Classic Starts (Classic Literature for Kids)

Classic literature is a foundational element of any good homeschooling regimen.  However, many elementary school students are not prepared to devour the classics in their entirety.  That is precisely  why I was thrilled to discover the “Classic Starts” series published by Sterling Publishing Company.  This is an excellent product at an excellent price.  I love these books because they have exposed my children to some wonderful literature without tapping into their reading frustration levels.  I highly recommend this series.  Continue reading Classic Starts (Classic Literature for Kids)

Fruited Whole Wheat Tabbouleh with Goat Cheese

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Fruited Whole Wheat Tabbouleh with Goat Cheese

I distinctly recall the very first time I tried tabbouleh. It was in Morocco.

Okay… it was in Epcot’s Morocco. It was way back when we had only two little ones to cart around Disney. We had stopped at one of the little sidewalk restaurants for a little respite from the sun and to have a little snack. At the time I had never even heard of the word tabbouleh. The entry on the menu board piqued my interest, and I just had to sample the salad with such an unusual name. As soon as that first spoonful crossed my lips, I was instantly grateful. The bright, flavorful mixture of herbs, grains, and citrus was intriguing. What a fresh new taste!

I have had many tabbouleh variations since then, and they have all been good. However, I recently decided to create a tabbouleh that even my kids would like. This is what I came up with.


  • 1 cup whole grain quick-cooking whole wheat bulgur
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 pound cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 pound pineapple, diced
  • 8 oz strawberries, diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded, peeled, and diced
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 0z. mint, cut into thin ribbons
  • 1/4 cup garlic rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1 TBSP Sugar in the Raw
  • 1/2 cup Goat Cheese


  1. Pour boiling water over bulgur and let sit at least one hour.

  1. In a large bowl or serving platter l, toss the chicken, pineapple, strawberries, cucumber, shallots, and mint together.

  1. In a separate container, whisk the vinegar, lime juice, teriyaki sauce, honey, and sugar together until mixed well.

  1. Pour over bulgur mixture and stir until evenly distributed.

  1. Garnish with goat cheese and strawberry slices if desired.

  1. There you have it. Simple. Fresh. Healthy. And the kids loved it!

Whole Wheat Carmela’s Chicken

     Carmela’s Chicken.  Sounds innocent enough, right?  That’s what was on the lunch special at Macaroni Grill one day after a quick dentist appointment with the kids.  I thought I’d try it.
    I wasn’t prepared to be whisked away into foodie nirvana on a Thursday at noon.  Whole Wheat Carmela’s Chicken is a  heavenly concoction of tender chicken, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and pasta  –  all perfectly doused in a Marsala cream sauce.  I wasn’t expecting such decadence.  I simply had to produce this in my own kitchen.  The biggest change I wanted to make was to substitute whole grain pasta for the processed variety found at Macaroni Grill.  Here is a cleaner eating take on the dish:
  • 3 large onions, cut into very thin slices
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped OR 1 oz dried mushrooms (reconstituted according to package directions, chopped)
  • 10 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 16 ounces raw chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Sugar in the Raw
  • 8 oz Marsala cooking wine
  • 16 oz heavy whipping cream
  • 16 ounces whole wheat  pasta (prepared according to package directions)
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
1. First, caramelize the onions.  Place the onions in a large saute pan and cook over low to medium heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The onions will become a rich, deep brown.  You may splash a little water in from time to time to prevent any scorching.  This is also a sign that you might want to turn the heat down a bit. Low and slow. That is the key to perfectly caramelized onions.
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2.  Remove the onions to a separate bowl.  Add the butter and the olive oil to the pan and swirl until all of the butter is melted.  Add the mushrooms and saute over medium heat for about five minutes.  Add the garlic and saute two minutes more.
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3. Add the chicken, salt, pepper, and sugar to the hot pan and saute for about five minutes, or until all of the outer pink has disappeared.
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4. Add the wine and bring to a low simmer.  Allow chicken to simmer in the wine for three minutes.
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5. Add the cream.
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6. Add the onions back to the sauce pot. Bring mixture to a low simmer.
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6.  While keeping the sauce at a very low simmer, prepare the pasta in a large, separate pot according to package directions.
whole wheat spaghetti
7.  Drain the pasta.  Dish up the pasta into individual serving bowls.  Ladle the cream sauce on top of each serving.  Garnish with Parmesan Cheese, Basil, and Sun-dried tomatoes, if desired.
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8.  Sit down and be prepared to enjoy some of the most heavenly pasta on the planet. You’ll see!
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Crown Athletics Cross Country – Mileage Tracker

2012 was our first year participating in the Crown Athletics Cross Country team.  We were thoroughly impressed with the coaches, the runners, the parents, and the entire experience.  My oldest daughter ran last year but our plan is for all four of our older kids to participate in the 2013 season.  The head Coach (Howard Brummel) ended the season by requesting that all of the kids log their running hours during the off-season so they will be prepared for a successful 2013 season (and so they can stay healthy and fit through the winter).  To help my kids meet this goal we have decided to start running together as a family. Continue reading Crown Athletics Cross Country – Mileage Tracker