Monday, December 23, 2013

Recipes from Our Family to Yours

So, your teen is home for the holidays and expects you to be his or her social planner. You hear constant complaints of "Mom, I'm bored!" or "Dad, there's nothing to do around here!" I am all too familiar with this type of whining, because I was a master complainer growing up. What are some activities you can suggest to your teen to help with those boredom blues that may be a little more exciting than doing chores, reading a book (always my grandmother's suggestion) or staring at the wall and hoping that something fun just happens on its own? My suggestion: spend time in the kitchen! Cooking or baking with your teen is a great way to bond and start conversations about love, sex, and relationships. It may go a little like this...

Mom/Dad: Hey Suzie, can you measure two cups of flour and slowly add it to the mixer?

Suzie: Sure! Do I add the vanilla before or after?

Mom/Dad: After. By the way, your friend Johnnie seems nice and you two seem to really get along.

Suzie: Well....yeah, I really like him. I hope he asks me to be his girlfriend soon.

Mom/Dad: How exciting! But before you two get too serious, there are some things we should talk about...


Spending time with your teen while doing a low-stress activity like cooking or baking can create a comfortable, positive environment for sometimes-awkward or difficult conversations. These conversations should be open, often, and ongoing to ensure that your teen is comfortable coming to you about sensitive topics like love, sex, and relationships. For more ideas on how to start the conversation with your teen, click here. 

As a gift to you and your family, the SC Campaign has compiled some of our favorite holiday recipes. We hope you and your family will enjoy making and eating these treats!

CANDY FRUIT - from Beth DeHart
(This recipe is for strawberries. You can substitute the strawberry Jello with orange, lemon, blueberry, or any other fruit flavor you like, and shape the candies into the shape of that fruit.)

1 cup, very fine coconut
3 pkg. (3 oz. each) strawberry Jello
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 sm. pkg. almond slivers, for stems; you can also use green icing
1 cup ground pecans
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1.  Mix all of the above ingredients thoroughly (EXCEPT for one of the Jello packages.)
2.  Chill for 1 hour.
3.  Shape into strawberries (or whatever fruit flavor you choose.)
4.  Roll each strawberry in the remaining Jello. This gives the ‘fruit’ a more matte look, and helps keep them from being super sticky on your fingers.
5.  Insert a green tinted sliver of almond for stem. To make the green almond, add a few drops of green food coloring to the almonds in a jar and shake. Note: you can also just use green icing for the leaves.

These can be made ahead and frozen. They freeze exceptionally well and are very decorative for dessert trays. If you make several different ‘fruits,’ they can make a beautiful candy fruit tray!

MELOMAKARONA (Greek Christmas Walnut Honey Cookies) - from Eleni Gavrilis

For the cookies:
1 cup olive oil
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
Zest of one orange
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup brandy
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup walnuts, ground coarsely
Ground cinnamon for sprinkling

1 cup honey
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
3-4 whole cloves
1-2-inch piece lemon rind
1 tsp. lemon juice

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2.  In a small bowl, using your fingers, combine the orange zest with the sugar – rubbing the grains as if you were playing with sand to release the orange oils into the sugar.
3.  Using an electric mixer, beat the oil with the orange sugar until well mixed. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4.  Add the orange juice and brandy to mixer and mix well.
5.  Slowly incorporate the flour cup by cup until the mixture forms a dough that is not too loose but not quite firm either. It will be dense and wet but not sticky. Once the flour is incorporated fully stop mixing.
6.  To roll cookies, pinch a portion of dough off about the size of a walnut. Shape in your palms into a smooth oblong shape, almost like a small egg. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Shape and roll cookies until the sheet is filled.
7.  Press the tines of a large fork in a crosshatch pattern in the center of each cookie. This will flatten them slightly in the center. The cookies should resemble lightly flattened ovals when they go in the oven.
8.  Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes until lightly browned. (The cookies will darken when submerged in syrup.)
9.  While the cookies are baking, prepare the syrup.
10. In a saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, water, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon rind. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon, cloves, and lemon rind and stir in lemon juice.
11. Place the ground walnuts in a shallow plate or bowl next to the stove top. When the cookies come out of the oven and while they are still very warm, carefully float the cookies in the syrup and allow the cookies to absorb syrup on both sides.
12. Using a fork or small spatula, remove the cookie from the syrup and place on a platter or plate. Press ground walnuts lightly into the tops of the cookies (syrup will help it adhere) and sprinkle lightly with ground cinnamon.
13. Do not refrigerate as they will harden. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


12 ounces butterscotch chips
3 tablespoons peanut butter
5 ounces chow mein noodles

1.  Melt chips and peanut butter in microwave (about 2 minutes in mine, stir halfway through).
2.  Stir in chow mein noodles and drop onto wax paper (a heaping tablespoon per haystack).

Yields 2 dozen muffins

4 oz white country bread torn into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and ground pepper
2 tble unsalted butter
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 finely chopped celery
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
6 garlic gloves, finely chopped
3/4 tsp dried sage
1 small granny smith apple, peeled and finely chopped
4 large eggs, beaten
2 tble chicken broth

1.  Preheat oven to 350*.  Grease two 12 cup mini-muffin pans with cooking spray.
2.  On a baking sheet, toss the bread with 2 tble spoons of the oil; season with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 10 minutes, until toasted.  Transfer the croutons to a bowl.
3.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter in the remaining oil.  Add the onion and celery and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally until golden, about 5 minutes.  Add the sausage, garlic, sage and cook, breaking up the sausage until no trace of pink remains, 5 minutes.  Mix the sausage, apple, eggs and broth into the croutons; season with salt and pepper.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
4.  Pack the stuffing into the muffin cups and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until golden.  Transfer to a rack and let stand for 5 minutes.  Loosen the muffins with a sharp paring knife and lift them out.  Serve warm.

TORTILLA LASAGNA - from Jordan Slice

6 8-inch fat-free flour tortillas
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 Tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. ancho chile powder
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
2 cups strained tomatoes, such as Pomì, divided
1 ½ cups cooked black beans, or 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium chayote, peeled and diced, or 2 medium zucchini, diced (1½ cups)
½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 ½ cups grated Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast tortillas on 2 baking sheets in oven 5 minutes, or until light brown, turning once.
2.  Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 minutes, or until soft. Stir in chili powder, ancho chile powder, and garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Add 11/2 cups strained tomatoes, beans, chayote, corn, and 1/2 cup water, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and cook 10 minutes, or until chayote is tender.
3.  Coat 2-inch-deep x 8-inch round baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/4 cup strained tomatoes in bottom of pan. Set 1 toasted tortilla in pan; top with 3/4 cup bean mixture and 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layering 4 more times. Top with last tortilla, and spread remaining 1/4 cup strained tomatoes over top. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, or until casserole is bubbly and cheese has melted. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into 8 wedges.

by Sara Lamberson, Corporate Communications Specialist, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Monday, December 16, 2013

What Teen Pregnancy Prevention Means to Me…Now

Before I became the Health Communications Assistant at the SC Campaign, I lived in blissful ignorance of the teen pregnancy issue in South Carolina. I didn't know South Carolina was ranked 11th in the nation for teen pregnancy. I had no idea that only 38 percent of teen mothers graduate high school. My introduction to teen pregnancy came with cold, hard facts, and the harsh reality that we have a lot of work to do in SC. It’s not like I was never exposed to teen pregnancy; several girls in my high school class walked across the stage pregnant to accept their diplomas. In passing, my thoughts were, “Well, at least they’re graduating,” not realizing that those occurrences are anomalies throughout the state.  I didn't care too much about teen pregnancy because it didn’t affect me directly. Ranked 11th in the nation. 38 percent graduation rate. $197 million. Numbers always have a way of grabbing your attention.

Reaching teens in South Carolina requires someone who is able to have a real talk while giving straight answers. As a nation, we are well on our way in doing just that. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that the national teen birth rate has dropped an astonishing 52 percent since peaking in the early 1990s. That’s a leap in the right direction, but we have more work to do. Teen pregnancy isn't something that the state of SC can afford to be complacent about or afford for that matter. In 2008, SC tax payers spent $197 million on costs associated with teen pregnancy.  From an economical stand point, that’s $197 million reasons to get our house in order.  Teen pregnancy isn’t an issue that I acknowledge with vague recognition now. I don’t care about engaging teens because it is my job, I care about it because we need to continue making headway with this issue. The numbers opened my eyes, and if 2013 is any indication, we are moving in the right direction.

by Shana Adams, Health Communications Assistant, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Learning about Love, Sex, and Relationships at Church

At the SC Campaign, we focus on different types of people who have an impact on teens.  Lately I have been working on a flyer for faith leaders with information on preventing teen pregnancy.  This is close to my heart because I got all of my information about sex and relationships from the people at my church.

My parents didn't really talk about sex; my dad mostly just said that if I got pregnant it would ruin his retirement.  As I got older, it started to be a common issue among my friends.  Since my parents weren't talking about it, I wasn't sure which way was up.

My youth group had an entire series on sex and Biblically based relationships.  We were all divided up into small groups and we each had a leader who went through everything with us.  I remember thinking it was awkward at the time, but looking back on it – I know it impacted me a great deal.  Our leaders shared personal stories with us that helped us see the importance of having healthy relationships.

The series lasted for a couple of weeks, and from what I can remember, we had different leaders talk to us about sex during a particular week.  I remember one lady, who had been a teen mom, was open and honest, telling us exactly how she got into the situation.  On the other hand, I also remember my great aunt telling us to think about her if we ever wanted to have unprotected sex.  This was obviously a joke, but I knew that if she took the time to talk to us about it she obviously knew what was best for us.

Having many different women talk to me about sex was important.  The lady who was a teen mom was relatable and although I only remember my great aunt making a joke- it still had a great impact on me.  The main thing was that these women took time to talk to me about sex, and had they not, I wouldn't have known the importance of a healthy relationship.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Being a College Student in the Real World

Just recently, I had group facilitation on conflict resolution.  During our class discussion, one of my peers said that they sometimes feel as if they cannot voice their opinions in certain settings (i.e. at their field placements), because of their age and job title.  I never stopped to think how much of an influence age and the people surrounding me affects the way I decide to handle things.  I then asked a few older family members and friends if they would be inclined to speak up about something they feel passionate about in their work settings, and to my surprise, age does not always bring self confidence in work settings.

I was tested that very same day on what I would do if I felt very passionate about a situation that dealt with work.  At my part-time job, an email was sent out earlier in the week for everyone to pick their hours to work during winter break.  The hours are on a first-come, first-serve basis; however, I did not find out about this winter break schedule until I went in to work on Wednesday and saw it sitting at the desk waiting to be filled out.  I just filled out the schedule with the hours I wanted to work.  The next day I got a message from a coworker about another email that was sent with an updated desk schedule and a reminder that it is best to email our supervisor the hours we want instead of writing them on the schedule.  When I opened the attachment with the schedule, most of the hours I signed up for were taken due to the email system he had in place as opposed to just signing up at the desk.  Of course I was not the only person that signed up with the desk schedule only, but I was the only person that did not receive the email.  So I had to sit back and think if this was “a ditch I was willing to die in” (as a past professor always stated) or to just let things go.  Being the person I am (not to mention a social worker), I get very passionate about some things and sometimes don’t even stop to think what could happen before acting or reacting.  But this time, I did take a minute to think of a few different angles and conclusions before I responded.  I was very calm in my email response and pointed out the flaws in this sign-up system. I felt it was clear to me, as it was to a few of my coworkers, that things were done unfairly and there should have been only one way to sign up for desk hours instead of two and everyone should have been included on the email.  I also gave a suggestion to start the scheduling over, although, my suggestion was not taken.

I believe that it shouldn't matter what your age or title is, you should be able to voice your opinions and concerns in any setting. There will always be some level of conflict in the workplace, but managing that conflict by making sure you are not creating bigger problems can always bring some kind of resolution.  The results will not always be in your favor but at least you would be able to say you tried and stood up for yourself.   As it’s said, “conflict can be good; it means you’re getting closer to a solution.”

by Edwina Mack, USC Master of Social Work Field Placement Student, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Black Friday in a New Light

As you all probably know, this past Friday was Black Friday. You know, the day after Thanksgiving where all the retail stores have crazy door-buster deals and people stand outside at midnight waiting to get them. It always amazes me how much people prepare and plan for this one special day.  Men and women across the country research the best deals and create a game plan, so that on Black Friday they can execute it and walk away with the best deals. As I think about the tradition of Black Friday and how families prepare for this one day of savings, it made me reflect on why people, including our young people today, do not think about family planning in the same light as they do Black Friday.

Just like Black Friday deals, our young people need to think about the best plan for their lives and decide when is the best time to begin a family.  According to the World Health Organization, family planning allows individuals to attain their desired number of children by selecting the timing and spacing of birth.  This is achieved through the use of contraceptive methods, and research shows that family planning significantly impacts the overall health and well-being of women.  With this in mind, I believe individuals should devote as much energy and effort into family planning as they do into finding the best deals for Black Friday.  While it is true that you may save a boat-load of money on Black Friday, family planning can save you even more money over your lifetime.  In South Carolina alone, teen pregnancy costs taxpayers about $200 million annually.  Imagine how much taxpayers can save if individuals think about family planning as much as they think about Black Friday deals. After all, are you really going to want that argyle sweater next year?