Snow Day Recipes

Adulting, Author: Claire Greene

I love a good snow day. There is something about sitting inside by the fireplace, watching movies and looking out the window at the fresh blanket of snow that fills one with warmth.

My backyard is on a slight hill, so when I was younger my brother and I would don those oh so fashionable snow suits that make you look like the Yeti, grab our sleds and race down the hill. I hold those memories very dear to my heart. Of course, food can always help set the ambiance for the day, so here are some warm, comforting food recipes to try for when you are the lucky one who gets a snow day!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a recipe from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook that my mom always used to use. There is nothing better than a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie that warms the taste buds, and this recipe for sure does the trick.

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Photo courtesy of onecostalkitchen.com

Ingredients:

  • ¼ pound butter
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/8 cup flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and grease some cookie sheets.
  • Cream the butter, then gradually add the two sugars, beating until light and smooth.
  • Beat in the egg and the vanilla.
  • Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda together and add it to the first mixture, blending well. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheets about 1 inch apart and bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

Turkey Chili

So, I love chili, but about ten years ago, I decided to stop eating beef and pork. However, I have found that ground turkey is an excellent substitute. This chili is delicious, and I usually opt to make a box of JIFFY cornbread mix and have that on the side.

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Photo courtesy of allrecipes.com

Ingredients: 

  • 1½ tsps. olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (28 ounce) can canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (16 ounce) can canned kidney beans – drained, rinsed, and mashed
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsps. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Place turkey in the pot, and cook until evenly brown. Stir in onion, and cook until tender.
  • Pour water into the pot. Mix in tomatoes, kidney beans, and garlic. Season chili powder, paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.

 

Panera Mac and Cheese

This is the recipe that Panera posted for their mac and cheese a while back. My mom made it for me a little while ago, and I’ll tell you, it is fantastic. It is a way to have Panera mac and cheese in your pajamas! It also has a bit of kick to it that will warm you up!

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Photo courtesy of foodfolksandfun.net

Ingredients:

  • 1 16-ounce Package package of rigati pasta
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cup milk
  • 6 Slices white American cheese, sliced into thin strips
  • 8-ounce extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar, shredded
  • ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. In large saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk; cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
  4. Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.
  5. Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy these recipes while sitting in front of the fire on your snow day, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

How We Celebrate

Author: Alli Jean, Author: Danny Abriano, Author: Kerrin Frappier, Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Author: Michelle Ioannou, Real Life Stories

I’m Catholic, Italian and Irish. Christmas is quite the big deal to both my mom’s family and to my dad’s family – as it has been to me for my whole life. As there’s so much that I could talk about here, I’ll keep it to what we do on my favorite day of the whole year – Christmas Eve.

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Photo courtesy of ShoreNewsToday.com

On Christmas Eve, my parents, my grandma and I — and whoever else is around — will usually partake in the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes, but a modified version as I don’t eat much fish. It is customary for Italian families not to eat meat on Christmas Eve — hence all of the fish. Because it isn’t an Italian holiday meal if there isn’t too much food around, we’ll order Sicilian pizza as a nod to my mom’s uncle, who used to make pizza on Christmas Eve when my mom was young.

When I was younger, we’d all head to Midnight Mass where I would sing with the choir. Nowadays (this year included) I’ll lead the music at an earlier Mass that my family will attend, but I’ll still sing with the choir at Midnight. Midnight Mass is truly special – we sing fan favorites including O Come, All Ye Faithful as well as the beloved Halleluiah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.

I usually get home in the 2 a.m. hour once my parents and grandma have fallen asleep. I’ll make a big mug of hot chocolate, put on my Christmas pajamas – and, of course, turn on 24 hours of A Christmas Story and try to fall asleep. – Mary Grace


To be quite honest, I almost didn’t contribute to this collaboration, but #NAMB is about sharing our stories, and here’s my Christmas one.

My father passed away in 2009, making this my eighth Christmas without him….and I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t gotten much easier. There’s still this huge void I can feel while opening presents on Christmas morning, and honestly, I’m not sure that void will ever go away.

Christmas is a difficult time for many of us who are missing loved ones. They should be with us, sitting with us, opening gifts. My dad should be here making jokes about how much money I cost him this Christmas, and I should be gifting him with more sports memorabilia or ridiculous Star Wars ties and socks.

But that’s not the case. But, it’s still Christmas — a time for love and family — and I’m so fortunate to have a big fat Greek family that I get to spend Christmas Day with. It’s extremely loud and chaotic but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s filled with laughs, and food, and wine, and love.

For those of you who will be with loved ones this Christmas, cherish it. We don’t realize how lucky we are. – Michelle


While the rituals and festive pastimes in my family have changed over time, a tradition started about ten years ago is not only my favorite Christmas tradition, but has become one of my favorite days of the entire year: annual wreath-making day.

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On the first Saturday of December each year, my mom, younger sister and I go with my mom’s work friends to a small farm on Cape Cod, where we hand-make Christmas wreaths. The farm has a small barn, and every year when I walk in, I feel like the Christmas season has truly begun. Everyone gathers around a huge table covered with boxes and boxes of cut up Christmas pine, white birch, juniper, holly and countless other winter greens.

With Christmas carols playing, and the sense of humor of a large group of nurses abundant, laughter and whimsy fill the air as the wreaths take shape. Then the decorating commences. Many in our group make traditional classic wreaths, while others get creative with bright colors and leopard bows.

Part of the fun is seeing what decorations and ribbon choices are on hand each year as we hot-glue and decorate away. Patty, the woman who runs the class along with her family members, is there to aide us every step of the way, and they always provide delicious casseroles and snacks for us.

Besides my astonishment at how beautiful the wreaths are each year, this tradition is so special because even though getting together around the holidays is more cumbersome each year with so many people to visit, work schedules, and when this first started, either me or my sister having college finals in December, it is one day a year I treasure because it is time spent with my mom and my sister. – Alli


Christmas has always been interesting for me, though that might not be the most apt word to describe it.

My parents broke up when I was five years old, so I used to split the holiday — Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family and Christmas with my mom’s side.

There was actually one Christmas morning when I was about seven years old when my father pulled up to my mom’s house and literally made me decide while standing in the middle of the street who to spend the day with. That was fun!

But I digress…

After my grandparents on my father’s side (and aunt and uncle) passed away, we started to combine the holiday — my parents are still very much broken up, but have become good friends.

This year, though, my aunt on my mom’s side (who used to host Christmas every year) decided hosting was too much for her — she has a special-needs son and all of the planning and cooking just got to be too crazy.

So, Christmas Eve this year might not happen. Christmas Day will probably be a tiny gathering at my brother’s house. And the actual Christmas celebration? That will be at a random restaurant in New Jersey on December 26 — so cue up your A Christmas Story comparisons!

Seriously, though, while Christmas isn’t the fun, over the top spectacle it used to be, I’ll still be with the people who matter the most. And that’s the important thing. – Danny


Thanks to the good people at TBS, every Christmas Eve my sister and I watch A Christmas Story. Sometimes we arrive home from my Nana’s house and it is already part way through, but we try our best to stay up until we’ve watched the remaining scenes and then, the beginning portion we missed.

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The next day, after a hectic morning of tearing up miles of wrapping paper, my sister and I take a ride to the house my mother’s parents lived in when we were children. The trip is short -just across town–and we always sing along to our favorite carols playing on the radio.

While the house has been sold two times since my grandfather retired and my grandmother passed away almost ten years ago, my sister and I drive by every Christmas morning. Sometimes, it makes me long for the days when my whole family was together and all I wanted was a pair of ruby slippers under the tree. But mostly, seeing the house that holds so many precious holiday memories makes me feel a little bit closer to my grandparents on one of their favorite days of the year. — Kerrin

Best Chain Restaurants and Shops for Holiday Treats

Adulting, Author: Mary Grace Donaldson

Welcome to the holidays — home of lights, ornaments, endless days of shopping and belt-loosening treats!

Your families may have any number of secret holiday recipes passed down since the days of your grandmother’s childhood. While those are delicious and tough to beat, we’ve assembled a list of chain food establishments serving up their own versions of holiday treats, perfect on a shopping pit stop.

 

20121202-snowman-cookieStarbucks 

While I am a certified Starbucks addict (I even mention it in my author bio) and could be a bit biased here, what would a list of holiday treats be without Starbucks’ signature Red Cups? In addition to holiday drinks – including the peppermint mocha, the eggnog latte and my new favorite: the spiced sweet cream cold brew – edible goodies include the holiday turkey and stuffing panini, peppermint cake pops, cranberry bliss bar and even a snowman cookie.

 

ihop-dark-chocolate-peppermint-pancakesIHOP

Your favorite college late night spot is serving up its own version of holiday cheer. Of course, pancakes come in varieties of dark chocolate peppermint, pumpkin spice and yes, eggnog. Grab a frosted mint hot chocolate to drink and you’ll be feeling the holiday spirit in no time.

 

blizzard_bom_candy-cane-oreo_810x810Dairy Queen

While not possessing a full holiday menu, DQ’s Blizzard of the Month for December is the Candy Cane Oreo Blizzard, and it’s exactly as it sounds.

 

 

 

 

 

wn-gingerbread-cookie-sticksTrader Joe’s

TJ’s already made our list of how to enjoy fall on a budget with its pumpkin spiced coffee K-Cups, and it’s making an appearance here with gingerbread cookie sticks and soft baked drizzled gingerbread oat bars – all new for 2016!

 

 

 

11182013-273766-panera-signature-hot-chocolate-2Panera

Good ol’ Panera – serving up your lunch as well as holiday favorites. Treat yourself to fresh baked holiday bread, mitten cookies and more hot chocolate…but this one comes with salted caramel syrup and chocolate chip marshmallows.

 

Did we leave out any of your favorite holiday menu items? Let us know in the comments!

Recipes That Will Remind You of College

Adulting, Author: Claire Greene

In a research study done at Auburn University, 131 students were followed over four years of college. It was found that 70% of them gained some weight before graduation, in amounts ranging from 12 pounds to 37 pounds.

Why is this? I personally believe that this is because college is the utmost time of freedom. It is the first time when we are living out on our own, away from our parents, and we are under the impression that we can do whatever we want. This includes eating what we want. Can we have that extra scoop of ice cream? Sure, because there is no one there telling us we can’t.

I am here to share some recipes that have token ingredients every college student will recognize, but makes them into actual meals, rather than just snacks to gorge on. Hope you enjoy!

Taco Lasagna

taco-lasagna-recipe

Photo via Bunisinmyoven.com

I found this recipe at bunisinmyoven.com, and I find this recipe very much reminds me of college because of one key ingredient: nacho cheese soup. I can’t tell you how many trips I made to the on campus convenience store to stock up on salsa con queso and nachos. This lasagna is a slightly more grown-up version of that all-time favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 1 can RoTel diced tomatoes with chiles, drained
  • 1 can nacho cheese soup
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 12 8-inch, soft tortillas
  • Guacamole, cilantro, sour cream for topping, as desired

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×9 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Add the beef or turkey to a large skillet over medium heat and crumble as it cooks. Drain grease when cooked through.
  3. Add the taco seasoning and water to the skillet and cook for two minutes.
  4. Dump the tomatoes, cheese soup and sour cream into a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the cooked meat.
  5. Place three tortillas in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with 1/3 of the meat mixture.
  6. Repeat layers, ending with a layer of tortillas on the top. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and melty.
  8. Serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro, guacamole and extra sour cream, as desired.

My second nephew was just recently born. Because my brother and my sister-in-law were the parents of a newborn and a three-year-old and they would not have time to cook, I made them this lasagna to make things easier for them. All I have to say is now, my brother is on the Atkins diet. He was not while this dish was in the fridge.

Pesto Flatbread Pizza 

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A staple in the diet of every college student is the old stand by: pizza. It is served at every meal in every cafeteria and you can even get it delivered right to your door! I have yet to meet someone who does not savor melted cheese and tomato sauce over bread. Here is a slightly grown-up version of my favorite, not that delivery isn’t great.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 pieces Naan Stone fire flatbread
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto sauce
  • 1 small can sliced olives
  • Olive oil for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place flatbreads on large baking sheet
  3. Lightly dust flatbreads with olive oil
  4. Evenly spread pesto sauce over each flatbread
  5. Top each flatbread with mozzarella and olives
  6. Place flatbreads in oven and cook for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven, cut into pieces and serve warm.

 

Brie Apple Grilled Cheese

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Grilled cheese has always been one of my all-time favorite foods. Also, there wasn’t a lunch meal where it wasn’t served. Of course, in the cafeteria it was nothing more than Wonder Bread filled with American cheese put into a frying pan with butter. If you want to feel slightly more grown-up, here is a delicious new take on the favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces sliced Italian Bread
  • 6 thin slices of brie cheese, or to taste
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 6 slices granny smith apple
  • Fresh tyme to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Place bread slices butter side down into hot skillet. Arrange Brie cheese slices on top of each piece of bread. Sprinkle thyme over the top.
  3. Spread apple slices in a single layer over the Brie cheese on one slice of bread.
  4. Flip the slice of bread without apple onto the slice of bread with the apple slices. Continue cooking sandwich until cheese and apple are heated through and cheese is melted.

I hope you enjoy all of recipes while reminiscing with your college friends about the old days. Bon Appetit!

How to Make the Most of Fall

Adulting, Author: Claire Greene

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. Something about the crisp smell in the air, the beautiful color of the leaves, and pumpkin spice always gives me a sense of satisfaction I can’t describe. It’s important to really take everything in, and enjoy all of the beautiful things nature has given us.

 

Get outside 
During the fall, I always like to make sure that no matter how stressed I am or how crazy things may be, that I always get outside for at least a few minutes every day. I smell the air, touch the earth, listen to the crunch of the leaves as I walk and appreciate all of the rich, warm, natural colors of the leaves. Something about fall really awakens all of the senses, and you can feel more in touch with nature than ever before.

Decorate
Since there are so many beautiful, fall colors, fall is the best time to make natural decorations. Go outside and collect some leaves with colors that you love, some acorns that have fallen from the trees and even some wild berries (if you have pets, make sure the berries aren’t toxic first). There are so many ways you can decorate with the natural things you can find right outside the door. Put together a mason jar with acorns, colorful leaves, and dandelions. Not only will this be a reminder of the nature outside, it is a free decoration! You can also create a leaf collage by simply gluing leaves to a piece of paper, stringing acorns and hanging them up on the mantle, or even using a leaf as a bookmark! You can also collect nuts and seeds and leave them in a bowl outside to thank the birds for chirping!

Use the foods in abundance during the season 
There are so many foods that are at their best in the fall. Squashes and apples are full of rich flavor and taste. Cooking with them during their natural seasons will create amazing meals that will awaken your taste buds. Simply mulling apple cider with cinnamon and sage (the scents of the season), or making an apple pie, or even an apple crisp will be a wonderful treat that you will look forward to throughout the day. Butternut squash is at its best during fall as well. Make delicious sweet coconut, butternut squash soup, and a delicious autumn chili chutney using butternut squash, mango and apple cider vinegar. Research recipes using the rich foods of the season, and I promise you won’t be sorry.

 

During the fall, be inspired by Mother Nature. Fall is all about taking a moment and appreciating what is around you. So go ahead, take a break and go for a walk. You just may find some magic on the way.