Pasta with Broccoli & Italian Sausage

T has a few staple meals that are go tos when she is tired or does not feel like making a complicated meal. Bonus points if the recipe is easy enough for her husband to help, or even do it for her if she’s running late.

It can be tricky to find meals that take little time and virtually no effort, but they can be found! This gem we’re posting about today is a dish T designed by combining elements from several different pasta dishes. Caution: It is a little spicy, but can be modified to reduce that.

T feels like pasta has gotten a bad rap these days because nobody wants carbs. LOL jk. Everybody wants carbs, but avoids them because they aren’t diet friendly. #disagree Pasta can be your friend and it’s filling! This particular recipe is great because you can fill it with vegetables and meat, get a little pasta to satisfy that craving, and not walk away feeling weighed down.


Today’s recipe includes broccoli, spicy italian sausage, red pepper flakes, Parmesan and the basics. Ways to modify:

Meats: sub chicken breast, shrimp, or tofu (for M)

                                    Vegetables: sub or add, broccolini, brussel sprouts, zucchini, spinach

Add ins: pine nuts, panko bread crumbs,

This dish is super user friendly, so you can adjust the ingredients to fit your particular tastes or cravings. For instance, I will often use a splash of garlic infused olive oil, which gives you a little garlic flavor without the chunks of garlic that make your breath smell bad. 🙂


Pasta with Broccoli & Italian Sausage

4 Tbsp. Salt

1 box of pasta (orecchiette is T’s fav)

1/4 C. + 2 Tbsp Olive Oil (divided)

1 Head of Broccoli (or bag of frozen broccoli)

1/2 – 1 Lb. Spicy Italian Sausage

1 Tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes

1 tsp. Black Pepper

1/3 C. Parmesan

Step 1: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add in the salt. Then add the pasta and cook until al dente.

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Step 2: While the pasta is cooking, use one tablespoon of your olive oil and saute your broccoli on low-medium heat until tender (3-5 minutes). When done move broccoli to a bowl.

Step 3: Use the 2nd tablespoon of olive oil and the same pan as the broccoli. Cook the sausage on medium heat until browned. Use a spatula to break your sausage into desired chunks. Once browned, return the broccoli to the pan and continue to cook on low until sausage is cooked through (5-7 minutes).

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Step 4: When Pasta is done, drain the pasta and return it to the pan. Pour in the remaining 1/4 C. of olive oil and add the spices. mix until well combined. Then add your vegetables and sausage to the pan. Mix.

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Step 5: Add the Parmesan either directly into the pan, or scoop the pasta into serving dish and top with the Parmesan.


This meal takes no more than 30 minutes, and is delicious!

Happy Cooking,




Trusting your “Mom” Instincts

What are mom instincts? Do you have them? Do you learn them? Do they magically appear during pregnancy?

M & T share the same pediatrician (who also treated T when she was younger!). He loves to say “what does your heart tell you?” WELL I DON’T KNOW THAT’S WHY I’M ON THE PHONE WITH YOU! It’s hard to know what the right thing is. If only your babies could talk to you!


He does address a valid point though. Nobody knows your child better than you do. So you are in the best position to evaluate the situation. The problem here is that babies don’t come with instruction manuals, and you are thrown straight into the deep end the second you leave the hospital doors. Most of us aren’t medical professionals either, so how do we know when something is wrong? How do I recognize these supposed “instincts” I have? Does my baby have a cold or is it an ear infection? Is baby motrin enough or does he need a prescription? He’s not eating, am I starving my baby? Navigating the waters of a happy healthy baby, and worse the waters of a sick, grumpy, angry baby, is H-A-R-D.

You hear stories of moms who knew something was wrong with her baby even when doctors kept telling her everything was fine. THOSE mom’s had strong instincts and fought for their babies. (M says – or do they always think something is wrong and they just happened to be right this time?) So where are my instincts? Will they come if that situation presents itself? Those moms always seem like super heroes, am I a super hero somewhere deep down?

From T’s perspective she’s parenting in a new world of technology and helicopter parents. It can be hard to find, and then trust, these instincts. With the onslaught of information available to her and the constant “shaming” from other moms, it is easy to lose sight of her gut feeling and start second guessing herself. To be fair most everyone has the babies best interests at heart, but with several people giving you advice (often unsolicited) it can be hard to trust yourself or to know what is right for you and your baby.

M has this to say: Just wait until they get big and then you REALLY doubt yourself! I have been close to tears when a child was falling apart because I just wanted to know what to do. I wanted a child psychologist in the car with me to tell me tough love was the way, or a big hug was the way, or a day off of school was the way.  The truth is there is no one way and we are all messing up all the time. You just hope your mistakes aren’t the giant ones. Kids are resilient – even little bitty babies. I think most everyone has an instinct, but in the age of information, it’s hard to trust yourself.  So, ask around, gather information, and then do what YOU feel is right.  Generally a decision does not have to be made on the spot, so don’t worry about taking some time. (NOTE – there are some decisions where time is of the essence, but that is a conversation for another day.)

Really, for T it’s going to come down to practice and getting it wrong and, at times, even getting it right. She’ll learn from the failures and be emboldened as a mom by her successes. She’s not sure she fully trusts her instincts, but they are there and she’s learning. Most importantly she needs to trust herself and not apologize for disagreeing with family and friends who think she should care for her son differently. You have to do right by you and your child because it is the only way you will be happy at the end of the day. GET THE ADVICE! It never hurts to hear other perspectives, and it helps you learn. But, at the end of the day you make your OWN decision and stand strong.

After 5 kids M doesn’t worry as much about the health issues, it’s more the parenting struggles and decisions. Luckily, M is generally not a worrier, which helps a lot. Of course, having 5 kids helps because who has time to worry?! 

Both of us (and ALL parents) are really just making it up as we go. You’ll learn to trust yourself along the way, and find what’s right for you! Until then, we will continue sharing what we’ve learned and hopefully putting you at ease knowing you aren’t alone in this. EVERYONE is struggling with parenting in some way ( or all ways 😉 ).

xoxo, T & M

Annual Family Games, a Tradition

The holiday season is full of family traditions. Our family has done practically the exact same thing for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and Birthdays for as long as we can remember. And we really wouldn’t have it any other way. But about 6 years ago T came up with a brilliant idea… host an Annual Family Games competition! What an excellent tradition this turned out to be.

Our family is naturally quite competitive, so she knew everyone would be on board. To be fair, this isn’t so much a Thanksgiving or holiday tradition as it is an annual event, but this years games fall on the Friday after Thanksgiving! (We try to alternate between summer & winter games) So, it’s the perfect time to share with y’all.

How did this all begin? Well, T was reading Martha Stewart Living and Martha suggested some fun family games to do over the Fourth of July. It was just a few games, but T thought this was something she could work with. It had been a hard year for our family, as we had recently lost T’s sister, so what better way to lift spirits and bring the family together than some friendly competition!

This quickly turned into more than just your average family get together. T researched minute to win it game rules and included games she remembered from her elementary school Field Day. We made posters with “sponsors”, we decorated, we bought all of the supplies….and then it came time to draw teams. M is one of 7 kids, among them are 20 grandkids ranging in ages from 3-30 and 1 great-grandkid. We divided the names of the adults among four teams and then the names of the grandkids among the four teams. The Teams have really gotten a life of their own. Originally, the teams were four colors. Now the four team names are themed (for example: Christmas themed, Disney themed, etc.) The teams have also gotten into the spirit as the team “captains” order or make “uniforms” to show their team spirit.

Of course with the announcement of the teams comes loads of complaints. Some even made trade offers. But once the teams are set it’s time for some friendly banter and preparation for the games.

The game day schedule is as follows:

8:00-8:45 a.m. – Breakfast of Champions and team flag decorating

8:50 a.m. – Running of the torch/lighting of the Flame

9:00 a.m. – Opening Ceremonies and the Parade of Champions

9:15 – Games begin

Noon – Lunch and Crowning of the champions

Breakfast of Champions consists of super healthy foods like Lucky Charms, Wheaties, and cinnamon rolls. All that sugar will get your energy up so you are ready to go. Honestly, most of the families don’t make it for this part (it’s an early start so we are done before football games start). During this time, each team is provided materials to make a flag to carry during the opening ceremonies. 281241_823298511130_356885_n

Moving on, what are Family Games without a torch run? Using a cutout of a torch, we take the younger kids down the block and spread them out along the way. When it’s time, the first kid takes off and hands off the torch as they reach the next kid. This continues until the last kid carries the torch into the house where our master of ceremonies is ready to turn on our gas fire place the moment the Flame is placed at its base. The flame lighter is typically, but not always, the youngest competitor.

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This signals the beginning of our games and the opening ceremonies begin. Music is played as the teams parade around the pool waving at each other and all of the “spectators”. This is perhaps the silliest, but also T’s favorite, part of the event. 13198518_10101384585785890_2442499038042389559_o

Now it’s time for the games. We have a master of ceremonies who directs everyone to each game station. (We will do a post about the specific games after this week’s 5th Annual Family Games.) But, they are typically minute to win it games or games you would find at a kid’s field day. We have games such as: watermelon seed spitting, pin the face on the potato head, leisure diving, relays, junk in the trunk, pyramid building, word games, etc. Really we could do several posts on the specific games. M’s parents (a.k.a. grandparents, and great-grandparents) serve as additional referees if needed.

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The games get very competitive and there is an endless onslaught of trash talking. But you can tell everyone is having a blast the entire time. There may even be some mild “cheating” going on. The point is for everyone to be together having fun, so who cares! The Master of Ceremonies keeps score and an alleged winner is announced. Nobody just “wins” Family Games because they will perpetually be accused of cheating, having a stacked team, or getting the rule book ahead of time.

The Annual Family GAmes has been such a great activity to bring family together, get kids and parents outside, and have old fashioned fun. It can be extra hard these days to pull them away from phones, TV, video games, etc. But if you can just get them out the door they will forget all about the shiny electronics (at least until the games end).

We will be sure to fill you in on how the 6th Annual Family Olympics turns out. What are some of your favorite family traditions?

Happy Thanksgiving!

T & M



Cranberry Salsa

An Appetizer to Bring to All your Holiday Parties

Tis’ the season…to never know what to bring with you to all of those holiday parties! But, whether you are hosting the party or just want to bring a little appetizer, this dish is super easy to make and will be a huge hit. We promise!

Cranberries are a super popular food in the winter, both to eat and decorate with. Yet, this little red gem is often discounted by those who don’t know what to do with them.  We are here to help with that! Cranberries are gorgeous to look at and very tasty. They are even versatile! Who would have thought to pair cranberries with jalapenos? This particular recipe is a Cranberry Salsa that is a perfect addition to Friendsgiving or holiday party, and we hope you like it!
Fair warning…do not rub your eyes after touching the jalapeno. REPEAT! DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES AFTER TOUCHING THE JALAPENO! No matter how frequently T uses jalapenos in her recipe she almost always rubs her eyes. The last time she made this recipe her eyes burned for AN HOUR AND A HALF! That’s a rule most of you know, but for any beginner chefs…beware! 

Cranberry Salsa

1  12 oz package fresh cranberries
1/4 C green onion, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper
1 1/4 C sugar
1/4 t cumin
2 T lemon juice
dash salt
  8 oz packages cream cheese

IMG_1032 (Edited)Step 1: Set the cream cheese on the counter to soften. Chop up the green onion and dice the jalapeno.

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Step 2: Put the cranberries in a food processor. Use the chop button to get the cranberries as finely diced as you want. The smaller the dice the easier to scoop.

Step 3: Add all of the ingredients (except the cream cheese) in a bowl. Mix it all together and cover/store in the fridge for at least 4 hours. (It helps the sugar soak up and causes the cranberries tart flavor to fade just enough.)
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Step 4: Right before you are ready to serve. Spread the cream cheese on your serving plate so that it is about a quarter of an inch to half inch layer across the plate. Be sure to leave room at the edge so the cranberries don’t spill over the edge and off the plate. 
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Step 5: Pour the cranberry salsa over the cream cheese and spread it all around!
Then you’re done! Hooray!!!!!!
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This will seriously be gone in 5 minutes, so if you have a big family you might consider making a double batch. Or two separate batches, that way if no one eats it you can save the other for yourself! It can be served with: Tostitos, Fritos, Wheat Thins, pita chips, or any other chip you like to dip with!  I would stick to a relatively bland flavored chip or cracker though because the salsa has so much flavor and you don’t want to take anything away from it.  

M adds that this appetizer is AMAZING.  She does not cook as much and is not as adventurous, but this was still easy to make and so good.  She also suggests using a thicker chip/cracker as many chips can’t handle the weight of the dip. But, don’t worry, you can always just scoop it up with a spoon – it’s that good!!

xoxo, M & T

Homemade Applesauce

As an adult applesauce doesn’t seem like a go too snack. Now that there are kids involved we wonder why that is? Applesauce tastes even better now than it did as a kid. You get a serving a fruit and a little sugar. It’s perfect for anytime you have a little sweet tooth going! P.S.A. it also tastes amazing served warm over ice cream. Don’t knock it till you try it!

So you don’t like applesauce? Consider making it just to make your house smell like fall. I didn’t even want to turn off my crock pot because I didn’t want to make the smell go away. We still have a few weeks before we start switching scents to fir trees, fire and snow! Take advantage of it!! But you also don’t have to limit this recipe to the fall. It’s good all year long 🙂

If none of that convinced you let’s talk about how easy it is. There is literally zero excuse for not trying this. A recipe doesn’t get any easier than this. SO TRY IT. If you don’t have a crock pot go buy one. We will talk to you about why this tool is essential in another post, but bottom line is you can do literally anything in that thing.

Oh and p.s…… this recipe is only a whopping 1 weight watcher point per serving!!

Cinnamon Applesauce

8 apples*
2 3in. cinnamon sticks
  2 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
5 tsp. light brown sugar
*Any type. I like to use a combination of Honey crisp and Granny Smith. Getting two flavors of apples gives you a more robust flavor.
Step 1: Peel, core and chop the apples. To peel it use a vegetable peeler (if you’re lucky you can do it in one long string). Then slice around the core to get 4 large chunks.
Step 2: Toss them in the crock pot and add the rest of the ingredients
Step 3: Set your crock pot to low and cook for 6 hours.

Step 4: Optional. blend your mixture if you want it super smooth or just use a whisk to stir and eat it chunky! I then put it in old jars like a pasta sauce jar or a salsa jar that’s been thoroughly rinsed out.
AND YOU’RE DONE! Congrats on making the bestest, easiest recipe EVER! Don’t be afraid to play with the proportions (adding things or taking things away to get the flavor YOU want) Let me know how it goes!
xoxo T

So you’re pregnant? Now what?


Finding out I was pregnant for the first time was AMAZE BALLS! I could hardly contain my excitement. Just a month earlier I had been pretty sad to take a negative test, which made this time even more joyous. I pretty much wanted to tell everyone right away, but I knew that’s not what most people do. So when is the right time to share the news?

Obviously you need to tell your spouse fairly quickly… Let me tell you a little story about how I totally botched this part. I adore whales, and my husband knows that. I frequently refer to myself as a whale (moderately condescendingly) and to our future child as Baby Beluga (lovingly). After I got a positive pregnancy test I ran to Target to find a beluga Tsum Tsum. I had decided to put the “baby beluga” in a box and give it to my husband that night. Of course Target had sold out of the beluga Tsum Tsum, so I had to come up with a plan B. Naturally, I thought it would be a good idea to text hubby and ask if he had a minute to talk. Rather than responding “yes”, as I had hoped, he called me directly, foiling my “perfect” plans. I said “No no no! Call me after you get my next text.” I then proceeded to send him two pictures: 1) a picture of a beluga mom and her pup, and 2) a picture of the positive test. LOL looking back I cringe at how terrible that was. He, of course, called me immediately to discuss with a tone of 1 part excited 2 parts terrified.

I often think about that day and how poor my choice was to tell him like that, but I also was SO excited that it didn’t really matter how I told him. So, is there a right or a wrong way? I don’t think so, but I would say there are BETTER ways. Some of you will want your husband with you when you take the test, others will make a big production out of it, and others might say “oh crap, what do we do now”. All of those are perfectly fine choices.

Shortly after I told hubby, I told M. She’s my go to at the office. Being friend and family (and a mom to five already), she is uniquely qualified to be in on all of my secrets and to be a source of endless knowledge. We discussed whether to tell other people or not. She pointed out that it’s sometimes better to wait awhile because if something were to go wrong it can be challenging to then share that with all of the people you told. But, this really depends on the individual. Some people wouldn’t mind then sharing the “bad” news, while for others, it would be painful every time someone asks about it. For me, I’d really like to have the the support of everyone if I ever had to cross that bridge.  She also pointed out that HARDLY ANYONE CAN KEEP A SECRET! So you might think you are only telling your parents, when in reality you are telling your parents, their best friend, their best friend’s friend, their best friend’s friend’s daughter who happens to be in school with your brother, etc.  So, you really have to know your audience! M’s parents are not talkers, so a secret is no problem. My parents on the other hand…let’s just say that word got around!

What you choose to do should be up to you and your partner and nobody else. If you are comfortable telling people GO FOR IT! Just be prepared to talk about everything else that goes with it. And if you want to wait, that’s perfectly fine too! Ultimately, I told a small handful of people (who then told another small handful of people) but it was ok. I was prepared to discuss the good, bad, and ugly with whomever.

After you get over your initial excitement, there is one more person you definitely have to tell: YOUR OBGYN! Go ahead and give them a call to make your first doctor’s appointment! Many doctors won’t want to see you until 6-8 weeks along because so much can happen before then. (And, believe it or not, the test they give you is pretty much what you’ve taken at home! M just might have taken 3 tests at home on her first pregnancy just to be sure.) At your first appointment they will do a sonogram and confirm that you have a healthy little peanut…or blob… in there. It really doesn’t look like much at that first visit. But it’s your blob and it’s the best feeling. We will talk more about sonograms in a later post. But that is definitely one person who needs to know pretty early in the process!

Who else to tell and when to tell them is a surprisingly stressful decision. Just know that whatever you choose is right for you and that’s what matters. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

xoxo, T

Wall Murals

Growing up my mom painted a rain forest/jungle mural on our play room wall. I vividly remember what it looked like. I also remember being traumatized when it was painted over. When I found out I was pregnant that was one of the first things I knew I wanted. I wanted my mom to paint a new mural in the baby’s bedroom!

Throughout the duration of my pregnancy I referred to my unborn child as Baby Beluga…I may or may not still refer to him as that. I have a major love for all things whale. And his room now reflects that. He’ll probably grow up to hate whales, but I hope not! Anyway, my mom and I began discussing what I wanted. Definitely wanted an underwater scene. But did I want to see the waves and a boat on top? Did I want realistic looking fish or cartoon fish? What color blue? There were SO many decisions.

Before you get started it helps to have a pretty clear vision of what it is you are wanting. Do not start drawing or painting until you know. I decided I wanted it to be a little cartoony with lots of bright colors. So my mom got to work drawing the fish. There are several ways to do this. You can either 1) Freehand directly on the wall 2) you can freehand or trace your image on a smaller piece of paper and then use a projector to put it on the wall in the size you want. We did a mixture of both.

We google imaged different fishies and found ones we liked. We used a couple that reflected the characters in finding nemo, we found a couple we could trace that were just awesome looking. And then my mom found some that she then added features too. For instance, my husband is obsessed with all things University of Texas. So my mom found an awesome puffer fish but then added longhorns to it!

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It’s one of my favorite parts of the mural. There are other fun hidden gems like the snorkeler’s shorts say Fordham my alma mater. She also found images for a submarine, treasure chest, message in a bottle and some other fun things.IMG_3936

Once we had all of our images it was time to start getting them traced onto the wall. (Note: You should Ideally be starting with a white wall). TAKE YOUR TIME! Make sure you get the images the size you want and don’t be afraid to erase if it’s not what you want or the right size. All of those pencil markings can be covered up with paint. We started on one side and worked our way across

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Once we had a few images on the wall we started playing with the paint. We used regular acrylic paint for the smaller images and then a Sherwin Williams wall paint for the ocean. We would do a small area to make sure the color was what we wanted and then filled in. Almost every color needed more than one coat. But you MUST let it dry all the way before adding the second layer. We also found that using sharpies to outline the images or pieces of the images was super helpful, and made the images stand out.


As I type this all out it seems like way more work than it actually was (not to downplay how much effort my mom put into it) But anyone can do this especially if you’re tracing! If anything it is really just time consuming. But it has made my son’s room SO fun and brings back memories of my own mural. I am SO SO SO happy we chose to do this for him too.

Good luck and happy painting!

P.S. if you did any fun painting projects in your playroom or nursery walls I would love to see them!

Beb’s Banana Pudding

My sister’s birthday is coming up. She passed away six years ago, which is really unbelievable to think about. I’ve made a habit of trying to celebrate her birthday. Partly because I know wherever she is she is partying, so it feels like i’m doing that with her. I’ve shared this recipe in the past, but with her birthday right around the corner I thought it was the perfect opportunity to bring it back.

Banana Pudding was one of the few things she and I could ever agree upon. When we were both in school at Fordham in New York City we would go to Magnolia Bakery and buy these giants tubs of banana pudding. And when I say giant I mean it’s like a good 10 servings if not more. We would finish it in one sitting. In fact, I know she could finish it by herself in one sitting.

I guess I should share a little back story on this gem of a snack. I guess it all goes back to Black Eyed Pea. We had one down the street and frequently ate there as a family. I don’t think anyone ever ate their meals especially not the vegetables, but we certainly ate that banana pudding. It was a moment where all four of us could come together and appreciate something (that doesn’t happen often). This period was followed by a lull in banana pudding eating. Not to worry though, we more than made up for lost time in New York. Then my mom found this new recipe and it has been a staple in our home ever since.

The banana pudding recipe I’m going to share with you is by Paula Deen. Everyone can have their opinion about her, but the lady is a darn good cook. And her banana pudding is absolutely amazing. Lots of southern families have family recipes that have been passed down, but do yourself a favor and give this one a try. It might just become your new favorite.

Beb’s Banana Pudding

2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies*
6 to 8 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 box instant** French vanilla pudding (5 oz.)
1  package cream cheese (8 oz), softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
1  container Cool Whip thawed (12 oz)
*Make sure to get the seasonal ones for Christmas!
**Make sure you get instant! This is essential
Step 1: Use the cookies to line the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch casserole dish, Then make a second layer with the sliced bananas.

Step 2: Blend the milk and pudding mix with an electric mixer. In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese and condensed milk together until smooth. (DON’T CHEAT! Make sure it’s smooth). Gently add the cool whip into the cream cheese mixture and then add to the pudding mixture. Stir until completely blended.
Step 3: Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas. Then top it off with a final layer of cookies.
Step 4: Refrigerate! You could eat it right away but I suggest refrigerating for 1-2 hours so it gets nice and cool. The way banana pudding should be eaten.
I hope you like this recipe as much as I do. It has become a staple in my recipe arsenal, and it is a quick and easy dish to bring to any get together or party you may have especially during this hectic holiday season.
Happy Eating
xoxo T