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Archives for November 2010

I’d like to introduce you to Sunday

A few months ago I spent a wonderful weekend in Philly for Bloggy Boot Camp and I met a bunch of special women some of whose blogs I have been reading for some time. It was great to meet so many women with such diverse backgrounds who loved to share their stories. I particularly enjoyed meeting women whose lives were similar to mine, thus the introduction to Sunday..


women with funny maskThis week marks the beginning of the holiday season.  In the coming days many will celebrate Thanksgiving.  In December families will come together for Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa.  Each holiday involves its own unique celebrations and customs influenced both by family and culture.

In our home the holidays are influenced most by Autism.

If you visit our home you will not find a large Christmas tree in the living room lovingly adorned with ornaments passed down from my mom’s tree.  There will be no lavish spread of food because the boys refuse to eat anything other than their normal day to day fare of grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade chocolate chip cookies.  The fireplace is cold and still on Christmas Eve because setting one is too dangerous around the boys.  Similarly, you will not find us loading up the car with presents and suitcases for a trek to share the joy of the holidays with our families.

Because it seems autism is not something they want their holiday to include.

Every year I go through the varopis stages of grief over the fact that my family chooses to not include my boys in their holiday plans.

Shock & Disbelief:  
Why wouldn’t grandparents want to spend the holidays with their grandchildren?  Even if said grandchildren  prefer playing with wrapping paper, long colorful ribbons, and loud obnoxious toys over sitting quietly in Grandma’s lap while she reads them ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas?  Christmas is supposed to be about the children and celebrating with them the magic and beauty of the holidays.  Why would grandparents and family choose to miss out on that?

Anger & Bargaining:
When the boys’ grandparents choose to spend their holidays with their other grandchildren who do not have autism I am left feeling nothing but anger.  In some ways I am comforted in knowing that the boys do not know nor care why their grandparents are not visiting with us.  But I do, and it burns me up!

In previous years I would bend over backwards to invite family to celebrate with us.  I would plan out elaborate menus and wake up at 4 am to start the turkey in hopes of getting a couple hours in the kitchen before the boys woke up.  Family would come, eat, stay maybe an hour and then leave immediately following dessert.  I stopped trying to cater to their needs of my extended family after that.

Depression, Reflection, & Loneliness:
This stage seems to be where I spend most of my time during the holiday season.

I mostly feel lonely and a bit sad for family and all they are missing out on when it comes to the boys and how quickly they are growing up.

I miss my mom something fierce too.  She was was the best damn Nana this world ever saw.  She was also an amazing mother and friend.  Before her death in 2004 you would find her spending every weekend, every holiday, and all her vacation time visiting her grandchildren and having fun with them.  I mourn the fact that she is not here now to enjoy her grandsons like I know she would have wanted.

Acceptance & Hope:
Eventually (typically somewhere around December 24th) I make peace with the choices my family has made in how and with whom they choose to celebrate the holidays.

I focus on making the most of Christmas with my amazing husband and the boys. Mike and I sip eggnog, play Christmas music much too loud (which the boys love!), turn on the outside Christmas lights, break out the Scrabble board, and later we turn on The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas Special and we enjoy our grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies together.  Just the way a family should at the holidays.


Autism may mean my boys are different than most and that may mean that our holiday celebrations are a bit out of the ordinary as well.  But, ours is no less filled with love, a sense of togetherness and magic.

And if someone isn’t up for celebrating the holidays with two boys who embrace those holidays full force and without abandon….then its nothing more than their loss.

Sunday is the frazzled mom raising two boys on the severe end of the Autism spectrum while living to laugh and blog about it at Adventures in Extreme Parenthood.  You can also find Sunday tweeting her Banshee heart out on Twitter at @ExtremeParnthood and on Facebook by searching for her name: Sunday Stilwell.

Turkey Roulade with Maple Squash

With Thanksgiving around the corner this recipe is a great alternative if you don’t want to make the whole “bird”.

turkey and squash

The stuffing rolled up in this great dish not only makes it beautiful when served but it gives it just the right amount of flavor all mixed together. I paired this together with Canyon Ranch’s Mashed Butternut Squash with Maple Syrup.

Recipe: Ellie’s Turkey Roulade with Apple-Cider Gravy
Serves 6
2 slices of Turkey Roulade with 1/4 cup Gravy
Calories: 400
Total Fat: 12G
Mono 6G
Poly 3.5G
Sat 1.5G
Protein: 50G
Carb: 24G
Fiber: 2G
Chol 117MG
Sodium: 371 MG


1 (2 1/2-pound) skinless turkey breast, butterflied
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups), plus 1 cup sliced onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
5 slices day-old whole-wheat bread, crusts removed, cubed (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup lightly toasted chopped pecans
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh crumbled sage or 3 teaspoons dried, divided
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup apple cider
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water

Special equipment: kitchen twine

Preparation Instructions:

1. Place the turkey breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound lightly with a meat mallet to an even thickness of about 3/4-inch. Set aside while stuffing is prepared.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Place the cranberries in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat, drain and reserve. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook, stirring, until onions are golden but not charred, about 12 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add bread, cranberries, pecans, 2 tablespoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried sage and 1/2 to 3/4-cup chicken stock, depending upon consistency of stuffing; (you want the mixture to be moistened, but not too wet, since the turkey will release moisture when cooked). Cook over low heat for about 2 to 3 minutes, remove from heat.

4. Salt and pepper the inside and outside of the turkey breast. Spread the stuffing on the turkey, leaving about 1 1/2 to 2-inches uncovered on all sides. Roll up and secure tightly with kitchen twine, trying to keep all stuffing intact.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a large Dutch oven or medium-sized roasting pan until hot. Sear stuffed turkey breast on all sides until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add sliced onion and 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, cover tightly and roast in the oven until turkey reaches 160 degrees F when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into inner layer of meat, about 60 to 65 minutes. Remove the turkey breast from oven and transfer to a cutting board to rest.

Make the gravy: Add apple cider, 1/2 cup chicken stock, vinegar and remaining sage to the onions, chicken stock and juices in the roasting pan, bring to a boil and cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by 1/3. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly, and cook for 3 minutes more. The gravy should not be thick, just slightly thicker than a jus. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Makes 1 1/2 cups gravy.

Remove twine from turkey breast and slice into 1 1/2-inch thick pieces. Serve with gravy.

*recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger “The Food You Crave”

Recipe: Canyon Ranch’s Mashed Butternut Squash with Maple Syrup

Serving Information
Makes 6 (1/2-cup) servings, each containing approximately:
90 calories
19 gm. carbohydrate
2 gm. fat
5 mg. cholesterol
2 gm. protein
125 mg. sodium
5 gm. fiber


3 pounds butternut squash
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Pinch sea salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons unsalted butter

Preparation Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Slice squash in half, scoop out seeds and place in baking pan flesh side down with enough water to barely cover the pan’s bottom.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes until squash is very tender.

3. Scoop out cooked squash and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whip at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.

*recipe courtesy of Canyon Ranch

Have you ever tried anything different for Thanksgiving?

introductions introductions…

I am so excited because this week I am officially “kicking off” my Special Sisters Series where I will feature a “sister” who is either on a journey with a special needs child like myself or on a healthy lifestyle journey like the one I jump started this year. So let me introduce you to some wonderful friends!

Hi everyone! My name is Lindsay; an everyday working mom with a passion for healthy living, cooking and writing all about it. Eating well is a major factor in healthy living, but there was a time (not too long ago) when my cooking left a lot to be desired. Every night was chicken and veggies, maybe an occasional pork loin in there. It was just getting a bit monotonous and for lack of a better word, BLAH. I finally met a breaking point where I knew there just had to be more out there in the world of healthy cooking. How could I get healthy food to be exciting? So, I turned to the woman that makes my husband’s heart race and cause him to stare longingly at the TV wishing she were in his kitchen; Miss Paula Deen.

Now, if you know anything about Paula Deen, you understand that she is known for starting her recipes out with, “OK, ya’ll. Now you are gonna need two sticks of softened butter…” You know how the rest goes. Cheese, bacon, heavy creams; all the things that make a delicious, yet not so nutritious dish. The challenge was to encompass all of the flavors and feelings you get from her dishes, but cook it in a healthy way. I was going to tackle her recipes, one buttery dish at a time, and make them into something we could feel good about eating. And that is where “Cookin’ Lean Like Paula Deen” was born.

What I have found, and what I love sharing with my readers, is that if you can crave something, then there is always a way to create it in a healthy way. From Macaroni and Cheese to Chocolate Cake, with a little creativity and simple ingredient substitutions, you can change any recipe, even Paula Deen’s, into a healthy, nutritious, guilt-free meal for you, your family and your friends.

Here are a couple examples of recipe make-overs that have gone from heavy to healthy, without losing that wonderful flavor we love.

Makes 2 cups of gravy


4 strips reduced-fat bacon (center cut)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup Fat Free chicken broth

1 cup 1% milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


Cook bacon in a large skillet. Remove bacon and reserve drippings. Crumble bacon and set aside.

Add flour to drippings and whisk for about 2 minutes, or until browned. Gradually add milk and broth. Wisk constantly over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Once thick and bubbly, stir in salt and pepper. Serve over biscuits and top with crumbled bacon.

***For biscuits, I recommend using Reduced-Fat Bisquick. Recipe is on the box.

4-5 Servings


3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”

1 shallot, finely minced

1 1/2 cups LIGHT cream

1/2 cup FAT FREE sour cream

4 pieces TURKEY bacon, cooked and crumbled

3 tablespoons fresh chopped chives, 1 tablespoon reserved, for garnish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place the potatoes into large pot and cover with cold water. Salt generously. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for roughly 13 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.

While the potatoes are boiling, melt 1 tablespoon of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” into a sauce pot. Add the minced shallot and sauté until soft. Add the LIGHT cream, being sure not to bring to a boil.

Drain potatoes in a colander. Return to pot and mash with a potato masher. As soon as they are mashed slowly add in the hot cream and butter. Stir slowly and do not overwork or the potatoes will be heavy. Add the FAT FREE sour cream and the TURKEY bacon and fold in the chives. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

These are just a couple of my many, many favorite recipes I have created over the past two years. Everything on my blog is cooked and tested in The Cookin’ Lean Kitchen before sharing it with you. In addition to Paula Deen recipes, you will also find recipes inspired by other Food Network favorites such as Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay and Ina Garten. Please stop by and see what else is cookin’! And remember, if you can crave it, then there is a way to create it in a way that is healthy, “lean” and most importantly, delicious.

Hope to see you!

Baked Acorn Squash with Cranberry Horseradish Sauce


It’s time to start talkin’ turkey!! And allll other food that surrounds the holiday feasts!

I love to cook and eat, well let me rephrase that, I love to cook and eat good food. Not that allll food I make turns out “good”. And since I have been on a healthy life style change I am constantly looking for yummy food that is good for you soooo this year I am going to try out all new (I know that is kinda scary) recipes for the holidays and I will be posting them as I make them and let you know how they turn out.

So how do we feel about acorn squash? Acorn Squash was one of those “new” foods that I was introduced to this year. I have found a few recipes but I tried this one out and it was so easy and quite tasty. I do love Stonewall Kitchen products, I’m sure they have a bit more sugar in them then is necessary but I wanted to give this a try and boy am I glad I did! This will be divine with turkey!

Baked Acorn Squash with Cranberry Horseradish Sauce

• 1 acorn squash, cut in half with seeds removed
• 1/2 cup Stonewall Kitchen Cranberry Horseradish Sauce
• 2 Tsp. butter
• Salt and pepper to taste

Follow along Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


2. Cut the acorn squash in half and carefully scoop out the seeds. So easy just like little pumpkins.


3. Place squash halves in a baking dish, filled with 1/2″ of water. Cover squash with foil. *helpful hint slice the point on one of the halves off so it sits flat in your pan.

4. Bake for 1 hour or until fork tender.

5. Scoop the pulp into a bowl, mash with the Cranberry Horseradish Sauce and butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Put the filling back into the squash shells and serve.


Doesn’t that look yummy and it’s good for you too!

Disney Girls Gone Wild

female teen stars
Miley Cyrus, Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Lynn Spears. (Vanity Fair, Chris Pizzello/Associated Press, Lucas Jackson/Reuters

What is up with parents of teens these days? I just don’t understand…. I know the world has changed greatly since we were teens but my goodness are parents just not being “parents” anymore? Are they so interested in their “children” becoming famous and making money? Who is the money for anyhow? The children or them? And at what expense is this costing their children’s lives?

First there was Britney Spears, then, Lindsay Lohan, Vanessa Hudgens and her nude photos scandal and now Demi Lovato, and the funny thing is these were all “Disney children.” The cute, adorable, talented, money making machines who lived up to Disney’s clean image.

Watching each one of these girls lives spiral out of control has been heart wrenching, I just don’t understand to what extent fame is worth the price. These girls will never get back their “childhoods” actually I’m not sure any of them had “normal” childhoods.

I’m a mom of two young ladies as most of you know one who is 18 and disabled so she never had the opportunity that these girls did. But my oldest was in the “pageant world” for most of her teen years and it had its wonderful and exciting moments but there were also a lot of some not so pleasant moments; so having just a taste of raising a “celeb teen” is an experience I can say I have “touched on”. But I was always the “mom.” There were plenty of times I said “NO.” Just ask Sarah, I’m sure she’d be happy to share a number of these times with you. LOL

Anyhow, I don’t want to seem “preachy” just want to let mom’s know it is important to be the “mom” first and friend second. Always be there for your child to guide them the best that you can. Teach them right from wrong at an early age… And if you do let your child get a “taste” of the limelight always be there for the ups of fame to keep them grounded and remind them of the lessons you taught them, as well as the times that they will be down for the rejection to let them know that they are wonderful young ladies just the way they are.

That’s it in this month of “thanks” I’m thankful that my daughter both had experiences in the limelight and came out on the other end as beautiful young ladies! Love you Sarah and Hadley xoxo

The Best Sweet Corn Sauce

After my wonderful stay in August at Miami’s Canyon Ranch I thought it would be great to share some of the tasty and inspirational recipes that I have tried from their cookbooks which I had to bring home with me.

I love food that has a wonderful taste! Food that when you put your fork in your mouth you say, “yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!” And this sauce was just that good! The chefs at Canyon Ranch serve it on top of a Buttermilk-Battered Chicken Breast.

chicken and corn sauce

I paired it up with Ellie’s Panzanella. This is another salad which I love love love, there is nothing as good as our fresh little tomatoes, which we have about 100 in our little outdoor farmville. This dish usually has chicken sausage in it but I did not add it as we were using it as a side dish for the Buttermilk-Battered Chicken.

Recipe: Buttermilk-Battered Chicken Breast with Sweet Corn Sauce
Makes 4 Servings
260 calories
23 gm. carbohydrate
7 gm. fat
73 mg. cholesterol
30 gm. protein
496 mg. sodium
2 gm. fiber


4 skinless chicken breast halves, boned with all visible fat removed
¼ cup buttermilk
Pinch of black pepper

For the Corn Sauce

½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1T minced fresh garlic
¼ cup diced onion
1¼ tsp olive oil
1 tsp minced jalapeno
2T minced red bell pepper
1½ cups Chicken Stock
1T honey
½ tsp fresh chopped thyme
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

For the Batter:

¾ c all purpose flour
1¼ tsp paprika
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp celery seed
½ tsp dry mustard
1 tsp olive oil

Preparation Instructions:

1. Pound chicken breast with a meat mallet until it is ½-inch thick.

2. Combine the chicken, buttermilk and black pepper in a shallow glass baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

3. In a medium saute pan, saute corn, garlic and onions in olive oil over medium heat until onions begin to turn translucent. Add the jalapeno and red bell pepper and cook for 30 more seconds. Add chicken stock and reduce liquid by half. Season with hone, salt, pepper, thyme, and lemon juice. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree quickly.

4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed and dry mustard. Dredge each marinated chicken breast in the season flour until all sides are coated generously.

5. Heat olive oil in a large saute pans and add chicken. Over medium heat, cook chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side until golden.

6. Serve with ¼ cup sweet corn sauce.

I will put up the panzanella recipe at a later date. So hold tight…

*recipe courtesy of Canyon Ranch

Try this I promise you will love it! Yum!

It’s the beginning of giving thanks


It is time to dust off my “pity me” pants and get back to work… I know it is hard sometimes to “move on” in life, especially with everything my family and I have been through in my husband and my 25 years of marriage but you know what they say “that which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger…” God, must think I am one solid rock by now but there are times when the rock does get chipped at, a little at a time. However, it is time to smile and keep moving forward the best that I can do.

So, during this season where we give “thanks” I’m going to write once a week on something that I am thankful for, and today I am just going to say that I am thankful for all of you who take the time to stop by and say “hi” with your comments or emails. I appreciate all of you so much and have enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people.

I’m going to be starting a bimonthly column where I feature a special needs sista who has a story to share about her families journey with a disability or illness as well as a healthy sista who has had her own weight loss journey since those are two topics which hit home with me. So if you are one of either just holla! I’d love to share your stories.

So what are you thankful for today?