Supporting Fellow Moms and Busy Women!

As you know, we love supporting moms in the blogosphere, like our friend Nucking Futs Mama! So we're excited to share with you an interview with Anna Deskins, author of the children's book The Adventures of Smitty.

Your children's book, The Adventures of Smitty looks magical. Tell us about it.

It's the story of a magical island of little creatures called Smilies and the mischievous little main character, Smitty. He's such a naughty boy. Haha! All the moms and kids I've shared it with have been giving me such a wonderful reaction. I cannot believe it. I have to tell you how excited I am to finally have a life-long dream come true. Writing The Adventures of Smitty was really about finding a story that I would want to read to my children at night. It has to be exciting but not scary so that my two daughters can go to sleep. Basically, I was looking for that perfect blend to read to my kids at night and decided, "Why not try writing my own?"

We've had a lot of changes in our life recently, so I want to make sure that when I put my daughters to sleep that they feel safe. I have short chapters because I know how busy we moms are but if you can just sacrifice 5 minutes at night reading to your kids, it makes a world of difference. Your kids will never forget it. And although we're running around the whirlwind of life, our kids grow up so fast, and that time that we'd rather finish watching what happened in our favorite soap opera instead of reading to our kids will never come again. I hope that The Adventures of Smitty and books like it help moms do exactly that.

And it's only 99 cents this week. That's what I love about it. Now, You are recently divorced. How have you been able to continue writing when going through such a change?

Yes, it is by far one of the most challenging points in my life. To see a marriage you thought would last forever to not last forever was difficult for the two of us. I really learned a lot about myself and most importantly, it's brought me closer to my daughters. I think that's what really motivated me to finish this children's book no matter what. When you're going through changes in your life like this, you need something to hold on to. There's a part of you that wants to prove that you can make it, that you will be a success even if it's not with the partner you originally imagined building a life with. I had to keep writing, for my kids. I want to show them that they have to keep strong, no matter what.

We as women, as moms really need to stick together to support each other and our dreams. We're living in an age when I think we're finally realizing, although we want love, the men in our life aren't the answer to everything. We have to stand up on our own two feet and keep going. True love will happen, but until then, we have to keep moving forward. Our children depend on us and we depend on us.

In addition to being a children's book author, you're also a small business owner. How do you juggle taking care of two daughters and at the same time running a business?

Yes, I am a fashion designer and have a retail store. Any type of creativity is what I'm passionate about. That's why writing The Adventures of Smitty was so important to me. Let me tell you, running a small business in today's economy isn't easy especially when raising two girls at the same time. But somehow, it seems someone's watching over me because my dreams are coming true no matter what. To have that many moms glowing about my children's book, means so much to me. And I know my girls are proud.

When do you ever have time to write?
You mean, in between laundry, running a business, chasing my girls around the house, cleaning the house, and flying back and forth from Miami to New York? Haha? That's one thing I've learned, when you really want to do something, you find a way. Things fall into place if you just go for it and that's what I want to encourage all the moms who are reading this right now. Whatever your goal is, you can do it. Don't let the challenges in your personal life stop you from going for your dreams. Just go for it and it's almost magical how things fall into place.

Where can we get a copy of "The Adventures of Smitty"?
Right now, it's available online, and you can also visit my website where you can read more about my writing process, my recommendations for other books and my own adventures in Mommyhood.

I'm so grateful for your support and the support I'm getting from so many wonderful moms who dream of writing children's books one day too. Writing The Adventures of Smitty has been such an emotional experience for me, a true journey as I was going through so many changes while writing it. It's truly been a blessing in my life. It, along with my daughters, and that guy upstairs have really pulled me through a challenging time.

Thanks for the interview, Anna. And let's go out and support a fellow mom by getting a copy of The Adventures of Smitty today. I know I will!

The Secret Has Been Revealed: Quinoa

Quinoa with Mushrooms and PastaThis little superfood has been popping up everywhere and with good cause. Quinoa is the only meat-free complete protein and that means that it contains all 9 amino acids! It is high in fiber, magnesium, iron, and calcium, can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, protect against osteoporosis, and even help control cholesterol. Also, it's gluten-free for those of you with allergies, it's extremely easy to digest, and it's low in fat for those of you looking for healthier grains.

Can you believe it?!

It has actually become a huge phenomenon and if you look closely you can find that it is incorporated in pastas, cookies, chocolate, pie crusts, and even vodka! Quinoa, or "keen-wah" (if you were having trouble like me), is actually a seed and not a grain like most people assume. However, it is known as a grain because the cooking process is pretty much the same.

Quinoa is a small, brilliant looking bead, with a mild, earthy flavor. This "pseudo-cereal" has a fluffy texture similar to couscous. There are over 1,800 varieties but only 3 are found in stores: white, red, and black. Quinoa is extremely versatile and can be made into anything from side dishes to main courses to desserts.

So how do you make quinoa?

  1. Measure and place in a fine mesh strainer. Note: 1 cup of dried quinoa makes about 3 cups cooked.
  2. Rinse well in cool water to remove the natural coating, which has a tendency to make the tiny seeds taste bitter or soapy, then drain. Note: most store-bought boxes are pre-washed, but if you have the time it doesn't hurt to give the little guys and second rinse.
  3. Place in a small saucepan with liquid. "Liquid" can mean water or some kind of stock (chicken, veggie, fish, etc). I tend to go for stock just because it adds extra flavor. The ratio here is 2:1, or 2 cups liquid and 1 cup quinoa. Bring liquid to a boil and cover, turning the heat down to low. Simmer until all liquid has been absorbed, or about 15 minutes. For a visual reference: you should be able to see a tiny tail (the "germ") separating around the seed. Remove from heat and let stand for about 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork as you would couscous.
How do I store quinoa?

Quinoa stores best in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. This amazing superfood will stay fresh uncooked for 6 months, cooked in the fridge for up to 5 days, and frozen for up to 3 months.

How do I use quinoa?
  1. Try plain for a healthy and pure protein boost.
  2. Use as an alternative to other regularly used grains, such as pasta or rice.
  3. Stuff into or mix with veggies--pretty much any and all veggies will pair well.
  4. Toss into a salad to make your meal more filling and get some extra protein without adding meat, which can add extra fat or cholesterol.
  5. Have it for breakfast. Its high protein content and quick cook time make it great for starting off your day. Try it with maple syrup and vanilla soy milk or with a fried egg on top.

The combinations are endless as you can see, so experiment with flavors and ingredients! Quinoa should now easily become your new favorite, made-in-a-jiffy, whole grain, which might bode well now that school is back in session!

FYI: 1 cup of quinoa is 155 calories, 30g of carbohydrates, 3g of fat and fiber, and 5.5 grams of protein.


Quinoa Mushroom Risotto

Quinoa with Mushrooms and Pasta

Basil and Parsley Quinoa

Cheesy Mexican-Style Stuffed Bell Peppers

Sweet Cinnamon Quinoa

Leaving the Labor out of Labor Day

Labor day unofficially marks the end of summer, so profit from these last few days of sun, free time, and savory BBQ moments. Here are a few things that will keep the labor out of your holiday and allow you the enjoyment you deserve!

  • School is just around the corner, so keep your money in your pockets and don't buy a bunch of decorations. It's just not necessary! Show some pizazz with colorful desserts, such as stuffed strawberries or liven up ice cubes by dropping in some brightly colored fruit.
  • If you can prepare it in advance, why not? Potato salad is a must at all backyard dinning events and it actually tastes better if you let it sit (in the fridge) for at least 30 minutes before serving. So, the night before your party boil your potatoes, chop your veggies, toss together, and let chill overnight in the fridge.
  • It's hot, so it's a good thing you can whip up ice cream sodas and floats in a jiffy. Just remember to not fill your glass too high with soda or you'll have quite a mess on your hands!
  • And what is the most important part of any backyard cookout? Why the grill of course! On the morning of your lovely holiday sling your chosen pieces of meat, seafood, or veggies (with your favorite marinade or rub, of course) into a large ziplock bag and let marinate for 6 hours. This way you won't lose any precious time when your guests arrive.
  • Lastly, don't forget to relax, laugh, and enjoy some delicious bits and time with friends and family!

Stuffed Strawberries

Patriotic Fruit Spritzer

Patriotic Flag Cake

Potato Salad

Yellow and Green Potato Salad

Potato Salad


Classic Root Beer Float

Blackberry Ice Cream Soda


Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs


Kansas City
Rib Rub

Rib Rub

Carolina Pulled Pork Rub


No, I'm not talking about bath time.

I'm talking about rubs, another flavorful part of grilling. A rub, like a marinade, adds flavor and texture to your meats, seafoods, fruits, and/or veggies. There are two kinds of rubs:

  • Dry Rub: made up of herbs and spices and is either sprinkled over or literally rubbed into your grilling items.
  • Wet Rub: should have a paste-like consistency and include a liquid ingredient. In most cases it is some kind of oil and gently coats the grilling items.

Pretty much anything goes, just like when making a marinade. The spices and seasonings are totally up to you and your personal taste. Just remember that you want to enhance the flavor of whatever your are grilling. Your goal is not to overpower and pop your taste buds.

So keep in mind ...
  • Balance your flavors by mixing strong flavors with mild complimentary ones.
  • Rubs should be worked/rubbed evenly and completely into the grilling item as much as possible.
  • Skin is a flavor blocker so if your meat has skin, try and get underneath it as much as possible.
  • Apply the rub in advance to give your meat and/or other grilling foods the most flavor possible. If you add your rub just before you start to grill, you're just adding flavor to your grill rack and not your meat.
    • Small items: 1 hour
    • Large items: 4 hours to overnight

Ready to rub? Try one of these easy recipes:

Kansas City
Rib Rub

Rib Rub

Carolina Pulled
Pork Rub

Frosty Summer Drinks

Temperatures may be in the 90's but we're going to take you back to the 50's with our sweet soda float recipes! Discover the difference between an ice cream float and an ice cream soda. Then dive into a frosty glass of bliss with one of our easy recipes:

Clementine Julius

Classic Chocolate Ice Cream Soda

Lemonade Float

Classic Root Beer Float

Blackberry Ice Cream Soda

For more ideas, check out all our frosty drink recipes!

Makin’ Marinades

Summer is grillin' season and why not? It's nice to relax outside with friends and family. (Plus, it's healthy and inexpensive, but "shhh..."). People talk about "perfect" grilling techniques, but did you know that one of the most important parts of grilling is marinating?

Yes folks, marinating is key because the juices moisten and enhance the flavors of your meats, seafoods, fruits, and veggies. The marinade, whatever it may be, transfers its flavors directly to the outside part of your food. Then, during the grilling process, the food blends with the marinade again adding the second round of flavor. Mmmm ...

But don't get too caught up in all that flavor. There are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Marinades range in consistency, so don't be worried if you think it is too thick or thin.
  • The easiest way to marinate is to toss your food and delightful mixture in a large ziplock bag. This way you can shake (to completely coat your food) without worry or disaster.
  • Preparing in advance is great and I recommend it. However, after 6 hours it doesn't really make a difference and the juices actually start to breakdown your meat, cook your seafood, or overpower your fruits and veggies.
  • It is very important to note that any additional marinade you have left must be boiled if you want to use it as a side sauce. Remember, you had raw foods soaking inside and you don't want to make your guests sick!

Choosing a marinade is completely up to you and your taste prefence - just make sure your flavors balance. The balance of a marinade is made up of three things:
  • Acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, adds tang and allows the marinade to penetrate the food
  • Aromatics, such as herbs or chiles, add flavor and punch
  • Fats, such as olive oil or yogurt, keep your food from burning off the marinade before being fully cooked

Try of one our delicious marinades and get grilling!

Sweet Chicken Marinade

Zesty Fish

Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs

Java Marinade

Teriyaki Salmon

Chili Tabasco Tilapia

For more ideas, check out all our easy marinade recipes!

The FunnySpoon Guide to Grilling

Now, I am not afraid of fire or touching raw meat, but let's just say I am no professional when it comes to grilling. But this outside food experience is tons of fun and I want that to change. So, if you are like me, then these tips will get you out of the rookie corner!

Heat and Oil

There are two key points in grilling: heat and oil

  • Make sure you preheat your grill. Think of it like baking - your cake will bake, but it's just not the same if you don't preheat your oven. The preheating process (don't be scared by the word process!) takes about 15-20 minutes for gas grills and 25-40 if you are using charcoal. Use this time to clean your grill rack and scrape off any leftovers from your last cookout. Just scrub the rack with a long-handed stiff wire brush.
  • Once your rack is spic-and-span, lightly coat your grill with a nonstick spray or rub on some olive oil with a rolled up towel.


Depending on what you're cooking, the temperature is important. An easy way to figure out how hot your grill is, is to carefully (I can't stress this enough) put your hand just above the rack (did I say carefully?) and count seconds ...
  • 5 seconds = LOW
  • 4 seconds = MEDIUM (this is a small fire on a charcoal grill)
  • 3 seconds = MEDIUM-HIGH
  • 2 seconds = HIGH
  • 1 second = CRAZY HOT

For thin or small cuts of meat, like hot dogs, kebabs, steaks, chops, and burgers, you'll want things to be hot and fast. So that's the 2-second level, or HIGH. For fish, chicken with bones, veggies, and fruit, you'll want things on the 4-second level, or MEDIUM.


To flip or not to flip? Flip when it feels right and the food starts to release its yummy juices. It's also good to move your food around the grill for different heat levels.
  • Direct Heat: put foods directly over flames if you're searing or want it to cook fast
  • Indirect Heat: put foods away from the flames and close the lid if you want to cook more slowly


Ah, the secret of the master grillers. Even though there are general times for grilling certain things, it is still difficult to tell when something is actually ready. Honestly, it is just best to invest in a good old fashion thermometer. Better to be safe than sorry, my friends.

Remember, you can always cook more, but you can't go back in time and uncook your items. Obviously, undercooked meats are deadly but don't let that frighten you away - it's just a reality. So keep your eye on your grill and know that experience is the best tool (plus, like I said, a thermometer).

There you go - a non-headache guide to grilling like a champ! Now, go out there a grill your hearts out!

Chicken Teriyaki Kebabs

Grilled BBQ Chicken Pizza

Grilled Steak with Goat Cheese Sauce

Beer Can Chicken

Grilled Corn Salad

Grilled Peaches

Smoky Maple

Sweet Chicken Marinade

Rib Rub

Want more? Check out all our easy grilling recipes!


I was browsing through some recipes and found the most amazing and incredible discovery...

One-ingredient ice cream that is fat- and dairy-free! Yes, I'm talking about ice cream that's healthy for you. I know it sounds crazy, and to be honest, I didn't believe it either, but it is true. Plus, you're going to be even more pumped when I tell you what the one ingredient actually is...


Turns out, pulverizing frozen bananas with your food processor creates an ice cream-like creation that's pretty darn heavenly. And not only is this lusciously delicious dessert healthy, it's super simple to whip up.

Banana Ice Cream

Here are the key points:

  • Bananas are obviously important, so opt for very ripe bananas. What's very ripe mean? Well, your bananas shouldn't be brown and mushy-soft. They should be nicely yellow and spotted and dotted brown.
  • Peel your long yellow friends and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Size is important because either your food processor won't process or your consistency will be off if the banana bits are too big.
  • Freeze for 2-3 hours. If you lose track of time and freeze longer it will still work, it'll just be more difficult. We are trying to avoid smoke and funny smells here!
  • Toss your bits into the machine. If it's not pulverizing easily, add a tablespoon or two of liquid (e.g. water, milk, chocolate soy milk, etc.).
  • You might have to blend for about 5 minutes. It's okay; it's normal. Just stop every so often to scrape the sides of the pitcher with a spatula.
  • Your mixture might not completely look like ice cream. It should look like couscous when you have the right consistency. The magic moment comes when you grab your spatula and stir everything together. Then, presto-chango! Smooth, creamy banana ice cream ready to eat!

If you are making this for kids, or are just a sweet-tooth like me, you are welcome to drop in some delicious extras during the blending process, such as:
  • Cinnamon-Sugar
  • Cinnamon-Nutmeg
  • Vanilla Extract or Beans
  • Cocoa Mix
  • Granola
  • Frozen Fruit
  • Raw Almonds
  • Jelly
  • Peanut Butter
  • Maple Syrup Glazed Walnuts
  • Sweetened Marscapone
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • Wildflower Honey
  • Caramel

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for ICE CREAM SODAS!

Summer is here and boy-oh-boy it's getting hot! And golly it feels good to cool off with a nice ice cold soda or fudge Popsicle. But why not do something a little more old-fashioned and make an ice cream float or soda? I know they sound like something you order in a diner with waitresses on roller skates, but they are so simple to make at home - in your own "parlor" - that you'll want them for all your heat waves.

Quick Tips:

  • Pretty much any ice cream flavor, syrup, or soda will do; however, vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup are fan favorites.
  • It's important not to overfill your glass with soda. Always fill about 2 inches below the rim to keep from overflowing.
  • Soda or seltzer water must be cold.
  • Long spoons and straws are helpful to get every last drop!

Fun Fact: Ice cream floats are just ice cream and a soft drink, whereas ice cream sodas are made up of ice cream, a flavored syrup and soda water or seltzer water.

Classic Chocolate Ice Cream Soda


Classic Root
Beer Float

Blackberry Ice
Cream Soda

Stay cool, and bon appetit!

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