Monday, April 29, 2013

Memory Keeping for the Digital Age

How many of you keep a scrapbook for your kids? How about a box of stuff to save? Do you ever write things down to record later in a scrapbook or journal? I do all of those things. I really enjoy scrapbooking, but I have a hard time balancing all my hobbies at once. I've pretty much been slacking on scrapbooking for the past 5+ years. I still behave like I'm planning on making scrapbooks. Someday.

The idea I'm sharing isn't mine. I wish I could take credit for it. Actually, it was shared to me by my husband. I can't remember where he heard it. It might have been at the chiropractor's office. Regardless, it's a fun idea and a great way to keep all of the funny things kids say in one spot to share with them one day.

Set up an email address for your kids. If you have an ISP that gives you multiple email addresses with your internet service, use that. If you want to set up an address on one of the free sites, there's a little catch. You have to be 13 to sign up for the email. Since you are the one setting it up, it's technically your address so be sure to put your birthdate when establishing the account. If you try to enter your child's birthdate, you'll be kicked to a page about internet security and children. Trust me, I did it.

When your child has a spectacular moment, day, event, story, write an email to his/her email account. When you go to a well child check, email the height and weight to his/her email account. You can always send pictures too. Let the emails pile up. I would recommend logging into the account periodically to make sure it stays active. If you feel inclined, you can even create folders in the account by category so it's all organized.

The thought process is to provide your child with an email address and password when he/she hits a milestone. Perhaps it's graduating high school or turning 18. Maybe it's when he/she graduates college or boot camp. You might want to save it until your child has children of his/her own. Hopefully, it will be a fun trip down memory lane.

In our age of technology, it's easy to send a quick email by smartphone or draft something more lengthy at the computer. You can pass the email address to friends/family to add their thoughts as well. You decide the direction you want to take it. Make it fun. Make it memorable.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chicken Parmigiana (Chicken Parm for Short)

Sometimes you have a recipe that tastes good, make some tweaks to make it taste great. Today's recipe is one of those. I'm going to warn you up front, this is not a recipe for the calorie counters. This recipe is designed to be FULL OF FLAVOR, so there are some rich ingredients used. You can easily adjust it to cut some of the calories out. I'm going to give you the full flavor version. Take your pick.

The funny thing about chicken parm is that I thought it was short for chicken parmesan. But, there's no parmesan used, at least not in the recipes I've seen. After a quick google search, I found that we've Americanized the recipe from chicken parmigiana to chicken parmesan and there are some recipes that do use parmesan, but the PARMIGIANA is for the breaded cutlet with marinara. That's what I'm sharing today. My original recipe used the word parmesan without parmesan cheese. Weird.

You need:
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (I use 3-4 big guys from Costco)
1 cup Bread crumbs (I like the italian seasoned ones)
2/3 cup French fried onions crushed
1-2 Egg(s)
1 quart Marinara sauce (I use my homemade stuff)
2-4 Tbsp Butter
2-4 Tbsp Olive Oil (I prefer the garlic olive oil)
1-1/2 cups Mozzerella cheese

First, cut the chicken breasts into smaller cutlets. Since I buy the big frozen bags at Costco, they're pretty big pieces of chicken. I cut them in half lengthwise and then in half again top to bottom. You'll want to make sure the cutlets are fairly thin. If you have a medium thickness breast, I'd pound it with a mallet until it's thinner than 1/2". One of the jumbo chicken breasts will make 4 good sized cutlets.

Crack an egg into a bowl and whip with a fork. In a second bowl, put about 1 cup of bread crumbs and 2/3 cup of crushed french fried onions. The french fried onions crumbs is a trick I learned from a friend and it adds so much flavor. Then dip each cutlet into the egg wash, then coat in bread crumbs. Set aside on a plate.

Heat 2 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of garlic olive oil in a large skillet over med heat. Once the butter is melted, add the breaded cutlets and cook until browned on each side. While they're cooking, pour a little marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish and shake to coat the bottom. Place the browned cutlets into the pan in a single layer. Depending on the size of your skillet, you'll need to repeat this 2-3 times to cook the cutlets. Be sure to add more butter and oil before each browning.

Cover the browned cutlets with the marinara sauce. I use almost a quart of sauce for 1 pan of chicken parm. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the entire pan. The pictures here show a cheese blend because that's what I had in the house. It's the end of the month, I'm out of mozzarella. Use what you have.

Bake in a 350 oven for 20 minutes to warm through and melt the cheese. You can also prepare ahead of time, refrigerate and bake when needed. I'd turn it down to 325 and bake a little longer if it's been refrigerated.

Enjoy! The flavors in this are amazing. It's a favorite in my house with my husband and my kids. I think my husband could eat it every week and be happy.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Happy Friday to all. I don't know how many of you check my blog regularly (without being linked or finding through searches). Just letting you know that I have a 2 posts coming up (one recipe, one fun kids project), but I will be mostly taking a little break for a couple weeks. My youngest daughter's birthday is coming up and then I'm headed out of town for a special reunion weekend. These are both things I've been greatly anticipating, but will take me away from the computer. Hope you're having a great April! Keep checking in!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cream cheese apple dessert

Recently, I bought a bushel of apples from Bountiful Baskets. They were delicious Fuji apples from Washington state. Crisp. Juicy. 40 pounds of apples is a lot of apples, so I made applesauce, homemade pie filling and apple chips. I don't make pies very often, but there are several recipes out there that use pie filling.

This particular recipe from Deep South Dish looked delicious. Crescent roll dough. Cream cheese. Apple filling. Cinnamon. Yum all over the place. It was easy to make. I took a picture of it once I put it in the oven. I found that pouring the butter on the top made some of the dough take longer to cook. I'd decrease the butter by half next time. The finished product wasn't nearly as pretty as the picture from the original poster, but it certainly was delicious.

Recipe courtesy of Deep South Dish
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 package of crescent rolls
  • 1 can of apple pie filling (I used about 3/4 of a quart)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter, melted
  • Mixture of cinnamon and sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8" x 8" baking pan with non-stick spray and set aside. Hand whip the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract together until well blended.

Unroll the package of crescent rolls and cut into even halves. Pinch together the seams and place one of the halves into the bottom of the baking pan. Spread the cream cheese evenly on top of the dough and top that with the apple pie filling. If you are using a low sugar or sugar free apple pie filling, you'll probably want to add some sugar or brown sugar to the apples. Top with the other half of the dough and pour the melted butter all over. Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool long enough to set the filling before cutting.

Cook's Notes: Using fresh apples? Just core, peel and slice and stew them down with a bit of butter for about 15-20 minutes until softened. Let cool slightly before assembling the dessert. This also makes a perfectly delicious dessert even without the fruit.