I’ve been taking a look at my diet lately, as I am wont to do at this time of year. I’ve been feeling heavy, foggy, generally grumpy. And like always when I do this, even though I try to be pretty good about what I eat, I’m legit shocked by the amount of sodium in my diet. Measurable sodium— we’re not even talking about what comes out of the shaker when I’m cooking.

Sodium is in just about everything, and in heaping amounts when it comes to processed or restaurant foods. That’s one of several very compelling reasons to start a diet overhaul by committing to preparing all of your own food at home.

90% of Americans are overdoing it on the sodium, by a lot: the recommendation is that we take in less than 2,300 milligrams (about a teaspoon of salt) per day, and we’re averaging about 3,400 mg daily. Kids, in particular, are susceptible to high sodium levels because of their near universal love of certain foods:

pizza, esp with meat toppings
bread and rolls
chicken nuggets
canned anything
chips and crackers

Most adults probably eat too many of those, too.


eating pizza

Mmm, pizza


Too much sodium can lead to increased blood pressure, which in turn increases your risk for heart disease and stroke: two of the leading causes of death in this country (heart disease is #1).

BUT, not getting enough sodium carries its own health risks, so don’t worry about cutting it out completely.


Best practices for healthy sodium levels:

  • get out of the habit of using table salt entirely
  • use salt sparingly while cooking; save it for those foods that really need it for flavor
  • cut our processed foods as much as possible
  • up your potassium intake by eating lots of leafy green vegetables, orange vegetables, bananas and citrus fruits. Potassium helps your body release sodium.


Here’s some tasty inspiration for your newly-formed resolve to reduce sodium intake! They’re also meat-free (technically, depending on where you stand on seafood as a meat) so possibilities for Meatless Monday menus.

These two recipes were created by the Executive Chef at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa, Anthony Stewart.


Two No Sodium Recipes to Try


no sodium recipes



Serves 4

  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 4 four-ounce salmon fillets

Pre-heat grill to medium-high heat.

Bring quinoa and 1-1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, and cover and simmer until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.

While quinoa is simmering, pour balsamic vinegar and blueberries into a small saucepan. Bring to boil on the stove. Reduce heat and stir regularly under mixture is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

To grill salmon, place your fillets on grill rack lighted misted with oil spray, and directly over coals. Grill, uncovered, for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness, or until fish begins to flake when tested with a fork. Turn the fish once halfway through grilling.

If your fillets still have skin, remove the skin after grilling.

On 4 individual plates, divide quinoa. Top with salmon. Top salmon with blueberry sauce. Garnish each plate, if desired, with a few fresh blueberries.

no sodium recipes


Serves 4 to 6

  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice (or more, if desired)
  • ½ seedless cucumber, chopped (optional)

Bring quinoa and 1-1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, and cover and simmer until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Let cool.

In a medium bowl, combine quinoa, carrots, garlic, and onion.

Add oregano, mint, and orange juice.

Add cucumber, if desired.

Toss to combine.


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chicken wingsphoto: Depositphoto


I somehow managed to make it until I was about 30 years old without ever eating a buffalo wing.

Yeah, I KNOW.

Fried chicken, yes. We lived around the corner from a KFC/Taco Bell combo restaurant for years (we never ate there, once you’ve been subjected to the smell on a humid August morning on trash day you never want Taco Bell again). And around the corner from there stood a Walt’s Flavor Crisp, which is without doubt the best fried chicken you can get locally. Walt’s is the only thing I miss about living in the city.

Anyway. We ate fast food pretty much never when I was a kid, wings were not in my mom’s wheelhouse I guess, and I just never ordered wings while eating out.

I was introduced to Buffalo Wild Wings and my culinary world got rocked. Then I tried the wings at the diner at our beach (Chicken or the Egg; their Ludacris wings were a Man Vs Food challenge:

Wings are now one of my go-to comfort foods, surpassed only by my love of a cheesesteak.


This is literally all I can think of when I’m driving home with a bag full of wings.


Anyway. We were out at the grocery store and I happened to see this:



Sweet Baby Ray’s is one of our favorite BBQ sauces, and once I saw that jar I was craving some wings.

Tommy Boy was doing his chant in my head, wings were on sale, I knew we had a ton of vegetable oil in the pantry from a fairly recent Costco run, and lo it was decided we were going to try our hand at making our own.

This is one of those recipes that seems ridiculous to post if you already know how to do it, but I’d only really seen buffalo wings made start-to-finish once and I wasn’t paying close attention. I can’t be the only one who had to look it up, so that’s why I’m sharing.

We have a Presto ProFry deep fryer that my brother lent us, but you can also fry in a deep pot or wok on the stovetop (which is how my mom made eggrolls). It’ll take longer since you’ll be working in smaller batches.

To make life easier and safer I also recommend a spider and a good set of tongs, plus large (gallon size) Ziploc bags will minimize cleanup.

Anywho, the steps are simple.


Easy Homemade Deep Fried Buffalo Wings

Makes enough for our family of 5 wing lovers


  • 36 chicken wings (Costco is an amazing deal on these, this recipe uses half the package)
  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • you can add 1/4 tsp of salt and some pepper if you want. I never add salt to recipes
  • 3/4 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s Wing Sauce, another brand’s wing sauce OR 3/4 cup of a hot sauce like Frank’s + 3/4 cup of melted butter
  • vegetable oil for the fryer— again, Costco is a great deal. Save your container to keep your oil in for next time!

deep fryer safety


Hot oil splatters and it hurts. Here, Jeff is illustrating ideal deep fryer safety.

  • deep fryer all alone on the counter with nothing touching it
  • shoes
  • apron (if you get grease on your clothes it will stain, and become a hazard in the dryer)
  • oven mitt
  • Mexican wrestling mask optional.

If wings are frozen, they’ll need to be thawed and patted dry before starting.

1. Combine your flour, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder and optional salt & pepper in a large dish or Ziploc bag. Add wings in batches and roll or shake until covered.


floured wings


2. Throw container/Ziploc bag full of floured wings into freezer for 15 minutes or so, it helps the breading stick while frying.

3. A deep fryer will have a minimum and maximum line on the inside; add enough vegetable oil to hit the minimum and heat to 375°. If using a pot you’ll want it a few inches deep for this quantity and ideally you should confirm the temperature with a cooking thermometer (make sure yours is safe to use at this temperature).

4. Put some wings into deep fryer basket (or spider if using stovetop pot) and lower gently into oil. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until wing extremities are turning dark.

5. Pour your wing sauce or hot sauce/butter combo into a clean container with a lid OR your Ziploc bag.

6. Drain cooked wings on some paper towels for a minute— don’t let them cool too much— then transfer with tongs to the container/Ziploc bag. Seal, then shake until wings are covered in sauce.



Cass doesn’t do hot/spicy, at all, so we mixed some melted butter with garlic parmesan pasta sauce for her wing sauce.


Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing (Marie’s is my favorite, lots of cheesy chunks) and some cut up celery, carrots, or really any raw veggies. I also recommend beer 🙂


filtering oil for reuse deep fryer


You can save the oil for another day by first skimming off any solid yuck with your spider, then fine filtering through a colander, strainer or funnel lined with paper towels. It will take a while, so budget your time accordingly. If filtering stalls, completely change to new paper towels. Stop when you get to the layer of flour at the bottom. Refrigerate oil until next deep fry day. (This article gives a solid breakdown of how many times you can reuse your deep fryer oil and why.)

Wings go for 75 cents per or more at this quantity at restaurants; our cost was about 40 cents per wing when including the cost of oil. When we reuse the oil that drops to 26 cents per wing; so let’s call it feeding five for about $12 if we load up on veggies too. Not terrible for a family fave.


Are you a wing fan? Who makes your favorite?




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I signed up for a 30 day paleo challenge at our CrossFit box. My normal diet is, overall, pretty good, but I figured I could stand to be disciplined for a month and see how it changed my energy levels and strength/endurance during workouts.

It was also a nudge to limit drinking to the weekends, and even then I’m sticking with wine.


Food rules for our paleo challenge:

YES: all lean meat, fish, seafood & eggs; all non-starchy seasonal vegetables; seasonal fruit

In moderation: healthy fats, nuts and seeds

NO: grains or cereals at all; legumes; dairy; processed foods; sugars or artificial sweeteners

Alcohol is allowed but at a minimum amount.



  • Clean week: 5 points per week. One unauthorized cheat meal: 3 points. More than one unauthorized cheat meal: 0 points for the week.
  • We completed a test WOD which we will do again at the end; ostensibly to illustrate a proper diet improves overall performance. If we do better the second time around, 5 points. I’m actually a little concerned because I don’t think I could have done this any faster than I did (5:29).


  • Bringing a friend to “Bring a Friend Fridays” earns 3 more points (wanna go?)
  • If we post a pic on social media in Riverfront gear and hashtag #TheRiv #CfRiverfront we earn 3 easy points.

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

I pretty much live in Riv gear.

  • Participating in Crossfit Riverfront get togethers or events earns 5 points and a coach-approved cheat meal.

At the end of the day, the scoring isn’t such a big deal; I have no idea where we stand compared to other teams. But you betcha I’ve been going and doing the challenge WODs to earn my cheat meals. They’ve been doozies, too. (The workouts, not the meals.)

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

One guy did the humans vs. zombies Halloween WOD in acid washed tight ass jeans. Respect. I haz it.

So far, I really miss cheese. Like, a lot. But I’m vaguely lactose intolerant, and frankly, I can feel the difference, not eating the cheese. I don’t get that icky-full feeling after meals. Depending on who you read, some iterations of the paleo diet allow some dairy, and I’ll probably add it back in after the challenge is over, but not at the quantities I used to eat it.

The first day of the paleo challenge was hard, simply because I didn’t prepare. Egg breakfast, OK, but no cheese on top? I had to make some ketchup from scratch because I can’t just eat eggs plain. And then, I had like no time for lunch but nothing quick to grab. I spent the night boiling eggs and chopping veggies and the rest of the week went much more easily.

The family is eating normally for the most part; what we’ve primarily done is simplified our meals, forego the very cheesy dishes and quick processed foods (we never ate a lot of those anyway), and some easy substitutions (coconut oil for butter or olive oil when sautéeing, coconut flour for regular flour, etc). Sauces and cheese is available for them on the side. I eat eggs and fruit for breakfast and leftovers or salad for lunch, for snacks I have hard boiled eggs, raw vegetables, honeycrisp apples or bananas.

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

Sample lunch. Salad, honeycrisp sliced thin, egg salad made with avocado rather than mayo.


One of our skill sessions this week was a 2K row. I took it nice and easy and didn’t have to stop at all— that’s unheard of for me— finishing in 9:06. In June, I was pretty proud of my 9:49.

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

Maverick and I came in first by a solid 30 seconds for this week’s paleo challenge (partner) WOD, at least for our timeslot (those 5:15 am people are a different breed and their scores were like a full minute faster). Given that I spent the early part of the week sidelined by a stomach bug, I’m feeling pretty smug about it.

The warmup was 50 burpees for time; I did it in 3:42 but can’t find my time from the last time I did it. I’m pretty sure it was a little over 4 minutes; the time before that was just under 5 minutes, pretty soon after we had started taking classes. I only mention it so I know for next time 😛

The workout was 50 kettlebell swings (we used 25s), 50 goblet squats (dropped to 20 and even so am feeling those today), 50 box jumps (I have to do mostly stepups because of my knees), 50 situps and 50 one-arm thrusters (we held on to the 25s for these).

The “partner” element was just that I had to wait for Mav to finish his 50 of any move before we could move on to the next one. He was only a few seconds behind each time, and I gave him some grief about a water break (“c’mon! You can’t drink water and jump on the box at the same time?!”) but I was pretty damn proud of the kid.

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

How’s that for an awkward photo?
I was trying to save Heather from having to touch my sweaty back.


Anyway, I’m curious to see how I’ll feel when I add dairy and grains back in at the end of 30 days; maybe I’ll decide it’s in my best interests to limit them.

But not pumpkin pie. I plan to eat my weight in pumpkin pie in two weeks’ time.

Paleo challenge eats so far:

  • Paleo pumpkin bread
  • Pot roast and baked potatoes (sweet potatoes for me). Simplest meal ever, lots of leftovers.
  • Steak kabobs with peppers, onion and grape tomatoes.
  • Roasted chicken: basted in coconut oil, rosemary, garlic and lime juice.
  • Fire roasted bacon meatloaf with roasted asparagus
  • Pan fried steaks. They had rice, I had leftover sweet potato.
  • Pork tenderloin with sautéed spinach
  • Slow cooker BBQ chicken breasts and thighs (we made this BBQ sauce; it tasted like a great pulled pork sauce. It needed something to make it more BBQ. Like something to make it smoky?) with roasted garlic broccoli. I ate a whole tray of broccoli and I felt no shame.
  • Stuffed peppers. We doubled the recipe, using both ground bison and venison sausage. It was pretty fantastic.
  • Breakfast for dinner. Eggs, bacon, whatever fruit and veg we had sitting around. We did this once each week.
  • and a couple of nights of “there’s a fridge full of leftovers, go eat something.”
  • I made ketchup, mustard and Worchestershire from this post’s paleo condiment recipes.
  • Most of those nights had some sort of salad involved.

My earned Halloween cheat was broccoli bites; this week we went to IHOP for Jake’s birthday and I had some crepes and a cheesesteak. And then I slept for 13 hours. That’s not related but it’s such a rarity I just want it on record.

I feel good. I’m sleeping better. I’ve had to miss a fair number of workouts since we started thanks to my work schedule, illness and having to shuttle Jake around to doctor’s appointments for his dislocated shoulder, but I feel like I’ve given my full effort each time— no having to take breaks because I was too tired, too fast. I think ahead about snacks and have healthy ones, rather than grabbing something to eat in the car on the way to class. And I’m definitely eating more than I used to, which is a good thing. I’m very guilty of being a meal skipper and then eating anything in my way.

So, two weeks in, paleo challenge verdict: not too hard, feeling good. Down 11 pounds, but take that with a grain of salt since I was sick for a couple of days.

Let’s see how I feel at the end of the month 🙂


Ever done a paleo/ Whole 30 challenge?


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So Cindy of Whatever Works is throwing a party. A virtual Progressive Party, where house #1 has the appetizers, house #2 has the salad, house #3 serves up the main course, and so on. It’s a potluck with GPS.

Only in this case the hosts are Philly-area bloggers, and the houses are blogs. You savvy?

I just wasn’t inspired to cook for a crowd (I’m difficult like that), so I volunteered to plate some hot tunes for you all. And as always I bring a heaping helping of bad humor to the party. Enjoy.

(Song titles are in bold. Progressive Party recipe links are after the story. Scroll to the end and hit play to listen to the entire playlist.)




All I Wanna Do is have some fun. So let’s Get The Party Started!

In my mind, this is how the party would go down for me and Jeff:

We’ve prepped for this party by skipping lunch- we’ve got the Appetite Blues. We descend onto the first houses and tear through the appetizers; the awkward conversation we make doesn’t disguise that we’re Hungry Like the Wolf.

Appetizers take the edge off, and we move on to salads like civilized folks. Forks and knives and napkins and polite conversation, y’all. Or in my case, awkward conversation. We munch our Vegetables nestled in their beds of lettuce and I mention to some random person how Every I Time I Eat Vegetables It Makes Me Think Of You.

On a hot summer’s night there’s nothing like a cold beverage to wash down good food and assuage the socially awkward fear of making more stupid observations out loud, so as we hit up houses serving before dinner apértifs some of us may seek out the hard liquor. Hey, liquor before beer, never fear, amiright?

Soon enough the pours and the conversation are flowing like Red Red Wine. First there’s a Champagne Supernova, then choices of Gin & Juice or Tequila. No one touches the Funky Cold Medina… yet. Look at what grownups we are.

I throw back One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer for the road. (Don’t worry. My darling husband is my designated driver as usual, and sticks to Orange Crush.)

Now, When I Drink, I fancy myself quite the conversationalist. The anecdotes and jokes fall from my tongue Just Like Honey. Understandably, you, innocent partygoer, are alarmed as I corner you with my wit and labyrinthine stories. You make as if you might take off early, but you Can’t Go Back to Jersey, darling, not after those drinks. Anyway, by the time the Dinner Bell rings I can tell that We’re Going to Be Friends.

The drinks continue to flow throughout the meal— we’re a fun group— and soon enough You’re My Best Friend. Par for the course when you have a group of friends and alcohol, we start reminiscing about the old days of our friendship, wonder why we don’t spend more time together, make grandiose plans for the future. We grow sentimental. La La Love You, man.

We sit in a Circle and talk about how you can Lean on Me and are grateful that you Stand by Me, but, you know. That’s What Friends Are for. By the time we’re singing about our Friends in Low Places and attempting conga lines to We Are Family, though, we recognize that this has gone far enough and it’s time to sober up.

Dessert time! “C” is for Cookie, and maybe Candy too. Perhaps a seasonal Cherry Pie? Not quite ready for the night to end, I sip One More Cup of Coffee with Milk and Sugar; Jeff has the Cold Tea Blues.

And then Candy Girl Kelly Brown breaks out her stash of gummy bears soaked in vodka, and I can’t help breaking out into The Gummy Bear Song, and Jeff is nudging me to leave, and I feel rude going, but he points out Who Says You Can’t Go Home.

Yeah, well, I suddenly realize it’s past 2 in the morning and maybe I was ready to leave anyway, Where Is My Mind. Jeff whispers that there is no need for extended goodbyes, we’ll all see each other again soon I promise, Shut Up and Let Me Go.

Or something like that. Maybe your parties are different 🙂



 Not a Spotify user? You should be, it’s awesome. You can sign up here. It’s free unless you want to upgrade (and not to upsell you- it’s worth every penny).

But since it has come to my attention that some people don’t use Spotify and don’t wanna: here are the songs on Amazon.

All I Wanna Do (Sheryl Crow)
Get The Party Started (P!nk)
Appetite Blues (Lightnin’ Hopkins)
Hungry Like the Wolf (Duran Duran)
Vegetables (The Beach Boys)
Everytime I Eat Vegetables It Makes Me Think Of You (The Ramones)
Cold Beverage (G Love & Special Sauce)
Red, Red Wine (Neil Diamond)
Champagne Supernova (Oasis)
Gin And Juice (Snoop Dogg)
Tequila (The Champs)
Funky Cold Medina (Tone Loc)
One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer (George Thorogood & the Destroyers)
Orange Crush (R.E.M.)
When I Drink (The Avett Brothers)
Just Like Honey (Jesus & Mary Chain)
Can’t Go Back To Jersey (G Love & Special Sauce)
Dinner Bell (They Might Be Giants)
We’re Going To Be Friends (The White Stripes)
You’re My Best Friend (Queen)
La La Love You (Pixies)
Circle (Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians)
Lean On Me (Bill Withers)
Stand By Me (Ben E King)
That’s What Friends Are For (Dionne Warwick)
Friends In Low Places (Garth Brooks)
We Are Family (Sister Sledge)
”C” Is For Cookie (Cookie Monster)
Candy (Iggy Pop & Kate Pierson)
Cherry Pie (Warrant)
One More Cup Of Coffee (Bob Dylan)
Milk And Sugar (G Love & Special Sauce)
Cold Tea Blues (Cowboy Junkies)
Candy Girl (New Edition)
The Gummy Bear Song (Gummibar)
Who Says You Can’t Go Home (Bon Jovi With Jennifer Nettles)
Where Is My Mind? (Pixies)
Shut Up And Let Me Go (The Ting Tings)


To get the full Progressively Perfect Virtual Dinner Party blog hop experience, click the links below in order:





Coffee, Tea & Dessert

Here are the corrections. The only one that isn’t live is Sarah’s, but I am assuming that her URL will just be changed to today’s date (which I did). I’m so sorry!!!

Late Night

Decorations, Outfits and Music

Hope you have as much fun reading through the party as we did planning it!

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Did you realize the Thin Mint is the THIRD MOST SOLD COOKIE IN THE US? Given that only two commercial bakers produce Girl Scout cookies and they’re only around for a few fleeting sweet, sweet weeks, that’s mind-blowing.

I’m over the thin mint, myself. I’m all about the Savannah Smiles. Savannah Smiles are pretty much cookie crack. Light and lemony with a dusting of powdered sugar, they are delicious and refreshing and filled with rainbows and stardust and David Tennant episodes of Doctor Who and all those other good things in the world.

We loved them so much we made a buttery, lemony crust out of them. And then put some key lime cheesecake filling on top. And then ate it up like it was available for a limited time only… which it is, and that’s a good thing. Otherwise I’d weigh a million pounds and my heart would explode.

Here’s your ticket to once-a-year heaven.


Key Lime Cheesecake with Savannah Smiles Crust

Key Lime Cheesecake with Savannah Smiles Crust


  • 2 1/2 cups Savannah Smiles crumbs (One box + 12 cookies)
  • 7 ½ tablespoons butter, melted
  • one tablespoon butter for the pan
  • 3 (12 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 9 tablespoons key lime juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter pan liberally with your tablespoon of butter.
  2. Combine Savannah Smile crumbs and butter.
  3. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and partially up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
  4. Bake crust for 5 minutes, then refrigerate.
  5. In large mixing bowl or in standing mixer (recommended), beat cream cheese and sugar together until smooth.
  6. Add vanilla and key lime juice and mix well.
  7. Add eggs, one at a time.
  8. Add sour cream and mix by hand.
  9. Slowly pour into pan.
  10. Bake 45 minutes (cheesecake will still jiggle in the very middle).
  11. Turn off oven and resist temptation to take out cheesecake. That sucker needs 30 minutes rest time to firm up.
  12. After the time is up place pan on wire rack until room temperature.
  13. Once at room temp, stick in fridge for about 4 hours.
  14. Serve. Savor. Enjoy.


Pulverizing the cookies into crumbs was easy: just take a rolling pin to the still-sealed bag. When the crumbs are small enough, cut off one corner of the bag to empty; then feed your +12 cookies into the bag, fold over, and commence with the rolling pin.




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