10 Years, 1 Amazing Announcement....

Generally each Halloween, I write a nice post about my husband and I because Halloween is the day we became an official "us." This Halloween marks 10 awesome years of togetherness, and also an amazing announcement we are overjoyed to share with everyone....

That's right: Our family is officially growing!!!! 

My husband and I are really excited to share with the world that the Criswell family is getting another buckaroo! And honestly, aren't those little boots adorable?! They were my husband's when he was a wee lad. Now we don't know if it's a boy or a girl...I'm just 11 weeks right now, but what we do know? This is big news and it's gonna change a lot around here. 

So if you've been wondering where in the heck I've been in the blogosphere, well, the simple answer is that I have been growing a darn baby. Contrary to all those awesome pictures you see where pregnant women look all happy and well rested, I have been anything but these past weeks! I couldn't stomach food for about two of them, was too exhausted to do anything during the last month, and was just plain hormonally imbalanced for several weeks now. Long story short? I was hiding out! 

Now that we are nearly in the second trimester, I am feeling loads better (and a lot more excited). I'm ready to get back out into the world and resume most of my normal schedule. That includes blogging. AND, as I am sure you can imagine, I am completely stoked to add some great new pregnancy oriented blogs to my roster! 

So the format may be changing a little around here, but don't worry, you can expect the same great sass and recipes with a little bit more family stuff!!! I hope you are all as excited as my husband and I to welcome a new little bossy-pants to the family!!!! 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! And happy anniversary, babe, it's been a great 10 years!!!! *Muah!* 

Grandma's Lentil Soup Recipe

In July, my grandmother passed away. My grandma's passing is sad, but also natural. Children and grandchildren are supposed to outlive their parents and grandparents....and we all know that these things are coming sooner or later. The thing about death that I have learned is that if you are doing it right in life, loss should bring people together in love. And that is precisely what my mother and I did last week.

We came together in love and, on a whim, decided we needed to make my grandmother's lentil soup. This soup is one of my mother's most favorite dishes that my grandmother used to make. She told me that whenever she would go home my grandma would ask, "What can I make you?" Without hesitation my mom always said, "Lentil soup!"

This story makes a lot of sense because we ate the heck out of lentil soup when I was a kid. I love it. I don't think I ever had my grandmother's, though, which is what made cooking this soooooo special. My grandmother was a fabulous cook, and there is no better way to channel her memory than to get behind a stove and make something! We pulled out the family cookbook, poured over it, made just a couple of tweaks (like adding some pancetta!) and before we knew it, we had lentil soup.

You wanna know what is great about lentils? They aren't like other [bothersome] beans that don't want to cook up and get tender. If you have an hour to an hour and a half, you've got lentil soup. Now how does that sound? Terrific right?! I KNOW!

Best of all, this is a very basic recipe that is hearty, and gives you a great big hug. If you like a more brothy lentil soup, add an extra cup of water and an additional cup of chicken broth. I like mine nice and thick. But to each their own. As a side note, I ate this whole pot of soup in a week. Maybe I will make some more and eat it ALLLLLLLL up. No sharing. Hehe.

Grandma's Lentil Soup Recipe 

Time: 1-1 1/2 hrs start to finish | Makes 6 servings | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need:

4 ounces pancetta (or any ham, cut up real small) 
1 onion, diced 
2 carrots, cut small 
2 celery stalks, cut small 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound lentils 
1/2 can (about 2 tablespoons) tomato paste 
3 cups chicken broth 
3 cups water 
Olive oil, once around the pan 


In a big old soup pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the pancetta, onion, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté about 5 minutes. 

Add your lentils, tomato paste, chicken broth, and water. Bring it all to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about an hour or until the lentils are soft and yummy. (Remember, if you want it to be a more brothy, you can add another cup of water and broth.) 

I like to serve mine piping hot over a bed of fresh spinach. The soup wilts the spinach and it's just so delightful. 

Garnish with parmesan cheese if you please! 

This also freezes well if you want to make a double batch! 

Stuff I Use: Old Fashioned Potato Masher

'Round these parts, when it  comes to mashing potatoes, it's a job for my old-fashioned gadget. I love my old-fashioned, or manual, potato masher. It just goes to show that you can invent things that are more innovative (the mixer or the beaters) but they may not always do a better job. That's right, from the Kitchen Aid Mixer to the beaters that you plug in, there is just no better way to mash up taters than by hand. 

I love the consistency I get from this thing, and also, just look at it. It's awesome: 

Unpretentious, unassuming, and giving me the perfect potatoes each and every time. This thing wins the day for me. Here's one funny thing about this piece of kitchen equipment: I have no idea where I got it from. Literally. No idea. It is possible that it came with the house...which I know sounds strange, but there are a few things that were here from the last tenant when we moved in and we just sort of kept them and used them because there was nothing wrong with them. 

It's also possible that it came from one of the MANY roommates we had over the years. At one point, there were six or so people living here. It was more like a frat house than a home at that time. And let me tell you something funny about living in a house for ten years where other people have moved in and out at various times: people leave all sorts of crazy crap. From whole pieces of furniture to boxes of clothes and other random "trinkets" you can never predict what people don't want anymore. 

So while I can't say the exact origin of said potato masher, I can safely tell you hat they still sell these suckers in stores...but if you find one at a thrift shop, you're likely to spend less. Either way, if you are a mashed potato enthusiast, this is a gadget for you for sure! 


So tell me, what's your favorite handy, old fashioned, I have no idea how this thing got here, kitchen gadget? 

This Month, So Far

Alright so I understand that I have been a little remiss in my blogging this past month, but trust me, this will all make sense very soon. (Does that sound cryptic? Gooooooood. Muahahahah.) Anyway, it's been sort of a busy and bustling month and I thought that I would take a moment to fill everyone in on what has been going on. 

First of all, a chicken update because it's been a while since I have given one of those. I hate to say this, which is maybe why I haven't updated you guys, but TWO--count them two!--of our Amrocks simply disappeared in the beginning of this month. I know. It was sort of sad, but also sort of not sad. The thing is that neither of them were laying eggs, so they were kind of a big drain on our feed situation....eek. I'm sorry. 

One of the smartest Amrocks is still with us and I swear it's because she is faster than a roadrunner. She cannot be caught by anything. The other hens are doing well, although my husband has been in an epic battle to keep them from sleeping in the nesting boxes...why the heck are they doing that? I don't know. If you know, please let me know. 

My canners and I reached a milestone when we held our first canning sale! That actually happened in late September, but, eh, close enough. It was a success and we were pretty proud of ourselves that we broke even this year! We are getting back into the kitchen realllllly soon to start experimenting with wine jellies and mustards! So be on the look out for some awesome posts from me and my favorite canners. 

Also in the past couple of weeks, I attended my grandmother's memorial service. My grandmother had been sick and she passed away in late July. We all went to Buffalo to give her a final farewell. It was sad, but the highlight of my weekend was seeing ALL of my cousins on my mother's side. We had not been together in TEN YEARS! And talk about LOUD! These gals gave me a run for my money in the talking department. It was glorious. And loud. And also: aren't we a good looking group?! 

The past couple of weeks have been all about getting back to normal in life. My work at the paper is ended for the season and I'm adjusting to being at home more [again]. I'm also back into my "Fall/Winter" routine of going to free writes and readings with the Rehoboth Beach Writer's Guild. And I'm testing recipes. And thinking about testing recipes. And making a ton of soups!!! And catching up on sleep. So expect some more recipes coming to you soon and lots of other goodies in the next couple of weeks! 

Oh, AND, I broke out my favorite fall scarf. 

So tell me, what are you up to this fall????? 

All Naked Bodies Are Beautiful

When it comes to bearing it all, a lot of people get really self conscious. No one is really immune to this because as we age our bodies change for various reasons (weight gain, pregnancy, wrinkles, what have you....) and now and then we get moments of doubt. It's natural. But you have to be like a rubber band and be able to SNAP BACK just as quickly as you find yourself snapping into a state of mind that has you seeing red.

Me being me and all, which is to say super bossy and opinionated and stuff, I wanted to let you in on a little insider's secret: all naked bodies are beautiful. I would know because I have seen a TON of naked bodies. And no, it's not because I'm slutty. It's because I used to be a massage therapist. Like, legitimately.

I went to massage school at 19, and by 20 years old I was a Licensed Massage Technician (LMT) in the grand old state of Delaware. I practiced for more than two years, and I was pretty good at it. Can you guess why I quit? You have to be quiet for an hour....pssshst! I had the hardest damn time shutting the hell up! So, needless to say, it wasn't necessarily the best profession for talkative old me.

But one thing it gave me was a lot of...hehe...exposure.

If it's one thing I can tell you from seeing so many clients in the buff, it's that there is no such thing as an "ugly" body. Sure, some bodies are skinnier than others, some larger. They are all shaped differently, but when it comes down to it, I never really gave anyone's size a second thought. I never in my career thought "wow you could stand to lose a few!"

Instead, it gave me the impression that all people, regardless of size or shape, are beautiful. I wish that more people could FEEL this way. No matter what your size, it's more about the confidence you carry, not the weight you carry. Feel good in your body and your attitude will shine brighter than anything else.

Take it from me: whatever you look like--today, right now, IN THIS MOMENT--is not only 100% fine, but it's beautiful. Dig deep and do what it takes to get into an attitude of self confidence and self- love. Feel good about your body and about yourself because you deserve it. 

Bossy Italian Meditation Review: Perfect Health w/ Deepak Chopra & Oprah

I am positively crazy about meditation these days. Allow me to explain a little here. This year, one of my BIG resolutions was to meditate daily with little to no exceptions. I have done a really good job following through on my daily practice and THEN this summer, I saw that Oprah and Deepak Chopra were teaming up for a relationship orientated meditation challenge.

Next thing I knew, my mom, my mother-in-law and myself were all doing the free challenge and really enjoying the meditative program. Little did I know that once the program ended, I would be left to muddle through unguided meditations and it would leave me jonesing for some Deepak.

A little less than a month ago, I broke down and bought the three program meditation challenge package. I'm addicted to Deepak Chopra and I don't care who knows it! First up? I did the Perfect Health meditative challenge. Health is something I have been really focusing on in my personal life and it seemed like the perfect program to start with.

You get one meditation each day and it comes with a daily message as well as a place to journal where you can answer questions that further the experience as well as a place to reflect on the day's session. This program has meditations that last just under ten minutes (there are guided portions with both Oprah and Deepak that take up another six or so minutes, for a total for about 16 minutes.)

I loved this program. It allowed me to think about the state of my health, the ways in which I could improve it, and most of all, it gave me those 16 precious minutes each day to practice meditation and rejuvenate my body and soul. That is what I love most about these programs: they force you to set aside time for yourself and by the end, you just feel so good.

I enjoy the soothing nature of Deepak's voice, I love Oprah's check-in each day. And it's a great way to get on a program. I keep my time that I practice my meditation flexible only because I feel it's easier to fit it into my day if it's not rigid. I generally end up meditating in the afternoon, but I know that some people might prefer mornings (in the summer, I tend to do mornings a little better.)

Either way, if you are looking to break into meditation, or you already meditate and enjoy a guided experience, this is a great place to start. Visit The Chopra Meditation Center's Website HERE for more information on the programs and to try a free sample of the relationship challenge. You may become just as addicted as me!!!!!! (Which, let's face it, if you are going to be addicted to something, it might as well be meditation!)

**This is NOT a paid opinion. I just genuinely like the program and thought y'all should know about it. All opinions expressed are my own, bossy ones. Over and out! 

Quick Fix: Salsa Chicken Casserole

So, the other day we went ahead and made salsa chicken in the crock pot. And hopefully you got laid, too, because it's part of my Recipes For Sex Challenge! But, if you are like me, you made a ton of that chicken and now you have a bunch of leftovers!

Fear not, we're gonna make those leftovers into a nifty casserole and it's going to take just moment. You can even make this sucker ahead, stick it in the fridge and pop it in the oven when you are ready. That's what I did, and it worked out great.

Before I got started, I added a half a cup of pureed tomatoes to an 8 inch by 11 inch casserole dish. I didn't take a picture of it because I was in a hurry. Sorry y'all.

Take half a box of rigatoni and cook it according to the manufacturer's instructions (or as your intuition dictates, you know, whatever). 

Drain it and return it to the pot. 

Then, add the leftovers of the chicken salsa to the pot. 

Add two and a half cups of pureed (or crushed) tomatoes and stir it up. 

Now pour it all into your prepared casserole dish. 

Now the fun part: add cheese! Your generosity with the cheese depends on your attitude about cheese in general. I have a very good relationship with cheese, so I sort of piled it on. 

At this point, I put my casserole in the refrigerator until I was ready to bake it. This makes for an easy dinner, right?! 

When you are ready to bake it, pop it in on 350 degrees until it's heated through, about 30 minutes or so. I covered mine with foil until the last ten minutes so the cheese didn't brown too much. 


I served it with a healthy dollop of sour cream. 

Salsa Chicken Casserole

Time: Active 10 minutes, Bake 30 minutes | Serves: 4-6 | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need:

Leftovers from Salsa Chicken Recipe 
8 ounces rigatoni pasta (or really any shaped pasta you fancy!)
3 cups crushed or pureed tomatoes
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream, for serving (optional)

8 inch by 11 inch casserole dish


In the casserole dish, line it with a half cup of the tomatoes, set aside.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain it. Return it back to the pot (of course off the heat), and mix it with the leftover salsa chicken. Add the remaining two and a half cups of tomatoes and mix it all really well.

Pour it all into the prepared casserole dish.

Top generously with cheese.

Cover with tin foil.

If you wish, you can refrigerate the whole thing until you are ready to bake it. To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pop the covered casserole into the oven and bake until hearted and cheese is melted. (about 30 minutes).

Remove the tinfoil for the last ten minutes of baking.

Serve with a big old dollop of sour cream, if desired.