Cooking Experiences at Woodloch

Cooking Classes at Woodloch

We had the best time when we visited the Woodloch Resort back in 2014. Located in the Pocono Mountains, Woodloch is also an incredible destination for the holidays with some amazing programs like Yule Log Hunts, carriage rides, light shows, festive decorations, and Winter Olympics, abound. One of the resort’s most important traditions, however, began just three years ago with the inception of its 12 Days of Giving program, the goal of which is to focus on the true spirit of the holidays – the spirit of giving back.

Cooking Classes at Woodloch

I was particularly excited about their cooking classes where their culinary team goes to local senior centers from the Hawley, Hamlin, and Honesdale areas. Families can get in on the action and participate where a bus provides transportation to and from Woodloch Pines. How amazing is that!

Check out more of their giving incentives for the 12 Days of Giving below:

  1. Brightening Birthdays – With the help of the national organization Volunteers of America, Woodloch will be throwing a birthday party for some very deserving children at a New York City homeless shelter. Woodloch staff will organize and play games with the children as well as provide decorations and baked goods from the resort’s very own bakery.
  2. Hero Appreciation – Woodloch staff will spread holiday cheer and offer thanks by bringing homemade baked goods to fire stations in Long Island, NY.
  3. Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts Drive – Woodloch’s Social Department will collect donated arts and crafts supplies for children being treated at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
  4. Ronald McDonald House Dinner – Members of the Woodloch team will go to the Ronald McDonald house in Scranton and prepare a homemade meal for 20 residents of the home.
  5. Salvation Army Coffee Drop – The Woodloch Social Staff will be stationed outside the local Salvation Army location, handing out hot coffee and Woodloch Bakery sweets to workers, shoppers and donors.
  6. Operation Christmas Child – Shoeboxes filled with shoes, toys, and school supplies that Woodloch staff has been collecting will be delivered to children around the world.
  7. Winter Clothing Drive – Woodloch Pines staff has set up collection boxes around the resort to gather new and gently used winter clothing items, such as coats, hats, boots, and gloves, which will go to shelters in the local area.
  8. Angel Tree – Staff members can purchase holiday gifts for children in need by choosing an ornament from the tree, located in the staff lunchroom.
  1. Show on the Road – The Woodloch Crew will perform a strolling Christmas show through a local senior center.
  2. Thank an Employee – The Woodloch Family will reward randomly selected employees with a few extra dollars for the holidays.
  3. Fill Up Gas Tanks – Woodloch staff will hand out Mobile gas cards to unsuspecting drivers who pull into The Market at Woodloch to fill up.
  4. Cooking Class– The culinary team at Woodloch Pines will be providing a cooking class to local senior centers from the Hawley, Hamlin, and Honesdale areas. Avery Bus will provide transportation to Woodloch Pines for all participants free of charge.

For more info, please visit:


Vegetable Kale Soup

Vegetable Kale Soup

It is so great to find old recipes on the web like this Vegetable Kale Soup on What’s the Soup. I really love these type of soups before a major gorge-fest – like Thanksgiving – where you can nourish your body and pump it with tons of vitamins and minerals. It is also great throughout the winter to help you stay healthy and warm. Enjoy!

Vegetable Kale Soup

  • 6-8 cups of water
  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped
  • bunch of dill
  • bunch of parsley
  • 1 can of kidney beans (or fresh if you have time)
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
  • 2 parsnips, cut up
  • 3-4 mushrooms, cut up
  • 3-4 carrots, cut up
  • 2 cups of frozen peas
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • salt and pepper, to taste


1 Add water to a pot and let boil on a medium flame.
2 Add the bay leaves, garlic and the parsley and dill.
3 Cut up the parsnips, carrots and celery and place them in the pot.
4 Switch the flame to low and cover.
5 Let cook for about an hour, checking on the soup periodically.
6 Add the mushrooms, peas, kale and the beans and cover – for about another hour.
7 Add salt and pepper to taste and let cook some more a very low flame.
8 Taste and enjoy!

Easy Way to Give Back with Food for Thoughts Cards

Food forThoughts Cards

I love to discover new ways that the kids can give back. At the recent KidzVuz holiday event, we all had the opportunity to meet with Connie Charney, Founder of Food for Thoughts Cards, who quickly got us to work by drawing and writing holiday cards to those in need.

With the purchase of a Food for Thoughts Card a sandwich will be donated to the hungry

The company started when Connie would travel to NYC and bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She noted, “as I walk along the city streets, I give the sandwich to someone in need. These are my “give-a-sandwich” days. I’ve been giving sandwiches for years and now I’ve taken that effort up a notch through Food for Thoughts Cards.”

Thank You cards from Foods for Thoughts Cards


Cards from Foods for Thoughts Cards

Through this incentive, the company is able to donate a sandwich for every card that is purchased. This includes Thank You cards, Anniversary cards, and great Holiday cards. At the KidzVuz event, I loved that this was a simple way for the kids to get involved where they were able to make a card to someone in need while also developing an awareness of these issues.

As Connie noted, “with the purchase of each card, the cash equivalent of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is donated to a food pantry, soup kitchen, or other organization that feeds the hungry. I’m just trying to make a small difference in feeding the hungry.”

And for $3.25 that is really an easy way we can all give back.

For more information, please visit:

Thanksgiving Sides: Homemade Cranberry Apple Sauce

 Homemade Cranberry Apple Sauce

Since I know what Thanksgiving soup I am going to make, I decided to test out a few sides and desserts. One of my favorite sides is cranberry sauce, so I decided to try make my own after seeing this easy cranberry sauce recipe on Recipe Girl.  Growing up, I only cranberry sauce from a can so I was really excited to make this updated (and healthier) version.

Ingredients for Homemade Cranberry Apple Sauce

 Homemade Cranberry Apple Sauce

I altered it a bit by adding in apple chunks and some grapefruit juice, which made it slightly tarty. Other than that the recipe was really straightforward, required minimal cutting, and was ready to eat in about 15 minutes. There is no way I will ever go back to the canned version after making this and I’m sure that once you try this recipe you won’t either.


Check out the full recipe on Recipe Girl.

Weekend Wine Find: Great American Wine Company

A delicious red zinfandel from The Great American Wine Company

I don’t know that much about the intricacies of wine. With a crazy and full week, I really just want to chill, enjoy a glass of wine and binge-watch shows on Netflix. I do know that I love red wine, and tend to gravitate towards Pinot Noir. I also like interesting labels, which is how I gravitated towards this red zinfandel from The Great American Wine Company.

Made by Rosenblum Cellars and sourced in California, the wine wasn’t too oaky or heavy and had a rich and juicy taste that was perfect after the end-of-the week madness.  According to The Wine Bar, the wine “pairs well hearty pastas and roasted or grilled meats.” But, in my opinion also paired pretty well with Trader Joe’s mini peanut butter chocolate cups.

Another cool aspect of this wine is that the company donates to military charities, and is an affordable option at around $13.99.


For more info, please visit:


Mexican-Inspired Chicken and Bean Soup

Mexican-Inspired Chicken and Bean Soup

I have been making a ton of pureed soups. I generally gravitate towards them since they are so easy to put together and require minimal chopping. But yesterday I wanted to make something a little heartier and more meal-like for dinner. I didn’t have the time or the energy to make something from scratch so I winged it a bit and made a semi-homemade soup that was just as good. This included store-bought vegetable stock, canned beans, canned corn, and fresh veggies like carrots and squash. I then added in shredded chicken from some leftovers and pretty much let it all cook together. For seasonings, I added in some chili powder, salt, and pepper where in about 45 minutes this mish-mash of a soup was done. I topped it off with some sharp cheese, avocado, and Charras chips that made for a super comforting and filing soup that was also a hit with the baby and my older kids.

Mexican-inspired soup on Seriously Soupy

Mexican-Inspired Soup

Mexican-Inspired Soup


1 carton of veggie stock (I used the one from imagine)
2 cans of organic black beans
1 can of organic corn
1 glove of garlic, cut up
2-3 carrots, cut up
1 carton of butternut squash, cut up (I bought one that was chopped up already)
leftover shredded chicken
dash of chili powder (I used it sparingly with the kids)
dash of cinnamon
dash of salt and pepper
toppings: cheddar cheese, avocado, sour cream and/or chips


In a medium-pot add in the stock, garlic, carrots, and butternut squash and let cook for 20 minutes. Then, add in the beans, chicken, cinnamon, chili powder, and salt and pepper. Stir and let cook for another 15 minutes. Let cool and add on your favorite toppings.

How easy is that? Enjoy!

Bowl: Bead cereal bowl from Target

Fill the plates of hungry kids this Thanksgiving

No Kid Hungry Campaign

Did you know that one in five children struggles with hunger? Or that the average family only spends $49 on their Thanksgiving meal? It is awful to think that this hunger is happening on a national level, but there is something that we all can do through by participating in the No Kid Hungry Campaign.

No Kid Hungry Campaign

Share Our Strength‘s No Kid Hungry Campaign works to ensure that every child in the United States has access to healthy food where they live, where they learn and where they play, is asking people from all over the world to give with purpose. The organization provides children with healthy meals as well as provides families with educational resources and skills where they learn how to cook healthy and affordable meals.

Through their Thanksgiving campaign, a donation of $49 can provide up to 490 meals to hungry children this holiday season and throughout the year. That is less than a “fancy dinner” or two weeks worth of lattes that are going back to helping kids and families in need.

No Kid Hungry Campaign

Another way to give back is through the Giving Tuesday campaign. Instead of shopping for more stuff on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you can participate in this global day dedicated of giving back. This year, they have a huge goal to raise $100,000 on Giving Tuesday.

The best part? All donations on Giving Tuesday will be matched by Hickory Farms and Kettle Brand, up to $100k. That means we have the opportunity to raise $200,000 – enough to help connect kids with up to 2 million meals – all from one day’s work. With your help, together we can make sure that every kid gets the healthy food they need to succeed, this year and beyond.

For more info about how to participate, please visit:

Illustrated Guide to Your Favorite Harvest Soups

I am so excited to share this amazing and fully illustrated guide that is all about soups! Featured on, this colorful guide features the secrets behind your favorite harvest soups with recipes for carrot, ginger and thyme soup, barley vegetable soup and more. I love how the recipes are organized with clear and bright pictures of directions that is sure to help soup makers of all stages.


Thanksgiving Day Soup Idea: Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato

Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Butternut squash soup is my go-to recipe for the holidays, and really throughout the fall and the winter. But this year I wanted to mix things up a bit and try a new recipe. Since Thanksgiving is a such a rich meal, I am going to stick with the squash concept but also try some new flavors. For this recipe that included sage, sweet potatoes, celery, onions, garlic, and an apple, which helped to naturally sweeten up this “earthy” soup. In an attempt to do something a littler easier for Thanksgiving I used store-bought stock, but homemade stock would be amazing as well if you are super eager. I topped it off with some pomegranates (cranberries would also be nice) that turned into a delicious and healthy soup that my baby and I devoured. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving.

Making the Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

This Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato is also great for babies. Super healthy and easy-to-make.

Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato
Makes 4 bowls

1 acorn squash, cut in half
1 carton of vegetable soup
4 sweet potatoes
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 whole garlic, de-peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, up
2-3 carrots, cut up
1 apple cut, up
salt and pepper
fresh sage


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and let the sweet potatoes and acorn squash cook for 45 minutes or so. Add in the homemade vegetable broth or store-bought stock to a pot. Let boil. Add in the carrots, celery, onions, garlic, apple, sage, and salt and pepper. Let cook on a medium heat. When the squash and sweet potatoes are done, add them in the pot and cover. Let cook together for another 20 minutes. When ready, blend the soup together and top with cranberries or pomegranates.


Salmon Butternut Squash Corn Chowder Recipe

Salmon Butternut Squash Corn Chowder

With the colder weather, I have been wanting to make more comfort soups like chowder and chili. Back in 2010, I created this chowder that quickly became one of my favorites. Also, featured on the popular site, What’s the Soup, this chowder uses heart-healthy salmon as the base as well as fresh herbs like dill and veggies like butternut squash, carrots, and corn for a rich and hearty comfort soup. Great for the colder weather, I can’t wait to try this one again very soon.

Salmon Butternut Squash Corn Chowder

  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut up into squares
  • 1 fillet of salmon, cut up
  • 1 large carrot, cut up
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped up
  • 3 ears of corn
  • Bunch of fresh dill
  • 2-3 sprigs of scallions, cut up
  • pinch of salt and pepper, to taste


1 Pour water into a medium-size soup pot and start boiling on a low flame.
2 Chop up the onions, butternut squash, carrots, corn, along with the scallions and dill and add them to the pot.
3 Cover and let cook on a low flame for 30 minutes.
4 Taste and add salt and pepper.
5 Cut up the salmon and add it to the soup, along with the cream. Let cook for another 20 minutes, taste again and enjoy!