Do you love to bake or cook? Inspired by @hersheyskisses #cookiehq I baked Cookies for Santa

They say “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
In my case, it really did!  My Mom loves to bake.  She is an amazing baker and you can see her recipes under VoVo’s Cozinha.  Me, not so much. While I love to cook and create recipes, I am not so enthused about baking.

I really think whether you are a baker or a cook says so much about your personality. Rarely does someone really enjoy doing both.

Most people that are good at baking have a personality that is very patient and precise.  Most of us that love to cook and create recipes, our personality tends to be more creative and perhaps “fly by the seed of your pants.”

I was honored and excited when I was contacted by Hershey’s to interview two of their Baking Experts from their Cookie Headquarter. I so want to create the Tradition of Baking with my kids Around the Family Table during the Holidays and I hoped that they would give me the inspiration that I needed.

The Baking Experts, Linda Stahl and Kristen Olson, were fabulous!  I loved chatting with them and boy did they inspire me to not only bake but host a cookie exchange.  I love that they suggested a cookie exchange with meaning…where we donate the cookies to a good cause.

I was nervous about the interview but The Baking Experts made it a piece of cake…

I was so inspired that Reis and decided  we needed to bake some cookies. In this case, the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree…

Reis wanted to come up with his own Cookie Reisipe. I explained to him what The Baking Experts had explained to me. As long as you use a basic recipe that works, you can adjust it a little.

Huge score for Reis…these cookies were amazing! Really light and crispy and then the soft frosting….mmmmmmm!

Christmas Cookies by Reis

1 Stick Butter

1 Cup Sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

1 1/4 cup Flour

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 Cup Hershey’s Cocoa Powder

Cream butter, sugar and Cocoa.  Add flour, baking soda and salt. Place on baking sheet and insert in a 350 degree oven for 12 to 14 minutes.


3 Cups Powdered Sugar

3 Tablespoons of Milk

1 stick of Butter

1 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

1/4 Cup Hershey’s Cocoa Powder

Simple. Just combine everything and frost cookies while still warm.

Kid Ratings: Alexandra 10, Ronnie 10, Reis 10, Riley 10….even Mom and Dad gave this a 10!

Reis is one Smart Cookie and our house is now ready for Santa!


To Give Teachers A Small Chatski or a Small Gift Card is the Question!

At this same time every year, I find myself wondering what would my kids teachers prefer as a Christmas Gift?  Teachers are one of the greatest people that can impact our children’s lives.  They give selflessly and no matter what we do, it just doesn’t seem enough.

This question is not so difficult in the younger years as there are only 2 or 3 teachers.  As the kids get into Middle School and have multiple teachers, it really is hard to decide. Of course, we want to acknowledge each teacher but with 4 children, some of us need a layaway program just for teacher’s gifts!

Somehow, I don’t think I am the only one wondering what Teachers would prefer… a small Chatski or a small Gift Card…

This year, I have decided to bake my Banana Bread with Lindt Hint of Sea Salt Chocolate and White Coconut Chocolate  and attach a small gift card from one of our local shops… It really is a Match Made in Heaven!

Is it about the gift or the message…. Thank you for inspiring my children to be the best they can possibly be!

How do you show your appreciation to your child’s teacher?



Simple Pork Chops and Almond Risotto #SundaySupper

I love this time of year.  The house is decorated. The boys worked hard all day putting up Christmas lights outside the house.  Our home just feels so comfy.  

We were all excited for Sunday Supper this week.  Reis reminded me that it had been a while since we had Risotto, one of his favorites.  The deal was, if Reis stirred, I’d make it! Our menu of simply marinated Pork Chops, Almond Risotto and sauted spinach came together without much effort but boy was it good!





Simply Marinated Pork Chops








6 Medium Cut Pork Chops

4 tablespoons extra virgin Olive Oil

3 tablespoons chopped Garlic

2 springs fresh Rosemary,chopped or 2 tablespoons dried

1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce

Sea Salt to taste

Rub the above ingredients on the Pork and Marinade for approximate 1 hour in the fridge. 

Grill or broil the pork chops for approximately 8 to 10 minutes on each side.

Crunchy Almond Risotto








2 tablespoons extra virgin Olive Oil

2 Green Onions chopped

3 ounces slivered Almonds

8 cups Beef Broth heated

2 cups Arborio Rice

2 cups Milk

1/2 cup 

2 tablespoons Butter

  • Heat oil in large pan and add almonds
  • When almonds turn slightly brown, add green onions
  • Add the rice and stir thoroughly several times to coat the grains well with the contents of the pot
  • Add a ladleful at a time of the warm broth until all the broth is absorbed. Stirring constantly. (this is why I needed Reis)
  • Check the rice to see if done. If still too firm, add warm water.
  • Add milk, cheese and butter at the very end, just before serving
  • Must serve while still hot. You will love the combination of the creamy risotto with the crunch of the almonds
Sauted Spinach
1 large bunch of Spinach well washed
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Garlic
  • Add oil and garlic to pan and saute for a minute
  • Add spinach and saute until soft and wilted. It always amazes me how such a large bunch of spinach cooks down to such a small amount
Kids Ratings: Ronnie 9, Reis 10, Riley 9.5 , Alexandra JEALOUS (we will make it again when she gets home from college)

I Am Thankful For My Old Shoes

I have always said, “Old Friends are like Old Shoes.”

We spent Thanksgiving Day with two families that we have been friends with for over 16 years.  Like old shoes, they are so comfortable.  There is no break in period, they fit just right.

As I looked  Around the Family Table of 20, it wasn’t the incredible display of food that stood out, it was the Love that was so apparent between us.  We had gathered many generations around this table, Great-Grandparents, Grandparents, Parents, Children, Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren were together giving Thanks and nurturing our Love and Respect for one another.

I feel blessed to have such long lasting friendships and hope to instill in my children the importance of a true friendships.

So much has changed in the last 16 years, but we know that we are there for each other, because nothing will change our friendship.

This Thanksgiving gave me the opportunity to reflect on how blessed I am to have genuine friends.

I have a tendency to wear my Mom Hat, Wife Hat, Volunteer Hat and Professional Hat on a daily basis.  My Friend Hat needs to be worn more often because there is nothing quite like old friendships…. like old shoes, they fit just right.

“I find friendship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk and restorative cordial.”
– Thomas Jefferson

One Pot Chicken and Pasta for Football #SundaySupper

It doesn’t get any better! What a great Football Season my boys have had this year.

They worked hard, played their hearts out and the results showed!  Reis and Riley’s teams are both going to the Super Bowl!

Not only is this a dream come true for them but it’s what memories are made of… these are the moments they will remember for the rest of their lives and relive with their children one day.

We were exhausted and  needed an easy Sunday Supper this week.  Reis loves to cook and helped me come up with this easy One Pot Chicken and Pasta Meal.

Quick, Easy, Nutritious and Delicious was the name of the Game Around the Family Table this Sunday Supper.


2 lbs Chicken Breast, I prefer tenderloins

2 Cups Flour

1 Tablespoon Garlic and Pepper Seasoning

1/4 Cup Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Garlic Goodness by Intensity Academy or 1 Tablespoon minced Garlic

1 Cup White Wine

2 Cups Chicken Broth

1 lb Spaghetti

1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese

Parsley to sprinkle on top (optional)

  • Heat the Olive Oil in a large pan, I prefer using an electric skillet
  • Mix Flour and Garlic Pepper Seasoning on a large plate
  • Cut the Chicken into bite size pieces
  • Dredge the chicken in the flour and cook on high
  • When chicken is done, add Garlic Goodness, Wine and Chicken Broth and Simmer
  • Cook Pasta
  • When the sauce is becomes a creamy consistency, add pasta to the skillet and continue to simmer for 10 minutes
  • Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese and Parsley on top and serve
We enjoyed this easy dish with Broccoli and a Caesar Salad.  It was the perfect meal after a busy weekend.
Kids Ratings: Ronnie 10, Reis 9, Riley 9.5
You will love Intensity Academy Sauces . Great way to add flavor to your meals.

Chicken Peppers and Onions #SundaySupper was a Victory

Riley is our youngest Son.  He was born in July and went to his first Football Game before he was even a month old.  Needless to say, he has literally grown up on the Football Field.  It’s not hard to believe that his passion is Football.

When he was only in Kindergarten, he told me, “Mommy, I am going to be just like Tim Tebow and play football for the University of Florida.”  While most kids played with cars or legos, Riley would spend hours making up plays for his imaginary team. After writing down all the  X’s and O’s, he would run the plays up and down our hallway.

This is Riley’s 5th year playing Football and year after year, he watched his brother’s teams go to the playoffs and his team  never made it.  Well, his time finally came….Riley’s first playoff game was yesterday and what a game it was!

The celebration started when we scored with just over a minute left in the game. That quickly turned into heartache as the other team ran back the kickoff. Off to OT. It was 4th down and 3 yards to go and they gave the ball to Riley. He was stopped and then out of nowhere, we saw the ball come out of the pile as he stretched the ball across the goal line for the winning TD just like you would see on TV on Sundays.

It was one of those moments that a Mother will never forget.   What is better than watching 9 and 10 year olds work so hard to achieve Victory?

I have always said that my kids have learned the greatest life lessons from playing sports. Riley learned today to never give up, if you work at something hard enough, your day will come.

Playoffs were on Sunday and you all know how Important Sunday Supper is in our home.  I had planned on making Bifes a Portuguesa (Portuguese Beef) when we got home.  We were having such a great day at the Football Field, everyone was hungry.  We did something that we rarely do. We hit the concession stand!

Did I lose my mind? Here it is a Sunday, I can’t stand the processed and fried food that is sold at most Concession Stands…Did I get so caught up in this win that I actually agreed to have Sunday Supper at the Football Field?  Yep, I did!

And guess what?  This ” foodie” was shocked.  This concession stand had a Chicken Sandwich that was to die for.  Not your chicken patty kind of sandwich but a real chicken breast that was grilled in front of my own eyes, then cubed and topped with peppers and onion, served on a fresh bun.

America’s food culture is changing.  As a Mom that has spent the last 13 years at  sports fields, my heart swelled.  Finally there are options for our children that include real chicken and fresh vegetables.  This is a true Victory for our Nation.

The Family Table can be anywhere as long as it full of love and good food.  Although my heart  remains Around the Family Table in our home, every once in a while, there are exceptions for Sunday Supper. Especially when they involve Memories that will last a lifetime.

We were all exhausted when we got home, but being the Football Family that we are, continued to watch the games.  What a day to be just like Tebow….Riley and Tim Rocked this Sunday!

Losing the Student Council Election is the Recipe for Success

My 12 year old came home last week very excited about the Student Council Election. It’s his first year in Middle School …. so this is a big deal! He wanted to run for Publicity.

We made the Vote for Reis stickers, made the large poster boards and wrote the speech…. let me tell you, this was no easy task!

He was so excited and of course, desperately wanted to win!

As soon as I pulled up in car line, I knew.  He didn’t say anything in the car.  When we got home, he told me that he had lost.

As a Mom, my heart was sad for him. What else can you say but… “I’m sorry Buddy, I know that must be hard.”  He said “I’m a little sad, but I will try again next year.”   Every once in a while, we have a moment that we learn and get inspired by our children.

What a great attitude!  If only, as adults, we could see life through a 12 years olds eyes… Not winning an election is not a failure.  In our highly competitive “winning is everything culture” sometimes we lose sight of the fact that giving it your all and having the courage to do it all over again is a reason to celebrate!

So that night, we celebrated by enjoying one of our favorite family meals…

Food is Love and there is no better way to celebrate than Around The Family Table.

A couple of days later, he came home with a big smile on his face… “You’re not going to believe it! I got voted 6th grade Class Representative!”

My baby is growing up and with that process comes the ups and downs that life will bring.


Sometimes the simplest dishes are the most satisfying.  This is truly a Family Favorite!

8 Chicken Tenderloins

2 Eggs

1 1/2 cups Seasoned Bread Crumbs

1/2 Cup Olive Oil *

1 large Red Onion

3 cups Chicken Broth

Dip the Chicken Breast into the well beaten eggs.

Coat with the bread crumbs.

Add to the Hot Oil in large frying pan or electric frying pan.  Flip when nicely browned.

Cut Onion into thin slices.

When chicken is done, remove any excess oil from the frying pan.  Add the onion and lightly brown.

Add the chicken breasts to the pan and pour Chicken broth over the chicken and onion.

Cover and simmer for 1/2 hour.

Serve over Portuguese Rice

Kid Ratings:  Everyone in the house give it a Perfect 10

This is one of those dishes I always double.  It is even better as a Leftover Meal!

* I love cooking with Portuguese Olive Oil.  Gustare has a great selection

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