Teal Pumpkin Project

Teal Pumpkin ProjectKids love Halloween.  What’s not to love?  Trick or Treating?  The CANDY?!  But for many children with food allergies, Halloween can be a very tricky time.  Many traditional Halloween treats aren’t safe for children with life-threatening food allergies.  I know this first hand.  Our 16-year-old son has severe food allergies.  His ‘Trick or Treating’ as a child just meant more candy for his siblings.  I vividly remember him dumping his candy out onto the floor and sorting it into ‘safe’ and ‘give away’ piles.  This was a very important process but unfortunately his ‘safe’ pile only consisted of a few hard candies.

There is an exciting initiative underway to make Halloween a fun positive experience for all!  The Teal Pumpkin Project™ is designed to promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies. This nationwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option.  Launched as a national campaign by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in 2014, the momentum is building with 100,000 households pledging to participate this year!  And, for kids looking for Teal Pumpkin Project™ homes, a neighborhood map will be available.

Do you want to participate?
Participating is simple – Visit FARE’s website to sign the pledge (I signed up this week!), then pick up some inexpensive non-food items (e.g., pencils, stickers, glow sticks), and place a teal pumpkin and/or a free printable sign from FARE outside your home to show that you have non-food treats to hand out. Supporting the Teal Pumpkin Project™ is a simple gesture that can have a big impact.

Please join FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project™ to help us create a safer, happier Halloween for all!

The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE)

A Very Special Birthday!

Myplate2yours celebrates 4 years!  Thank you to my friends and followers for your continued interest and encouragement in everything good-tasting & healthy!  My own birthday falls within the same week and this year, these 2 birthdays turned into one very special celebration.  Here is my story in pictures:

I was surprised on my birthday with breakfast in bed, compliments of my 16 year old son!

On my birthday, I was surprised with breakfast in bed, compliments of my 16 year old son! It was very balanced: fresh fruit salad, a bagel and my favorite coffee yogurt!

Just 3 days later, I flew to France to join my husband who was there for business. Here we are in Paris on the top of Notre Dame!

Just 3 days later, I flew to France to join my husband who was there for business. Here we are in Paris on the top of Notre Dame!

Thanks to our friends in Nantes, I was treated to a cooking class for my birthday. Chef Laurent Saudeau of Restaurant Manoir de la Boulaie prepared 6 exquisite dishes in this three hour class.

Thanks to our good friends in Nantes, I was treated to a cooking class for my birthday. Chef Laurent Saudeau of Restaurant Manoir de la Boulaie prepared 6 exquisite dishes in this three hour class.

We returned later that evening for a several course dinner. This was the cheese course. What a real treat!

We returned to Manor de la Boulaie later that evening for a several course meal. This was the cheese course. What a real treat!

We had the privilege of enjoying this lovely lunch on the Brittany coast. These fresh caught langostinos were delicious!

The next day, we had the privilege of enjoying a beautiful day on the Brittany coast and this fresh caught lunch. These steamed langostinos were simply delicious!

It was a wonderful 4 days… but now that I’ve returned (full and happy), I’m refreshed and ready to cook, write and teach. You may just find some French-inspired recipes published soon!

Easy Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan

I have fond memories of enjoying regular home cooked meals during my childhood (thanks, Mom!).  Life seemed a little slower then and certainly more home-centered.  But that doesn’t mean home cooked meals should be a thing of the past.  I will not surrender to statistics that tell me the average American adult buys a meal or snack from a restaurant 5.8 times a week, and more than 30 percent of children eat fast food on any given day.

I have found the key to preparing home cooked meals for my own family, is having the ingredients ‘on hand’.  This requires a little planning or, as in this recipe, having some regular staples in my fridge and pantry (egg, flour, cheese, pasta sauce).  You can quite easily get this meal on the table in 30 minutes or less.  Please let me know how your family enjoys this home cooked dinner!

Chicken Parmesan (serves 4)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

4- 6 ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup jarred tomato pasta sauce

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (preferably Parmesan-Reggiano)

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (preferably part skim)

Creamy Polenta recipe (see below*)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Collect 3 shallow dishes. In first, combine flour, oregano and salt. In second, place eggs. Place breadcrumbs in third dish.

Coat chicken pieces one at a time in this order: Dredge in flour mixture. Dip in eggs and dredge in breadcrumbs.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and turn chicken over to cook for 2 minutes. Place chicken in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Turn chicken over, top each breast with 1/4 cup sauce, 2 tablespoons parmesan, and 3 tablespoons mozzarella. Bake at lease 5 minutes more until chicken is done (165 degrees).

Serve with a side of pasta that you made while the chicken was baking in the oven. Round out the meal with a simple green or cucumber salad.  Enjoy!

Baked Apple French Toast

Baked Apple French Toast

Here in the Midwest, our fall season is quickly approaching.  And with that, cooler mornings are upon us!  What a perfect time to introduce this easy, yummy breakfast.  It is made the night before and stored in the fridge.  Just bake it for an hour the next morning.  You’ll be filling your kitchen with a wonderful aroma and serving a  nutritionally balanced breakfast to your family!  Let’s welcome Fall together!

Baked Apple French Toast (serves 12)

3 cups nonfat milk

10 large eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 cup honey

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound sliced whole grain oatmeal bread

2 large apples, chopped (2 cups)

1/2 cup golden raisins

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Maple syrup (as desired)

Whisk milk, egg, honey, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Trim crusts from 8 slices of bread. Reserve ‘crustless’ slices. Cut crusts and remaining bread into 1-inch pieces. Toss with apples, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Transfer bread mixture into pan. Lay the reserved ‘crustless’ bread on top (trim to fit, if needed). Whisk the milk mixture and pour over the bread, to get evenly moist. Cover with parchment and then foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (up to 24 hours).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until puffed, set and slightly browned (about 20 minutes more). Let stand out of oven for 10 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup. ENJOY!

Recipe adapted from www.eatingwell.com



Are you hosting a party and need a fun idea?  Try CHOPPED!  It was the theme of my youngest son’s end of summer party with his friends.  We split the 8 boys into two teams and charged them with developing 2 dishes:  an appetizer and a dessert.  We fed them dinner in between the competitive sessions.  Here’s how it worked:

4 secret ingredients were given to each team.  They had 10 minutes to plan and brainstorm with their team and 30 minutes to prepare the dish.  I had designated specific areas in the kitchen for each team to plan and prep.

Round 1 ingredients: Sundried tomatoes, cream cheese, pickles and ramen noodles

Round 1 ingredients: Sundried tomatoes, cream cheese, pickles and ramen noodles

Round 2 ingredients: Crescent rolls, fresh apricots, dolce de leche, fresh mint

Round 2 ingredients: Crescent rolls, fresh apricots, dolce de leche, fresh mint


There was also a ‘pantry’ area of ingredients the teams could freely use in their recipes.  When the 30 minutes ended, we had the boys present their finished dish to the judges.  There were 4 judges who rated each dish on a 3-point scale for creativity, taste, and presentation. Everyone had a lot of fun and the final dishes were really creative for this group of rising 7th grade boys!


I do think adults would enjoy this party, too.  Maybe a few guests could volunteer to be the judges.  Please let me know if you do host a Chopped! party, too…. I’d love to hear your ideas!

This is the second group's dessert: a chocolate filled crescent roll with a fresh apricot garnished with whipped cream and mint

This is the second group’s dessert: a chocolate filled crescent roll with a fresh apricot garnished with whipped cream and mint


I didn’t snap any photos of the first round appetizers but did get the two desserts! Here is one: a crescent roll filled with apricot and a creamy layered chocolate cup

Cooking Classes!


Now that the kids are back in school, it’s the perfect time to book your cooking class! Here is the new lineup of my classes at Marcel’s in Glen Ellyn, IL. There are both morning and midday classes with a variety of topics: Rustic Itallian, Soup’s On, For the Love of Stew, Festive Nibble & Bites….just to name a few! I am even teaching “The Best from the Pumpkin Patch” for Little Kids (6-8 year olds) on Columbus Day. Please check these out! I hope you’ll join me!


10-Breakfast Now, Dinner Later Tonight & Lunch Tomorrow: Baked Apple & Cinnamon French Toast / Teriyaki Beef Lettuce Wraps and Teriyaki Beef & Baby Bok Choy Stir FryDemo, 9:30-11am. $45  Register HERE

30-Sensational Simmers: Pasta e Fagioli Soup, Zesty Meat Ragu on Zucchini Ribbon ‘Noodles’ and Peaches & Cream with Balsamic Reduction. Demo, 12:30-2pm. $35   Register HERE


12-Best of the Pumpkin Patch (Ages 6-8): Mini Pumpkin Spice Muffins, Pumpkin Mac & Cheese and Apple Pie Baked Apples with Caramel Sauce. Demo, 11-12:30pm. $35  Register HERE

14-Rustic Italian: Focaccia with Olives and Rosemary, Braised Shredded Beef in Tomatoes and Red Wine on Creamy Polenta with Sauteed Greens and Garlic, and Caramelized Pears with Ricotta and Honey. Demo, 12:30-2pm. $35  Register HERE

22-Morning at Marcel’s: Soup’s OnCreamy Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger and Red Lentils, Italian Chicken and Orzo Soup, and Almond Flour Banana Bread. Demo, 9:30-11am. $35  Register HERE


12-Morning at Marcel’s: For the Love of Stew: Ancho Pork and Hominy Stew, Lamb and Butternut Squash Stew, and Skillet Jalapeno Corn Bread. Demo. 9:30-11am. $35  Register HERE

18- Something for Everyone at the Holiday Table:(GF/V/DF) Zesty Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad, Potato & Leek Galette with Watercress, Butternut Squash and Kale Baked Risotto, and Citrus Dessert Salad with Mint. Demo, 12:30-2pm. $35  Register HERE


2-Festive Nibbles & Bites: Roasted Beet and Carrot Frisee Salad with Citrus-Tarragon Dressing, Grilled Eggplant-Red Pepper Rolls with Basil, Roasted Pork Tenderloin in Napa Valley Marinade with Serrano-Plum Salsa, Mini Mint Chocolate Whoopie Pies. Demo, 12:30-2pm. $35  Register HERE

16-It’s Your Time for Lunch: Shaved Parsnip Salad with Medjool Dates, Chicken Au Champagne on Brown Rice Pilaf, and Double Chocolate Cheesecake Squares with Honey-kissed Fresh Raspberries. Demo, 12:30-2pm. $35  Register HERE

Easy Chicken Stir Fry with Veggies

IMG_2979Cooking with MU Women's Soccer

This week I had the privilege of teaching a cooking class to 16 upperclassman at Marquette University.  They are members of Marquette’s Women’s soccer team.  I brought my ‘Kitchen Simple’ recipes: 10 easy recipes from 15 main ingredients (the ones promoted for Myplate2yours 3rd Birthday!)  This Easy Chicken Stir Fry was one of the recipes we made.  What makes this ‘easy’ is the simple prep of the ingredients (using already shredded carrots and pre washed baby spinach leaves).

It was enjoyed by all of these rising chefs!

MU Soccer cooks!Easy Chicken Stir Fry with Veggies (serves 4)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch strips

2 tablespoon oil, separated

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large red or yellow bell pepper, cut into strips (the size of matchsticks)

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup sliced onion

1 handful baby spinach

1/2 cup soy sauce mixed with 2 teaspoons sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup brown rice, cooked to package directions

Heat oil in skillet with medium-high heat. Quickly stir in garlic to lightly brown. Add chicken strips. Cook until lightly brown on all sides and no pink remains in middle. Remove from pan. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. When hot, add onions, peppers, and carrots. Stir fry until tender crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Return chicken to pan and add spinach. Stir fry until spinach wilts. Stir the soy sauce mixture and add to pan. Stir fry until sauce heats and thickens. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Marinated Salmon with Mango-Kiwi Salsa

Marinated Salmon

Dinner in less than 20 minutes?  It is possible with fish!  I tasted this recipe for the first time in Florida.  My mom made it for dinner when my oldest daughter and I were visiting.  We loved it!!! Since then, I’ve tweaked it a bit and made the recipe several times and even taught it in one of my classes.  I thought for sure I’ve posted this recipe on my blog but found out today (while I was searching for the recipe on http://www.myplate2yours.com) that I haven’t published it yet.  So, HERE IT IS!  Make it soon while mango and kiwi are affordable, ripe and yummy!

Marinated Salmon with Mango-Kiwi Salsa (serves 4)

4, 6 ounce salmon filets (about 1 inch thick)

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon black pepper


1/2 cup diced mango (1 small)

1/2 cup diced kiwi (2 whole)

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Mix honey, soy sauce, oil and pepper in a ziplock bag. Add fish. Marinade for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, mix salsa ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt, to taste.  Refrigerate.

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium high. Cook fish, 5 minutes and flip for an additional 5 minutes, until fish is cooked through.

Serve salmon with salsa on top of each filet. Enjoy!

Salade Nicoise

Salade Nicoise

Produce and eggs fresh from the farmer’s market last weekend sparked my desire to make this beloved salad.  Its roots are in Provence and traditionally is made with tomatoes, anchovies, black olives, capers, French beans and lemon juice. I prefer tuna to anchovies in my version and have opted for the olives but not the capers.  It is slightly labor intensive but so worth the effort for this main dish salad. And, because I don’t use lettuce, leftovers of this dressed salad keep nicely in the fridge for a few days.  This salad is one of the many reasons I don’t want summer to end!  Enjoy!

Salade Nicoise (serves 6)

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

1 pound tiny new potatoes, scrubbed

1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips

2 or 3 medium ripe tomatoes, quartered

2 or 3 baby cucumbers (or 1/2 large English cucumber), sliced

3 scallions, green and white portions sliced

2, 5 ounce cans water-packed albacore tuna, drained

3 eggs, hard cooked and peeled

1/2 cup black olives


3 tablespoons good quality cider vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup flat leaf parsley leaves. chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking the first 3 ingredients in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in the oil.  Stir in garlic and parsley.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Steam green beans for 5 minutes or until tender crisp.  Rinse cooked beans immediately under cold water to quickly cool.  When drained and dry, combine beans with the bell pepper and toss with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette to lightly coat.  Set aside.

Cook potatoes in a pot of salted boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain and while warm, add a few tablespoons of vinaigrette.  Toss and set aside.

To assemble the salad, use a large platter.  Place potatoes on the platter and top with the beans/peppers.  Flake the tuna on top of the salad and add scallions and olives.  Arrange the cucumbers and tomatoes around the salad and add quartered eggs.  Drizzle the final creation with a few tablespoons of vinaigrette.  Bon Appetit!!

Mexican Creamed Corn

Mexican Creamed Corn

Meatless is the name of a newer cookbook from the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living.  I recently enjoyed opening this book for the fist time and flagged several recipes to try.  This is the first one and it was fabulous!  I love that it uses non-fat yogurt instead of the mayonnaise that is typically used in this dish.  YUMMY!  Sweet corn is abundant this time of year and this is a terrific way to enjoy that sweetness!

Mexican Creamed Corn (serves 4) Adapted from Meatless

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 jalapeño, finely chopped (seeds and ribs removed)

1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped

4 ears corn, kernels and pulp scraped

1 cup water

1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt, plain

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons crumbled feta or queso fresco

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium.  Cook jalapeño and onion, stirring until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add corn and pulp and water.  Cook, stirring until corn is tender and most of the water evaporates, 5-7 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in yogurt and season with salt and pepper.  If more heat desired, sprinkle with ground cayenne pepper.  Serve immediately, top with feta and cilantro.  Enjoy!!