Showing posts from February, 2016

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3


Quote of The Day


Quote of The Day


Creamy Lemon-Pepper Orzo with Chicken and Fig Salad

This delicious and comforting dish is packed with protein and fiber!
Recipe courtesy of

Total Time: 1 hr 15 min
Prep: 15 min
Inactive: 15 min
Cook: 45 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy

1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt, at room temperature
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup whole wheat or other whole grain orzo
1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed and patted dry
4 ounces finely crumbled goat cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as basil and tarragon
6 cups prepared salad mix
1 cup dried figs, halved
2 tablespoons prepared balsamic vinaigrette

DirectionsWhisk together the yogurt, 2 teaspoons of the oil, the garlic, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl until well combined.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and preheat an outdoor or indoor grill to medium heat.

Rub the chicken thighs with t…

Saying Yes! To Playtime

Today, I watched Shonda Rhimes’ TED Talk video: My Year Of Saying Yes, where she talked about saying yes to the things that scared her, the biggest challenge was to stop and play with her daughters when they asked her. I would abruptly yell out, yes, during the video because I crave to let go and say yes to the things that scare me, which are almost always letting go and/or finding time to play. Shonda’s talk describes the struggle I’ve had for a few years now. I’ve found it hard to let go and find quality playtime with family, friends and myself! I always feel so energized after I have fun with my kids, husband, friends, or by myself, but yet, I don’t make time for it. I feel obligated to the responsibilities that come with being a wife, mom, daughter, and friend. I juggle so many responsibilities, that I forget to have fun. So, I’m saying yes to quality playtime with my family, good friends, and myself. No more guilt-ridden, pity playtime with people who can’t play nicely, authentic…

Consumer's Guide to the Best Greek Yogurt

Learn what to look for on your next trip to the grocery store to buy the healthiest and most authentic Greek yogurt.

The best way to tell how authentic Greek yogurt may be is to check the consistency–it should always be thick. But when you're at the grocery store, you need to know what to look for on the containers in order to make a healthy and informed choice. Print out the guide below and take it to the grocery store the next time you plan to shop for Greek yogurt.

For more wellness tips visit

Chicken Pot Pie Sandwich

Recipe courtesy of Jeff Mauro
Total Time: 1 hr 45 min
Prep: 45 min
Cook: 1 hr
Yield: 10 sandwiches
Level: Easy

2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick cold salted butter, cubed, plus 4 tablespoons, melted
1 cup cold buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Crushed black pepper

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter
2 carrots, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dry sherry
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 sprig fresh thyme

Sweet Pea Pesto:
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the biscuits: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk the self-rising flour and baking soda together. Then cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients. Mix until it resembles sand. In a separate bowl, whisk together the …

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3


Quote of The Day


Quote of The Day


Slow Cooked Cuban Sandwich

Recipe courtesy of Jeff Mauro

Total Time: 6 hr 20 min
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 6 hr
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Level: Easy

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
Juice of 1 orange (2 tablespoons)
3 to 3 1/2-pound boneless pork shoulder
One 24-inch sub roll
Yellow mustard
1 pound Swiss, thick-sliced
1 pound honey ham, thinly sliced
2 cups dill pickle chips
2 red onions, thinly sliced

Mix the oil, salt, cumin, oregano, black pepper, red pepper, garlic, lime juice and orange juice in a small bowl. Make slits in the pork with a paring knife and rub liberally all over with the oil mixture. Place the pork in a slow cooker and top with the remaining juices from the bowl. Cover and cook on low until tender, flipping once halfway through, about 6 hours.

Remove from the slow cooker and let c…

Chicken Stew

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Total Time: 50 min
Prep: 10 min
Inactive: 5 min
Cook: 35 min
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Level: Easy

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, cut into bite-size pieces
1 carrot, peeled, cut into bite-size pieces
1 small onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 chicken breast with ribs (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
1 (15-ounce) can organic kidney beans, drained (rinsed if not organic)
Serving suggestion: crusty bread

Heat the oil in a heavy 5 1/2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, and onion. Saute the vegetables until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, chicken broth, basil, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme. Add the chicken bre…

LuckyBesties Celebrates Turning 3!

It happened this past week! LuckyBesties marked its 3rd year Anniversary. I’ve never been so happy, challenged, and inspired than now. Almost three and a half years ago, I met for lunch with my friend Maria (co-founder of LuckyBesties). We met at our favorite restaurant that we’ve frequented once a month (or so) for six years. Each month, we battled to squeeze in face time and skip the emailing and social media interactions so we can share a meal, catch up, and empathize on life’s challenges. Every time we met, I talked about wanting to pursue a writing career but it freaked me out to my core. Maria supported me and encouraged me to go for it. So, we finally did! We birthed LuckyBesties so I could write! Fast-forward three years and here we are, still at it and feeling more accomplished than I’ve ever felt before.

Our wish was to share stories to connect with likeminded people and to advocate for the goodness within us and around us. Writing for LuckyBesties has opened and recharged my…

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen
Brisket comes in two different cuts: point and the leaner flat. Depending on which you get, your corned beef may be tender and sliceable (flat cut) or very tender and falling apart (point cut). If your meat isn't labeled, speak with the butcher about which variety your grocery store stocks.

Total Time: 9 hr 20 min
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 9 hr
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Level: Easy

Ingredients 1 1/2 pounds small redskin potatoes, halved 4 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges 2 stalks celery, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme One 4-pound piece corned beef brisket, rinsed 12 ounces stout beer 2 tablespoons pickling spice 1/2 small head green cabbage, core intact and cut into thick wedges 1/2 cup sour cream 1/4 cup prepared horseradish 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard 3 tablespoons unsalted butter Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped.

Directions L…

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3


Quote of The Day


Free Valentines Day BestieGrams!

For Valentines Day, download (right-click or control-click and save linked file) one of these BestieGrams for your Lucky Bestie.

To print out, download a free LuckyBesties Valentines Day card for your love here.
For your LuckyBesties, download different sentiments herehere and here.
Print them on letter-sized paper (8.5" x 11") and follow the folding instructions below:

Happy 3rd Anniversary To Us!


Quote of The Day


White Chocolate-Raspberry Parfaits

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen
Total Time: 1 hr 30 min
Prep: 50 min
Inactive: 30 min
Cook: 10 min
Yield: 6 servings
Level: Easy

For the sauce:1 1/2 cups raspberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

For the mousse:4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups raspberries
Shaved white chocolate, for topping

Make the sauce: Combine the raspberries, granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, mashing with a spoon. Press through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl using the back of a spoon. Refrigerate until cold.

Make the mousse: Put the white chocolate and 1/4 cup heavy cream in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring, until the chocolate is melted; whisk until smooth and creamy. Beat the remaining 1 3/4 cups heavy cream in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until foam…

Beatty's Chocolate Cake

Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten
Total Time: 1 hr 35 min
Prep: 30 min
Inactive: 30 min
Cook: 35 min
Yield: 8 servings
Level: Intermediate

Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Chocolate ButtercreamChocolate Frosting:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powde…

The Bridge Between You And EVERYTHING!

Love is the bridge between you and everything. –Rumi

I’ve always equated Love as a sentiment only developed once I’ve gotten to know a person, or understand a certain concept about something, or experience the goodness of an animal. And while I’ve read Rumi’s quote many times over, it just recently truly sunk in! When I’ve watched or heard stories of tragedies on the news and I mourn along with strangers, or when I’m sometimes inclined to jump in to help someone in need, or when I celebrate a stranger having something good happen to them, that’s Love! It’s the bridge between you and everything! And while chances are less likely that we’ll ever meet the people in the stories making the news (even if they live in your town,) there’s no doubt that Love surrounds us. When we show up, wholeheartedly, for our family and friends, that's Love. We collectively create Love for everything and everyone around us. And while there are people in our lives that have wronged us, hurt us, or want to…

Homemade Sriracha

Recipe courtesy of Dr. Oz
Yield: 2 Servings
Calories: 138

Wish your sriracha was saltier, sweeter, or more garlic-y? Maybe it's time to make your own and tailor it to your desired taste. It isn't that difficult, and lasts for a good 6 months after it's made.

1 3/4 lbs red jalapeno chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

Directions1. In a food processor, combine the jalapenos, garlic, garlic powder, granulated sugar, salt, and brown sugar. Pulse until a coarse puree forms.

2. Transfer to a glass jar, seal, and store at room temperature for 7 days, stirring daily.

3. After 1 week, pour the mixture into a small saucepan. Stir in the vinegar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

4. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a food processor and process for 2 to 3 minutes. If the…

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3


Quote of The Day


Quote of The Day


Surf and Turf for Two

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen
Total Time: 50 min
Prep: 35 min
Cook: 15 min
Yield: 2 servings
Level: Easy

IngredientsFor the Herb Oil:
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Surf and Turf:
6 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails intact)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus 2 to 3 sprigs
Freshly ground pepper
6 slices pancetta (about 2 ounces)
1 10 -ounce piece beef tenderloin, trimmed
Sea salt
8 asparagus spears
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Make the herb oil: Pulse the parsley, chives and olive oil in a mini food processor until smooth. Thin with water, if necessary, and add 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and set aside. (This can be done up to 2 hours ahead.)

Prepare the surf and turf: Toss the shrimp, olive oil, lemon juice, chopped thyme, and pepper to taste in a bowl. Wrap each shrimp…

Giving With An Open Heart Means No Strings Attached

Whatever we do is done because we choose to do it, and we make that choice because it is the one that satisfies us the most. Whatever we do for someone else we do because it fulfills a need we have. –M. Scott Peck, M.D.

The quote by Dr. M. Scott Peck is fitting to many past and a few current relationships in my life. Many of us have dealt with people who give with strings attached. Not only do they give with strings attached, their contributions are the only ones that count! They devalue any contributions you have made to their life, but yet they’re the ones that take the most, whether in material ways or by constantly requiring lots of support and time. I’ve worked on cutting ties or moving away from people who suck the life out of me, but yet think they’re the biggest contributors to my life. A “friend” once listed in an email how many things she had done for me in the past year! She chose to do those things for me and it always fulfilled her need for my attention, favors, and time. …

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Bestie Note: The total time for the recipe is more like 45-50 minutes not 20.

Recipe courtesy of Jeff Mauro
Total Time: 20 min
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 10 min
Yield: 12 sliders
Level: Easy

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup hot sauce, such as Frank's Red Hot
12 small rolls, such as Hawaiian or Parker House rolls, buttered and griddled
Ranch dressing, for serving
1 cup blue cheese crumbles
Tomato slices, for serving
Green leaf lettuce, for serving

DirectionsPreheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the oil. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, the brown sugar, paprika and cayenne. Sear both sides of the chicken until golden, about 4 minutes. Add in the hot sauce to the skillet. Bring to a simmer and then place in the oven to finish off, and the chicken registers 160 degre…

Lightened-Up Slow-Cooker Chicken Buffalo Dip

This party dip usually comes with bragging rights for an indulgent amount of fat. Our slow-cooker version is full of the same big flavors but with fewer calories and less fat.

Total Time: 2 hr 15 min
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 2 hr
Yield: 12 servings (1/4 cup per person)
Level: Easy

Two 8-ounce packages reduced-fat cream cheese, cut into small pieces
2 cups shredded white meat from a rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded
2 cups shredded low-fat Cheddar (about 6 ounces)
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup hot sauce, such as Frank's
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Celery and carrot sticks, for serving

Put the cream cheese, chicken, Cheddar, buttermilk, hot sauce, flour, Worcestershire, cayenne, garlic powder and onion powder in a slow cooker, and stir to roughly combine.

Cover, and cook on high for 2 hours; the mixture should b…

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3