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Heirloom or Clutter…+ A New Twist on an Old Favorite…Chicken Parmesan as a muffin!

Happy New Year, everyone!! I have a new dilemma to share!

I know it’s really great that there are things so special to you that you want to pass them along to your children and grandchildren….but seriously…..you have to think, “Will they want this shit?”

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Take, for example, the Lenox bird collection, that I know was an expensive bite out of the budget that my husband provided for his mom….I just spent an entire afternoon, matching each bird to the corresponding certificate of authenticity, photographing, and listing them on Ebay. I sold one, but by the time I packed it and shipped it, I lost money.

Kathy, a very close friend of mine offered me $25.00 for all of them so that her husband can use them as target practice for a gun he purchased recently. Tempting. I can’t help but thinking that someone out there appreciates these dust collecting birdies.

Moving Steve’s mom into an assisted living facility was quite the undertaking, especially as her daughter-in-law….I was given the dubious job of sorting through countless pairs of stockings, some still in the original package, hair ties and bows, denture boxes, and an assortment of long forgotten treasures packed away for safe keeping. Year after year, I would go to the dollar store for holiday bags and have Salina pack up these treasures as gifts, but she didn’t want to part with anything. You really have no idea….So for now, I’m stuck with these birds…lots of them.

My parents, at 89 and 91, have kept those special to them in a super organized way. When I visit, I love how my mom is always trying to give me her things. Although they take great pleasure in sharing, I want my mom and dad to keep and enjoy the memories they bring, rather than taking them away. I also know that the beautiful and valuable belongings of my parents are far from junk and someday will value and cherish the sentiment and memories.

On a return flight from Cancun, I vividly recall the pilot saying, “I hope you enjoyed your vacation and have carefully packed all of your souvenirs that will be at your garage sale someday.” So….note to self….Only buy and keep what gives you pleasure and let it go when it no longer has meaning.

Speaking of giving pleasure, I found this twist on an old favorite. Get ready for this delicious and EASY twist on your favorite Chicken Parmesan recipe!

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ½ lbs raw ground chicken breast or turkey.processor and run until ground)
  • 2 large egg
  • 6 tablespoons panko or breadcrumbs
  • ¾ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¾ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¾ teaspoon oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ a small finely chopped onion
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¾ cup pasta sauce
  • ¾ cup reduced fat shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Optional: dried parsley, oregano or basil for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Lightly mist a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, egg whites, breadcrumbs, basil, thyme, oregano, garlic, onion, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese and lightly mix together. Do not over handle.
  3. Form the meat mixture evenly into the 12 cups of your prepared muffin tin. Spread the pasta sauce evenly over the tops of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from the oven. Top each muffin with about a tablespoon of shredded cheese and then return to the oven for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted. Garnish if desired.

Dear Friends,

Thanks for swinging by! Whether you are stuck indoors watching the snow, or reading this poolside, I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe and these great finds!

Until next time…

Cheers to cherished memories, both old and new!

🥂Laura

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It’s Not Trifle to Make a Delicious 🍓TRIFLE

Ahhhh Summertime! A time to enjoy days filled with warm sunshine and breezy balmy evenings that we hope will never end. Sipping delicious cocktails with friends on outdoor patios dimly lit with the dancing flames of citronella. It doesn’t get much better than that.

If you are looking for a delicious, refreshing and easy desert, I found this great one on PINTEREST. Often I find great ideas on Pinterest that grace the boards of my own pages, but this one really takes thee cake! This Summer Berry Trifle takes a little prep, but is a beautiful addition to your festive summer celebration! ENJOY!

SUMMER BERRY TRIFLE

SUMMER BERRY TRIFLE
This Summer Berry Trifle is light and a beautiful addition to your summer celebration!

Ingredients 

17 oz angel food cake, cut into 1″ cubes (I used 1 1/2 blocks)
1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 lb fresh blueberries

4 or 5 qt trifle dish or individual clear glass ice cream bowls

Lemon Syrup

1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice (from 1/2 medium lemon)

Frosting 

2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened at room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Lemon Syrup

1. In a measuring cup, combine 1/4 cup water, 2 Tbsp sugar and 2 Tbsp lemon juice and stir until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Trifle Cream…YUM

1. Beat together 1 lb cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar (with the whisk attachment) on medium speed until creamy and smooth. With mixer on, pour in 2 cups heavy cream then turn the mixer to medium/high and continue beating until consistency of whipped cream. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla and beat until incorporated.

Assemble the Trifle:

1. Place 1/3 of your sliced angel food cake into the bottom of your trifle dish and brush with 1/3 of your syrup. Add 1/3 of your cream and loosely spread it over cake pieces. Add 1/2 of the sliced strawberries. Repeat with remaining ingredients (adding 1/2 of the blueberries for the second fruit layer). Frost the top with last 1/3 of cream and decorate with remaining fruit.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

NOTE…In place of the lemon syrup, any liquor will do such as amaretta, peach schnapps, etc.

Dear Friends,

Thanks so much for swinging by. I hope you enjoy today’s recipe and it finds its way to your next summer celebration.

A friend recently sent me a this great quote about life:Don't Waste Time

Sometimes its easy to get caught up in wasted time worrying about things that don’t matter or can’t be changed. Be your best you, love yourself and live for today.

Until next time, Cheers to you❣️

🍹 Laura

CELEBRATIONS SHOPPING!

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MINI TRIFLE BOWLS

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TRIFLE BOWL 2

ELEGANT GLASS FOOTED TRIFLE BOWL $29.99

 

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Mother’s Day Calls for Mom’s Chicken

Cookbooks, recipe cards, recipe files, have all been replaced by Pinterest, online cookbooks and online recipe sites such as Cooks, Epicurious, Delish,  All Recipes, Cooking Channel, Taste of Home and more. It’s not a bad thing, but for sure, you will find a multitude of variations on anything you want to cook.

Wedding showers were the best. Often times, the gift was to include a recipe card for the bride’s recipe files. I vividly recall attending a friend’s wedding shower more years ago than I like to remember. As Connie opened her gifts with the attached recipe card, her mother proudly announced, “The next grease mark on any of my cookbooks will be the first!”  We all politely smiled and nodded in agreement. 

How things have changed. Cooking is now an ‘in thing,’ whether created by television cooking programs like “The Chew,” or perhaps drinking too much wine in a restaurant became hazardous to your ability to drive home safely. In any event, it has changed, and the new customs of sharing great memories of food with friends and family is deep-rooted in the days long ago when it was customary to many ethnicities. 

My mother, Marilyn, an artist, created a cookbook with matching bookmarks, many years ago and sold them at a local gift shop with the help of her sister, Dorothy, and Polly Paphilous, the food editor for the Akron Beacon Journal. It never made the best seller list, but I can assure you that anyone who purchased a copy was privy to some delicious recipes. One of my favorites and super easy is “Mom’s Chicken.” I typically use boneless, skinless thighs which I find more flavorful and moist. The Parmesan cheese forms a delicious crust. Remember to grease your pan.

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Dear Friends,

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to you, your mom, or any woman in your life who has provided the unconditional love and caring that it takes to be a great role model and give children the ability to reach for the stars.

My mother is 87 this year and still loves to bake cookies for my father turning 90. I’m blessed, not only with still having them in my life, but also for the wonderful memories I will cherish forever. Watch for my next blog post, “Cookie Nirvana,” where I will feature some of my mom’s most delicious cookie recipes. Until next time….

MOTHER'S DAY       🍷Cheers! Laura

P.S. Swing by my online store for great gift ideas! FOLIO TRENDS! Great women’s clothing and accessories at incredible prices! fullsizeoutput_1ddd

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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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HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOU ARE TOO OLD TO BUY GREEN BANANAS

You can’t turn it back, I keep reminding myself….But now I realize that there are definitely 5 signs that let you know you are getting older.

What led me to this realization was a recent trip to the west coast of Florida. As we strolled from the airport security to our gate, we were approached by a man on an electric cart asking us if we’d like a ride. Normally the dudes on those carts transport fat people, old people, celebrities, people with physical challenges or lazy people and they just whiz on by, but this time stopped to see if Steve and I would like a ride. A RIDE? US? You’ve got to be kidding! I didn’t think we were any of those! That was the first sign.

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While hiking in the woods several weeks ago with my son, his wife and my granddogter, Harper, they asked if I wanted to sit down and rest for a while. I teach step aerobics, I reminded them, and myself. That was sign #2.

 

 

 

I no longer get carded, even if it’s required by law and on Tuesdays at our local outlets, I never have to show my driver’s license in order to get the senior discount…sign #3.

Perfect strangers ask me to watch their stroller and packages in a shopping mall and sometimes even their sleeping baby in the stroller….sign #4.

And last, but not least, the catalogs and email inbox have gone from Victoria’s Secret to AARP and Frontgate.

Trying to maintain my sense of humor about the aging process, I have lumped women and men into categories; everything from those who literally let themselves go to those who habitually try to reverse the process. What used to be called a moo moo is now called a tunic, and lifting faces or face lifting has been replaced by pumping some kind of shit into wrinkles to puff them out making someone appear to have stayed in the boxing ring too long.

I used to wonder why anyone would want to live in a 55+ community but now I get it. Reminders of inevitable aging are everywhere, not just in the mirror, and perhaps living in a community that isn’t youth focused isn’t such a bad thing. I, for one, love being around young people and find delight in sharing their youthful optimism and humor, so I’m not sure how happy I would be in that kind of community.

At 61, there is a realization that there is an end, and I find myself counting the hopeful years that we have left living in good health. I have some rules to follow like never taking a selfie or face timing from below my chin…and always holding the camera over my head, forcing us to look up.

Over the past few weeks, I have felt with the pain of my daughter in law’s sudden death of her mother and the pain of Steve’s daughters coming to terms with the few months their mother had left after finding out she was stricken with pancreatic cancer. There are no words, but one thing I do know is that time is precious, too precious not to waste on negativity of any kind. So, as my Steve always says, “I have no yesterdays. Time took them away. I only have today and hope for tomorrows.”

Upon returning from our trip to Florida, I distinctly noticed by the smell,  that I had left some bananas in the fruit bowl that were way overripe…so I tried this amazing banana bread that I recently found on Pinterest. I’m still not sure at what age I should no longer buy green bananas, so instead I did some research about how to quickly ripen bananas. As for this delicious recipe, I did modify it and make it without the glaze which reduced the sugar and the calories. The banana bread is so flavorful, the glaze isn’t necessary.  I’ve added it in the event you may want to give it a try. 

CARAMEL BANANA UPSIDE DOWN BREAD


Ingredients
½ cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
About 2 bananas, sliced in ¼ inch rounds
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
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 oil of choice
⅓ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Caramel Glaze: (Optional)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan.
Spread the brown sugar on the bottom of the loaf pan. If using nuts, sprinkle them evenly over the sugar. Dot with the butter. Put it in the oven for about 8 minutes. Stir the mixture until dissolved and spread evenly on the bottom of the pan. Place a single layer of the banana slices on top of the sugar mixture along the entire bottom of the pan.
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 in the pan.
In an oven preheated to 325 degrees F, bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean but moist.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting it on a cake platter.

To prepare the Caramel Glaze, place the butter, brown sugar and heavy cream in a small saucepan (you can also microwave the ingredients for a minute). Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for a minute. Pour the glaze evenly over the cake (on the upside down side with the bananas on top).

FIVE WAYS TO QUICKLY RIPEN BANANAS

1) Bananas in a bunch take about 24-48 hours to ripen. Bananas that grow together also ripen together, so only separate the ones you want to ripen more quickly.

2) Placing bananas in warm places takes about 24-48 hours to ripen.

3) Place the bananas in a paper bag. It takes about  12-24 hours to ripen.

4) In the oven, ripening bananas takes about 30-50 minutes. The peels turn shiny lack when they are ripe. 

5) Microwave your bananas 30 seconds-2 minutes. 

Dear Friends,

Thanks for swinging by today. I know my article was somewhat tongue in check with a bit of morbid reality thrown in, but laughter is always a great cure for worry, and it makes sense not to worry about things you can’t control. So, after all of this, I will continue to buy green bananas now that I know how to hurry the ripening of them.

Until next time…

Cheers to lots more years!   Laura