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Growing up, chicken marsala was one of my favorite dishes.  I always ate it in a local Italian place, and couldn’t get enough of that rich sauce covering my chicken and noodles.  Since it was a “restaurant” dish, I was initially hesitant to make it at home, as I feared it could never come out well.  However, the more confident of a cook I became, the more excited I was to experiment with favorite dishes, and I be able to make them just how I liked them.  Equally as important, with kids in the picture, I loved being able to tailor favorite meals to the likes of my family, and control how healthy the dishes were.

An easy chicken marsala

After trying a few recipes, I fell in love with this one, which comes from McCormick.  The original recipe I have from their site called for one cup of marsala wine, rather than the ½ cup that this current version mentions.  I recommend the full cup, as it makes the flavor nice and full.  The dish comes together quickly, and served over egg noodles or brown rice, with a side of veggies and fruit, is so delicious and a complete meal.  Enjoy!

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

On Mother’s Day I had the opportunity to speak to scores of mothers; I delivered a message of hope, resilience and determination. Motherhood has to be the most difficult job I have ever worked. The job is so awesome, so arduous and yet you can’t give up, you can’t throw in the towel and you cannot fail. The task is too important to give anything less than your very best. There is no one book to read, no one philosophy to follow, no magic ingredients to throw in, stir up and produce one well adjusted, successful fabulous kid.

Good parenting begins by being intentional. I do not believe that the production of an awesome child happens by accident. Start today by committing to the task. Look at parenting your children with the same determination you give your job when the boss puts a project in your lap, they expect nothing but the best, and give you a deadline. And then what usually happens? You meet the expectations and most times supersede them.

Change your perspective on parenting and you’ll change a life in the process.

My heart has been heavy with the reports of the devastation out in the  mid-west, towns leveled from the tornadoes, homes just shredded.  It made me think back to a time when we moved from our home on Long Island up to the Hudson  Valley.  We had a Cape in Valley Stream, purchased at a great price in 1990, just two months after we married.  Before the kids came in ’92, we did a lot: a total interior paint job, installed wood panelling, removed carpets, sanded and stained the wood floors.  When the kids came, we continued with the back deck, aluminum siding, a new roof, even digging out the lawn which was full of roots so a full head of grass would grow; and we fenced in the back yard.  I can’t think of one thing we left untouched. 

Ten years later, for a variety of reasons, we moved to Orange County. The house got a total cleaning, the “for sale” sign was dug into our lawn, people came and went, and by May of 2001, we signed the papers.  The day the moving truck came started out like any other morning.  We busied ourselves packing up the van, keeping our two young girls out of harm’s way, and eventually, by late afternoon the trucks were ready, and our car was packed.  It was literally the time to say “goodbye” to the house.  I walked into each room, and placed my hand on the wall, my way of saying goodbye.  Memories of my girls at babies flowed through my mind, changing their diapers in the nursery, seeing the walls I painted, seeing the door to the basement where my daughter had her first big sleepover, the backyard where the swings swung most afternoons; I began a grieving process that continued for at least a year.  My friends and family reminded me that the house was just a bunch of sticks and nails, and that helped put things in perspective.

My husband I moved to a home that needed few improvements, and the years began to pass: we enjoyed parties, sleepovers, communions and graduations.  We’ve marked ten years in the house this year, and after seeing the reports out west, I’m thinking that perhaps my friends were right, a house is just that: sticks, nails, and the roof, and it’s the family and the things we did together that will remain wherever we go.

For Michael and Sharon Sandlofer, their marriage isn’t all they share with one another.  The two both have a love for animals and have worked with them all of their life.  Michael, a former Navy SEAL with an expertise for marine life, has lead key projects for the US Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Interior.  He is a preservationist and is known for his commitment to animals, and even nursed a whale back to health on Long Island!  Sharon is an experienced and highly accomplished animal trainer; Michael refers to her as an “animal whisperer” saying she inherited the ability from her father.  So it’s no surprise the two ended up with one another, and that they started performing with animals all across the country. 

Recently the Sandlofers were at the Hudson Valley Fair at Dutchess Stadium performing their act which includes daughter Benna who rides horses and performs tricks.  In fact, Benna was practically born in the saddle.  When Sharon was pregnant for Benna, the husband and wife team was playing in Manhattan when Sharon went into labor.  Benna was delivered in Putnam Hospital, and 2 days later Sharon was back on the horse, literally, performing her act.

The recent Hudson Valley Fair featured The Sandlofer’s Wild West show.  Events for kids included “Mine Find” where children are given a bucket and can pan the sand looking for sharks teeth, fool’s gold, arrowheads, and minerals.  Perhaps, the most interesting part of their Wild West Exhibit was the old fashioned carousel. Truly a green ride, it’s the only one like it in the world!  Built by Michael, the carousel is powered by mules and decorated with an endangered animals painting include Bald Eagles, and Bison.  Camels, wild turkeys, goats, oxen, horses, and other exotic animals were part of the petting zoo.

Dr. Praeger’s recently sent us some frozen foods. They are geared towards kids and are all natural. I found that the kid in my house would not eat them but the adults loved them. We tried so far…the littles spinach, littles sweet potatoes and the California burgers. They are a bit of a pain, to this mom anyway, to prepare. They have to be broiled for 8 minutes per side. I found flipping them a little tricky as they are very soft in the middle and tend to break. The taste is just fine though. They have very little seasonings so the natural flavors are allowed to shine. The products are gluten free for those with allergies. You can buy them at most grocery stores in the organic section. If you don’t mind not being able to microwave these little treats, I say run out and buy some.

It’s getting warm, but on a cool morning you can still serve oatmeal for breakfast.  More affordable, healthier, and versatile than most cold cereals, oatmeal is a great breakfast option.  Not only is it a whole grain, but a bowl of oatmeal is a fantastic opportunity to get in well-rounded nutrition in a subtle way.

To start, use old-fashioned oats (rather than instant), and low-fat or fat-free milk as your base, instead of water.  You can check calcium off the list, without chanting, “please drink your milk,” as I have to in our house.  Next, fruit.  Slightly over-ripe fruit, such as apples, bananas, pears, peaches, or berries is perfect; as is diced frozen fruit.  Next, season and sweeten away.  Cinnamon (we call it “fairy dust” here) has lots of health benefits, and rather than plain sugar, opt for a small amount of more nutritious options, such as honey, blue agave, or fruit juice. 

Fruit salad oatmeal

This breakfast came together quickly the other morning.  I had some fruit salad (peaches, strawberries, and mango) leftover from the previous evening, so I mixed it into the pot of oatmeal simmering away, along with fat-free milk and a little organic blue agave (a great sweetener with a lower glycemic index than many other options).  My kids loved it, and it kept us full for the morning.  Score!

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

I was so excited when we received the Wonderfile at our office. I knew this was what I needed to keep my papers in order. I live alone so the issue is not that I have to keep things from a husband or children, but I have to keep things away from my cats!! Actually one cat in particular – Lily. When Lily wants your attention she will do anything to get it, usually by knocking things over in the apartment, like plates, makeup, plants and especially my desk papers.

I wake every morning to all my papers on the floor. When I brought home the Wonderfile and opened it up on the desk and started to fill it, she was not happy, she sat right in the middle of it so I couldn’t fill it. I carefully picked her up and removed her. I proceeded to fill it with my papers and then folded it nice and neatly and placed it on the corner of my desk. When I woke this morning it was still in place! I don’t mind if she knocks it over, at least all my papers will still be in place. I have tried many other things, but they don’t work because when boxes or files are knocked over, papers come flying out. I love my new Wonderfile.

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