Indoor Dinner Beach Party

“One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.” ~Henry David Thoreau

This has been a long – no – the longest – coldest winter I can remember.  Looking forward to spring break and ready for the weather to turn we decided to bring our beach party inside for our family dinner night.

The menu:
Turkey burgers 2 ways
Baked Beans
Potato Chips
Kale Chips

For a beach party you can’t forget the décor: beach decorations, paper plates, beach boys music, and of course, a beach ball.  We made up fun beach ball games around the dinner table. Here are several variations of our silly games.

Clear the area of any breakables.  We knocked over a few drinks.  You just have to relax and laugh it off.  No Type A behavior allowed.

Pass the ball around the table and each time you get the ball you must say:

  • a food in alphabetical order (apple, banana, cheesecake)
  • change it up when the first and last letter are the same reverse the direction of the ball pass
  • counting by 1’s, then 2’s, then 3’s and so on (make this more difficult by not starting on evenly divisible numbers.  Start counting by 2’s on an odd number, by 5’s on 34, etc.)

If you drop the ball or mess up you are OUT!

Olive Turkey Burgers

Printable Version

  • 20 oz. ground turkey
  • 1/2 c mayo
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup jumbo green olives, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper


  • Mix the above ingredients.
  • Form into 6 burgers.
  • Line a pan or your grill with tin foil. Make small slits in the tin foil for juice to run through. (If broiling use a drip pan). Spray the foil with cooking spray.
  • Broil or grill until desired doneness (medium or medium well is recommended).
Awesome Turkey Burgers
Printable Version

  • 20 oz. ground turkey
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. fresh mint, minced
  • 1 Tsp. ground cumin
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Mix the above ingredients.
  • Form into 6 burgers.
  • Grill or broil until desired doneness (medium or medium well is recommended)

Hide the Spinach

Sometimes it’s not the foods our kids (and husbands) won’t eat, it’s the way they are prepared.  For instance, most people steam brussel sprouts. Yuck!  You can’t get most people to buy in to them this way.  Try roasting them with olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and orange peel. DELICIOUS!  The same goes for asparagus.  Steamed, not so liked.  Grilled or roasted it takes on an entirely different flavor, and texture, that will get more wins and empty plates.

I find that the best way to make sure that my family gets enough vegetables is to hide them in a fruity flavored smoothie.  Sometimes I sneak a few too many veggies in there and I am busted.  Sometimes I hit a home run like with this limey flavored smoothie.

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hide the Spinach, An Antioxidant Smoothie

Printable Version


  • 1 orange peeled
  • 2 kiwi peeled
  • 1 banana
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 squeeze agave


  • Put all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Wait to see if anyone detects your secret ingredient. I bet that they can’t

Wednesday Night is Family Dinner Party Night

Parents, you know how hard it is to get the entire family seated in the same room, at the same time, to enjoy a “real” meal together.  The 9 year old boy just wants to play xbox.  15 year old girls just want to text.  Frankly, you’re too tired to get it all done, so you give up before you even begin.

Last week I invented  the family themed dinner party.  It was Mexican night.  We had fish tacos (we made a cheese quesadilla for the 9 year old), beans and rice, homemade guacamole, fancy frozen drinks and we found a Spanish mix on Pandora.  It worked.  30 minutes of togetherness.

The next week, Italian.  I found this fantastic recipe from Bon Appetit.  It is super easy and looks like something you would get at a fine dining restaurant.  I served it with pasta, white bean salad, and kale chips.  We rolled out white craft paper on the table, added a few crayons, put the kids drinks in wine glasses and Pavarotti on Pandora (the boy hated the music).

“Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.”
― Samuel Pepys, The Diary of Samuel Pepys    

Salmon with fennel and blood oranges

Printable Version


  • 1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 blood orange, very thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • 1 Meyer or regular lemon, very thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • 1 red Fresno chile or jalapeño, with seeds, thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs dill, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 2-lb. skinless salmon fillet, preferably center-cut
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • Sea salt


  • Preheat oven to 275°. Toss fennel, orange slices, lemon slices, chile, and 4 dill sprigs in a shallow 3-qt. baking dish; season with kosher salt and pepper. Season salmon with kosher salt and place on top of fennel mixture. Pour oil over.
  • Roast until salmon is just cooked through (the tip of a knife will slide through easily and flesh will be slightly opaque), 30–40 minutes for medium-rare.
  • Transfer salmon to a platter, breaking it into large pieces as you go. Spoon fennel mixture and oil from baking dish over; discard dill sprigs. Season with sea salt and pepper and top with fresh dill sprigs.
  • From
How do you get everyone together to share a meal?

Spicy Pork and Greens Soup

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”  ~Julia Child   

I love to experiment in the kitchen.  Some trials are hits and some hit the trash can.   Some are originals and others come from reliable sources like Food Network or Food and Wine Magazine.  Super Bowl Sunday I found another homerun from the January 2014 Bon Appetit magazine, Spicy Pork and Mustard Greens Soup.  I made it as a first course, but it could easily be an entree as well.

Printable Version


  • ½ pound ground pork 
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1tsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
  • ¾ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds, coarsely chopped
  • 1Tbs vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bunch mustard greens, torn (I used 1 bag pre-cut)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 8 oz. wide rice noodles
Mix pork, garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, red pepper flakes, and cumin in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add pork mixture; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 8–10 minutes.
Add broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until flavors meld, 8–10 minutes. Add mustard greens, scallions, soy sauce, and fish sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, 5–8 minutes; season with salt and black pepper.
Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions; drain.
Divide noodles among bowls and ladle soup over.
Notes: If you can find rice noodles that come in 2 oz individual packages that works best. I made a double recipe of the soup and found that 8 oz. of noodles was perfect.  I would recommend only making 4 oz. with a single recipe.
If you are specialty market challenged, as I am, Sichuan peppercorns may not be found. I Googled a substitute and this is what I found
Sichuan peppercorn is not a pepper at all.  Substitute with black peppercorns.
That made no sense at all to me so I kept digging until I found one that made sense -use equal parts black peppercorns and anise seeds.  Although the recipe was missing the “tingly mouth sensation” that Sichuan peppercorns are used for, it was still delicious.

Mango Kiwi Smoothie

I made a beautiful fruit platter for breakfast this weekend.  Instead of trying to bag up the leftovers and hope that they still look attractive enough for the kids to eat them I threw them into the blender. 

“Life’s too short to hang out with people who aren’t resourceful.” ~Jeff Bezos
This recipe is great for breakfast, an afternoon pick me up, or post workout nourishment.


Printable Version

  • 1 mango sliced
  • 1 banana
  • 2 kiwi
  • 8 strawberries
  • giant handful baby spinach
  • 1 squeeze agave
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c ice
  • Put all ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth.

    • Enjoy

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