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Spring Break with a Side of Fries

Today was enlightening. My first day of vacation and not only did I wear my usual two piece bathing suit, skirted and high waisted, of course, but I noticed a distinctive sign that I needed to lose weight. The sign wasn’t as blatant as you might think. The scale this morning didn’t yell, “GET OFF OF ME!” ….no one tried to harpoon me on the beach……but the sign was there. You see, every chaise lounge at the pool is equipped with a numbered flag that you raise in order to let the server know that you would like to order food. Yep! You guessed it, mine had no flag.

So, my daughter, Jodi and I decided to have a late lunch of blackened mahi tacos with a mango salsa; healthy, and flavorful. It was happy hour, and we were happy,  so we enjoyed a skinny margarita. Suddenly, our server delivered these amazing french fries to the next table. Jodi and I shot each other a glance and beckoned the server to bring us an order. This little diet destructor was well worth the calories; …….thick cut french fries served with a fresh raspberry mayo on the side. We IMG_7567quickly justified consuming these fat fried bursts of flavor by reminding ourselves that we did water jog🙃.  So, essentially, the moral of this story is “calories in and calories out.” There are, however, good calories and not so good calories, but an occasional splurge isn’t a bad thing. Unfortunately, I often justify these binges by thinking, “If this were my last meal, it would totally be worth it.” It was.

This trip, I decided to create healthy and delicious meals using all of the fresh fish Florida has to offer. At the local fish market, grouper was recommended as a hearty fish that could easily be made into a piccata dish. Wikipedia explains piccata as “meat or fish sliced, sautéed, and served in a sauce containing lemon, butter and spices”.  Often prepared with veal or chicken, this recipe proved to be a keeper. Enjoy!

GROUPER PICCATA

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  • 4 grouper filets about 4 oz. each,  blotted dry and seasoned with 1/2 tsp. each kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. capers, drained
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • thinly sliced lemon slices

Dredge fillets in flour.
Heat 2 tsp. oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high until it shimmers. Add half the fillets and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer fillets to a platter; tent with foil. Repeat heating and cooking with remaining oil and fillets.
Add wine, lemon juice, and capers to skillet; cook 30 seconds. Off heat, swirl in butter until it melts; season with 1/2 tsp. pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt, add lemon slices until softened.  Serve fillets with sauce over rice or angel hair pasta.

Dear Friends,

On the plane ride home from vacation, we hit a bit of turbulence. The kids on the plane clearly coming home from spring break, squealed with excitement at the sudden dips and turns. The parents, on the other hand looked horrified. Looking for a diversion, I noticed the cloud formations outside of my window and admired the unusual landscape the sunlight created as the rays bounced off of the sloping hills and valleys of the thick clouds.

Snapping a photo of this unusual scenery, placing it in the archives of vacation memories, it occurred to me the way in which this is a reminder of our need to “take time and smell the flowers” as we get older.  For so many years, we simply hurried to our next destination either not knowing or not realizing that life itself is a journey filled with moments worth pausing for celebration.

As always, thanks for stopping by and cheers to enjoying the journey. 

🍹 Laura

P.S. Check out my new store FOLIO TRENDS where you find great styles and incredible prices! Sign up for email alerts to get great savings!

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Add This Delicious Little Pumpkin Cookie to your Fall List of Things to Bake

Now that the election is over, giving thanks to our Veterans, and with Thanksgiving in TWO WEEKS, it’s time to focus on feel good things. This cookie is so delicious and fills your kitchen with mouth watering fall smells of cinnamon and pumpkin. Warning….. if you decide to sample one hot out of the oven, be prepared to have another. These cookies are simple to make and if you like cakey cookies, you’re in for a treat. One tip: when you do go to roll them into the cinnamon sugar, they are a little sticky, so put a little butter on your hands.

CINNAMON PUMPKIN COOKIES

Makes 27 COOKIES

fullsizeoutput_19f8.jpegINGREDIENTS:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin (we use Libby’s canned pumpkin)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cinnamon chips

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.

3. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and mix until combined, about 3 minutes. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Stir in the cinnamon chips.

4. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Shape dough into rounded tablespoons and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Lightly press down on the cookies with a spatula or the palm of your hand.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Dear Friends,

No matter what you hoped for in this election, we need to focus on just being nice and remain hopeful. Take time to thank our Veterans, share a cookie and share a smile.

Cheers,  Laura

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7 Great Back to School Tips

As a teacher, I always wished that summer could last just a little longer, actually a lot longer, but as a mom, I couldn’t wait for school to start! Summer had run its course and it was time for someone else to take over! The lazy days of summer aren’t lazy anymore! The days are so packed with baseball, tennis, golf, swim team, lacrosse camps, band camp… to name a few. The few weeks and even days before school can be a great opportunity to wind down and focus on what’s important, and that would be getting ready to be in a school routine that promotes success and happiness for all ages. So, essentially it’s important for both kids and parents to get into this routine together. It’s no longer the 3 Rs, reading, writing and arithmetic, It is the 2 Rs…resting and readiness.

STEP 1: STEP INTO A ROUTINE! Structuring the days before school starts eases the transition and makes mornings bearable! Have a balanced breakfast to start the day and a set dinnertime helps! At dinner, spend some time talking about what was great about summer and what to look forward to in the coming school year. After dinner, take advantage of wind down time to the day, set an earlier bedtime, and have a quiet time an hour or so before bed. Reading a book or magazine as a family limits distractions and sets a great example. 

STEP 2: GET A JUMP ON SCHOOL SUPPLIES AND SCHOOL CLOTHES! The before school sales are a great way to stack up on supplies and save money. Get the supply list from your child’s school and shop it out! This routine gets kids excited about the new year…new clothes and new stuff. When shopping for clothes, keep in mind dress codes. That will prevent problems later. 

STEP 3: GET ORGANIZED! Make it a before bedtime habit to get ready for the next day. Lay out clothes and pack up the back pack! This will save time in the morning and make the mornings run more smoothly. Some kids enjoy making their own lunch for the next day. Fill out necessary papers for the school such as emergency medical authorizations, etc. 

STEP 4: GET READY FOR HOMEWORK! Establish a regular homework time, whether after school, or after dinner, let your child decide, but stick to it. Some kids need a break from school and others may enjoy having a snack and getting the work behind them.

STEP 5: SET UP SCHEDULES AND THE FAMILY CALENDAR! Stay ahead of the game by staying ahead! Display a family calendar where everyone can list their activities and appointments. Each family member can have their own color marker and be responsible to keep it up to date.

STEP 6: DON’T FORGET FAMILY TIME! Whether it’s dinnertime,  homework/reading time, or trips to the ice cream store, take advantage of sharing successes, thoughts and concerns. It’s easy to get caught up in everyday activities and adhering to schedules. Being a parent is being a support system and advocate for your child. Being alert to concerns can prevent them from escalating into problems later. 

STEP 7: MAKE MEALTIME ENJOYABLE! Plan ahead simple and flavorful meals that the kids enjoy can turn every meal into a special one. Healthy, kid friendly menus can be anything from french toast wrapped sausage (pigs in blankets), to a simple build your own taco. Ask your kids to offer some ideas of their own. Ownership is a great key to confidence building!

This is a delicious breakfast muffin that your kids will ask for over and over. It also makes a memorable teacher’s lounge treat for the first week classroom warriors, aka your child’s teachers!

                                           Caramel Banana Upside Down Cake Muffins

IngredientsIMG_5749

1 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
About 2 bananas, sliced in ¼ inch rounds
1½ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup mashed overripe bananas
2 large eggs
⅓ cup coconut oil or melted butter
⅓ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Instructions IMG_5750
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the muffin pan. Melt the butter in the microwave and add the brown sugar.Place 3 pieces of cut up banana in the bottom of each muffin tin. Melt 6 T. of butter in the microwave and mix in brown sugar. Spread the brown sugar mixture evenly on top of the bananas.. 
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add all the remaining wet ingredients and beat just until combined. Do not over-beat.
Pour the batter over the sliced bananas/brown sugar mixture in each muffin tin..
Bake for 40 min. or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean but moist.
Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting it onto wax or parchment paper.

GENIUS IDEA FROM AMAZON! CHECK IT OUT!

Parents: Get all your child’s school supplies delivered right to your door Teachers: Create and share supply lists easily, year after year

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Simply type in your school name, teacher and grade level and up comes the list delivered to your door!

Cheers to a great school year and to setting the stage for success for our kids!

xo Laura