Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why can't lettuce taste like chocolate

knows she should lose weight and momma should also exercise but I have several hurdles to get over first.
Momma Explains: Lettuce. broccoli, and carrots just don't taste like chocolate. When you are in the midst of a bad day, you don't comfort yourself with the thought " This is a bad day but I will feel better when I get home and have a carrot smoothie." EWWWW YUCK, That would depress me even more, but if I said to myself. "This day is the pits but when I get home I am going to open that nice bottle of wine I have and eat a POUND of chocolate cake." Now, that is a happy thought! The kind of happy thought which gets you through a lousy day. I can't imagine thinking that a high fiber protein shake could offer the same comfort as a Cosmo and chips. When you are exhausted from the demands of the job, no one ever started to smile at the thought of some nice fluffy egg whites for dinner, but you dream up a thick and rare slab of prime rib, now I am grinning. The food industry really needs to pursue growing vegetables that taste like candy, fiber that taste like salt and chips and egg whites that taste like 2 pounds of prime beef, with mushrooms and garlic potatoes.

How am I ever to be thin and svelte when all the good stuff tastes so darn good and is just attached to me. Everyone likes to live with momma. I eat pasta and sausage and it takes up residence on my hips. The only way to combat this is through the evil exercise regimen of sweat, hard work and physical activity. What an incredible waste of time, I could be home baking a chocolate cake to prepare for a bad day at work but instead I have to go to some smelly( and it is not garlic) gym, look at everyone who actually thinks working out is more fun than chocolates and wine and then pretend I know how to work the machines. Then, I must disinfect the horrid equipment because people drip really gross things all over those machines, I use tons of hand sanitizer on the knobs and handles alone. If people were considerate and did not sweat all over the machines then we would not have to clean them before using.To make the whole experience even more humiliating, I usually spend more time fixing my towel and reading the instructions than actually exercising. One time, I actually got stuck on a weight machine and they had to pry me off, some man almost fell off the treadmill because he was laughing so hard. Maybe I should just spend more time hounding the food manufacturers about that chocolate lettuce idea. Waiting on hold for the customer service representative that I can understand, can be exhausting, I might even need some cake.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lemon spinach soup

loves soup in the winter but time can be short so you might need to take some short cuts without losing flavor.
Momma Explains: Soup is a classic comfort food and with all the flu and cold demons attacking, you had better always be ready to put a pot of soup on to combat the villains. Since you may not always have a fresh chicken handy to brew some stock, then it is worthwhile to keep some items on hand. I keep store bought chicken broth and an organic chicken stock in my pantry. All good Italian mommas have pastina or some small macaroni on hand and of course fresh garlic. I freeze herbs from my summer garden and they are always available then after the frost. The soup I make is simple but this version has a neat flavor twist that is especially good for colds. Take the ingredients I list and add salt and pepper to your taste. I like a decent amount of salt in soup as I feel it helps fight the germs, as does the garlic and herbs. All have been shown to have therapeutic value. Have fun with this but try it, you will feel the comfort.
Momma's Lemon Soup
For every 32 ounces broth use the following ratio
Chicken broth, organic or your favorite brand
one clove of garlic chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
scant zest of a lemon
sea salt and dash of pepper
small macaroni such as orecchiette
small package of chopped spinach, drained and heated in the microwave
Bring broth to a boil and add all ingredients except pasta, check salt flavor and adjust as needed. When ready to serve, add pasta to boiling broth, let cook about 7-8 minutes . Add grated cheese to each bowl.
Enjoy the comfort !

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Advent Reflection

ImageMomma wishes you all a warm and Christ filled Christmas. In the bustle of our lives, take a moment to thank the infant who was born to suffer for our sins and save us so that we might share eternity with Him. I am often amazed at the humility of the Christ child, how I wish I could be more like Him.

EWTN has a beautiful reflection for today, I am enclosing their link.

Peace Joy and Christ be yours

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Momma's Italian Butter Cookies

Momma loves her Italian cookies, sure hope you do too.
Momma Explains: Every cook makes her recipe for these a bit differently. I made this one as easy as possible because as much as I like to cook, I like to eat more. Try this recipe with the kids, they especially love to dip the cookies into chocolate and sprinkles.

Italian Butter Cookies
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 and 1/2 tsp grated orange rind
1 tbsp. rum
4 egg yolks beaten
1 and 1/2 cups unsalted butter cut into pieces
1 egg white beaten

Combine and mix together the flour, sugar and orange rind. Add rum and egg yolks in fourths, mixing thoroughly after each addition.Cut butter into flour mix with a pastry blender, sometimes my fingers work best. Get the dough crumbly ,Then knead into a dough.
Roll dough on board about 1/4 inch thick and cut into shapes. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly grease your cookie sheet. Brush cookies with egg white and bake at 350 F for ab
out 15 minutes. When cool, dip tips in melted chocolate and then in sprinkles or decorative candies. They taste as good as they look.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The neighborhood light show

Momma loves looking at Christmas lights and the yearly tour our family takes has become a Christmas Eve tradition.

Momma Explains: Each family seems to develop its own set of traditions. Many of these traditions originate with the holidays or a personal celebration. This individualized heritage is special to each family. Some traditions such as the feast of the 7 fishes is an ethnic tradition that Italian families enjoy on Christmas Eve. Legend states that the 7 fishes represent the 7 sacraments and 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. As with many traditions, the feast is associated with a religious holiday. Our family does celebrate many of these ethnic traditions but we also started a few of our own. One of our favorites is to drive around some time after dark, on Christmas Eve, with a radio or a CD playing Christmas music, and we slowly enjoy the myriad of light displays. It is a joyous experience and we each have our particular display favorites. What ever our preference, the time we get to spend together, even if only 30 minutes or so, is a time which emphasizes the joy and magic of Christ's birth. This year, I encourage everyone to find some magic moments for your family to share. Moments free of gift giving and just share a song, a light display or a prayer as a family.
May you be blessed with the light of the world and lots of Christmas cookies !

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Snow Pearls

SNOW PEARLS ****************************************************************************************************

Momma promised some simple cookie recipes, these are one of my son's favorites. They go great with a sweet white wine like muscadet.
Momma explains: Cookies go with Christmas, and a mug of cocoa or glass of sweet wine is a wonderful pairing. Don't forget to try cookie swaps or exchanges just don't make the number of participants too large.

Snow Pearls

3/4 cup butter 1 and 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour

1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1/8 tsp salt

1/3 cup sugar

Cream butter with extract, then add sugar slowly and beat till fluffy

Mix flour and salt in bowl and add in fourths to butter mixture, blending well.

Chill dough about an hour or until you can easily roll into balls.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and press gently onto an ungreased cookie sheet. The balls look a bit flattened.

Bake at 325 F for 20 minutes. Look for a light brown ring to form on outer edge and bottom of cookie shouls also hahve golden tone.

Remove from oven, wait a couple of minutes and when still warm, drop into a bag filled 1/2 way with confectionery sugar. Gently move bag around to coat cookies. Place on plate and guard your snow pearl, these are jewels that the kids love to steal.

Happy Happy Holidays and Blessings to ALL

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

G Men Cookies

Momma loves Christmas and having some homemade cookies available for guests, but Momma likes simple and fast recipes that deliver on taste.
Momma Explains: Over the years a few cookie recipes have become a necessary -must have during the Holidays. I will try to share a few of them with you over the next few weeks. I do not make a huge variety of cookies nor are the recipes complicated, just yummy and of course they taste great with coffee, tea or eggnog. Feel free to enhance the flavor of your beverages with rum, whiskey or anisette.

Momma's Gingerbread Men:
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp ginger
2tsp cloves and 2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
Bring the above ingredients to a slow boil, stir and remove from heat as soon as the sugar dissolves. ( This is pretty fast so keep guard over the pot)
POUR hot mixture over one cup of butter, that you cut into chunks, use a heat resistant Pyrex type bowl. Stir mix until the butter melts then let cool to room temperature.
After cooling, stir in 4 cups flour which has been combined with 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp. baking powder.
Stir well, when evenly mixed, place in plastic wrap and chill for a couple of hours. Take out chilled dough and roll onto a surface dusted with flour and powdered sugar. ( Some people use only flour but I prefer the mix) Then roll out into 1/4 inch depth and cut with your favorite cookie cutters. Bake at 350 F for about 10 minutes. Cool and remove from pan, after thoroughly cooling we use a butter cream icing to decorate the G Men. They look delicious and festive.
Kids love to help with these and there are no raw eggs in the batter so if they sneak some dough you do not need to call Poison Control. There are moms who have so do not kids are always stealing raw dough and pappa is the worst.

Keep Christ in Christmas and enjoy your families

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Married to Clark Griswold

loves the beautiful lighted landscapes that abound during the Christmas season, however Momma's house does not meet that description.
Momma Explains: For every momma in the world there is a pappa and pappa has a serious obsession with lights. Momma loves theme scapes, that is you choose a color scheme then neatly and symmetrically decorate your property. Pappa has only one theme, to place as many lights as possible on any and all growing greens in our yard. Even dead bushes are illuminated. Color compliments matter not, it is quantity not quality. It is blazing beacons of misfit lighting arrangements that fill the neighbors with horror and awe. . The children of the neighborhood love the glittering candyland that is my front yard. Pappa has even encroached his lighting display to bushes that belong to the neighbors but face our house. There are a multitude of LED lights, colored lights, standard lights, half-lit lights. There was a time when large and small lights lived together on our shrubs but an unfortunate accident with Momma, an electric clipper and those bushes terminated that display. To this day I just can't understand what prompted me to trim the bushes in winter when the lights were in place. Oh, well too much egg nog, I guess. That little accident just made pappa more determined to use every available wattage, volt and amp that he could plug in the circuits. So if you are flying over the east coast and notice an erratic behemoth of lights which penetrate the farthest regions of outer space, land nearby and stop in, I will make you a little antipasto, while we bask in electric glow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Buying Wines For the Holidays

Momma loves to have company and my company loves to have wine. How do you meet the vino lovers needs without breaking your budget?

Momma Explains: Wine served per person is more expensive than the average beer cost. That is not including imported or high end beers. However, despite the fact that wine costs more, it has a higher alcohol content and people will drink less. Hopefully all your guests will drink responsibly and have a wonderful time at your festive gathering.
Now, since the economy is tight, there are actually great opportunities to make some awesome wine purchases for less. In many locales you can have the wine merchant email you their specials for the month and the sales are well worth checking out. In Pennsylvania , I know the State controls the sales of wine, however they also have some exceptional buys because they purchase in great quantity. If you go into any wine store, the fastest way to find the deals is to ask a knowledgeable employee. Your question is simply" Could you please show me the wines that are rated a 90 or better that are less than $15.00?" They do exist and they will be good. You will need to purchase both white and red for a party. Riesling, Vouvray or a sweet Muscadet are good whites. Shiraz or Syrah and Cabernet blends make good red choices. I am particularly fond of Spanish and Chilean wines which are made from grapes that you may not have encountered but are quite good. They are often steals too. I would easily purchase a case of red and white for my entertaining needs, especially if the price is right. Buy a case with a mix of wines and regions, you should still get a discount and it offers fun variety. I always try to bring a bottle of wine when invited to dine at some one's house and people enjoy trying new regions or vintners.
The trick to purchasing good wine at good prices is to know the ratings and the most reliable rating tasters. I am usually very comfortable with the ratings by the Wine Advocate and the Wine Spectator. While other reliable wine rating individuals exist, I have found these two the best and the most reliable.
You can find inexpensive wines that will make your guests feel very spoiled, shop early, shop wisely, use the store staff and the rating system and in vino veritas.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving




Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Momma's super stuffing

Momma makes stuffing the way her grandmother did, the grandmother from Italy.

Momma Explains: Remember, every culture adapts recipes based on their traditions and what ingredients are available. For my Italian side, sausage and eggs were in abundance, hence their prevalence in this recipe. I stuff my turkey with this and it is always a hit. I do not measure but have set out my general guidelines. The key to a great stuffing is a moist stuffing prior to placing it in the turkey. You are going to love this one.

Momma's Super Stuffing: First, cook a pound of regular sausage with out the casing, Bob Evans or similar. Break it up as it cooks so it is crumbled. Let cool. In a large saute pan place a whole stick of butter. ( Yes a whole stick, there is a reason it is called stuffing!) , chop a medium sweet onion and about 6 celery stalks. I use the interior celery as it is more tender. Soften the celery and onion in the butter on low to medium heat. Add some salt for flavor. Let cool and prepare the bread mixture. Take a whole loaf of white bread, none of that healthy grain bread, remember it is STUFFING. Cube the bread, crust and all and place in a large bowl. Add 12 eggs that you have beaten well, mixed with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Add about 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the onion and celery and the sausage, and mix well. It even looks good raw but wait till you have it in turkey.

You all have a Happy and Holy Thanksgiving, we all are Blessed. Thank you Lord, for family, friends and feast.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Villains and Fairies of Fashion Merchandising

Momma was out shopping at her favorite Department store but was dismayed to fall victim to fashion merchandising.

Momma Explains: I was happily one of the first people to open the local department store for their ONE DAY SALE. Of course there are going to be a lot of one day sales but I wanted first peek at the low costs. I piled myself with Christmas gifts, used my coupons, my % off discounts, my card for extra savings and was about to leave. Then, it happened, I passed the children's department. Standing in the end cap were gorgeous dresses for the holidays. Velvet sleeves, sparkles, tulle, satin, moire, every fabric imaginable. In short, they were a little girl's fairy princess dream. I was smitten since I have grand daughters. The end cap display featured the older girl's sizes, 7 - 16. To my surprise the dresses were 60% off the original price of $48.00, and I was awed. These were prom dress quality at an incredible price and then with a 60% off. I ran, literally, probably took out a couple of mannequins, but made it to the toddler department. The exact same dresses were on display only in the smaller sizes. I quickly perused the rack, picked out the most luscious dresses to make a little girl gush, then sped to the check out. As I stood in line I noticed the price tag on the toddler size dresses- $ 85.00, whoa, there must be a mistake. The size 16 was only $48.00 and it was three times the material. This had to be wrong, but alas, the fairy princess has met the evil villain, fashion merchandiser !! Yes, we can easily get our little , toddler girls to wear fairy princess gowns. In fact every other grand mom was out buying the same thing and was willing to overlook the ridiculous price for a 2T, but we cannot easily convince a 12 year old that velvet and tulle are in, not when their idea of dressing up is to wear jeans with out holes in them. So I sadly had to leave the magic shopping arena, and gaze at the large assortment of size 7 -16 dresses, a steal at a final cost of $20.00, I really considered buying them anyway, after all fairy princesses wear a lot of slips. Maybe someday, 12 year olds will want to be a fairy princess again.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beaujolais Nouveau

Momma likes a good fruity wine that is reasonable and they can even be imported.

Momma Explains: Beaujolais is a wine area in France, it is part of the Burgundy Region. Beaujolais wine is made from the Gamay grape, it is a mild wine that shows fruit and flavor. It is best chilled. The best part though is that it is reasonably priced.

Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk young as in ASAP . It is a wine that a few weeks ago was sitting on the vine. It is very fresh and released on the third Thursday of November amidst a lot of fanfare and excitement. Despite the price, it is usually a great find and an interesting preview into the more expensive wines that will be made from the same Burgundy Region.

Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be purchased and consumed immediately. What a great Holiday treat. It is best chilled because that brings out the fruit flavor. Look for the Noveau wines to be in your stores soon. There are actually people who fly out to France to be the " first" to taste the new wine when it is released. So if your jet is busy this week, not to worry. You can get a bottle soon, put it on ice and enjoy. Wine should be fun, flavorful and affordable. Beaujolais hits the mark on all three counts.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bargains Galore

85% OFF
PLUS 10%

Momma loves to shop, in fact I consider it an art form and investigative skill.

Momma Explains: While the economy struggles to rise, we all are tightening our belts but if we are, then so are the retailers. In a way, since we have less to spend, demand is less and therefore prices fall. Now, I am not the economic whiz that some people are but I can calculate a percent off sale faster than a calculator. Tell me the percent off and I can figure what it will cost in seconds, yes seconds. Hey, when you are shopping against the other professional savers, math counts, as does long arms and quick grabs. Now with the current sales conditions, I have noticed an increase in sales and coupons. My favorite is the free shipping option that Landsend has been offering and many other merchants are offering free shipping as well. Beware the fine print on some of the online gimmicks, their free shipping only applies to certain items.
As the Holidays draw near, I think the merchants will be ready to unload their products at significant savings. After all ,they can only make money if YOU buy something. Keep an eye on an item that you want to purchase. In this economic clime, cashmere is not beyond your grasp. I shop the finer retail stores clearance racks, and I ask the sales personnel if there are any other markdowns which are not out. They are more than happy to clear out the back room. Many people think that to save money then you must shop the discount chains, well I can tell you that I have paid 10% of the original cost of quality merchandise by shopping clearance and multiple sale discount racks. Maybe I am robo-shopper but all the people who receive my gifts are glad that I am. Now, check out the newspaper, cut your coupons and do the math. Shopping is an art form and my idea of competition.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veal and Prosciutto

Momma loves to have a little veal dinner now and then, it is expensive but such a treat.

Momma Explains: Veal is an expensive meat but you actually use a lot less, the weight amount of veal is a smaller amount than beef. I love veal dishes with some Italian accents and a light Italian Pinot Grigio is awesome to sip with your treat. Make sure your side dishes do not overwhelm the veal, a pasta with some olive oil and Parmesan cheese or a simple salad and crusty bread are all you need.

Momma's Veal and Prosciutto: Use thin sliced veal cutlets, you can pound or flatten them with a meat mallet to tenderize. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt and pepper and a little garlic powder on each side of the cutlets. Take a slice of prosciutto and place on each veal strip, then place a thin slice of provolone on too. Fold veal cutlet so that the prosciutto and provolone are tucked inside. I use toothpicks to hold these cutlets together. I then dredge them in a little flour to coat them lightly. Put some butter and some olive oil in a skillet and heat on medium heat. Place the secured cutlets in the oil/butter mix and cook for a few minutes then turn and cook on the other side. This takes only a very short time as veal cooks quickly. Once the veal is cooked, remove from pan and place on a dish. Then lower the heat and add some white wine to the pan to deglaze. Follow the wine with a half cup or so of chicken stock or broth, cook for 5 minutes, and use the reduction sauce to pour over the veal. If you like spinach then cook some spinach with salt and butter and place the veal packets on top before serving. I am getting hungry just talking about this.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Momma can't believe how many people now have allergies, including many in her own family. How did the allergy epidemic emerge?

Momma Explains: Have we suddenly become a nation of hypochondriacs, overly sensitive to every allergen and contaminate? I do not think the evolutionary curve has suddenly turned exponential. I do believe we have better detection abilities and more research has uncovered allergic conditions that were idiopathic illnesses in the past. I think many lives have been saved due to better evaluations and medications. However, I also believe we are a community of chemicals. We have so much exposure to chemical agents and processed foods that we are missing the benefits to fresh foods and whole foods. This does create a need for better food supplies without chemical additives and pesticides. In some aspects we have created allergic conditions wile trying to avoid natural products and normal processes. My dad always teased me that my children did not eat enough dirt, because I was always trying to kill germs and sanitize. In some ways he was correct, my children have allergies. I do not remember any of my siblings having allergies and I think we did eat dirt.

Perhaps in our efforts to keep our children safe from the many bacteria and viral agents we have not allowed them to build up an efficient immune system. If this is true, then we have conundrum. Just how do we expose our children to germs without exposing them to danger? I do not have a concrete answer but I do know that I do need to find a balance. The kids who had the continual runny noses as children seem to be very healthy now and allergy free. I guess they got just enough dirt. If anyone has any comments on this challenge, I would love to hear about your thoughts and experience. We are very blessed to have the medical expertise and knowledge in today's world but I hope we still have common sense and natural instincts. There has got to be a better answer to allergies than concstant medication.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Simple Chicken in marinade

Momma likes to have chicken but it is bland unless you can release those hidden flavors.

Momma Explains: Chicken is a meat that is best juicy but the trick is cooking it until it is safely done with out drying it out. A meat thermometer is essential when cooking any meat but especially chicken and pork which can make you seriously ill if under done. I like to marinate chicken for several minutes or an hour if I have the time. Since most of my family prefers white meat, I make this recipe with breasts. Breasts that have the bone in and skin on will stay more moist. If you use boneless and skinless cook them just until done and check them often. This chicken dish is great with a Riesling from Germany, especially a 2006, it was a good year.

Momma's Chicken in Marinade: This recipe may be adapted for any chicken amount, it is all about coverage. So if you are only cooking two chicken breasts then use less of everything, if you are cooking more than 4, use more. I place the bone in, skin on, breasts in a plastic seal able bag, add enough orange juice mixed equally with Italian dressing to cover the chicken. You should premix the OJ and Italian dressing in a bowl or pitcher and then dump in the bag. I add about 1/4 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tsp oregano to the mixture as well. Let marinate for about 30 minutes if possible. After the chicken marinates, coat a roasting pan with olive oil, there should be a layer of olive oil in the bottom of the pan, just enough to cover the very bottom of the chicken. Take the chicken out of the marinade and place in the olive oil. I spoon some of the marinade onto the top of the chicken and then grate orange rind to sprinkle on the top as well. Just a sprinkling will do. Bake the chicken at about 350 F for 40 minutes. ( Boneless breasts may take a shorter amount of time) Your oven cooking speed and chicken breast size will vary so check the chicken, it may be done sooner or later. Use that meat thermometer. Some people find that cooking the chicken at a lower temp helps retain the moisture. You know how your oven functions, so adjust the temperature accordingly. Side dishes often include rice and steamed veggies or a salad. Enjoy this simply refreshing chicken dish.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Aging Parents

Momma knows how difficult it is to be caught in the sandwich generation, the one that cares for both parents and children.

Momma Explains: Over the last few years, it has been more prevalent to see friends and family adjust their lives to care for an aging relative. It may not be the easiest situation but it is the right choice.
Elderly relatives often degenerate slowly so we are not aware of their limitations, needs or frailty until a situation occurs which raises concern. If we are not prepared to handle the situation, then often we are left with little choice for the care of our loved ones. It is imperative that the family discusses options and preferences in care prior to an emergency. This discussion is proactive to avoid the often upsetting consequences to a reactive response. Not only physical care and medical care but financial care and directives need to be brought to the table.
Family discussions should, when possible, include the elderly and all responsible family members. One family member is not to be the sole care giver. Everyone needs to play a part in taking care of our aging family members. They still have great worth to God and it is our gift to offer ourselves to them. This may require sacrifice and labor but it is a labor of love, one that will not have cause for future regrets. I am not saying it is easy, but love often is a challenge.
If it is decided that you will take in a family member to join your household, please look into the many available community services. Some are dependent on need but others are free for the asking. Planing for the future is essential as is open family discussion. We are all called to "Honor your father and mother" and we can do so more effectively if we are ready.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pasta and Stir Fry

Momma knows the winter months do not offer the better prices on most vegetables, so how to add nutrition to a dinner but still have it affordable?

Momma Explains: Frozen vegetables have come a long way and the new options of organic frozen veggies are awesome. My children did not like vegetables so I had to find creative ways to incorporate them in a meal. This is still a family favorite, only now we can all have wine with it. I like a Marquis Phillips white such as Holly's Blend.

Momma's Pasta and Stir Fry: Start by heating up your pasta water and adding a good toss of salt. While the pasta water is heating, take a one pound bag of stir fry or Normandy blend vegetables. In a very large skillet , coat the bottom with olive oil so the oil is about 1/4 inch deep in the pan. Chop a small onion and saute in the oil, when the onion is opaque, add three minced garlic cloves and 4 tablespoons of butter, heat for a few minutes. Then add one can of chicken broth( about 14.5 ounces), and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the sea salt and stir, then taste-without burning yourself-and add more salt as needed. I also put out a bowl of grated Romano cheese for people to bulk up the flavor. After you have cooked the vegetables in the broth and oil mix, making sure they still have some firmness, shut off the stove and cook your pound of pasta. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and toss into the skillet, if large enough, otherwise use a large bowl. Mix all your ingredients and serve. Don't forget the Romano cheese.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Standing up for the little guy

Momma has had her share of challenges but she always tries to remember to treat others the way you wish to be treated. This is especially true when dealing with the little guy. Who is the little guy?

Momma Explains: The little guy is the one who struggles, the one who in an equal match will lose, the one with less money, or looks or talent. He is the one who lacks self confidence. Simply, the little guy is the one who needs your help. In this world the louder you are the more you are heard, the tougher you are, the more some people respect you, the more money or skill you have, the more people applaud you. Yet, is that the way God measures our worth? Are only the successful worthy, or are we all responsible for each others care, needs and self worth? When you take care of the little guy, you even the playing field, you establish their self worth as a child of God and your brother. You say to everyone, "we are all created equal in God's eyes, it is man who differentiates. " So as you go about your day, help that person in the grocery store, wait patiently while a coworkers sifts slowly through some information, offer to explain a concept to someone who learns more slowly. Stop gossip, avoid mocking others, offer help rather than criticism. Do all these things with a smile and the knowledge that compared to God, we are all the little guys.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chicken and Pasta Alfredo

Momma likes to have some meals that are quick but satisfying. You can start from scratch or use some prepared items such as a rotisserie chicken.
Momma Explains: Store prepared rotisserie chickens are packed with tender juices and flavors. They are the real thing, not processed, only you get the advantage of no prep time. So, Momma will often pick up a chicken and make some quick meals. If you do not want to buy a precooked chicken, then by all means, just cook the chicken breasts in advance. Pull the meat from the frame and use the recipe. This Alfredo sauce cooks up quickly so put your pasta water on first. Make sure that you have removed the chicken from the frame and cut or broken into chunks. Then start your pasta water, lots of salt remember. While your pasta water heats up, you may put together the Alfredo sauce.

Momma's Chicken and Pasta Alfredo: While your pasta water is heating, take a large pot and add 1/2 stick of butter, melt the butter and add one quart of heavy whipping cream. Stir together the butter and cream, cooking on low heat. Add garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Go light on the salt until you add the Romano. Romano is salty and you do not want to over salt the dish. You can add more salt after you add the Romano, if it needs more. Let the sauce heat up and add one small bag of frozen peas. This will drop your temp so get it back up to a simmer by slowly increasing the heat. This happens quickly so stay by the stove and stir occasionally. As soon a s the mixture begins to boil or pop, add a cup of Romano grated cheese. Stir often and lower heat. The cheese will stick to the pan if you do not keep the sauce moving, add your chicken chunks and simmer on low just to allow the sauce to meld with the chicken. This whole process actually takes less than 30 minutes. When you have cooked your( one pound ) pasta al dente, dump the drained pasta into the pot and stir for a minute. Let it rest while you set the table and make a sald from iceberg lettuce. Just wash and quarter the lettuce. Leave in a big wedge and put your favorite dressing on top. Serve this with Simi Chardonnay.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gaining info when away from home

Momma knows that we all take trips away from our home and or area. When we are away, it can be frustrating finding a restaurant, shopping mall, service or hospital. So what is the best way to get information when you are the stranger?

Momma Explains: In my many years of traveling, some planned and some unplanned I have found one reliable source of information. That source has always been an individual or individuals that seem to be on your wavelength and are familiar with the locale or would have a need to know the same information. That may seem daunting but it is not as difficult as it sounds. I often strike up a conversation on a plane and inquire if the other person is familiar with the destination. With a short conversation, you can determine whether this individual has similar taste as yourself and in turn decide whether you will glean information about restaurants etc. from them.
One time, I went to a wedding in an unfamiliar city and needed to have my hair done. Since I am not always sure if the desk personnel at the hotel will be informed, I find the nearest Talbots or other higher end women's store, I then ask the clerk at the store where their clients get their hair done. Once you find a nice salon, you can find a nail salon, a mall and more. If you find a good restaurant, ask the hostess or chef where the best wine store is located, ask at the wine store, where the best restaurant is located. If you need to find a gift for someone or a park or nice theater find people who would probably be familiar with those settings. So if you want to find a nice park for the children, stroll up to the mom with the double stroller and the 4 year old tagging along. I guarantee she will know of a good park or at least a McDonald's play land. Hey, when all else fails, just single out someone with a Gucci purse and ask for advice, I am sure they will know.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ginger Sauce

Momma makes different meats as her main dish and a variety of vegetables but there are a few sauces that I employ for either meats or vegetables.

Momma Explains: Sauces are a great way to spice up a familiar dish or enhance some leftovers. I have a few that seem to be versatile so that I can use them with beef, pork or chicken and even vegetables. These sauces have an Asian edge so choose your wine accordingly. I find a Riesling goes well with these, especially if it presents some fruit upfront.

Momma's Ginger Sauce: Add ingredients to a pan and gently whisk until mixed, bring to a soft boil. You may use immediately or save for later.
Ingredients for Ginger Sauce
1 cup beef or chicken stock ( depending on your meat)
1 cup orange juice( no pulp)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall, A time to Enjoy

Momma loves the fall, but it is not so much as one particular thing but a feeling that arrives with the season.

Momma Explains: Fall is a season marked in the East, with crisp air, apples, pumpkins, and a gorgeous myriad of color. There is something special about Fall and I think it is an attitude adjustment that occurs. First, the beauty of nature is so visually resplendent, and secondly, we are anticipating the upcoming holidays. Autumn signals the beginning of family oriented holidays and many of us look forward to the sights, smells, conversation, and gatherings that will occur. Fall reminds us of the harvest, the results of our hard work and God's gifts. Fall is a time for apple picking and pumpkin decorating, a time to walk outdoors in clean, fresh air and just gaze at nature's paintings. Maybe, the most important thing about fall is that it takes our focus off ourselves and on to the gifts around us, whether they be family, friends or the earth's bounty. Enjoy this time, and thank the Lord for these blessings around us.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Momma's Pasta Fagioli ( Pasta and Beans)

Momma remembers some recipes that were a combination of two regions of Italy and they are truly tummy warmers.

Momma Explains: As my relatives settled in America, they adapted many recipes to the ingredients available here rather than in their country of origin. Also, people who had originally emigrated from different regions of Italy found themselves sharing and exchanging traditional recipes. As a result there are several versions to the same recipe. Here is the pasta fagioli recipe that I remember my grandmother making. It is inexpensive but just so hearty and a real tummy warmer. This is meatless and I prefer it that way.

Momma's Pasta Fagioli: Take your favorite large sauce pan, add some olive oil - enough to thoroughly cover the bottom of the pan and saute a medium, finely chopped onion, when opaque add three cloves minced garlic, and 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley. If I have fresh thyme, I add some for more herbal flavor. Let cook a few minutes and add two cups chopped escarole, or spinach. Cook until soft, it should only be tender not mush. Then dump in two cans of cannellini beans( water and all) . Stir and add three cans of College Inn chicken broth. Then salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer while you cook the pasta. In a large pot, boil your water for one pound of ditalini. (It is a small macaroni and kids love it) Make sure you add a good toss of salt to the water when it boils and then cook your pasta till al dente, drain and add to the bean gravy. Simmer a few minutes and serve. I enjoy Bovo, Chardonnay Inzolia from Sicily with this hearty pasta dish.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reading a Book, the real comfort food

Momma has great appreciation for the internet and other media communication but there are some downsides.

Momma Explains: The mass availability of eternal and often, unregulated information is astronomical The speed at which we can access anything from airline tickets to pictures of a pyramid, not to mention those great blogs with food and family advice, is really amazing. It allows us the opportunity to gain knowledge on medical conditions that before the Internet, would have been information known only to those who studied medicine. This rapid communication device presents us with instant messaging, chat rooms and similar. Student's papers are quickly researched, and typed, and printed without leaving your home. That is very convenient but there are concerns. First, there is the unfortunate availability of predators, misinformation, viruses, inaccurate medical facts, cheat sheets, and so many bytes of damaging exposure. Careful parental regulation is important as well as recognition that many sites could easily be publishing inaccurate or false information. Secondly, we have all become far lazier when researching and rarely go to the original source of published information, a book, I mean the actual book with binding and pages, and print. There is something cathartic when we read a book and discern information with our own thought process, books are journeys and they are a longer, well organized, well edited cohesive compilation of research, insight and facts. Thirdly, I worry that we are limiting our knowledge and experience to the Internet only. The Internet only contains what someone has chosen to put there, maybe there is something in a library or book store that will serve your needs better. Keep a book in mind nest time you need to sail through Internet information,maybe you should try a luxury cruise instead, with a book.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sweet stir fry

Momma has to fix quck meals sometimes but they must make everyone happy.

Momma Explains: Most meals need more prep time or cooking time, especially if meats are involved. So the secret to cutting down on the cooking time when you still want a meat, is to use small or thin slices of your favorite meat. In this recipe I take a couple of pounds of beef tenderloin or sirloin and I cook it quickly then make a sweet orange marmalade and onion sauce with red peppers and broccoli. Feel free to change up the vegetables, the peppers and broccoli are just the two I like in this dish. It all cooks in one pot. I suggest that you also make some quick eggnoodles, they cook in very little time or another fast cooking starch. Have a fruity Reisling by Rolf Binder with this dish.
Now get that WOK or frying pan out and we can cook.

Sweet Stir Fry: Cut up your beef into thin 1/2 inch strips. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In a frying pan or wok, heat up some olive oil, use enough to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Add a thinly sliced sweet onion and sprinkle that with some sea salt, as the onion turns opaque, add the beef strips and cook for a few minutes, turning often. Add the sliced red peppers, cook a few minutes and add the following ingredients, stirring gently but thoroughly after each addition:
1 cup beef stock, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1cup orange marmalade, 1/2 cup brown sugar( you can add more later if you want it sweeter), 1/2 tsp ginger, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce. Mix all ingredients together and bring to a simmer, after a few minutes add your broccoli florets. I only cook the broccoli a short time as it is better firmer and takes on some bitterness if cooked too long. Now wok and lol !!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bullies are not the victims

Momma knows that bullies exist, and they need help to overcome their actions but let us not forget who really suffers.

Momma Explains: Bullies choose their victims and the people they pick on are victims. Victims are the ones being abused and I get very angry when the psych babble starts directing a correction toward the victim. Without bullies there would be no bullied victims. That is the fact, the victim is not guilty and there is no law against being a victim. There is however a law against being abusive. I do not want you to think that I am unaware of the probable causes of bullying, I am adamant however that the bully must be stopped not the victim. Once, one of my children was being physically hit by an older child, who was himself abused. This child had suffered and vented his frustration the only way that he knew, he hit and hurt someone else. Now, while I did have empathy toward the child's anger , I did not condone his abuse of other children. My son was smaller and younger and was frightened and ashamed that he could not "handle" the bully as so many adults seem to expect. What is wrong with our society that we expect children to fight, to defend themselves against abusers, and if they cannot, we blame the victim. One of the administrators actually advised me to have my son learn karate so he felt more secure. The problem with that kind of thinking lies in its philosophy. A child is taught a skill to defend himself, and at the same time, he is taught that the physically superior will win. It is this kind of thinking that drives a victim to seek refuge in a weapon and then use that weapon on their abuser. After all, we encouraged them to become superior so they could "take" the abuser. The real challenge in this situation comes down to using common sense. Unfortunately, all children do need some self defense skills, but they also need to know that authority exists to bring order and justice. The bully cannot be allowed to bully, the victim has equal rights and one of those rights is his own safety. We all need to recognize that superior strength does not live outside the law. Children who are bullies need counseling but their victims need to be protected and counseled as well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lauren's Chicken

Momma is asked for recipes all the time, especially by the young people who are starting to really enjoy cooking. The problem is that Momma rarely measures, so to offer a recipe, I must try it while measuring. The things I do for my children and their friends.

Momma Explains
: This recipe is for Lauren, my extra daughter. She is eager to try her culinary skills as she has already mastered cake decorating. It is a two pot recipe, one skillet for the chicken and one sauce pan for the brown rice. It is dependent on the cooking time for the rice as the chicken only takes 30 minutes, so plan your prep time according to the time your particular brown rice needs. Pair it with a fruit forward Shiraz such as Marquis Phillips.

Lauren's Chicken: First, choose a brown rice and prepare according to package directions. Add grated orange peel to the rice as it is cooking to give it a citrus edge, this also enhances the Shiraz fruit flavor. So you have to have some wine with dinner. While the rice is cooking, add olive oil to a pan and cook one sweet onion which has been chopped. While the onion cooks, add some sea salt to the onion. When the onion is opaque add some very thin chicken breasts that you have seasoned with salt and pepper, brown chicken on both sides and when brown, lower heat and add five whole garlic cloves. As soon as the garlic starts to cook, add one can of cranberry sauce, one cup of orange marmalade and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Stir them in the pan carefully and continue to simmer. As it cooks the gelatin will break down and you will be able to blend the sauce better. If you like a sweetened sauce , add about 1/4 cup of sugar and mix evenly into sauce. My family likes it sweetened but it is your call. Cook until the chicken is done but it will depend upon the thickness of the chicken breasts. I usually use very thin breasts about 6-8 but then I have HUGE MOMMA PANS to cook in, it only takes about 30 minutes tops to cook the thin breasts. AND THAT IS COOKING AT A SIMMER. Serve the chicken and rice with a nice crunchy salad. Make extra and take it for lunch the next day, it is good the second time around as well.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Alternative Therapies

Momma recognizes the benefits of traditional M.D. medicine and treatments but over the years, time and experience have opened a new approach that should not be disregarded.

Momma Explains: Since my undergraduate studies were in Science, I started off as a very method oriented person, who almost always followed standardized treatment and popular medical opinion. However, by personal experience, I have found this approach sometimes mistaken and far too limiting.

The first thing we must realize is that everyone, whether a licensed medical professional, masseuse, acupuncturist, herbalist, neurologist or educator, everyone is a human being. Being human is a gift but it also means we will make mistakes. Over the years I have learned that the New England Journal of Medicine is not a god, that doctors can only diagnose and prescribe what they have learned and that not all alternative therapies are safe or effective. Which has led me to the conclusion that you must be your own advocate and research technician. Any time you have a condition, or concern, it is wise to see a professional in that field, it is also wise to use the wonderful resource of the Internet to do research, as well as, ask friends and family what information or experience they may have. For surgeries or intense treatments, a second opinion is always wise. Alternative treatments can be used in conjunction with standard practice. Try a massage for tension relief before a pill, herbal supplements have come a long way, there could be a good one available for your condition. With a reliable supplier you may avoid dependent drug therapy. It is truly your responsibility and you must evaluate your options. Do not be too eager to try the newest treatment, vaccine or medicine. Evaluate, research, and consider all possible alternatives.
At least get a great massage before you make any decisions, it is amazing what an hour massage can do for your perspective. Relax and think about it!