Six Months Post-Hurricane Sandy: Still Sifting and Shifting #jerseylove

Monday, April 29, 2013
Six months ago today, the residents of coastal New Jersey were rocked by Hurricane Sandy. As she pounded the coastline, we were left scurrying to get out of her way.

She came with a vengeance and left with the hopes, dreams, and in many cases, houses and possessions of so many.

Today, it's not difficult to hop in your car and drive a quarter mile, 1/2 mile, or maybe even 2 miles without seeing some sort of remnant of Sandy. Although she took so much from us, she left so much behind.

In the six months since Sandy made her unwelcomed visit to the unparalleled Jersey shore, one thing stands out above all else: COMMUNITY.

Above all the destruction, there emerged a huge sense of community and a support network that only a tragedy such as Hurricane Sandy can bring. In the minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months that followed Sandy, the residents rallied around each other.

Those who lost everything comforted each other. Those who lost nothing comforted those who lost everything. Strangers came from towns as far away as the opposite coast to donate food and supplies, clean up debris, and offer a shoulder to cry on.

Anyone who was able to help generously offered help. Anyone who needed help took the help that was offered. Those without power were offered a hot meal and a warm bed by those who had power restored in their homes.

It was the worst time to be from the Jersey shore. It was the best time to be from the Jersey shore.

Six months later, there are still piles of destroyed possessions at the curb sides. There is a house in the bay. There is a town where mail delivery resumed just this week.

Life is still anything but normal in these parts. But slowly, normalcy is being restored. People are moving back into their homes. Businesses are opening their doors again. Boardwalks are being rebuilt.

This summer, more than any other, I am proud to be a Jersey girl.


On The "Moo-ve" with Stonyfield Yo-Kids Smoothies {Giveaway}

Sunday, April 28, 2013
Day trips with the kids are outings that we always look forward to. While these trips offer a chance for fun and for learning, they are not always wallet-friendly. In addition to the admission fees, the cost of food can be quite expensive for a family of 3, 4, or more.

Before heading out on a recent excursion to the Liberty Science Center, I decided to pack a few goodies for the ride there and back. I knew we couldn't bring food into the venue, but we had the flexibility to eat in our car before we entered and on the drive home.

I packed the basic essentials: water, granola bars, Pirate's Booty, baby carrots, and apple slices. But we needed something more. Something a bit more substantial. I had the perfect thing: Stonyfield Yo-Kids SMOOthies.

I make smoothies on a daily basis for my kids. In fact, one of our favorites is a blueberry banana smoothie, but the homemade ones are difficult to transport. You must drink them immediately or else they'll spoil and separate. But Stonyfield YoKids SMOOthies are perfect for packing up for on-the-go travel.

I grabbed an insulated bag, a 6-pack of SMOOthies, and a container of Stonyfield Blends for myself, and we were on our way!

As part of my participation in the Stonyfield Yo-Getter brand ambassador program, I received coupons for free SMOOthies to faciliate this giveaway. I also received a gift card which covered travel expenses and admission fees for the Liberty Science Center.

We weren't on the road long before someone was hungry! The YoKids SMOOthie was the perfect cross between drink and food to keep her satisfied.

We had an hour's long drive ahead of us. Rather than stick their heads in their iPads, they played a game of cards. Stonyfield sent us a deck of cards, "52 Fun Things to do in the Car". What a fun way to pass the time.  It was so much more fun than listening to music...or listening to the girls argue. Yes, it happens.

One of my favorite cards was the "One Word Stories". Someone starts the story by saying one word, such as "A". The next person says the next word, "girl". And the game continues. Pretty soon we had "A girl who had blue eyes and a big dog. She wanted to go to the city, but her brother wanted to go to the beach..."

After a few Stonyfield YoKids SMOOthies and a few other assorted snacks, it was time to go into the Liberty Science Center. We had been here several times before, and it's always a fun visit. The exhibits change every few months, and we were excited to see what was new since our last visit.

Our first stop was the BASF Kids Lab, an interactive chemisty lab where children have the opportunity to learn about cause and effect. The girls loved this exhibit.

Once the goggles were on, it was time to see how porous a piece of chalk is.

The Liberty Science Center also has a fun Curious George exhibit that continues through May 5, 2013. It was a bit young for my girls, but if you have children ages 5 and under, it's worth checking out.

After a long day, and much time logged learning about science, medecine, architecture, and tecnology, it was time to get back on the road. We were hungry, and we were beat. There was no way I was spending $40 for the three of us to eat in the cafe.

We headed to the car and grabbed our Stonyfield yogurt and YoKids SMOOthies. They hit the spot! The kids were happy. I was happy. It was a great end to a fabulous day.

Wouldn't you love to try Stonyfield YoKids SMOOthies?


Lucky you! I am giving away four (4) coupons for free 6-packs of Stonyfield YoKids Smoothies and one (1) deck of "52 Fun Things to do in the Car" cards. To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below.

All entrants must be 18 years or older and must reside in the continental U.S.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: As part of my participation in the Stonyfield Yo-Getter brand ambassador program, I received coupons for free SMOOthies to faciliate this giveaway. I also received a gift card which covered travel expenses and admission fees for the Liberty Science Center.


A New Cousin To Love

Saturday, April 27, 2013
There's a new baby in the family, and my girls couldn't be more thrilled. In fact, everyone in the family is thrilled.

We haven't had a baby since my great nephew Brady was born 16 months ago. It was time to add another little cousin to the mix.

The Hubs took the girls to the hospital last Saturday to meet their cousin Connor while I was at Type A Advanced in Philadelphia. And since I was dying to meet him, I took the girls back on Sunday for another visit.

A tiny, sweet baby to hold. To cherish. To adore.

A new cousin to love.

The girls are over the moon, asking me every single day if we can visit baby Connor.

For hours we passed him around. We couldn't get enough of this little bundle. He is a beauty to behold.


Shop Online at Red Envelope for the Perfect Mother's Day Gifts

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Do you labor over gifts for Mother's Day? Whether it's for mom, a mother-in-law, grandma, a sister, or an aunt, the decision-making process for Mother's Day gifts can be a tedious one.

If you're anything like I am, you probably wait until the last moment, which means about 4 or 5 days prior to Mother's Day. At that point, I am pressed for time, and my decision is usually a swift one made in the nick of time.

Through my work with Red Envelope brands over the past few months, I've had the chance to order from several of their brands including Personal Creations, Shari's Berries, and Red Envelope.

My favorite has been Red Envelope. There is such a variety of gifts for mom no matter what her interests or talents. With gifts ranging from jewelry to gardening tools to clothing to personal care items, you are guaranteed to find something for that special mother or mother figure in your life.

Highlights of the Mother's Day gifts available at


What woman doesn't love jewelry? Red Envelope offers a large selection of both personalized and non-personalized jewelry. One of my favorite pieces is this hand-stamped artisan delicate necklace, a two-tone charm necklace with a freshwater pearl. ($139.95).

Exercise Equipment

Is mom a yogi? Give her the ultimate gift of a yoga mat and coordinating bag to make her trips to the yoga studio easy and stylish. ($69.95)

Personal Care Products

Mom will look good, smell good and feel good with any number of products available at Red Envelope. I was given a $65 credit by Red Envelope brands to shop for Mother's Day. I choose the  aden + anais mum bub natural skin care gift set ($49.95).

This luxurious set is delicate enough for baby but designed for mom. This all-natural skin care kit is free of parabens, phthalates, and petrochemicals. All items in the set have been formulated for baby but are gentle and effective enough for mom too. The skin care set is made from pawpaw, which is a little known fruit which has been long celebrated for its benefits in Australia.

The set includes a 3 oz. tube of soothing ointment, a 12 oz. bottle of hair and body wash, and a 12 oz. bottle of ultra gentle lotion. The scent is light and fresh.

Gifts for the Foodie or Kitchen Dweller

If mom spends most of her time in the kitchen, she is sure to love either a personalized cutting board ($ 59.99) or a set of floral measuring cups ($29.99).

Gifts for the Fashionista

Is mom your fashion role model? Does she love the latest and greatest accessories? Look no further than Red Envelope for a gift that will make mom look marvelous.

Wrap up the lightweight dip dye scarf ($99.99) for mom. Or send her off in style with a dip dye canvas tote bag ($79.99).

Finally, the best gift of all, in my opinion, would be this fabulous picnic basket ($199.99). I would love to have this for Mother's Day. It would be perfect for summer picnics, outdoor concerts, trips to the beach.

One of the aspects I love about ordering from one of the Red Envelope brands is that the buyer can specify the exact date on which the item is received. This is particularly helpful if you've procrastinated, which we know happens. Life gets in the way. We are busy. It just happens, and Red Envelope understands that.

Get started shopping now! Head over to Red Envelope and look for some of my suggestions or find a favorite of your own.

If you find something that you just must have, you can find coupon codes here. They include everything from free shipping to 25% off your order of $75. Some really great coupons, so be sure to check them out before you make a purchase. If you do buy something, please come back and let me know what you bought. I'd love to know!

Disclosure: I received a $65 credit to shop at I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


Spring Beauty Must-Have: BB Cream

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
In the entire history of makeup and beauty products, why did it take so long to develop BB creams? They are amazing. Four functions. One cream. I've been waiting for a product like this since I was diagnosed with rosacea 10 years ago.

What is a BB cream and what exactly does BB stand for anyway?

For starters, BB stands for beauty balm. BB creams are all-in-one facial products that are intended to replace moisturizer, sunscreen, foundation and serum. Most brands offer different shades so it can be worn alone or as a tinted moisturizer. It can alos be worn over moisturizers and serums as a foundation.

Since I had been using so many products to mask my rosacea, I immediately jumped on the BB cream band wagon in the hopes of eliminating at least one or two products in my routine.

From the first time I used a BB cream, I loved it.

As a rosacea sufferer, sunblock is part of my daily skincare routine no matter what the season.  Having it built into my moisturizer saves me about 5 minutes.

I also love having some added color so that I don't have to pour on the foundation and the pressed powder. The added coverage helps to conceal my rosacea so that I can use less foundation. The best part is that on the weekends or when I am working from home, a BB cream alone is sufficient without any other makeup.

how to use a bb cream

BB creams range in price depending on the brand. Some start at around $6 and can top out at $60. The more expensive creams typically include anti-wrinkle capabilities and higher levels of SPF. Plus, you are paying for the high-end brand name.

garnier bb creamMy favorite BB cream is Garnier's Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream. It is thick but loosens up once applied to the skin. It's available in 2 shades and has an SPF of 15. It has great coverage and is long lasting. It's a bit oily and has a somewhat strong scent, but I wasn't bothered enough by either of those features to stop using it.

Garnier BB cream is a great value for the money at $11 for a 2.5 fl. oz. tube.

Tips for getting the most mileage out of your BB cream:
1. Apply, using fingers, to problem areas first and allow the BB cream to seep into the pores.

2. Apply to the rest of the face and allow 10-20 minutes for absorption before applying makeup.

3. If your skin is very dry, it may be necessary to apply a moisturizer before applying the BB cream.

When used correctly, BB creams are all-in-one miracle creams for even the toughest of skin problems.

Are you using a BB cream?


Menu Plan Monday ~ 4.22.2013

Monday, April 22, 2013
Thanks for stopping by for another Menu Plan Monday!

This month is flying by, and I am looking forward to warmer days and cooking on the grill on a daily basis. I had hoped to use the grill this week, but it doesn't look as if the weather will cooperate. So, it's business as usual.

Monday - Cavatelli with broccoli. This is Emma's favorite meal, and one that always satisfies both kids.

Tuesday - Pesto pasta with mozzarella and tomatoes

Wednesday - Take out. The Hubs won't be home for dinner, and the girls have gymnastics until 6:30 and the school art show to follow. Somehow, we'll squeeze in dinner.

Thursday - Mexican chicken wraps (in lettuce for the grown-ups; in tortilla shells for the kids)

Friday - Family dinner out.

Saturday - Grilled two-cheese burgers

Sunday - Corn and black bean stuffed peppers (Each week, I am attempting to make one item, whether it's a recipe or a DIY, from the many pins I've pinned on Pinterest. This recipe is my obligation this week.)

What's on your plate this week?

To see what others are munching on, be sure to stop by I'm an Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday roundup.

Fashion Friday ~ How To Wear A Chambray Shirt

Friday, April 19, 2013
I'm kicking myself for not keeping the oodles of chambray shirts I had back in the 90s. Who knew they'd ever come back around again?

Well, they are back and better than ever. These days, they are more fitted and available in darker shades of blues and grays and are a perfect match for the season's colored and printed denim.

You can't go wrong with pairing chambray with printed and colored denim whether it's jeans or shorts. You know how much I love my green jeans? I wear chambray with green jeans all the time. At least once per week. That's probably too much, but it's sort of become my trademark look.

I love the traditional chambray shirt in the middle with the printed denim. If the printed denim has a blue base, be sure to match the chambray shirt with it. Otherwise, it clashes too much.

And animal prints with chambray? Love, love, love it!

The soft, comfy denim of a chambray shirt make it ideal for casual outfits. But the shirt can easily be dressed up by adding a chunky necklace or a scarf.

Or try a chambray shirtdress. A great option for those days when you need something dressy yet casual and polished.
Do you own a chambray shirt? How do you wear it?

For more fashion inspiration and ideas for how to wear just about anything, head on over to  Musings of a Housewife's Fashion Friday.


Beauty Amid Tragedy: A Walk at Allaire State Park {Photos}

Thursday, April 18, 2013
When the world is filled with so much evil, so much tragedy, I want to remind myself of all the beauty that exists. It's easy to forget about it when the media constantly remind us of all the bad that happens in this world.

After I left the gym on Tuesday, the tragic event in Boston had been on my mind, and I was in need of something to take my mind off of it.

I headed for Allaire State Park where I could do two of my favorite things, take a walk and take pictures. It was a gorgeous day. One of those days where the sky was a brilliant blue with scattered wispy clouds. The sun was warm but the breeze was cool. It was one of those days that is few and far between, and one that reminds you that, yes, beauty is all around us.

I walked along this path for a while...

This tranquil creek was directly to my left. The soft sounds of the stream nearly put me to sleep.

A pair of geese to keep me company.

There is so much history here. I could sit and stare at these buildings all day, almost transporting myself back to the late 1700's.

And the doors...I LOVE taking pictures of doors.

I swear my blood pressure was at least 20 points lower after I finished my walk. There's something about that place that draws me in. I can't put my finger on it, and on a quiet weekday, it has an almost eerie quality to it.

Do you have a place like that, a place that you are drawn to for some unknown reason?


Tips for Explaining Tragedy to Your Kids

Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Have You Talked To Your Kids About the Tragedy in Boston?

It's not easy, but it has to be done. You don't want your children to hear it from someone else, especially not a classmate who barely understands the situation himself.

I'm sharing tips for explaining tragedies to your children on Meridian MomTourage. We've been faced with too many situations lately, and there are likely to be more in the future. Prepare yourself so that when your children come to you seeking answers, you are armed with what to say.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People: Explaining Tragedy To Your Kids


Menu Plan Monday ~ 4.15.2013

Monday, April 15, 2013
It's time to get back to menu planning. I've been winging it for the past month, and although we've had healthy meals, I hate scurrying around at the last minute to shop for ingredients.

I am off my gluten-free diet this week to see how it affects my body, energy, and overall well-being. Although I didn't see a huge improvement in my skin, I think the gluten-free diet was awesome for my digestive system. Something tells me that I'll be going back on it very soon.

Monday - Pasta Bolognese (I am making mine with gluten-free pasta).

Tuesday - Italian Wedding Soup (This recipe is from Ina Garten's book Back to Basics which I picked up at Crate & Barrel a few weeks ago.

Wednesday - Chicken Marsala with sauteed spinach and roasted potatoes.

Thursday - Black bean, spinach, and cheese quesadillas. I'm going to try using brown rice tortillas.

Friday - Dinner out

Saturday - I'll be at the Type A Advanced conference in Philly. The Hubs has dinner covered, I hope.;-)

What's on your plate this week?

For more meal planning tips and inspiration, visit I'm An Organizing Junkie.


Gluten-Free Orange Brownies

Sunday, April 14, 2013
This Easter I was looking for a light dessert that was a departure from chocolate. I wanted a dessert that embodied springtime. Oh, and it had to be gluten-free, also.

I searched online and found a few recipes that looked like they'd be perfect for Easter dessert.

The one I finally decided on was gluten-free orange brownies. I was a bit worried about how our guests would enjoy them. After all, there's nothing like an ooey, gooey, chewy chocolate brownie.

But I was willing to take a chance.

I had nothing to be worried about. Everyone raved about the gluten-free orange brownies. They were a huge hit! This recipe is a keeper, and I have a feeling I'll be making these often, especially for summer parties and bar-b-ques!


Gluten-Free Orange Brownies


1-1/2 cups cup4cup gluten-free flour (all-purpose can be substituted)
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs
2 teaspoons pure orange extract
1 teaspoon orange zest

1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest

Note: It is best to zest the oranges before you cut them for juicing.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously grease a 9 x 13 pan, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, and salt.

Add butter, eggs, orange extract, and zest. Beat until well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and firm.

Remove the pan from the oven and pierce the entire cake with a fork.

Prepare the glaze by combining the confectioner's sugar, orange juice, and zest is a small bowl. Mix with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze over the brownies.

Allow brownies to cool completely before cutting.

Note: Use a plastic knife to cut the brownies for a nice, even and smooth cut.


For more information on cup4cup flour, click here.

Use Zarbee's to Soothe Sore Throats

Thursday, April 11, 2013
Although cold and flu season are winding down (thank goodness), it's always a good idea to keep your medicine cabinet stocked and to have a few tips and tricks in your back pocket.

We were lucky this season. No major illnesses or extended absences from school.

Emma did, however, have an upper respiratory infection 2 weeks ago and missed 4 days of school. She was down for the count until the pediatrician decided to put her on a antibiotic.

The antibiotic was great in combating the upper respiratory infection, but it did little for her irritated throat. That's when I turned to Zarbee's.

I was first introduced to Zarbee's at BlogHer '12. You can read all about how we met and what I learned.

Since Emma was already taking prescription meds, I wanted to try to give her a natural alternative to sooth her throat. Zarbee's was the perfect choice.

Here are some of the qualities I love about Zarbee's:

  • It is all-natural.
  • It is drug-, dye-, and gluten-free
  • In addition to soothing sore throats, it also suppresses coughs
  • It is recommended by pediatricians
Zarbee's retails for about $9.00 per 4 fl. oz. bottle and can be found at drug stores, grocery stores, and mass retailers.

Pinspiration: 5 Tips for Creating the Perfect Outdoor Living Space

Monday, April 8, 2013
We are finally getting a taste of warmer temperatures here in the Northeast, and they've got me itching to spruce up my backyard and deck. I found a few fun and inexpensive ideas on Pinterest for adding some pizzazz to your outdoor living spaces.

Here are 5 tips for creating an outdoor living space that is both inviting to guests and relaxing for you.

1. Create ambience through lighting

Replace motion-sensored flood lights with soft lanterns and candles. Lanterns are the perfect choice for creating soft lighting. Whether you choose electric lanterns or candle-lit ones, their light creates ambience that's perfect for evening entertaining.


2. Offer seating options that are conducive to conversation

Keep your seating area tight and comfortable. Having everyone spread out over an area will make conversation difficult. Sectionals are great options for small spaces and for keeping everyone close, making chatting and mingling easy.

There's nothing worse than watching your guests squirm in hard uncomfortable chairs. Make sure cushions are plush and comfy. You want your guests to stick around and stay for a while!

I love how this set includes a nice, big round table for eating as well. It does double duty as both a seating area and an eating area.


3. Decorate with greenery

Plants and flowers are natural decorations for outdoor spaces. Use bright, bold flowers such as hibiscus and geraniums to add color. I love decorating with herbs. To add pizzazz to herb pots, paint them with chalkboard paint and write the name of the herb on the pot or use pots to identify your street number in your address.


4. Take cover

An umbrella is a must for any outdoor living area. A simple umbrella will provide the shade that you and your guests need to remain comfortable. Remember, the the sun will fade your umbrella. There is no need to spend a lot on a good quality umbrella. You can find many in the $50 price range that are comparable to the high-end umbrellas.

5. Accessorize

A few strategically placed accessories will pull your entire outdoor space together. Pillows for your seating area add color and texture. Tea light holders are a great choice for your tabletop area.

Do you have an outdoor space that you are excited to decorate this spring? How will you combine fun and function in your outdoor oasis? Please comment below to let me know!

{Cookbook Review and Giveaway}: Ten Dollar Dinners by Melissa d'Arabian

Sunday, April 7, 2013
When you look for new recipes to add to your repertoire, what qualities do you look for? Are fresh, local ingredients important to you? How about ease and quickness of preparation? Wouldn't it be ideal to use fresh ingredients that won't break the bank, are easy to find, and can be prepared easily after a tiring workday?

I've got a cookbook that meets all of these requirements. And it includes recipes that the whole family will love!

Ten Dollar Dinners by the Food Network's Melissa d'Arabian is a book written by a busy mother for busy mothers. d'Arabian adeptly uses her experience as a wife and mother to develop recipes that are easy, healthy, and delicious. I like to cook, but I am not good at whipping up a meal without a recipe. It's just not my thing. But I don't want to spend hours in the kitchen preparing meals. I want meals that are quick and easy to make and use ingredients that I can find in my local grocery store for under $15. Ten Dollar Dinners is the perfect resource for all of my needs.

Ten Dollar Dinners takes ordinary everyday meals and elevates them by adding a special ingredient or a unique sauce. And all recipes cost $10 or less to prepare for your family.* I love that!!

The book is divided into 11 sections. The sections include such items as soups, appetizers, dessert, seafood, and more.

How many times have you made a fruit salad? How many times have you wished that you could add something to the fruit salad to jazz it up? In the Desserts section of the book, d'Arabian features a recipe for fruit salad with lemon-mint syrup. The syrup makes an ordinary fruit salad extraordinary!

Summer is coming! How about the perfect burger? The grilled two-cheese burger will satisfy any burger lover. Both mozzarella and grated Parmesan top this plump, juicy burger.

My favorite recipe from this book, spinach and cheese-stuffed chicken with lemon butter (complete recipe is included at the end of this post), has become a household favorite. I make it gluten-free by substituting cup4cup gluten-free flour for regular flour.

I love this cookbook for many reasons, but the primary one is that Melissa d'Arabian's perspective as a mother equates to easy, affordable, and accessible meals. She's not preparing foods that I am certain my kids won't eat, such as parsnips and lamb.

I can easily get the ingredients together after a long workday and have any meal in this book on the table within an hour. Every recipe in the book includes the amount of time it takes to both prepare it and to cook it. For those evenings when you know your time is short, choose a recipe that takes the least amount of time to prepare and cook.


One lucky Pieces of a Mom reader will win a copy of Ten Dollar Dinners. This giveaway will end on April 15, 2013 at 11:59 pm ET. It is open to residents of the continental U.S. who are 18 years of age or older.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you just must get your hands on a copy of the book immediately, you can order it through

Spinach and Cheese-Stuffed Chicken with Lemon Butter (serves 4)

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 23 minutes

  • 8 ounces of thawed frozen chopped spinach (about half a 1-pound bag)
  • 1/4 pound (4 ounces) sliced, shredded, or chunks of cheese, such as Cheddar, mozzarella, provolone or Swiss.
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 6- to 8 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the thawed spinach in a paper towel, squeeze out excess liquid, and transfer spinach to the bowl of a food processor. Add the cheese, cream cheese, lemon zest, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pulse until the cheese is broken up into small pieces and everything is nicely mixed, about five 3-second pulses. Set aside.

2. Place the flour in a shallow baking dish and set aside. Place your palm flat on top of a chicken breast and, using a sharp knife and starting about 1/2 inch from the tip, make a long slit in the side of the chicken, working the knife about three quarters of the way through to the other side, but not cutting through the breast completely, to make a good sized pocket. Repeat with the remaining 3 breasts and then stuff each with a few tablespoons of the spinach stuffing. Thread 2 or 3 toothpicks (or shortened wood skewers) from top to bottom through the edge of the pocket to fasten it shut. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and then roll each breast through the flour, lifting out and gently tapping each one to knock off extra flour.

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts, smooth side down, and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Use tongs to turn over the breasts and brown on the other side, about 3 minutes more. Drizzle lemon juice over the chicken and sprinkle the butter pieces over the chicken. Place the chicken in the over until cooked through and firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Serve drizzled with sauce from the pan.

I ask my butcher to cut the chicken breasts to create a pocket. It saves me time, and I know it's done correctly.

Serve with any side dish. We like rice or roasted red potatoes.

For more information about Melissa d'Arabian, the book, and book tour dates, visit her Web site.

* All recipes are based on a family of four.

All photos appear courtesy of Melissa d'Arabian.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Ten Dollar Dinners by Melissa d'Arabian to facilitate this review. I did not receive monetary compensation to post a review. All opinions expressed herein are mine.