Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

As another year comes to a close (wow, that was fast!) I can look back fondly on 2011, and look forward to the year ahead like a gift waiting to be unwrapped or, just like last year, another ream of blank pages stacked in front of me. 

I am always tempted to make resolutions which we all know can be counterproductive.  This year, however, I can tell you without reservation that I plan to do a few things that absolutely scare the bejeezus out of me.  The list isn't too long or complicated.  I will share one of them, the scariest of them all here with you tomorrow (gulp).  The resolve I am feeling for what is sure to be a very exciting new year can be summed up in one word.  The word is:  Focus.

The time has come for me to get a firm grasp on the ol' boot straps and pull!  I find myself surrounded by and in awe of folks who have done so and are succeeding - making their own success.  I am so passionate about promoting my fellow entrepreneurs that I often forget about my own *tongue-firmly-in-cheek* "hopes, dreams and aspirations".

Thanks to several very encouraging, supportive friends, the voices of doubt are dissapating and I'm ready to dive into two new personal projects this year.  One is a book of poetry and the other is a fictional novel based on the life of my grandfather...  Yes, I am aware that everyone is writing The Next Great American Novel.  I go into this with a realistic attitude knowing that there are so many books in the world, and that just because I write one doesn't mean it will ever be read.  It would though, be a huge personal accomplishment and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream...  And, anyone who knew my Gramps knows this will be one helluva story!

By sharing some of this information with you, my tens of readers, I feel accountable in a way that I think will help me reach my goals!  So, thank you in advance for being there on the other side of the screen.

Wishing all of you the very best that 2012 has to offer and, as always, thank you so much for taking the time to read.

Peace and Love xo

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dog's Gone Wild for Rotations Pet Food!

This is Cinnamon.  She may look demure in her pink feather boa channeling her inner "I believe in pink..." Audrey Hepburn, but don't be fooled.  Beneath the surface of that sweet Maltese face lies the fiery Scottish temper of a terrier (Cairn) bitch.  Anyone who owns a Cairn knows how they drive us mad by being so irresistibly cute, yet so aloof... If you've ever accidentally brushed an arm across the hind end of one sleeping on the back of the couch, you know what I'm talking about.

Cinnamon had the opportunity recently to sample Rotations Pet Food.  I will admit I didn't know much about holistic or all natural dog foods before now, and she seemed to be doing okay with the dry kibble from our local pet store.  She gets 1/2 a cup of food in the morning and 1/2 a cup in the evening.  Typically, it will stay in her dish for the better part of the morning and she'll just take a few pieces here and there to nibble on. 

When our rotational pack arrived (3 5lb. bags, 1 of each variety: Chicken and Brown Rice, New Zealand Lamb and Potato, and Wild Salmon with Peas and Carrots) I opened the Wild Salmon first and mixed several pieces of the kibble into what was still left in her dish from earlier in the day.  I kid you not- she took one sniff and immediately started rooting through the food picking out the Rotations kibble!  I liken it (not proudly) to the first time I let my kid eat a (NOT at all holistic) chicken nugget from McDonald's -she was instantly hooked.

By the third day I could say to Cinnamon "Where's your food?" 

By the end of the first week she had easily transitioned over to Rotations and now sits (and often lies) by her dish when she thinks it's time to eat!  There is no more grazing - the food disappears in short order. And check out that shiny coat!

A couple of things I noticed within the first three weeks of feeding Rotations were that her coat became (and still is) very soft and shiny, and she has definitely "filled out" a bit.  I actually feed her just a tad less than a cup a day so that she doesn't plump up like a ballpark frank!  We have also stopped buying expensive "treats" like bacon strips, etc. and now, when she's done something to deserve one (i.e., her business outside when it's 20 degrees), she gets a couple of pieces of kibble instead.

In light of recent dog food recalls, one by Proctor & Gamble, maker of big name IAMS and another by Advanced Animal Nutrition, maker of Dog Power dry dog food it seemed like the right time for a change.  I had no idea that many dog food manufacturers use rancid, or almost rancid meat in their food! What?!

I am happy to report that Rotations is one of the ONLY U.S. based manufacturers that peroxide value tests ALL meat used before it goes into their recipes to ensure with 100% certainty that it has not even begun to go bad.  This has to be one of the top reasons ROTATIONS® dog food feeds better and is liked by more dogs than most other meat-first all natural pet foods!

One of the coolest things about Rotations is that once your dog has transitioned over, you can feed them one or all of the three varieties at any time with no digestive upset.  It really is remarkable.  There's no rocket science involved, but if you follow these guidelines for transitioning you can't go wrong:

Day 1 & 2 - 25% ROTATIONS, 75% existing food
Day 2 & 3 - 50% ROTATIONS, 50% existing food
Day 4 & 5 - 75% ROTATIONS, 25% existing food
Day 6 - 100% ROTATIONS

Money Saving Note:  When you buy the Rotational Pack, you're getting 3 bags for the price of 2!

Why Rotate?  Here's a partial excerpt: 

"Once you have selected a quality dog food, that’s all you need to feed, right? Despite what many dog food companies tell you, the answer is NO!

Dogs weren’t intended to get all of their nutrients from a single food. Just like all mammals, dogs are meant to thrive on a range of different foods obtaining the unique nutritional benefits from each. They are not intended to eat "only chicken" or "only lamb" or any other food item for most of their life. Changing a pets food provides the nutritional variety they need in order to thrive."

Find additional information and all of your questions answered here:
We've switched completely to Rotations and won't ever go back!

And now, a GIFT for you! Please DO use this special Coupon Code - CINNAMON - during your checkout process to recieve 15 lbs. of Rotations FREE! This offer is also good for the 3 bag "Rotational Pack" (You pay shipping only).

This generous offer is limited to ONE per household and is valid until 12/31/2011.

Have a furbulicious day and thanks for reading!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

SassaB ~ Fun Fab Stocking Swag!

Christmas is around the corner and I'm always trying to find fun stocking stuffers at the last moment.  It's a double bonus when I can support a fellow small business owner and get a quality product. 

I love these new, fun, linkable charms from SassaB!  I recently interviewed Tracy Sanders, Owner and Creator of SassaB LLC about the upcoming launch of her very first product, and I couldn't be happier for her!  A little history - Tracy and I attended the same casting call for what would become Kelly Ripa's Homemade Millionaire during the Summer of 2009 in Chicago.  We didn't meet at the audition, but connected subsequently through her ProductX Blog.  There have been a lot of ups and downs for us both since then and she has never given up on her dream of bringing a product to market.  Well done T!

How fun are these charms?  I have spent many a dollar in the past on other charms found in novelty stores, etc., that either broke or fell apart within the first few days.  They say the devil is in the details, and the first thing I noticed is that the lobster clasp on SassaB is much better quality than those "other" charms.  They are easily linked together with connector rings on both sides of the charms. 

The girls were so excited to wear them to school and now they are finding all sorts of fun things to do with them! 

Make a necklace...

Add pizzazz to a zipper...

"Create your own style!"

Looking forward to collecting them all and spreading the word about these FUNtastic new charms!

You can also find SassaB on Facebook.

As always, thank you for taking a few moments out of your busy day to read.

XO Jen

Monday, November 21, 2011

p.s. I Love You, But...Aren't You Forgetting Something?

First, a disclaimer - I may be the queen of disclaimers.  It is important to note before I continue that, in the world of Social Media, I am not, by definition, an expert.  I believe that becoming a stand-out in today's vast landscape requires some very basic skills (not necessarily expertise)... the kind they don't teach in institutions for higher learning.  I am referring (once again) to manners aka "Twittequette".

And now, without further ado... When does one become such a BigTwig that they are no longer required or feel it necessary to acknowledge or say thank you to mutually influential folks who go out of their way to tweet, retweet, shout-out and generally spread the love about them?  Is it the sweet blue check mark?  Is it when you have become too busy traveling the world speaking and teaching others about Social Media?  Is it when you've authored books on the subject?  Hmmm, no, surely not that last one, because that would be like, totally *ironical* and contradictory right?

The clear answer is:  Never, especially when you have gone out of your way to solicit interaction with your audience.

Since joining Twitter in 2009 I have had the privilege of connecting with people from all over the world.  The common thread that keeps me connected and passionately tweeting and communicating with my modest 1,700 or so followers & those I follow is the fact that there is an effort made to share information in a mutually generous, mostly organic (i.e., non-automated), honest fashion.  I believe the smartest people in Social Media today are the ones who can see far enough past their own beaks to say those two little, but powerful words:  Thank You.

I've had the pleasure of tweeting with some insanely busy people, including mega celebs, moguls, major magazine publications, premium television networks, nationally recognized authors and fellow Social Media colleagues who are never too busy to say thank you publicly or privately.  These are people who despite working 12-18 hour days, understand the power of a Thank You. 

Recently, following a gathering featuring some "big" names in Social Media, I was thrilled to see that some friends had connected with a few of them and had even tweeted great pictures and quotes throughout their respective presentations.  I had a few "OMG" moments scrolling through their timeline, followed by a bit of "WTF" upon noticing that apparently, some are much too wrapped up in their own wonderfulness that they fail to notice their fellow Social Media man.
As it turns out, having an audience is a privilege... So, pay attention, remember who they are and take a moment to show some level of gratitude to those who are looking up to and being inspired by you. Unless you are receiving thousands of @ reply messages on a daily basis, acknowledgement in the form of a simple "Thank You" when you can legitimizes what you are preaching to all of us.

Monday, September 12, 2011

September is World Alzheimers Month

Hello neglected tens of readers! I’ve missed you!

This particular September means many things in my household. Kids are back to school and the youngest is now a full-fledged First Grader which means everyone is in school all day and I have a full 7.5 hours to do as I please (e.g., sit in silence, sip my coffee and compose this post at my leisure with no interruption! Ha!)

More importantly...

September is World Alzheimers Month. I have a dear friend whose mother is suffering from Early Onset Alzheimers, which I have recently learned is a much more aggressive form of this terrible and heartbreaking disease. Both of us are active in the many forms of Social Media including Twitter and she, along with other members of her family, and members of the Alzheimers Association community have been using this powerful tool to help raise awareness and share information about the disease.

I have talked about before, but cannot say enough, what a powerful tool Twitter can be for connecting people and removing the proverbial walls that exist outside of this arena. With that said, it is also important to remember that there are, unfortunately, seemingly well meaning folks who are not necessarily what they appear to be.

In the world of Social Media perception is reality – I can say anything I want or represent myself in a certain manner that might be entirely false. Integrity, trust and authenticity are the qualities I look for and value the most in my feed. If I connect two people together it is because I feel strongly that they might benefit from the introduction. I am passionate about this – it is what I love to do.

Tips & Twittequette:

Retweet the tweets of major organizations connected to your cause.

Include whatever hashtag they are using (e.g., #WorldAlzheimersMonth #humantrafficking #SusanGKomen).

Engage with and follow people within that community to see how you can work together effectively.

Do your homework before donating money to any organization other than who you know to be the main representative of the cause.

Do not expect to tweet a link directly to any celebrity or news organization and have them magically start clicking your link, following, or mentioning you!

Do not tweet the same link to many people in a short period of time with no other personal interaction. You will be viewed as a spammer and likely reported as such.

Do say thank you and acknowledge when others mention or retweet information for you.

Follow These Influential Folks:


Get Involved:

Please go to the Azheimers Association website to find out all of the latest about upcoming events in your area. There are Walks, Galas and other creative ways to help raise awareness and research dollars for Alzheimers conveniently listed on their site.

Final Thoughts:

There’s no ‘I’ in Team people!

Hope you’ll take a moment to give a Tweet for Alzheimers.

As always thank you for reading.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

At Your Service

JenCann Productions has a new look and a new attitude. Thanks to the very cool and talented Lizzie Sorensen for my bodacious new logo!!

If you or someone you know needs a "word up", I can help!

JenCann Write, JenCann Connect, JenCann Tweet

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Heart Wordle

I have recently discovered Wordle! I can hear the collective gasps of scrapbookers and geeks everywhere thinking "that's like sooo two thousand and eight!" Well, yes, I'm a bit late to the party - but hey - Wordle UP!

I stumbled upon (forgive the pun/linking opp) Wordle by accident in June when I was thinking about a birthday gift for Gramps who was about to be eighty-nine. What do you get a guy who's eighty-nine, has lived the life of at least two or three people, full-tilt, balls to the wall, never wasted a moment and not in need of anything? I wanted it to be something meaningful since I am his only granddaughter. I finally got it. I would write him a poem. Then, sitting on the plane from PHL to LAX I thought, hey, what if I could make a collage of words, 89 words/things about George for his 89th birthday? Viola!

The day before his party (I work best under tight deadlines), sitting with my cousin at the computer, I explained my idea. I was thinking I could create it maybe using a text box or boxes in a Word document (no laughing!) and quickly realized it would not be easy. So we start searching. First we Googled "word mashup" with no luck, then tried "word collage" and there it was that cute little Wordle logo beckoning us to check it out.

Sadly, I did not publish the Wordle I made for Gramps, but I did take a picture of it.

Fun, right? How could I have never known about this cool tool! Did I mention it is also free? It's free. All you have to do is download Java Script, also free. Very simple.

SO - because I am never satisfied with my Twitter background, I decided to see if I could make one using Wordle. I searched and found others who have done it (although they make it sound a lot easier than it has been for me, the technicalogically challenged). My only issue has been figuring out how to save it as a jpeg to be able to upload it as an image. I think I have finally done it by copying and pasting the html code here.

Wordle: Self descriptive for Twitter

Here's where I need help! Stinks that it doesn't appear larger. If you click on it, you will see it full size... now need to go figure out how to take a screen shot and resize in Paint? Oy - getting frustrated, not giving up. Tips welcome.

Before I sign off for today, I must say RIP George "Gramps" "Doc" "Doc Shah" Dordigan (Shahanian to many) June 29, 1922 - July 23, 2011. Your story is for another day...


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Long May You Wave

Written by my beloved, passionate Gram on June 25, 1989 in response to an article in the Los Angeles Daily News regarding flag burning...

In Honor of Flag Day


I am the Flag of the United States of America. Do not call me "Just" a symbol.
I carry the echo of once beating hearts, stilled so that I could wave on high.
I am wet with tears that will never dry.
I am covered with the dust and sweat of those who through every kind of hardship, heartbreak and pain, made me strong.
I lay with heavy heart over the more than two hundred caskets of our young Marines killed in Beirut by fiends, senselessly and undefended.
I held my breath as six battle weary men with uniforms splattered with the blood of fallen comrades, struggled to raise my colors on Mt. Suribachi.
I am flying guard over the white crosses of fallen husbands, sons, fathers and brothers who lie in foreign soil thousands of miles from home.
I renew the strength of purpose, faith and hope to those that reach out for me, who look to me for inspiration.
I am not words that need freedom to be spoken.
I am EVERYTHING American.
I understand what five black-robed men of our Supreme Court were trying to prove when they ruled it illegal to stop the actions of those who want to wound me, throw me down, destroy me. But I hurt with this decision.
There is a time when the moral issue transcends the technical.
This is that time.
Call me a symbol if you like, but I am more, deeply, meaningfully more.
Do not open the door that will give those who wish to harm us the first step that will lead to more attempts at our downfall.
Respect me.
I shall remain strong.
I will always be here.

Martha Dordigan 1923 - 1996

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lip Stick or Lip Gloss?

I cannot tell a lie. I have a serious appreciation for lip gloss and the boost I feel it gives me when I am wearing it. I do not leave home without it. If I were stranded on a deserted island… okay, well, if I were stranded on a deserted island, there would probably not be a need for my precious lip gloss, so I’ll skip that.

The Queen of Fabulosity herself, Kimora Lee Simmons, will agree: When do-it-all Mamas rise and grind, throw themselves together in a jiffy, and run out the door with little or no make-up, a little bit of lip gloss goes a long way! I keep tubes of gloss stashed in strategic places throughout my home and car for easy access at all times.

The choices are mind boggling! There are glosses that promise to plump, rejuvenate, sparkle, tingle and make us (or at least our lips) look younger and sexier. There are wide ranges of color from bold to barely there (nude is hot right now!), and have consistencies from smooth and runny to so sticky you may as well pluck that strand of hair out of your head rather than trying to free it from your lip. I’ve tried expensive glosses from the make-up counters at fancy department stores and the cheap drugstore glosses and, yes, there is a difference. With all of this variety and versatility, dare I say one doesn’t really need lipstick? I love the way that the colored glosses look great no matter what the occasion. There are also many glosses now that are actually lip “sticks” with the gloss built in.

Recently, while waiting to board a flight for a family vacation I discovered (to my horror) that I had accidentally left my favorite lip gloss at home. I was lucky enough to have time to run to another terminal where I found The Body Shop – score! If you’re in the market for a good quality lip gloss, I highly recommend their products. They are all-natural and, as I mentioned earlier, carry a line of lip gloss/lipstick combination. You will pay a little bit more for these products, but you will immediately notice the quality in these velvety tubes of fantasticaliciousness. Of course, I couldn’t buy just one and also opted for some clear gloss with a little sparkle in it for good measure. Now with all my fears assuaged, I was able to relax and know that I had those little tubes of security to keep me looking fresh and feeling pretty.

I am a big believer in the “look good, feel good” philosophy and can honestly say that on my worst day, a bit of gloss on my lips makes all the difference.

What do you think? Lip Stick or Lip Gloss? Tell us your favorites!

Thanks for reading ~


Friday, April 1, 2011

...It Happens!

Today I will share a laugh at my own expense - what the hell, it's Friday and I have neglected my little piece of cyberspace for too long!

Many years ago, on a gorgeous summer evening, my grandparents made the journey from the valley to the mountains where I lived for a weekend getaway. My boyfriend and I planned to meet them at a great steak restaurant we knew they would love, which was located in the village within walking distance of their hotel. It was a lakeside restaurant fashioned after a boathouse, and featured booths made from vintage wooden Chris Craft boat hulls. They served the best Surf and Turf on the mountain and we hadn't been out for a nice meal in a while. This was going to be a real treat.

The four of us dined on steak and seafood dishes and enjoyed a nice bottle of red wine. We took in the view of the lake and chatted about the novelties of living in a resort town. The restaurant was about half full, and as I looked out over the dining room I noticed a kind of haze, or was it the wine? No, it was definitely a haze, like the kind you see when they bring out a sizzling plate of fajitas; only they did not serve fajitas. Hmmm. Interesting.

After about thirty seconds, I noticed other people noticing the haze, which was starting to look a lot more like smoke, but no one seemed overly concerned about this. At this point, we were feeling fat and happy, what a fantastic meal that had been. We started thinking about getting the check and were still wondering what the deal was with the smoke.

Just as we started seriously looking around for someone to inquire about the possibility that there could be a fire in the kitchen, the hostess came walking briskly but calmly through the dining room to confirm there was indeed a fire and everyone needed to get the hell out! I mean she said that yes, we all needed to exit in a quick and orderly fashion.

While we did not waste any time in leaving, we were sort of wondering about how we were going to pay the check, but realized it might be a moot point in a few minutes. We stood outside on a nearby dock, as Gram was very curious to see what was going to go down. It quickly became clear that the situation was a bit more serious. Apparently, the fire started from a dirty grease trap (perfect) and soon there were big black clouds of smoke and fire billowing through the roof! It was time to move along.

As the four of us made our way to the stairs that led to the upper level of the village which was an outdoor shopping area, I felt a slight rumbling in my stomach. I didn't think much of it until about a minute later, as my grandparents discussed the possibility of dessert, when that slight rumble turned bona fide on me. I could feel the heat begin to rise and little beads of sweat began to form above my lip. My mind started racing at the realization that there were no restrooms nearby and not much time before the disaster in my gut would put me in a position of ultimate personal mortification (which almost rhymes with __________).

Now, I have always been amazed at how resourceful one can become when put into a situation that seems hopeless. I like to think of myself as a problem solver, but this was going to take some really fast thinking. I made an excuse to my boyfriend about going to check something out over yonder and maybe seeing if the ice cream shop was open.

Once I was a few feet away and knew they weren't looking, I broke into a full sprint, squeezing my cheeks with everything I had and heading for the only place I knew I might find some privacy. This was not going to be pretty or ladylike.

At the end of the village there was an open area with a big gazebo reserved for people getting married or having parties. It was situated at the lake's edge and surrounded by huge pine trees, whose branches came down pretty low. Thankfully, it was late and there was no one around, so after a quick look, I dropped my drawers and squatted down, praying for death. It was one of those situations where you're not quite sure which end this event will spring forth from, but you've got to be ready for both. As the sweat was coming down my forehead, I felt a giant rumble and then well, there was a situation.

Just as I was feeling relieved at not having messed up my pants, I realized there was nothing to wipe with. Like I said, I am a problem solver- just call me the MacGyver of sticky situations. Since I was surrounded by pine trees and not oak, I went with the only other possibility at the moment and peeled off one of my socks. I was never so happy to be wearing socks! Oh happy day! I was, however, sorry that I had to leave that sock behind.

What a relief! I was back from the brink of disaster virtually unscathed except for the loss of a sock. I had never littered before (or since) then. I ran back to where my boyfriend and grandparents were waiting, still watching the firemen trying to put out the fire in the restaurant. I had been gone about ten minutes and they were beginning to wonder what happened. I said I was looking for a place to get some dessert, but that everything was closed. I am sure I looked a little disheveled and my face still felt flushed.

After saying goodnight to my grandparents, we got into our car and I decided to tell my boyfriend the story of my stomach disaster. We laughed until we cried and he almost didn't believe me until I showed him my feet. I threw the other sock away when we got home.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ask Me Anything

Thought I would try to switch things up a bit and turn the tables on you, my loyal twenty-four followers. Feel free to ask me anything or suggest a topic you'd like me to write about!

I have been meaning to update with something a little more uplifting, but there's so much going on that I've had a tough time narrowing down a specific topic.

So, let's have it! I'm ready - bring it!

Peace, love and word to your Mom ~

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Little Blue Maverick

We haven't heard from Gram here lately and I have been wanting to share this for some time. For those of you who haven't been following, I found a folder after she passed away containing all sorts of tidbits of writing; everything from letters to the White House, poems and, what I cherish most, her innermost thoughts. In May of 1975, her only son, my favorite uncle, Gary Dordigan, died tragically and unexpectedly.

On May 10, 1975, the Los Angeles Times reported "William May Garland, 38, a wealthy real estate developer, was found dead Friday with instructor pilot Gary Dordigan, 32, in the charred wreckage of Garland's twin-engine Skymaster light plane on Frasier Mountain 10 miles west of Gorman."

I was in 2nd grade and living with my grandmother at the time. I will never forget the day she entered my classroom at Pinecrest School in Burbank to pick me up early. She didn't speak, just took my hand gently and off we went. I didn't really know what was going on and I am certain she was still in shock at the time. Back at our apartment all of her sisters and other family members had gathered and I remember a lot of quiet crying and hushed grown up talk.

This tragic accident left an irrepairable fracture in my grandmother's heart. Gary was the "golden child", the champion swimmer, dashingly handsome and charismatic in every way. He was the light in her life and definitely a big part of my world. It was the first time I ever experienced true sadness. Uncle Gary loved to draw and made wonderful sketches. I was given his sketch pads, markers, colored pencils and chalks. I carried them around with me for a long time.

The following is my gram writing from the perspective of Gary's little Blue Maverick...

"Twilight was settling quietly over the parking lot at Golden West. The little blue Maverick sat waiting in its customary parking spot, dusk dulling its soft color. Shadows of night engulfed the little car as it silently watched and listened for the familiar step, the strong grasp of a hand on the door handle. It was very late. Where is he? He would not leave me here. Morning brings hope. Footsteps in the distance? Time and time again, the little car springs alert only to sink back into disappointment and the steps fade away, it's not him. Other car doors open, other cars drive away. The little car is perplexed, worried. The second night approaches. He is again alone in the parking lot. The noisy activity of a busy day at Van Nuys Airport fade into the soft sounds of evening. Where are those jaunty footsteps, where is the cheery repartee with friends? Why has he not come to take us home?

A third night, the dim parking lot lights only emphasize the loneliness of the little car as it sits keeping its solitary vigil. Something has gone wrong. He would not abandon me. What is it? Gary? Gary?

Hope dims and flickers out as the steps of a stranger stop at the door of the little blue car. An unfamiliar hand turns the key in the lock. I will respond to the command of this stranger. It is not my Gary. My Gary is not coming back to guide me. Seven days ago I watched as he flew over me into the late afternoon sun. He was here, he has slipped away, out of the burning wreckage crushed on the side of the rugged mountain.

Via Condios Gary. Gary, Gary, Gary."

Monday, January 31, 2011

Broccoli Besto ~ A Twist on Pesto

I can still remember it so vividly - one day my 18 month old daughter was eating everything from black beans and rice to peas and spinach and then, seemingly overnight, some magical I-don't-eat-vegetables-breadcrusts-or-anything-resembling-a-vegetable switch was flipped. That precious girl is now 7 and things are starting to turn back around, but I am continually dreaming up new ways to make green things look good and taste even better.

I will admit to you that dinner, the once favorite, most anticipated and well thought out meal of the day, is frequently the bane of my existance-- except on days when I get an idea like this one!

We love pesto around here - it is one of the green things that my kids love with pasta. Because of this, I thought hey - why couldn't I substitute broccoli for basil and see what happens?! I gave it a whirl and happy to report it was a hit! I can assure you the whole family will love this!

NOTE: You can toss this with your favorite pasta or enjoy on it's own (kind of like you would creamed spinach). I used it as a side dish with grilled chicken breasts and mixed it with Dittalini pasta to make it more appealing to the kids.


1-2 small heads broccoli
1/2 1lb. box Dittalini or other small pasta
2 cloves fresh garlic finely chopped
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp. butter (Yes people, BUTTER! Live it up and get yourself some Plugra!)
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup grated Parmesean Cheese
Kosher/Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

OPTIONAL ADD INS: Red Pepper flakes, Toasted Pine Nuts


Food processor or blender
Bowl of ice water


Put medium pot of salted water on to boil while you rinse and chop broccoli.
Once water is boiling, add broccoli and let cook for 5-6 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to bowl of ice water to stop cooking and retain color. Save boiling water and add pasta! Add broccoli to food processor and pulse/grind until finely chopped. Set aside.

In deep saucepan over medium heat saute olive oil, butter and garlic - careful the oil is not too hot or the garlic will burn and be bitter. Stir in broccoli and saute for 1-2minutes before adding half and half, parmesean, salt and pepper. When pasta is done, drain and fold in with broccoli.

This goes really well with grilled chicken and my whole family gave it two thumbs up. You could also make this with linguine and add in shredded roasted chicken for an almost one-pot meal.

Took a pic of the kid plate as I didn't have time to plate a pretty grown-up one. Added unsweetened applesauce to the little heart for a very well balanced meal!

Ready, set, enjoy!

Hope you'll try this recipe and let me know what you think!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Love is... Cheese Beoreg!

I am a very proud one-quarter Armenian. My grandfather on my mother's side is 100% and his sister, my great Auntie Ruth has told me some incredible stories over the years. Her husband, my great Uncle Vee, was loved by all -- the sweetest kindest soul. I have so many fond memories of him from when I was a little girl playing with my cousins at their house for Christmas. I learned from my Auntie, who is now ninety "something" and making it look like the new seventy, that Uncle Vee's mother was pregnant with him when she and her family were sent on a death march during the First Genocide of the 20th Century. It is nothing short of miraculous they survived, but that is another story...

Some of the best memories of growing up with my grandmother and getting to spend a lot of time with my cousins, aunts and uncles were the holidays. Thanksgiving or Christmas at Auntie Ruth's meant overflowing platters of hand rolled Sarma (beautiful grape leaves stuffed with rice and raisins with lots of lemon squeezed over the top), fancy Rice Pilaf with date and nut topping... and Cheese Beoreg!

These heavenly cheese filled rectangles were so popular that when my cousin Deneen was an adult, there suddenly appeared a custom painted platter for the Beoregs that had been sectioned off with her section being giant and "everyone elses" being the tiny little corner. I wish I had a picture of that platter to share here! Anyway - you get the idea.

The great thing about this is that you can make as many as you want ahead of time and freeze them. The following recipe makes 36 Beoregs.


2 boxes Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets
1 lb. Jack Cheese, shredded
8 oz. Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 egg
Few rounds of fresh ground Black Pepper
*2 tbs. Fresh Parsley, finely chopped (optional)*


Note for assembly: You will need cutting board, flour, knife, fork, spoon and little dish of water. Also, freezer bags if you plan on making ahead.

Thaw puff pastry sheets at room temp.
In mixing bowl combine cheeses, egg, pepper and parsley*
Sprinkle cutting board with a bit of flour and give just a couple of rolls each way to the pastry sheet (don't stretch too much).
I place the pastry sheet so that the lines from folds are horizontal and I can cut nice squares. Like this:

Each sheet of pastry will yeild 9 beoregs.
Using a tablespoon, place a small amount on pastry (as shown), then use a knife to cut down and across twice to separate. Dipping your finger in the water, dampen the outer edge of the pastry, then fold over and seal around the three edges with fork.

I have always prepared mine ahead so these baking instructions are for frozen Beoregs.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place Beoregs on baking sheet (non-stick or sprayed with PAM), brush with egg wash and bake on middle rack for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown on top. Keep an eye on them!

Hope you'll try them and let me know what you think!

Love and Big Bachik (kiss!)