click on the link for NCHP (National Center for Home Preservation) to learn more about preserving. Small Potatoes also offers yummy recipes to try in addition to simple tips and resources they have collected along the way. If you have been thinking about joining a CSA or do not know what a CSA is Small Potatoes can help point you in the right direction.