Friday, May 1, 2015

How to Host the Ultimate Derby Celebration

Kentucky Derby Party Tips

By Limor Suss, Lifestyle Expert

The Kentucky Derby is on May 1st, and if you’re planning on throwing a party for the greatest two minutes in sports, we have some stellar ideas.

Ask your friends to dress up in their finest clothes. This is the one day of the year when more is better. Invite male guests to wear light linen suits, seersucker, or really “go for it” with lively colors like coral, light blue, lime and yellow. The ladies should wear colorful

Set Up a Hat Decorating Station
Pick up flowers, lace, butterflies, tulle and feathers at your local craft store. Put out some glue guns and set up a hat decorating station. Purchase a few extra inexpensive hats, just in case someone forgets to bring one.

Roses as Decor
The Kentucky Derby is also known as “The Run for the Roses” where the winner is draped with a blanket of roses. You’ll want to get some rose petals and put them on the tables

Serve G.H.MUMM Champagne
It's the official champagne of the Kentucky Derby. It's what they spray the winning horse with at the end of the Derby and it's what you should be serving your guests.  If you're looking for a signature cocktail, try this tasty take on the mint julep using G.H.MUMM:

2 part G.H.MUMM Cordon Rouge
1 1⁄2 part Absolut Citron Vodka
1 part Fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 finger pinch fresh mint

Pour all ingredients, except G.H.MUMM Cordon Rouge, into a mixing glass.  Add ice, cover and shake vigorously for 7–8 seconds.  Pour G.H.MUMM Cordon Rouge into a chilled cocktail-martini glass and pour the

Make a Derby “Cheese Hat”

Use two different sized rounds of brie (or any other round cheese) layer on top of one another (like a wedding cake); add a colorful ribbon, decorate with herbs and edible flowers. Serve with toasted bread and fig jam.

Triple Crown Desserts
The Kentucky Derby race is the first leg of the coveted Triple Crown. (Fun Fact: There hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.) Serve a trio of desserts: Mini pecan pies, Bourbon bites and mint julep cupcakes.

1st, 2nd and 3rd Place
The Derby is all about who wins. Why not have your own competition at home and assign a random horse to each guest? The guest matched with the winning horse receives a bouquet of roses and a bottle of G.H.MUMM Cordon Rouge.

Disclosure:  G.H.MUMM provided me with a 350ml bottle of their champagne to replicate the above recipe on my own.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Salt: Friend or Foe?

by Leanne Ely

Today's Focus is on SALT

Salt is an essential nutrient. Our bodies NEED salt. Note that I am not saying we need a LOT of salt, we just need some (about 500 milligrams a day). This is one of the reasons I much prefer sea salt to other salts-it's fresher, lighter and won't bog you don't like regular old table salt. Table salt has chemicals in it to keep it from clumping; such as sodium silicoaluminate, calcium phosphate or magnesium carbonate for example. No one needs chemical additives in their food!

Here's Today's TRICK:

I like to keep my salt in a dish so I can grab it by the pinch instead of risk oversalting it with a saltshaker. Obviously, you have to have a saltshaker on the table, but for cooking, I use a little salt cellar-it's a little dish with a lid and keep it right by the stovetop. Works like a charm and helps me to gradually salt to taste without risking too much salt.

Here's a TIP:

To prevent salt from clumping up in your saltshaker, add a couple of grains of rice to absorb moisture. I bet you've seen restaurants do this on occasion. It really does do the trick and keeps your salt free flowing with no chemicals, yay!

And Your RECIPE:

Herbed Skillet Chicken
Serves 4

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water -- divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook 10 minutes or until slightly browned, turning once. Combine thyme, garlic powder, onion powder and salt and pepper; sprinkle over chicken. Remove chicken, keeping warm and add 1/2 cup water to the skillet, using a wire whisk to scrape the pan and get up all the browned bits. Bring water to a boil, add chicken back in; cover, and reduce heat and cook 10-20 minutes, depending on thickness of chicken, until chicken is done. Remove chicken from skillet. Combine cornstarch and remaining 1 tablespoon water. Add to pan juices; cook until thickened and translucent, stirring or whisking constantly. Taste the sauce, add more salt and pepper if needed, reheating for just a minute. Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with parsley.

Per Serving: 202 Calories; 13g Fat; 19g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 40mg Cholesterol; 332mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 1 Fat.

Copyright (C) 2012 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

C is for Concussion and S is for Stop

Meet Britney and Mia....

Britney is 15 years old, just finishing up her freshman year in high school.  She's an honor student and an athlete; she loves hanging out with her friends and her dog...

Mia is nine years old, a fifth grader at a local elementary school.  She's fun-loving and fearless and always the life of the party; she does well in school and loves spending time at the barn with her horse...

These girls don't know each other, and you would not think they would have much in common because of their age difference - but they do...

They're both battling the after-effects of a serious head injury.

I know, when you think of head injuries you think of football players, soccer players or maybe even baseball players but actually a head injury can occur at any time to any one.

Britney's concussion happened in the heat of summer, right before her level five competitive season of gymnastics was about to start - one second she was practicing the high-bar portion of her uneven parallel bar routine and the next thing she knew, she was on the floor, she had lost her concentration for a split-second, flew off the bar, hit her head on the lower bar on the way down and landed on her head.  Britney did not remember most of the details of what happened so her Mom had to piece it together by chatting with the other girls that were there when it happened. 

In the days following the injury, her cognitive ability was impaired and she could not read or it would produce a headache.   She had trouble remembering her homework assignments, physically did not feel well and although she was exhausted, had trouble sleeping.  She became depressed because she missed being with her friends and was missing out on her gymnastics season. 

Seven months later, she's still struggling in school and she still has trouble reading and memorizing - keeping up with the honors classes that she was thoroughly enjoying the first week of school is now challenging and she's had to get an exemption for extra time to finish assignments.  She's healing, but it's slow, one day things will be looking great and the next she can feel like they are at square one again.

Mia is not a stranger to head injuries - she jumps horses and competes in horse shows and had fallen twice before, being thrown from her horse - once so hard that it cracked her helmet in two - but each time she healed.

The third concussion came on a roller-coaster at a Florida theme park - she told her Mom that she had hit her head, but no one thought it was a big deal, it was just a roller-coaster after all - how bad could it have been?  For the next couple of days, she had headaches on and off, but again, nothing that raised a red flag.  On the flight home she began crying hysterically telling Mom that her head hurt so badly she thought she was going to die - the white of her eye on the injured side of the head turned red and she had a nosebleed that lasted more than an hour, everyone thought it was just the pressure from the airplane, but they decided to go to the doctor the next morning.  When she arrived home, of course she went to the doctor, but she had a high fever so it was written off as a type of flu.  Mia slept for 21-23 hours per day every day for almost three weeks and had severe headaches and impaired cognitive function - she was displaying many of the same symptoms as her previous concussions had offered.  After many visits to the doctor she was sent to a Children's Hospital and diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome - the small injury caused by the roller coaster was compounded because of her air travel and previous concussions and proved to be quite serious.

Twelve weeks later, Mia is now on a modified school day, only attending a few hours a day, if at all; she is only able to concentrate on anything for a few minutes at a time and has to stop as soon as she feels a headache coming on.  She must wear sunglasses anytime she is outside to minimize headaches and must eat on a regular schedule to keep her glucose levels regular (an important part of brain healing).  She is on medications to help minimize the concussion migraines, but they have lots of side-effects and she will need to be carefully weaned from them.  Her doctors prognosis is that she will eventually heal completely, but it could take up to a year.  She is still not her usual bubbly self and afraid that her life will never return to normal again.


Head injuries are serious - for everyone, but especially for children.  They need to be taken extremely seriously and more Teachers, Coaches and Parents need to be made aware of the symptoms and the quick and easy test called The King-Devick Test and Remove From Play Testing that can be administered quickly and easily on the spot if a head injury is suspected.

I am working with Maria Bailey, Of MomTalk TV and MomTalk Radio to help raise awareness of head injuries and how we can get our kids removed from play quickly and easily with simple tests.  We both strongly believe in implementing concussion screenings in youth sports and spreading the word about Remove From Play’s test.

Maria has also created the RFP Team Mom's Playbook. The Remove From Play Team Mom Playbook is the ultimate tool for any team mom to use in assisting her to bring this affordable concussion-screening tool to her child’s school or team.  Please show it to your coaches, trainers and sports teachers and ask them to implement this test for your child's team.

Britney and Mia are real kids - I know each of them personally and they are both the sweetest girls you'll ever meet - they should not have to be dealing with the results of a head injury, disrupting life at a time when it should be enjoyed to the fullest.

Please protect your children and ask their sports instructors and coaches to implement Remove from Play testing.

Here are some important links:

-          Remove From Play Website –
-          Remove From Play “Team Mom” Digital Playbook -
-          Remove From Play social media channels:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Healthy Foods: Salad Spin

by Leanne Ely

I get a lot of email from readers (feel free to email your questions-I may include it in an upcoming article, Dinner Diva at Saving Dinner dot com) and this one warrants an article. 
 I hate to trouble you with a silly salad question, but I've never eaten salad on a regular basis before joining Flylady, and I don't know who else I can ask!  I have been buying three heads of lettuce a week, tearing them up and storing them in plastic baggies to eat a little bit at a time (instead of buying those prepackaged salad bags, which are expensive).  But should I wash the greens before they go in the bag?  They stay really wet when I do this, and I'm not sure if this helps preserve them, or it might help turn them wilted and slimy. Thanks for your advice. We've been eating SO much better since we found you! -Susan
Well Susan, let me help you out. I don't have much of an opinion on kitschy kitchen gadgets, but here's one gadget that you should make a point of getting: a salad spinner!  I am a big believer in eating salads, but it's no fun eating mushy salads. The spinner makes the diff!

I have noticed that when I'm eating salads on a regular basis, my skin is nicer, my weight is better kept under control and I just plain feel better. As a matter of fact, if you eat one salad a day with a meal, you can lose up to 15 pounds a year. It's a matter of volume and nutrition-the more you fill up on better, more voluminous healthier foods, the weight comes off (as long as you're not overdoing it).

I serve salad almost every time we eat dinner at my house. I also throw a bowl of those baby carrots on the table to pass around. As a rule, we don't eat enough raw stuff and salads are one delicious way to make that happen. Here are some hints for making a healthy, nutritious salad:

A good rule of thumb for building a good salad should be COLOR. Color is a great indicator of what's ahead: good nutrition or near-empty calories. The more vibrant the color, the healthier it is.

Take a look at Iceberg lettuce.  It's pale green and white. The iceberg lettuce's value is mostly the water it carries. Fiber is minimal and nutrition almost non-existent. This is not the basis for a good, healthy and nutritious salad.

The first place to start is with GREEN. Green like spinach, salad bowl or romaine lettuces--all wonderful examples of what green should look like. The color is there and so is the nutrition.

Next, look for RED. Tomatoes come to mind. Vine ripened and full of vitamin C, tomatoes also contain the important phytochemical lypocene that helps fight cancer.

ORANGE or YELLOW? How about some colorful bell pepper or (when in season) summer squash? Carrots are fantastic sources for beta-carotene, a pre-vitamin for vitamin A. Beta carotene has so many important functions, but the best part about beta-carotene is that it will convert into only as much vitamin A as the body needs so there's no worry about taking in too much. You know what happens if you have too much beta-carotene? You turn orange! My son was orange for the first and second year of his life--he LOVED sweet potatoes.

This is all common sense nutrition here, but the point is to get you thinking next time you're meandering your way through the produce section at the grocery store. Think in vivid, living color--you NEED the nutrition and so does your salad!


Copyright (C) 2012 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Healthy Foods: How to Do Healthy and Low Carb

by Leanne Ely

Say "low carb" and immediately visions of steak and eggs dance in your heads. Folks somehow have this notion that your mouth will never again chomp into a sandwich or that your diet will devoid on anything fiber-filled.
Phooey, I say! It doesn't have to be that way. You can have your low carb and get fiber too! Here's how.

There is a simple math equation that you need to do to understand how this works. Fiber is a non-nutritive substance that aids in digestion. It isn't processed in your body like say, a donut would be (which is completely fiberless and filled to overflowing with sugar). Donuts, when eaten in any kind of quantity, will tend to grow you a rather large posterior. While fiber, eaten in any kind of quantity, will improve your digestion without getting you fat.

Take vegetables for example. Potatoes, corn and a few others aren't going to be too low carb friendly, but check out my friend broccoli. With a carb count of 1.9 grams per 1/2 serving, the fiber content is 1.1 grams. That means the net carb value is only 0.8. Not too shabby!

Artichoke hearts have 7.8 grams of carbs per 1/2 cup and yet the fiber count is 6 grams. It's easy to see why donuts do what they do now, isn't it?

Fiber is also easily obtained through certain seeds like flax and flaxmeal, which makes a great hot cereal. As a matter of fact, 1/4 cup of flaxmeal hot cereal has 13 grams of carbs, but 6 grams of fiber for a net carb count of 7 grams. Compared to the same amount of oatmeal with 18 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber for a net carb count of 15 grams. See the difference?

So I ask you? CAN you do a low carb diet and still get in the fiber you need! You bet-you just might have to do it a little differently! Here's a low carb recipe from our Low Carb Menu-Mailer:

Chicken with a Ginger Cream Sauce
Serves 4
(*this recipe got absolute RAVE reviews!)

4    (6-oz.) boneless skinless chicken breast halves, pound to 1/4 inch,       if necessary
2    teaspoons butter
      Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2    tablespoons white wine (or use white grape juice with a splash of       vinegar - higher carb count this way)
2    tablespoons fresh lime juice
1    teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/8    teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2    cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2    cup half and half

In a skillet, over medium-high heat, melt butter. Season chicken with salt and pepper and saute quickly, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove chicken from the pan and keep warm.

Add wine (or juice/vinegar) and lime juice to pan; deglaze the pan using a wire whisk and working quickly. Bring it to a boil; now add the chicken broth, half and half, ginger and cayenne. LOWER heat immediately (or sauce will break) and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. When sauce has reduced and thickened, taste it and correct the seasoning, if necessary.

Serve chicken with sauce over the top.

Per Serving: 257 Calories; 8g Fat; 42g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 115mg Cholesterol; 252mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 5 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 Fat. Points: 6

Hip Tips

Healthy tip my son came up with: My son and his wife are divorced. She is a meat and potatoes eater, and doesn't comprehend the need for healthy eating. Consequently, their children do not like eating vegetables. Their mom serves them a lot of chicken nuggets and bread or fries, so convincing them to eat fresh fruits and vegetables is very challenging on weekends when dad has the kids. He was desperate to get them to eat better when he hit on the idea of making pancakes with sweet potatoes and carrots inside. Then he created low fat turkey meatloaf "cupcakes" frosted in whipped potatoes and decorated with ketchup. The kids love them and daddy feels like he has made a major step in helping his kids consume healthier foods.  

Copyright (C) 2012 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Make up, Don't Break Up

By Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil

I believe that just about any relationship can be saved – even in cases of adultery, sexual or otherwise. If both people are willing to commit to the relationship and work through the problems they face I believe that there isn't much that's insurmountable. To that effect, I wrote my book, Make Up Don't Break Up, which includes the accompanying DVD Falling in Love and Staying in love. Of course in extreme cases or in traumatic situations I highly recommend finding a great therapist which helps take the pressure off both people to “fix” everything themselves. But even in my practice with couples that come to me after infidelity, or with issues of non-communication and so forth there are a few things that I almost always recommend. I've included some of them below and you'll find more in the book.

Smart Heart Skills and Dialogue: the idea here is to provide a safe place where each person can feel comfortable talking about their fears and frustrations. These types of habits can be the glue that helps to create passion in a relationship, even during and spite of disagreements and conflict. When I instruct couples to use Smart Heart Dialogue, it's as a way to move beyond the anger and blame that typically is placed when an argument or disagreement comes to a stalemate. It can be used for smaller, more inconsequential arguments as well -  what I like to call “the glue when the relationship is new” - as larger conflicts, even when faced with infidelity.  I encourage having a weekly ten minute “Smart heart”-to-heart with a figurative emotional "bullet proof vest" to protect from hurt, anger and defensiveness, as you listen and echo back what you heard.

Fight Fair: Fighting in a relationship doesn't have to signal the end – but rather, it's HOW we fight that makes all the difference. I've  long been teaching couples how to fight fair and now new research shows that it's things like our tone of voice, words we use, whether or not we hear each other out that contributes to how effective and productive fighting can be. Fighting doesn't necessarily mean a relationship is on the rocks, in fact, couples who argue well are happier. Perhaps surprisingly, there's also little distinction made about the so-called differences between arguing, fighting, bickering or even nagging – they're all forms of expressing dissatisfaction with a situation or a person and learning how to convey these feelings, and how to respond to them, can make all the difference.

Break up to make up or “brush with death”:  A temporary break up can help resolve certain issues, and creates a shake-up that many couples need. In certain circumstances, this is the only thing that will create an action step which will make reconnecting and making up easier to do. Remember that creating this strategy – and it MUST be a strategy, not something entered into half-heartedly - is not the end of the relationship, but rather a new beginning.

Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil has been an internationally acclaimed relationship therapist for thirty years. New York magazine named her one of the city’s top therapists and Psychology Today named her one of America’s best therapists. Her books are available on her site,

How well do you know your friends?


Featuring Ultra-Revealing Questions, Card Game Will Have Friends Laughing Together for Hours, Sparking Insightful Conversations

You see your friends' social media posts all the time and the photos of them having fun, but how well do you truly know your friends? The engaging social card game WHOM helps you answer that. Created by award-winning industry creative Joey Caroni, a team of artists and a ton of late night play sessions, WHOM is a completely new take on card games that pits you against your friends in a game of secrets and big reveals. In WHOM, only the best friends will come out on top.

WHOM has a scheduled release for this summer.

"WHOM has been in process for a long time and was born from my desire to get to know my friends better," Joey Caroni said. "WHOM games are always very revealing and result in many funny 'aha' moments among friends. At the end of every game, players leave knowing their friends better, and usually being pretty shocked at the results."

In order to complete the product, WHOM launched a Kickstarter campaign today.

In a high tech world, where our interactions with friends are largely fleeting and more about what we had to eat, than who we really are, game nights among friends are seeing a huge resurgence. WHOM is designed to take a typical game night and not only make it incredibly fun but also really insightful. The perfect conversation starter and can be played with old and new friends alike. WHOM is launching a Kickstarter to meet the minimum quantities needed by their suppliers to ship the card game.

For a $25 pledge, Kickstarter backers can get the full game at launch this summer. Each set includes 50 full-color WHOM question cards (4.75 inch x 4.75 inch), a premium magnetic box, card stand and 50-sheet score pad.

WHOM also created some innovative additional rewards for larger pledges, which include the limited WHOM "Selfie Package" where a WHOM artist will draw you directly into a future piece of game art.

Key Features:
  • Beautifully Illustrated - Original artwork by eight noteworthy and talented artists.
  • Expansions - Booster decks of 50 additional cards featuring all new art and questions
  • Bonus Questions - Let you call out your friends in a popular vote to see which one best fits each description
  • Friend Score - The total number of questions guessed right for a player. Are you soulmate status or does your friendship need some work? WHOM shows!
  • Easy Fun - Hysterical, revealing and downright disturbing fun in four steps.

How to WHOM:
  1. Draw a card and read the question and all of the answers out loud.
  2. Choose an answer for yourself and your best guess for each player then write them on your scoresheet.
  3. Take turns revealing answers. Each correct answer earns a point!
  4. The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

In the future, there are plans for a WHOM mobile game (already in development) and other multimedia products, but getting the physical card game to consumers is WHOM's priority now.


About WHOM
WHOM is an illustrated party card game with hilariously revealing questions that test how well you really know your friends and what they really think about you! WHOM was designed as a game you can play with your significant other, best friend, coworkers, the gang from high school, family or even someone you've just met. In an age when people share everything in social media, WHOM makes the universal human experience of getting to know someone a fun and rewarding challenge, with points! For more information, please visit

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Romance Has No Expiration Date

So you think marriage is for the young? More than 16-million unmarried Americans were 65 and older. But these single seniors aren't willing to sit on their laurels; Between 2006 and 2007 there was a 140-percent increase in senior online dating.

Clearly the message that marriage makes you live longer has made its way to the over-65 crowd. Seniors also have learned the effectiveness of online dating sites. According to a international study conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute and funded by eHarmony, middle-aged men and women were the most likely people to use online dating sites, a statistic that particularly holds true for seniors.

With these glaring statistics to back up entrepreneurs, many new businesses have arisen catering to seniors interested in relationships. Here's a sampling.

1. Dating Sites
Let's see; There's SeniorMatch, SeniorPeopleMeet, DatingforSeniors, SeniorFriendFinder, PrimeSingles, SilverSingles, DatingForSeniors...pant, pant, pant. And we're just getting started. More commonly known sites, like and eHarmony, also appeal to the over-65 crowd. And let's not forget AgeMatch, which targets cougars and sugar daddies seeking companionship out of their age range.

An interesting aside to this category is the research findings of two Bowling Green State University professors of gerontology. In the early stages of the study, they've found indications that seniors market themselves different on dating sites than their youthful counterparts. Appearance and status drop to the bottom of profiles while compatibility and self representation are priorities.

2. Gift Registries
Soon-to-be-wed seniors likely don't need another blender, so alternative registries are proving just the ticket. CardAvenue is a wedding gift registry that lets them register for desirable gift cards, including those for stores, airlines, gas, etc. Cloud9Living allows couples to register for desired experiences, like hot-air ballooning in the Rockies, taking gourmet cooking classes in Houston, race car driving in Las Vegas, and much more.

3. Wedding Websites
Personal wedding websites are the latest rage, and in particular has reached out to seniors with it's easy-to-use message. The company provides a free domain name, customizable website themes and matching eCards, a monetary gift registry with PayPal, and much more. Other similar sites include, and To comparison shop, check out

4. Therapy for the Kids
Roughly 500,000 Americans over the age of 65 remarry each year, and most already have adult children, according to Grace Gabe, a psychiatrist and co-author of "Step Wars: Overcoming the Perils and Making Peace in Adult Stepfamilies." Remembering their parent's former spouse, the kids may have trouble accepting a new relationship. This has opened up an entirely new species of therapist. While many cater to younger audiences, there are those who provide assistance to both young and old alike.

5. Prenuptial Agreements
No longer a legal document solely for the rich, lawyers are creating prenuptial agreements designed specifically for seniors looking to protect their children's inheritances or not interested in once-again paying alimony.


Kate Forgach is a Baby Boomer consumer specialist for Kinoli Inc. She has written about senior issues for 11 years as a Cooperative Extension specialist and for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. She has been featured in USA Today, Detroit News, New Orleans Times-Picayune, New Yorker magazine, "ABC World News," NBC's "TODAY" show and many other media outlets.

Not Your Mother's Tuna Casserole

by Leanne Ely

All home cooks appreciate the ease of accomplishment of doing dinner the one-pot way. When your family is busy and going in a million different directions, being able to make dinner in one pot, plunk down a salad and yell, "Dinner!" in the time it takes to boil pasta, is critical mass for any hectic family's arsenal of timesaving tricks. 
Fifteen years ago, I entered a cooking contest called Not Your Mother's Tuna Casserole. They were looking for a newer, hipper tuna casserole recipe, not that kind we all hated as kids with nasty canned peas or cream of mushroom soup.

The rules of the contest had the following criteria: one pot, no canned soups (had to mention it again-you know how I feel about canned soups!) but allowed you to use ONE convenience food. Interestingly, I had a recipe that I had made up one night when inspiration and ingredients were both lacking. It met all of the above-mentioned guidelines and in fact, had become so popular with my kids that they requested it more than once for their birthday dinners! So on a lark, I entered the contest.

When I won, I decided fate was calling me and I became a cookbook author (7 cookbooks and counting!). Yes, you could say the rest is history! So without further adieu, here's the Grand Prize winner in all her glory. Enjoy the fruit of my first labor!

Not Your Mother's Tuna Casserole
Serves 4

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, with a splash of vegetable oil (so the butter won't burn)
1 box WHITE cheddar macaroni and cheese (not the neon orange stuff)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 (6-oz.) can solid white albacore tuna, drained
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1 cup saltine cracker crumbs
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil water to make boxed mac and cheese.  Cook pasta and drain.

In the meantime, chop your onion, open and drain your tuna, lightly grease a 2 quart casserole dish and get ready to launch into tuna casserole land.

In the same pot you cooked your pasta, melt your 1/2 tablespoon of butter, with a splash of olive oil.  Now sauté your onion and as it turns clear, add the drained tuna. Then add the milk, butter and sauce packet from the box and cook till it thickens.  Schlep everything together except the saltines and cheddar and stick in your prepared casserole dish.  Top with saltines and then the cheese.  Bake for about 15 minutes, give or take, until the cheese is nice and bubbly on top.

COOKING NOTES:  Make SURE you only use only solid white albacore packed in water.  That cheapie stuff smells like cat food and will ruin the dish!

Per serving: 429 Calories; 14g Fat; 26g Protein; 48g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 44mg Cholesterol; 892mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 2 Fat. Points: 10

Tuna makes a great pantry staple to use in case of emergency. 
Copyright (C) 2012 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.