Monthly Archives: December 2010

December 20, 2010

Karla’s Korner

I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!

Life Lessons….

As a preschool teacher to approximately 20 three year olds every school year, I find myself in a unique position. I become an extended part of the families of the children I teach….well sort of. Because I am “older” than most of the parents of students in my class and because I have a child who is almost 18 and another who just turned 12, I am looked upon sometimes for advice or my opinion because I’ve already been through that stage in my children’s life. For some reason these younger parents seem to think I have some magic book of answers. Sometimes I have answers and sometimes, well, sometimes, I don’t.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned as a mother, is that children do not come with an instruction manual. Children are the authors of their own book of life, from the day they are born…often times from the day they are conceived. From the time we find out that a baby is on the way, we begin to plan, change our lifestyles and prepare for this new person to enter into every facet of our lives. We are excited but have absolutely no idea what we have really gotten ourselves into. We don’t consider the fact that we will lose sleep, never eat a hot (let alone warm) meal for several years, we will never go to the bathroom by ourselves for at least five years and we will spend at least two nights a week on the couch with a small person sleeping on our chest.

On the day of delivery we were handed this beautiful warm bundle of sweetness and pretty much sent on our merry little way without a lot of instruction. I, myself, had never changed a diaper until the day my daughter was born. I was 25 years old and had no idea what I was doing. But she was so beautiful and she was ours and we were going to take her home and be the best parents in the world. Well, she’s still beautiful and we did take her home, but I doubt we will ever win the best parent award. But that’s o.k.

As we have meandered down our road of life, we have come to realize that it is o.k. to make it up as we go along. Each age and stage brings new challenges, new ideas, and new rules. As they grow, we grow right along with them. For example, meal time used to be spent in front of the t.v. on the sofa or standing over the kitchen sink. Once that little person arrives, you decide how important it is to eat at the kitchen or dining room table as a family. And, the music you listened to will become and thing of the past, at least for a while, because after all your little one would rather hear “the wheels on the bus” or the theme song from Barney instead of the loud head pounding music you’ve listened to for years. Your choice in television shows change too. Gone is the lazy Saturday afternoons of movies, sports, etc. Now you get a kick out of watching your little one enjoy the Wiggles, Backyardigans, Blue’s Clues or Dora the Explorer. You will even find yourself singing right along and no longer think it’s childish. You will enjoy those precious moments with your child. Your life changes so quickly and sometimes drastically and you don’t even realize it. You drive the speed limit, check your seatbelt, you don’t talk on the phone while driving, you eat healthier, and the list goes on and on. You do this all because you became a parent.

My family is currently going through the realization that our little ones are not so little anymore and one is actually preparing to leave for college in about eight months. The nerve of her to grow up, graduate high school and go off somewhere to school and leave us after all we have done for her. Sometimes, I feel just like that, but then I catch myself and realize that all of those sacrifices and changes we made in our lives all those years ago were about her (and her brother) and for her (and her brother). We wouldn’t have it any other way. We have spent the past 17 ½ years writing the book of her life. We helped guide her, teach her, nurture her and support her. So as we prepare to watch her walk across that stage and receive her diploma in a few short months, we will have a gift for her as well. The gift will be the book of her life that we will hand over to her and allow her the freedom to write the rest of it, her way, and the way she sees fit. Will this be difficult? Absolutely. Will we try to add a chapter or revise it once in a while? You betcha. But in the end, we must let her be the author of her own life book. After all, she started it all those years ago, she was the author all along, we just held her hand until she learned how to write on her own.
~Karla Robey

December 18, 2010

Ribollita Recipe

Ribollita Recipe

Ribollita recipe


Ribollita recipe is a hearty dish from Tuscany.   Classically, seasonal vegetables are used in this rustic dish.  It is a flavorful meal that is inexpensive to make since the ingredients are in season or available year-round.  But, substitutions are what make this dish your own unique creation.  If you don’t like kale, use Swiss chard, your favorite winter greens, or even spinach.  The authentic recipe calls for fresh cannelloni beans and pancetta, favorites in Italian cooking.  I use dry great Northern beans (or other white beans) and bacon since they are easier to find and less expensive.  Using stale, crusty bread is a wonderful way to be frugal in creating a tasty meal with nothing to waste.  Since Ribollita is a peasant dish, it is made with inexpensive ingredients.  Traditionally, there is no meat in this dish, but you could certainly add cooked chicken, Italian sausage, or leftover ham (preferably Virginia smoked and salt-cured).  And, it’s up to you how thick or thin you serve this soup.  You can add enough bread so that it can be eaten with a fork.  There are so many possibilities with this Italian classic.  Give this hearty soup a try and it will warm you up from the inside out.

recipeRibollita Recipe

  • ¼ c. olive oil, plus some to drizzle on bread
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, 2 minced and 1 whole
  • 4 oz. bacon
  • 1 t. salt
  • ½ t. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • ½ lb. great Northern beans, soaked overnight and rinsed (or 2 cans, drained & rinsed)
  • 1 T herbs de Provence
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6-8 c. chicken stock
  • 10 oz fresh kale, chopped
  • stale French bread, sliced
  • grated Parmesan, for serving

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot, garlic, bacon, salt, and pepper.  Cook until the onion is golden brown and bacon is crisp, about 7 minutes.  Add tomatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits.  Transfer mixture to slow cooker.  Add beans and next 3 ingredients.  Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours or until beans are tender.  Turn slow cooker off; add kale; stir to wilt.  Replace cover and let stand for 1 hour.  Stir again before serving.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Drizzle the bread slices with olive oil.  Toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and rub the top of the toasts with the whole garlic clove.  The clove will melt onto the toasted bread.  Place the toasts in the serving bowls and ladle soup over the toasts.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve immediately.

Ribollita recipe

Ribollita recipe

Slow cooker soup recipesslowcooker soup recipes


December 12, 2010

Cooking with Connie: Cabbage & Kielbasa Slow Cooker Recipe

Cabbage & Kielbasa Slow Cooker Recipe

Thanks to Connie for this recipe. Check out Cook with Connie for more fantastic recipes!

Now that the holiday season is upon us, day-to-day life has become busy and suppertime sneaks up on me.  So, I’ve pulled out the slow cooker to make suppertime quick and easy.  When kielbasa or smoked sausage are on sale, I stock up and freeze.  Cabbage is an inexpensive vegetable year-round, but it is fresh and really cheap this time of year.  Frozen corn is a staple in my freezer and is often on sale, so keep this versatile veggie on hand.  This dish can be cooked on the stove top, but the slow cooker is the easy way to go.

Give this slow cooker recipe a try and you’ll love the sweet and smoky combination of flavors of this easy meal.

Cabbage & Kielbasa

  • 7-8 c. chopped cabbage
  • 1 c. onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 c. corn, fresh or frozen
  • 1 t. salt
  • ½ t. black pepper
  • 1/8 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1/3 c. beef broth
  • 14-16 oz. polska kielbasa or smoked sausage, sliced

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker; cover and cook on high 3-4 hours or low 4-6 hours, depending on how soft you want your cabbage.  Serve with rye or pumpernickel bread.

Check out more Recipe!

December 8, 2010

Working Mom- What’s for Dinner Frozen Shrimp

I try every week to add a new meal to our menu.   The best part of my quest is I use items that I bought on sale so these meals are yummy and affordable… and oh, yes they can be completed in 30 minutes or less!


Freeze Shrimp Quesadillas

I took part in the Harris Teeter’s  “buy one bag of Shrimp for $17.99 and get two free”. That makes them just $5.99 a bag. The problem is what should I do with all that shrimp? The answer is simple make some freeze ahead meals.  I try to cook a couple of dishes on Sunday because with my work schedule and three children I am always battling time and the 5:00 o’ clock hour where my kids go from humans to???

Here is one of those freeze ahead shrimp recipes just in case you also took advantage of the sale.

This feeds four. I will double the ingredients below so I have something quick to grab for lunch.

4 Tortillas

1 cup of Monterey Jack Cheese

½ cup of cooked shrimp chopped

¼ cup of thinly cut green onion tops

1 TBS of cilantro

½ TBS of garlic

Olive Oil to coat the pan

Serve with salsa or sour cream


Thaw the shrimp and peel it

Place the olive oil in the pan with the garlic and the shrimp

Cook the shrimp until it is pink

Chop the shrimp

Place the shrimp, cilantro, onion, and cheese on the tortillas

Wrap them up and place them in a freezer bag

When you are ready to serve eat thaw them for 15 minutes

Then place them in a lightly coated pan of olive oil. You should cook them until they are golden brown. Then cut them and serve.

December 1, 2010

Working Mom What’s for Dinner? Tradition

Happy Hannukah

This is a very big night in our house. I will be making the traditional Latkes, Pot Roast, and then we will play the dreidal game. I think it is important to cook with your children. I know it is one of the things that remind me of my family.

Here is my potroast recipe.. (okay my sister’s recipe)

I use my crockpot and I add in the ingredients below

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 5 1/2 pounds pot roast
  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes
  • 1 package of  onion soup mix
  • Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 8-9 hours