Faith, Family, Food and Football

The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor. -Vince Lombardi

Today is the first day of High School Football and it is my Oldest Son’s First Day on Varsity…I find myself reflecting…where did this all begin… How did we become such a Football Family?

If I had to describe my family in 4 words…. it may well be Faith, Family, Food and Football.  We seem to gravitate to words that start with F!

I can remember how it all started… When my daughter was 5, she decided she wanted to be a cheerleader.  Off we went to sign her up and on opening day, I can still remember the look on my husbands face…. it was an intense look that I had never seen before. By half-time, he was out of his seat and inquiring how he could help Coach… Little did I know this was just the start of the football family that we are now!

At that time, I had 2 young children and our football schedule was very manageable… Now with 4 children and 4 football schedules things are a little crazy… We have a game on Thursday Night, one on Friday Night, another on Saturday morning and the last one on Saturday evening!  And did I mention practice every night of the week?

Needless to say, organization is key to a fantastic, well fed, functioning Football Family!  See what I mean about us gravitating towards F’s!

As crazy as it can get, I wouldn’t want it any other way… We have had so many victories that we will never forget, so many disappointing calls that didn’t go our way, years that we had the starting quarterback and years that we sat on the bench….

When I look back, I can compare our Football Memories to life… sometimes you are on top of the mountain and others times you are down in the valley wondering how you will ever climb back up again… But in the end if you are committed to your family, you can make it through anything!

Food is love and there is no better time spent than Around the Family Table.  I can’t wait to get back and sit around discussing the results of this weeks games!

One of our favorite easy meals is Sesame Ginger Roasted Chicken, Roasted Carrots and Portuguese Rice.

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Back to School: Go Fish

Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime.” -Chinese Proverb

It’s Back to School Time!  For most of us who pack lunches, it means… It’s sandwich time!

Last time I was at the grocery store, I saw something that made me laugh…. they were so cute…..I just couldn’t walk by without buying them.  All I could think was… My kids would have loved these when they were in Kindergarten….Now that I have 1 in college, 1 in high school, 1 in middle school and 1 in elementary school… they are too old for this….What a shame!

But I just couldn’t leave without buying the cutest little Goldfish Bread I have ever seen! They were calling my name!

On Ronnie’s first day of his Junior Year in High School, I made him a turkey and cheese sandwich and sent it to school with him… thinking he would get such a kick out of it…. He said his sandwich was the hit of the lunch table…. His friends want me to make them one!

Reis, my 11 year old is a total Foodie Dudie!  He has had more fun coming up with Goldfish Sandwich Ideas.

Here is his favorite so far!

Go Fish for Lunch

1 Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Bread

Nutella

Fresh Strawberries

Spread the Nutella on the bottom of the Bread.

Slice Strawberries and place on top of the Nutella.

Cover with top slice and get creative and Decorate your Fish!

Make these for lunch on the first day of school and you will be sure to bring a smile on their face when open their lunch!

Give me a sandwich and I eat for the day. Make me a Goldfish Sandwich and I feel your love all day!

Our children are never too old to know we love them every single day!

Kid Ratings: Alexandra 10, Ronnie 9.5, Reis 10, Riley8.5

Every Teenager Must Have A Chocolate Cake

When my children turn 16, I highly encourage them to get a part-time job. Now, I didn’t say that I MAKE them, I just highly encourage them. It is amazing how encouraged they become when they realize that if they want to do all those fun things that they need spending money for, they need a little 6 to 10 hour a week part-time job.

My oldest worked at a Retirement Village until she was ready to leave for college.  What a great experience! She was a server in the dining hall and got to know the residents very well.  It is amazing the relationships that they develop. And the life lessons they acquire from their friendships. Although there is a huge age difference, bonds are made.

She would come home with recipes, cakes and articles that they cut out of the paper for her.  And yes, she came home on occasion crying that one of her favorite residents had passed.

While she was serving delicious desserts in the dining hall…

She would sometimes  come home with a cake baked with so much love….from one of her favorites.

Food is love and we should never deprive our children of Having Chocolate Cake! By working Part-Time, they are learning invaluable lessons and preparing for their future

This is one of Alex’s, favorite recipes ….

My second oldest, Ronnie,  just started working at the same place and I am excited that he too will enjoy his Chocolate Cake!

Make this Special Dessert for a Special Person!

Decadent Chocolate Cake

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat overn to 350. Butter and flour an 8-inch square or round cake pan.

Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda and make a well in the center.

Place the sour cream, oil, eggs and vanilla in the well and beat.

Place in greased pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Many times, I double the recipe and then add strawberries mixed with strawberry preserves to the middle.

Glaze

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 ounces chocolate chips

Heat the cream and add the chocolate chips. Stir until smooth.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. It will be thick but still pourable.

Kid Ratings: Alexandra 9.5, Ronnie 8, Reis 8, Riley 9

Do you say “Pasta and Sauce” or “Macaroni and Gravy”

I am a creature of habit. I used to get up on Sunday Mornings, make coffee and enjoy reading the Sunday Paper in peace until the rest of the house came alive.  This was my Routine for many, many years…

These Sundays, I make coffee, grab my laptop and can’t wait to catch up with all my Twitter Friends.  Sunday Morning is one of my favorite time on Twitter!

This Sunday, the Foodie topic quickly turned into a  Pasta Debate….

Do you say “Pasta and Sauce” or “Macaroni and Gravy?”

Let me tell you, Foodies are very passionate about their food terms… Some, like @McMedia were adamant that in New York, there is no question…. Macaroni and Gravy it is!

@Liza_Rae quickly tweeted … pasta (unless we’re talking mac and cheese). sauce – never gravy – gravy goes on meat. AND i’m italian ….grandfather came from italy as did my husband’s dad -our families all say sauce. 🙂

@WorkMomTravels agreed …@familyfoodie Ah, age old debate. My Italian-American family has always said “macaroni” & “gravy”.

@yankeegrlconnie was right in there… its macaroni…no doubt

Just as I was thinking Macaroni and Gravy it is… @RossellaRago Host of Cooking with Nonna and Winner of Food Network 24 Hour Restaurant Battle tweeted…  @familyfoodie Absolutely Pasta with Sauce! 🙂  oh, oh, I’m thinking she is an expert on Italian Cooking after all!

And then @savvyhost jumps in and puts it all in perspective…. Roman roots, PASTA….per south side #Chicago, GRAVY

@thedailybasics shared an old family secret with us …. My Mom was an Interior Designer and an absolutlye HORRENDOUS cook! Thank goodness for Nonna!

Quickly we realize that not all Interior  Designers are Horrendous cooks when @jbint shares her family’s favorite pasta recipe….. Interior Dish: @familyfoodie Pasta & Egg { Our family favorite! } Little olive oil & pinch of salt! Kids love!

I am a big believer that the best cooks are not the ones with culinary backgrounds or the best ingredients, but the ones who cook with love!  I had to try this simple and incredibly easy recipe for #SundaySupper!

And that’s why I love connecting with My Twitter Friends on Sunday Morning….  although you say Po-tay-to and I say Po-tah-to, we are all the same… We enjoy our time Around the Family Table!

So what is it?  Macaroni and Gravy or Pasta and Sauce

16 Pasta and Sauce

4 Macaroni and Gravy

5 Wishy Washy, could go either way!

Our #SundaySupper Menu: Pork chops & Salmon on the grill, Eggie Pasta and Broccoli w/ Genovese Basil Sauce

So simple and Easy and Delicious!

EGGIE PASTA

1 lb Bow Tie Pasta or Macaroni

3 Eggs

3 TBS Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste
Fill Medium Saucepan with water and a splash of salt. Do not use as much water as if you were to drain pasta. You want the pasta to absorb most of the water.

Add pasta when water begins to boil. When pasta is soft and most of the water is absorbed, beat 3 eggs, add to pasta and stir.

Add olive Oil and mix well.  Mix in  parmesan cheese and you will have the creamiest pasta ever!

Lightly season with Salt and Pepper.

Kid Rating: Alexandra 9, Ronnie 9.5, Reis 10, Riley 10

It’s a keeper in our home for sure!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year….Back to School

I don’t think there is a Mom that can’t relate to the Staples Commercial!

It’s also the time of year when we need to get organized, kids in bed on time and start thinking about what to make for lunch that is nutritious..

My kids love this sandwich!   I know what you are thinking….. my child would never eat that!

If you make it, they will eat it!  Even Riley my “picky” one loves this sandwich…. so get over the ingredients and try it!

And while you’re  making it for the kids, make yourself one….

You will thank me at lunch time!

Family Foodie Sproutwich

Whole Wheat Bread

Whipped Cream Cheese

Shaved Turkey Breast from the Deli

Alfalfa Sprouts (They have a very mild taste but are so good for you)

Pumpkin Seeds, also known as Pepitas (Add lots of crunch w/ lots of nutrients)

French Dressing

I know, I know, You’re thinking, What? no mayo or mustard???…. I promise, you will like it!

Spread the Cream Cheese on 1 slice of Bread

Sprinkle the Pumpkin Seeds on top

Add the shaved Turkey

Layer the Alfalfa Sprouts on top of Turkey

Spread French Dressing on top and Cover with the top piece of bread.

Add a Clementine to the Lunchbox and you are good to go!

Try it! You will like it! I promise!

Ratings: Alexandra 10+ (absolutely her favorite sandwich), Ronnie 8, Reis 9, Riley 8

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the SAME

Six weeks doesn’t seem so long until it is your turn to wait for your College Freshman to return home.    This is the first time Alexandra  has been away from our family for 6 Weeks! As you can imagine, we can’t wait to see her and spend time as a Family.

The morning she is due back.  I get a text from her… “Can’t wait for a Family Foodie Dinner!”
At that moment I knew.. As much as college life has changed her, she is still the same….

the girl who loves to eat, eat, eat and try new foods…

the girl who would rather eat chick peas than a cookie…

the girl who loves to hang out with her brothers…

the girl who would rather go for a ride to run errands  than stay home alone…

the girl who thinks her Dad is still the funniest guy she has ever met…

When I asked Alexandra what Family Foodie should cook for dinner…. she texted back …. MEATBALLS

It is so true The More things change, The More they stay the same….

…the girl we still think of as our baby is figuring out the world on her own but her Heart Remains Around the Family Table!

I must warn you…this hands on  recipe!

FAMILY FOODIE MEATBALLS

3 lbs Ground Pork

3 slices of white bread

1/2 C Milk

3 Eggs

1 TSP Garlic and Pepper Seasoning

1 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs

1/2 C Parmesan Cheese

Sea Salt

Place the milk in a deep bowl and soak the bread until soggy all the way through.  Pick up the bread with your hands and squeeze it gently. Put the bread in a large mixing bowl.

Add the pork, garlic & pepper seasoning, grated cheese, eggs and bread crumbs.  Mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon and then use your hands to massage the ingredients until well blended.

Roll the Meatballs and place them 2 inches apart on glass baking dishes.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Add them to your Homemade Sauce! (Recipe to follow)

They will be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside…. Perfect!

Ratings by the Boys & Alex

Alex 8, Ronnie 9, Reis 9, Riley 9

Truly a Favorite at our Home!

What Do you Perceive to be the Greatest Threat to Families today?

I believe the greatest threat to our Families is how busy we keep our Homes ….

It is so difficult to find the balance between having our kids involved in activities and having time to sit down each night for quality time with the family!

I have learned this the hard way.  I admit that I raised my younger two children very different than I raised my older two children.

Why… because, as  Mom, I  matured and  learned that it’s not about being the best cheerleader and tumbler and dancer.  I learned that it’s not about being the hockey, football and baseball superstar…. those things have very little to do with our childrens success in life.  What is important is the values that they learn by spending time with the family. My job is to devote enough time with them to  help them become the best person that they can possibly  be.

Football Season is upon us and I would be lying if I told you this is the calmest and most relaxing time of year in our home.  With 4 football schedules to juggle every week, you can imagine the craziness…

I try very hard to have time Around the Family Table every night during this busy season….

This is the time of year that I dust off my Crock Pot and it comes to the rescue!

One of our families favorite Crock Pot Meals is a good old fashioned Roast Beef…. It is a true comfort food and perfect for Football Season.

Now remember, we are a family of 6 and I always make extra because I love to reinvent leftovers into a new meal for the following night. (more recipes to follow)

Family Foodie Roast Beef

3 lbs of Eye Round Beef

1 Large Onion Sliced

1 Tsp Bacon Fat*

3 C Beef Broth

1 lb Carrots preferably whole carrots peeled**

1 Bay Leaf

2 tbs butter

2 Tbs flour

In large frying pan, over medium heat, melt the bacon fat add the Beef to the pan.Brown on all sides. Add onions and if the onions burn slightly, this is good and will add lots of flavor. The best time to season meat with sea salt and pepper is when it is right after it comes off the heat.

Layer the carrots, Roast Beef and Onions in the Crock Pot.  Add the Beef Broth and Bay leaf and just forget about it… let it cook on low for approximately 8 hours.

When the beef is falling-apart tender, remove it from the Crock-Pot and let sit for 15 minutes.  Remove the onions and carrots and drain the broth into a medium saucepan. Discard the bay leaf.

Knead the flour and butter together and add to the broth.  Bring to a boil while stirring quickly and then simmer for 10 minutes.  You will have the best gravy ever!

Slice the Roast Beef thin and serve over Smashed Potatoes with carrots and delicious gravy!

Ratings from my boys:

Ronnie 8.5 Reis 9 Riley 8

*Bacon fat.. a little bit goes such a long way and guess what?  It doesn’t cost anything if you just get in the habit of saving the drippings when you make bacon.  It will keep in the Fridge for 6 mos. Best part is you are actually saving on the fat content because you would use much more olive or canola oil to get the same results…So….KEEP YOUR BACON DRIPPINGS!

**Carrots, what can I say…. if you can and have time, buy the whole carrots and peel them… they taste sooo much better.  But if you are in a rush, the baby carrots will also do nicely.

If you use the whole carrots, always save the top…. you can plant them and have carrots year round….yes you can!  I DO NOT HAVE A GREEN THUMB … and I do! (more to come on that!)

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