About Melissa Young

A Little about me: Meeting new people and learning new things is always exciting. I thought it might be helpful for you to know a little more about me. My name is Melissa Young and I am the new Manager of Client Services. I have my MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. In my spare time I enjoy playing golf and tennis, cooking and spending time with my family and friends.

Butternut Squash Fries

Welcome fall!  Here is a simple and delicious recipe for Butternut Squash Fries.  I am a sucker for anything fries.  This recipe is great with several dipping sauces too!  Be creative and have fun.

This recipe is also great for last-minute dinner emergencies.  If you need a side dish for a potluck or party, this would be a perfect go-to.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small (1-2 lb) butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and sliced into “fries”
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne powder

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Place the fries into a bowl with the olive oil. Toss until all the fries are coated. Season with remaining ingredients and mix until combined.
  3. Pour onto baking tray and evenly spread out so no pieces overlap. Place into oven and bake for 20 minutes. Flip, and continue baking for another 10-20 minutes or until desired crispiness is reached.

Enjoy!

 

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Apple Cider Donut Cake

I hope everyone is starting to enjoy the beginning of fall weather!  It is starting to get cool, but not cold. The sunsets are just gorgeous and the leaves are beginning to change pretty colors. What more can you ask for…OK donuts/cake…my thoughts exactly.

One thing I can’t get enough of during the fall is apples.   The fresh juicy apples are just waiting to be baked in some delicious way.

Try this recipe and see what you think.  I love to bake this time of year.

It warms my soul and my tummy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cinnamon Sugar Coating

  • 8 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Dash of salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease bundt pan with baking spray.

In medium saucepan, bring chopped apple and cider to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until most of the cider has been absorbed and apples are easily smashed with a fork, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cool 5 minutes, and then pulse in food processor until pureed.  Stir in milk into apple puree; set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon; set aside.

In large bowl, beat unsalted butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add oil and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Decrease mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with apple mixture, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Increase speed to medium and beat mixture just until combined.   Add vanilla and beat once more, just to combine.

Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake until cake tester inserted in cake comes out clean, rotating cake halfway through baking, 35 to 45 minutes. Take out of oven and let cool upside down on top of a serving dish for about 10 minutes before removing from bundt pan.

For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating: Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle warm cake with cinnamon sugar, using fingers to rub it onto sides.

Cool cake completely, about 1 hour.

Happy Baking!

 

Update: Originally this post stated to let the cake cool upside down for 30 minutes, instead of cooling upside down for 10 minutes.

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Tri-Color Pasta Salad

As summer is coming to an end, I thought I would share a family recipe for Tri-Color Pasta Salad.  You can eat this dish as a meal or a side dish.  It only takes about 15 minutes to prepare and is always a hit. You can add extra vegetables, cheese, or even pepperoni to make it your own.

This could be the perfect pasta salad for your Labor Day!

Ingredients

  • 12 oz box tricolor pasta
  • ½ cup black olives, sliced
  • ¼ cup red onion, chopped
  • ½ cup red pepper, diced
  • ¾ cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • ¾ cup cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup reduced-fat Italian dressing
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package.
  2. Drain pasta and let cool.
  3. In a large bowl mix pasta, red pepper, red onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and black olives.
  4. Add 1 cup of Italian dressing to pasta and gently mix all ingredients together.
  5. Chill pasta before serving.

Enjoy!

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Ideas for Physical Wellness/Health

Do you often wonder what you can do to improve your physical health?  Many of you may have thought about how to become more mobile, flexible, or just happier about the way you look and feel.  Physical wellness is more than just exercising all of the time or following a perfect diet.  Let’s face it, we are all human; we sometimes indulge when we know we shouldn’t or we don’t keep up on our exercise when life gets busy or we aren’t feeling well.

I am a busy wife and mother of two who works full-time.  I don’t always have time to walk or exercise and, to be quite frank, I sometimes have the time but just don’t want to do it.  But I try to stay positive and not let one or two setbacks every now and then get in my way.

Did you know that there are a lot of ways to achieve physical wellness such as:

  • Staying mentally positive
  • Meditating
  • Doing breathing exercises
  • Trying yoga or tai-chi

These activities can help lower heart disease, improve brain function, lower blood pressure and increase flexibility.

They say “life is about the journey not the destination”, we all need to find the things that work to make our journey easier.  Adopting better happiness habits right away can help you feel better.  Being open to something new might make you feel happier and healthier too!

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Easy Blueberry Cake

Don’t have time to bake all day? Neither do I!  This recipe is easy, fast, and tastes delicious.

Even better, it only requires 3 ingredients.  You can also make this ahead of time and freeze so it is ready to go when you need it.

Ingredients

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Lemon Cake Mix
  • 2 cans Blueberry Pie Filling
  • 1 stick butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray inside of glass or ceramic 9×13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside.
  3. Pour cans of Blueberry Pie Filling into bottom of baking dish, and spread evenly.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry Lemon Cake Mix and melted Butter, and stir until crumbly.
  5. Pour butter/cake crumble mixture over the Blueberry Pie Filling.
  6. Layer in the baking dish.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes

Enjoy this cake with some ice cream or even fresh fruit on the side.

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Mel’s Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Do you love ice cream?  I do!!!

I am always looking at easy ways to impress my family with quick and delicious desserts in the summer.  This one is always a crowd winner.   Here is a simple summer dessert using ice cream sandwiches!  You can use your favorite  ice cream sandwich flavor and customize toppings too.

Ingredients

  • 1 12oz container of whipped topping
  • 1 jar of caramel topping
  • 1 jar hot fudge sauce
  • 1 package of ice cream sandwiches (box of 12)
  • Sprinkles or favorite topping

Directions

Unwrap the ice-cream sandwiches and lay them into a casserole dish or a 9×13 baking dish.  You may have to cut some of the sandwiches to fit your size dish.

Heat the hot fudge sauce in the microwave and pour over ice cream sandwiches.

Pour caramel sauce over the hot fudge sauce.

Add whipped topping on top of caramel sauce. Use a spatula to spread it evenly.

Top it with sprinkles or anything you like on ice cream (Cookie pieces, chocolate chips, pretzels or candy).

Put into the freezer for at least 1-2 hours before serving.

Cut and serve!

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Peach Milkshake – Recipe of the Month

This peach milkshake recipe has just a few ingredients and is perfect for sipping on summer nights. It would be a perfect treat for the Memorial Day weekend too. Who doesn’t like a milkshake!

I like to keep my blender right out on the counter so making a milkshake is an easy thing to do.

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 ounce) can sliced peaches, drained
  • 4 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 2 cups vanilla soy milk, or 1% milk
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • Splash of vanilla
  • Dash of cinnamon

Instructions

In a blender, combine peaches, ice cream, soy milk and orange juice. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and top with whipped cream.

Enjoy!

 

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Springtime Strawberry Salsa

The springtime is here and I begin to crave juicy and delicious fruits.   Fresh strawberry salsa is the perfect springtime treat.  This quick and fresh recipe can be served as an appetizer, snack, or dessert. You can also add peaches or mango too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, diced
  • ¾ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 3 tablespoons of lime juice
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Put all ingredients in a bowl and carefully mix together
  2. Refrigerator until ready to serve
  3. Serve with cinnamon pita chips or tortilla chips

Are you ready for some juicy seasonal fruit this spring season, too?

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A Little St. Patrick’s Day Fun

March 17 is the day we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international celebration of Irish culture. Many people and towns across the nation celebrate with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green.

Today you don’t need to be from Ireland to have the luck of Irish on your side!  Here are a few simple ways you can simply enjoy some St. Patrick’s Day fun.

  1. Grab Some Cinnamon Sticks

Some believe that putting a stick of cinnamon in your wallet will lead to wealth and prosperity. Who doesn’t need a few extra bucks these days?

  1. Find Yourself a Four-Leaf Clover

The four-leaf clover is said to bring good luck to those who stumble upon it.  Check in a patch you may have growing in your yard.

  1. Visit Your Garden

Lavender comes from the Latin word “lavare,” which means to wash. Lavender is said to ward off evil spirits.

  1. Burn Sage

Sage is another plant that is said to help ward off evil spirits and is said to fight off negative energy that could be lurking on this Irish holiday.

  1. Lucky Rabbit Foot

Some cultures believe that carrying around the foot of a rabbit will bring good luck. Could be worth a try!

There are several other good luck myths, too.  These are just a few to help you feel lucky!


How will you attract luck on St. Patrick’s Day?

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Vanilla Wafer Banana Pudding

When I was a little girl, my mom use to make this simple and easy dessert for me and I can still close my eyes and envision what it looked like in the mason jars on the refrigerator shelf.  The great thing about this recipe is that it is no bake. You simply whip together a few ingredients and let them chill in the fridge until you are ready to eat. Be sure to cover it when in refrigerator to avoid the wafers from getting soggy.  Here’s my recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 large package of instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 14 oz
  • 1 container of cool whip, 16 oz
  • 4 bananas cut into pieces
  • Vanilla Wafers

Instructions

In a large mixing bowl, mix milk and instant pudding mix. Add condensed milk and blend well. Fold in half of the cool whip and alternate pudding, bananas, and vanilla wafers.  Serve in a large pie plate or individual containers.  Top with remaining cool whip and add bananas and vanilla wafers on top.

Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

“We hope you enjoy our Recipe of the Month selections on MS Conversations. Just remember: these entries may not necessarily be a part of an MS-specific diet; these are simply recipes compiled from MSAA staff either from their own family recipe collection or based on recipes we think our audience would enjoy. As always, make sure to consult your doctor about any food or nutrition questions as they relate to your MS.”

 

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