"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!


Simple Pizza Rustica: aka Pizzagaine Italian Easter Pie: Foodie Friday


Simple Pizza Rustica: simplelivingeating.com

When I was a little kid about a week before Easter my grandmother, who lived next door, would gather up the grandchildren, and miscellaneous neighborhood kids who had the misfortunate of having been hanging out in our backyard, when nonna decided she need help with “The Pizzagaine” 


Some Great Blogs with Great Food...Check them Out!


Thanks Ramya from Ramyas Kitchen Recipes for this wonderful award. Its really an honor to be chosen.

I have been asked to share this award with 5 other bloggers who I think deserve recognition. I find the following blogs to have healthy interesting recipes and stories to share... please take a look at them. I am certain you will enjoy them.
If you accept the award:
  • Copy and paste the award on your blog. Link back to the blogger who gave you the award.
  • Pick your five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers who deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
  • Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs.


Simple Composting: Breakdown Go Ahead Give it to Me: Simple Living Ideas


Spring is here early and many of us are thinking about our gardens. A frugal way to feed your garden is with homemade compost. Composting is cost effective if you garden and good for the environment because you are making sure that biodegradable foods are getting to break down. 

Getting Started: 
1) Get a container to put your food scraps in, it doesn’t have to be a fancy compost container it can just be a plastic container. As long as it has a lid it will work. 

compost holder

2) In an out of the way spot in your backyard put a a large heavy duty garbage can that has a locking lid. You can use a regular plastic garage can, all you have to do is drill about a dozen holds in the bottom of it for drainage. This is what we have and it works fine. Of course, you can buy a container specifically designed for composting. It will cost more then a regular garage can.

Compost bins in our garden

3) Put all food scraps including coffee grinds into your indoor container. You can put meat in it if you don’t mind getting maggots in your compost heap. We don’t like them, and we feel that meat and smelly fish might attract wild animals. 
4) When your indoor container is full dump it into your outside composting bin. Each time you dump your food scraps into the outside composting bin add some dried composting material. Dried things such as wood chips, dried leaves or plant cuttings, shredded paper are called “browns.” Material that still contains moisture such as your food scraps and fresh leaves and cuttings are called, “greens.”  You want to keep approximately a 2 to 1 ratio of browns to greens in your compost bin in order to have waste decomposes as quickly as possible. Don’t be concerned if you don’t have enough “browns” your compost will just take longer to break down.
4) Each time you dump your scraps, add your browns, turn the heap a little to air it. This will also help with decomposition. 

Broken down compost

5) When your outside container fills up start a new one and continue to turn your old one until it begins to look like soil. When it no longer has recognizable food items in it, dump it into an outdoor pile. Use this pile to fertilize your garden. 
If you keep a good ratio of browns to greens and you regularly turn your compost pile it should take about 4-5 months for a regular size garbage can to be broken down enough to be used as fertilizer.
copyright 2012 

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Volumetrics: Simple Weight Control: Healthy Eating


I’m not an advocate of diets especially ones that restrict foods or whole food groups. Your health can suffer and, of course, human nature being what it is... you will crave what you can’t eat. Developing better eating habits will help you maintain a healthy weight in the long run. If you have weight to loss, the pounds will come off slower with a eating style change, but if you truly alter your eating habits the weight will stay off.
Besides following Michael Pollan’s adage: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” 
I have found the concept of volumetrics to be extremely healthful and helpful for weight control. The concept is simple: fill up on lower calorie high fiber, high water foods like fruits and vegetables instead of dense high calorie, high fat foods like meat and dairy. It is just a matter of learning to fill your plate mostly with veggies while allowing yourself a small serving of protein and a whole grain. The theory is we eat the same volume (weight) of food everyday. The trick to keeping the pounds off is to fill up on low calorie items. 
There is a new book The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet that you can use to learn how to portion your plate. You’ll be surprised at how quickly this style of eating can become second nature. 

Click on the below image to learn about this book:


Sunday: Leftovers
Meatless Monday: Spring Vegetable Soup with Homemade Rustic Bread

Tuesday: Poor Man’s Lasagna and salad

Wednesday: Tofu with Honey & Cinnamon, quinoa, broccoli

Thursday: Chicken Cutlets with Barley squash risotto 

Friday: Refried Bean Taco’s, tomatoes & cheddar   cheese

Saturday: Sushi dinner out

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Simple Chicken Casserole: Foodie Friday


chicken casserole
Chicken Casserole
Chicken Casserole is such a great way to use up leftover chicken and vegetables. After the holidays you can usually find cream of something soup on sale: I usually buy the cream of mushroom or celery. Any type is fine for this recipe. You might even consider making your own.  Food writer Julie McGuire has a good recipe Substitute for Cream Soup

The following recipe is definitely meant to be a guide. You can alter the amount of chicken, rice and vegetables.

Simple Chicken Casserole
by Diane Balch

prep: 10 minutes             serves: 6-8


1 can of cream of mushroom soup (Organic is great.)
1 cup of shredded chicken 
1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup of dry white wine
2 cups of cooked rice (I use brown rice)
1 cup of chicken broth
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup of fried onion crisps (Nature's Promise from Stop n Shop)

    1) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat.

    2) Put cream of mushroom soup and wine in skillet. Heat until wine reduces about 2 minutes.

    3) Add chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil.

    4) Add mixed vegetables when they are thawed add chicken and rice.

    5) Pour mixture into a large baking dish.

    6) Sprinkle with cheese and top with onion crisps.

    7) Bake uncovered for approximately 30 minutes or until cheese and onion crisped are golden brown.

    8) Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
    copyright 2012chicken casserole

    Hosted by
    Simple Living With Diane Balch
    By linking up this week you will be entered into a drawing for a $25 Walmart Gift Card provided by General Mills and Walmart through My BlogSpark. The winner will be announced at next weeks link up!

    From Last Week's Linky Spotlight on: 

       White Lights on Wednesday's 

    I can't remember the last time I made Swedish Meatballs. Meatballs are so much fun to make with little ones. What a kid friendly and adult pleasing meal. We enjoy them with a side of buttered egg noodles and Lingonberry or cranberry sauce. A dark green veggie like kale or spinach is a nice compliment to this dish. 

    Instructions for Foodie Friday linky:

    1) Copy the Foodie Friday Button's  html from this website's sidebar.

    2) Paste this html to the html page of the recipe you want to link to Foodie Friday.

    3) Copy the link to the recipe you want to add to Foodie Friday, not your homepage.

    4) Click on "your next" on this page.

    5) Past your link and type in the name of the recipe not your name.

    6) Choose how you want to download the photo.

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    3-2-1 STOP: E-BOOK GIVEAWAY: Simple Living Ideas


    Lorilee Lippincott’s simple living book: 3-2-1 STOP: stop running and start living is a fresh, personal guide to simplify your life by ridding yourself and your family of material clutter, so you can open up a space for spiritual fulfillment. Lorilee’s book is a balance of practical organizing tips and Christian spiritual guidance. Lippincott shares her journey in such an organized and enthusiastic way that she makes you believe that getting rid of things is really not that hard...that it is actually a fun adventure.

    If you would like to receive a free e-book copy of Lorilee's book enter the raffle below. The drawing for 3 copies of her book will be held next week on 3/28/12.


    The Height of Flavor: Glutamate Cooking: Healthy Eating


    I have made spaghetti and clam sauce, lasagna, and many other pasta dishes for years. They always tasted pretty good, but it wasn’t until I ate some Brushetta over a friends house one summer afternoon that my tastebuds registered an off the charts flavor. 

    Wow, I know you made this Bruschetta with home grown tomatoes but what is the seasoning you used? My friend said, “Just salt, pepper, and a little anchovy paste.”

    "Anchovy paste? I didn’t taste anything fishing?"
    Another evening I had spaghetti Puttanesca and I recognized the same intensity of flavor: anchovy paste. I just recently found out that the WOW in anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, Asian fish sauces along with Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, and tomato paste is glutamate. This is the amino acid used to make the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate. The foods that naturally contain high amounts of glutamate act as flavor enhancers
    So, if you put together a dish and it’s taste is a little dull before you reach for the salt, you might want to pour a little Worcestershire sauce over your meat, or add a little in anchovy paste to your pasta. Combine glutamate rich foods for even more flavor. Mushrooms seasoned with Worcestershire sauce are delicious over chicken or pasta and anchovy paste, tomato paste and Parmesan cheese are an excellent foundation for a sauce. 
    Download a brochure from the International Glutamate Information Service. It lists several glutamate rich foods that will enhance the taste of your cooking. Below is a list of recipes from my blog that contain glutamate rich foods; I can assure you they are quiet delicious. 
    Bon Appetite
    Sunday: Leftovers
    Meatless Monday: Barley Squash Risotto with White Beans and a salad.
    Tuesday: Chicken Soup and Homemade Bread.
    Thursday: Chicken Casserole
    Friday: Orange Flounder, mashed potato/parsnips, Swiss Chard.

    Saturday: Beef Stew with Homemade Bread.

    This Post is Linked up with other great foodie links. Please check their sites.

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    Maple Syrup Roasted Potatoes & Cauliflower: Healthy Eating


    roasted potatoes and cauliflower
    Maple Syrup Roasted Potatoes & Cauliflower

    It is Maple Syrup time here in the Northeast and for some reason I keep seeing a lot of cauliflower recipes which reminded me of an old recipe that I haven’t used in a long time. It came from an Indian cookbook that I no longer own, so I had to make it up. I think it this recipe tastes better than the old one, so enjoy!
    Maple Syrup Roasted Potatoes and Cauliflower

    by Diane Balch
    prep: 10 minutes serves 4- 6
    1 head of cauliflower chopped small
    4 potatoes any type washed and quartered
    2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
    3 tablespoons of Maple syrup grade B is best.
    1/4 teaspoon of Turmeric
    1/4 teaspoon of Cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
    salt and pepper to taste
    1)  Preheat oven to 425 degrees
    2) Toss cauliflower and potatoes together with the oil, Maple syrup, and spices in a large rectangular baking dish. 
    3) Roast for approximately 20 minutes until potatoes are tender and cauliflower is slightly brown.

    4) Serve with a green vegetable and a side of beans or meat.

    This Post is Linked up with other great foodie links please check out their sites. 

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    Simple Organizing: What Skeletons are in Your Closet?: Face it: Time to Clean Your Closet.


    Putting Outfits Together c2012

    The weather is getting warmer, it is definitely time to clean out your closet. Remember, making choices to get rid of unused or unneeded things is a good exercise in decisiveness. Cleaning your closet doesn’t have to be a laborious task you can recruit a friend to help. Offer to return the favor. It can be really good to have objective eyes looking at your clothes. We all tend to get sentimental about things. While you see the first date with your husband, your friend sees a ratty worn out sweater. Take a picture of the sweater, and then put it in your donation pile. Turn on some music... have a few cocktail. Don’t have too many... or you might decide to toss everything and board a plan to Paris to do some shopping. Which could be fun if you can afford it!
    A few large garbage bags for “donation” and “maybe” piles.
    Storage bins at least one for each season.
    Rolling rack (If have room to store some items hanging.)
    Masking tape & sharpie or labeling machine for bins.
    Pen and paper for shopping list items. 
    Wood hangers (They look nice and are gentler on your clothes.)
    Soft hangers (for bulky wrap sweaters)
    Skirt hangers
    1) At least a day before you plan to clean your closet go on line and look at Pinterest pictures (you can check  out mine, my link is on the right sidebar) or visit some sites like the ones mentioned in this article:

    Clothia.com article “Virtual-Closet Websites Revise Oneline Fashion Shopping. 

    in order to define your look: bohemian, classic, modern, trendy, romantic. Be honest with yourself and choose not the look that you fantasize yourself wearing, Chanel suits are lovely, but they don’t work for a stay at home mom or a fitness instructor. Choose the look that works for your lifestyle. If you are physically moving around a lot, stretchy knits and leggings are going to work better for you then structured suits or dresses. 
    2) To begin sorting: lay on your bed the clothes you wear the most. Go over in your mind or with a friend why you wear them. Pick out other items from your closet that work with your favorites. These clothes are the foundation of your wardrobe. 
    3) Go over in your mind or talk about the items you buy but don’t wear: smaller sizes for when you are going to loss weight, a look that you want that you never actually feel comfortable in, etc. Pull out these fantasy items and put them in your donation bag. These items are not you. Stop buying them!
    4) What else is hanging in your closet or cluttering up your draws. Pull out the clothes that look nice but never feel right on you. Put them in the donation bag. You made a mistake buying the item. It is OK, you can’t always tell how something is going to wear just by trying it on. I hate when I do this, because it wastes money, but you have to forgive yourself and not hold on to the item. If you are truly not sure about an item put it in your "maybe" storage bag until next season. If you don't end up missing the item you really don't need it.
    5) Which of your clothes are worn but you love? , If you feel the need to, take a picture of these clothes then put them in the donation bag. If the much loved item was really versatile write it down on your shopping list to be replace, but don’t keep wearing an item that is worn or lost it’s shape.

    6) There is a weird paradox about clothes: the more you have the less you’ll wear. This is why I suggest you pack away items that are not in season. It is good to have to go through clothes every time the temperature changes. Each time you pack and unpack items try to weed out garments that are worn or you didn’t wear. It is a good idea to also put away seasonal socks and pajama’s. While you are going through your dresser, get rid of your excess socks and underwear... my guess is you have too many and a lot of them are worn.
    7) Once you have gone through everything in your closet  decide how you want to organize items: by type: all sweater, all jeans... or by color blocks... or by outfits. Hang things up according to your layout. I usually put clothes together by outfits. It doesn’t make the closet look as neat, but it is a real time saver, and it encourages me to utilize everything in my wardrobe. I hang shirts up with scarfs or necklaces draped on them... whatever items will complete the outfit. You’ll have to decide what works best for you.
    8) Now your closet is clean and you have a real list of actual wardrobe items you need.... You have my permission: GO SHOPPING!... but stick to the list (as much as you can.) and buy what you really need, not sale items... items that complete outfits.