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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
  • Âľ teaspoon dried basil
  • Âľ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Âľ teaspoon oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ a small finely chopped onion
  • Âľ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon black pepper
  • Âľ cup Parmesan cheese
  • Âľ cup pasta sauce
  • Âľ 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

CELEBRATION + SUNSETS SHOPPING

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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 ÂĽ inch rounds
1½ cup whole wheat flour
Âľ cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
ÂĽ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup mashed overripe bananas
2 large eggs
â…“ cup coconut oil or melted butter
â…“ 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