Grandma’s Great Chicken

This is THE recipe!  This is the one thing that I have made hundreds of times that always turns out perfect and gets all the compliments.  My kids eat it, my husband’s Grandma says it is her favorite, it makes your kitchen smell delicious…  what else do you need to know?

This was my Grandma’s recipe.  My Mom actually had it published in a small cookbook under “Mom’s Great Chicken.”

I was actually pictured on the inside cover!!!

The only change I have made to the recipe is to replace the butter.  We keep a kosher home – so not meat and dairy.  For a while I would use margarine (YUCK!).  I don’t even keep that stuff in my house anymore.  Lately I have been using avocado oil – but any oil will work perfectly.  Feel free to use butter if you want.  I don’t even measure the spices anymore.  I just sprinkle think of my Grandma and enjoy!

Grandma’s Great Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken cut into pieces (keep bone in and skin on)
  • 1/4 c oil (avocado, canola, or other neutral oil)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp basil

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler
  2. In a shallow baking pan pour the oil coating the bottom of the pan.
  3. Place the chicken, skin side down, in the pan.
  4. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  5. Sprinkle half of dry ingredients on chicken.
  6. Broil 20 min.
  7. Turn chicken over.
  8. Sprinkle remaining dry ingredients.
  9. Broil 20 minutes.
  10. ***Note - if skin begins to burn, turn your broiler down to cook chicken fully
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Book Club – 10 more books!

HeartIn 20014 I posted about this awesome book club I was in with my friend Erica and a list of our first 10 books.  Unfortunately, for scheduling reasons our book club fell apart.  Do not despair – Erica and I are still good friends and see each other often!

Without the motivation of a book club – my reading definitely fell off.  My friend Andrea invited me to her super motivated book club.  It has been about a year and we have ready some great books that I wanted to share.

1.  Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

2.  Beartown by  Fredrik Backman

3.  Born a Crime byTrevor Noah

4.  In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero

5.  We Were Liars by  E. Lockhart

6.  When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

7.  All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

8.  It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

9.  Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt

10.  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Random things I love to tell people about… Hot Water Bottle

When I discover something that I think is so cool, smart and that I use all the time – I love to tell people about it as much as possible!

Number one on the list of random things I love to tell people about is….  my HOT WATER BOTTLE!

A few years ago I had an infection in my finger and was at brunch at a friend’s house.  She pulled out a water bottle just like this one and filled it with ice and water for me to cool my finger.  She told me how she uses it all the time for hot or cold.  I immediately bought one.

I use it much more for hot then cold.  I have ulcerative colitis – when I am in a flair I fill it half with boiling water and half warm water and put it on my stomach.  It immediately calms my symptoms and puts my right to sleep.  When my boys have upset tummies – I do the same for them.

We have been living through an arctic freeze in the Northeast.  I have been filling it with hot water and putting it in my bed to warm it up before I go to sleep.

I love how it molds to whatever body part you put it on – a sore shoulder, or ankle?  Fill it with ice and water.  Seriously, one of my favorite things!

Lentil Veggie Instant Pot Chili

Lentil Veggie Instant Pot Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 large green or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium green or yellow squash (zucchini), diced
  • 3 cups (about 8 ounces) fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 26-ounce container diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 16-ounce canned corn, drained (optional)
  • 1 16-ounce can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 cup rinsed green lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. Wash and chop veggies.
  2. Push saute button on Instant Pot.
  3. Heat oil add garlic and onion; sauté for a minute or two.
  4. Turn off saute, then add remaining ingredients.
  5. Stir until combined
  6. Place lid on and lock.
  7. Press the manual button and set for 20 minutes.
  8. When timer is done, use natural release.
  9. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.
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I have been making veggie chili for 15 years.  Ever since my husband and I were married and we started keeping a kosher home.  The most important ingredient in chili for me?  CHEESE!  Which means no more meat chili for me.  I used to make this on the stove, but since I got my Instant Pot a year ago, I want to make everything in it!  I added lentils recently and replaced half of the beans.  My little one, LOVES lentils and despises beans.  Best of both worlds!

8 Nights???

 

Do you really do give presents for 8 nights of chanukkah?  For us – in November is 2 of my 3 sons birthdays.  By the time Channukah comes around – I do not want any more presents in the house.  But it is not their fault that they were born in November.  How do we do Channukah with trying to find some balance.

Night 1 – Big Present – why not start out with a bang.  We usually have thought of something big for all of us to enjoy.  Last year was Hamilton Tickets.  This year, a new video gaming system.

Night 2 – Family Night – we give them gifts from Grandparents or cousins.  We do not need to give our own gifts on top of these.  Spread the love!

Night 3 – Charity Night.  We have been doing this for years with mostly good success.  This is a night where we give each other NO presents.  For real – NO presents!  We light the candles, sing the songs, and then sit around and discuss issues that matter to us and why.  We then let each child pick a charity to send their allocated money.  Right now, we are providing them the money to donate.  I hope in the future they will be moved to send some of their own.  The age of your children will dictate how successful this will be.  One year, my little one said he wanted to give money to The Children’s Museum (we give them enough money on our tickets).  One year, my little one couldn’t wrap his head around not getting a present.  There were some tears, but his older brothers set the tone and he was able to calm down and make peace with one night of no presents.

Night 4 – Random little things they have been asking for.  I usually start buying things they ask for and store it away and pull it all together for one night of chanukkah.  This year, #1 wants an exacto knife with a rubber board for doing paper cutting.  #2 wants an amp for his electric guitar (yes he is 7!).

Night 5 – Family Night – other side of the family – cousins, Nana?

Night 6 – Pajamas – who doesn’t love a new pair of comfy pjs.  This year target to the rescue.  Harry potter, darth vadar and spiderman pj’s for my boys!

Night 7 – Board Games – We are a big board game family.  My husband would be thrilled to sit around all day and play board games with the boys.  This year we gave them Otrio which has been a huge hit!

Night 8 – Books – I am so proud to say that I have a house full of readers!  A new set of books some that we would like them to read – others like graphic novels that I know they will read over and over again.

 

Boom!  We are then done with the 8 nights!  Hopefully we haven’t filled the house with a ton of junk.  I also like to take this time to force the boys to donate toys and games they don’t use anymore.

 

Happy Holidays!

Party Favor Ideas that aren’t a bag of plastic crap!

Now that we are in December I have just finished celebrating 2 of my 3 sons birthdays.  It made me think of party favors.  In general – I would love to just not have party favors at all!  It is a super strange thing.  You invite your child’s friends to come and celebrate.  You spend a bunch of money providing entertainment, renting a space, and buying food.  You then need to spend more money on a parting gift?  Very strange!  I tried to do away with the party favors – but the kids have been conditioned to expect it.  So this has been my baby step plan – I don’t give bags full of plastic crap or candy as a party favor.

No parent is psyched to have their sugar filled sweaty or sleep deprived kid return from a birthday party with a plastic bag filled with more plastic junk or even worst candy.  I was going to write no judgement if this is what you do – but actually I do judge.  Nobody wants this in their house!!!

So what do I do – I don’t want to send more junk or candy but I am not brave enough to cut the cord and get rid of party favors totally.  I try to find something that I think the kids will actually use for a while.  I pick one thing that might go with the theme of the party or with something my the birthday boy is really into at the time.

Here are some past ideas….

  1.  Mad libs – my #1 son was really into mad libs for a while as he was learning to read and write.  I found a school themed one in a big print style that I thought the kids would get at least some use out of.
  2. Emoji Uno – my #3 son loves all things emoji’s but also loves card games.  Best of both worlds!  We are a big game family so we wanted to share the love.
  3. A book – my #2 son is really into reading right now and for his birthday party we showed the movie Holes which he just finished reading with my husband.  We gave each kid the book.  
  4. Rubiks cube – my #2 son last year was obsessed with his rubics cube.  Lucikly I found this awesome website that helps you solve it.  
  5. Dress-Up Item – all of my boys love dress up!  My #2 son had a superhero birthday party where we put all of his friends through super hero training and they each received their own cape before watching The Incredibles movie.  
  6. Nothing at all – one day I will do this….  one day…

10 Packing Tips for Sleepaway Camp

 

The time has come – you have picked a camp, submitted forms, pick electives – and now it is time to start packing.  Think of this more as a marathon than a sprint.  Start early – don’t wait until the last minute!

  1.  Buy high quality labels.  Labels have come a long way since my mother had to sew millions of printed labels on every piece of clothing.  I have used these labels for years and they stay on the tags of clothing really well.  They also make labels for water bottles, shoes and anything else you can think of.  The biggest problem I had was labeling black socks.  If you want socks back – buy white ones where you can use a black sharpie.
  2. Involve your camper.  Bring him to target, let her pick-out her shampoo.  Most importantly your kid needs to be involved in the packing.  It was actually a great bonding time for my son and I.  Running through target at night – and getting his opinions on bedding.
  3. Follow the camps suggestions carefully.  There is limited space for your camper to keep their things in the bunk.  If you decide to send 4 sets of sheets instead of 2 there will be no place to put it.  This list will also contain special items that they might need.  My camper needed a plain white shirt for a tie-dye project.  It might also tell you special color items of clothing for color wars or special dress-up items.
  4. Buy good quality duffel bags – I was going back and forth with whether to buy cheap bags or nice ones like these.  I decided with the nice ones.  I don’t want to waste money buying new ones every year if the cheap ones break.  These bags will last and I figured he can take them to college!
  5. Pre-stamp, pre-address, and pre-return address all stationary.  The goal is to remove all barriers to letter writing.  It is the most wonderful thing when you get that letter from your camper.  It might be totally spelled wrong, or it might say almost nothing – but it is still awesome!
  6. Find a Mom from your camp to pick her brain!  If you have a friend with an older kid at your camp – take them out to coffee and ask all of your questions.  If not, ask the camp to introduce you to someone.  This person can give you all the tips about the best way to pack and of course the things your camper “needs” that isn’t on the list.  Some wise Mom’s last year told me that the campers love to bring pillow “husbands,” a rug for the end of their bed, and a plastic drawers to go on top of the cubby.
  7. Find out what the “currency” is.  In my day we all brought “cool” stationary to trade and pet when we played card games.  My son was allowed to bring gum last summer.
  8. Make your camper try on all of the clothes they are planning to bring – new or old.  These kids can grow a lot in a year.  Make sure everything fits and that they actually will wear it.  Don’t send fancy stuff – it all comes back pretty lived in.  
  9. Start gathering things now!  Packing for camp is more like a marathon then a sprint.  If you start buying things now – labels, duffles, camp t-shirts and pile them in a closet you will be in good shape when camp begins.
  10. While writing this list I asked my son for his tips.  He said….  Extra underwear!!!  I followed the packing list closely but for whatever reason that was not enough underwear for my son. Whoops….

Top 10 tips to survive spring sports season

I know we are only a few weeks left of the spring sports season (summer here we come!!!). I am working on sleepaway camp tips – but wanted to get these ideas down before I forgot.

  1. As soon as you get team roster – email the list to see if anyone is interested in carpooling. If you work or have multiple kids playing sports you will either need a carpool or a clone to survive.
  2. Consider a prepaid cheap phone. I felt uncomfortable leaving my 11 year old cross town while I was with my 6 year old at a different practice. If there was some emergency I wanted him to call or text. I got a $19 phone off of Amazon and paid $30 for 360 minutes. A good investment for piece of mind.
  3. Look at used sports equipment. If your child is trying a sport for the first time you might not want to shell out money for top of the line new equipment. In Boston there is a high quality used sporting equipment store that sells new and used. Play it again sports.
  4. If you have to buy a uniform – make sure you follow all ordering deadlines. You don’t want your child to miss out playing because hey don’t have the uniform.
  5. Get a dedicated bag for that sport. It doesn’t have to be a sport specific bag – any bag will do. I found that if one bag is for that child and that sport we are much less likely to misplace a glove, stick or pad. I nag them until they put all the equipment back in the bag (even when they are practicing at home) and then have a hook in the garage for that bag. When we are running late for a game or practice – we can grab and go.
  6.  Always bring a water bottle for the kid and for yourself!
  7.  Remember sunscreen for everyone even early in the spring when it still feels cool.
  8.  Bring a chair for yourself. These games can go on forever – comfort is key! I leave a few in the car for any other family members that might join for the game – grandparents or siblings.
  9.  Is is always colder then you think it will be. I keep a blanket in the car for emergencies. I also always bring a jacket even if the sun is shining.
  10.  Thank the coach every chance you get. For younger kids – the coaches are parents. Without them none of this could happen. At the end of every game I encourage my kid to thank the coaches and I do the same.
I am not even getting into not putting too much pressure or stress on your kid. To me this is obvious. I stress having fun, making friends, learning new things and trying your best!!!!

My “Mom Village”

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s and Grandma’s out there.  Any skill I have at being a mother comes directly from the amazing example that has been set for me by my Mom, Grandma and Mother-In-Law.  I also rely heavily on my “Mom Village,” the group of women who I have met over my 12 years (gasp!) of being a Mom.

I met these first group of women when #1 was only 6 weeks old.  To say I was struggling was an understatement.  At 28 years old – my husband and I were the first in our group of friends and family to have a kid.  My mom stayed with me the first week when my son was born.  Then my mother-in-law helped out.  My husband stayed home for a bit – but he had to go back to work.  I remember so clearly the first day Jerald went back to work.  I was paralyzed with fear, loneliness and a bit of postpartum depression.  I held my little baby and cried.  I didn’t know how to fill the day – meeting both of our needs.

At 6 weeks old #1 was old enough to start a new Mom’s class.  There I met the first members of my “Mom Village.”  We all had 6 week old babies who were our first babies – and none of us knew what to do!  We relied on each other and the amazing instructor for support, encouragement, tips and lots of laughs.  After each class we would hang around and go out for lunch.  I was finally brave enough to stay out of the house with my baby for longer than 2 hours.  If he needed a new diaper and changed him and if he was hungry I breastfeed at the table.  These women gave me permission to be out in the world taking care of my baby and still living my life!  We also started meeting regularly on thursdays at each other’s houses for more support and playtime.  Through each new parenting or kid phase we had each other.  Some of these women are still in my life – we all texted each other to wish each other another Happy Mother’s Day.  The picture is from our “graduation” at 12 weeks from our first class.  We took many more wonderful classes together through the years.

As my baby got older and I added two more boys to my family – I still added to my “Mom Village.”  I gathered these Mom’s from pre-school classes, from the gym, from our Temple, and from their elementary school.  I am also lucky to be able to add to my “Mom Village” friends from growing up, college, and law school who have had children and have stayed a strong presence in my life.  My “Mom Village” is also made up of my three amazing sister-in-laws, my mother and my mother-in-law.  All of these amazing women enrich my life and make me feel that I can tackle each new parenting step.

I wish all of them a very Happy Mother’s Day – I couldn’t do it without you all and I wouldn’t want to!!!

Tips for Sleep-away Camp

The countdown has begun – only 50 days until we send #1 to sleepaway camp for a month.  This is only his second summer but I feel like we learned so much about packing, letter writing, and coping with our baby away that I want to do a series of posts that could be helpful if you are sending a child away for the first time or for the fifth time.

Coming soon…

10 Packing Tips for Sleepaway Camp

10 Letter Writing Tips for Sleepaway Camp

10 Parent Survival Tips for Sleepaway Camp

10 Re-entry Tips after Sleepaway Camp

 

Other topics you want?  Let me know….