Tuesday, March 31, 2009

10 Healthy, Green Snack Tips for School Kids

This article was written by Alexandra Zissu and what a fantastic idea and how easy it would be if more of us did this at our schools!

Follow these ideas to ensure your child is eating a healthy, nontoxic diet. It's a recipe for learning. I'm happily in the process of helping to green my daughter's preschool. I've aided them in their search for gentle industrial green products, and more eco- and kid-friendly hand soap. And I'm currently involved with a snack committee. The goal is to make sure our children are snacking on healthier things by setting up shopping guidelines and suggestions for parents. We're all already being mindful not to bring in anything that could cause allergic reactions, so the committee is thinking it won't be a huge leap to make to scan ingredient lists for a few more best-to-avoid items.
Here's a working draft of a "top ten" list (in no particular order) which I recently sent to the committee, and which will eventually be sent out to the school. Is there something I'm not thinking about? Or is there a great snack your kids love?

1. Buy Whole Foods
The best items to bring in are whole foods, and this doesn't mean things from Whole Foods but rather items that are whole/entire, and are close to how they came out of the earth -- i.e. unprocessed. Carrots, apples, nuts (though of course not the ones banned for food allergy reasons) etc.
2. Choose Processed Foods With Short Ingredient Lists
When it comes to things that are processed and then packaged like crackers and pretzels, ingredient lists should be very, very short. Michael Pollan has some rule of thumb about things not having any more than five ingredients in them. He also contends that if you can't pronounce or say an ingredient, you shouldn't eat it. These are simple and wise commonsense guidelines. We also obviously want to be avoiding trans fats.
3. Buy Organic Foods
Organic food has proven to be safest for growing children, and can be more nutritious than its conventional counterparts. Choose it. For everything. It's not that much more expensive for something as small as snacks. Not only does organic mean avoiding pesticide sprays and residues, but we're keeping those very things out of the earth and waterways they've inherited. With regard to crackers or anything that might contain some version of processed soy or corn (i.e. everything packaged), choosing organic means the corn and soy (and everything else) aren't allowed to be genetically modified. The above-mentioned five ingredient rule should also apply to organic crackers and the like -- just because something is organic doesn't mean it isn't overly processed.
4. Avoid the Dirty Dozen
When you cannot find organic fruits or veggies, or if something organic is just too expensive compared to its conventional counterpart, turn to the Environmental Working Group's
Dirty Dozen list. They tested and tested and came up with a list of the 12 least contaminated and 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables. If you're buying conventional, choose from their least contaminated list and always avoid the most contaminated list. It's a list that can be printed and put in your wallet. And certainly something we can link to off our school Website.
5. Avoid Sugary Snacks
There is a time and a place for it, but I'd argue that school snack isn't it (besides birthdays, and there are ample birthdays throughout the school year). If you're buying graham cracker sorts of things, read the ingredient list. I'm not sure I think graham crackers or any food in the shape of animals (teddies etc.) are really food. I'd love to ban them, but that might be too extreme to enforce.
6. Choose Whole Grain Snacks
Whole grains are proven again and again to be good for us, and excellent for growing kids. Most parents I hear from are trying to figure out how to work more grains into their diet. If you're buying things like crackers, rice cakes, and pretzels, opt for whole grain versions. There are spelt pretzels, for example, instead of white flour ones. Speaking of pretzels, low salt or no salt is a better idea for kids, as well. With (air popped) popcorn, organic is a must to avoid GM corn.
7. Draw a Good Food Road Map
To make it easy for parents, give specific instructions to go along with general guidelines. List which snacks can be purchased at which stores near the school, so people can just pick up the good stuff on the way in to school, and not have to bother trying to figure out which hummus contains sugar or which pita has an unexpected soy additive in it.
8. Avoid Packaged Yogurts
Many parents bring in cheese and crackers. Some even bring in packaged yogurt to avoid hormones and antibiotics (treatment of the animals and other environmental issues factor in here, of course, but no point in beating everyone over the head when we're trying to get them on board!). The packaged yogurts aren't great because of the packaging, but also because of the shocking amount of sugar in them (Marion Nestle, in her tome
What to Eat, goes off on packaged yogurts for young kids).
9. Pool Resources
Set up a pot for parents who aren't interested in being involved to put their snack cash in. Parents who like shopping for food can step up and do it for them, just as with all other duties at school.
10. Ban Processed Lunch Meats
I'm saving the best for last: meat. It's not actually the sort of thing parents tend to bring in for snack at our school, but from time to time they do bring in cold cuts. If people bring in meat at your school, stick your meat suggestions at the top of the list. Chemicals and other toxins bio accumulate in the flesh of animals at the top of the food chain. Organic is a must here.
Oh, and, don't forget to think about what you're serving these snacks on -- and the water in.

Monday, March 30, 2009

What's For Supper Ya'll? Parmesan Crusted Salmon

By Food Network

1 (6-ounce) salmon fillet, skin off
1/4 cup Parmesan, finely grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Paste:
4 ounces sun dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Basil Pesto:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Parmesan Crisps, recipe follows
Sauteed Asparagus, recipe follows
Mashed Potatoes, recipe follows

Lightly season the salmon with salt and pepper. Generously coat 1side of the salmon with the finely grated Parmesan. In a non-stick saute pan, add approximately 3 tablespoons vegetable oil and place over high heat. When the oil is hot, carefully place the salmon in the pan cheese side down. Turn temperature down to medium heat and allow the salmon to cook about 4 minutes before flipping over. The idea is to form a nice crispy, lightly brown crust. Turn salmon and allow to cook another 3 or 4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside in a warm place until plating.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Paste:
In a blender or food processor, add the sun-dried tomatoes along with their oil, the garlic cloves, and 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Process the mixture on high speed approximately 1 minute until almost smooth. The mixture should be slightly chunky. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Basil Pesto
In a blender or food processor, place the extra-virgin olive oil and garlic clove. Process until smooth. Add the basil leaves, and process for about 1 minute until mixture is relatively smooth. Add the Parmesan and process again until fully incorporated. Season the pesto with salt and pepper, to taste.
To plate:
Place a small mound of mash potatoes in the center of the plate. Place the asparagus on top of the mashed potatoes at an angle. Then put the salmon nicely on the plate, overlapping the asparagus. Drizzle the plate with both pestos and garnish the plate with the Parmesan crisp by securing it in the bed of mashed potatoes.
Parmesan Crisps:
1/4 cup Parmesan, coarsely grated
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heavily grease a cookie sheet (parchment paper is optional, but if using parchment, make sure it is heavily greased). In a 5-inch diameter circle, sprinkle the coarsely grated Parmesan. Make sure there is just enough to fill the circle, don't over do it! Place in oven and bake for approximately 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool before lifting from cookie sheet. Be extremely gentle with them they are very brittle when cool.
Sauteed Asparagus:
4 green asparagus
1/2 tablespoon butter
Salt and white pepper
Cut off about 2 inches of the ends of the asparagus, as they tend to be very coarse and tough. Blanch asparagus in boiling, well-salted water until tender. Shock them in ice water to keep them from cooking any further and hold them until you are ready to plate. Right before plating, in a saute pan over a low flame, melt the butter with the asparagus. Once the asparagus are hot, season with salt and white pepper.
Mashed Potatoes:
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8ths
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Place the potatoes in cold, salted water over high heat. Cook thoroughly and strain. In a separate pot, heat heavy cream and butter. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes. Slowly incorporate the cream and butter mixture. Season with salt and white pepper, to taste.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Appetizer Tree

Appetizer Tree

By About.com

This appetizer tree serves double-duty as a colorful and attractive table decoration for parties

and as an edible treat. If you are creative, you can carve the fresh pineapple into any shape that suits your party. Feel free to use your favorite fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and or/cooked meats in any combination. Modify the colors of the foods to fit your theme.

Prep Time: 1 hours


1 fresh pineapple
Edam cheese, cut into 1/2-inch squares
Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch squares
Summer sausage or pepperoni, cut into 1/2-inch squares
Cooked ham, cut into 1/2-inch squares
Fruit, cut into 1/2-inch squares

Preparation:Select a pineapple that freely stands upright. Slice off the green top. Cut away the outer skin, then carve into desired shape. Beginning at the bottom of the carved pineapple, use toothpicks to attach cheese, salami, and ham to the pineapple in a decorative pattern. You can alternate colors or put similar colors in separate rings. Feel free to use your favorite fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and or/cooked meats in any combination. Modify the colors of the foods to fit your party or holiday theme. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, if desired.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Support Diabetes

Lauren Elizabeth Krajewski, daughter of Stan and Michele Krajewski was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on 9-4-08. Here is sweet way to support a great cause!

Wendy’s is once again partnering with JDRF to sell Jr. Frosty coupon books in support of the Walk to Cure Diabetes.

Please stop by your local Wendy’s to purchase a Jr. Frosty coupon book (including 7 coupons for only $1) and help find a cure!

*One 4 oz. frosty from Wendy’s is 29 grams of carbs*

We also encourage families to thank their local store manager
for their continued support of the Walk program.

Wendy’s has raised $718,106 since 2005 to support their goal of raising $1 million for diabetes research by 2010. Many thanks to Wendy’s for their commitment to help JDRF find a cure!

"Together we can make a difference!"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Great Tips

Emergency Kit

Consider adding these items to your emergency first aid kit: Scissors to easily make a butterfly bandage from tape, a small vial of rubbing alcohol (try putting it in a film canister) to kill ticks and a first aid guide. A jewelry or toiletries travel organizer with see-through pouches is very helpful in storing the items!

Toilet Brush Holder

If you are like me and you still use the old-fashioned, round toilet brush, consider storing it in a discarded flower vase. It's a neat/handy way to store and disguise it.

Spray Bottles

To organize spray-bottle cleaners, I installed an inexpensive, lightweight metal towel bar on the wall above my washer and dryer. I hang the bottles by their spray triggers -- they never tip over, and are always handy.

Stomach and Cough
For an upset stomach, try sucking on a peppermint. It's soothing and really works. And for a cough that doesn't want to subside, try a drop of peppermint oil on your tongue. It will soothe your throat and work better than a cough drop.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

10 Easy At Home Tips

I am always looking for easy ways to "go green" in our house that are not going to entail me having to make a huge change since we are very busy these days! I read this fabulous article that I wanted to share with you from At Home Magazine. I hope you can make just 1 change to help our Earth!

Here are 10 easy ways to get going:

1. Pay Bills Online....Saves paper which Saves trees.

2. Read up on the best GREEN Products....Online of course

3. Use Native Plants....reduces the amount of water you need

4. Set your computer to sleep when not in use...Edison is a free software....visit www.verdiem.com to check it out

5. Recycle your CFL's (compact fluorescent light bulbs)....Free drop offs include most Home Depots and Ikea's

6. Install dimmer switches....Saves Energy....Visit www.1000bulbs.com to see where you can purchase CFL dimmer compatible bulbs

7. Program your thermostat....Saves Energy

8. Reverse ceiling fans....Winter it should turn clockwise and Summer counterclockwise

9. Install heat controlling window film...Saves Energy and Money

10. Look for the Energy Star Label, Water Sense Label, the Forest Stewardship Council Label and Green Seal Label to be sure you are using "GREEN" products

If you have any other easy suggestions we would love to hear from you!
"Together we are making a difference"

Monday, March 23, 2009

What's For Supper Ya'll? Crab Cakes!



2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (can use up to 1 teaspoon if desired)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 pound cooked crab meat, flaked (I use back fin)
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, more as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
Additional fresh breadcrumbs or, preferably, panko crumbs for dredging
Butter and oil for frying
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce with Capers and Dill (optional)

Mix together the parsley, mustard, Worcestershire, eggs and mayonnaise. Add the crab meat and crumbs. Season with salt and pepper and combine well but gently, so you don't break up the crab meat. Divide the mixture into 6 to 8 portions; flatten gently into thick patties. (To ensure even portions, pack the mixture into a 1/3-cup measure for each patty.) Coat each patty lightly with crumbs.

If possible, refrigerate for 30 minutes before sautéeing. Heat butter and a little oil, enough to generously cover the bottom, in a large fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the crab patties, in batches if necessary, and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately, with or without the Red Pepper Sauce.
Notes: The recipe can be cut in half. I often add herbs, such as chopped chives or dill for extra flavor. Just don't add so much as to overpower the crab. Cooked crabcakes may be kept warm in a 200° F oven while waiting for others to sauté.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Springtime brings out flowers, blooms and...MELAMINE!

I absolutely love eating outdoors!!! One thing I have learned is it's great to have melamine dishes on hand - they're durable, easy to clean, typically inexpensive and most importantly, shatterproof!

Over the years, I have begun to collect various melamine place settings. I use them for all different occasions. I have polka dots, stripes, multi-colored, you name it! This year, I have found a new favorite - pink damask!

The Divas In The Kitchen is proud to present this new collection to our viewers! We were able to buy several of these 12 piece place settings at a phenomenal price and can offer it to our divas at just $40!

If you'd like to purchase this 12 piece ensemble that includes:

Square Salad Plates, Bowls, Square Dinner Plates
Not for Use in Microwave, Dishwasher Safe
Pink, White with Damask Pattern
Dinner Plate Dimensions: 10.5" dia.
Salad/Dessert Plate Dimensions: 8.5" dia.
Bowl Dimensions: 6.5"dia.

click our link below!

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to "Go Green" when you are out and about??

The choices we make every day impact our planet. As consumers, we have choices! From the cars we drive to the food and stuff we buy. Become part of the solution, not part of the problem! Sometimes making green choices can be confusing because not all the "Green" is earth-friendly, certified organic and recyclable.

Get educated before you buy:

*Read Labels

*Ask Questions

*Pay attention to things like packaging and ingredients you can't pronounce.

*Consider long-term environmental effects of the "convenient" disposables we toss in landfills by the billions: diapers, napkins, razors, water bottles.

Make the change and Make it a "Green" one!

Monday, March 16, 2009

What's For Supper Ya'll? Quick Marinated Beef Kebabs With Peach Chutney

Quick Marinated Beef Kebabs With Peach

Brown Rice

1 pound beef tenderloin

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 large onion

1 red bell pepper

8 medium mushrooms

2 cups water

2 cups quick cooking brown rice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the broiler or grill; marinate the beef and blanch the peppers and onions for the kebabs.

In a 4-quart saucepan, add plenty of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut the beef tenderloin into 1-inch cubes and mince the 2 garlic cloves. Place the tenderloin and the garlic in a resealable plastic bag with the 1-tablespoon olive oil, and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Marinate the meat 10 minutes while preparing the vegetables. Cut the 1 onion into 8 wedges, cut the 1 red pepper into 8 squares, and remove the stems from the 8 mushrooms. Blanch the onions and red pepper in the boiling water for 2 minutes; drain.In a small saucepan, add the 2 cups water and the salt, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the 2 cups rice, remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.Meanwhile, thread the onion wedges, red pepper squares, mushroom caps, and beef cubes onto skewers, beginning and ending with the onion wedges. Broil or grill the kebabs 2 to 3 inches from the heat for about 5 minutes on each side.Place the chutney in a bowl and set the bowl on the table.Fluff the rice with a fork. Spoon a serving of rice onto each of 4 dinner plates, place a kebab on top of the rice, and serve with the peach chutney.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Chocolate Fountain

You can turn any gathering into an extraordinary event by simply adding a chocolate fountain to the party. Your guests will love dipping fresh strawberries, marshmallows, pretzels, sugar cookies and other goodies into delicious flowing chocolate.

These fountains come in all shapes and sizes. Here are a few we have found for you:

Amazon.com $39.90

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What have you done for your community lately??

It doesn't take a large number of people to make a difference!
Lake Norman Divas Chapter has been doing some really great things for our community and we are only a group of 18. We have done several drives already and we are only in our 6th month. We donated clothing to Lydia's Loft, stuffed animals to Crisis Assistants in Charlotte and currently we are donating prom dresses to the Ace and TJ Grinn Kids Foundation that will allow girls to have dresses that they would not be able to afford otherwise! I am very proud of the accomplishments we've made in such a short amount of time and know that our future of giving is very bright!

Speak up and tell us what you've done for your community lately! We'd love to here how Divaish you are.

"Together we are making a difference!"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Family Time

The Mint Museum of Craft & Design wonderful things for your family to do. Every second Tuesday of the month they have a great program designed for kids 18 months up to 4 years (with a parent). Your art lover will enjoy a drop-in, friendly experience with you!
The next Tuesday is April 14 from 10 a.m. til noon. The theme is My Favorite Color, go on a color hunt in the museum and create a beautiful stained glass window.
They also have Saturdays that are sponsored by Target. All ages are welcome! Families are encouraged to drop by the museums art studio to enjoy making a project together. Projects are geared toward 5 years and up but age appropriate art supplies are available for your younger ones too.
Drop in any time between 1030 a.m. and 230 p.m. Please visit website www.mintmuseum.org or call 704-337-2050 for more information.

The 12th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade & Charlotte goes Green Festival will be marching into town March 14th starting at 11a.m. Uptown Charlotte will hold its parade between 9th & Tryon Streets and head south to 3rd & Tryon Streets. After the parade is over the festival (free to public) will begin. Enjoy in the food and watch the Irish dancers while listening to music. Don't forget bagpipers, vendors and more!
Find out more at www.charlottestpatsday.com

Monday, March 9, 2009

What's For Supper Ya'll? Spring Recipe Ideas

Spring Recipe Ideas

By Family Fun

Celebrate the arrival of spring with recipes for cute cakes and cupcakes, outdoor grilling, and fresh fare -- perfect for enjoying the great outdoors.

Cute Cakes & Cupcakes
Baseball Cupcake
Butterfly Cake
Campout Cake
Catch a Rainbow Cake
Flower Power Cake
Flutter Delight Cupcakes
Froggy Cupcakes
Gumdrop Garden Cake
Hot Dog & Burger Cupcakes
I Like My Bike Cake
Jungle Cake
Ladybug Cake
Ladybug Cupcake
Lion and Lamb Cupcakes
New! March Madness Cupcakes
Nest Cupcake
Pretty Package Cake
Rose Basket Cupcake
Sunflower Cake
Sunflower Cupcake
Yellow Jacket Cupcake

Refreshing Spring Drinks
Berry Ice Cube Lemonade
Blue Lagoon
Johnnie Appleseed Slushy
Mango Tango Smoothie
Old-Fashioned Lemonade
Orange Creamsicle
Root Beer Float

Snacks & Fruity Treats
New! Better-for-You Brownies
New! Bubbly Berries and Grapefruit
Earth Day Bars
Frozen Fruit Pops
Fruit Kebobs
Fruit Pizza
Funky Fruit Snack
Healthy Hearts
Lady Bugs on a Stick
Monkey Mix
PB & J Blossom Sandwiches
Peachy Caramel S'mores
Sandwich on a Stick
New! Snowy Trail Mix
Strawberry Mice
New! Umbrella Cookies

Salad Days
Antipasto Salad
Apple Chicken Salad
Chinese Chicken Salad
Corn and Tomato Salad
Couscous Salad with Turkey
Greek Steak Salad
Hawaiian Chicken Salad
Honey-Lime Fruit Salad
Mango, Jicama & Cucumber
Spinach & Pine Nut Salad
Tropical Fruit with Lime
Vegetable Flowers

Great Grilling
Barbecued Pork Ribs
Best-Ever Hamburgers
Chicken BBQ Quesadillas
Chicken Fingers on a Stick
Chicken Yumsticks
Grilled Chicken Tostadas
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled Everything Salad
Mediterranean Turkey Burgers
Moroccan Chicken Kebobs
Pacific Coast Salmon Burgers
Shrimp on a Stick
Smoky Potato Packets
Teriyaki Delight

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spring Fling! Party Activities To Do With Children


Pull out your gum boots and find a puddle to muck around in (or fill a wading pool with water). Then, bring out the food coloring, bubble bath, whisk, funnels, ladles, water wheel, etc. to have a wild 'n wet time!


Hop in the sandbox and use "tools" such as sieves, empty spice shakers, toilet rolls, tin cans with one or two ends removed, plant pots, etc. to add to the fun.


See how many of the following items you can find: - tree bark, acorn, dead leaf, seed, bone, sand, insect, twig, dead grass, spider web, rock pine needle, clover, ladybug, and bird.


Welcome the birds back with a tasty treat! Sandwich a bagel between two plastic lids. Thread a string through the center, and tie a big knot at the bottom. Hang from a tree.


Make ball scoops by cutting two or more 1-litre (or 1 quart) plastic milk jugs in half horizontally. Toss a small ball back and forth to a partner, using only the scoop to catch and throw.


Create your own pet rock by collecting a few well-shaped rocks and gluing them together. When dry, paint your new creature, and add features with markers, bits of felt or fabric, pipe cleaners, etc.


Add some color to your life! Use one of your dad's large paintbrushes (or a plant mister) to create pictures on the sidewalk, using water mixed with a little paint powder, food coloring, or Kool-Aid powder.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Janine Lynn is a parent, author, and educator. Born and raised in Alberta, she is the author of "Help! I'm Bored! - Over 300 Children's Activities for Ages 2-12". She wrote this book because she wanted all of her favorite teaching ideas collaborated into one book, ready to use for any occasion!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Reading with your child is the most important time of the day (for me the evening). Reading at home is fun but sometimes a different location is nice. We are all so lucky that there are great reading places around for us to get invovled in, with our children.
I have compiled a list of great close by locations for you to check out with your little ones.

First on the list is Author Squad (which my child and I enjoy). It is located in the Northcross shopping center(I-77, exit 25, next to Panera). They offer storytime each week on Wednesday from 10-11 a.m. and then again on Thursday from 3-4p.m. They also have a great store with unique gifts and a workshop for children (and adults) to make their very own book!
For more information please check out their website www.authorsquad.com

Second is Barnes and Noble in Birkdale Village. The book store holds storytime on Mondays and Saturdays at 1030a.m. During the first storytime of the month costume characters show up to meet the children. They also have an American Girl Club that is held every second Wednesday of the month at 430 p.m
Please call for more information 704-895-8855

Plan a day of shopping with your little one and let them hit Books-A-million in Concord for storytime on Monday at 1030 a.m. What a great excuse!
Located in Concord Mills for more information please call 704-979-8300

The Public Library is also a place for a great book! They have so many classes at different times from your littlest one to you, the adult.
To find the nearest location and more information please go to the website www.plcmc.org/programs/

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Oprah's show last week....

really disturbed me and I can not stop thinking about it....
They were showing us the faces of this recession! Most were middle class people who have lost their jobs and are living on the streets, in shelters and in tent communities. When someone loses their job and can't pay their mortgage, the home is taken by the bank. They showed what happens to the items in homes that have been foreclosed on. Most of the people just leave with maybe a suitcase, the shirt on their backs and the basic necessities. After the home is foreclosed on, a company is hired to clean out the home from top to bottom in order to get it ready to sell. So I'm thinking they donate the things to people who are needy....Nope...most of the homes items are put into dumpsters and then taken to a landfill. Of course I was very disturbed! Why aren't they donating to shelters or people in need. Well according to the company who does this job in that area, they said it happens too quickly and the places in there area are full. I find that to be an unacceptable answer. Our landfills DO NOT need to be filled with such items.

Does anyone have any solutions? or comments?

"Together we can make a difference"

Monday, March 2, 2009

What's For Supper Ya'll? Treat New Parents to 'Welcome Baby' Dinner

Treat New Parents to 'Welcome Baby' Dinner
By Ame Andrews, Little Rock, Arkansas

When friends of mine had a new baby, I came up with a "Welcome to the World" dinner to deliver when they came home from the hospital.

From personal experience, I knew how difficult it can be in those first few weeks to care for a new baby and the rest of the family, plus baby yourself a bit. I didn't have time to make many home-cooked meals, and I appreciated it when someone stopped by with a tasty dish.

For my friend's theme menu, I combined several favorite recipes that were easily portable and came up with clever names for them: Special Delivery Chicken, Green Bean Bundles of Joy, Bringing Home Baby Carrots and 2 a.m. Feeding Snack Bars.

Comforting Main Dish
Special Delivery Chicken is a simple but delicious casserole that can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen. Chicken breasts are baked in a savory sour cream sauce. With a buttery crumb topping, this main dish is comforting and popular with all ages. I was quite sure my friend's toddler would love it, because mine does.

The casserole was accompanied by two vegetable dishes. For Green Bean Bundles of Joy, I used fresh green beans from our local farmer's market and tied them with bacon strips to make the "bundles." They take on a pleasantly tart taste when baked in Italian dressing.

Bringing Home Baby Carrots are cooked with honey and apple juice. The baby carrots fit my theme nicely and are so sweet and tender, just like a newborn. They couldn't be simpler to prepare.

And finally, I made 2 a.m. Feeding Snack Bars for dessert or a late-night snack when Mom or Dad gets up with the baby. It was a fitting name for these decadent triple-chocolate brownies with a candy-bar topping. They are great with a glass of milk anytime.

The brownies can be made the day before, and I cooked the rest of the food just before delivering it. The meal was ready for the table when I arrived at my friend's home in the evening. Each dish was labeled, wrapped with ribbon and placed in a baby gift bag.

I had cooked and packaged everything in disposable foil or plastic containers so the busy new mom didn't have to worry about cleaning or returning any dishes to me. The proud parents were delighted with their special dinner—and putting it together was fun for me.

I started thinking up themes when I was a kindergarten teacher, and it's become an enjoyable hobby! "Welcome to the World" is one I wanted to share because it's a unique and appreciated gift. Why not consider it the next time someone you know brings home a new bundle of joy?

Easy Chicken Pasta

Easy Chicken Pasta

What's For Supper Ya'll?

White Beans, Pasta and Chicken
8 ounces dried cavatappi, fusilli, rotini, ditaloni, or other short pasta tubes
1 15- to 19-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
12 ounces cooked chicken, shredded
1/4 cup snipped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley sprigs (optional - I usually skip it)
Olive oil (optional - but I recommend at least a little for moisture)
1. In a large saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions; drain well and set aside.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine 3/4 cup of the beans and the chicken broth. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Place bean puree in pan used for cooking the pasta; bring to boiling. Return pasta to pan.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook garlic in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil for 1 minute. Add tomatoes; cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining beans, shredded chicken, snipped parsley, pepper and salt. Heat through.
4. Add the tomato mixture to hot pasta; toss to cost. Top with parsley sprigs and additional olive oil. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Posted by Stacy Nelson, Easy Dinner Recipes.blogspot.com

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