Chili-Garlic Roasted Broccoli (You Will Love This!!)

roasted broccoliI do not like cooked broccoli.  Well, I used to not like it, that is, until my friend made me this.

O.M.G. I had to share this recipe with you.  Not sure where my fellow TV buddy, Maria Neider, came up with the recipe, but one thing is certain….I can’t get enough!   Here’s what you’ll need:

1/2 cup of Olive oil

10-12 cloves of finely chopped garlic

2 T chili powder

2 T  McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning

2 large heads of broccoli cut into thin long spears

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425. Combine ingredients in large bowl and toss to coat. Spread on baking sheet. Roast broccoli until crisp and slightly brown. 17-20 minutes. HINT: Do NOT Salt and pepper or it will be WAY too salty.

 

Picky Eater Solutions (Giveaway included!)

As you read in my previous article, I wanted to check out the book “The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution” by Elizabeth Pantley.  I have been having an awful time dealing with my 4-year old son and his eating habits.  He has been increasingly getting worse too!  He seems to always ask for sweets, and when I offer him a healthier food instead he just doesn’t eat.  I feel like this kid is either starving or eating junk.  I have been feeling extreme guilt from this as well.  Everyone wants to be the best parents they can be, and when your child is continually asking for food that is not healthy, it makes you feel like a failure as a parent.

I just finished reading “The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution” by, Elizabeth Pantley.  It is seriously one of the best informational parenting books I’ve read in a long time.  A big THANK YOU to Elizabeth Pantley for making me feel better and to give me strategies to deal with picky eaters.  It was nice to hear that I am not alone, and that my child and I are both “normal.”  There are many other parents out there that are dealing with my same issues, feel my same guilt, and it was nice to learn that a lot of it could be a natural instinct for my son to gravitate towards these sweeter foods (although apparently it didn’t help that I craved sweets and indulged while pregnant with him).  Here are my favorite things about “The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution”:

1.  The book gives you some background at why kids can be picky eaters.

2.  The book helps you to understand if your child is a typical picky eater or something more serious.

3.  The book gives you facts about eating and about foods with listed solutions.

4.  The book describes the “fundamental four” when dealing with picky eaters: Attitude, Environment, Amounts, and Rules.

5.  The “Rules” section is great!  It lists the rule, if you should break it or keep it, and tips about the rule.

6.  The book has tricks and tips to get picky eaters to eat!  Here’s the one I am trying this week (as my son is addicted to PB&J):

“Begin by replacing one slice of bread with whole wheat, keeping the other slice white.  Place the sandwich on the plate with the white bread on top.  Over time, experiment with replacing both pieces of white bread with whole wheat bread.” Pantley then goes on to explain replacing the peanut butter and jelly portions with healthier alternatives.  Such a great idea and a slow transition that will be easier for the kids.

7.  There is a list of healthier alternatives for food that is not-so-healthy.  Pantley says not to use words like fat and junk food.  She says it’s best to state things positively to kids about food, such as “Once you are finished with your healthy meal you may have a dessert” instead of “No junk food until you eat that healthy food.”

8.  LOVE “The Experts’ Favorites” section at the back of the book!  It has wonderful recipes for kid-friendly healthy meals.  Yes, there are even yummy desserts!!!

This book is my new GO-TO parenting book!  I will be keeping it in the kitchen to refer back to!  I will also be setting a good example to my kids by eating healthy and having all of us sit down together at the table for meals.  It’s a hard thing to do with our hectic schedule, but Pantley emphasizes how helpful this is for healthy eating.  We will try our best!  Kids learn from parents!

You can get a copy as well.  It’s a must have for any parent who is dealing with a picky eater (and there are more out there dealing with this issue than I even realized).  Here’s how to get a copy:

1.  WIN this awesome book in my giveaway!  The author, Elizabeth Pantley, will send you a signed copy of this book that was just published this month!  The more you do on the Rafflecopter below the more chances you will have to win!  CLICK HERE to go to the Rafflecopter and WIN!

2.  Order “The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution” on Amazon!  It’s on sale right now and a fabulous deal!!!

Happy reading!!!  After you finish, please let me know what you think of the book as well!


Kristin Wheeler

Roasted Fall Vegetables

During my last visit to the farmer’s market I loaded my tote bag with in-season vegetables.  While I’ve never been a huge fan of fall vegetables, I recently discovered that it’s not the vegetable variety I wasn’t fond of; it was the way it was being cooked! I got nearly 10 pounds of squash and zucchini for $9.  What was I going to do with all that, besides making some zucchini bread, of course.

I decided that I would simply roast my vegetables with minimal ingredients.  The outcome… what can I say? Delicious.

Ingredients:

  • Variety of fall zucchini and squash
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Rosemary

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Wash and cut your vegetables.  The smaller you cut them the quicker they will cook, so try to cut them evenly.
  3. In a roasting dish add vegetables, salt, pepper, olive oil and rosemary (to taste).
  4. Mix well to evenly coat vegetables with seasoning
  5. Cook about 20-25 or until done.

Serve & Enjoy!

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The TRUTH Behind Our Family Photo Shoot

Photo by Odessa Cozzolino

Photo by Odessa Cozzolino

If you look at the photo smiling out at you from our yearly holiday card, taken on an idyllic Rhode Island beach, you’ll see six happy faces, a proud family clutching each other with love.  Every year I schedule a family photo shoot to get that picture.  Every year we get one.   And I mean JUST ONE.  Out of the hundreds of pictures the photographer snaps, there is usually only one picture where we are all happy, and looking presentable enough to send out to everyone we know.  The rest, the outtakes, tell a different story. They tell the truth behind all those happy smiling family photo cards you get in the mail each year.   If you have a family of your own, with small children, and have been through this process, you know what I’m talking about.  They are much more anarchic than the calm conveyed in the final photo.

It begins at home hours before we leave. I run around and pull together complimentary outfits for us all.  Each year I come up against protests about the outfits from the girls, as though I had asked them to be tarred and feathered.  The boys have usually outgrown what I’ve laid out, since they wear their white button down dress shirts so infrequently, and they can’t stand having to change outfits.   The kids complain and drag their feet, and it takes much shouting and cajoling to get everyone in the car.  By this point I have usually given up on the complimentary outfits, and the neat hair.  Around this time I may even be reduced to shouting something childish like “fine! I don’t care what the rest of you look like in the picture as long as I look good!”  As we drive to the beach, my husband is getting cranky due to all the bickering and back talk.  He questions the need for the professional family photo, and usually chooses this moment to find out what it costs.  Now my husband and I are bickering too.  I try to remind him that the outcome will be worth it.  When we arrive at the beach, I am already apologizing to the photographer for our motley state.   As we begin to try to pose, at least one child is freezing and miserable.  We bribe, threaten, and tickle to get the desired simultaneous smiles from all four kids. This year we added our untrained dog to the pandemonium.  He was kicked out of the family photo after about 5 minutes for stepping on one of the kids and making them cry.

photo by Odessa Cozzolino. the little guy wasn't supposed to be in the background!

photo by Odessa Cozzolino

Once again we ultimately got the photo.   Just one (as close to perfect as we’ll ever get) photo of our precious family, and the dog even made it in without needing to be added in photoshop.  Having that one picture that captures this moment in time is so worth all the trouble we go through to get it.  We cherish the timeline of our growing family that we  now have, and we can laugh when we scan back over the years of our family  pictures, knowing the bedlam that went into capturing them.  In turn, we love getting our friends holiday cards with pictures of their kids each year, seeing how their families have grown as well, and knowing the secret behind those perfect family photos. Chaos!

 

These are outtakes from back when we only had two kids! (and one on the way)

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Shaving, Simplified (Review)

I recently took a trip to Arizona with my daughter (boy, do I love traveling solo with a toddler) and I was thisclose to having to pay extra for luggage that was over the weight limit.  I’m convinced that even a travel-sized can of shaving cream would have tipped the scales in the wrong direction.  Enter the Schick® Intuition.

Intuition razor

It’s my new favorite thing, when it comes to packing efficiently and streamlining my morning routine.  The shaving cream and moisturizer are built right in to the razor.  Seriously, what’s more annoying than shaving your legs in the shower and discovering, mid-leg, that you are out of shaving cream!?  With the Intuition razor, the problem is solved!

To get a $3 off coupon on this razor, head over to their facebook page through the end of October,  and take their quiz to fight out which razor is right for you!

Up and Coming Cocktail: St. Germain

 

I am a mixologist of sorts. I really enjoy coming up with new and creative cocktails for dinner parties, or just to serve friends. Although I never partake myself (Not!), it’s fun  to come up with  tasty creations that people have never tried which will accentuate the food and atmosphere of the evening. By using some fresh and natural juices, you can really reduce the calorie impact of a cocktail without sacrificing the taste. And unfortunately, since the skinny jean doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon (tragic), saving calories is a good thing.

Enter St. Germaine. If you have never heard of it, you obviously haven’t been watching a lot of Bravo or Real Housewives. Not that I have, someone just told me about it. Or something like that…..Anyway, one day early in the summer I was perusing the aisles of my local Bev-Mo, when one of the gals came up to me and said, “Jessica, you have to try this stuff.” Is it weird that they know me by name there?  I am not sure, but so do the produce guys at Fry’s, and Jerry, the stocker, at Target. So whatever, it’s not like I am ONLY known in places that specialize in various types of alcohol.

The story behind St. Germain is pretty fascinating. It is handpicked in the old, artisanal way of the French. It is made from the Elderflower, which grows in the foothills of the Alps. There are 40 or 50 men in the world who pick the Elderflowers, put them in sacks, and ride them on bikes to the markets. In a matter of weeks, all the Elderflowers will be picked, thus all the St. Germain that will be available for the year, has been spoken for. The smell of it is intoxicating, almost as  you smell it, you can taste it. From the description on the bottle, St. Germain is “neither passion-fruit nor pear, nor grapefruit, nor lemon, but something of all of those.” And that’s a pretty good description if you ask me. The bottle isn’t the cheapest thing you will ever buy, but nothing really good ever is, right? And if you are using it as a mixer, it lasts quite a long time.

So here’s my latest creation. Let’s call it the Phoenix.

THE PHOENIX

one part St. Germaine

one part fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (or all natural store bought, just not the Ruby Red stuff)

one part Pellegrino or other sparkling water

Splash of citron vodka or other lemon-lime based vodka

Fill a tumbler with ice and mix all ingredients well. Enjoy! You could even add some red food coloring and make this a fun Halloween drink.

Rediscovering Me

The summer is over and school is back in session for my children. Their school break was a whirlwind of vacations, summer camp and classes, with very little down time. To say I was anxious for the school year to begin is a major understatement. Add to that the extra several days that Tropical Storm Irene brought us and it was clear from both my children’s and my perspectives that school needed to start. When the day finally arrived, I packed the oldest three on the bus for their full days of school with smiles all around. I then settled down with the youngest of my brood, who is only three, for what she endearingly calls ‘Mommy school’. No rest for the weary, as the old saying goes. At least I was only going in one direction instead of four.
Then I got the game-changing email. My dear sweet three-year old was accepted into Playschool! Our town runs an absolutely incredible program though the high school in which they run a model preschool for the students interested in child development. One of my other children was lucky enough to be able to participate as well, so I knew what an opportunity this was. So now I anxiously prepared my youngest for school. New backpack, new lunchbox, new folder, new crayon box. She was good to go, and more then eager to kiss Mommy good-bye and walk off with her friends. I have to admit, as I left my three-year-old ‘baby’ at school I did get choked up. Another milestone. Another era over.
I went home that day and sat on the sofa, and then it hit me. I had the next precious ninety minutes all to myself. I could not tell you the last time I actually could plan to have time with no direct responsibility for any of my children. What would I do? There is always a long chore list in my house…laundry, cleaning, cooking, preparing for this or that. I sat there for about ten minutes trying to decide which chore to pick. I got to thinking. I had ninety minutes for me. What did that mean? Somewhere amid the science homework and soccer games and ballet classes, I lost sight of what I could spend my ‘me’ time on. I love my children, but the role of Mommy almost always comes first. Now, I was thinking about what I craved, needed, wanted to do. I thought of A Mom Knows Best…all the contributors have something exciting to offer you as readers, but also me as a fellow contributor. I am still sporting mommy jeans and sweats, yet I read with excitement Carrie Humphreys’ awesome fashion tips. I love a glass of wine now and then, yet I know nothing about it. Jessica Granatiero and her amazing shop, The Savory Grape, are always hosting tastings and informational get-togethers. Why haven’t I attended? Carla Izzard lives in the same town as I do, and we both share an interest in running, yet I couldn’t tell you the last time I slipped into my running shoes and hit the road. Maureen Umehara always has such wonderfully supportive and thought- provoking comments. I decided right then and there, when Cait was at school, I was going to take those precious few hours a week and work on me, rediscovering the me that is not the mom, the nurse, the educator, the volunteer…but the me that is a person with lots of ideas and dreams. And where better to look for guidance and help then the amazing group of ladies that contribute to this website. Each week I will be looking to work on something about me that needs looking at…and asking for the input of these amazing women. Won’t you join me? Look inside yourself and take a look at who you are, and who you want to be. I am sure the ride will be bumpy, with lots of twists and turns. The destination is a better me, a better us. I know the trip will be worth it.

Do you have a personal or professional goal you’ve been working toward?

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Shrimp with Kiwi Lime Relish

It’s Fall and germs are lurking around us in abundance.  You’ve heard of vitamin C as an immunity booster, and many experts say the best way to get it is  directly from the source (our foods).  What better way to grab some extra C than with a kiwi? This recipe is not only super easy to make but also delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 2 jalapenos, finely chopped, seeds removed for less heat (1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 4 kiwi fruits, peeled and diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 20 large U.S.-farmed shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil
  • Directions:

  1. Stir jalapeno and lime juice together. Add kiwi, 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste), and cilantro. Stir to combine.
  2. Season shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat oil in a large skillet over high until shimmering. Add shrimp in a single layer and cook without turning until underside is pink, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until opaque throughout, 2 minutes more. Remove from pan and serve immediately with kiwi-lime relish.

Photo Credit

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Too Young to Die

I found out last night that a former 4th grade student of mine passed away this week.  I had just seen her post on Facebook the previous week about loving her friends and family.  Of course I “liked” the post, but had no idea I would not be seeing her around on Facebook anymore.  Her name was Kylie, and she was one of the sweetest girls I ever taught.  I remember her getting sick the year I taught her as well.  She ended up at the hospital for about a week and I remember taking her work and a stuffed teddy bear.  This week she was back in that same hospital at age 18, a freshman in college.  This time she did not make it back home, but passed away due to complications of pneumonia.

(Kylie on the left around the age I taught her)

I was in shock when I saw the post come through yesterday of people tagging her in candlelight vigil pictures (her name spelled out in candles with a beautiful picture of her in the center).  I didn’t know what to make of it at first since I had just seen her post on Facebook days before.  Why were they tagging her in pictures and having a picture of her surrounded by candles?  I went to her main Facebook page and got some answers.  She passed away at the hospital in Norman, OK on Wednesday.  I saw some posts from other former teachers, and one in particular from a high school teacher that mentioned she had been sick and hospitalized while in high school as well.  I was in shock, saddened, and confused all at the same time.  I could this happen to a bright, beautiful, young girl with her life in front of her.  She was so sweet and caring.  How does this happen?

I was thinking back a funeral my husband attended a few years back of a co-worker whose son died of Leukemia at the age of six.  Why?  What did that little boy do to deserve that?  I thought of my good friend whose sister just lost her baby daughter at 39 weeks.  Her room was set-up, clothes were ready to be taken to the hospital, there was so much hope for a new life into this world.  Why?  Why did she not have a chance to enter this world?  What’s the reason?

Unfortunately, there are no answers as to why.  Nobody did anything.  Nobody deserved anything.  There is no rhyme or reason of why people are taken at different ages and for different reasons.  This is where your beliefs come into play.  What do you believe?  Even if you are religious and believe in God it can be a hard concept to wrap your mind around.  I asked my mom last night, “What do you think Heaven looks like?  Do you believe in a Heaven?”  She said she did and that she believed it was the most beautiful place surrounded by no pain, but only by love.  She said she spoke with a friend about reading the book “90 Minutes in Heaven,” and that her friend claimed to have a similar near death experience.  She said to my mother, “Don’t ever be afraid to die.  It’s beautiful.  It’s comforting.  It was the best thing I have ever experienced.  I saw my loved ones who had passed on.  I saw the tunnel and the light.  I am not afraid to die when the time comes.”

Those words were comforting to me but confusing as well.  I am a person who likes to see to believe, and with religion it is more about faith than evidence.  I do believe in God and a Heaven.  I guess I just need to have stronger faith in that faith.  It’s hard to imagine that with young ones dying at such a young age that there is some purpose in their death, but I guess we must leave that up to something or someone greater to decide.  The most we can do as mortal individuals is to take life and cherish it when we have it.  Pay attention to the beautiful things in your life, cherish your children and family members, help others and take care of your community, know what is important in your life and what is not worth worrying about.  I am guilty of letting small things get me upset.  Unimportant things.  I think everyone can be.  When I think of these young souls it helps me to cherish what I have here on the Earth now.  Go hug your kids, leave the dishes dirty for a day, spend time outside in nature, be with your family.  Live your life to the fullest each and every day!  Know what is important and focus on all you have in your life.

Kylie’s last Facebook posts said:

Kylie Johnston If I have you on my Facebook you are on there for a reason. You have either taught me a lesson, been there when I needed a friend, given me advice, or taught me patience. For whatever the reason, I am glad that we are friends. I love all of you.· October 6 at 1:15pm via mobile ·

Kylie Johnston Thanks everyone for your love, support, and prayers. I am beiginning to feel better and I appreciate the kind words.· October 7 at 10:07pm via mobile ·

Kylie Johnston BOOOOOOOMER!!!!! · October 8 at 2:46pm via mobile · (Kylie was an OU fan!)

Kylie Johnston Really sick. Listening to the rain, watching lifetime movies, and eating soup. Happy Saturday everyone.· October 8 at 6:48pm via mobile ·

Kylie Johnston So sick I can barely lift my head off my pillow. Thank you mother nature for the beautiful rain that I plan to fall asleep listening to. · October 9 at 8:15pmvia mobile ·

Kylie Johnston Delete Facebook or not? Such a hard decision! · October 11 at 12:08am via mobile (So many are glad now that she decided to leave her page so they can visit her and talk to her there!)

* Kylie passed away at 2am on October 12th.  It’s fitting that her funeral is held on the “Sweetest Day,” as Kylie was such a sweet and caring person.

(Kylie’s Facebook profile picture)

Kylie:  Rest in peace sweet girl.  You are in a good place without ailments.  I pray for you and for your family.  May their hearts heal from the emptiness they must feel without you.  You were a bright light on this Earth and you left such special memories for everyone that knew you.  Rest well.  Your Teacher, Mrs. Wheeler

(One of her Senior pictures)
* Have you lost a loved one at a young age?  How do you deal with the pain of losing someone so young?

 

Kristin Wheeler

Makeup makes me more Trustworthy?

While doing my daily mindless 10 minutes of internet surfing, I came across an article about women who wear makeup appearing more trustworthy… say what? It seems a little absurd to me, but researches at Procter and Gamble, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found women who apply and little something to their face daily not only look more attractive (duh, who doesn’t look better with a little mascara and gloss?) but people also think these dolled up women appear more trustworthy and competent. For me, I wear makeup daily because it makes me feel better about myself and let’s not forget I am also single in the city and you never know when I might bump into Mr. Right. But I’d hate to think my competence level was being decided on a day I got a little crazy  wearing a bright blue eyeshadow or some sort of glitter. I would hope someone would at least engage me in polite conversation before judging a book by its cover! However, this study begs to defer. Researches asked study participants to look at various pictures of women with all different looks for 250 milliseconds and rate them. The ratings went up depending on the amount of makeup. Wow!! This doesn’t mean I’m going to change my makeup habits, but  it is food for thought.
Now the question to you is… do you judge a book by its cover?

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