Sunday, April 19, 2015

Georgia Heard and Garlic Parmesan Pasta with Snap Peas and Bacon

Georgia Heard
Georgia Heard has published several children's poetry books and was a contributor to Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets, compiled by Paul B. Janeczko. She is also the author of nine books on teaching and writing poetry.

As a writer, a poet, and a founding member of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Georgia Heard continues to bring a poet's ear and a teacher's know-how to every aspect of writing instruction. In her words...

Some of her books include: "The Revision Toolbox", "Second Edition", "Finding the Heart of Nonfiction", "Writing Toward Home" and "Awakening the Heart" — which Instructor Magazine called one of its 12 Books Every Teacher Should Read. Georgia is also a member of Heinemann Professional Development Services.
This is her latest children's book on poetry published in 2012.
"The Arrow Finds Its Mark:Book of Found Poems" addresses Twitter feeds, school notes, advertisements, street signs--as being unlikely places to find poetry. Thirty contemporary poets have made contributions to the book. Imagine picking up a scrap of paper off the floor or reading a sign at a gas station or looking at graffiti on the subway and finding poetry in these words. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poems take existing text, reorder and refashion it, and present it as a poem. Youthful, urban, and ironic, this energetic and surprising poetic form demonstrates the beauty of everyday words and will inspire young poets to find their own poetry.

Ars Poetica
by Georgia Heard

In September, small poems lay
still and silent inside your hearts.
If you listened carefully,
you might have heard
the quivering of wings.

In January, from the corner
of your eye, you could have spied
a flutter or two –
poems slowly unfolding,
delicate silken wings.

In April, poems began to appear everywhere!
Rainbow wings beating, flapping,
hovering over desks, hanging
from the ceiling, tips of noses, tops of heads.
It was difficult to get any work done!

Now, your butterfly poems
fly free. You fold the memory
into your hearts. Poems —
small butterflies raised, watched,
let loose into the world.
Garlic Parmesan Pasta with Snap Peas and Bacon
Cook's notes: For this dish think creamy Alfredo pasta sauce without all the extra calories and fat. This pasta dish is lightened up by using milk instead of cream. From asparagus to peas, sweet spring vegetables brighten any meal. Sugar Snap Peas are a sure harbinger of spring. So forget that bag of frozen peas and serve sugar snap peas, a crisp vegetable with an edible pod. Bacon adds a smoky salty flavor to the pasta dish. Garlic and onions punch up the flavors. I liked the ease of making the dish with most of the cooking done in one pot. Drained and chopped roasted red peppers would make a fine addition to the dish and add in some color. 
Recipe serves 4-6 and was inspired by
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked, crumbled-reserve 1 TB fat
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup sweet onions, diced
  • 1 cup 2 % milk at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth, low fat
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 3 cups dried pasta e.g. penne 
  • 4 oz. stringless sugar snap peas
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 3 TB. white wine
  • optional-dash of nutmeg
  • Fry bacon, drain grease and set bacon aside. Reserve 1 TB. bacon fat. Wipe skillet clean. Add the bacon fat back into the skillet.
  • Saute onions and garlic until tender. Set aside with crumbled bacon.
  • In a large pot whisk flour and milk together. Add in broth, butter and dried  pasta. Whisk all ingredients together. 
  • On medium heat bring sauce to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until pasta is cooked al dente. Stir in Parmesan cheese, parsley flakes, garlic and onion mixture, bacon, wine and snap peas. Cook for 4 minutes longer.    
  • Serve immediately and garnish with fresh mint or pine nuts. Sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg.  

Bon Appetit!

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Healthy Salad for the Spring Season

Watercress Salad with Sesame Garlic Dressing
Cook's notes: I was drawn to this salad with the unusual mix of ingredients: radishes, hard boiled eggs and avocados. The recipe is a healthy start to reenergize your love for season's best vegetables. The recipe comes from 
I will post the original recipe I wanted to make but since I lacked some of the ingredients I had to make substitutions and then give the salad a brand new name:)
Just in case you've noticed I have become a fan of specialty oils and vinegars. My newest purchase is one with an amazing flavor called Lemongrass Mint White Balsamic Vinegar. It pairs well with asparagus, fish and salmon. Available at
Cut avocados brown easily so add in right before serving. Salad serves 4-6.
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 cups trimmed watercress or arugula (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 cups torn radicchio (1-inch pieces)
  • 1 small avocado, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup sliced radishes
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced spring onions or scallions
  • 2 TB.fresh lime juice
  • 1 TB. fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1 TB. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. fresh jalapeño
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • To hard-boil eggs, place in a small saucepan and cover with 1 inch of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook at the barest simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour out hot water and cover the eggs with ice-cold water. Let stand until cool enough to handle before peeling. Cut into quarters.
  • Combine watercress (or arugula), radicchio, avocado, radishes and onions (or scallions) in a salad bowl. Add the eggs. 
  • Combine lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, jalapeño, garlic and oil in a jar; cover and shake to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, if desired.
Mixed Greens Salad with Avocado- Radishes-Eggs
with White Balsamic Dressing
Salad serves 4.
Salad Ingredients:
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach, stems trimmed
  • 3 cups chopped Romaine
  • 2 small avocados, cut into bite size pieces 
  • 1-1/2 cups thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/2 cup diced green onions
  • 3/4 cup diced cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup honey roasted sliced almonds
White Balsamic Dressing
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or Lemongrass Mint White Balsamic or Pomegranate Quince  White Balsamic
  • 2 TB. honey or Agave Nectar
  • 1/4 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
Salad Directions:
  • Mix all salad ingredients and drizzle on dressing just before serving.
Dressing Ingredients: 
  • Mix all ingredients in a blender.


The World According to Bella

This is one of my many favorite nap spots, the landing on the stairs. I'm exhausted. Today I personally inspected and approved the dock being put in. But it seemed like forever as I watched Mr. C slowly put each piece together. I was impatient wanting him to be done so I could run back on forth on it and still keep a watchful eye on a loon swimming by.  

Mrs. S is always reading poems. I could hardly stay awake listening to her read this  one which was funny.
Love, Bella

I explained it to St. Peter,
I'd rather stay here
Outside the pearly gate.
I won't be a nuisance,
I won't even bark, I'll be very patient and wait,
I'll be here, chewing on a celestial bone,
No matter how long you may be.
I'd miss you so much, if I went in alone.
It wouldn't be heaven for me.

Unknown Poet

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Creamy Tomato Parmesan and Spinach Tortellini Soup with Grilled Cheese

April is Grilled Cheese Month? Creamy Tomato Parmesan and Spinach Tortellini Soup elevates the classic sandwich to a whole new level.  This stellar lunch/dinner will have you screaming for seconds. It's that good.

Creamy Parmesan Tomato and Spinach Tortellini Soup
Cook's notes: A creamy tomato soup with cheese tortellini, spinach and plenty of Parmesan cheese that is pure comfort food on a chilly spring day. It's packed with flavor and is ready in 30 minutes.  And it all can be made in a skillet with deep sides. Recipe adapted from

  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1 cup sweet onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • sprinkle red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5 oz. ) cans diced tomatoes-oregano and basil 
  • 2 TB. tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. each basil and parsley flakes
  • 1- 8 oz. package cheese tortellini (found in the dairy section)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • several handfuls of torn spinach leaves. stems removed 
  • 1/4 cup heavy/whipping cream or Greek yogurt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped (optional)

  • Heat oil in skillet over medium heat, add the onions and garlic, cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add in red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
  • Add flour to skillet and cook for another minute.
  • Add in broth, canned tomatoes with juices, tomato paste, sugar and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Puree 1/2 -3/4 of the mixture in a food processor or blender. Return to skillet adding to rest of diced tomatoes. Add in tortellini and cook on medium low heat until al dente about 6-8 minutes. 
  • Whisk in Parmesan cheese, torn spinach leaves and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on low until spinach leaves wilted and mixture is heated through.  
  • Option-Top soup with fresh basil to serve 
  • Option-Adding in 2 cups of cooked and shredded chicken or 8 ounces of cooked Italian sausage to make it even heartier.
Cooking Tips from
The Art of a Perfect Grilled Cheese Must...
  • be a closed sandwich, griddled on both sides.
  • have cheese as the primary ingredient. Other ingredients can complement the cheese, but none may overwhelm it.
  • be made with sliced bread. 
  • be served hot all the way through, with the cheese thoroughly melted.
  • be cooked on a flat, greased surface until golden brown. In extreme circumstances it may be cooked on an outdoor grill over an open fire. 
  • A grilled cheese may never be baked or deep-fried.
here is a link to 10 varieties of grilled cheese sandwiches  
Cook's notes: For this meal I went with a more traditional sandwich to pair with the creamy tomato Parmesan cheese soup.
Grilled Cheese:The Rachel Sandwich (aka Roast Turkey Reuben Sandwich)
A twist on the classic Reuben sandwich with roast turkey, creamy coleslaw or sauerkraut, tangy Russian dressing and Swiss cheese on seven grain though rye bread is the traditional choice. The following ingredients made 1 sandwich. Recipe from
1 TB. butter, room temperature
2 slices rye or seven grain,
1/2 cup swiss cheese, shredded and at room temperature
1-2 slices deli roast turkey
1/4 cup coleslaw or sauerkraut, squeezed, drained and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon Russsian dressing or Thousand Islands dressing

Ralph Fletcher is a master of metaphor, ace of alliteration, and prince of poetric expression. He is an American writer of children's pictures book, young adult fiction and poetry. Fletcher is also an educational consultant, and author of books for both children and professional educators on the craft of writing. I have had the privilege of hearing him speak at several conferences. 
His books on how to effectively use a writer's notebook are inspirational. This is one of my favorite Ralph Fletcher quotes..."I have often been asked how to become a better writer. I always say, go out and live the most exciting life you can, and never quit writing about it. Don't mix up the order."
Love poem writing:
by Ralph Fletcher
Time to leave my desk
and leave the house,
pulling the door behind.

I walk the way I write
starting out all creaky,
sort of stumbling along,
looking for a rhythm.

Each footstep is like a word
as it meets the blank page
followed by a pause
before the next one:
step, step, word...

This little gem of a book "Ordinary Things Poems from a Walk in Early Spring " is written for the young poet. Thirty-three poems reveal the extraordinary in the ordinary things found during a walk to and through the woods, and offer glimpses into how observation of the everyday fuels a young poet's creativity. Clotheslines, stone walls, streams, birches, leaves -- even a Volkswagen Beetle -- shine in a different light when seen through the poet's lens.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The World According to Bella and A Sweet Treat

My Happy Place
When Mr. C said we were going up north I couldn't believe my good fortune. I never expected a trip so soon and to my favorite happy place. It didn't take me long to redig my hole. Now I am back on yard duty. I've been busy keeping track of the chipmunks running around, swimming in the lake (ice is all out), gone on three walks, explored the woods, chased squirrels, took a nap on the front porch and in between kept track of all Mr. C's doings- all this in just 24 hours. 
And then the day got even better when I found out WWN published my last story. Be sure to check it out. 
Love, Bella

By Hilda Conkling

O little soldier with the golden helmet,

What are you guarding on my lawn?

You with your green gun

And your yellow beard

Why do you stand so stiff?

There is only grass to fight!

Carrot Cake
Cook's notes: A moist cake packed with lots of flavor. It's easy to put together and even better when shared with a friend over a cup of tea or coffee.  
Cake Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs beaten 
  • 2 tsp. baking soda 
  • 1 cup white sugar 
  • 1 cup brown sugar 
  • 2 TB. cinnamon 
  • 1-1/3 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1-3/4-2 cups grated carrots 
  • 1-1/2 crushed nuts e.g. walnuts or pecans
  • 1 cup white flour 
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour 
  • optional 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained 
  • optional 3/4 cup toasted coconut 
Cake Directions:
  • Grease a 13 x 9 glass pan.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup nuts for topping.  
  • Beat eggs, add in rest of ingredients.
  • Mix well beating about 2 minutes. 
  • Bake @350 degrees for 25- 30 minutes 
Cream Cheese Frosting and Directions:  
  • 3 cups powdered sugar 
  • 1 TB. vanilla 
  • 3-oz. package softened cream cheese 
  • 1/2 cup milk and add more in as needed to get right consistency 
  • Sprinkle crushed nuts on top 
  • Refrigerate and remove about ½ hour before serving 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Roasted Sweet Potatoes Southwest Style

Roasted Sweet Potatoes Southwest Style  

Cook's notes: There’s nothing like a little Southwestern twist to spice up roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes! These potatoes are lightly dusted with chile powder, paprika, cumin and a touch of red pepper flakes before heading into the oven where they bake up crispy with a deep rusty-golden color. It's a great side dish to serve with hamburgers, salmon or chicken. 
recipe adapted from
  • 1-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (3 cups)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 TB. olive oil or Tuscan Herb Olive Oil  
  • 1/2 tsp. chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • coarse salt and fresh black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Toss sweet potatoes, bell pepper and onions with oil in large bowl. Spread evenly on baking sheet. 
  • Mix chile powder, paprika, cumin and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle over sweet potatoes or regular potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Roast 45 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender, stirring halfway through cooking time.

National Poetry Month, which takes place each April, is a celebration of poetry introduced in 1996 and organized by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. It brings together publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools, and poets around the country to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.
This poem and picture represents the romantic era perfectly. As a picture, it shows a flower which is part of nature. The poem itself speaks of how everything is connected to nature, and how everything is connected through nature.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice Skillet Casserole

Celebrate the warmth of the season with an easy skillet southwestern meal so you have more time to enjoy the sunshine.
Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice Skilllet Casserole is sure to be a family favorite. 

Cook's notes: Use a deli chicken rotisserie as a time saver. Recipe inspired by and serves 6. 
  • 3 cups cooked chicken 
  • 3 cups cooked  basmati whole grain brown rice, brown rice, white rice or a box of Spanish rice ( follow the directions on the box)  
  • 1-1/2 TB. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup sweet mini red and yellow sweet peppers, diced 
  • 1 cup steam fresh canned corn kernels, drained
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  •  3/4 cup mild enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 cup mild green enchilada sauce 
  • 1 can (10 oz.) mild Rotel diced tomatoes with chiles 
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin 
  •  1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • optional 2 TB. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • optional 1-1/2 cups crushed Frito Lay chips 
  • Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion and bell pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir in cooked rice, cooked chicken, corn, black beans, enchilada sauces, chili powder, cumin, oregano and 1 cup of cheese. Mix well. 
  • Heat covered on low heat 25 minutes. Stir a few times. Add in last 1/2 cup cheese mix and cook 2 minutes more.
  • Remove from heat. Serve immediately and garnish with cilantro and crushed chips.
Spring Is
by Bobbi Katz
Spring is when
the morning sputters like
so fast you can hardly keep up with them
spring is when
your scrambled eggs
and turn into a million daffodils
trembling in the sunshine.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tomato Avocado Cucumber Salad and A Shout Out to Beverly Cleary

I once read that more than the other seasons, spring is a state of mind. As you know, it can strike in the dead of winter or go AWOL all April and May. It is the season of hope as evenings lengthen and grey turns to green. Enjoy spring as it awakens all senses.
Tomato-Cucumber-Avocado Salad
Cook's notes: I noticed the price of avocados were quite reasonable this week. This is quick and tasty side for lunch or dinner. The photo below shows an easy way to cut an avocado in neat chunks. Recipe comes from  and serves 2 but can easily be increased. 
Cooking tips:

  • Soak the red onion slice in a little water, for a couple of minutes, before mincing. This will remove some of the raw onion taste.
  • Avocado does not refrigerate well. So if you are not eating it right away, wait to add the avocado until just before serving.
  • It you want to make a vegan version of this tomato, cucumber, avocado salad then substitute kalamata olives for the feta cheese.

  • 1 ½ cups of chopped tomatoes - I used cherry tomatoes two different colors for more interest
  • 1 cucumber - peeled and seeded then diced
  • 1 avocado - diced
  • 4 oz feta cheese - cubed or freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 1 handful parsley - minced - about 2 TB. 
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1 TB. red wine vinegar
  • 8 twists of black pepper from a pepper mill
  • Dice tomatoes in half  and pat dry on  paper towel. Add to a bowl.
  • Peel and seed one cucumber and dice. Add to bowl.
  • Remove pit, dice avocado and using a spoon scoop out the avocado from the peel. Add to bowl.
  • Cube feta and add to bowl.
  • Add minced red onion and minced parsley to bowl.
  • Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar and black pepper - pour over salad.
  • Toss gently so the feta and avocado don't break up. Serve immediately.
  • If refrigerating - keep the avocado aside and add just before severing.
Other Dressing Options:
Whisk together juice of 2 limes, 2 TB. olive oil, 1 TB. minced cilantro
Balsamic Reduction 
Mix together in a saucepan 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 TB. brown sugar
Bring to a boil and reduce by half, set aside to cool.

April 12th birthday for Beverly Cleary and what a birthday this must to reach the age of 99.
Celebrate her special day by rereading one of your favorite books.
These books are two of my favorites 

Beverly Cleary (born April 12, 1916) is an American author of more than 30 books for young adults and children. One of America's most successful writers of children's literature, she has sold 91 million copies of her books worldwide. Some of her best-known characters are Henry Huggins, Ribsy, Beatrice,Beatrice ("Beezus") Quimby, her sister Ramona Quimby and Ralph S. Mouse. She won the 1981 National Book Award for "Ramona and Her Mother" and the 1984 Newberry for "Dear Mr. Henshaw".

For her lifetime contributions to American literature Cleary has received the National Medal of Arts, recognition as a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress and the Laura Inglass Wilder Medal from the Children's Librarians.