Tomato and Sausage Pasta

Today’s post comes from Emily of fooding with Emily, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Red Pen Mama, where I talk about motivation.

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I have quite the hate-hate relationships with diets.  I hate going on them.  I hate fat-free, ill tasting dishes.  I love to exercise (OK, I hate getting up, making myself go to the gym, I’m OK when I get there, I hate sweating, I hate feeling exhausted, but when I’m all done I LOVE IT – so I only ‘love’ exercising when I’m done). Trying to be healthy means exercising and eating healthy(er). I’ve had my fair share of yo-yo diets and none of them sticking.  But the one thing that has stuck is eating well and just move.  Indulge from time to time.  I will eat my cake! Just not every day.  I will have chocolate! Just not every day.  I will eat my brussel sprouts! I actually really like brussel sprouts.  Like a lot. Probably more than one should.  If I had to pick between chocolate and the sprouts, I’d pick sprouts hand down.  I know, I’m weird.  I would trade you my chocolate cake for your brussel sprouts and feel like I was the winner of that trade.

I’ve found this one recipe that is not only on the healthier side, but it’s QUICK. I love cooking, but sometimes when I am just tired on a Tuesday night, I’d rather pick up the phone and order a pizza. This recipe is my new saving grace.  It’s nothing terribly fancy so it will please most picky eaters.  It’s also tasty.  I can’t get enough of it.  I found it on Cooking Light and was blown away.  That magazine has had it’s fair share of ‘meh’ in my experience.  But since I have subscribed last year, I’ve been SOLD. And I’m sold again with this dish.

My only substitution was instead of using fresh tomatoes, i used canned diced tomatoes with some oregano and basil seasoning.  I cut corners where I see fit.  I hate chopping tomatoes.

You’ll need:

8 ounces uncooked penne
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup vertically sliced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds tomatoes, chopped
6 tablespoons grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausage and onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 2 tablespoons cheese, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and basil.

My only problem with this recipe is that I want to eat and eat and eat until it’s all gone.  Stupid diets!

 

   

Taking your child to the doctor? Five tips to help them say “Ah” with confidence.

In a few weeks, the kids will be headed for their annual check-ups. Since they’re older and know a ‘lil bit more about these trips, I am glad to be armed with some tips like these. Today’s guest post is by Nicole Fonovich, co-creator of the “Luca Lashes” app/eBook Series. Take a look below for a fun Luca Lashes contest!

Taking your child to the doctor? Five tips to help them say “Ah” with confidence.

Winter is on its way and everyone knows what that means. Not skiing, not hot chocolate, not kissing under the mistletoe. Colder temps bring cold and flu season, sick kids and doctor’s offices. (Cue sniffles and sneezing.) Any self-preserving individual will avoid sick people like the plague. But if you’re the parent of a young child you might not have a choice. Here are five life-changing tips for bringing your sick child to the doctor’s office and surviving the sniffle season ahead.

1. Avoid it at all costs.

Crying babies, snotty noses, heat-seeking germ missiles that love to embed themselves inside busy working mothers. These are all the things that await you at the doctor’s office. So if you can avoid it, do. The most efficient way is to have your child immunized. This requires some preemptive planning. Go early, the sooner the better. That way you can avoid all the mayhem of bringing a sick child to a doctor’s office full of other sick kids.

2. Choose wisely.

When it comes to sticking sharp things into your child’s skin, the friendlier the better. Don’t just settle for the first pediatrician that accepts your health insurance. Look for a doctor who works well with your child’s personality. Ideally it is someone who is great at distractions. “Dear sick little baby, here is a cute, fuzzy little bear.” The needle will be in and out before your baby knows what hit her. Be picky when it comes to your child’s doctor. You’re the one who will end up paying in the car ride home.

3. When all else fails…play doctor!

So, you’ve done your best. You got your child immunized; you disinfected every surface in your house; you even kept her away from the coughing kid at the playground. But, she still came down with the flu. What’s worse than a sick, irritable kid? A sick kid who is terrified of the doctor. You have no choice. She’s spiked a fever and it’s not coming down. Before you drag baby to the doctor, prepare her for what to expect. Buy a toy doctor kit with things like a stethoscope, shot dispenser, and a fake plastic hammer. She will become familiar with the sites and sounds of the doctor and associate them with fun rather than fear.

4. In the waiting room, play some more.

Waiting rooms are germy places, and the last thing you want is to get infected yourself or to make your child even sicker. This is where your handy dandy iPad comes in use. It can provide great entertainment and distraction without having to share any germs.

5. Take control for your baby.

Be a model for your child. Project confidence, not fear when at the doctor. Make sure to ask plenty of questions and get all the answers you need. Bring a pen and paper, take notes, and be inquisitive. This helps your child see the doctor as a resource for help and information. There’s no need for nervousness here.

With these tips you can turn a potentially dreadful experience into a lot of fun for your child (and yourself), one that they will be eager to repeat in the future. Regular doctor’s visits will be a piece of cake after this, allowing children to enjoy an important part of a lifetime of health benefits.

Nicole and Damir Fonovich are co-authors of Luca Lashes Visits the Doctor, available at all app/ebook marketplaces. For more helpful suggestions, visit the Luca Lashes YouTube Channel and LucaLashes.com

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Enter the Luca Lashes contest!

Readers: Comment on the post with your most interesting story of taking your kid(s) to the doctor and you’ll be entered to win a gift pack complete with a toy doctor kit, fun bandaids and a $20 Baskin Robbins gift card for use after their next appointment!

5 Easy Tips for Teaching Children about Philanthropy This Holiday Season (Guest Post)

Today I’m sharing with you a guest post by Jan Helson, creator of The Global Game Changers children’s entertainment brand and author of the children’s book, The Global Game Changers. 5 Easy Tips for Teaching Children about Philanthropy This Holiday Season

The holiday season is a wonderful time to start teaching children about philanthropy and the joys of giving. The key to encouraging your child to become a life-long giver is a simple equation: Your Talent + Your Passion = Your Superpower! You don’t have to be bitten by a spider to be a superhero. By encouraging each child to combine their individual talents and passions, you can make giving an integral part of their lives.

Here are a few simple tips to help your child reveal their inner superhero!

1.Discuss how important it is to give as well as to receive. Read them a book with a Christmas theme, and discuss the spirit of the holidays as seen in these books. My family used to attend yearly performances of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’ classic tale of a man who learns the value of giving back. O Henry’s story of The Gift of the Magi also shows how much people who care for each other are willing to give up to make each other happy. Dr. Seuss’ Christmas classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is another fun way to introduce the concept of the Christmas spirit and giving.

2. Engage in giving as a family. There are an abundance of opportunities to show children how to give, and to explain to them that while Christmas might be an opportunity to receive presents, it’s also a great time to give back! There are so many wonderful opportunities to give over the Christmas holidays. Participate in a Turkey Trot or other run to benefit a charity. Stop by a local church or mall to find an Angel tree and shop for Christmas presents for a child who might otherwise not get anything. Bring your kids along when you deliver meals through programs like Meals on Wheels. Donate new or gently-used toys to programs like Toys for Tots. Arrange a Christmas carol sing-along at a local retirement home. Send Christmas letters or treats to troops stationed overseas. Drop some change in a Santa bell-ringer’s jar.

3. Cultivate their passion. Now that you’ve participated in giving, figure out what kind of giving interests your child. What’s their passion? Perhaps they would like to do something to help kids like them who are sick or in need. Perhaps they are interested in the natural world and would like to do something to help the environment. Encourage your child to think of a way that she/he can give back to a charitable initiative that they feel a connection to. Engaging your children in giving back to something they care about will make them life-long givers.

4. Unleash their talents. Expose your child to the tools necessary for them to create his/her own charity project by combining their passion for a particular cause with their strengths or interests. Is your child a baker? Then she/he can have a bake sale to raise money for a favorite charity. Perhaps she/he is crafty and can sell trinkets made. Athlete? Organize a sporting event to raise awareness for a charity they care about. My daughter Rachel is an actress. She put on a show to benefit the Susan G Komen Foundation after discovering three of her aunts had been diagnosed with breast cancer. You can show them online tools for raising money, and give examples of what other children have done to make the world a better place.

5. Embrace their individuality and re-enforce that they can make a difference. Help your children learn Ebeneezer Scrooge’s lesson: “”I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” Now that your children know about giving, help them continue to give throughout the year!

Using these tips, you can show your children how the holiday spirit can spark interest and get them moving toward making the world a better place all year round!

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Enter the Global Game Changers contest!

“Like” the Global Game Changers Facebook page and then post a picture of your child(ren) in action “igniting good!”. Jan will choose one lucky fan to receive a gift pack complete with The Global Game Changers book, an Ignite Good! superhero cape, a 56-page Ignite Good! Activity Book and $30 Amazon gift card.

Raising Givers

This post is a guest post by Darryl Nyznyk, author of Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas. Since today’s “Thankful” post is going to be about how we raise our givers, I thought this would be a perfect fit for today! There’s even a contest at the bottom. Enjoy. 

My wife and I raised four daughters through school day traumas of isolation, rejection, ostracism and dissociation, and bullying. While none of our daughters were on the receiving end of all of these hateful practices, each experienced one or more personally, and each saw them foisted upon others. It was our duty, as parents, to guide them through these experiences by teaching them how to deal with the pain, and by helping rebuild their shattered psyches after each  experience.

We found it was just as important to instill in them empathy and compassion for others suffering through the same trauma. We wanted to teach them to look less at the pain they were experiencing and more to the pain of others who they could help. Our belief was that our kids needed to learn how to give of their compassion, understanding, and love in their every day lives. Here are five basic concepts that helped us in our efforts.

1. You are a good person. One of the most important elements in a giving heart is a sense of self worth that enables a person to step away from his own problems and focus on the issues of others. To be true givers, children need to have confidence in themselves. Build their self-esteem, but not because they might be the “prettiest,” “smartest,” “best athlete,” or “most popular,” but rather because they are empathetic and compassionate people. If they cry when a person they know dies or they understand the pain when a friend gets hurt or they help a neighbor in need, it is these feelings and actions that make them good people.

2. Discuss issues of evil and sadness in the world. Getting children to sit and carry on a discussion about the issues of the day can be virtually impossible. With homework, music lessons, sports practice, electronics, friends, and every other conceivable interference, it’s difficult to find a moment to have a conversation other than “hi.” But it’s vital that we do. It  is our task to find those moments where we can say “Did you hear about …?” and “Do you think there’s anything we could (or should) do about …?” We need to ask them about any sad or evil events of which they are aware, and how they feel “we” should react. Despite the hesitation our child may express at first, the truth is that once we get them talking, we have moved them away from focus on self and to thoughts about the plight of others – an essential step in imprinting the concept of giving onto their hearts.

3. Think of someone at school who needs help. Encourage your child to think of someone at school who might need empathy, compassion, or simply a friend. Suggest they look beyond their immediate circle of friends and identify someone who might be viewed as a “geek,” a “nerd,” an outcast. Talk to your child about how that person must feel; try to get your child to try on that person’s shoes so that they understand how painful that person’s experiences are. Then discuss how your child might be able to help, even with something as simple as a kind word.

4. Talk to friends at school about those in need. Encourage your children to step up in their peer groups to convince friends not to judge those previously deemed below them. “I heard his parents can’t afford to get him good soccer shoes; maybe we can figure out a way to help. He’s a pretty good player.” “Her mother’s been really sick. Maybe we should ask her to join us and see if she needs help.” Or just plain, “She looks weird, I know, but she’s a nice person, just a little shy.”

The point here is that our child steps up and gives herself to the pain and suffering of those ridiculed by her group. Peer pressure makes this one very difficult, and a parent’s discussion about the proper approach to the peers is essential. It doesn’t require that your child take over the leadership role from the “king” or “queen” of the group, but rather that she use her subtle influence and intelligence to move the leader to compassion that the others will follow.

5. Stand up against injustice even if alone. Our children know right from wrong because we have taught and continue to teach them the difference. When they see bullying or other injustice in their schools or other social settings, they must step up to protect the weak and bullied.

The most difficult thing for the normal “non-leader” child is to become visible by asserting themselves. It’s difficult because by standing up within the group or outside the group, the child is challenging leadership and risks becoming the butt of jokes or the one who is bullied. This is why parental guidance in the art of subtlety within the group, and of strength of purpose outside the group is essential. In conjunction with that guidance, our child’s knowledge that we, as parents, have his back when he steps up, gives him the strength he needs to stand tall.

Teaching our children to give is the essence of our duty as parents. It’s an enormous undertaking, yet what better gift can we give our world than a child who “gives” herself in the fight against injustice, cruelty and inequality?

Darryl Nyznyk is a full-time storyteller and father of four grown daughters. As a parent, he began to take a hard look at the world around him – one of extreme political and social divisiveness – and as an author, he wanted to share the message with the world that he had been telling in his own home for years….a message of hope, love and faith. He is the author of Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas

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Enter the Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas contest!

Comment on the post with what your favorite charity is and why. Darryl will choose a grand prize winner and match a donation of up to $100. The winner will also receive a signed copy of Mary’s Son. (Contest ends December 7.)

Mama’s Moment

Since someone has started potty training and the kids have no regard for bathroom privacy, I begged and pleaded for a shower with no one bugging me this evening. My mister made sure this happened tonight, major points for him!

You see, I have gone on a slight binge of coffee lately. By binge, I should clarify that I mean I had 2 cups in the past week, but that’s a lot for me. Also, I fell in love with a delicious smelling coffee scrub at I Made It! Market last weekend, but I didn’t have money with me.

Pinterest has been a great resource, even though my pin to done percentage is about 0.00002%. I found this wonderful looking coffee/sugar scrub and decided I was going to do it. A friend suggested adding cocoa, and WHOA, so glad I did. Thanks to the scrub, I feel like I took a visit to a spa, and my pores smell like I’ve been sipping on a lovely cappuccino for hours. All at a price lower than my pin to done percentage of the cost. This was a great moment for Mama.


Photo from Pinterest, my scrub is in an old salsa jar, but yay for upcycling coffee grinds and a jar!

Oprah Winfreeeeeeeeey! #PurexInsiders #deal

Just wanted to share with you a deal from Purex and Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, O! For a limited time, you can get 12 issues (1 year) of O Magazine for just $10!

This offer is sponsored by Oprah and Purex. You can sign up for your subscription here! Enjoy. 🙂

Thank you, Purex, for inviting me to participate in this deal! This is a limited time offer.

Chocolate Bacon Cookies

With both my pregnancies, I really didn’t crave anything…except for some bacon. So, I couldn’t resist when a fellow Burgh blogger posted a recipe for Chocolate Bacon Cookies. For me, it was the perfect combination of salty and sweet, just what I wanted. The batch made about 5 dozen drop cookies. I am not denying that I was taste testing both the batter and the cookies throughout the process. They won’t make the Christmas Cookie list, but they are definitely something to enjoy every once in awhile.

CHOCOLATE BACON COOKIES (from @rebelliousflaw

1 1/2 c flour
1 c cocoa
1 1/2 c brown sugar
3/4 c butter (melted)
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
3 eggs (slightly beaten)
1 c chocolate chips
1/4 c bacon bits
1/4 c milk
Salt

Preheat oven to 350
Mix together flour, cocoa, and brown sugar
Melt butter
Melt semi-sweet chocolate
Add melted butter and melted chocolate to dry ingredients
Mix well
Add eggs and mix well
Beat in chocolate chips and bacon bits
Add milk to dough as needed to make it of a ballable/droppable consistency
Using a cookie scoop, drop cookies on parchment paper lined baking sheet
Sprinkle tops of cookies with a pinch of salt
Bake approximately 10 minutes

Lucky Biscuits (ala “Burgh Baby”)

I am a huge fan of breakfast, but my preference is to have breakfast for dinner (or after dark at a great Myrtle Beach locale, Pan Am). One of my favorite bloggers, Michelle/Burgh Baby, posted a great recipe for Lucky Biscuits, and make sure you check out her story behind them! It was a typical, cold February night when I decided to whip up a batch of them myself. Paired them with some hashbrowns, they made a perfect dinner. The best part is that it made me realize I can make my daughter her own version since I made my own biscuits instead of using the canned ones (hers would be made with soy milk, and the ONLY reason I made my own is that I didn’t have any canned on hand). This was a delicious meal that we will definitely be making again. Thanks Michelle!

(Excuse the mess…I didn’t almost burn down my house because I learned from Michelle; however, I apparently was still very sloppy. These seriously melted in my mouth, so the mess didn’t matter to me.)