In The Kitchen With Dana ~ Great Easy Recipes

*This is not a sponsored post. This is me sharing my passion of food and cooking with you. Enjoy.

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I cook everyday, without exception. I don’t believe in serving my family prepared foods, nor can I because of their food allergies.  As you have gotten to know me, you have read all about my daughter and her Gluten Free Diet, and my son who is allergic to Nuts, Latex, Fish, All Bee Products and more, so cooking is a challenge.  Here are some tried and true recipes that fill their bellies, are time efficient to prepare and will have you rocking those pots, pans, and ovens while you prepare any of these great tasting veggies. You will find recipes for asparagus, potatoes, artichokes, zucchini, and green beans this week as the veggies of choice!

First up, How about this awesome Asparagus Recipe? If you love Asparagus, you will love this how to  instructional video and recipe.

Some days, I prepare green beans, because they are so versatile. You can toss them with potatoes, or even on their own, but they are in season pretty much all year, making them one of my favorite veggies and my kids too!

Have you looked at artichokes and said that there is no way you are getting involved with that veggie? Give it a try, look how easy it is to prepare Baby Green Artichokes. Now if you want the recipe and to watch the video, check it out below. It will be the best 1 minute you spent watching a HOW-TO!

No meal would be complete without potatoes! My boys love these as they are small, crunchy and they can eat a whole pan in a sitting! These are so simple to make.  Fingerling Potatoes

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What veggie blog roll would be complete without Zucchini. These are the perfect veggies for frying, baking, broiling, or even sauteing.

Everybody’s A Little Irish On St. Patty’s Day ~

*This is not a paid post* Enjoy Your Holiday Weekend. Want more great ideas? Follow Star 100.7 Friday morning and hear all things ‘green things in the Burg! This is part of our Frugal Fridays Series.

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Green is such a wonderful color to love and it is a popular color, perhaps given the up and coming holiday it is more popular than ever.  You can be green with envy, or love the green color of money, enjoy green monsters, green lollipops, green shamrocks, green Eggs n’ Ham(lol), green grapes, green hair or maybe even just the green of the St. Patrick’s Day.  Here are a few ideas for going green for this fabulous celebratory day, even if you are not Irish!

Foods, this ought to be easy, but did you ever start thinking of what foods you can make that are really green? If you are staying home with the kids and just celebrating, here are a few items you might try to make dinner a little more ‘green’ in color to celebrate the day of the Shamrock. How about smashed up potatoes with green onions through them or just food coloring those mashed potatoes(beware green teeth result).  Green Cabbage, Green peas, green asparagus, green cupcakes, green broccoli, green salads with green celery and green cucumbers.  Don’t forget about green dip for chips, just swirl in the food coloring and away you go! Milk shakes are always fun, just grab mint chocolate chip ice cream, toss it with some milk in the blender and a Green Shamrock Homemade Shake you have.  Don’t forget to deck the shake out it mint Oreo cookies to make it a truly Leprechaun friendly brew.  As for the adults in the crowd, brew that coffee and stir in Bailey’s Irish Cream, as it does not get more Irish than this.

Activities for kids and adults are often harder to conjure up, but this one will have those who have drank a bit too much happy to find, so Erin-Go-Seeking(lol, love my humor) and the little kids will love their golden finds because they are totally edible.  Get some Gold Chocolate Coins and if you have kids hide them(write a list of where you put them, because your celebration might include a libation and a moment of forgetfulness) the kids will love seeking the Leprechaun’s Gold.  As for the adults, if you are going out, or you are an establishment hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Party, get the gold chocolate coins, and hide them all over, including to the bottom of seats, adults love to play games and we love chocolate, why would we want the Leprechaun to hoard al that gold?

Office Snack.  Yes we adults love our day, so if we can’t drink our way through it, we can still eat our way through it at the office.  Try this great food that will have everyone sweetened up and looking for a cherry.

Green Pistachio Treat

Serving Size: 10-12 servings


  • 2 Large Boxes Of INSTANT Pistachio Pudding (3 1/2 ounce packages)
  • 1 20 oz Can of Crushed Pineapple(leave juice in )
  • 1 Jar of Maraschino Cherries (drained)
  • 1 - bag of mini marshmallows
  • 2 - 12 oz containers of Cool Whip, Defrosted, Basic Flavor or Vanilla
  • 1 3/4 C Walnuts(optional)


  1. In a bowl, mix Cool Whips to the Pistachio Pudding(dry powder) and Pineapple with juice.
  2. Now add marshmallows and cherries and mix again.
  3. Once thoroughly mixed.
  4. Garnish top with a few cherries.
  5. Cover,
  6. Refrigerate and serve when ready.
  7. Makes 10-12 serives.


make sure to save a few cherries for garnish. If adding Walnuts add them in with the cherries and marshmallows.

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Face painting of shamrocks is fun and easy, turning beer into the color green and adding Irish Soda Bread is also an easy way to greet the day.  Don’t forget the fun dangling green necklaces that you can find at the dollar tree!

Here are a few fun Burg Things going on, make sure to confirm everything as these are just what I have found, but I can not confirm them for you. Sites are listed so you an check out the details.

Now let’s find a few fun things around the Burg For the Holiday so we can all turn Green for the day!

Blvd Of The Allies St. Patrick’s Day Parade runs from 10a – fire trucks, bands, horses and tons of fun for families

Here’s  A Deal you want to take advantage of : All Fridays In Month oF March at The Andy Warhol Museum from 5-10p are free Admission.

Have Fun for St Patrick’s day At Fifth Avenue Place - facepainting games and crafts with much more. See site for details.

 Happy St. Patrick’s Day, may you find that pot of gold, get yourself green and find the other side of the rainbow!

Lodging, Hotels, Amenities, Deciphering It All

*this is not a sponsored post, this is based on my extensive knowledge of lodging and these are my opinions. As always I only offer products and ideas that might help each consumer.


We travel a lot, as a family, and me just with the kids, and I am forever planning where we are staying based on so many different criteria.    Over the last month we have stayed in over 6 hotels for 3 night plus stays with kids.  Our travel has been for work, hockey, and pleasure and while my need for lodging changes state-to-state, the need for comfort and amenities does not.  What makes a great stay at a hotel? Sometimes it’s just the little things.  Our most recent stay at The Country Inns & Suites with a membership to Club Carlson made for a comfortable weekend jaunt.  We have stayed in extended stays(The Residence Inn) and in the regular hotels(The Country Inns & Suites).  Consider this your buyer beware on hotels, lodging and what you get for your pricing.

I have been talking to a lot of moms this weekend as we are off on a hockey playoff series and what I am learning is the small things make large differences among hotel chains and among our pricing tiers.  My top two contenders for favorite lodging remain with the Country Inns & Suites and The Residence Inn, each offer great amenities, staffs and clean facilities.   Here are a few things that make up price differentials in all the brands, chains and facilities.  Make sure you are actually comparing apples to apples before you make a decision based on price because you will arrive and find lots of things missing  if you don’t verify it all first and you could potentially end up paying more than you actually planned on.

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Room Refrigerators – Do you have on in your room? Are you getting one? Is the refrigerator included in the price of your room or is there an upcharge? If you are staying at the Hampton Inn you are paying $20 per refrigerator, per night! You may find yourself paying only $99 for a room, but add the fridge in and guess what, you are now paying more than you would have to stay at a Country Inns & Suites and even The Residence Inn.

Microwaves – these are a nice plus in a room, especially if you have a refrigerator. Bring along a few foods that you can toss in the microwave and you have instant meals, especially if you are in a pinch for time  and just don’t want one more fast food sandwich! Many chains don’t offer this as a room option so be sure to see if yours does.

Separate Beds- are you getting ONE king bed, one room, 2 beds, 2 double beds, a sofa bed, a junior suite, or a regular suite?  Do you know what you are actually staying in and has the minimum been confirmed?  How many people can be in your room before you are charged more? How many bathrooms are in your room? Is your room a suite? Are there sofa beds? Do you pay for additional bedding?  What are the charges for different bed sizes, suites, extra rooms, etc. This area is one you must study in depth to get the best pricing.  Can you get away with a couch and a bed or do you require more? 

A suite would be anything that has more than one room, offering additional sleeping areas(sofa sleeper) and often some form of a kitchenette.

Coffee Please – Are you getting an in-room coffee maker so you can enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee before you face anything outside your room? Are you paying for the coffee maker? Is the coffee maker complimentary? Is the coffee marked that you will be charged for using it?  Does your front desk area offer freshly brewed coffee 24/7 and little treats like fruit and cookies? In fact, most places don’t offer treats like this, but places like the County Inns  & Suites and The Residence Inn absolutely have front desk treats and coffee round the clock, which is perfect to help those weary travelers, and kids that love last minute treats!

Water bottled and left in the room definitely comes with charges.  We were most recently in one of our hotels and the bottled water, left in a kitchenette in our room was $2 a bottle.  Think of the bottled water like a mini bar stocked with prices that accompany it.  Use only as needed and do note that most of the hotels are located in areas where stores are.

Check Out Options – Are you supposed to get up and be out by 10a? Don’t laugh there are places that want you out by 10a, and there are others that will bend over backwards to help you out.  I know because The Residence Inn was great to work with for the hockey tourneys as we needed extended check out time and were granted such.  The Country Inns & Suites made it very workable as well and we spoke with the front desk and were graced till 1p to make a decision. With the Country Inns & Suites it was all easy because we belong to Club Carlson which has extended check-out times, in our case till 2pm.  

Reservations – Have you just ever been in the predicament of not knowing if you need the hotel for more than one day? DO you reserve for the next day or do you need to make separate reservations in order to be able to cancel? With hockey tourneys and playoffs elimination is the fear factor.  Will we be eliminated from staying at a hotel or will we have some place to stay if we remain in the tourney or playoff? If you don’t make a reservation you are doomed to win and then have nowhere to stay but if you do make a reservation and have to leave you are now stuck with a possible hotel bill.  Fact: Hampton Inn you need separate reservations and if you need more than one night, but are uncertain, get ready to check in one room and check back in at 3 with another room.  Don’t push your luck for a late check out because they are not too formidable to the idea(know this first hand).   The Country Inns & Suites will totally accommodate you without making it difficult(at least our experience at State College).  Tell the front desk what you have brewing, possible occurrence of not needing a room, but the other possibility of definitely needing a room, and make reservations which can be cancelled until 6p of the reservation! Definitely one of the easiest places I have ever had the pleasure of checking in and out of without ever leaving my room! Again, check out Club Carlson and gain a free membership by signing up online.

Front Desk Staff – are the people you have dealt with short-tempered or friendly? Do they pay attention to your kids or are they kid-deaf? Does the staff seem like they will answer questions or do they seem like they  might bite your head off if you ask even one more question? I push the envelope all the time because I am often traveling solo with children and I have questions about the area, shopping and dining.  What I have found is The Country Inn & Suites have exceeded what anyone could ask for, as the MANAGER even offered to take us to the hockey and pick us back up! Yes, you heard me, he offered to get us there and pick us up as long as we were not going to need shuffled beyond that! I have to say thanks! I need places that will allow me to ask questions, help me navigate a bit and let me know anything else I might not be aware of without pulling the information from them.

Parking- is there a parking lot for your car? Is there a valet service or are you free to come and go as you please, when you want? Are you paying for parking and do you have unlimited access to your car? We have been in every situation from $36 a day parking at the Hard Rock Hotel to free parking at the Country Inns & Suites.  We ask and read the websites because this makes a huge difference in your real price tag.  I can also tell you that it takes a toll on timing as many hockey parents staying in a valet parking hotel had to get to the lobby 30 minutes ahead just to make sure their car would come up on time! Unnecessary stress. Parking at hotels is not always free and you always park at your own risk.

Pool – does your facility have a pool? Is it working and able to be used after 6p? Is the pool heated and is there a hot tub? Is there a lifeguard? Is the pool indoor or outdoor? Are the times too limiting to be advantageous to use?

Does your hotel have WiFi? Does the WiFi work? Laugh as you may, but just because a place boasts WiFi does not mean that it works all the time.  I have been very frustrated in a few places we have been staying lately because the WiFi is either over-used or does not work in every room.  It is hard to need your laptop, iPad, iPhone and not have the WiFi to get the work done.  Is there a charge for the WiFi? Yes, many places charge for their WiFi or you need a code for it.  We have been in at least 3 hotels that have charged and since I needed it, I paid, but how ridiculous.

Breakfast- fill up those bellies or fill up your wallet and go out? Which will it be? Breakfast included is becoming a bit more common among facilities but not all breakfasts are created equal.  Are you getting toasts, and cereal with some coffee or are you getting warm entrees as well as toasts, pastries and fruits? Is breakfast offered for 2 hours or 3? Can you take it with you or do you have dine there? In The Residence Inn, we saw many people being sent off with containers to go(how nice) and in the Country Inns & Suites it is dine in.  The breakfast at the Residence Inn and the Country Inns & Suites is very similar.  However, in places around us, breakfasts are dine-in, and very limited.  Call and see what the menu is.

Every room comes with a price tag, all rooms are not equal nor are all chains.  Make sure to check if you are eligible for discounts with your AAA cards, and make certain to subscribe to all the clubs that the hotels offer like Club Carlson, Marriott Rewards, etc. Remember brand loyalty has its benefits.

The Loaf Of Bread Friendship

This post is dedicated to my friend Michelle.

I guess it starts with something as small as 2 parents talking about their kids, and suddenly you are having coffee,hanging out and laughing.  How often does friendship stem from a loaf of bread? The photo below shows a loaf of bread I received from my girlfriend. We laugh together, talk shop together(sports), and of course shopping, but who knew the true bond was in cooking and sharing? [Read more...]

Get Chili

Cold mornings, crisp days, and frigid nights make me think about the word ‘CHILI’. Alright so that is not what you would expect but what makes a belly warm better than a bowl of Chili. This is one pot easy, and will take only about 15 minutes of prep.  While the Chili simmers you can walk away and get some other things done, making it a real time-saver in the kitchen.  Everyone has a different recipe that they enjoy and this one is a tested and true Chili Recipe from the PFM Household, getting two big spoons up from everyone who enjoys it!  [Read more...]