Macaroni and Cheese Reinvented Cookbook Review

I'm very excited to make these this week! I love the small portion controlled size! Do you have a favorite Macaroni and Cheese? Please share! Get on board and check out Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites.  Quick comfort food at its finest!

 Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen
Macaroni and Cheese Reinvented
By Mary Ann Esposito,
Author of Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen

We are only half way through winter and that tells me that more comfort food is necessary. I'm craving good ol' macaroni and cheese. Macaroni and cheese is an all-American comfort food that even Thomas Jefferson loved and served frequently to his guests.

I'm putting a new twist on it though by making this beloved casserole in a cupcake pan. That way I can get twelve individual mini macaroni and cheese "casserolettes". It is a good way to gauge portion control -- something we all need -- and the recipe will not leave you feeling guilty because I use non-fat evaporated milk and low-fat cheese; the texture is velvety and moist. Use a standard, non-stick cupcake pan.

Mini macs can also be individually wrapped and frozen for future use. There are so many ways to present them as well; how about at your next ladies bridge lunch, a bridal luncheon, or as a starter to a casual dinner party? The kids will love them too. Mini macs are comfort food indeed.
Mini Macaroni and Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 ½ cups fat-free evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Grinding black pepper
  • 2 cups grated reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • ½ pound elbow or other small macaroni
Preheat the oven to 350F°.
In a medium size sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and stir in the onion. Cook until the onion is very soft but not brown. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and stir to combine the ingredients well. Slowly pour in the milk and stir over medium heat to combine the ingredients. Add the mustard, salt and pepper and continue to stir until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not make the sauce too thick. Stir in 1½ cups of the cheese and set the sauce aside off the heat and covered.
Cook the elbow macaroni in 6 cups of boiling salted water just until the macaroni is not hard. Do not overcook the macaroni because it will also be baked.
Drain the macaroni in a colander and transfer it to a large bowl. Pour the sauce over the macaroni to combine well. Use a ¼ cup measure to scoop and fill the cupcake pan with the macaroni mixture. Be sure to evenly fill the pan right to the rim.
Place the cupcake pan on a larger baking sheet to catch any spills.
Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese evenly over the macaroni and cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes or just until the macaroni and cheese is set.
Turn on the broiler and broil the macaroni and cheese just until the tops are crusty brown.
Let the macaroni and cheese cool slightly in the pan before removing them individually with a butter knife. Serve.

For variation add minced carrot or celery to the onions when making the sauce or throw in some peas when mixing the macaroni with the sauce.
©2010 Mary Ann Esposito, author of Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen
Author Bio
Mary Ann Esposito, author of Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen, is the creator and host of the long-running PBS series Ciao Italia, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2010. She is the author of eleven successful cookbooks, including Ciao Italia Slow and Easy and Ciao Italia Pronto! She lives in Durham, New Hampshire.

For more information, please visit

Sample Pampers Cruisers with Dry Max

Hey Readers with little ones in diapers here is your chance to get a free sample three-pack of Pampers Cruisers with Dry Max.  When your sample arrives check to see if one of them is stamped with Team USA. If so you will win a year's supply of Pampers diapers!

These diapers are suppose to help lock wetness away up to 12 hours to make it their driest diaper ever! These new diapers are suppose to hit the shelves in March.  

G'luck and let me know if you get the winning diaper and a year's supple of diapers! is your next stop!


Book Review: Feddie Girl by Nona David

Thanks to Bernard Books Publishing for providing the book to review.

From Bernard Books Publishing: FEDDIE GIRL is an international adventure/thriller about the experiences of an American teenager in a Nigerian (West Africa) boarding school. This novel offers a unique reading experience--witty, fun, and exhilarating. The masterful suspense, action, and sub-plot will curl your toes, keep you reading all night, and leave you thirsting for more.

Author: Nona David
Publication Date: February 2010
Copyright: July 2009
Type: US Trade Paperback
Page No: 400
Price: $19.99 (US); £14.05 (UK); $26.10 (CAN); €18.82 (EUR); $28.80 (AUS); N2500 (NGN)
($9.99 through Amazon)
ISBN: 978-0-9824526-0-8
SAN: 858-2041

My take on the book: What an exciting book!  I wanted to read this book to see if it would be appropriate for my teens to read.  Well it is!  The book is about Carlotta Ikedi, angry, pampered, spoiled, bored, attention seeing young teen who was kicked out of school, again.  She was sent to a boarding school in Nigeria (Father is from there) to help straighten her out!  Her parents were dealing with potential affairs and drinking problems.  I felt as though they were responsible for the trouble their daughter was in.  At first I thought that the decision to send her away was a bit extreme.  The book goes on with a sub plot to explain why she was sent away so far from home. 

This young lady was sent to a school where she would no longer have her clothes laid out for her!   I thought she proved herself to be a very responsible young lady.  She made good choices to stay out of trouble, control her temper and to try new things.  She is a very determined and strong-willed girl.  Carlotta realized very early into her boarding school stay that when one mistake is made the consequences can last for a long time.  She chose to work hard so she could go back home at the end of the year.  

She also learned that judging others, being cruel to others is not a good thing.  She got a taste of this and came to realize this is the way she treated others, too.  She was shocked by how pleasant people were to their parents and authority.  She came to accept this way of life, too. 

Before I say too much about this book and give away every thing in it, I do recommend this book for teens and adults.  Once started I didn't want to stop reading the book!  I was disappointed at how quickly the book came to an end.  The last 10-12 pages quickly wrapped up all the loose ends and twist and turns.  This is typical of me to not want a book to end.  If the book has well developed characters I get attached to them and sad when a book ends!  Feddie Girl has strong, developed characters.  I enjoyed reading about the food and culture of Nigeria.  
To Enter: Answer the question- Would you  send your daughter away to Boarding School in a foreign country? What if it would straighten her out? What if it could save her life?  Would you do it?? (This is how you enter the giveaway)

*Leave separate entries for each one you do!


BONUS NEW ENTRY: GO to my other blog, Homeschool Messenger and enter the Katie & Kimble Series Giveaway! 10 bonus entries for this giveaway!
1) Fan Feddie Girl on Facebook (10 entries)

2) If you won would you commit to writing a review of Feddie Girl on amazon or your blog? (10 entries)

3) Fan my blog by google connect and or networked blogs.  2 entries each

4) Make a comment on any post on my blog and post here which one you did 2 entries per comment

5) BLOG this book giveaway, including the link to my  post (10 entries)

6) Tweet this giveaway up to twice a day 5 entries per tweet "3 copies of Feddie Girl Giveaway Great for YA/Adults  #books "

7) Follow me on twitter @susieqtpies 5 entries

GIVEAWAY ENDS February 14th! (USA only)
  Happy Valentines Treat for the 3 winners!


Chicken Veggie Thai Soup and Crusty Whole Grain Artisan Free Form Bread

Today is Wanderlust "WanderFood Wednesday"! It is a time to blog food and link up with others who are doing the same thing today! Click any WanderFood Wednesday Link to go view the others participating today! Come back here and click the link through out the day to see an updated link list! 

My recipe today is Chicken Veggie Thai Soup and Whole Grain Artisan Free-Form Bread (Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book)! It is a quick and easy spin on plain-old-good-for-you Chicken Noodle Soup!
Sun Brand Tandoori Powder, 4-Ounce Tins (Pack of 12)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Mrs. Dash Seasoning Blend, Garlic & Herb 2.5 oz (71 g)

Chicken Veggie Thai Soup

4 Chicken breast
3 c. carrots, sliced
2 med. onions, diced
4 c. cabbage, shredded
1 bulb garlic, minced
3 c. celery, chopped
2 c. corn, optional
1 lg. can Ro-Tel tomatoes
1 T. Mrs. Dash Garlic Herb Seasoning (to taste)
1 T. Tandoori Powder (to taste... start small)
Fresh ground pepper (to taste)

Cook chicken, covered in water,  for a few hours on simmer.  This will break down the tissue and allow soft, pulled chicken.  While chicken is cooking, chop veggies and put all the other ingredients (except noodles) in soup pot.  Add in 4 c. water using the large Ro-Tel Tomato can.  After the chicken is done ( at least 2 hours- it will be easy to pull apart) pour liquid and chicken into soup pot.  Simmer until veggies are done.  Check for taste about every 30 min and season as needed. Noodles are optional. Use whatever type you prefer.

Serve with a yummy crusty bread! This one is from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day! Check out this link to for information on the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you haven't checked out this book yet, you must!  You quickly mix the dough in a container, let it rise for a few hours, put in fridge and pull out dough when ready to bake.  This mix makes enough dough for at least four 1-pound loaves (the book gives you many options on using the dough, including pizza crust!) I had made this dough the day before so the
day of baking I just had to take it out and let it rise.  Very easy!

The first time I made the batch of dough I followed the recipe 100%.  My girls are not whole wheat bread eaters and they did not care for this bread or pizza dough.  I was disappointed because I wanted this to work. Part of eating healthy was to start eating whole wheat bread.  So after using up all the dough I started it again using less whole wheat flour and added honey to the mixing.  This batch of crusty bread was a huge hit!  I sprinkled on the Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb before baking and some Parmesan cheese.  SO YUMMY! It was great to eat with the soup.

What is your favorite way to eat Chicken Soup? Do you have a favorite bread recipe? Let me know!

Thanks for stopping in from the WanderFood Wednesday Link up!  If you didn't come from there go check it out for more yummy food ideas!


Guest Chef Jen cooks up Pasta with Matriciana Sauce

Pasta with Matriciana Sauce is a yummy Italian Pasta recipe. If you love bacon you will love this recipe. 

Welcome to a new feature on my blog! I'm so excited to offer to you a Guest Chef!  I get a lot of yummy meal ideas from bloggers, Facebook and Twitter friends! I'm bringing them to you.  If you have a recipe to share please let me know! This is also a great way to feature your Blog. 

My first Guest Chef is Jen, wife and mommy of 1. They live in Alabama.  She is a stage manager and college instructor who enjoys baking, cooking, pedicures and springlike weather. She loves coffee, just like me! Her blog is Hey Y'all. She has a fun feature called, Comfort Food Saturday! Check it out.

Here is the scoop by Jen:

There was a tiny Italian restaurant about 3 blocks from our apartment in NYC called Pasta Fina. Their menu said "Welcome to Pasta Fina, with your host Uncle Louie."  Uncle Louie was an ancient Italian man who was in the restaurant every single time we ate there.  He answered the phone every single time I called for takeout or delivery.  Eventually, he recognized my voice and would say "Oh! Jen!  You need the Matriciana sauce?  It will be sooooo good on this cold night!  I send you free garlic rolls." 

The first time Marcus ordered this dish, I was kind of grossed out by it.  I didn't think bacon belonged on pasta.  Boy, was I wrong.  And boy, was Uncle Louie right.  It's great on a cold night, or a warm night, or really any old night.  We ate this at least once every couple of weeks the first few months after we were married.

Then we went away for the summer to work.  When we returned in August, I was 19 weeks pregnant and craving Matriciana sauce like nobody's business.  Our very first night back in town, we decided to go for a stroll through the neighborhood, then end our evening with dinner at Uncle Louie's.  Imagine the horror we felt as we rounded the corner, expecting to see the traditional red, white and green Pasta Fina sign, but instead, spotting a giant, black shiny sign boasting a BRAND NEW Argentinian steakhouse!  

Nooooooooooooo!  I think there were tears involved.  We ran in, demanding to know where Uncle Louie was, and were greeted by a man who explained that Uncle Louie had decided to retire, but had sold most of his recipes to them, so they could probably serve us whatever we'd like from the old menu.  But it wasn't the same.

Just another thing I love that someone discontinued, like Revlon "Wine With Everything" lipstick, Bath and Body Works White Tea and Ginger-scented products and a prefect shade of OPI nail polish whose name it's too painful to recall.

Marcus and I toyed around and used this recipe to make our own Matriciana sauce last night.  It wasn't as good as Uncle Louie's, but it was tasty nonetheless.  Give it a try...I think you'll like it.

UNHEALTHY ALERT!  This has bacon in it.  Lots of bacon. And you should top it with a lot of cheese.  Just thought I should add that because I KNOW it's totally bad for you and I will probably have to do the Shred twice tonight to make up for eating all this bacon.  But MAN is it good!
May 09 048


  • 6-8 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juice (don't drain!)
  • 1 can Ro-tel diced tomatoes with green chills with juice
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic,minced
  • 4 servings of the pasta of your choice

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Fry bacon until just crisp.  Remove from pan and drain out grease.  Add onions to pan and fry until translucent (you want them to still be a bit crisp).  Return bacon to pan and add tomatoes, seasoning, garlic and parsley.  Simmer on low heat until heated through.  Ladle sauce over hot pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
May 09 049
A few notes about this recipe:

May 09 051
*It could benefit from a dash or 3 of red wine.  Just make sure you don't use more that about a tablespoon or it will overpower the rest of the sauce.  If you add wine, cook the onions in it so the alcohol will burn off and it will chill out a bit before you finish building the sauce.

*You will want to use a pasta that can handle a sturdy sauce. I recommend penne rigate or rigatoni.  We had ours on linguine and the noodles just didn't go with the sauce.  Your sauce will be very chunky and hearty, so make sure your pasta can stand up to it.

*If you have leftover sauce, spread it on a pita, cover it with cheese and throw it in the oven for one of the best quick pizzas ever.

Thanks for sharing Jen!  Don't forget to check out her blog Hey Y'all

The Happiness Project Mondays! WINNER

Well blog friends I am a day behind in blogging this week!  Yesterday was the start of the A Woman Inspired, online Conference.   This is my 3rd Conference. Talk about Happiness to the fullest on a Monday!  It was great listening to the speakers. Check out their site for more information.  I'll blog about the conference at the end of the week.

The WINNER of The Happiness Project is Amanda from La.  I'm hoping to get another copy of the book to offer again with my Monday posting!

So on to my journey with The Happiness Project.  I've made a pledge to myself to start eating healthier.  I know that I'm the cook so what I serve is what they eat!  So part of me eating healthier is to get my family to eat healthier.

A great place to start would be with bread.  My family loves bread.  So I jumped in and made whole wheat bread and pizza crust.  I personally loved it.  I've always loved wheat bread but no one else would eat it so I never bought or made it.  Let's just say that I was the one who loved the bread.  Hubby and I like the pizza crust.  So I learned that it is OK to make healthy but do it slowly. 

I'm also having fun taking recipes and making them healthier! Stay tuned for my Sunday Meal Makeover Challenge later in the week to see how I made over a fun recipe!

What are you doing to be happy this week????


Sunday Food Makeover challenge Inside Out Tacos by Betty Crocker

Hello Sunday night readers!!  I'm starting a new  tradition to pick a recipe I found and give it a makeover! The makeover would be finding something that looks like my family would eat but tweak it to suit our taste.  I do this already but let's blog about it!

I want you to join in my Yummy Food Makeover Challenge!  Find a recipe and make it your own.  If you blog, take the button and put it with your post linking it back to my blog (IF you don't know how to do that, just ask and I'll tell you!) If you do the challenge come post on my blog the link to your post, I will check it out as well as others.  If this gets popular I'll had a link system.

You can blog the meal you want to makeover and then blog again once you've made the recipe.  Or you can just have one post showing the orginal recipe and then your makeover!  It is up to you! Either way include the button and let me know when you post.  This doesn't have to be done on Sunday but that is when I'm going to post the first part because I usually use Sunday to plan my weekly menu and shop on Mon or Tue.

Here is the recipe I'm going to make over.  I'm very intrigued by the Inside Out Taco idea.  I'm going to make it to suit my family.  Check back later in the week to see what I did!
Click here to read my 

Win Free Groceries for a year giveaway!

"Enter to win free groceries!!!"
Hey, I just entered this contest on to win free groceries for a year. All you have to do is put in your email address.

Even if you don’t enter, please click the link to help me win. (I get an extra entry for telling you.) Thanks!


Gooseberry Patch Cookbook Free Recipe and Review

I'm a huge Gooseberry Patch Fan. The company recently announced that they were no longer going to have a catalog. This has put a lot of women in a bad mood!! The Company wants to focus on Cookbooks. Many of us already support their cookbooks and look forward in seeing all the new releases!

Here is their recipe of the week, 7-Veggie Slow-Cooker Stew! It is from their new cookbook, Farmers Market Favorites. Right now they have a special going on with this book. IF you buy the cookbook it will be autographed! How fun! This one is on my wish list! This book is 224 pages and the Chapters include Sunny Starters, Farm Kitchen Snacks, A Basket of Main Dishes, Sprouting Salads, Fresh Soups & Breads, Summer-Thyme Sandwiches and Fresh Baked Desserts.

If you make this let me know how it turned out. I'm going to make it in 2 weeks for our Wednesday Potluck at Church.

Free Recipe of the Week - Gooseberry Patch

7-Veggie Slow-Cooker Stew
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 c. eggplant, peeled and cubed
2 c. zucchini, diced
10-oz. pkg. frozen okra, thawed
8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 c. onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 c. vegetable broth
1/3 c. raisins
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. turmeric
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. paprika
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours, or until vegetables are tender. Serves 10.


The Frugal Map Grand Opening Review and Giveaway

I just found out about a new site called, The Frugal Map!  It was created to help you find a frugal blog to match your specific needs.   Click on their link or the map and go to their page to check it out yourself!  I would link up on the Map but my blog is an everyday kinda blog! They want to  link up blogs that are specifically frugal!

You can use the interactive map to find bloggers in a specific location, search and use many blogs across the network, get the most recent deals using RSS Feed, links and resources leading you to the deals, helps you connect to all social medias on the listed blogs, etc. 

Right now they are holding a contest to attract more people to the map! Go enter and G'luck!


American Speech-Language-Hearing warns about hearing loss and technology

Did you know that when MP3 players are purchased as gifts, the majority of purchasers are moms? That finding emerged at the Mommy Tech summit at the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show.

But do you know about the potential risks? Kids often don't know how to use audio technology safely and they can harm their hearing as a result.  In fact, hearing loss among young people is reported to be on the rise and there are strong concerns that a generation of young people could end up with prevalent hearing loss. 

"For some time, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has warned that hearing loss in the United States could rise significantly due to the misuse of personal audio technology," ASHA President Tommie L. Robinson, Jr. explains. "Unfortunately, a report released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation cites some alarming trends about excessive entertainment media consumption among our nation's children, indirectly supporting ASHA's concerns. This should be a warning to parents that they must regulate children's exposure and fully understand the potential health threats associated with misuse and over exposure to such technologies." 

"ASHA will continue to bring these issues to the forefront and appreciates the Kaiser Family Foundation's contributions to the national dialogue," Robinson adds.

According to a 2004 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children were reported as being exposed to 6 hours and 21 minutes of media (TV, music, internet, etc) per day. By 2009, this statistic had increased dramatically to 7 hours and 38 minutes per day. When media multitasking is taken into account, this leaps to 10 hours and 45 minutes per day. This massive consumption of media has led to decreased grades in school and ASHA contends it puts kids at an increased risk of hearing loss. 
One thing that is clear from the study is that parents can be very positive influence on how their children use entertainment media.
How You Can Help - Spread the Following Message
Whether your child received an MP3 player, gaming device, cell phone, laptop, or any other device with headphones, don't overlook the important health threat of hearing loss. Now is the time to reach out to other parents about the importance of hearing loss prevention, the damaging effects of excessive media consumption, and the resources available to them through ASHA.
Here are two simple ways to protect your children's - and your own - hearing.

·         Keep the volume down. A good guide is half volume.
·         Limit listening time. Give your hearing 'quiet breaks'.

Find more information and statistics at ASHA's website.  You can also follow their Twitter feed or fan them on Facebook to get real time updates on their work.

This post is part of a greater blog campaign to bring awareness to such cause using the Global Influence: A Resourceful Mommy Media Network.


Wash Them Grow with Suave Contest Giveaway

 Suave For Kids Shampoo plus Conditioner 2 in 1, Wild Watermelon - 12oz.
(Click link below to enter Suave Giveaway)
Time to rub a dub dub and enter the  

I love the smell of the Wacky Melon Suave Kids 3 in 1 Shampoo!  I'm all for fruity shampoos and love when my youngest uses them.

It is so easy to enter! All you have to do is answer a trivia question and enter daily.

Susieqtpies Scraps of Life: The Happiness Project Mondays! *GIVEAWAY* with recipes

Susieqtpies Scraps of Life: The Happiness Project Mondays! *GIVEAWAY* with recipes

The Happiness Project Mondays! *GIVEAWAY* with recipes

Another Monday is here and I'm reminding myself of my commitment to eat healthier.  I've made better purchases at the store to ensure that we are eating healthier.  I decided that once a week we will have a salad for dinner. I added that last week into our menu and  my girls said "it has been a long time since we had a salad". Shame on me! My problem is when the fresh veggies are no longer in abundance locally I don't buy salad produce in the store. We eat vegetables with our meals but not salad veggies.

Last week we had pork roast and I planned the next day to make a huge salad and have the pork roast to toss in the salad.  It worked great!
(click picture for pork roast recipe)
My family loves to eat some type of bread with their salad. So I took pita bread and lightly brushed with butter (You can also spray with PAM or brush with olive oil) and poured on the garlic powder.  I baked at 350 until the where crunchy outside/soft inside.  They were a huge hit and very cheap!
I'm still going to keep up with my healthier eating resolution and I added taking more time for others.  Sometimes we get in a big rush and we don't allow ourselves to take time to say HI to those around us. So I've made myself aware of this and want to do this for those around me and for myself.  The last thing I wanted to do this past week to make me happy was to redo my blog.  I searched the internet for a background that I loved and it was free.  It came with header options.  So I figured out how to edit the header to make it my own.  That was exciting.  Then I knew that I wanted the blog to be 3 columns. I searched until I found someone explaining it on a blog and I went into the HTML and changed it!!! Then I told myself If I can do these things then I can make my own button.  So I searched on how to make blog buttons and did that too!!!  Very happy!

I've had a super week! How about you???

Need some Mamavation? Come join the Party!

This is the big week for the Mamavation Twitter party to launch the third campaign of Mamavation on January 21st from: 7pm to 10pm CSTThey will be announcing the results from the Mamavation Mom Finalist Vote during the party and two new moms will officially get the crown.  It is a Twitter party so there will be giveaway winners EVERY 6 minutes. Use hashtag #mamavation for the party. (You have to be present to win!) Please go to the site and vote for a mom! You can vote once a day.  I want all of them to win but since you can only vote for one person I've been giving all my votes to my blogger friend, Lisa, @lisasamples.

If you don't know what this is about here is a snipit from Mamavation site,  "The Mamavation campaign is a unique movement in social media. Not only does it support two moms (Mamavation Moms), it also supports a group of moms called "The Sistahood." The Mamavation Moms are put though a 7-week healthy living bootcamp. The will receive a professional nutritional plan created by a physician that specializes in nutrition, Dr. Renna, and a fitness program created by Tracey Mallett."

So come help cheer on the new moms! It is a twitter party that you don't want to miss. 


Really? Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a day?

 I'm a new believer that you can make bread in 5 minutes a day if you really want to!  I've been reading this awesome cookbook and playing around with a few of the recipes.  Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a day really works!!!

When we got married, almost 17 years ago, one of the ladies at my work bought us a bread machine.  I used it quite a bit on and off for a few years.  I haven't had it the past 6 years so I haven't baked any bread.  One of my things I told myself that I wanted to do for 2010 was to start baking bread and pizza crust.  My kids are not a fan of whole wheat bread, yet.  They love "icky" bread as their Nana calls it!  You know what I'm talking about.  So for them I also wanted to get them eating a healthier bread.

I started off making pg. 53, A Whole Grain Artisan Free-Form Loaf. This dough is used in many of the recipes in the book.  I think it took me longer to go buy the ingredients at the store than it did to actually make the dough.  It was pretty weird to not have to knead the dough.  I know all my other bread recipes calls for kneading. I bought a container to mix the ingredients and store the dough in the fridge!  With the one batch of dough I made 1 loaf of bread and 3 pizza doughs.  I have one batch left and that will be used tomorrow for a loaf of bread.  Tomorrow is day 14 of the dough in my fridge.  I purposefully waited the 14 days to make the last bread to see how it taste after 14 days.

I liked the fresh crusty, warm taste of the free form whole wheat bread.  My last batch, I'm going to bake it in a loaf pan.  I loved the dough for pizza.  My kids told me that I need to add honey to the dough. So I need to look into that for the next round of baking. 

Eating Well Should Be Healthy Too! (Click to read more about the book)

Author Bios 
Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., coauthor of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients, is a physician with twenty years of experience in health care as a practitioner, consultant, and faculty member at the University of Minnesota Medical School. His interest in baking and preventive health sparked a quest to adapt the techniques of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day for healthier ingredients.
Zoë François, coauthor of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients, is passionate about food that is real, healthy, and always delicious. She is a pastry chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America. In addition to teaching baking and pastry courses nationally, she consults to the food industry and is the creator of the recipe blog She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two sons.
The authors answer bread questions at their Web site:

Ciao Italia Five Ingredient Favorites, Recipe and 3 Tips for winter produce

Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen 
(Thanks to FSB Associates for the article and the  wonderful cookbook to review)

3 Tips for Choosing Quality Produce in the Winter
By Mary Ann Esposito,
Author of Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen
Ah winter! Fun in the snow making snow angels with the kids, ice skating and snowshoeing. If only all that joy and satisfaction could be found at your local grocery store come January. And unless you live in warmer climes, most of us along with warding off colds, the flu, and grouchiness at the thought of a looming long winter, are at a loss as to what to buy and eat when the choices are almost as bleak as the weather.
Sure, lots of us will crave warmth reaching for cans of soup, full of sodium and other stuff too difficult to try and pronounce. We'll scavenge the produce aisles in hopes of finding some lively looking salad greens from California and fruit from Florida, instead of some foreign country. We'll console ourselves with grapefruit, navel oranges, apples and pears while dreaming of fresh local strawberries not due until June.
January, February and March can be tricky if you are picky about where your food comes from. Chilean plums, Mexican grapes, blueberries from Uruguay, anyone? Even in the winter months, it's important to choose foods that are as local as possible.

Here are three suggestions for choosing foods that can sustain you from January until the first bunch of locally grown asparagus makes its lovely anticipated appearance in spring.

Dried beans such as garbanzo, kidney, split pea and pinto beans are readily found on grocer's shelves. They can be turned into delicious, high fiber, high protein dishes that will power you through the cold. For instance, how about a hearty sausage, lentil and ditalini soup from my latest cookbook: Ciao Italia, Five Ingredient Favorites from an Italian Kitchen? Easy to make and you won't believe how good just a five ingredient soup can be.
2) Winter squashes of every color and description are in my opinion, the workhorse vegetables of winter along with onions, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms. Creamy and velvety squash soup is a favorite as is a rich risotto made with diced squash, and spaghetti squash does a great stand-in for spaghetti and meatballs. If you have some eggs, an onion and mushrooms, a tart is a nice change of pace as is a steaming bowl of onion soup with a blanket of melted cheese over the top.
3) Don't overlook leafy Swiss chard, kale, carrots and beets. Swiss chard and kale can be steamed for use as a side dish, incorporated into crustless quiche or stuffed and baked. Combine cooked beets and carrots for a nice winter salad; add some feta cheese, and a handful of walnuts or pine nuts and you have a perky salad that can banish winter blues with one taste.
Yes, January can be a challenge on many levels but sacrificing good food does not have to be one of them if you think, choose wisely, and cook in season.

Squash and Spinach Soup
Zuppa di Zucca e Spinaci

Now, this soup uses real ingenuity. A vibrant green, the soup is beautiful to look at as well as eat. I call this a kitchen-sink soup because it uses vegetables, milk, and pasta, and was created just by having the ingredients on hand.

  • 1 10-ounce bag fresh spinach, washed, drained, and stemmed
  • 4 tablespoon (½ stick) butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound yellow summer squash (about 3 small), cubed
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt, or more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup ditalini or other soup pasta
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
Place the spinach in a 3-quart soup pot, cover, and cook without any additional water until limp, about 3 minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander and let cool. Press out the excess water with a wooden spoon, then coarsely chop the spinach. Set aside.

Wipe out the soup pot, return it to the heat, and melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until soft. Add the squash and potatoes, and cook the vegetables together, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add the water, milk, salt, and pepper. Stir, combining ingredients well, cover the pot, and boil gently for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Turn off the heat.

In a skillet, heat the remaining butter. Add the spinach and cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the spinach to the soup and stir well to blend.

In a food processor, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Return the soup to the soup pot and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, boil the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain and add to the soup.

To serve, reheat the soup and serve in individual bowls. Pass the cheese for sprinkling on top.

Variation: Use thin slices of uncooked yellow squash as a garnish.
This recipe is from NELLA CUCINA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1993. © Mary Ann Esposito
©2009 Mary Ann Esposito, author of Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen
Author Bio
Mary Ann Esposito, author of Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen, is the creator and host of the long-running PBS seriesCiao Italia, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2010. She is the author of eleven successful cookbooks, including Ciao Italia Slow and Easy and Ciao Italia Pronto! She lives in Durham, New Hampshire.

For more information, please visit


Tropical Traditions Glass & Surface Cleaner Giveaway

Tropical Traditions has a Glass and Surface Cleaner that doesn't use ammonia, alcohol, or harsh solvents.  I've been looking for a product to use on our computer screens and eye glasses. 

My blog friend, Leslie, is hosting this giveaway on her blog, Live,Love,Laugh with Leslie.  Go read her review and enter to win this giveaway! 

Healthy Cooking and The Mayo Clinic Diet

(Thanks to FSB Associates for providing the article and the book for me to review)

Healthy Cooking
By the weight-loss experts at Mayo Clinic and Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H.
Authors of The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat well. Enjoy life. Lose weight.

Healthy cooking doesn't mean you have to become a gourmet chef or invest in special cookware. Simply use standard cooking methods to prepare foods in healthy ways. You can also adapt familiar recipes by substituting other ingredients for fat, sugar and salt. 
Use these methods 

These methods best capture the flavor and retain the nutrients in your food without adding too much fat or salt. 

 Baking. Besides breads and desserts, you can bake seafood, poultry, lean meat, and vegetable and fruit pieces of the same size. Place food in a pan or dish (covered or uncovered) and bake. You may need to baste the food with broth, low-fat marinade or juice to keep the food from drying out. 

• Braising. Braising involves browning the meat or poultry first in a pan on top of the stove, and then slowly cooking it covered with a small amount of liquid, such as water or broth. In some recipes, the cooking liquid is used afterward to form a flavorful, nutrient-rich sauce. 

• Grilling and broiling. Both grilling and broiling expose fairly thin pieces of food to direct heat and allow fat to drip away from the food. If you're grilling outdoors, place smaller items, such as chopped vegetables, in a long-handled grill basket or on foil to prevent pieces from slipping through the rack. To broil indoors place food on a broiler rack below a heat element. 

• Poaching. To poach foods, in a covered pan gently simmer ingredients in water or a flavorful liquid, such as broth, vinegar or juice, until cooked through and tender. For stove-top poaching, choose an appropriate-sized covered pan and use a minimum amount of liquid. 

• Roasting. Roasting uses an oven's dry heat at high temperatures to cook the food on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. For poultry, seafood and meat, place a rack inside the roasting pan so that the fat can drip away during cooking. 

• Sautéing. Sautéing quickly cooks small or thin pieces of food. If you choose a good-quality nonstick pan, you can cook food without using fat. Depending on the recipe, use low-sodium broth, cooking spray, water or wine in place of oil or butter. 

• Steaming. One of the simplest cooking techniques to master is steaming food in a perforated basket suspended above simmering liquid. If you use a flavorful liquid or add herbs to the water, you'll flavor the food as it cooks. 
• Stir-frying. Stir-frying quickly cooks small, uniform-sized pieces of food while they're rapidly stirred in a wok or large nonstick frying pan. You need only a small amount of oil or cooking spray for this cooking method. 

Find new ways to add flavor 

Instead of salt or butter, you can enhance foods with a variety of herbs, spices and low-fat condiments. Be creative. 

Poach fish in low-fat broth or wine and fresh herbs. Top a broiled chicken breast with fresh salsa. Make meats more flavorful with low-fat marinades or spices -- bay leaf, chili powder, dry mustard, garlic, ginger, green pepper, sage, marjoram, onion, oregano, pepper or thyme. 

To bring out the sweetness in baked goods, use a bit more vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg. 

Adapting recipes

If the recipe calls for
Try substituting
  • For sandwiches, substitute tomato slices, catsup or mustard.
  • For stove-top cooking, sauté food in broth or small amounts of healthy oil like olive, canola or peanut or use non-stick spray.
  • In marinades, substitute diluted fruit juice, wine, or balsamic vinegar.
  • In cakes or bars, replace half the fat or oil with the same amount of applesauce, prune puree or commercial fat substitute.
  • To avoid dense, soggy or flat baked goods, don't substitute oil for butter or shortening, or substitute diet, whipped or tub-style margarine for regular margarine.
Keep it lean. In soup, chili or stir-fry, replace most of the meat with beans or vegetables. As an entrée, keep it to no more than the size of a deck of cards -- load up on vegetables.
Whole milk (regular or evaporated
Fat free or 1% milk, or evaporated skim milk.
Whole egg
(yolk and white)
1/4 cup egg substitute or 2 egg whites for breakfast or in baked goods.
Sour cream
Cream cheese
Fat-free, low-fat or light varieties in dips, spreads, salad dressings and toppings. Fat-free, low-fat and light varieties do not work well for baking.
In most baked goods, you can reduce the amount of sugar by one-half without affecting texture or taste, but use no less than 1/4 cup of sugar for every cup of flour to keep items moist.
White flour
Replace half or more of white flour with whole grain pastry or regular flour.
  • Use herbs (1 tbsp. fresh = 1 tsp. dried = 1/4 tsp. powder). Add towards the end of cooking and use sparingly -- you can always add more.
  • Salt is required when baking yest-leavened items. Otherwise you may reduce salt by half in cookies and bars. Not needed when boiling pasta.

The above is an excerpt from the book The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat well. Enjoy life. Lose weight., by the weight-loss experts at Mayo Clinic and Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Reprinted from The Mayo Clinic Diet, © 2010 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Published by Good Books ( Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Donald Hensrud, M.D.
Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., is chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational, and Aerospace Medicine and a consultant in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. He is also an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. A specialist in nutrition and weight management, Dr. Hensrud advises individuals on how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. He conducts research in weight management, and he writes and lectures widely on nutrition-related topics. He helped publish two award-winning Mayo Clinic cookbooks.

About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world. Doctors from every medical specialty work together to care for patients, joined by common systems and a philosophy that the needs of the patient come first. Over 3,600 physicians and scientists and 50,000 allied staff work at Mayo, which has sites in Rochester, Minn.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz. Collectively, Mayo Clinic treats more than 500,000 patients a year.

For more than 100 years, millions of people from all walks of life have found answers at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic works with many insurance companies, does not require a physician referral in most cases and is an in-network provider for millions of people.

For more information, please visit
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