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Kid Friendly Chili Recipe – A Fall Favorite

Kid Friendly Chili finished productWhen the leaves begin to change colors and the air gets a bit nippier, over the sounds of the rejoicing that it is no longer bathing suit season, I hear the call of a hot pot of chili.  Chili is a go-to fall meal in our house, with it’s rich tomato base, flavorful ground beef, and protein packed kidney beans.  It works after a weekend of raking leaves or after a brisk walk through the pumpkin patch.  It’s delicious after a prosperous night of trick or treating, or as a day before Thanksgiving meal – hearty, warm, and delicious without taking up too much of the room you’ll need for turkey.

I am not a fan of spicy foods, and normally, chili would not be a dish I would ever order out.  But my mom put together this recipe – the one she’s been using since we were all little – and it really is the perfect kid-friendly chili.  You don’t have to worry about too much spice – the chili powder in this rendition of a classic favorite is really used just to enhance flavor, not spice things up.  Kids won’t burn their tiny tongues eating this version, and even further, if you’ve had gastric bypass surgery and are only recently treading the waters of solid food, this won’t irritate your stomach with the bite of hot peppers.

This recipe easily feeds 6 people, especially with a crusty roll.  Add a salad, and you could probably get 8 bowls.

Simmering Kid Friendly Chili

2 – 3 green peppers chopped

1 medium onion chopped

2 pounds ground beef

1 large can kidney beans

1 can tomato soup with one can water

1 large can whole tomatoes crushed by hand

1 ½ teaspoon chili powder (or more if you like)



Fry meat, onions, and peppers in a large skillet.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Drain all fat off when finished.  In a large pot, mix all other ingredients.  Heat until meat is finished frying.  Season with chili powder (the amount above will make the chili mildly flavored, so add more if you like to spice it up a bit).  When meat is finished cooking, add it to the large pot.  Simmer on low heat for one hour covered and then one hour uncovered.

Halloween safety tips and myths

Halloween Safety proceed with candy and caution

Halloween safety is a concern for every parent this time of year. Here are some helpful tips and also some myths discussed to make your Halloween Safety effective and still keep the fun in the holiday.

Halloween Safety for your family this year includes not only being safe, but not falling victim to myths and hoaxes. In this episode, Anna from beautygirlsmom.com speaks about:

Halloween Safety


Halloween Candy Myths – Did you know there has never been a documented case of stranger product tampering involving Halloween candy?  I did not.  Yet Denver police are coming out “guns blazing”, warning parents about potential hazards due to the legalization of marijuana.  Jim from Left Wing Libertarian disputes the validity of those concerns.

Trunk or Treat, the safer community friendly alternative to door to door Trick or Treat – but be prepared to up your Trick or Treat treat budget.  We easily gave out almost 1000 pieces of candy last year!

Halloween Safety  Trunk or Treat a safer option










Common Sense Halloween Safety – Some things, you just know are the wrong thing to do, especially with regard to costumes (no full face masks on little ones!), when to call it a day and turn your porch lights off, and which houses to avoid while trick or treating.

When is too old to Trick or Treat – when grandma comes knocking
Halloween Costume Sensitivity – don’t punish the kids
Sewing your own home made Halloween costumes –
Halloween curfews

Be safe, have fun, and don’t forget to send all of your Clark bars and Butterfingers to me!


Kids Night at Disney’s Newsies – The Perfect Halloween

Kimmel Newsies Halloween Treat

There will be way more treats than tricks this Halloween!

The Kimmel Center Academy of Music will be featuring an extra-special KIDS NIGHT, next Friday night, Halloween.  Hosted by BEN-FM’s Marilyn Russell, the steps of the Academy will be filled with Halloween fun!  You’ll find a photo booth, Halloween goodies, and a performance by dancers from the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Peforming Arts.

But the fun doesn’t have to end on the steps of the Academy!  Select seats are being offered at 50% off!  Disney’s Newsies is a great way to introduce your kids to the theater – and a phenomenal way to cap off your Halloween night.

They delivered the papers, until they made the headlines… Direct from Broadway comes Newsies, the smash-hit, crowd-pleasing new musical from Disney. Winner of the 2012 Tony Awards® for Best Score and Best Choreography, Newsies, has audiences and critics alike calling it “a musical worth singing about!” (The New York Times) Filled with one heart-pounding number after another, it’s a high-energy explosion of song and dance you just don’t want to miss.

Based on true events, Newsies tells the captivating story of a band of underdogs who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to the most powerful men in New York. It’s a rousing tale about fighting for what’s right…and staying true to who you are. Newsies was brought to the stage by an award-winning creative team. It features a score by Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast) and Jack Feldman (The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride) and a book by Harvey Fierstein (La Cage Aux Folles), with choreography by Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific) and direction by Jeff Calhoun (Big River).

For tickets to Newsies – and other Broadway-Philadelphia shows at the Kimmel Center – visit www.kimmelcenter.org/broadway.

Walt Disney World Thanksgiving at the Last Minute

Walt Disney World Thanksgiving 2014 last minute vacation

You have a to-do list the length of the Empire State Building, and the thought of cleaning the house that hasn’t been cleaned since last Thanksgiving is giving you panic attacks.  What the heck, you think to yourself.  Let’s do a Walt Disney World Thanksgiving!

But wait.  You’ve heard that everything books months in advance.  The parks will be mobbed.  You’ll be sleeping in your car and eating Thanksgiving dinner at Taco Bell.  That’s not what you were hoping for.  You want a nice kick off to the holiday season.

2014 Walt Disney World Thanksgiving Day Dining Brined Herb-Crusted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy; Anne Burrell

Fear not, nervous traveler.  You can head to Walt Disney World for a last minute Thanksgiving getaway – just get planning NOW!

2014 Walt Disney World Thanksgiving Day Dining

As of today, you’ll find many restaurants with open tables throughout the day.  While there is no official word on which restaurants may feature a traditional holiday meal, with turkey and all the trimmings, several of the restaurants with dining reservations available have had the whole big turkey dinner available to diners in years past.  You’ll find space at Boatwright’s, Portobello, Fulton’s, Wolfgang Puck, and Kona if you are looking to dine at a normal dinner hour.  Go earlier or later – like around 1 or as late as 8 – and your options open up to include places like the Captain’s Grille, Jiko, Boma, and even the character dinner at 1900 Park Fare.

2014 Walt Disney World Thanksgiving Rooms Are Available

Although DVC rooms were a bit scarce, I was surprised to find resort options available in every category.  Everything from the All Stars to the Beach Club had rooms available, even at this late date.  Shades of Green is booked through Friday, but if you want to do a shorter weekend, after turkey dinner at home, you can still find room after Friday at Shades of Green.

2014 Walt Disney World Thanksgiving Roms - Shades of Green entrance

What can you expect at Walt Disney World on Thanksgiving in terms of crowds?  Let me put it as simply as I can – you’ll find crowds.  Make your FastPass+ reservations as soon as you have your tickets booked, and plan to be at rope drop to take advantage of attractions before the bulk of the crowds begin to turn up.  If you were lucky enough to snag a dining reservation in a theme park, get there early and plan to stay.  The parks can close due to capacity on the busiest days – which are likely to be Thursday and Friday.

Walt Disney World Thanksgiving Fun - check out the Disney's Grand Floridian Life Sized Gingerbread House

If nothing else, grab a turkey leg at the park and enjoy a tour of the resorts.  Everything will be decorated for the Christmas holidays by the time you arrive for Thanksgiving, and it’s always so much fun to see the decorations at each of the resorts.

Walt Disney World Thanksgiving starts the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Thanksgiving at Walt Disney World can be busy, but if you haven’t thought about going until now, you still have options.  But delay no more.  Book today and leave those dust bunnies until next year.


Review – Black Jesus on Adult Swim

Let’s start by saying, I am not a fan of adult swim.  I haven’t found any program on there that shares my sense of humor.  I won’t say I have a very refined humor palate, but I have progressed past funny farts and penis puns.  I could not even tell you what number channel I would need to tune in to watch Adult Swim.

It is purely through my husband that I even know Black Jesus exists.  He is a huge fan of the show, laughing hysterically about jokes involving the pot smoking Savior and the antics of his “disciples”.  The real reason Black Jesus caught my attention, however, is that there are so many religious groups decrying the existence of this program, peddling petitions to get it pulled from the air.

I gotta ask – why?

Slick Johnson

Black Jesus brings the Lord to LA – a present day version of what Jesus would be like living in Compton.  Much like the original Jesus, this one hangs out with people of questionable persuasion – drug dealers, prostitutes, gang members.  But the message of Black Jesus, although delivered somewhat tongue in cheek, is the same one Jesus brought the first time around – peace and love.

Jesus can’t give you the lottery numbers, because life is about more than material possessions.  He helps the atheists and Christian non-believers in the same way he helps the people that follow him.  He throws in the faces of his followers that he died for our sins – even though they are taking a “what have you done for me lately” attitude.

So what is there to protest?  Is it the fact that Black Jesus can turn water into wine, or do you have a problem with the fact that the people imbibing are not the wedding goers in Canaan?  Could any of these groups have given the show the benefit of at least a few episodes?  The protests kicked off upon the release of the trailer for the show.


I’m not going to be a regular viewer, but again, this is not really my sense of humor.  I don’t find the religious nature in any way offensive – speaking as a Christian of the Catholic persuasion.  I think this is who Jesus would be if he were here today – someone who lived among the common people, performed miracles only when necessary, and living with a perpetual smile on his face – exuding peace and love.

Maybe the Christian Entertainment Alliance should take note of that.  It’s what Jesus would do.

Check out more about Black Jesus at http://www.adultswim.com/videos/black-jesus/ 

Fakesgiving – Food and Friends to be Thankful For

Back in the early 90s, living in Florida away from family was tough.  We couldn’t always take time off during the holidays, so we spent quite a few Thanksgivings and Christmases by ourselves.

We invented Fakesgiving as a way to celebrate when we had family or friends with us.  My dad and stepmom came down one year a month before Thanksgiving, and I was so excited to have the visit, we made Thanksgiving dinner.  We coined the term Fakesgiving, and have been doing it ever since.

Through the years, some recipes have been really successful.  Others, not so much.  We’ve had guests bring things that I can’t imagine not having on the table, even when those guests can’t be with us.  Below are some of the recipes that are always repeat guests o the table.  If you don’t see one you think you’d like, let me know.  I also do sweet potatoes with pecan topping, kielbasa and sauerkraut, stuffed mushrooms, and more!

broccoli casserole

Broccoli Casserole

  • 1 pound broccoli, cut into pieces (or one bag frozen – which is way easier)
  • 1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar
  • 1 stick (1/4 lb.) salted butter, cut into pieces
  • Pepper
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed (1/3 of a 12 oz. box)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mist a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Steam broccoli until crisp-tender, 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water.
  3. Mix soup, eggs, mayonnaise, cheese, butter and pepper in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and combined.
  4. Drain broccoli; spread evenly in baking dish. Pour cheese mixture on top. Sprinkle with crackers. Bake for 30 minutes.

creamed corn

Crockpot Creamed Corn

  • 3 bags (12 oz each) Green Giant™ Steamers™ Niblets® frozen whole kernel corn
  • 4 packages (3 oz each) cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  •  Spread corn over bottom of 3- to 4-quart slow cooker. Top with cream cheese cubes.
  • In small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients; pour over corn and cream cheese.Cover; cook on High heat setting 2 to 3 hours.
  • Stir well before serving. Corn will hold on Low heat setting up to 2 hours; stir occasionally.

sausage stuffing

Sausage Stuffing

  • 1 pound mild or sage breakfast sausage
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) butter
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped celery
  • 10 cups cubed French bread or white bread
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried leaf sage, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups chicken broth

Lightly butter a 9×13-inch baking dish. Heat oven to 350°.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage, breaking up and stirring frequently, until sausage is no longer pink. Use the same skillet and melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the bread cubes with the herbs and seasonings. Add the vegetables with the butter and the drained sausage. Stir in chicken broth until well moistened, but not mushy. Pack gently into the prepared baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and broil for about 3 to 4 minutes, or just until browned on top.

Sputnik Anniversary – Opportunity to Get Your Kids Interested in STEM

Who doesn’t love a good space story?  Today, October 4th, is the anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, which was launched in 1957 by the Soviet Union.  As schools begin a push to bring interest to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) back to the classroom, anniversaries like this are great opportunities to bring your kids to explore more about the various aspects of international space programs, to see the impact they’ve had through the years.

Here are a list of a few popular options:

National Air and Space Museum – Washington, DC:  This museum has exhibits that include applications satellites and an amazing peek into the Apollo space program and trip to the moon.  You’ll see artifacts, film clips, and other awesome information about our space program.

space post

NASA Ames Visitor’s Center – Mountain View, CA:  Featuring an immersive theater and a shuttle cockpit simulator, this visitor’s center takes you behind the scenes in a way only NASA can do.  The Ames Research Center has been involved in many crucial spacecraft missions, and they have much to show and much to teach.  Groups of 10 or more will need to contact the Center for a reservation.

Kennedy Space Center – Merritt Island, FL:  Home to the space shuttle Atlantis, you can have lunch with a real live astronaut, enjoy an IMAX movie (which currently shows you what the Hubble Telescope sees), visit the moving astronaut memorial, and see the largest rocket ever made.  Just a short ride from the Walt Disney World resort, and well worth the visit for your pint sized rocketeers.

space post 2


Halloween Horror Nights or Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party?

Halloween Horror Nights or Mickey's Not-So-Scary

When the leaves begin to change and the air has a bit of a chill, I know it’s time to start thinking about heading to Orlando to celebrate Halloween.  For our family, it’s almost always been Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.  I love the family friendly entertainment, and I hate being scared – and not just because I have bladder issues.

Before you decide which is the better option for your family, take a look at the comparison:

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

  • Great for all ages:  Disney does “not so scary” better than anyone.  The decorations are happy and fall-ish, and the shows, parades, and characters all echo the not so scary theme.  You’ll find all of your favorite attractions open, and the added bonus of trick or treat stations – candy for everyone!
  • Everyone can wear a costume – just be aware that the costumes can’t be offensive, violent, or obstructive.  Keep the full face masks at home, too.
  • Trick or Treating is welcome and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party even provides bags for the kids and the adults.
  • Cost for adults is $67 – $71, depending on the date you choose.  The price is for the party only – and you will need a separate ticket if you are going to spend the day at the Magic Kingdom.  The Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party begins at 7 and goes until midnight, however, you can enter the Magic Kingdom beginning around 4 PM with your party ticket.
  • Definitely book your ticket in advance.  Dates closer to Halloween can sell out, as can nights that offer special discounts for DVC members or members of the military. (as of this writing – October 1st – Halloween is already sold out)
  • https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/magic-kingdom/mickeys-not-so-scary-halloween-party/

Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

  • Definitely not recommended for young guests.  This is a pretty intense experience, with interactive components designed to make you pee your pants. They call it Halloween Horror Nights for good reasons.
  • Guest absolutely cannot wear costumes.  I think they take great pleasure in knowing they’ve caused you to pee your pants, and they don’t want you to hide that behind a costume.  Or it’s for everyone’s safety.  Or something.
  • No trick or treating.  Boo.
  • Cost – well, here’s where it gets complicated.  Halloween Horror Nights has a variety of ticket options.  The cheapest, which will set you back about $42, is an add on ticket.  You pay for a day at Universal Studios, and you can add the evening at Halloween Horror Nights on for $42 more.  If you have a condition that causes you to spend your day sleeping in a coffin, coming out only after sunset, the ticket for the party by itself is $96.  Then there are multi-day options available that can include as many as 22 nights at the party, PLUS an Express Pass.  That last option is in the $250 ballpark.
  • The party begins at 6:30, and the ending time depends on the night you go – either midnight, 1 AM or 2 AM.  You’ll find the longer parties closer to Halloween.
  • http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando/

The choice is yours – cute characters (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party) or creepy creatures – *Halloween Horror Nights).  Candy or killing (not the real kind).  Either way, these are two great Halloween options in Orlando.