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June 12, 2017

How is a parent supposed to compete with endless electronic fun?

Just like blockbuster summer movies, new video games are hitting the market right before summer vacation and many parents are struggling to wrench their children’s attention away from iPads, Xboxes, Playstations and all the other devices designed to keep them playing for hours. You know that your kids, pre-teens and teenagers need some outdoor activity time, but how is a parent supposed to compete with endless electronic fun? Vida Health's Head of Nutrition and Coaching Jennifer Gibson has you covered with these tips:

 

  • Get crafty with a homemade scavenger hunt. It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or the country, you can easily whip up a list of items for your child to find or tasks for her to complete. It can be as simple as “a green leaf, a bug, and an interesting rock”, or as complicated as a list of 15 specific items that she must find and take a picture of. For extra fun, get the whole family involved in a competition and choose some high stakes prizes for the winning team: how about the losers make the winners a healthy snack?

 

  • Get old-school with your game choices. When was the last time you played Red Rover? Ghost in the Graveyard? What about a friendly round of Dodgeball? Resurrecting playground games from your own youth can capture your kids’ interest and help them to see you in a whole new light—as the reigning Foursquare champion!

 

  • Get a whole new family hobby. You love to hike, your son lives to collect whatever it is they collect on Roblox. Why not combine the two with geocaching (link https://www.geocaching.com/play), or letterboxing (link http://www.letterboxing.org/), where you use your smartphone to access clues and find secret treasure? These addictive activities are sure to get even the most reluctant gamer out and moving.

 

  • Get wet. Never underestimate the power of water—even the most stoic tween is no match for a parent brandishing it in any form. No need to invest in the newest high-tech automatic water weapon, a good old hose will do just fine. Grin, squirt, run, and don’t be afraid to get silly.

 

  • Get moving inside. Even if it’s just plain too hot to stomach going outside, that doesn’t mean getting some exercise is impossible. Have your gamer try out Just Dance or another movement-driven game, or just do a quick search on YouTube for a fun family workout you can all do together. Worst case scenario, you get really good at doing the Dougie.
June 8, 2017

Five Beach Safety Tips Every Parent Needs to Know

Steve is a 30-year law enforcement veteran and FBI defense tactics instructor shares his best tips for parents to know this summer.

Five Beach Safety Tips Every Parent Needs to Know

 

According to the Center for Disease Control, each year about 4,000 people drown in the United States.  Drowning kills more children 1-4 years of age than anything else, except birth defects.  Among children ages one through fourteen, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury or death (after motor vehicle crashes).  Being aware of the risks and learning some life saving techniques will keep you safe at the beach.

 

1) Your Span of Control is Limited

In the perfect world, every child would have a designated adult supervising them at the beach or pool, but two children is a comfortable number for one adult to supervise.  Any more can become overwhelming and increase the risk of something going wrong.

 

2) Drowning Doesn’t Look like Drowning (or:  Drowning Doesn’t Look like You Imagine)

In the movies, when someone is acting out a drowning scene they wave their arms and scream for help. In real life, drowning is, for the most part, a silent act. Once a person goes into distress mode, they are fighting for two things: air and keeping their mouth above water.

My first experience witnessing the onset of a drowning occurred at my family pool when I was about ten years old.  My much younger cousin was in two feet of water, bent over at the waist.  It looked he was looking at his feet or the bottom of the pool but something didn’t seem right. When I lifted his head out of the water, he began vomiting and crying, he had been stuck. In a case I investigated, witnesses reported seeing a young girl bobbing her head up and down in the water.  She had drifted from the shallow end of the pool into water above her head (or:  the deep end) and was pushing off the floor of the pool to get air because she could not swim. She was saved, but nearly drowned. If something in and around the water doesn’t look right, it likely isn’t.

 

3) Set Up by a Lifeguard - No lifeguard No lifeline.

Set up your stuff near a lifeguard station so that if you venture into the water with your children there is an extra set of eyes to watch over you and your child. Don’t allow this to replace your diligence but rather supplement it. Your child is your first responsibility.

 

4) Don’t Get Lost in Conversation

Going to the beach or pool is a social event. If you’re caught up in a conversation, keep your face and your eyes on your child. Mishaps and accidents can occur very quickly and with a mix of children and water, seconds matter. Keep your hands glued to your babies or toddlers at all times.  If at the beach, keep an eye out for rouge waves.  Chat with the lifeguard in advance about any dangers you should know about. Ankle deep water can quickly become a hazard if you are not paying attention. Outfit your child with bright colored beach wear.  Know your limitations and educate yourself on riptides.  While you are on child watch duty turn the cell phone off, and keep the Ipad or book out of your reach.

 

5) Learn CPR and Rescue Breathing

Your local fire, police, recreation department or gym and health club often sponsor certified CPR courses. You will not realize its value until you need it!

Steve Kardian is an American career law enforcement officer, detective, sergeant and chief criminal investigator, who specializes in crime prevention and risk reduction for women's safety. Kardian is the author of The New Superpower for Women (on pre-sale until August 8, 2017) and founder of Defend University, where he trains thousands of people each year on safety and self-defense, as well as strategies and tactics uniquely tailored to women's safety.

June 8, 2017

Five Beach Safety Tips Every Parent Needs to Know

Steve is a 30-year law enforcement veteran and FBI defense tactics instructor shares his best tips for parents to know this summer.

Five Beach Safety Tips Every Parent Needs to Know

 

According to the Center for Disease Control, each year about 4,000 people drown in the United States.  Drowning kills more children 1-4 years of age than anything else, except birth defects.  Among children ages one through fourteen, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury or death (after motor vehicle crashes).  Being aware of the risks and learning some life saving techniques will keep you safe at the beach.

 

1) Your Span of Control is Limited

In the perfect world, every child would have a designated adult supervising them at the beach or pool, but two children is a comfortable number for one adult to supervise.  Any more can become overwhelming and increase the risk of something going wrong.

 

2) Drowning Doesn’t Look like Drowning (or:  Drowning Doesn’t Look like You Imagine)

In the movies, when someone is acting out a drowning scene they wave their arms and scream for help. In real life, drowning is, for the most part, a silent act. Once a person goes into distress mode, they are fighting for two things: air and keeping their mouth above water.

My first experience witnessing the onset of a drowning occurred at my family pool when I was about ten years old.  My much younger cousin was in two feet of water, bent over at the waist.  It looked he was looking at his feet or the bottom of the pool but something didn’t seem right. When I lifted his head out of the water, he began vomiting and crying, he had been stuck. In a case I investigated, witnesses reported seeing a young girl bobbing her head up and down in the water.  She had drifted from the shallow end of the pool into water above her head (or:  the deep end) and was pushing off the floor of the pool to get air because she could not swim. She was saved, but nearly drowned. If something in and around the water doesn’t look right, it likely isn’t.

 

3) Set Up by a Lifeguard - No lifeguard No lifeline.

Set up your stuff near a lifeguard station so that if you venture into the water with your children there is an extra set of eyes to watch over you and your child. Don’t allow this to replace your diligence but rather supplement it. Your child is your first responsibility.

 

4) Don’t Get Lost in Conversation

Going to the beach or pool is a social event. If you’re caught up in a conversation, keep your face and your eyes on your child. Mishaps and accidents can occur very quickly and with a mix of children and water, seconds matter. Keep your hands glued to your babies or toddlers at all times.  If at the beach, keep an eye out for rouge waves.  Chat with the lifeguard in advance about any dangers you should know about. Ankle deep water can quickly become a hazard if you are not paying attention. Outfit your child with bright colored beach wear.  Know your limitations and educate yourself on riptides.  While you are on child watch duty turn the cell phone off, and keep the Ipad or book out of your reach.

 

5) Learn CPR and Rescue Breathing

Your local fire, police, recreation department or gym and health club often sponsor certified CPR courses. You will not realize its value until you need it!

Steve Kardian is an American career law enforcement officer, detective, sergeant and chief criminal investigator, who specializes in crime prevention and risk reduction for women's safety. Kardian is the author of The New Superpower for Women (on pre-sale until August 8, 2017) and founder of Defend University, where he trains thousands of people each year on safety and self-defense, as well as strategies and tactics uniquely tailored to women's safety.

May 16, 2017

Missing Your Mom on Mother's Day

Missing Your Mom on Mother’s Day

By Alexis Marie Chute

 

Many moms relish Mother’s Day as a chance to have breakfast made for them – for a change. Or to have an uninterrupted bubble bath, minus the toys. Or to simply be thanked. Mother’s Day is advertised well, with cards, flowers, and gifts of any imaginable product, all geared towards the hard-working, over-tired, and much deserving mom.

But what about the mother of a mom?

When women have children of their own, they enter this wonderful club of motherhood. Still, the bond with one’s own mother remains, like an invisible umbilicord, connecting heart to heart. It is without doubt that mothers and daughters share a sacred bond. It is this bond that makes Mother’s Day all the more heartbreaking when your own mother is unwell or has died.

Many young children believe their parents know all the answers and have this “life-thing” figured out. When you grow up, you realize that your parents are mere mortals, just fellow people figuring things out as they go. This is a startling realization in and of itself. Then, when your parents get sick, you realize they will not live forever. When your mother or father dies, the ache can be felt with each heartbeat, leaving you with a sense of loneliness, as if your foundational protection has been lifted.

Coping through Mother’s Day when you are caring for your ailing mother, or missing her larger-than-life presence, is challenging. Sometimes there are no words of comfort that make even a dent on the sadness you feel. Here are a few ways to redeem Mother’s Day for you:

Shut off the social and be present.

We spend much of our lives distracted by things that do not matter. Social media is a perfect example of this. Instead of updating your Facebook status or instagramming the card your kids made for you – be with your kids! If you mom is still alive and within driving distance: Visit her. And lock your phone in your car if it’s too much of a temptation.

You know social media will be abuzz with Mother’s Day posts anyway and these in-your-face messages prompt the agony you feel for your mom and her pain. Shut them all off. Avoid the social media comparison game. Avoid seeing the pictures of your peers with their healthy mothers. When you logout, and wake-up to the present moment, you will see it for the gift that it is. You will feel alive and free, appreciating every minute of the life you have the privilege of living as a daughter to your mother and as a mom yourself. 

Create and re-live memories.

If your mom has passed, take intentional time to be still and think about her. Get in a meditative state where you breathe deeply and do not wiggle around. Close your eyes and picture your mother. Remember her smell. Remember the way she said things to you: was she firm or tender? A jokster or a straight-shooter? Think back to trips you may have taken together or your weekly lunch dates or family holidays. Think about the lessons she taught you and the physical features of your body that came from her. Remember and celebrate your mother in spirit, her warts and all.

If your mother is alive, it is not too late to create new memories. The weekly lunch dates can take place at her home or hospital room. Surprise her with flowers and her favorite book, which you can read to her; or her favorite board game if she is still able to play. Give her a massage, the gift of touch. Take her for a walk in her wheelchair and start up a round of eye spy. Tell each other stories about your lives. And whatever you do, take as many photos and video as you can. These will become cherished keepsakes later on.

Let the feelings come.

Don’t get stuck in fretting about the “right things” to do or say for your mother if she’s ailing. Just do your best. Similarly, there is no one right way to grieve, and no singular perfect way to remember your mom’s life. Be graceful and kind with yourself. Everyone knows you are doing the best you can – and what other people think doesn’t matter anyway. What you think and feel is what counts. If you are feeling blue, let your tears flow. If anger is bubbling up in your chest at the fact that your mother passed from a tragic illness: Be mad! Give yourself permission. Go for a run till you’re winded, beat-up your duvet, scream till your throat throbs. Get out the feelings, whatever they are. The sense of release will be tangible afterwards.

“Life is not fair.” Those are the words likely every child everywhere has said to his or her parent at one point or another growing up. We can feel this injustice just the same as adults. There is never enough time with the ones we love, true. While Mother’s Day may feel like a kick-in-the-pants right when you are praying hard for a miracle, choose to see it as an opportunity. A chance to celebrate your mother, at whatever state of health she may be in, or to celebrate her in spirit as you remember her amazing life. If you have children of your own, tell them about their grandmother. We keep memories alive through the stories we share.

Alexis Marie Chute is the author of the award-winning memoir Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss, available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Alexis Marie is a writer, artist, filmmaker, public speaker, and bereavement expert. Learn more about her book and documentary, Expecting Sunshine: The Truth About Pregnancy After Loss, at www.ExpectingSunshine.com. She is a healthy-grief advocate educating others on how to heal in creative and authentic ways.

Connect with Alexis Marie Chute on FacebookLinkedIn Twitter, InstagramPinterestTumblr, YouTube, and atwww.AlexisMarieChute.comwww.ExpectingSunshine.comwww.WantedChosenPlanned.comwww.AlexisMarieArt.com, and www.AlexisMarieWrites.com.

May 4, 2017

Groove Ring

Groove Ring

Groove is for the married and non-married alike who want to make a statement of the lifestyle they live. Groove is the active, silicone ring designed for the athlete, adventurer, professional, or trendsetter. It begs to be worn, shown, and tested everyday no matter what the circumstance. 


Founder Peter Goodwin states, “Look, I’m a typical Alaskan.  I climb mountains, raft remote rivers, hunt bears, fly airplanes, build my own housing, hand cut firewood and I play hard too.  Why in the world has no one made a ring that works for us; works for all the active people of this world?  Seeing the need, I solved the problem!”

May 3, 2017

Just in time for Mother's Day!

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Chamilia (www.chamilia.com), a Swarovski company, announced that it will release 3 new stackable rings for Spring 2017. The rings will complement the more than 40 styles currently available in its stackable ring collection.

“Stackable rings are a natural extension of the Chamilia brand,” said Chamilia Vice President, Global Merchandising and Marketing Catherine Ottaviano. “The rings very easily communicate the emotion and messaging so important to the brand, while making perfect gifts and collectible self-purchases for the woman who looks for sentiment in her jewelry.”

The three new styles in this assortment include:

  • Chamilia Heirloom Lace, Regal Collection Ring—The new Chamilia Heirloom Lace motif is featured on a high-polished sterling silver band (U.S. MSRP $65).
  • Chamilia Quatrefoil Band—Chamilia's signature quatrefoil is repeated to form an elegant sterling silver band with a bright polish (U.S. MSRP $40).
  • Chamilia Day Tripper Rope Band—This sterling silver ring features a classic rope pattern (U.S. MSRP $40).

Based in Cranston, RI, Chamilia is an American company that was established in 2002. Since its purchase in 2013, it has been a member of the Swarovski Group, a world leader in quality and innovation. Each of the more than 400 exclusive charms available from the brand are made from .925 sterling silver or 14 karat gold and feature genuine Swarovski Crystals or Zirconia, or Italian Murano Glass. The brand follows strict Swarovski Group guidelines for quality and aesthetic excellence. This makes Chamilia a modern-day heritage brand.

But Chamilia is a fine jewelry brand that is focused not just on impeccable craftsmanship and design at affordable luxury price points. The very DNA of the brand is based on its core value to service the strong desire that women have to celebrate their lives through jewelry, which is a statement category like no other. This means that Chamilia designs often include sentimental messaging and symbolism that allow for personal expression and inspiration. For mothers, in particular, this can be an empowering way to engage in gift-giving with personal meaning.

Each item in Chamilia’s collections seamlessly coordinates with other collections from the brand, so that once you find mom’s style, you are able to easily pair new items from updated collections that continue to celebrate the milestones in her life. And more often than not, the milestones mom will be celebrating will be the outstanding experiences she shares with her family.

These stackable rings from Chamilia will be available starting April 7, 2017, and will be sold at the brand’s more than 2,000 retail partners worldwide and on the Chamilia website. For more information about the Chamilia brand, please go to www.chamilia.com.  

   

April 21, 2017

9 Tips To Keep Your Child Safe Around Water This Summer

Few things are as much fun as splashing around at the beach or in a backyard pool, but not every child is confident about taking the plunge.

“For some children, the idea of getting in the water and trying to swim can be a bit frightening,” says K.J. Hales, author of It’s Hard to Swim, the second and most recent addition to the Life’s Little Lessons by Ellie the Wienerdog educational picture book series (www.ellietheweinerdog.com).

“But with the proper positive reinforcement, they can overcome their fears and discover just how much fun swimming can be.”

May is National Water Safety Month, a good time for parents to consider teaching their children how to swim. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports swimming lessons for most children 4 years and older. Water safety classes can also reduce the risk of drowning in younger children, the pediatrics group reports, but advises that because children develop at different rates, not all will be ready to swim at the same age.

Hales, who offers teachers’ guides and educational activities to go along with the lessons in her books, says she chose swimming as one of Ellie the Wienerdog’s adventures because it’s a valuable skill that all children should learn.

“Most children are around water in some form, whether it’s a pool, a river, a pond, a lake or the ocean,” she says. “So learning to swim isn’t just for fun. It’s also important for safety.”

The Pediatric Academy cites several water-safety tips for parents, including:

Never – even for a moment – leave small children alone or in the care of another young child while in bathtubs, pools, spas or wading pools, or near irrigation ditches or standing water.
Empty water from buckets and other containers immediately after use.
To prevent drowning in toilets, young children should not be left alone in the bathroom.
Closely supervise children in and around water. With infants, toddlers and weak swimmers, an adult should be within an arm’s length. With older children and better swimmers, an adult should be focused on the child and not distracted by other activities.  Bath seats cannot substitute for adult supervision. 
If children are in out-of-home child care, ask about exposure to water and the ratio of adults to children.
If you have a pool, install a four-sided fence that is at least 4-feet high to limit access to the pool. The fence should be hard to climb (not chain-link) and have a self-latching, self-closing gate. Families may consider pool alarms and rigid pool covers as additional layers of protection, but neither can take the place of a fence.
Parents, caregivers and pool owners should learn CPR.
Do not use air-filled swimming aids (such as inflatable arm bands) in place of life jackets. They can deflate and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
All children should wear a life jacket when riding in a boat. Small children and non-swimmers should also wear one at water’s edge, such as on a river bank or pier.

“When Ellie finally swims, she realizes that learning something new is wonderful and if you give it a try, you can do anything you wish,” Hales says. “This is a lesson I hope all children will take to heart, not only when learning to swim, but also when facing any challenge that comes their way.”

About K.J. Hales

K.J. Hales (www.kjhales-author.com) is author of the educational children’s books series, Life’s Little Lessons by Ellie the Wienerdog (www.ellietheweinerdog.com). The latest book in the series is It’s Hard to Swim. The purple wiener dog character is based on Hales’ own dachshund by the name of, you guessed it, Ellie.

April 19, 2017

5 Tips for SAT Success

By Tom Rose, cofounder of Testive SAT/ACT Prep

 

Mastering the SAT can have a tremendous impact on your child’s life but it comes at a cost. Preparing for the SAT can be a stressful process for both children because the stakes are high and for parents because they don’t have much control.

 

The good news is the process can be manageable. I’ve worked with hundreds of parents and helped to send students to Harvard, Duke, MIT, Cornell, Princeton, and well, pretty much everywhere. I would like to share 5 tools with you that make the process easier.

 

1. Start prep early. The single biggest thing a parent can do to help their child succeed on the SAT is to help their child get started early. The best time to start prep is the summer before junior year.

 

It’s important to leave time to take the SAT three times. Test ability can be improved with effort and learning, but lack of time is something that simply isn’t flexible. Test prep is also heavy, so putting it in the summer is usually easier for students to handle. The summer before senior year is too late to start if you want to take the test multiple times.

 

“Score Choice” (released by The College Board in 2009) allows students to choose what scores they send, so there is now no risk of getting a low score. Students are commonly taking the SAT two or three times.

 

The topic of when to take the SAT is complex and I have written further about it here.

 

2. Apply test prep pressure indirectly. Parents often report that getting their children to start test prep is like pulling teeth. Students are resistant to getting started because the stakes are high, and the process seems insurmountable. This leads to procrastination. Here are my three favorite ways to get things started:

 

a) Schedule a college visit. This is great quality time for parents and students. It yields real, valuable information and it puts the topic of college (and therefore test prep) at the top of mind, without you having to discuss it.

 

b) Schedule a test date. Nothing lights a fire like a deadline. My favorite first-time test-date is May or June at the end of sophomore year.

 

c) Hire a coach. It’s a win-win because the coach solves your problem of managing the process, and eases the child’s job of preparing by making the process more efficient.

 

3. Focus prep on weak areas. This sounds obvious, but it’s noteworthy because the execution of focusing on weak areas is much more difficult than it sounds because focusing on weak areas has a difficult pre-requisite: analysis. Analysis is difficult and time-consuming to do so more often than not, it never gets done.

 

The most important thing you can do is make sure that your child is working with a tool that analyzes strengths and weaknesses for them and provides feedback.

 

If you don’t have such a tool, you can analyze your child’s strengths and weaknesses by digging through the results of a full-length practice test or a PSAT score report.

 

4. Regular, focused practice is the only method of effective test prep. This is the only reliable method of improving test scores. There are no good shortcuts.

 

The single most common thing preventing students from achieving their goal scores is not putting in enough effort. This is the big weakness of test prep group classes and unguided online tools, both of which lead to low effort levels.

 

If you don’t do enough work it doesn’t matter at all what method you are using, and no method at all can make up for not putting in the hours. My experience is that it takes a typical student about 100 hours of total prep time for them to reach their natural potential.

 

Test prep isn’t magic. It’s just regular, focused practice.

 

5. Spend more time reviewing work, than doing new work. Students who review every single question they get wrong and record review notes improve more than three times faster than those who do not. So how do you make sure that this happens?

 

Testive has software tools that manage this process and report back on whether it’s happening so that students, parents, and coaches can all track and manage the process. If you don’t have access to an automated tool like Testive, then watch out for what we call “churn-and-burn” where one does only practice questions with no review.

 

One final thought: Test prep is a stressful thing. Remember that you’re not alone. We have free tools at Testive, and if you want to hire a coach, we do that too.

January 27, 2017

You’ll (Heart) Cooking a Gourmet Dinner At Home on Valentine’s Day

It sounds so dreamy, doesn’t it – going out for a romantic dinner on Valentine’s Day?

Except it doesn’t always turn out that way. All too often the restaurant is crowded, the servers cranky and the “exclusive” prix fixe menu is limited and expensive. Not to mention that should you decide to get affectionate – you’re in a public place.

“There are so many advantages to dining in on that special night,” says Chef Blakely Trettenero, who writes about her culinary adventures on her blog, Everyday Gourmet with Blakely (www.gourmetwithblakely.com). “It’s more comfortable, less expensive and super exclusive, because you can have whatever you want – from the cocktails to the entrée to dessert.

 “And what better way to show you care than to cook a fantastic meal for – or with – that someone special?”
If the idea of pulling together a fancy dinner on a weeknight (Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday this year), fear not. Trettenero says there are plenty of delicious recipes that will tickle your true love’s taste buds without taking hours to make. (Just in case you want to save your energy for later.)
Here are a few of Trettenero’s favorite romantic dishes:

Vanilla Bean & Bourbon Champagne Cocktail
The best of both worlds: Champagne for the ladies and bourbon for the men!

Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup

1. 1/2 cup sugar
2. 1/2 cup water
3. 1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half

Cocktail

1. 1 tablespoon vanilla bean simple syrup
2. 1 dash bitters
3. Squeeze of lemon juice
4. 1/2 ounce bourbon of choice
5. Champagne

Instructions

1. First, make the simple syrup. In a small pan over medium-high heat add the sugar, water and split vanilla bean. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved and it has come to a slight simmer.
2. Turn it off and set it aside to steep and come to room temperature.
3. When the simple syrup is cooled it's time to make the cocktail. In your champagne glass add the simple syrup, a dash of bitters, a squeeze of lemon juice and the bourbon. Give it a stir to combine.
4. Top it off with cold champagne, add a lemon twist and serve!

Herbed Savory Palmiers
Perfect for Valentine’s Day – this pastry is heart-shaped!

Ingredients

1. 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
2. 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, minced
3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
4. 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
5. 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
6. 1 tablespoon olive oil
7. salt
8. pepper
9. 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
10. 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Instructions

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
2. In a bowl, add the finely chopped sundried tomatoes, minced garlic, chopped rosemary, chopped thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix until combined and set aside
3. On a lightly floured surface, slightly roll out your thawed puff pastry sheet and transfer to a cutting board
4. To the rolled out puff pastry add the sundried tomato and herb mixture evenly
5. Evenly sprinkle the top with the grated Parmesan and Gruyere cheese
6. Starting on one side, roll the puff pastry tightly, stopping at the middle
7. Roll the other side of the puff pastry tightly until you reach the middle
8. Cut into 1-inch pieces and place on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Put them into the oven and let them bake for 15-17 minutes until golden brown
9. Once they're baked, serve them warm
            

Baked Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes, Artichokes & Capers

Ingredients

1. 2 pounds chicken thighs (about 4 thighs)
2. salt
3. pepper
4. drizzle of olive oil
5. 1 medium onion, diced small
6. 3 cloves garlic, minced
7. 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
8. 1 teaspoon brown sugar
9. 1 28-ounce can peeled plum tomatoes
10. 1 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
11. 2 teaspoons drained capers
12. 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, then preheat a heavy-bottomed pan with a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat
2. Use paper towel to soak up any extra moisture on the chicken. This prevents the chicken from getting golden brown when you sear it. Season both sides with salt and pepper and put the chicken in the preheated oil, skin side down
3. Cook the chicken until golden brown on one side, then flip to cook on the other side. You're not trying to cook the chicken through, only brown it!
4. Once the chicken is brown on both sides, take it out of the pan and put it on a plate and set it aside
5. If there is a lot of fat in the pan, drain most of it, leaving only about a teaspoon or so in the bottom
6. Add the diced onions with a pinch of salt and pepper to the pan and cook for a few minutes until opaque
7. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute
8. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan, scraping the bottom to get up any bits at the bottom. Add the brown sugar to the balsamic vinegar, stir to combine, and let it cook until slightly reduced, about 7-8 minutes
9. Add the can of tomatoes into the pan and turn off the heat. Use a knife to roughly cut up the tomatoes in the pan and then add the drained artichokes and capers. Give it a stir to mix everything together
10. Add the chicken thighs back into the pan, nestling them into the tomato mixture. Add the rosemary sprigs to the top and put the pan into the preheated oven uncovered
11. Let it cook for about 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through
12. Serve with a simple side and you have a gourmet dinner ready in no time.


Cherry Clafoutis


Ingredients

1. 2 cups pitted cherries, cut in half
2. 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
3. 3 eggs
4. 3/4 granulated sugar
5. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
7. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
8. 1 cup whole milk
9. 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
10. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
11. Powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions

1. The hardest part of this recipe is removing the pits from the cherries. I don't have a cherry pitter, so I just get the pits out the old-fashioned way. I cut the cherries in half, twist the two halves to expose the pit, and take my knife and cut it out
2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
3. In a 9-inch buttered and floured pie pan, add the fresh cherry halves and slivered almonds
4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, salt, flour, milk, almond extract and vanilla extract until completely smooth. Pour the batter over the cherries and almonds and put in the oven
5. Let the clafoutis cook for 35-45 minutes depending on your oven.
6. Take the clafoutis out of the oven and let it cool slightly. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

About Blakely Trettenero

Blakely Trettenero, host of the Everyday Gourmet with Blakely (www.gourmetwithblakely.com) and Hungry for Travels (www.hungryfortravels.com) websites, is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, Florida. She is a world traveler, having visited more than 30 countries, and is becoming a frequent guest on TV.

January 26, 2017

Valentine Gift Ideas!

Looking for a Valentine Gift?

ALEX Toys Sweetheart String Art

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Lil Lockitz

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