Archive for December, 2011

Lessons Learned in 2011

December 30th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Life is one big long lesson and we are the students in this classroom of life. A lot has been learned this past year, so I thought I’d share some meaningful pearls with you:

Aging is a blessing. The number is no big deal. After all consider the alternative!

Be careful what you wish for. It might come true along with all of the consequences tied to that wish you might not have realized.

Don’t follow the pack. Lead with your own vision and purpose.

Stop chasing rainbows. Especially when your life is full of pots of gold.

There are 1,000 ways to do the same thing right. YOUR way isn’t the only way.

Respect your elders. Don’t wait for something bad to happen before you start to pay attention.

It’s ok to agree to disagree.

Some of your most special moments in life are the simplest. Learn to stop, look, listen and appreciate these gifts. They’ll fill you up.

Channel the energy you spend trying to fix everybody else on fixing yourself instead.

Appreciate your special someone. Every relationship starts as an acorn and it is up to us to fertilize it, water it and nurture it to grow into a big old oak.

Your relationships’ success aren’t measured in years, but in bushels of joy they yield.

Follow your heart and your compass to your true north.

Time is so precious and our world has many needs. Stop wasting time on trivial matters and do something to make our world a better place.

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Make Mine a TALL One

December 29th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , ,

As New Year’s Eve rolls around it helps to have the occasional reminder about the bevy’s you’re about to partake in, hmmmmm. I just read about a study that looked at various shaped glasses and alcoholic drink preparation.

The researchers studied pouring accuracy of an official “shot” (i.e. 1.5 oz) into different shaped glasses such as short, wide glasses versus tall, slender glasses. Although bartenders pouring accuracy improved with practice, it did not for the short, wide glasses. What gives??

Lo and behold even well-trained bartenders who had an average of six years experience, poured ~20% more into those short, wide glasses, than the tall, slender ones. Given the calories in hard alcohol that’s a slip of the wrist that’ll affect your belt-line in no time.

Writing this makes me think about the Flinstones when Tony Granite was on the show, he ordered a tall gin and tonic on the rocks in a dirty glass!! By the way, don’t drink and drive.

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Foodie Versatile Breaded Shrimp

December 28th, 2011 No Comments Tags: ,

Mmmmm breaded shrimp, they are one food I make once in a blue moon. I served these up Christmas Eve as one of my fish offerings. You may wish to serve them as happy appy’s for New Year’s perhaps. Mother Dearest is considering making them for her Ukrainian Christmas Eve January 6th. Whenever you do, there’ll be smiles all around, after all I never tried a fried food I didn’t love :-)


2 bags shrimp, pre-cooked and peeled, large or jumbo

8 eggs, scrambled

8- 10 garlic cloves, peeled crushed

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

fresh parsley clippings

salt and pepper to taste

canola oil



If you can do this first step the day before, I suggest you do it. The flavour will be richer. In a large bowl crack in the eggs one by one, add the garlic, parmesan cheese and parsley. Then scramble together with a fork. Lightly salt and pepper each shrimp and immerse into the egg mixture until submerged. Once they’re all in there make sure they’re under egg then cover the bowl with cellophane and put into the fridge for a few hours (or overnight).

About an 30-60 minutes before cooking, remove the bowl from the fridge. On your clean counter surface near your stove cover with waxed paper so that all of the shrimp can be spread out. Fill a bowl with breadcrumbs. Then one-by-one thoroughly dust each with breadcrumbs then place on the waxed paper, spacing them out. Allow the crumbs to dry.

Now they’re ready to fry….I know, shame on me, using the “f” word!! Take out a large cookie sheet to place the shrimp on when cooked. Turn the temperature of your oven to ~250 degrees F.

Take out your baking soda, oven mitts, turn up the oven fans on high, cause we’re ready to roll. Make the batch in one go NOT leaving your pan unattended for even one nano-second. Hot oil burns, so don’t take ANY chances. Use tongs that fit in your hand well. You could run into trouble using ones that stretch too far. Those may cause you to fumble with the shrimp and hot oil. NOT GOOD, so beware.

Using a frying pan without a lid, add canola oil to the bottom of the pan and turn the heat up high. I toss in a tiny piece of breadcrumb with egg to test how hot the oil is. When really hot add as many prepared shrimp that can fit the bottom of your pan then flash cook each until browned on both sides. For safety reasons I turn off the element each time when I’m transferring the fried shrimp to the cookie sheet. You’ll notice they are slightly brown when ready. Make sure no oil has dripped down the side of your pan and clean it off if some has.

Place your pan with your fried shrimp in the oven to hold warm until ready to serve if dinner is soon.


I only season the shrimp on one side before I plunk into the egg mixture. Before “this low salt craze” thing I used to season both sides and I decided I’d cut back making them this way.

If you don’t heat the oil hot enough the first batch will sop up all the oil like a mucky sponge and won’t be crisp. With oil being 120 calories/tablespoon you don’t need any extra fat than you’re already getting, so avoid this mistake.

Also, be careful with the hot oil, because sometimes it pops (as my Mom would say “screetz”…whatever that means!!) All I know it hurts like hell if it hits bare skin and may result in you saying some REALLY bad words – oh my!! Keep the little ones out of the kitchen during this cooking process for safety and social reasons. You don’t want little Johnny’s first words to be something naughty!!

These shrimp go fabulously with a nice green salad (posted on June 23, 2010). They are great with a bit of lemon or conventional shrimp sauce. Mmmm yummy!!

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Channel Focus Away from Food

December 27th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , ,

If you’re trying to take back your mid drift after the ho ho ho holiday season noshing you may want to consider switching off the tube or steering clear of the food programming.

I just read about a study that observed people watching TV – one group watching a food-related TV program the other non-food related. Both groups were offered candies while watching.

The researchers found that restrained eaters ate more calories while watching a food-related TV program whereas unrestrained eaters were not influenced by the content of the TV program.

If you’re trying to get back on track consider cutting back on the TV altogether (especially food programming) and channel your energies into getting outside to enjoy what the season has to offer.

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Sports Message Wisdom

December 26th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

I love a research study that shows results helpful yet meaningful in the real world. I recently read about a study that was conducted that looked at exercise advertising and its affect on food intake, hmmmmm. The researchers sneakily observed subjects being exposed to exercise commercials and their food intake.

They found that people exposed to these exercise messages served as a reminder of the link between food and activity AND affected food consumption.

In fact, the participants exposed to these reduced their calorie intake by over 20% relative to the control group. The higher the BMI the greater the reduction. Interestingly they found by watching these increased their healthfulness and liking of the meal.

Finally a TV commercial that garners positive behaviour. The only reason I can think of for NOT channel surfing during commercials!!

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Piece of Peace, 2011

December 22nd, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

A piece of gossip.

A piece of history…like this photo!!

A piece of software.

A piece of dressing.

A piece of pie.

A piece of the action.

A piece of a story.

A piece of junk.

A piece of a puzzle. Hmmm

There are lots of pieces to be had this time of year – you name it, there are pieces of it, everywhere you look. After Christmas they will be marked down by fifty percent, maybe more!

I’ve had my share of bits and pieces this past year. Some I would prefer to live without. But hey folks, life was never meant to be a bowl of cherries 24/7. We take it as it comes – all of those good, bad and ugly pieces, all make up our lives.

Of all of the gifts I hope for you to receive in life and at Christmas and Chanukah, I hope you get the best piece of all – and that’s peace. Peace is something there for the taking. We simply need to reach out and grab it. You can choose to live with your head in a cloud, or you can choose to find the light in peace. I have found it while travelling on the bus and subway to work these days. It is there once I’ve check off my loooooong work to-do list. I find it when I open my front door and walk in. I find it in my heart when I am indeed listened to. It exists between Indy and me. Peace.

I’ve always loved that line of Glinda The Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz telling Dorothy she had it in her possession all along – the missing piece to get her back home to Kansas. Peace is like that for all of us. It’s there for the taking, but you have to choose to seize it, treasure it, nurture it and cherish it. Peace.

With peace brings serenity.

With peace brings answers.

With peace brings joy.

With peace brings sensibility.

With peace brings goodness.

With peace brings possibilities.

Choose peace. Our world depends on it!

May peace be with you & yours this Christmas & Chanukah and always, and may God bless.

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Pop’s Food Revolution Salami & Scrambled Eggs

December 21st, 2011 No Comments Tags:

Dr. Seuss’ green eggs and ham’s got nothing on this quick meal idea. If you’re hosting Christmas brunch, consider adding this devilish recipe to your dish-mix. It isn’t fussy like making everyone their own eggs. Yet everybody will be raving, that’s for sure.

I had a hankering for this a little while ago and I had to stop in my tracks, whip it up, then I was well on my way to roar through the balance of the day. This is one specialty of my Dad’s – he’s Pop’s. My sister often serves this when she hosts Easter brunch. Truly though, you can serve this up any ole time. Have I steered you wrong yet??

Ingredients (for 1 serving)
few pieces salami, but in bite size pieces (regular or hot)
2 eggs scrambled

Using your frying pan, add a dollop of soft tub margarine, turn the heat to medium-low, then melt. Add in your salami, put a lid on your pan and slightly brown, stirring occasionally. Then add in your scrambled eggs and cook them to your liking. Tastes great with fab whole grain toast and a tall glass of milk.

When I eat this I have fond memories of Sunday breakfasts with my bella familia after going to church. We all had a job to do to contribute to the breakfast, then we sat down to enjoy it together. It doesn’t get much easier AND tasty as this. Give it a try and let me know how much you loved it!!

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The Other Night Before Christmas – 2011

December 19th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

T’was the night before Christmas, and all in my head,

Was a list of thing to do, and a big sense of dread.

I had come down to realize that, I would make me a plan,

And to see just how with it, so with ideas I ran.

I mulled some things over, and made a short list,

One of these, one of those, eh, there was no one I missed!

I would focus on what’s real, during this most cherished time,

That brings joy and uniqueness, my thoughts turned on a dime.

With merriment, faith, joy, hope and love all abound,

Through soul searching helps these feelings eventually come around.

For this outlook was different, with focus on purpose,

Helps priorities align to what’s really important to us.

Our neighbour is older and can use a hand,

With the snow shovelling perhaps or a sprinkle of sand.

My friend from down east is going through radiation and chemo,

Could use a phone call, a joke, a kind word or allow an earful.

What the season’s about, well it is all up to you,

It can focus on me, or it can focus on what’s true.

You can spend all your time fretting about what others will say,

Or you can do what feels right and say “yo, what the hey!”

Soon the big day is coming, so will yours be alright?

With attention on others, bringing goodness and light?

Ya it’s fun to partake in the parties with wine,

After some glasses of “Oculus” you’ll be feeling mighty fine!

It’s important to remember what others are doing,

Is there food on their table? Are there some troubles brewing?

The very thought of that notion put a lump in my throat,

Our Christmas Caravan gives to the needy with food or a coat.

What you make of this season is all up to you,

You can worry about you or what’s important to do.

Change of your focus from inward to outward I say,

With thought, time and effort you can make someone’s day.

It’s the littlest task, that can mean so much in this world,

And one deed leads to another then another unfurled.

Then you’ll see that your focus on “me, myself and I”,

You’ll open your heart and look up to Heaven, my oh oh my!

Find perspective on life, where priorities should be,

Cause at the end of the day it’s gauche to just think about me.

Get moving, get helping, be productive and then,

You’ll find the pieces of the puzzle fall into place again.

Merry Christmas to you, your family and others,

Cause we’re really all related, we’re all sisters and brothers.

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12 Dieting Days of Christmas – 2011

December 18th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ok my cherished T & T followers. Let’s all sing along together from the same proverbial song-sheet now that the Christmas season is in full swing, shall we? HmHmmHmm.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

1 Good Night’s Sleep – Getting enough zzzzz’s helps with appetite regulation and allows you to be more productive by day. Nite nite.

2 Little Truffles – Enjoying some but not all of the season’s yummies with the festivities. All foods fit, but trade off now and then.

3 Milk Servings – Getting enough of the white stuff gives you that vitamin D you need during these darkest days of the year, plus calcium. Glug glug glug.

4 Food Groups – Eating a balanced diet now and all year through helps fill us up with the vitamins and minerals our bodies crave. Sorry folks, chocolate is still not a food group!!

5 Suares to Go To – Planning your noshing before you party-hearty will help you fit into your smashing outfit for New Year’s. Don’t forget to wear that waistband!

6 No-cal Drinks – Saving calories somewhere in your regimen during the season will help your jeans fit come January, like they did in November.

7 Blocks of Walkin’ – Getting and keeping moving those extra blocks will help burn off those extra calorie you’ve been nibbling.

8 Confidants – Keeping good friends close surely help ward off the temptation of the food saboteurs. “Have another??” “No thank you very much!!”

9 Time Outs – Finding quiet time from the go go go go helps ease the pressure that this time of year brings. Enjoy the moment, cause you’re not gonna get this season back ever again.

10 Fruits & Veg – Eating your 5-10 a day quota of these puppies everyday helps fill you up while easing those “extras” out because you’re simply feeling full. Like magic.

11 Whiners Whinin’ – This can be a stressful time of year for many, so try to focus on the positive and steer clear of the Debbie Downers. Fa la la la la, la la la la…..

12 Drummers Drummin’ – Marching to the beat of your own drum by being true to yourself is a perfect way to close out this year and start the next. Start as you mean to finish!!

Ok folks, if you follow this beat for the coming days you’ll be in good shape and feeling extra cheer by New Year and the whole year through!!

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Nan’s Mom’s Food Revolution Homemade Gnocchi

December 15th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

It’s that time of year to get cracking on some of the parts of my Christmas Eve dinner plans. Alas, my parents are abandoning us by visiting my sister and her family in South Carolina so I’ll have to grow up, buck up, bite the dang bullet and get a move on and plan our own thing! My Mom taught me how to make this recipe many years ago – the gnocchi that HER Mom taught her how to make. I turned up the Christmas carols, dawned a big ole apron and got these made and packaged up. Note to self for the next time, don’t wear black…..

8 cups all purpose flour
2 pounds ricotta cheese (regular or lower fat)
2 eggs, beaten

Put the cheese in a large mixing bowl. Combine the beaten eggs with the cheese. Add 4 cups of flour. Mix in with your pristine clean hands kneading, then add it 2 cups more and continue kneading. If the dough is still sticky add in more flour until it is no longer sticky. I have made this with 6 cups of flour and I have made this with 8 cups of flour. It’s all about the feel folks. That’s what’s important. Allow your mixture to rest for 10 minutes before proceeding to the next step.

Sprinkle some flour onto your pristine clean counter top and do some kneading on your counter. You may as well make your whole kitchen a mess!! When it feels right (not sticky and not dry), use a knife to cut the mammoth mixture into tennis to baseball sized pieces.

Roll out each one with your hands into long slim pieces, like you used to do with play-dough. Remember that?? See the pic to get an idea. Do this for half the mixture.

Lose the idea of making these things perfect and uniform or you’ll add another hour to the process. So, get a life!! Using a sharp knife cut across the elongated pieces of dough to create bite-sized gnocchi.

Using a floured fork roll each mini-pillow-sack diagonally and start filling up a cookie sheet with these. You’ll need a few sheets, trust me on that. Try not to have them touch. After the 800′th one, you won’t care anymore!! Once the cookie sheet is filled, pop the sheet into freezer to flash freeze your gnocchi. Repeat this process until you are finito with all the dough. When you’re done you’ll be singing Alleluia with the Christmas carols…..

Using 6 freezer bags and twist ties, take each cookie sheet out of your freezer (one at a time) and using a weigh scale if you have one, add 1 pound of frozen gnocchi to each bag, twist tie it and put the bag in your freezer. Repeat until you’re all done. Keep frozen until you plan to use them. Six pounds of gnocchi and 1 backache later you will have your fill for a while to come, OR Christmas Eve :-)

Boiling the Gnocchi
Of course I don’t think I need to tell you to use a pot big enough to boil the desired amount of gnocchi. Add the desired water to your pot with salt and bring to a roaring boil. Meanwhile simmer your sauce of choice in another pot. I have a few tomato saucy ideas in T & T’s recipe section so any will certainly do. Ok so when the water’s bubbling add in the frozen gnocchi. They will all sink to the bottom of the pot. As the water returns to boiling the gnocchi will rise to the top of the water. When they all rise up, strain, return to your pot and add your sauce of choice. Another good time to sing Alleluia after they rise up!!

Gnocchi with 4 Cheeses
Ok so I’ll divulge what I do for Christmas Eve. After boiling then straining a mother load of gnocchi, I put them back in the pot, then I’ll add a half pound each of of ricotta, shredded mozzarella, shredded parmesan and cut up gorgonzola cheese. I add in a boat load of tomato sauce and stir until my arm feels like it’ll fall off!! Talk about ooooey gooey goodness.

I pour this into a deep casserole dish, sprinkle more parmesan on top and add more tomatoes sauce then bake for ~20 minutes, until bubbling. You will need The Hulk to remove this pan from the oven to the table, then serve piping hot.

I usually make this and freeze it before baking so I’m not ready to collapse during Christmas Eve dinner. I defrost it at least a day or two in the fridge before serving.

I love traditional recipes that have been passed down through the ages. Talk about paying it forward, this is a recipe that keeps on giving. I have never met this Nona of ours, but I know she was right there helping knead the dough making them just right. I’m sure she’ll help you too. Surely I didn’t make these on my own, that’s for darn sure!!

If you have abandoned some of your family traditions consider giving your head a shake and revisiting some. These bind us as family from past, present and hopefully future. Enjoy!!

These go really well with a walk around your block, the farther the better :-)

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