Another Weeknight Dinner

It’s May and we’re deep into Spring!! We’re gardening, reorganizing the house and prepping for Summer that is a hop-skip, and jump away!!

Amidst all this, dinner has to be made. As you’ve seen, all over the internet are the quick dinner recipes. Now, if you’ve got an InstaPot you’ve got it covered. But what if you’re one of the few, like myself, that don’t?

Guess what? Casseroles are still trending. I know what you’re thinking, casseroles now a days aren’t like what Grandma used to make. They’re diverse, adjustable and hearty. And depending on the ingredients, can be an all in one incorporating your protein, starch and vegetables.

Let me share with you the casserole I recently made. My feature protein? Wild Planet Food Wild Pink Salmon!!

It’s light but satisfying, and we all know the great benefits of salmon. Especially when you have quality salmon that is sustainable seafood and of such high quality.

Here’s what I put together into our weeknight dinner casserole…..

A couple of cans of the Wild Planet Wild Pink Salmon, (condensed) cream of mushroom soup, pasta and (“squeeze drained) frozen chopped spinach.

While I cooked the pasta (to just before al denté stage), I combined all the other ingredients into my mixing bowl. I do a lot of “eye-balling” when I cook so let me apologize in advance.

Just a dash of salt and pepper, I also like to add a sprinkle or two of garlic powder. As you mix, you’ll see if it looks too dry or clumpy, add a splash of milk. Or if you want a richer texture use heavy cream. It should have a smooth creamy base. On occasion my dash of milk have turned more into a splash- no worries!! I add some grated Parmesan cheese, which, come to think of it works well too.

Since I used the entire pound of pasta, which I didn’t cook all the way because it will cook some more in the oven and you don’t want mushy pasta. I will be baking it all in one of my rectangular roasting pans.

I mix the pasta with the salmon mix, I did spray my pan so it won’t stick when served. Put your casserole mix in the pan, cover with foil. Bake at 400°, my oven is quite old so I had it at 425°. After 20 minutes I uncovered it and sprinkled a mix of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese (I didn’t add it previously), back in the oven for about ten minutes or until it had a golden brown color to the top.

Voilà! Dinner, and leftovers make a great lunch!!

Special thanks to Wild Planet Foods for sponsoring this article and their generosity sharing their products with me!!

Interesting learning more about them? Go to :

http://www.wildplanetfoods.com

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Junior Sous Chef? Maybe

 You’ve heard me talk about how kids now a days are foodies. Way more than we were kids… back in the day. It’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s amazing to see their take on all the different foods around us.

What makes it even more amazing is that these young foodies not only want to taste all the flavors, they want to create it!

So grab your toque, and tie that apron. Maggiano’s Kids Cooking Class are in full swing.

Now, I may have some biased, my kids have been attending these classes for some time, dare I say- years!

Do the classes repeat menus? Sometimes, but that’s ok. Repetition helps them remember what to do.

So how long have we been going? For kicks, my daughter acted as sous chef for Executive Chef Mike at the last class!

They had her wear a chef’s coat and class began! Side note- she has attended enough classes to qualify for her own her coat, it’s on order. How? They offer each attends a lunch card. Once the card is completed the “student” earns his/her own chef jacket compliments of Maggiano’s!!

Starting with fundamentals and at each course Chef Mike goes to each table to help guide and answer questions.

Maggiano’s makes sure that all their guests are comfortable and happy. So as the kids are learning and creating, parents- breakfast and warm coffee awaits!

What happens to all of their creations? The student get to take it all home. No, it doesn’t become their lunch. Maggiano’s has something else for them!

A nice buffet of their famous dishes, spaghetti and meatballs, along with their Mac n’ cheese. Complete with salad and bread

Do I recommend these classes? Yes! There fun, yummy and a great way for kids to learn a life skill!!

Check with your local Maggiano’s, mine has a class once a month. Where to find them?

You can call your local Maggiano’s, or check the Eventbrite website, where you can also purchase tickets for the event.

Earth Day Everyday

April 22nd is Earth day!

How do you celebrate Earth day?

It doesn’t have to be a big parade or a big party. We can celebrate Earth Day, each day, a little but every day.

You can start with the food you share with your family and friends. Here’s some fabulous tips from Chef Gerard Viverito in an article he recently wrote:

Five Earth Day food-shopping tips to follow all year   
Earth Day, celebrated every April 22, is a global event designed to raise ecological awareness. I’ve been fortunate to travel the world. I’ve seen firsthand how different cultures protect their natural resources. Here in the U.S., we’re getting better at making planet-friendly food decisions but doing the right thing can be confusing. Here are five simple grocery shopping tips you can start doing right away that will help protect our environment.

Buy only what you need. It’s all about efficiency. More than 30 percent of the United States’ food goes to waste. Eat your leftovers or freeze what you can’t consume right away. If you find you overbought, share with your neighbors or donate the items to a local food shelf.Choose products with less packaging. Stroll past the individually wrapped packaged snacks. Drink more tap water. Spread Nutella on apples or whole-grain crackers instead of stocking the cabinets with bags of fruit snacks or chips. You will produce less waste, and consume more essential vitamins and minerals.

  1. Use cooking oils that require less land to produce. For example, genetically modified crops such as corn, soy and canola require as much as 10 times more land than palm oil. As our world population increases, the edible oil demand could easily lead to more deforestation. Thankfully, a large percentage of the nutritious palm oil in our U.S. food supply comes from Malaysia, where it is certified as sustainably produced. Plus, while those other oil crop fields are routinely plowed under, oil palm trees produce fruit for up to 30 years. So, the lush oil palm plantations provide stable homes for wildlife. Fun fact: In Malaysia, barn owls and snakes are used to control the pest populations, enabling farmers to reduce the use of harmful chemical pesticides.

  2. Go meatless at least once a week. Not only is a plant-based diet healthy but livestock is the largest driver of deforestation in the world. The Union of Concerned Scientists  (UCS) have even made beef cattle the emphasis of its deforestation campaign. Livestock accounts for 71 percent of agricultural land, or 30 percent of land surface on the planet, according to a FAO report. While less significant, soybeans, pigs and poultry, and corn are causes of deforestation according to a Climate Focus report.

  3. Buy only US-caught seafood. Ninety one percent of our seafood is imported. We don’t know how it was caught or what regulations were followed to protect our oceans. I serve as Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, an NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on the issue of sustainability in the seas. One of the most important questions you can ask at the supermarket or fish market is the country of origin. The American seafood industry generally has better sustainability practices than those of other countries.


This year’s Earth Day theme is “Protect our Species”. Some of the best solutions for protecting our wildlife and their habitats are to support the global use of certified sustainable products, such as Malaysian palm oil, buying local to help keep nearby farmlands from becoming paved shopping malls, and choosing American seafood to help protect the health of our oceans.


Author Biography: Chef Gerard Viverito, The Sustainable Chef, is a culinary instructor as the Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, a NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on the issue of sustainability in the seas. He is also operator of Saveur Fine Catering, a company whose beliefs and products center on local, sustainable and organic foods. Chef Viverito’s pantry is loaded with items commonly overlooked in the supermarkets, yet he has a thorough understanding of them and a passion to teach others how to cook more healthfully.


In addition, Chef Viverito has dedicated a large part of his career to what he terms “functional cooking.” This is where he adds nutritional ingredients to dishes to gain healthful results. He is well known for his ability to lower the glycemic index value of food, add omega fatty acids, and whole proteins to dishes without compromising the texture or taste. He appears regularly on radio and television programs demonstrating this as well as consulting clients on their dietary needs. www.ChefGerard.com

Now, I have been so fortunate enough to have met Chef Gerard- and he’s so down to earth and practical with his recipes and techniques. He truly understands what the “everyday” family is about.

It’s true that every little bit, adds up to us help preserve the planet we love. And when you put together all the little things that we can easily do, we also lead by example to our children on the importance of clean environment living! ❤️

HAPPY EARTH DAY!!!

Salmon To Go

As we make our way into the Spring season, the weather gets a little more warmer and scenery more alive! Who wants to be inside?

Time to start thinking about picnics and food on the go! Maybe some lighter fare..

I know you what me talk a out about Wild Planet Foods, this is another reason why! Their salmon!! Yes, salmon! Another fish that is as popular and versatile as tuna, but a smidge more!

Around the Spring season you tend to see salmon take a forefront with dishes. I love tuna salad and I like to alternate it with salmon. I’ve started from fresh salmon, ok, ok, leftover salmon.

With Wild Planet Foods Wild sockeye salmon it’s as fresh as if I had just cooked it! And since I want to be able to make it quick, easy and on the go, I need a vessel besides Tupperware. Ah ha! I’ve got a package of puff pastry sheets in the freezer!!

So here’s my ingredients:

I made my simple salmon salad of :

2 cans of wild sockeye salmon

One package of cream cheese

2-3 teaspoons Lemon juice

Fine chopped celery

One tablespoon dried dill weed

2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Puff pastry sheets

I have an “empanada” mood which has helped in forming my salmon salad pockets.

You could also use a round cookie cutter and fold them over. How many you yield will depend on the size you make. Don’t forget to dab a little water on the edges to seal your pastry. Once you’ve set them on your baking sheet, brush a little egg wash on them .

Bake at 425° for about 15-20 minutes, golden brown. And voilà….

Easy to take to the botanical gardens, or just out to the park.

Hope you like it!!

Special thanks to Wild Planet Foods for sharing their wild sockeye salmon to create this dish!

Small Fish, Packed Protein

Need something quick and packed with protein? Reach for a can of one of Wild Planet Foods’ different varieties of sardines!!

WHAT?!? Why the face? Have you tried sardines lately? Listen, they’re not the same as they used to be eons ago. They have more versatility and personality now. Which is why I chose Wild Planet Foods brand, they have a great variety to suit every need.

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Now, if you already love sardines, I know you can probably pop open a can and grab some crackers. Yes, I’ve done that; their sardines with the extra virgin olive oil and lemon is perfect for that.

But what if you have never had sardines before, where do you start? Or maybe you need a quick lunch (or snack). I’ve got something simple but yet satisfying. Remember these little guys pack the protein.

Checking the cupboard I found some Naan bread, and with a can of the sardines in marinara sauce…..

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How simple? All I did, besides open the can 😉 I added a dash of Italian seasoning and a small dash of parmesan and mozzarella cheese on top. Into the toaster oven in went.

The finished product…..

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Its makes for a great option if you celebrate Lent, too. Now I’m not saying this will convert everyone into sardine lovers, but it is a great option.

In the past I’ve also used the variety in extra virgin olive oil tossed with some Angel hair pasta and a smidge of pesto sauce.

Sardines have come such a long way, there’s  always a recipe that showcases its great flavor. Who knows who you may “convert”.

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I would like to give a special thank to Wild Planet Foods for their endless support and generosity!

Want more details on what makes Wild Planet Foods a family favorite? Just go to http://www.wildplanetfoods.com

“March”On Moms

There’s so much to being a “Mom” that isn’t just like it’s written in all those baby books. Why? Because everyone is different!! Surprise, right? Sure, family and friends can give great advice, but sometimes you need an unbiased answer to all those questions.

That’s why this month’s “Dish the CFA Tea with Geri B” was meant for all the new moms and soon-to-be-moms……This month’s meeting we were so fortunate to have a very special guest; Sharon Filegar, RNC-MNN,BSN,IBCLC of St. Mary’s Hospital Mother Infant Unit. IMG_2062

It’s just us, so ask all the questions. With 30 years experience, it’s safe to say that Sharon has probably heard it all. And reassures us that though as new moms we feel like aliens- we aren’t alone. IMG_2068

So much to fit into the one hour, Sharon brought some take aways for all the moms.

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Now, you know that at every “Dish The CFA Tea” we have goodies to share! I always bring my new finds to share and sample, and Chick Fil A Short Pump Crossing Family has the Sweet Tea flowing!!

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When you join us at the event don’t forget to sign in to our guest book to be entered in to the raffle- great prizes await!!!

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And special “Thanks!” to Sprout Organic Baby and Toddler Food for the awesome coupons they gave to share with all the attendees! Thank you too, to MomsMeet for connecting us!

It goes without saying, a big hug and thanks to our host, Chick Fil A Short Pump Crossing for their generosity !!

 

So much fun having such wonderful moms gathered in one place! Can’t wait for the April meeting!!

*Spoiler Alert * Time for some Spring cleaning……..

 

February Art Fun!

I’m really enjoying the monthly meetings I have been Blessed to be a part of at my local Chick Fil A (Short Pump Crossing Richmond VA)!!

For the month of February our theme was Art!! And what better way to get those creative juices flowing with the guidance of Painting with a Twist! Step by step, Shauna (owner) guided us through out masterpiece creation.

No previous art experience needed! Whether you can draw a straight line of recreate a Monet, you can paint with Painting with a Twist!

It was very basic in the beginning. But, within the hour, two brushes and three paint colors later my painting came together and had its own personality.

I won’t be opening a gallery any time soon. But my family loves it and I had a blast making it.

That wasn’t the only thing that morning…… Harlequin Books/Harper Collins Publishers sent a great art mystery read….. all about a family owned Goya painting that’s been stolen. Don’t you just enjoy a great mystery? This book and others from the book club portion can be found at:

http://www.harlequintradepublishing.com

When you think of art you tend to think of France… and look L’Occitane joined us too!

Did you know that you can grab your gals and have a mini “spa party ” at your local L’Occitane? All attendees get a special discount on their purchases and you can choose which “spa like” treatment you would all like to participate in. I’ve done one a few years ago- it was a blast!! They take care of the refreshments too!

Speaking of refreshments…. we all love to snack. I’m an expert at that – hahahaha!! In the theme of “art” the deliciousness company sent their Mozaics chips! All 5 flavors! They are popped veggie and potato chips. Packed with 4grams of fiber, great flavor and their sea salt flavor only contains 7 ingredients. They show that you don’t have to jeopardize great taste and quality to have healthier options.

As with each meeting, all attendees get their free Chick Fil A sweet tea, or a different beverage upon request.

Once again great times spent at Chick Fil A and the community.

Special thanks to:

deliciousness for the fabulous Mozaics chips

L’Occitane Stony Point for the samples

Harlequin books/Harper Collins for the amazing books they send per month for the raffle

Shout out to Painting with a Twist- Richmond VA for being a great part of the event!

Always…. a huge thank you and hugs to Chick Fil A Short Pump Crossing for sponsoring and hosting “Dish the CFA Tea with Geri”, along with being a great supporter of my blog.

More details about the March meeting coming soon!!