Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Oreo Balls

Oreo Balls!   I first time I tried these I was at my friend Cheryl's home.  She is the mother of my beautiful Godson, Quinn.   When you taste one of these for the first time, you remember where you were.  I had never tasted something so rich and perfectly Oreo before in my life.  The Oreo taste is unmistakable, but the texture is dreamy, soft, and rich.  I asked her for the recipe, and she happily passed it on because she said she got the recipe from a friend of hers.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law, Becky, called looking for this recipe to take to my brother, Tony's, work Christmas party. These are a perfect treat to take to a party.  They are easy to make and always a big hit.  It touches some heart strings from most people's childhood -- Oreo cookies.  Because it is made out of this childhood cookie.  It is a bit nostalgic and a bit sinfully decadent; let's face it, most of us don't eat Oreos anymore --- most of us -- I am not saying all.  My home has Oreos; thank you husband for your little craving.  Baking isn't Becky's passion, but I know she will successfully make these Oreo balls. And I am sure they will make her a big hit at my brother's Christmas party.

Here is the recipe sister----

Oreo Balls

1 regular size package of oreos
1 package of cream cheese 12 oz (brick, not tub) softened (leave out on counter for awhile)
1 package of almond bark or 2 packages of white chocolate (I always use the almond bark)
a pinch of salt

Crush the Oreos by hand with a rolling pin in a sealed plastic bag or in a food processor. Completly mix cream cheese, crushed Oreos, and a bit of salt.  Cover bowl and place in refrigerator until firm.  Take mixture out of refrigerator and form into small bit sized balls about 1 inch in size. Place balls on wax paper on a cookie sheet and put in the refrigerator for about an hour. Melt almond bark by placing some (not all) in a glass bowl and putting in the microwave on high for 2 minutes. Take bark out of microwave stir until melted and then add more bark and put back into the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until all bark has been added and is melted. Or you could use a double boiled; it is up to you.   Once bark is melted, use tooth picks to dip the Oreo balls in the white bark and then place them back on waxed paper and back into the refrigerator.  Once hardened, place balls in a sealed container.  Store in refrigerator.   Enjoy these rich little treats with the nostalgic taste !

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ilene Gail Delicious Coffee Cake

A couple of years ago, I was looking for a great coffee cake recipe, and I knew my girlfriend Ilene would have one.  Ilene didn't have a great recipe; she had a Delicious Coffee Cake recipe.  Years ago, Ilene's friend Gail made this coffee cake; Ilene and her family thought it was delicious.  Ilene has been making Gail's Delicious Coffee Cake ever since. So I guess the recipe that I am about to share is Ilene's Friend Gail's Delicious Coffee Cake --- for the sake of time, we are just going to call it .......
Ilene Gail Delicious Coffee Cake.

So often you hear the name of a recipe and it oversells itself.  The BEST cookie recipe, The YUMMIEST Chocolate cake, INCREDIBLE brownies.... you follow the recipe, and you look back at the recipe's name and think.... I am not sure about that.  Was that REALLY the BEST?  Anyway, the reason I am saying this is......this coffee coffee cake really is Delicious.

The changes I made to the recipe made it even more delicious for my family's tastes.  I added nuts and took away some icing.  But I will note where I made the changes because you may find the original recipe fits your family's taste or you may tweek it a bit in a different direction.

Either way, this coffee cake is easy to make  right before guests arrive.  It is delicious served warm; it is excellent served at room temperature. It gets the mmmmmmms and yummmmmies you love to hear as a host to any gathering.  It is a wonderful compliment to any breakfast or brunch.  I like to make it Thanksgiving morning and bring it warm to my parents' home.  It is one of those recipes that can easily become part of the fabric of any tradition.

A warm delicious thank you to Ilene for finding this treasure in her friend Gail's kitchen and passing this gem along to me.  It is interesting to think about how far a recipe can travel and for how many years.

And here is the Ilene Gail Delicious Coffee Cake

            Blend together until creamy
(1) stick butter
(1) cup sugar

(2) eggs
(1) tsp. vanilla
(1) cup sour cream

            Sift together the following and then add to the above wet ingredients
(2) cups flour
(1) tsp. baking soda
(1) tsp. baking powder
a pinch of salt

Grease a jelly roll pan (this is a pan with small sides) and spread the above mixture.  Use two wet spoons to help you spread it ; it is a bit gooey so don't be surprised if it doesn't spread perfectly.  No worries -- it is homemade; it should look that way. 

(1) stick margarine
1/2 cup sugar

Then add
(1) cup flour and mix together with a fork until crumbly.

 Sprinkle mixture over the top of the first mixture.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes--check after 15 minutes.  As soon as you take the coffee cake out of the oven, toss some nuts (optional) on top and drizzle with icing.

a couple of handfuls of chopped pecans (optional -- my family likes nuts) 

(2) cups powder sugar (I used 1 cup - we like it a bit less sweet)
(1) tsp. vanilla
A little milk (I used water)

I put the coffee cake in the oven about 15 minutes before the guests arrive. 
                                     Trust me it is DELICIOUS!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Funny Story... My son locked his bedroom door

My son locked his bedroom door; luckily he was not in his room.  Or maybe I should say, at least he didn't lock his baby sister in the room alone.  When I grew up, my parents had the small key that unlocked the bedroom and bathroom doors sitting on the door frame to each room - smart right?  When we bought this home, I did notice that the previous owners didn't have that key.  But I have to admit I didn't think much about it until yesterday.

While I was cleaning upstairs and getting ready for the day, I went to go into my son's room and it was locked. I asked him about it, he say, "I don't want Zuzu (his sister) in my room."  My first thought was -- so  this is starting already.  And then it hit me, we don't have keys to the bedrooms.  I know what you are thinking, just use a paperclip.  I tried.  It didn't work.  My son still had his pajamas on. I just did all the laundry the day before.  The only outfit I had for him was yesterday's outfit that was dinner stained.  Of well, that was the best I could do.

My son knew I was upset.  I am always telling my kids that when you have a problem and you are frustrated --- that is not the time to cry and yell.  It is time to think -- use your brain and start figuring things out.  There is plenty of time to cry and it is ok to cry.  But when you need to problem solve, thinking is best done without tears.  I didn't think they were ever listening to me.  UNTIL......

Aidan turns to me and says, " I have been thinking..... I have an idea.  We can call the Army to blow up the door.  And then call Bob the Builder to fix it before Dada comes home from work."

Now that is thinking outside the box.  I didn't want to crush his thinking.  But I also didn't want him to think that your first idea is always the best idea.  I told him," you are thinking and that is an idea.  But we need to keep coming up with other ideas." 

In the end, I was able to use the paperclip trick.  But I guess that isn't the point of the story.  The point is.... the kids are listening.  It made me pause and think about what and how I say things.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin Cake

So it is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  There are people all over America cooking and making preparations for tomorrow.  My mom has hosted Thanksgiving dinner my entire life.  She has always made the entire meal from scratch.  She is a wonderful cook and baker.  Even as a little girl, I have never liked pumpkin pie ---- I know I know -- some of you are bugging your eyes out at the computer screen.  I am sorry but it is just not my dessert of choice.  SO if I ever blog about a great pumpkin pie recipe, you will know I found the BEST recipe out there -- and I promise I will share it.

Now although I have never really enjoyed pumpkin pie, I do love the taste of pumpkin.  My mom found this recipe, that I am about to share, years ago.  I really don't remember a Thanksgiving without this pumpkin cake.   It is moist, yummy, and pumpkiny -- and it goes great with a cup of coffee in the morning on the days following Thanksgiving.  It is not overly sweet, it is not had to make, and it is not pie.  This year I have the pleasure of making the pumpkin cake for our celebration because my mom asked me to help her.  I decided to have the kids help me with making this easy recipe.

Kids mixing dry ingredients.
Here is my favorite pumpkin recipe

Pumpkin Cake

3 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
1 1/2 cups of oil
2 cups canned pumpkin (1 can)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs

Aidan's face after cracking his first egg -- "it's yucky mommy!"
Zuzu's face after I asked her if she wanted to crack an egg -- "yucky!"
Preheat oven to 350.  Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix.  Then place all wet ingredients in another bowl and mix them.  Finally add the wet to the dry and mix just until blended.  Place the mixture in a well greased bunt pan.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Before serving sprinkle with powder sugar.  Told you it was easy.

Licking the bowl clean
Smiling next to their finished cake -- so sweet!
Happy Thanksgiving 2012.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Photo Memory Tree

Ever since I was a kid, my mom puts up this cute white branch Halloween tree.  She hangs white light on it and places it near a black caldron with cob webs coming out.  It is very festive.  I always liked it. Since I have had kids, I have looked to buy something similar.  This year I found a tree, a bit larger than I had in mind, at Micheaes.  It is black with purple LED lights.  It can be used outside or inside. I was excited because I got it for 50% off -- which is always nice.  The best part is how I decorated it. I took a picture from kids' past Halloweens, at this point that isn't a lot of pictures, and glued each picture on some felt.  Leaving enough felt along the edges to write in marker the year the picture was taken and put a hole punch on the top.  Through the hole, I put ribbon -- cute Halloween ornaments right?  I even put a few pictures up of my husband and I from Hallos past.  The tree turned out cute, and I look forward to watching the ornament collection grow throughout the years.  I have to say that the kids love stopping and looking at themselves and showing guests when they arrive.

Happy Halloween 2012.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Jack-o'-Lantern Cake

My kids are so excited about Halloween this year; they are four and two years old.  They helped me decorate, they have asked if it is Halloween everyday for the past two weeks, and they randomly yell boo at people in public.  My mom hasn't helped the situation .... she has had candy sitting out in a bowl in her foyer since October1st, so my kids have been trick or treating at her house ever since; hence, they have spend the month in a bit of a candy/sugar high.  My son will be a pirate again for the second year and my daughter will be a lady bug.  My son just barley agreed to let her be a lady bug.  I say this because last year he wanted her to be Sneed to his Captain Hook, which she agreed to of course. This year he asked for the same combo, but she had lady bugs in the brain and wouldn't give into him and his desires.

They are both looking forward to their preschool Halloween party and at some point a few weeks ago my son started talking about having a party at his home. My son is quite the entertainer; he loves inviting people over.  This worked out perfectly this time because my girlfriend Marian, her husband, and their daughter are coming over to trick or treat on Wednesday.  Marian's daughter Alessandra is three, so I figure the three kids (4, 3, and 2) will only trick or treat for a little while in this chilly weather.  Then the plan is to bring them back to our home, play some Halloween games, have some chili, and eat cake. Sounds like a toddler style Halloween to me. 

I have already shared my crock pot chicken chili.  It is super easy and very yummy.  Key mommy words easy and yummy.

But I thought I would also share the cute cake idea  -- a Jack-o'-lantern cake -- I got from Disney Family Fun magazine.  I made it last year for the first time and the kids loved it.  How could I not make it again?  It is easy and looks so cute.  The kids can even help you decorate it.  All you do is make two bunt cakes. Place the first cake upside down (flat side up) and place the second cake on top of it flat side down -- and you have a pumpkin. I stuck an ice cream cone, minus the ice cream, upside down in the center to create the stem.  Then I frosted it dark green.  Some orange frosting on the cake and black frosting for the jack-o'-lantern parts and that is a cute cake for a Halloween party.   Thanks Disney Family Fun -- great idea -- it will part of out Halloween tradition for years to come.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Goldfish crackers on a Cream Cheese Pond -- Great Kids' Snack

I first saw this idea in my favorite kid magazine Family Fun.  And it is so cute.  It can easily be adapted into many different food arrangements.  The basic idea is cream cheese with a bit of blue food coloring -- the pond.  Then you spread the "pond" cream cheese on a small rice cake.  Lastly, place a Goldfish cracker or two on top -- cute senerio right? Goldfish on a pond.

The base they showed in the magazine was a rice cake, but you could use a small pita.  Or you could place the blue cream cheese on a small plate and place the fish on top of the water and have the kids "fish" the fish and water out with a carrot stick or celery stick "a fishing pole."  The ideas are limitless -- just be creative and let the kids have some some with their food.
To say the least, Aidan was surprised when he saw his snack.
The simple joys of life.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Toddlers and Rainy-Day Activities

It was a rainy day yesterday; I had to come up with several activities to keep the kids' attentions.  I know everyone has done this before.  This is just a journal of what the day looked like for my kids and me this time.

5:30 am
Everyone is awake.  I am not saying this with a smile on my face. It is just a fact of life; I am raising farmers for children.  They like to wake with the sun; however, I always lament that I don't have chickens for them to feed.  If I had chickens, at least my kids would have something to do that early in the morning.  Since there are bi-laws against chickens where I live, I tend to relay on the Disney channel that early in the morning.

6:15 am
Daddy leaves for work, and the kids get instantly hungry watching him driveway.  It always amazes me how dirty the floor gets after oatmeal, pancakes, and fruit. Crumbs and more crumbs -- and two of the three food items cannot even make crumbs.  I have determined kids are just crumb-makers; they can make crumbs out of a banana.

7:00 am
Aidan wants to dress up like a pirate. Madeleiene, Zuzu, wants to do anything he wants to do.  So pirate day it is; the house is immediately filled with Arrrrrs. *mommy/teacher hint: dress-up is great for developing a child's imagination.

7:15 am 
Science Play
I set up a fun activity I saw on Pinterest.  Put baking soda in a flat container with sides.  Place a small amount of white vinegar in several small bowls and put a bit of food coloring in each of the bowls.  Place a kid's medicine dropper or a kid's medicine syringe in each bowl. Put your kids in ponchos -- and stand back and watch the fun ensue.  When the colored vinegar hits the baking soda, the chemical reaction is lots of fuzzy colored bubbles.  The kids loved it. Aidan is almost four and it kept him entertained almost an hour and half.  Zuzu is two so it kept her going for about an hour.  Anyway I call that a success.  And at this point, it is ...

*mommy/teacher hint: this activity is good for teaching cause and effect

8:45 am (Only 8:45 am)
Snack Time
This past Christmas, my mom bought me an air popcorn machine.  I thought it would be healthier for me and the kids, they would enjoy watching the popcorn pop out of the machine, and I could put olive oil and salt on it.  Another fabulous use for olive oil --- trust me you have to try it.

9:30 am 
Cooking Play
I thought....... only 9:30am..... what to do... what to do.... ? Let's make pudding.  It is easy, it will keep them on a task, and it will give them something to look forward to eating after  dinner.  They were super excited when I told them we were making pudding. They yelled,"Yeaaaaaaa!"  Then Aidan asked, "what is pudding?"  Once again I realize that my highly healthy eating standards have held the kids back a bit on the spectrum of normal American eating habits; I am not saying that is a bad thing -- but I just cannot help but notice. I explain that it was creamy, light, and yummy.  That is all the kids needed to know.  They enjoyed sticking their tiny fingers in the pudding and sampling the yumminess that they were going to endulge in after dinner.
*mommy/teacher hint: cooking helps kids learn to follow directions

10:30 am
Reading Time
We went up to the kids' rooms and read a bunch of books.  They love taking tuns to pick books out to read.  I am so happy that they have the reading bug; now I just have to keep that momentum going as they continue through their childhood. *mommy/teacher hint: this one is a no-brainer -- reading is wonderful -- teaching kids to appreciate the joy or reading is life changing.

11:30 am
Art/Letter Practice/Stamping
The kids love drawing; most kids love drawing.  They like using those big dot markers, pip-squeak markers, and stamps. I have regular stamps, letter stamps, and stamps that I have made.  I keep those big caps that are on the kid's milk jugs at most restaurants.  Then I glue two of the same foam stickers on the back.  Instant stamps. *mommy/teacher hint: art/ letter stamping inspires creativity and starts kids thinking about and using letters.

12:00 pm
Lunch Time
I put on a little good old fashion Tom and Jerry.  Nothing gets the kids attention as two animals going after each other like cat and mouse -- literally.  This wonderful show allows me enough time to make lunch.  Ahhhh it is so quiet that it is almost scary how much attention the kids give to the TV. About 12 pm Nonna stops by to visit and have lunch with me and the kids.  It is always a  treat to have Nonna come by -- the kids squeal with delight when she walks into the kitchen.  She happily sits down and eats with us.

Nap Time
Zuzu goes upstairs and after a half hour of fighting her sleepy feelings, she surrenders.  Aidan says he is a big boy now, so he wants to take his nap on the couch in the family room.  Nap time today ... it is so quiet in the house that I hate to even breath too loudly.  Most of the time the kids take naps at different times, which is good and bad.  Good because  I get alone time with each of the kids.  Bad because I don't get any down time for myself.  But soon they will be big and they will not want to spend all their time with me and I will have so much down time that I will not know what to do with it.  So for now -- I don't care about my down time.  But today -- they happen to asleep at the same time.  The quiet house and the sound of the soft falling rain is beautiful.

2:00 pm.  At this point, there is still a lot of day left.
Sorting Game
This game keeps their attention for awhile.  I bought a large divided dish at the Dollar Store, a bunch of colored pom poms, and a couple of tongs.  I give them some of their bowls.... and they are off and running having a good time.  At first I ask them to follow my directions, put all the blue pom pom here and all the yellow there .... you get the idea.  Then after awhile, they start to create their own plan.  It is amazing to watch how they think and the patterns they see. *mommy/teaching hint: sorting and creating patterns with color is the beginning of mathematical skills, literacy skills, organizational skills.

3:30 pm
Pirate Dress up (again)

4:00 pm
Mommy starts to make dinner
The rest of the day is filled with playing in the family room, basement, and mommy making dinner.

After dinner, it is bath time, reading time, snuggle time......whoooooo.... bed time.

Hope tomorrow is not rainy; cannot wait to get outside and play on the swing set.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Zucchini Bread

August 8th is National Zucchini Day (aka "sneak a zucchini on your friend's porch day"); this day was established by Tom Roy a Pennsylvanian who thought it was a good way to spread out the overwhelming amounts of squash being harvested at this time of year.  Tom Roy wanted to encourage the sharing of the overzealous vegetable crop.

"Sneak a Zucchini on your Friend's Porch Day" was a big success this year for my family.  My son is almost four and my daughter is two; they really got into it this year.  Aidan wanted to make a pirate zucchini man.  Which was not a big surprise, since he has been dressing up as a pirate at least twice a week since last September when Target starting selling Halloween costumes, and I bought his pirate costume.  He has actually gotten to the point of introducing himself as Pirate Aidan, Arrrrrr.  And it is always at that point where I happily say, "yes, my son is a pirate." And my daughter decided she wanted a Mee Mee (aka to the rest of the world as Minnie Mouse) zucchini girl. So the three of us were off to crafting a pirate and a Minnie.

We put a pirate scarf on one and Mee Mee (Minnie) ears on the other one. A sword and a couple of sets of eyes and we had accomplished our task; they turned out adorable. It was time to make the zucchini bread. This is the recipe I used; I found it on It had all sorts of great reviews, so I thought I would give it a try. The only tweek I made was adding some nutmeg. I cannot make a recipe without adding something. Nutmeg was an easy no-brainer to add. I have to say the zuuchini bread turned out moist and yummy; I would make it again.

Zucchini Bread 

3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg (this is what I added)
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups of graded zucchini (I chopped it finely)
1 cup of chopped walnuts (optional)

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and nuts.  Mix all wet ingredients: zucchini, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Mix wet and dry just until combined.  Place batter into greased and floured pans.  This will either make 2 loaf pans or 4 mini loaf pans. Bake at 325 for 40 - 60  minutes.  I made 4 mini loaf pans and it took 55 minutes.  They turned out perfect.

Back to the Zucchini Day...

My kids were so cute as they creeped up our neighbor's driveway to leave Pirate Zucchini, Ms. Minnie Zucchini, and the mini zucchini bread.  They were very proud of themselves as they ran back to the car.  The only glich in our plan was my daughter; she started to run back to the car with her beloved Minnie Zucchini still in her tight little grasp.  I had to pry it out of her hot little hands.  A few hours later, our neighbor, my kids call her Ms. Dawn, called to say she knew only two little kids who would leave a little pirate and Minnie zucchini on her front porch.  The kids laughed with delight as she teased them and told them how much she appreciated the squash people and the zucchini bread.

Another successful year celebrating August 8th, Zucchini Day.  But it's not about the silly "National Holiday;" that is just my excuse today.  It is about creating traditions and memories with my children who have stolen my heart and soul and filled them with love.  I adore spending time with them; and on that note, I'm closing the laptop so I can go and play with them.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sneak a Zucchini on your Friend's Porch Day is ALMOST HERE!

It is almost here --- August 8th.

Wednesday, August 8th is National Zucchini Day -- otherwise known as Sneak a Zucchini on your friend's pouch day.  My kids and I had a ton of fun celebrating last year and making our zucchini people. We left our zucchini people on the Weihe's, our dear friends, porch.  We loved making the zucchini people, and our friend's loved receiving them.

To read the whole story and see the zucchini people we made see my entry from September 3th 2011  or look under my Craft Tab and find "Sneak a Zucchini on your Friend's Porch."  I will be posting our cute zucchini people from this year later this week.  If you are a close friend of mine, be on the look out --- you may be the lucky recipient this year.   We are also making zucchini bread this year to go along with the people -- yummy.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Whose porch will you be putting your zucchini people on?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

National Ice Cream Day

Sunday, July 15 was National Ice Cream Day. Did you miss it this year? No worries, July is ice cream month. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and specifically the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day. So if you missed celebrating ice cream on the 15th, you still have the rest of the month to make sure you get at least one family celebration in.

This year I decided to make an ice cream cake with my kids. Picture this, Sunday morning about 9 am I say to my kids, "Who wants to help mommy make an ice cream cake? Do you feel like eating some ice cream?" The screaming and "yum yumming" that ensued after those two questions was loud enough that I was sure that the neighbors were wondering what was going on at my house. It was at that point that our family's celebration of one of our Nation's treasured days began.

I explained to my kids and my husband that it was National Ice Cream Day. My son wanted to know if we were going to eat ice cream all day long. I said that is not exactly the approach our family was going to take when celebrating this year, but we were going to start the day with making an ice cream cake and eating some along the way. Then that evening we were going to a neighbor's house and we were going to share our ice cream cake with our friends.  

Family recipe for Ice Cream Cake and Family Fun

1 package of Oreos (use one row for each of your three layers: bottom, middle, and top)
1 half gallon of _______ (ice cream of your choice) 
1 half gallon of _______ (ice cream of your choice)
Spring form pan (I used 9 inch)
Tin foil
Ziplock bags
Toy hammers for your kids
Bowl of warm water to place spatula in (helps spread ice cream)

This is where the fun begins. I gave each of my kids a hammer and a Ziplock baggie filled with Oreos and told them to smashing the cookies. You can picture how that went -- they loved every minute. Prior to the announcement of this holiday, I put the two half gallons of ice cream out on the counter so they would start to get soft. Don't leave the ice cream out long enough that it melts completely -- you want it soft not back to a liquid state.

Once the cookies are smashed, it is time to start to layer your ice cream cake.  I used a spring form pan so that it would be easier to serve.  I placed some tin foil under the pan in case there was any leakage, which there was not.  Start by putting some smashed cookies on the bottom of a spring form pan to form the crust of the cake.  Then I put one of the ice cream flavors (we used mint chocolate chip)
on top of the cookie crust. I used a spatula to spread ice cream out evenly.  Use a bowl of warm water to dip your spatula in to help spread the ice cream.  Top again with smashed cookie crumbs (middle layer).  Add your second flavor of ice cream and spread again. Lastly, top with remaining cookies.
Place some tin foil on top of your cake and refreeze for a few hours before serving.  If you used a spring form pan, it is super easy to serve.  Take spring form off --- dip your knife in warm water, slice, and serve.  Lastly, look around the room at all the happy faces.  Maybe President Reagan was right -- our Country needed a National way to honor ice cream.

Make sure you put National Ice Cream Day on your calendar for next year -- remember it is the third Sunday in July.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pasta, Potatoes, and Yogurt for Babies

Here is an excellent question I recently received:

Dear Mommy Plus Two- I hope you don't mind me asking you a few more questions... So, my little guy is now 8 months and the baby food recipes are getting a little bit more substantial (but enjoyable). Many of the recipes call for yogurt, potatoes and/or pasta. So, for yogurt and pasta (stars), do I just buy the general "people" kinds? Are there certain baby yogurts to mix in? I know my pediatrician said he could have food with milk products, but just not actual milk... Also, I have seen potatoes on the "dirty dozen", so I am assuming I should go organic for those. So far, I have only found organic sweet potatoes, but I will check the farmer's market tomorrow. If you have used organic potatoes, where have you found them?
Thanks again for your time, Cate

 My answer is based on my research, my personal opinions and my personal experiences. I do not represent any company or product.

I don't mind you emailing, calling, texting -- I love talking about little ones -- I am glad my research can help another mommy out. Really -- anytime. As far as pasta, I would use any tiny pasta you want. The stars are good for you to feed the baby. If you want your son to practice feeding himself, I would buy a bit larger pasta –penne or small farfalle (bowties) -- the stars are too hard to pick up, and he will not be able to use a spoon at first. I would put some butter and Parmesan cheese on the noodles -- he'll love it.

As for the potatoes -- If you are just doing potatoes as a side, I would stick with organic sweet potatoes like you have been doing. They have more vitamins -- and he'll move on to white potatoes as he gets older -- everywhere you go out to eat, there are white potatoes. If he is still eating pureed food, this is how I would make the sweet potatoes. Wash them, stick a few holes into them, place them on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour (until fork tender). Once cool enough for you to handle, peel skin off, and puree (might have to add a touch of water if it is too thick). Then you can serve some to your little one and freeze the rest in ice cube trays. Once it is frozen, pop them out and store in a freezer Ziplock bag.

But when you want to move on to pieces of potato for him to feed himself (I am not sure if he is there yet), I would roast the potatoes. My kids are 3 1/ 2 and 2 and they still love these. I even make them for family dinners – adults love it too. Wash the potatoes, peal them, wash them again, cube into bite sized pieces, place some tin foil on a baking sheet (for easy clean up), place potatoes on foil/ baking pan, drizzle with olive oil, dash of salt, dash of cinnamon spice, and maybe even a bit of maple syrup (organic grade B Trader Joe's house brand—it’s the best). Mix potatoes with your hands to season fully. If you are not sure you want to try cinnamon and maple syrup, you should know they are both good for you and help to make the potatoes super tasty. Maple syrup contains manganese - good for antioxidant defense. Roast potatoes in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes, until fork tender. He will be able to feed himself these super yummy potatoes.

One last note about potatoes. If you are using potatoes in a recipe and not as a side, the recipe is probably calling for a non-sweet potato -- a white potato. I would buy organic white potatoes. I have found them at Whole Foods. If you are looking for a great recipe for lentils and potatoes, I can share that with you -- just let me know. I would also say – look at my blog entry that highlights the chicken soup recipe. This was a staple for my children. I always had ice cubes of chicken soup on hand. I would toss 4 cubes in a bowl and microwave them – instant homemade soup for dinner. I made my regular recipe – but for the kids I would really dice up the chicken, potatoes, and carrots.

As far as yogurt, I would not buy baby yogurt; there is usually too much sugar. I would buy organic, plain yogurt. I love Brown Cow yogurt (you can find it at Whole Foods). Little guys can eat the full fat version. Another brand that is a bit easier to find is Stonyfield. I would go with plain yogurt. There is plenty of time in your little one's life to eat fruit sweetened yogurt. I figure you cannot go backwards; after you eat fruit yogurt or vanilla yogurt, you cannot teach someone to eat plain. Both of my kids loved plain -- they don't know the difference when they are young. Now they eat flavored yogurt, but I still feed them plain because I don't want them to lose the taste for it and you can always add some fresh or frozen blueberries. Yogurt is such a good source of dairy and protein. My daughter has never been a big cow milk drinker -- so yogurt has always been a source of dairy for her.

Hope that helps – once I get to talking about feeding the little ones it is hard for me to stop. If you have any other questions, let me know – I love sharing. Happy Eating Baby Guy.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My Babies Smell So Sweet

When I first met my babies, I couldn't help but notice the warm sweet smell coming from them.  Their breath was sweet. Their bodies had a warm sweetness emanating from their skin. I fell in love with them and their smell.  I still love the way my babies smell.  Aidan is now three and half and Madeleine is two.  When they wake up in the morning or after a nap, they still have that warm sweet smell baby smell; I swear it is better than freshly baked cookies.  I love putting my nose close to their necks and just inhaling them.  I have a feeling this baby smell will not last forever.  Let me correct myself and say, I know this baby smell will not last forever.  So until that happens, I plan on inhaling their sweet baby smell as long as I can.  In the end, I know they will wind up smelling like the rest of us.  Let's just say the rest of us don't smell warm and sweet.

I was talking to my dear friend Bruce the other day about how much I love the way my kids smell, and I was met with a harsh reality.  Not only will the kids lose their baby smell, but I might forget what this smell I adore smells like.   Bruce has two boys that are slightly older than my kids; they are eight and six.  Bruce says his boys smell like boys.  In the morning, they don't have a warm sweet smell; they smell like boys.  He says airing the boy's rooms out in the morning is more along the lines of what he does, not sticking his nose in the warmest part of their necks.  The saddest part about talking to Bruce about the smell of our children is the fact that he says he cannot remember his boys' warm sweet smell.  When he said this to me, I almost panicked.

How could I forget something I loved so much?  How can I bottle that smell?  How can I force myself to remember?  Then it hit me.  I'll write about it.  Words live on forever.  I know I won't be able to relive the smell once my kids have lost it.  Kinda like we cannot relive the shots at the doctor's office.  Or we cannot relive the many times we scrapped our knees as a kid.  Or we cannot relive those wonderful contractions that brought our children into the world.  That is one of God's little gifts - not to be able to relive physical pain. But the flip side of that gift is we cannot relive a sweet smell from the past that is long gone.  But we can RECALL it.  And that is my hope in writing this entry today.  I want to force myself to put this sense in my memory for me to recall when I am old.  That is the power of the written word - it lives forever.

My hope is that I take the time to force these kinds of memories in -- in so they can never be lost. The memories may not be relived, but they can be recalled in my heart. My hope for you is that you take the time to do the same thing with your special memories.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Large Utility Tote -- one of my favorites

There are many uses for this large utility tote -- here are 10 uses I have found:

1. Diaper changing station in my family room
2. Tote in my car trunk to help organize everything I have back there
3. Bring the tote in the grocery store and put it in the cart -- fill with groceries and refill after you  
          have checked out -- no plastic bags to bring home -- I love being green
4. Bring to Costco (big box store) helpful to carry items home 
5. Going to the pool
6. Holding extra towel, sheets, blankets etc... in the closet (organizational)
7. Packing things up to go to grandma's house
8. Going to kid's sports/ activities -- holds equipment, extra clothing, snacks, water bottles, etc...
9. Going to the library with the kids
10. Large "go-to" bag for me --- I now own 4 -- and that seems to be what I need.

A while back my girlfriend Kristy invited me to her sister Casey's home for a Thirty-One party.  At the time, I had never heard of Thirty-one; I was just looking for a couple hours out of the house without my adorable babies, hanging out with a bunch of girls, and maybe even doing a little shopping.  Sounded like a great night to me.  I had no idea what types of products Thirty-One sold.  It turns out Thirty-One sells useful tote bags, cute purses, accessories, and organization products.

Since then, I have bought several items for myself and gifts for others. I think one of the best parts of this company is the fact that you can personalize almost anything for $7. I like the personal touch. I like how cute the totes, purses, and organization products turn out. And I like that it feels like a deal to personalize it.

I know most women have totes already – but who doesn’t like to add one more “girlfriend” (tote/purse) to their collection.

The customer special for June is a very useful large utility tote -- it stands up on its own, it has a metal frame that helps keep its structure, and it collapses easily for storage purposes.  It is the first tote I bought at Casey's party. I love it.

If you make a $35 purchase, you can get the large tote for $10.  The way I plan on doing it is to buy one large tote for full price $35 and get the second large tote for $10.  SOOOO  if you add the price of the two totes together and divide by two -- each tote is $22.50 -- and that is a great deal.  Keep one -and give one as a gift -- or buy a few sets of two and figure out which family members or friends are getting this for a Christmas gift.  It is a substantial tote for $22.50.

The question is how many do you need?

This tote comes in many different colors, and it can be personalized or not.

If you are interested in getting more information about this special, email me, tweet me,  or go to

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stuffed Green Peppers or Stuffed Any Vegetable

I get a loud and honest Yummy out of my son every time I make my stuffed green peppers.  There is nothing that warms my heart more than a long "mmmmm"  or a "yummy" from my kids.  And the sprinkles on top of my sundae is hearing my husband enjoy the meal too. If your family doesn't like green peppers, you can use any vegetable you want.  The really yummy stuff is the "stuffed" part.  That is the part of the meal that gets all the accolades. So if your family doesn't like green peppers, try large hallowed out tomatoes, zucchinis cut lengthwise and hollow out, eggplant cut lengthwise and hollowed out, or red peppers which are high in vitamin C and much sweeter than their green brother the green pepper.  But in the end, if they only eat the inside and a little bit out the outside, it is still a great easy weeknight meal.

Stuffed Green Peppers


2 cups of rice  (white or brown)
1 package of ground sirloin (about 1.5 pounds more or less) 
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (dried basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, and sage)
* mommy hint - if you don't have a pre-made Italian seasoning -- just use a couple of dashes of oregano -- or skip this step
 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
salt/pepper to taste
14 - 16 oz can of tomato sauce (depending on brand you use size varies, and it doesn't really matter)


First step -- start making rice (white or brown your choice).  Now start making the meat part of the inside.  Get your pan hot over a medium flame.  Add olive oil and chopped onion.  Once they are translucent, add chopped garlic.  After a minute and before garlic turns brown, add ground sirloin and brown. Add cinnamon *mommy hint - the cinnamon doesn't add sweetness; it adds a great warmth to the background of the dish.  Add Italian seasonings and salt and pepper. Once meat is cooked, take off stove.  In a large bowl mix meat add rice (just enough so that there is a good ratio of meat to rice -- eyeball it.) Then add tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.  Once mixed, it is time to stuff your peppers or family prefered veggie.  First prepare your veggie to stuff.  If you are stuffing peppers, cut top off and take out seeds and ribs.  After preparing veggie, stuff them.  Place stuffed pepper like little soldiers in a high sided casserole dish. If you have extra stuffing, place yummy meat and rice mixture around the peppers.  To help keep dish moist, add some water (about a 1/3 cup give or take) to bottom of casserole -- right on top of extra meat and rice mixture.  Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese to top of peppers.  Cover casserole.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour -- depending on how crunchy or soft you want your peppers to be.  I cook them for 45 minutes then take the cover off for the last 15 minutes of cooking -- I like to have a nice crust on the top.

Buon Appetito -- I hope your family enjoys it too.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Minestrone Soup

It has not been a particularly cold winter in Chicago this year.  And we haven't had any Chicago style snow.  I know what you are thinking -- I am cursing all of Chicago to some ugly snow drifts. I am not trying to do that; I am just letting you in on my thought process.  So even though it has not been very soupy outside -- my family was still feeling soup weatherish. I had never made minestrone soup.  I know what you are thinking -- crazy isn't it?  An Italian girl who likes to cook who has never made minestrone soup -- it is odd.  So I thought I would give it a try.  Here is my first attempt at the Italian classic.

Minestrone Soup

4 strips of bacon, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrots, finely chopped
2-3 carrots cut into chunks
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
olive oil
1 box of chicken stock (low sodium)
8 cups of water
6 bullion cubes
2 potatoes cut into chucks
one half of a cabbage cut into bite sized pieces
1 bag of fresh baby spinach/ or 1 bunch of Swiss chard
2 zucchini cut into chunks
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 piece of Parmesan cheese rind (this is not needed, but adds a great saltiness to the background)
salt and pepper
2-3 bay leaves
2 cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (one can mashed into a paste)
digitali pasta noodles

Heat a large stockpot, render the fat from the chopped bacon.  When bacon is crispy, add onions, carrots, celery, and some olive oil.  Once veggies are soften, add garlic and let flavors combine for one minute. Then add box of chicken stock, water, bullion, and bay leaves. Add in the rest of the veggies: potatoes, cabbage, spinach/or Swiss chard, zucchini, tomatoes, and one can of beans (mashed with a fork to a thick paste). Salt and pepper to taste.  Add cheese rind if you have one. After about one hour the veggies should be cooked, now it is time to cook the pasta.  Add digitali or any short pasta and cook for the amount of time designated on the box.  Once pasta is cooked, add the second can of drained and rinsed beans to the soup. It is ready to serve.

I have to say that it turned out so well that my husband made me write the recipe down while we were still sitting at the table eating dinner.  He didn't want it to become another one of my "lost meals."  A "lost meal" is a meal I created and didn't write the recipe down, so I cannot recreated it perfectly.  He knows if I didn't write it down then and there, he might never have that version of the soup again.  It has happened to him too often, so now he makes me write recipes down before they become lost too.

Nonna's Moist Pound Cake

My Nonna used to make this pound cake all the time. She made it for holidays and regular days alike.  It was a staple.  She made it in a tube pan, but my mom says that she made everything in a tube pan.  My mom bought me this Wilton long loaf pan for Christmas.  I love it.  One of the highlights of the pound cake is the yummy buttery golden crust on the top of the cake.  This is why I wouldn't suggest using a bunt pan; all the yummy buttery golden crust ends up on the bottom of the cake. That is one of the reasons I love my new pan; it allows for more yummy buttery golden crust. 

Here is the long Wilton loaf pan.

This recipe couldn't be easier.  It is a traditional pound cake: a pound of butter and a pound of sugar.  But it is worth every calorie. The batter is thick.
This pound cake goes great with a cup of coffee. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do in my family.

Nonna's Pound Cake

1 pound of butter (4 sticks)
1 pound box of powdered sugar
6 eggs (add two at a time)
3 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 teaspoons brandy extract
2 teaspoons rum extract

Cream together butter and powdered sugar. Then add two eggs at a time.  Add extracts and flour.  Place batter in a greased large loaf pan, two smaller loaf pans, or a tube pan.  Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 20 minutes (if using one large loaf pan or tube pan).  If using two smaller pan, you might want to start checking it around 45 minutes.

Enjoy your coffee break - you deserve! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Farro Salad - bye bye pasta salad!

Farro Salad

Farro is related to the common wheat we eat; it is especially popular in Italy. It is an ancient grain called emmer wheat.  Once boiled, it has a chewy firm texture and a nutty flavor.  I have to say I just love it.  The farro I buy takes about 20 minutes to boil. Farro can be used for salads, soups, side dishes, or as a main entree.

Since I started making farro, it is my new go-to for a cold salad instead of making a pasta salad. It is always a hit.  I also make it for myself and the kids for weekday lunches.  I make a bowl of it, store it in the frig, and it is a great side to a sandwich or it can be a lunch in itself.  It is nice to have on hand if a fellow mommy stops by; it is easy to pull out and lunch is ready.

So depending on what I plan on using it for, that determines what veggies I put in it.  If I am making it as a side to a family meal or a party I can use items that should to be consumed the day I make it or the next day.  If I am making this for myself and the kids for the week, I use veggies that will stand up to a longer stay in the frig. In the recipe below I will note veggies for a long frig stay (Lfs) vs. short frig stay (Sfs). You can create this recipe for your family's likes and needs.

Farro Salad


1 cup of farro, boiled per directions on bag
shelled and boiled edamame (soybean) - Lfs
Kalamata olives - Lfs
red peppers, chopped - Lfs
carrots, chopped - Lfs
cucumbers, deseeded and chopped - Sfs
cherry tomatoes, whole - Lfs
feta (or any cheese you want -- ricotta salata works well too) - Lfs
baby spinach - Sfs
defrosted, frozen sweet peas - Lfs
zucchini - Sfs

*any veggie you want (make it your own)


Boil farro according to directions on bag, drain, and set aside. *mommy hint - if making it to serve right away, you might want to stick it in the frig to cool it down.  While farro is cooking, I start to assemble veggies in a bowl and make my dressing.  So when the farro is cooled, I toss it all together and dress it. It is so yummy -- bye bye pasta salad.

1-2 rounded teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
5-6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


Put mustard, vinegar, a bit of salt, and a bit of pepper in a bowl. While mixing with a fork or wire whisk, add oil in slowly.  Taste -- add more salt or pepper if needed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Make Robots out of Toilet Paper Tubes

What do you do with your leftover toilet paper tubes?  Recycle?  How about re-purpose?  I got this idea from Disney Family Fun magazine; now there robots were more advanced than my kids' robots, but you get the idea.

The kids painted the toilet paper tubes with Do-A-Dot markers.  My son painted his robot's eyes with liquid paper "Wite-out"(the one on the left).  My daughter had me draw a face for her robot (the one on the right). We taped antennas on the robots and curled pipe-cleaners around a pencil to get those crazy arms.  My son decided on his own to grab a paper towel tube out of the recycling bin to make an extension for his robot.  Kids, you have to love watching their brain work.

Anyway, now my son saves leftover toilet paper and paper towel tubes.  He has fun decorating them with his sister, and I love watching them be creative.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Making a card means more than buying one

I was reading (in true mommy form) a free magazine that was sent to my home -- flipping through it kinda reading and kinda looking at the pictures.  Anyway I saw an ad for women clothing that used an Eleanor Roosevelt quote that I had never read before. The quote was," a woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until she gets in hot water."  I liked it so much that it made me pause and reread it.  I thought what a great quote.  I pulled the ad out of the magazine; I didn't know what I was going to do with it, but I knew it was good.

Then a few days later I was chatting with a girlfriend.  She was going through a difficult time. As I listened to her story, I could hear the pain in her voice; I could hear the tears in her heart.  Yet she was so strong.  She had to be for her child. And I thought to myself -- no matter how much pain a mommy is in, when it comes to her baby; she is stronger than she ever thought she could be.  Where does that strength come from?  And then I thought of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote.  I had a use for that quote.

I was going to send my girlfriend a note.
Not an email.
Not a text.
Not a phone call.
A written note sent through the US  Postal System.

I took a plain card and used a scrapbooking edge punch to decorate the sides of the card.  I taped a tea bag on the outside of the card and stamped the words "Thinking of you" on the card.  Then on the inside I wrote Eleanor Roosevelt's beautiful quote and wrote a personal message from me to my girlfriend.

I have to say it turned out as I thought it would; she loved it.  My girlfriend said it was a thoughtful and warm gesture; it was the exact message I was trying to convey to her.  I highly recommend using this quote and idea for a little note to one of your girlfriends.  Or using one of your favorite quotes on a card that you have created; it is the personal touch that I believe means so much more.  Any of us can go to Hallmark and buy a card, any of us can text or email a friend to check in on her when she is feeling down. But making a card -- nothing special -- but the act of making something yourself for someone else says,"you are worth my time and energy."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Making Playdough and Outside Chalk Games

As a stay at home mom, I am always looking for activities to do with the kids.  My kids wake up at 5 am and go to sleep around 7 pm.  This is a long day.  We have made homemade playdough in the past, but this by far is my favorite recipe I have used.  First of all the cooked playdough recipes are far better than the non-cooked recipes.  Here is the best one I have landed on:

Homemade Playdough
2 cup flour
1/2 cup of salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 cups of warm water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
food coloring
scented oil (optional)

Put all ingredients in a pot and cook over low heat until it comes together as a smooth ball. If you want you can add some peppermint oil or lemon oil.  Who doesn't like nice smelling things, but you don't have to.  Take it off the heat and take playdough out of pot and let it cool on your counter.  Once cool enough to handle, kneed until smooth.  Cut into four equal parts.  Now the fun part.  Use food coloring to dye each section.  The kids love doing this part.  When storing, I place plastic wrap around each ball and then put each ball into a sealed plastic baggie.  Then I put all the baggies in a Ziplock plastic container.  I  know it seems like a lot of protection for some playdough.  But you can keep this for a long time if you keep it airtight.

Outside Chalk Game

We had a lot of fun with this direction following game. And what kid doesn't need to practice following directions.  Get four or five different colors of chalk.  Make a start box and a finish box across from each other. For example start with blue.  Make a blue circle (big enough for  kids to jump into) jumping distance from start box.  Then continue making a circle path to finish box.  Then do the same with the next color.  Keep trying to intermingle the colors so it is fun for the kids to jump.  Always make sure each color path has a safe jumping distance to the next circle of its color.  Lastly, you sit back and start to call out directions for the kids to follow.  You can make them follow each color path or you can mix up the colors like Twister. Have fun outside.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

My husband loves chicken pot pie.  Trying to perfect this recipe took quite a few times.  One time the potatoes inside were raw.  One time the inside was too dry and not creamy enough.  One time I needed more veggies and the wasn't enough pie crust. I used a frozen pie crust, but apparently I didn't use enough my husband said, "to qualify this recipe as a pot pie."  So I tried again -- and triumph.  This recipe was a big hit with my triumvirate: husband, son, and daughter. All three loved it; the final recipe I am sharing has enough veggies, solved the potato issue, and has plenty of the pie crust.

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients: (this makes two pies or one 9x13 pan)

3 Chicken breasts/ or roasted chicken from the store/ or turkey breast
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion
1/2 cup flour
4 cups of chicken stock (one box)
frozen veggie mix (I use sweet peas, carrots, corn, lima beans)
frozen green beans
3 small potatoes, diced / or use frozen breakfast potatoes (this way you don't have to peal and cut)
salt and pepper

2 packages of refrigerated pie crust (each package has two crusts) 4 crusts in total ( I use Pillsbury)


First thing you have to do it start cooking the potatoes.  The first time I made this I tried to use uncooked potatoes, and they weren't cooked by the time the crust was finished.  So I had to choose par cooked potatoes or burnt pie crust. Hence it is a good idea to start to cook potatoes in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Once cooked, put potatoes off to the side in a bowl. Next, if you have raw chicken, cook the chicken in that same pan with some olive oil.  If you bought roasted chicken from the store or are using left over chicken or turkey from a previously dinner, cube it up.  *mommy hint-- this meal is something I usually make to reuse left over chicken or turkey.  But you could start from scratch if you would like.  Once chicken is cooked, cube it and place in potato bowl.

Now it is time to make the sauce. Place 2 Tablespoons of butter, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, and diced onion in a pan.  Once onions are translucent, add flour -- it will form a paste.  Slowly add warmed chicken stock until you have a sauce that is the consistency you like.  If you want it to be thicker, add some cornstarch, but the sauce must be bubbling at that time so to not have a lumpy sauce.  If you want it to me thinner, keep adding stock or a bit of water if you used all your stock (no need to open a new box).  Add salt and pepper. * mommy hint - Taste it!  You have to see if you like the taste of the sauce.  You may need more salt.  This is the time to make adjustment.  Once you decided on your sauce taste, add chicken, potatoes, and frozen veggies (add as many as you feel like your family wants or needs).  I also add frozen green beans.  The inside is finished.

Lastly, it is time to assemble pot pie. If you are making this recipe in a pie pan, cover the bottom of pan with crust.  Then fill with your pot pie mixture and cover the top with a pie crust.  Pierce some holes in the top of the crust to vent pie. *note -- this filling makes 2 pies, so if you want one pie - cut recipe in half If using a 9 x 13 pan, cover the bottom with 2 pie crusts (this takes some geometry -- don't let anyone tell you high school geometry doesn't play a part in cooking -- every once in a while I have to whip it out) Fill your pan with your yummy filling.  Then top with two more pie crusts.  Pierce top to vent your pot pie. 
* mommy hint - you can make it all the way to this point a day ahead of time and then 
cook it. This is the perfect make ahead dinner.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes until crust is golden brown. Enjoy!

This is a corner piece - look at this beautiful crust -- yummy!