Ginny’s Ham and Cheese Spinach Tomato Tortellini

While cruising the web the other day, came across a recipe that looked intriguing.  Using it as a base, I created this super simple and easy to make recipe that received my husband’s stamp of approval.  This is saying a lot as he is not fond of most white sauce based recipes.  It turned out really delicious, if I say so myself. (The picture does not do it justice)


Ginny’s Ham and Cheese Spinach Tomato Tortellini

8 ounces tortellini, 3 cheese
2 teaspoon each minced garlic
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
14.5 ounces can diced tomatoes (with garlic, onion, & basil), undrained
8 ounces ham, cubed
2 tablespoons flour
1 ½ cup half-and-half
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Cook tortellini in boiling water per instructions.
  2. While tortellini is cooking, sautee garlic for a few seconds to release flavor.
  3. Add canned tomato with juice and spinach. Cook and stir over medium heat until bubbly.
  4. Add ham cubes and heat through.
  5. In separate bowl, whisk together flour and half and half.
  6.  Add flour-half and half mixture to garlic, tomato, and spinach mixture.
  7. Add parmesan cheese.
  8. Stir and cook over medium heat until thickened.
  9. Tortellini should be done now. Drain tortellini then stir into sauce and mix together.

Servings: 6

Click HERE for PDF version of this recipe.

Posted in Casseroles & One-Dish Meals, Monthly Munchies | 2 Comments

Hello Fresh Review

MosaicReviewDisclosure2013-Received product for review

Show of hands.  Who would love to have their meals planned, shopped for, and delivered to their doorstop once a week for them? With Hello Fresh this is a reality.



As my last review of the year and for the Mosaic Reviews team, I was so very excited to have the chance to check out this very cool food service program. Before you begin you will need to find out if Hello Fresh delivery is available in your area.  The way it works is you go to the Hello Fresh website, create your account, and then check out the week’s meal selections.  There are two package choices; a Classic Box and a Veggie Box.  Each package provides 3 meals for either 2 or 4 people, depending on your selection.  Currently the Classic box also allows for 2 alternative Meal Choices in case your family is not fond of something particular on the week’s menu.  To make your meal choices, after logging into your account, you simply select “Meal Choice” under the “Your Options” tab and make your selections.  It was really very easy to choose the meals that seemed appealing to my family and the whole ordering process was ultra simple. Hello Fresh is a ‘subscription’ program, so if you do not want the week’s meals, you will need to put your subscription on “hold” for that week.  You can cancel your subscription at any time.  There is no minimum to buy.

We were asked to review packages for 2 people.  I choose the Classic box and used the “Meal Choice” option.  Our choices were:

  • Sautéed Chicken with Ginger Parsnips and Carrots
  • Classic Beef Stew with Chickpeas and Green Beans
  • Yogurt Marinated Shrimp over Arugula Salad
  • Penne all’ Arrabbiata with Pancetta
  • Warm Eggplant Layered Salad

We choose Sautéed Chicken with Ginger Parsnips and Carrots, Classic Beef Stew with Chickpeas and Green Beans, and Penne all’ Arrabbiata with Pancetta.

Not only did my package arrive on the day that it was promised, but I was notified via email the day before that it was on its way.  I also received a courtesy call from the Hello Fresh customer support team just to check if I had any questions or concerns.  Talk about great customer service.  And check out how wonderfully packaged the meals are.


The first meal we made was the Classic Beef Stew with Chickpeas and Green Beans.  The ingredients were very fresh (just as the Hello Fresh promises) and there were minimal processed foods for this meal.  Even though the instructions were thorough, it seemed strange to me to cook the string beans, potatoes, and carrots together when later the instructions tell you to cook the onion in oil, then add the garlic and potatoes and cook a few minutes.  Then they instruct to add the beans and carrots.  This meant that after originally cooking the vegetables all in the same pot, the potatoes needed to be separated from the carrots and green beans for the above step. Not something I would normally do for sure but not a deal breaker.

The only time we eat chickpeas are when they are in minestrone soup, so this was something new for us.  Overall the recipe was simple to make and took very little time.


We then made the Penne all’ Arrabbiata with Pancetta. The fresh basil was a bit wilted and soggy, but I don’t know if it was because it was left in the fridge or came that way (I forgot to check when I put it in the fridge after unpacking) so we left it out of the dish.  We had never had pancetta so that was a new taste experience for us as well.  This was a pretty tasty dish and my son really liked it. This item did include canned diced tomatoes and we omitted the chili flakes as we do not like spicy food. (Heartburn issues.)


The last meal we made was the Sautéed Chicken with Ginger Parsnips and Carrots.  This was actually our favorite, though everyone agreed that it didn’t need the slivered almonds.


These meals are meant to feed two people but we easily fed three people with each meal.  Overall, the quality of the food was excellent and very fresh.  The meat was lean and had little fat.  The veggies were very crisp and, well, again, fresh.

I really appreciated the fact that all of Hello Fresh meals were clearly marked and packaged individually so the ingredients were all together.  There is no hunting down a particular item.  The only things we needed to have on hand, and most households do, were olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Each meal was easily prepared and on the table in about 30 minutes.  According to the Hello Fresh website all of the recipes are created by in-house chefs who have graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education and have worked in fine restaurants like Momofuku and Eleven Madison Park so you can be assured that they are going to be interesting and creative.

While these meals are not particularly the types of foods we are used to, someone who is adventurous in their cooking will love the selections.  And because the ingredients are fresh and nutritious, these meals help to create a healthy lifestyle with little effort.

The pricing for the meal packages are as follows and include shipping:

  • 3 Classic Meal Box for Two – $69
  • 3 Classic Meal Box for Four – $129
  • 3 Vegetarian Meal Box for Two – $59
  • 3 Vegetarian Meal Box for Four – $109

Hello Fresh would be a wonderful program for those with busy careers and schedules who have little time for meal planning or shopping.  It would also be great for retired folks who have difficulty getting to the market regularly.  Those wanting to try new foods and healthy recipes will appreciate the direction that Hello Fresh can help with. While at this particular time in our life Hello Fresh may not fit into our budget guidelines, I could see us using it in the future when it is just my husband and me.

If you are interested in Hello Fresh check out their website at  You can also follow them on Facebook at or on Twitter at  The wonderful thing about this program is that you can cancel your subscription at any time, so if you are just curious about the program you can give it a try for a week or so and if you are not happy you can just shoot them an email and cancel.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ginny’s Pumpkin-Banana-Raisin Bread

Ginny's Pumpkin-Banana-Raisin Bread

The other day I had three bananas that had turned too ripe for the eating.  There weren’t enough to make a batch of our favorite banana bread, Ginny’s Banana Bread, and I really had a hankering for something different.  I searched the web and still could not find something that fit my craving, so I just set out to experimenting.  The results were a raving success with my family and a new favorite was born:  Ginny’s Pumpkin-Banana-Raisin Bread.  While I can’t pinpoint what flavor exactly stands out the most, the pumpkin, the banana, or the raisins, I can say that the family ate it up in less than 24 hours.

Ginny’s Pumpkin-Banana-Raisin Bread

¼ cup canola oil
2 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cup flour (all-purpose white)
1 ½ cup wheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup oatmeal
1 cup raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With electric mixer, mash bananas.
  3. Add canned pumpkin. Mix well.
  4. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix well.
  5. In another bowl, mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, sugars and oatmeal together.
  6. Add dry mixture to wet mixture and blend to combine.
  7. Stir in raisins.
  8. Coat 2 loaf pans with cooking spray. Split evenly into two loaf pans.
  9. Bake 30-45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

(Cooking times vary based on size and type of baking dish. I used glass loaf pans that was kind of shallow and wide and bread was done in 30 minutes. When I used metal pans, more narrow and deep, it took about 40 minutes.)

Servings: 16
Yield: 2 loaves


You may download the PDF of this recipe here.

Posted in Bread & Breakfast, Monthly Munchies | 1 Comment

Welcoming our Granddaughter to the World

On August 12, 2013, we welcomed our first granddaughter into the world.  Even though she was born some 1100 miles away, because of the blessings of technology, I was able to share the first few moments of her birth with my son, the new Daddy, via Skype.


A week later we were able to make the trek north to meet this precious little one in person.


Nannie and Alona

Pappy and Alona

Pappy and Alona

Alona and Family

Alona and Family

She is simply a treasure and a gift from God.  My son will be sending us regular pictures so we can watch her grow up across the miles.  But so glad we were able to hold her in our arms and love on her while she was still a wee-one.


Posted in Life | 3 Comments

Typecrush Game Review

MosaicReviewDisclosure2013-Received product for review

I am an avid word game lover so I jumped at the chance to check out this new game called Typecrush™.   Made in the U.S.A from 100% recycled materials, this versatile game can be simple enough for young readers but challenging enough for older folks, like me.


The whole Typecrush™ game comes in sturdy cardboard can with a twist-top lid that is reminiscent of the old Tinker-Toy or Lincoln Log cans, making it portable enough to bring along wherever your travels take you.  Inside the can are 98 discs with letters printed on them and divided into 5 color-coded groups based on how often a letter appears in the English language.  There are also a couple of cards that show you the letters in each of the color categories to aid you in game play, but don’t worry if these get lost or messed up.  Everything you need is also printed on the can.

Playing the game is deceivingly simple.  You decide on a word (but don’t let the other players know that word), select the tiles, place them face down on your playing surface, and the other players use the frequency chart to figure out your word.  Sounds easy enough, but, depending on the word, it could take some time to solve.  And the best part of all, there is only one rule – whoever solves the word first chooses the next word.  This allows for the flexibility of the game to add your own rules such as if the players get stuck you can give clues or hints. Or you could assign point values to the different frequencies or you can confine word choice to your spelling lists or specific categories.  Typecrush™ encourages you to use your imagination in your game play.


After playing the intended way, we made up our own variations to play.  Instead of only one person selecting a word, we each chose a word of the same number of letters.  Then we took turns guessing letters.  The first one to guess the other’s word, won.

We brainstormed some other ways to play, and came up with some simple ideas especially for children beginning to learn to read, that might help with letter recognition skills. A game of concentration is always fun.  You could sort out the letters and choose the ones your child is working on, or use all of them (but take out 1 disc of the least frequently used letters because there are only 3 of each of them and 4 of the all the others).  Lay them all out on the table or floor for a giant concentration board.

Also for the younger set, I bet you could play a kind of “Go Fish” (again evening up the number of discs) or how about a game similar to Uno or Dominoes using letters before and after or matching colors.

For older students, I bet it would be super challenging to try to play a free form game of Scrabble or how about a game like Boggle where you lay out the discs randomly in rows and then remove touching discs that spell words.


I definitely think that Typecrush™  would also be a useful manipulative addition to a homeschool classroom as the letter discs can be used to help students learn their letters and spelling words beyond the fun of playing games.  Although the $25 price tag might be out of my budget to invest in a game, that price does include shipping.   Also, because the product is made in the U.S.A. and from 100% recycled materials, purchases would not only support American industry but leave a smaller impact on the environment, if those are goals for your family.

Visit the Typecrush™ website to learn more and purchase your own game.  Or follow Typecrush™ on Facebook and/or Twitter.

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Posted in Opinion and Reviews | 1 Comment