Sunday, January 31, 2016

A MCCBD Follow-Up Note and Celebrating Langston Hughes

A note from the co-founders of the MCCBD event

Of course the big news this week was the occurrence and success of Multicultural Children’s Book Day on 1/27. This huge online nation event continues to grow and be successful beyond our wildest dreams. There were so many amazing book reviews with activities offered up by review bloggers in honor of this event. In fact, if you revisit the MCCBD Link-up, you’ll see over 250 multicultural book reviews from several hundred reviewers that were posted by the end of the day.
Our mission for this event was to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries. Thanks to extended media attention, social media and the help of all involved with Multicultural Children’s Book Day, we feel we achieved all of that {and then some!} and we couldn’t be prouder!
Read about some of Valerie Budayr's one of the co-founders of this event, top picks books with related activities from the event.  which include: 

Langston Hughes ( February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967)

Langston Hughes was a writer of plays, novels, children's books, poetry, short stories, operettas and newspaper columns. Hughes was probably the foremost poet among African Americans and the first to make a living from his work. Dubbed the “Negro Poet Laureate”and the “Poet Laureate of Harlem,” he focused on the lives of urban blacks and was especially known for his sardonic and witty depictions of racism in the United States. He sought not only to sing of Black America in his poems, but to do it in everyday language. 
He was the first and most successful writer to incorporate African-American musical traditions like blues, jazz and spirituals into literature.  Hughes was one of the earliest innovators of the then new literary art form jazz poetry. In 1926 he published his first book of poetry "The Weary Blues". Despite all his travels and moves, Harlem remained central in his life during the 1920's. He was most impressed with the writings of Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg. During the Harlem Renaissance his literary works helped shape American literature and politics. Through his poetry, novels, essays and children's books he promoted equality, condemned racism and injustice.
In 2002 on the 100 celebration of his birth date, United States issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor.
I found it difficult to choose a favorite poem because there are so many of his poems I have come to appreciate over the years. This Langston Hughes book of poetry is one of my favorites.
Many of Hughes’s best early poems explore the nature of and the beauty in the African element of African-American identity.
My People
The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.
The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people.
Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful,also are the souls of my people.

Dreams are a recurring theme in Hughes’s work. For Hughes, poets are not just dreamers, but dream keepers for their people.
The Dream Keeper
Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamers,
Bring me all of your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

"Humor is laughing at what you haven't got when you ought to have it.”
Langston Hughes

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Weekend Round-Up

Mexican Seven Layer Dip
Midwest Living Best Game Day Foods
Easy 30 minute Chicken Fajitas
Crab Dip
What a Bonanza! Check this link out
103 Super Bowl Part Recipes

Southwestern Breakfast Casserole
Cook's notes: Loved this dish that's packed with lots of flavor and cheesy goodness. A perfect brunch item for company. The ingredients can be prepped the day before and the dish assembled in the morning. 
  • 3/4 lb. chorizo or pork sausage
  • 1 TB. olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup each diced red and green peppers
  • 1 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 package (9 oz.) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry  
  • 4 cups frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
  • 1 package Fiesta or Mexican Four Cheeses blend, 2 cups, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups 2 % milk 
  • 6 large eggs beaten
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp. Mexican seasoning (see note at bottom of recipe) 
  • Brown sausage and drain on a paper towels, pat dry.
  • Heat oil and saute onions and peppers. Drain on a paper towel.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 pan or a large 9-10 inch quiche dish. 
  • In a large bowl mix hashbrowns, sausage, onions, peppers, spinach, 1 cup cheese and salt and pepper. Place in baking dish.
  • Beat eggs, milk and seasoning together and slowly pour milk mixture over hashbrown mixture. Top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake casserole uncovered 45-50 minutes. Let set 8-10 minutes before cutting. 
Bon Appetit!
Homemade Mexican Seasoning previously posted
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano 
  • 2 tsp. paprika or smoked paprika 
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • dash salt and pepper
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves 
  • Mix and store in a covered container.
Best Poem of the Week by Billy Collins 

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Shrimp Avocado Grapefruit Salad with Some Random Acts of Kindness

Shrimp, Avocado and Grapefruit Salad 

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light and serves 4.
Cook's notes: This fresh citrus salad is light and filling as a main dish entree. Adding in red onion balances out the tart and pomegranates give it a pop of color and crunch. A time saver is using fully cooked frozen shrimp that is thawed, deveined, peeled and tail on. Directions include cooking steps if using  fresh shrimp. 
Salad Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • 12 ounces peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large grapefruit or two blood oranges
  • 1 cup red onion strips
  • 1/3 cup pomegranates seeds
  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 peeled avocado, cut into 12 wedges 
Salad Directions:
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 ½ teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle shrimp with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add shrimp to pan; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done, stirring frequently. Remove from pan; keep warm.
  • Peel and section grapefruit over a bowl.
  • Add 2 cups lettuce mixture on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 3 avocado wedges; divide shrimp and grapefruit or orange sections evenly among servings and drizzle with citrus dressing.
Citrus Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 3 TB. lime juice
  • 2 TB. honey
  • 1/3 cup olive oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp.Dijon mustard
Citrus Dressing Directions:
  • Add to blender ingredients and mix well.
  • Refrigerate until needed.
The nightly onslaught of news can be depressing. Often I wish to hear more good things happen. I propose a segment that would regularly run at the end of the newscast showing some random acts of kindness and maybe a follow-up how it spiraled into some unexpected happenings.
Random acts of kindness are a means by which we make a deliberate attempt to brighten another person's day by doing something thoughtful, nice, and caring.
Here are some proposed ideas or create your own.

  • Send someone a hand written note of thanks.
  • Make a card at home and send it to a friend for no reason.
  • Buy a lottery ticket for a stranger.
  • Put some coins in someone else’s parking meter.
  • Cut your neighbour’s lawn.
  • Walk your friend’s dog.
  • Give a compliment about your waiter / waitress to his / her manager.
  • Send someone a small gift anonymously.
  • Let someone jump the queue at the bank.
  • Pay for the drinks on the next table at a café.
  • Treat a friend to the movies for no reason.
  • Give a huge tip to someone when they least expect it.
  • Hold the train door open for someone rushing to get in.
  • Give up your seat for someone, not just an elderly person.
  • Write notes of appreciation at least once a week.
  • Talk to a homeless person and have a “normal” conversation.
  • Pick up some rubbish in the road or yard which would otherwise be lying around.
  • Compliment a work colleague for their excellence.
  • Recommend a competitor to a potential client.
  • Give another driver your parking spot.
  • Be more courteous to merging traffic.
  • Help an elderly neighbour carry the rubbish out.
  • Tell all your family members how much your appreciate them.
  • Leave a copy of an interesting book on a train / bus.
  • Buy an inspirational book for a friend.
  • Send a thank you note to a person who has helped you in the past.
  • Smile a lot.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Game Day Foods with a Mexican Flair

Southwestern Chicken Toastados

Southwest Chicken Tostados
Cook’s notes: Prepare all ingredients and set them in prep bowls to make for easy assembly.

  • 1 deli rotisserie chicken
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 package 6 inch white or yellow corn tortillas
  • 1 jar of chunky salsa mild or hot
  • Grape tomatoes, diced and patted dry on a paper towel 
  • Shredded lettuce
  • 1 package of Four Mexican Cheeses Blend-low fat
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet. 
  • Debone the chicken.
  • Place 6 tortillas on the cookie sheet. Spread 2 TB. of refried beans on each tortilla to ½ inch of the edge. Spread 3 TB. chopped chicken pieces on top of the refried beans. Sprinkle with 2-3 TB, cheese. 
  • Bake 5 minutes or until heated through. Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, 2 TB. salsa and sprinkle with cheese. Serve open face on a large platter. 
Southwestern Spinach Dip 
  • 1/2 package (9 oz.) frozen spinach 
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, fat free, softened 
  • 3/4 cup diced onions
  • 10 oz. Rotel Tomatoes, drained
  • 3TB. Green Chilies, drained 
  • 1 package Four Mexican Cheeses Blend-low fat ( 8oz.), 1-1/2 cups, divided
  • dash garlic powder 
  • 1/2 tsp.cumin 
  • salt and pepper 
  • Dash red pepper flakes 
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • black olives (optional) 
  • jalapeno (optional) 
  • milk

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Thaw and drain spinach well, removing all water, squeeze dry with paper towels. 
  • In a large mixing bowl add cream cheese, tomatoes, chiles, onion, garlic, cumin. salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, balsamic vinegar,3/4 cup Mexican Cheeses and Parmesan cheese. Mix well using a mixer. May need to add a tablespoon of milk when mixing ingredients.
  • Pour cheese mixture into a 1-1/2-2 qt. baking dish.
  • Top with remaining cheese. 
  • Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.
  • Serve with tortilla chips, salsa and sour cream.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Celebrate a Literary Event with Mocha Cupcakes and Espresso Spiked Buttercream Frosting

Happy Multicultural Children's Book Day! #ReadYourWorld #MCCBD2016 
Ways to Celebrate 
1. Check out this amazing list of 182 Multicultural Children's Book Reviews. 

Look for Ever Ready #48  
Multicultural Book List

2. Join the Twitter Party (1/27/16, 9PM ET)! Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld and win BOOKS!:

3. Check out the amazing list of  MCCBD Sponsors and Co-Hosts
Platinum – Wisdom Tales Press, StoryQuest Books, Lil Libros
Gold – Author Tori Nighthawk, Candlewick Press Bharat Babies
Silver – Lee and Low Books, Chronicle Books , Capstone Young Readers
Turtle Publishing, NY Media Works
Bronze – Pomelo Books, Author Jacqueline Woodson, Papa Lemon Books,Goosebottom Books,Author Gleeson Rebello, ShoutMouse Press,Author Mahvash Shahegh, China liveoakmedia 

and MCCBD Co-Hosts you can view them here.

4. Join the Classroom Reading4. Challenge and teachers can earn a free diversity  book. There's still time the deadline has been extended.
#teachers, #books httbookp://

5. Sit back and enjoy freshly baked cupcakes. 

Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso Spiked Buttercream Frosting
Cook's notes: These cupcakes are coffee and espresso-infused, with a subtle chocolate flavor, and topped with an espresso-spiked buttercream frosting. Even if you aren't a coffee lover there is lots to love about these cupcakes, especially the buttercream frosting. The recipe is low maintenance in terms of preparation. I used my hand mixer and had these cupcakes into the oven less than 30 minutes after I got started. The texture is so incredibly soft and tender, with not even a hint of dryness. And the flavor will make you think of a Cafe Mocha. I wanted to sprinkle chocolate covered espresso beans on top but local coffee shop was out. As luck would have it I had chocolate covered cashews on hand which worked perfectly.    
(Cupcake recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction) and makes 12 regular size cupcakes.

For the Cupcakes:

  • ½ cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • 1½ tsp. espresso powder
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 TB. Kahlua
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp.baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
For the Espresso Buttercream Frosting:
  • 4 TB. butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. espresso powder
  • 1 TB. Kahlua 
  • 2 TB. milk
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard-size muffin tin with paper liners.
  • Make the cupcakes: In a measuring cup, whisk the espresso powder into the brewed coffee until completely dissolved. Add the milk, Kahlua and vanilla extract; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of the coffee mixture, mixing each until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, give the batter a final stir to ensure everything is incorporated.
  • Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting the cupcakes.
  • Make the Frosting: In a small bowl, whisk the espresso powder into the vanilla and Kahlua until dissolved. beat in powdered sugar add only enough milk to attain right frosting consistency. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Time to Celebrate

Looking ahead to January 27th MCCBD day to shine. The MCCBD team’s mission is to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. A link will be available on that day on this post to access multicultural book reviews. Look for the book review I posted recently.

Share the post book review "Don't Judge a Bird by it's Feathers" 
for Multicultural Children’s Book Day and related activities with #ReadYourWorld”
The Classroom Reading Challenge has begun! Teachers can earn a free diversity book! #teachers, #books

A big thanks to MCCBD Sponsors
Platinum – Wisdom Tales Press, StoryQuest Books, Lil Libros
Gold – Author Tori Nighthawk, Candlewick Press Bharat Babies
Silver – Lee and Low Books, Chronicle Books , Capstone Young Readers
Turtle Publishing, NY Media Works
Bronze – Pomelo Books, Author Jacqueline Woodson, Papa Lemon Books,Goosebottom Books,Author Gleeson Rebello, ShoutMouse Press, Author Mahvash Shahegh, China liveoakmedia and MCCBD Co-Hosts you can view them here.

In honor of this special day I made an original dessert for the upcoming celebration

Butterscotch Brownie Trifle 
Cook's notes: I needed a fancy dessert to serve, had limited supplies and did not want to make another grocery store run. A recipe I found online was the inspiration for this creation. It was the perfect celebrating type of dessert.  
The basic butterscotch brownie recipe below comes from the back wrapper of Nestles Toll House Butterscotch Morsels.  Toffee bits were added to the batter.
  • 1-11 oz. package of Nestles Butterscotch Morsels (you will need 1 cup) 
  • 1 cup toffee bits
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp.baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp.salt
  • 1 stick butter and 1 stick margarine, room temperature
  • 1-3/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 TB. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup toffee bits
  • 1/4 cup each toasted coconut and toasted chopped pecans
  • 1/2 pint whipping cream 
  • 2 TB Kahlua or Baileys Irish Cream 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a ungreased 9 x 9 baking pan.
  • Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  • Beat sugar, butter and vanilla until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Mix well. 
  • Stir  in 1 cup butterscotch chips and 1 cup toffee bits.
  • Bake brownies 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from the center. 
  • Cool pan on a wire rack. 
  • Beat whipping cream and add in Kahlua or Baileys
To assemble trifle
  • In the bottom of a sherbet or margarita glass add large crumbled pieces of cooked brownies. 
  • Spread whipped cream mixture on brownies and add another layer of crumbled brownies, topped with whipped cream mixture. Sprinkle each serving with toasted pecans/coconut mixture. 

Check out Bella's latest posting Things Are Looking Up

A Little Bit of Comfort with a January Thaw

Note: January temperatures are on the upswing for the Midwest-at least not a deep, frigid freeze! 

January Thaw 
by Carol Fleming Klein

Sunlight, sparkling at my windowpane
Gliding across the floor,
Outstretched hand inviting me to dance.
And I long to hear you knockin'
at my door.

Sunlight, caressing on my face
Warming blues and greens
Tugging at my heart with dancing rays
Pine limbs beckon-on to sun-glad scenes.

Sunlight-calling, imperious with no restraint
Flashing in my eyes, commanding to my soul.
Oh why must you arrive so late!
Come whirl and dance in union
-before my curfews toll.

source: poem hunter

Old Fashioned Chicken and Noodles Lasagna
Cook's notes: A chicken dish with a twist using savory chicken pot pie filling and no boil oven lasagna noodles. A tasty comfort dish for a chilly evening. Advance preparation: cut celery, onions, mushrooms  and carrots ahead and refrigerate. Use 3 cups deli rotisserie chicken.
  • 3 Tb. butter
  • 1 cup each diced carrots, celery, potatoes and mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup diced onions
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3-1/4 cups chicken broth (low sodium-fat free)
  • 1 TB. Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 TB. parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. herbes de Provence
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, diced
  • 1/4 cup each white wine and heavy cream
  • 1-34 cups Parmesan cheese divided
  • no boil lasagna noddles 
  • Grease a 8x8 square or rectangle baking dish. 
  • In a large fry pan melt 3 TB. butter. Add in carrots, celery, mushrooms, potatoes and onions. Sprinkle spices over the mixture and stir fry for 8-10 minutes until carrots and potatoes are tender-crisp. 
  • Add in 1/3 cup flour and stir for 3 minutes until flour is golden. Slowly add in chicken broth and stir until it boils and thickens. Whisk in mustard.
  • Add in chicken, peas, 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese,wine and cream. Cook on low uncovered for 6-8 minutes. 
  • Line bottom of pan with 4 noodles and pour half of sauce over it. Layer with 4 more noodles and rest of sauce. Grate remaining cheese over sauce. 
  • Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover, grate a little more cheese and cook 10 minutes longer. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. 
Bon Appetit!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Weekend Round-Up

Some of the Week's Best 
Quinoa Enchilada  Casserole
Cook's notes: This recipe is an easy one pot meal. Healthy goodies like protein and fiber are added in by baking with quinoa instead of tortillas. This dish can also be served as healthy game day snack with low fat chips. 
The following links are helpful as they feature chip products that are healthy choices.

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole recipe adapted from
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 (10-ounce) can mild enchilada sauce
  • 1-(4 oz.) can chopped green chiles, drained and patted dry on a paper towel 
  • 3/4 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup corn kernels, canned, roasted or frozen  
  • 2 TB. chopped fresh cilantro leaves or 1 tsp. dried cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp.chili powder
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2-1/2 cups Shredded Four Cheeses Mexican Blend, divided
  • 3/4 cup diced grape tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil an 8x8 or 2 quart baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.
    • In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, enchilada sauce, green chiles, corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, cilantro, cumin and chili powder; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in 1-1/4 cups cheese blend.
    • Spread quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Place in oven and bake until bubbly and cheese has melted, about 20 minutes.
    • Serve immediately, garnish with diced avocados if desired. Serve with chips.
    Greek Chicken Salad Sandwiches 
    Recipe adapted from Cooking Class
    Cooking Tip: When a recipe calls for cold cooked chicken try this idea. Place chicken in a zip loc bag. Add to the bag 1-1/2 cups buttermilk. This step tenderizes  the meat.
    Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Drain chicken and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with 1-1/2 tsp. herbes de Provence. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Let meat rest 10 minutes before cutting.   
    Cook's notes: This open faced sandwich is packed with yummy Greek flavors, texture and healthy ingredients. I made mine with a warmed flour tortilla but pita bread would be another good choice. I particularly liked the Tzatziki Sauce. Instead of mixing the sauce with salad ingredients I just added a dollop of sauce on top of the sandwich. Either way works.    

    • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, chilled to cool and diced or 3 cups rotisserie chicken from  the deli
    • 1 cup diced mini Persian cucumbers, patted dry on a paper towel 
    • 3/4 cup sliced grape tomatoes (I sliced each into 3 slices) 
    • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled 
    • 1/3 cup chopped red onion 
    • 1/4 cup diced Kalamata olives (optional)
    • 3 Tbsp sliced almonds (optional) 
    Tzatziki Sauce/Dressing
    • 1/4 cup non-fat or low-fat plain Greek yogurt 
    • 1/4 cup sour cream 
    • 1 clove garlic, minced 
    • 1 TB. chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried) 
    • 1 TB. chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried) 
    • 1 TB. lemon juice, preferably fresh 
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
    Salad Directions
    • In a mixing bowl add, diced chicken, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, red onion, Kalamata olives and sliced almonds. Add dressing and toss to evenly coat. Serve over bread, rolls, croissants, wraps, or in pita pockets. For best results serve within 3 hours of preparing (for best crunchiness of cucumbers and almonds), store in refrigerator. 
    Dressing Directions:
    • In a mixing bowl, whisk all of the dressing ingredients together to blend and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
    Poetry begins with a lump in the throat" - so said the late, great Robert Frost. While Frost was referring to the poet's writing process, the same can certainly be said of the ability poetry has to strike a chord - just a few beautifully composed lines can have more power and pull than whole reams of prose.

    Here some of the most poignant  lines of poetry ever written - the ones that, once read, stay with you for days, months and even years to follow.

    "And when wind and winter harden / All the loveless land, / It will whisper of the garden, / You will understand."
    To My Wife by Oscar Wilde

    "Between my finger and my thumb/ The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun."
    Digging, by Seamus Heaney

    "If you can fill the unforgiving minute / With sixty seconds' worth of distance run - / Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, / And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!"
    If by Rudyard Kipling

    O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done; / The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;"
    O Captain! My Captain!, by Walt Whitman

    The caged bird sings with a fearful trill / Of things unknown but longed for still / And his tune is heard on the distant hill / For the caged bird sings of freedom."
    I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

    Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate"
    Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare

    Note: There are many more memorable lines in fact 50 total on this site to enjoy. Check it out 

    Friday, January 22, 2016

    Healthy Friday

    Weather Alert: It's all about the East Coast weather on the TV stations here in Arizona the past 24 hours. The threat of a huge winter storm seems to be prompting panic and preparations since the head of the National Weather Service declared tens of millions of people could be effected. 
    I though I'd share a poem about peaceful snowfall…the kind one wants to have on a January weekend. Let's hope this massive predicted snowfall does not happen.

    Snow Fall
    by May Sarton

    With no wind blowing
    It sifts gently down,
    Enclosing my world in
    A cool white down,
    A tenderness of snowing.

    It falls and falls like sleep
    Till wakeful eyes can close
    On all the waste and loss
    As peace comes in and flows,
    Snow-dreaming what I keep.

    Silence assumes the air
    And the five senses all
    Are wafted on the fall
    To somewhere magical
    Beyond hope and despair.

    There is nothing to do
    But drift now, more or less
    On some great lovingness,
    On something that does bless,
    The silent, tender snow.

    May Sarton (May 3, 1912-July 16, 1995) is the pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton, an
    American poet, novelist and memorist.

    Chicken or Turkey Salad with Cranberries & Pecans. A healthy recipe with yogurt.:
    Yogurt Chicken Salad
    Recipe from
    • 4 cups chicken or turkey breast, cooked and diced
    • 1/2 cup celery
    • 1/2 cup cranberries, dried
    • 1 1/2 TB. tarragon, fresh or 1 tsp.dried tarragon
    • 1 tsp.dried parsley flakes
    • 1 TB. honey
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, light, Miracle Whip, light or 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
    • 1/4 tsp. black pepper, ground
    • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
    • 1/2 cup Pecans, toasted
    • Mix salad ingredients and refrigerate several hours. 
    • Serve on toasted whole grain bread.
    Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps
    Cook's notes: A healthy dinner crowd pleaser for game day snacking and a meal the kids will love.  There has been an ongoing debate the last few years over ground turkey being a healthier option than lean ground beef. Check out these enlightening links.
    • 1 Tb. olive oil
    • 3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
    • 1 lb. 95% lean ground turkey or 95% lean ground beef.
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 TB. chili powder (preferably 2 tsp regular chili powder and 1 tsp ancho chili powder)
    • 1 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1/2 tsp. paprika
    • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
    • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
    • Romaine or butter leaf  leaves, doubled up, for serving
    • Shredded Mexican cheese, diced Roma tomatoes, diced red onion, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, light sour cream, for serving
    • Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute 2 minutes. Add turkey and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing and breaking up turkey occasionally, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. 
    • Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, tomato sauce and chicken broth. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered about 5 minutes until sauce has reduced. Serve mixture over lettuce leaves with desired toppings.
    Recipe source: filling loosely adapted from Cooks Illustrated and 

      Thursday, January 21, 2016

      White Corn Tortilla Chorizo Quiche

      Celebrate Mexican Thursday Fiesta with  
       Southwestern Corn Tortilla Chorizo Quiche 
      Cook's notes:This Southwestern dish is definitely a showstopper fit for any meal. A white corn tortilla crust is packed with flavor using chorizo sausage, Mexican cheeses, tomatoes, peppers, onions, green chile and  seasoning. Browning meat and sauteing peppers with onions ahead makes preparation easier.  Degree of hotness can be controlled with amount of seasoning and chiles used. Your favorite toppings  of cilantro, sour cream and salsa can be added right before serving. I loved the dish!
      • 1/2 lb. chorizo pork or beef sausage
      • 1/2 cup each diced red and green pepper
      • 3/4 cup diced, sweet onions
      • 1 cup grape tomatoes diced
      • 1 TB. green chile peppers, drained
      • 6-6 inch white corn tortilla (Super Soft brand) 
      • 1-1/2 cups Mexican Four Cheeses Blend
      • 6 beaten large eggs
      • 1/2 cup heavy cream 
      • 3/4 cup  half and half (low fat)
      • 1/4-1/2 tsp.Mexican Seasoning (see notation at bottom of recipe)
      • Spray a large 9 inch quiche or pie plate with cooking spray. Arrange 5 tortillas around the baking dish so they overlap on bottom and up sides extending up over the rim of the baking dish. Lay sixth tortilla in center of baking dish bottom. 

      • Place 2 sheets of paper towels together on counter. Set diced tomatoes on paper towels.
      • Brown the sausage, drain it really well and place with tomatoes. Saute onions and peppers. Add in chiles and place with meat mixture. 
      • Transfer meat mixture from paper towels to the center of tortilla shells. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese mixture.
      • In a bowl, mix eggs, cream, half and half and Mexican spice seasoning. Pour the egg mixture slowly over ingredients in tortilla crust.Don't worry if some of the the liquid runs underneath the shells. 
      • Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and puffy or until set in middle. Let quiche rest 5 minutes before cutting. Add your favorite toppings. 

      Cook's notes: I did not have any Mexican seasoning so I ended up making my own which was easy. A bonus it is cheaper than a store bought spice. Store in a covered container. I did check online and Penzy Spices has one. Read through the list of this recipe below which are the basic Mexican seasoning ingredients and look at your local grocery store for a similar product.  
      Homemade Mexican Seasoning
      • 1 tsp. chili powder
      • 1 tsp. garlic powder
      • dash red pepper flakes
      • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano 
      • 2 tsp. paprika or smoked paprika 
      • 1 tsp. cumin
      • dash salt and pepper
      • pinch of ground cinnamon
      • pinch of ground cloves 
      • Mix and store in a covered container.

      Wednesday, January 20, 2016

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