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Some Bunny Loves You Pancakes

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This morning I was in an Easter mood, so I decided to make the girls some bunny pancakes. They were easy & cute.

1. Make your favorite pancake batter.
2. Use a small measuring cup to drizzle the batter onto the griddle in a bunny shape. I made a large oval for the body, a smaller oval for the head, and one long pointy ear.
3. Cook the pancake completely and remove from the griddle.
4. Transfer to a plate and add the mini-marshmallow tail. I used some melted chocolate chips to “glue” it in place.
5. I added a melted chocolate eye, and a slice of Annie’s Pink Lemonade Fruit Snacks as the nose.

These are not super complicated, but it made my girls giggle on this snugly Saturday morning.

Happy Easter!

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Food Beauty

Sometimes, while cooking, I am struck by the beauty of food. Here are a few moments that I managed to capture in my own kitchen. Let this be a reminder to slow down, and appreciate the scene and beauty in the small moments of life.

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My husband would call this a “bad pour”, but to me it was a quiet moment of reflection.

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It may not have been a hit at the dinner table, but it was pretty to look at.

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It just reminds me of summer, and I like red, and they taste so good.

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I liked the way the star fruit looked, perched on the rim of the glass, but it was a bit in the way. I was happy to find that the scene was just as beautiful when floating on top.

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The simplicity of the sun streaming in, as I baked some morning eggs. I love simplicity.

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This scene literally made me stop and stare at the contrast between honey & soy sauce. I felt bad when the time came to stir it, but the chicken was great!

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Family Friendly Lettuce Wraps

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One of the reasons I love Spring Break is that I get to feel like a stay-at-home mom, and join my good friends in their daytime activities. On today’s agenda was a killer kettle bell class that my girlfriends have been agonizing through for the past few weeks. This class, with its drill sergeant instructor, has been a source of curiosity for me, so of course I jumped on the opportunity to try it.

Wow! It lived up to my expectations, and while I am certain that I will not be able to use my arms, legs, abs, or ANY OTHER MUSCLE in my body tomorrow, I loved it. No pain, no gain, right?

Well, since it is my mission not to gain weight, I best be taking the same kick ass attitude towards my diet. So, in order to preserve the benefits of my exercise, tonight we are having lettuce wraps for dinner. The added bonus is that my kids LOVE them!! I’m not kidding, my middle has chosen lettuce wraps over pizza before. Happy wife = Happy life! Here is a meal that will help me achieve my dream of skinny thighs while making my kids happy with a nutritious meal. Everyone wins, and gets to be happy…even if one of us will not be able to walk up the steps for a few days.

Family Friendly Lettuce Wraps

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The Chicken:

1 1/2 -2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast strips
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 cloves garlic – minced
1 teaspoon of powdered ginger
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of honey

Blend all of the ingredients except the chicken in a medium bowl. Add chicken, coating each piece in the marinade, and allowing it to sit for about 1 hour.

Cook chicken strips until they are fully cooked. They can be broiled on a baking sheet lined with foil, about 7 minutes a side depending on the strength of your broiler. You may also grill them on the grill, using skewers, or in a grill pan on the stove top.

Once the chicken is cooked, allow it to cool a bit, then shred or slice in to smaller pieces. Set aside.

The Noodles:

1 5.5 oz package of rice noodles

1 Tbsp. of coconut oil

2 Tbsp. of soy sauce

Cook noodles according to the package instructions and drain. Toss noodles with oil and soy sauce. Set aside.

The Rest:

2 heads of Boston Bibb lettuce

1 cup of shredded carrots

1 cup of alfalfa or bean sprouts

Optional: Chopped green onions, thin sliced red peppers, cucumber ribbons, and chopped peanuts or cashews.

Carefully separate the leaves of lettuce from the head, wash, and dry. Clean and prepare any other fix-ins.

The Dressing:

For an easy weeknight meal, you can purchase pre-made sauces. My family loves Wegmans Sesame Garlic Sauce and Wegmans Thai Peanut Sauce. We drizzle both on our wraps. But, if you are looking to make your own, see below.

Thai Peanut Sauce-
1/4 cup of peanut butter
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp of sesame oil
1 small pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan stir to combine over medium heat until smooth, warm, and blended.

Sesame Garlic Dressing-

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger root

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup soy sauce

3 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. of sesame oil

Combine all ingredients, mixing well.

The Presentation:

On a large platter, arrange lettuce, carrots, sprouts, chicken, & any other fix-ins. This will allow each person to choose based on their own likes. Place the platter in the center of the table with tongs or spoons. You can serve the noodles in a separate bowl or on the platter if there is room. Place dressings in small bowls with spoons for drizzling. Finally, put chopped peanuts or cashews in small separate bowls. Each person needs a small plate on which to assemble their own wraps as they go. Now you are good to go for a fun, nutritious meal!

***Variation: If this seems a bit complicated, or messy, tear lettuce leaves on a plate and top with chicken, noodles, and vegetables. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and drizzle with dressing for a Thai Chicken Salad. This dish can be tailored to suit your own tastes, so feel free to add or delete ingredients to suit your likes.

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So What Are You Reading? Me, A Great Cookbook!

I can honestly say that I have never read a cookbook cover to cover as if it were a novel, until now. A few days ago, I came home from work and found a large envelope addressed to me. I excitedly ripped it open revealing a beautiful cookbook entitled, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking From In Jennie’s Kitchen, by Jennifer Perillo. Just flipping through the pages, skimming the contents, had me hooked. So, when I finally found some quiet time to read, that is exactly what I did.

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This is not just a collection of recipes adorned with beautiful pictures staged to perfection, it is more a manual of fabulous kitchen advice and simple recipes that will make you feel like a domestic rockstar! It opens with Jennifer’s personal story of the tragic loss of her husband, and how she has used the kitchen for healing and connecting with her daughters. It then moves on to share her advice on stocking a well equipped kitchen, and a rationale for cooking from scratch. I found myself connecting to and agreeing with everything that she shared. This woman is so wise!

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Any good reader talks to the text! I took LOTS of notes!

Jennifer Perillo’s advice and recipes are so simple; anyone can make them. They are well described, with clear steps. Jennifer proves that you do not have to be a professional chef to pull off healthy, homemade, nutritionally conscious food. It was so appealing to me, that I frantically scrounged up some sticky notes to mark all of the pages and recipes that called to me, especially one that I instantly craved just from the picture.

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“Slow-Roasted Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Panzanella”– Not only is it “pretty food”, it’s my new addiction!!!

So, are the recipes as good as they look? Absolutely, if not better! After reading the entire book, and tagging a multitude of pages, I dashed to the grocery store to gather all of the ingredients for her Slow-Roasted Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Panzanella. What an amazing dish. Not only was it very simple to make, it was gorgeous, and you all know how much I like “pretty food”. I loved this recipe so much that I have added it to my weekly menu, and will keep it there for a while. I also have fallen in love with her buttermilk pancakes, making the baking mix ahead of time, and pulling off pancakes from scratch on a weekday morning. My kids and husband are in heaven! I have to admit that a few of my old standbys have been dethroned…

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Buttermilk Pancakes from Jennie’s “All Purpose Baking Mix”.

Because of my success with the first few dishes, I will absolutely continue to try Jennifer’s recipes, in essence, cooking my way through her book. I am excited to see what other gems she has to offer, and I strongly encourage you to do the same. It is worth every dime! You too can feel the satisfaction and reward that comes from feeding your friends and family healthy, well designed dishes that look and taste spectacular.

Click here to purchase Jennifer’s book: Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking From In Jennie’s Kitchen

Jennifer’s Blog: In Jennie’s Kitchen

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Jennifer Perillo

Disclaimer: While I was provided with a complimentary copy of this cookbook, I was not paid for this review. All statements expressed above are my own feelings and opinions.