Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

March 21, 2015

Easy Homemade Stromboli

I've got an easy dinner recipe for you!

The other day I was planning meals for the week, and I mentioned to Hubby that I was thinking of doing my usual Grilled Pizza. He was up for it but seemed underwhelmed. So I took that as a challenge to think out of the box with the ingredients I had on hand to make the pizza. What could I make with mozzarella cheese, leftover Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken and pizza dough?

Well, you can make stromboli.

I instantly fell in love with the idea. I've tried making pizza in the oven, and I have found the crust often doesn't cook evenly. And since it was cold that day, I didn't mind the excuse not to grill pizza outside. So why not an inside-out type of pizza?

I got to work, making a plain Chicken and Cheese Stromboli for the kids and a Buffalo Chicken Stromboli for the grownups.

The result was an overwhelming two thumbs up!

I love, too, that this is a recipe you can easily customize. Add ham and swiss to the chicken for Chicken Cordon Bleu Stromboli. Or, instead of shredded chicken, get Italian deli meats to make and Italian Hoagie Stromboli. Broccoli and Cheddar Stromboli would be fantastic. And - wait for it - Mac and Cheese Stromboli! YES!

The possibilities are endless!

Here is the basic recipe to get you started.

Yields: 2 Strombolis

  • 1 lb of pizza dough (either homemade or in the deli section of your grocery store)
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 lb of Slowcooker Shredded Chicken
  • Marinara sauce, for dipping
  • Optional: 1/4 cup of hot sauce or Buffalo Wing sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Flour the dough ball and split it evenly into 2. Take one of the dough halves and rolls it on a floured surface into a rough oval shape. Roll it as wide and thin as possible without tearing it. 

In a bowl, mix half of the shredded chicken (about 2-3 cups) with 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (feel free to use more cheese if you like it cheesy!).  If you are making Buffalo Chicken Stromboli, add the hot sauce here.

Place the the chicken in the center of the dough the length of the oval.

Roll it, length-wise to close the stromboli (you could also just bring the sides together if it is very full). 

Pinch the ends.

Repeat with the second dough ball and the rest of 
the ingredients.

Bake both strombolis on greased cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is firm and golden brown.

Cut into pieces and enjoy with a side of marinara for dipping!

What fillings are YOU excited to try?

February 28, 2015

Donations to the A.I DuPont Children's Hospital Cardiac Unit

It occurred to me recently that I've known my best friend for over 25 years. I was out on a run and letting my thoughts wander, and it struck me that apart from my family, Brie has known me longer than anyone else I know (including Hubby). We met in first grade and went on to endure middle school,  thrive in high school and visit each other at college (despite the fact she was 6 hours away from me). We were the maid/matron-of-honor in each other's weddings and have been having play dates (almost) every week for as long as our kids have been born.

It is rare to have a friendship so wide and deep. We have truly walked through life together. She is family to me, as are her husband and kids.

Meet Gioia.

I love her.

Gioia is Brie's 3 year old daughter. She is spunky and hilarious and creative and awesome. She may not *technically* be my child, but she's family to me and I love her to pieces.

So when Brie called me after taking Gioia to routine doctor's appointment to tell me they had heard a heart murmer in her daughter, Gioia, I was concerned. And when she had the follow-up appointment with the cardiologist (which was meant to rule out anything serious), I waited for the outcome. Then, while holding back tears, she shared that doctors had found congenital heart defects that would require open-heart surgery within the month.

It was as though she had told me the news about my own child. 

As Brie and her family prepared for the invasive surgery (that did not come without substantial risks), we prepared alongside her. The day arrived, and we waited on pins and needles for any news. Thanks to the amazing doctors at A.I Dupont Children's Hospital, Gioia came out like a champ and has recovered beautifully. I love that our girl is her spritely, beautiful and HEALTHY self!

After their stay at DuPont, Brie became more aware of the needs of the patients and staff on the Cardiac Unit. Kids stay at DuPont for various lengths of time and for a variety of reasons. Some, like Gioia, have surgery and recover over the course of 1-2 weeks. Others essentially live on the unit while they wait for a transplant. For many, it is their home away from home for sometimes a long period of time. Here they need to be entertained as well as educated. They are always looking fun things to do with the kids or just a small note or token to show that someone cares.

Gioia has a follow-up appointment this week, and as a way of giving back, Brie will be bringing donations to both the patients and staff on the unit. 

Would you like to give back to the local community and spread some love to kids at DuPont?

Here are some donation ideas:

- Make Get Well cards with your kids.

- Crafts

  • crayons
  • colored pencils
  • notebooks
  • stickers
  • coloring books
  • stencils
  • glue sticks
  • construction paper
  • foam paper

- Books (for young toddlers through elementary-aged children)

- Socks

- Bake homemade cookies or buy boxed pastries to treat the hardworking nurses and staff on the  unit

While the gesture is appreciated, we are unable to take stuffed animals at this time.

Crafts and books are perfect for kids to use their imagination, and the staff truly deserve some tasty treats! Best of all, homemade get well cards are a great way to get your kids involved (and the kids receiving them will know they are thought about and loved).

Will you join me?

I will be available to pick up donations at the following location :

WEDNESDAY: West Chester (in the back of the McDonald's Parking lot on Gay Street at 12pm-12:30pm)

If I get comments or feedback that we need more options or more locations, I will add a Kennett Square and/or Phoenixville location on either Tuesday morning or Wednesday afternoon. Please leave a comment if you would be better served by one of this locations (and let me know which one)

Thank you for your generosity!

February 12, 2015

Fifty Shades of I Don't Get It

I don't get it.

The whole Fifty Shades of Grey hype.

I just don't get it.

Let me start at the beginning.

I remember back to when the books first came out. Right on the tails of the Twilight series, I was intrigued by yet another love saga. (I am easily suckered into a good love story, despite myself). And I heard all about this Fifty Shades plot. And I was kind of like, "huh?" I mentioned to a few of my friends who had read the book that I didn't quite get the intrigue. 

And their response to me was, "Steph. You really have to read it to get it."

I thought about it. I mean, tons of women are just rapt by this series. So how bad could it be? Yet, I couldn't commit to it. I'd gotten some tidbits into the trilogy. And the whole BSDM thing, Christian Grey's "I call the shots" persona and, especially, the various conditions he puts on the main character, Ana, bugged me. 

So I vowed to myself that I wouldn't actually read the books. 

But to build an informed opinion, I did read various excerpts on Amazon. (Which are, surprisingly, quite lengthy).



Now first let me say, everyone has their thing. The little treats they allow themselves, the little perk they look forward to each day. Bad reality television. Gratutious romance novels. A jar of chocolate hazelnut spread. We all have our thing. 

So I'm not here to judge those who have read the Fifty Shades series. I'm not here to judge the people who got swept up in the story, who fell in love with Christian Grey.

But friends?

I was not impressed with what I read.

My initial reservations were very much confirmed. I disliked the objectification of Ana by Christian, and how she was portrayed as so innocent and helpless. Sure, her character may have grown and developed over time, which I also understand happens to Ana and Christian's relationship. 

But I think a balk a bit at the weak woman/strong man scenario. My husband taught me a lot through our 8 years of marriage. But, most especially, that I am strong, that we are equals. And I appreciate that. Yet, in a culture where women are still struggling to be seen as equal, as strong, I am conflicted over characters that only perpetuate that stigma. 

And the conditions that Christian Grey attempts to put on Ana. Puh-lese. If I met a guy, however mysterious, intriguing, powerful and good-looking he may be, that tried to tell me that if I wanted to be with him, I had to agree to a rigorous schedule for eating, exercise and personal grooming? He'd have another thing coming to him. And, no, there would be no second date.

I don't really care about who Christian Grey was and who he becomes. I don't care that he's damaged or sexy or strong or interested in me. All of these things should be red flags to anyone considering a relationship. And if he starts to track your phone and whereabouts? Please call the police.

But above all of the issues I have taken with the various aspects of the Fifty Shades series, it is the writing that made me cringe the most.  


The writing. Of all the uncomfortable things I encountered in those excerpts, by far it was the writing that was most painful. Poorly constructed sentences, wrought with editorial errors. Lame dialogue (how many times can someone say, "Holy crap!" to describe an emotion?), and a middle-schooler level of handling the intimate subject of sex.

I hesitate to describe myself as a writer. But I write. I guess. And I am sure there are many of you who pick up on my various contextual errors, cringing at my attempts to weave a story and describe my thoughts and feelings. We all have room to grow as writers. 

But I'm also not trying to publish an erotica series.

(Yet, anyway.)

And, so it goes, bad books that have a cult following get their time on the big screen. Over the past few weeks, the interwebs have been abuzz with the upcoming premiere of E L James' first book-turned-movie. I've seen the trailer. And I'm sure theaters will be packed with giggling, on-edge women. 

But I won't be there.

Because I think we as women, as writers, can do  a whole lot better.

I'm all about letting people do their thing, and I'm not here to judge. I don't care if there are women out there who like these books, who go to see this movie. And in a healthy relationship, if the kinky stuff is your thing and everyone is happy and respected? Go for it.

I just see so many women buying into this brand of "sexy." But this brand of sexy isn't so sexy at all. It is a weak, helpless woman and a controlling, damaged (abusive?) man. The story of women, the legacy we pass down to our daughters, is important to me.  I don't want to continue to perpetuate this brand of sexy, this brand of woman, in our culture. I'd like to rewrite the story of women as strong, respected, equals.

And that is sexy.

So on this Valentine's Day, I'll be grabbing taking out with Hubby from our favorite asian restaurant. We'll probably watch some Game of Thrones episodes, since I'm trying to catch up before the new season begins. Maybe we'll get randy. Maybe we'll fall asleep at 10pm.

But I know, no matter how we spend our time, we do so as equals.

We do so with respect.

And we do so grammatically pure.

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