Category Archives: Recipe

PJ’s Pantry and More Fun Stuff

Hey Scriblings,

It feels like ages since I’ve posted here. I missed last month entirely! That’s because I’ve been working diligently on finishing my non-fiction book, OVERCOME your SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE (A Practical Guide to Improving Health, Fitness, and Well-being for Desk Dwellers and Couch Potatoes). I’m finally done with the first draft and working on revisions…yayyy! The book should be available for preorder in November and will release in January, 2016. PJSharon_OvercomeYourSedentaryLifestyle_eCover_800[1]Although writing non-fiction is easier in some ways than novel writing, it still requires a tremendous amount of research to get the facts straight. After all, I’m not just making it up as I go along and people are counting on me to get it right.

Another hold up was that I had written several sections and then decided afterwards that they weren’t quite right for this particular book. One such section was a chapter at the end of the book I was going to call PJ’s Pantry, listing all the healthy foods I stock in my pantry, fridge, and freezer. But once I started researching all of these “healthy” foods, I was shocked–and more than a little disappointed–that some of them were not as healthy as I had thought. With “hidden” chemicals and unhealthy additives, my list quickly grew shorter and shorter! In good conscience, I couldn’t put them in the book without adding all the research I’d done as well.

Since information about which foods are healthy and which are not seems to change daily, I decided instead, to put PJ’s Pantry on my website rather than have it in the book where it would be more difficult to update and change as new information arose. Feel free to stop by and check it out. I’m sure you’ll find some helpful tips on stocking a “healthy” pantry and you may find some interesting tidbits on foods you thought were good for you, and why they may not be.

Eat your heart out, Headless Horseman!
Eat your heart out, Headless Horseman!

In other fun news, I’ll be signing books at the Granville Harvest Fair again this year. If you’re in the New England area and looking for a fun place to hang out with the kids Columbus Day weekend, I hope you’ll stop by. There will be the usual yummy food vendors, pies, crafts, face painting and scarecrow contest, as well as the magnificent quilt display at the old meeting house. And you’ll definitely want to visit the Noble and Cooley Drum factory museum, built in 1854 and still making drums for today’s musicians. I’ll be down next to the library where they’ll be having a huge book sale (all the books you can fit into a bag for $5). You can swing by my tent and grab a book mark and say hi on your way out, LOL. We had wonderful weather last year, so hopefully the sunshine and warmth will be in our favor again.

I’ll leave you all with one of my favorite smoothie recipes.

Green Choco Monkey Smoothie

Inspired by my addiction to the Coco Monkey Smoothie from the Granby Village Health Food Store in Granby, CT., I’ve adapted their recipe and added a few twists.Choco monkey smoothie


1 cup Silk Chocolate Almond Milk

1 tbsp. Almond butter (or organic peanut butter)

1 frozen banana (peeled and cut into pieces)

1 scoop Green’s Organics Superfood (Amazonian Chocolate) powder. (According to the label, 1 scoop has the nutrients equal to 7 servings of fruits and veggies!)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

(I also add a tsp. of Maca powder for an extra energy burst)


Blend all ingredients on high (Smoothie setting on Blendtec) for 45-60 seconds until smooth. Drink and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe you’d care to share?

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

Suze here, wishing you the happiest of St. Patrick’s Days.  Am I Irish? Yup. Some of the names in my family tree are Higgins, McBath, Kearns, and Morrison.  But of course it doesn’t really matter. No matter your background, St. Patrick’s Day is about celebrating with the ones you love–even if it means drinking green beer!

Beltany Stone Circle, photo courtesy of
Beltany Stone Circle, photo courtesy of

So today, in honor of Ireland’s most famous little round thing that grows underground, I thought I’d share a recipe with you. Enjoy!

Suze’s Mashed Potatoes

  • 6 Medium Size Potatoes–My favorite is Yukon Gold, and yes, the type of potato really does make a difference. You want a waxy potato, not a baking potato like a russet.
  • 1/4 to 1/2  cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or cream cheese (lite versions are fine, but don’t use the fat free stuff–yuck!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and quarter potatoes, rinse with cold water, and place in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Cover with fresh cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until fork tender. This will probably take around twenty minutes, but keep checking them. Drain the potatoes immediately–don’t leave them sitting in the hot water or they’ll turn to mush.

Return potatoes to hot saucepan (off the heat). Mash the potatoes with your favorite mashing tool, then add the remaining ingredients, starting with 1/4 cup of milk that you’ve warmed in the microwave along with the butter. Mash everything together, adding more warm milk if necessary to make a creamy consistency.  Taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Serve hot with more butter and gravy if you have it. This ain’t lo-cal. Get over it, LOL!


  • Add a cup of grated cheddar cheese during the hot mashing process
  • Sprinkle cooked potatoes with crumbled bacon and chopped scallions (Bacon? Did somebody say bacon?)
  • Drain a can of corn and mix into potatoes along with ground beef or turkey that has been browned with some finely chopped onion and drained. Place mixture into a casserole dish, cover with shredded cheese, and bake at 350 until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Leftover potatoes? Place in a saucepan the next day and stir in chicken broth until your desired soup consistency is reached. Season with a bit of thyme and some more freshly ground pepper.

How will you be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? I’ll leave you with a classic Irish Blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields  and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

And may you all find your pots of gold!

Casey’s Pasta Fagioli

Happy Friday all! Casey here. Sadly, I don’t have a lot of time today – book to finish and all that –  so I decided to share a family recipe – Pasta Fagioli.

Italian for “beans and pasta”, this dish is great on a cold winter night. Contrary to what The Olive Garden restaurant servers tell customers – Pasta Fagioli is NOT Italian chili. Traditionally, there’s no meat in this dish!!

This recipe can be doubled (use 2 bags of beans and 2 cans diced tomatoes) or even halved. I have to double it because Older Son devours it.

What? No meat. The cat does not approve.

I don’t soak the beans for hours ahead. It’s not necessary. You can if you want, but I don’t bother.


1 bag white beans (I use navy beans or whatever small white beans my grocery store carries). Remember to check for small stones.

4 or 5 cloves of garlic (or to taste)

3 or 4 celery stalks cut in large chunks (0r to taste)

1 – 14 oz can diced Italian seasoned diced tomatos

1 – 14 oz can of tomato sauce (NOT jar sauce)

1 lb box of ditalini


Olive oil, salt and pepper

Prepare as follows:

1. Dump the beans, tomatoes, sauce, celery, and garlic  into a large sauce pot. (I toss in whole, peeled cloves because I don’t like it and it makes it easier to pick out!)

2. Fill pot with water until near the top. Heat to a boil.

photo (2)3. Cover and simmer on low heat for 2 – 3 hours or until beans are soft.

4. At this point, I add half the box of pasta (save the rest for something else). Watch the water level so the pasta doesn’t suck all the water out of the soup. Add more if needed. If you want to cook the whole box, do it in a separate pot.

5. Final step – pour in a glurg or two (that’s a technical term) of Olive oil and then add salt and pepper to taste. I follow my Grandmother’s advice, adding oil too soon will make the beans tough. I don’t know if that’s true but boiling for hours doesn’t do the oil any favors.

Serve warm with crusty bread. Yummy.

Leftover can be re-heated, if you added pasta in step 4, then you will need to add more water and/or tomato sauce.


Friday Favorites – There’s Beer in my Bread!

Welcome friends! Casey here!

I never thought I’d be typing these words – the first draft of Mystic Hero is finished! It’s not IMG_1187pretty, but it’s done and will be heading to my beta readers shortly. Whew! Just in time for NaNo (which I usually unofficially participate in), so I can finish my other manuscript – Lachlan’s Curse.

To celebrate, I’m sharing a recipe I recently re-discovered. When I was a teen, my mother used to whip up a loaf of beer bread and, man, was it delicious. And super simple to make. After my sons were born, I made it a time or two (using non-alcoholic beer) then I kind of forgot about it.

I’m not sure what triggered the desire for beer bread. Maybe it was the stew I was making at the time. After a quick search of the internet, I managed to find one that replicated my mother’s recipe at Food.Com. If this one doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are dozens of variations out there in cyberspace.

A note about flour. This recipe uses either all-purpose flour or self-rising. If you use self-rising, omit the baking powder and salt.

Also, I don’t actually sift my flour (you can if you want to). Instead, I stir it first (in the bag), then scoop it into the measuring cup and gently level it off. This is the proper way to measure flour.  Never tap the measuring cup against the counter or scoop flour directly from the bag using the measuring cup. If you do this, your baked goods will resemble a dense brick. Don’t say I didn’t warn you first!


Classic Beer Bread:


3 cups flour (see note above about proper scooping) OR self-rising flour

3 tsp baking powder (skip it if you use self-rising flour)

1 tsp salt  (skip it if you use self-rising flour)

1/4 cup of sugar

1 – 12 oz of beer (I used Sam Adams because that is what hubby had stashed in the cellar. If you don’t want a strong beer taste try something paler)

1/4 to a few tablespoons melted butter (Mom never used butter so you can skip it. But try it. You might like it).

Oven temp: 375 degrees

Grease the bottom of a 9″ loaf pan.

1. Combine all the dry ingredients with the beer.

2. Put in the loaf pan. (I’ve heard of people mixing ingredients right in the pan, but I don’t see how without making a big mess).

3. If using melted butter, pour over the top (this will make the crust crispy).

4. Bake 1 hour. Remove from pan and cool about 10-15 minutes. Try not to skip the cooling step. Otherwise the bread will fall apart when cutting (Not that it stops my husband or older son!)


Anyone else love beer bread? Have any variations to share or other simple bread recipes?

Fun With Ground Beef

TGIF!! Casey here.

IMG_3320Today, I’m poking my head out of the writer’s cave to share a quick, easy recipe that I call Casey’s Taco Beef Melt. This is one of those recipes that I just threw together using things I had already had on hand and, added bonus, it cooks quickly without heating up the house too much.

Feel free to substitute chicken (or other meat) for the ground beef or use only beans, or use tortilla chips instead of Doritos. Also, this can be used as topping on a salad or rolled into a soft tortilla.


  • 1 – 2 lbs ground beef (I used two because I have hungry men to feed)
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 – 2 packages low sodium taco seasoning (if you use 1 pound of beef, use 1 package)
  • Water – according to seasoning packages.
  • Doritos (about 1/3 of an 11 ounce bag)
  • 1- 2 cups shredded  cheddar cheese of your choice

1. In a skillet, brown beef (or meat of your choice). Drain excess fat once browned.

2. Add beans, then taco seasoning and water.


3. Once the seasoning is thickened, crush up chips and place over top until covered.


4. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the tops of the chips. Cover with lid until chees melts.



Please share your favorite “go to” summer foods!