1. What’s Cooking: Chili

    Do you have any childhood memories of being in the kitchen with your mom or dad? Whether you’re sneaking bites, rolling dough, or trying to make the

    smoke detector stop beeping, the kitchen is the heart of the home.

    This month is the home of National Chili Day. There is no better time to get in your kitchen and make some delicious chili and new memories with your family!

    We pulled this chili recipe from Taste of Home to help get you started.  Many of the ingredients are things you probably have in your pantry already!


    Classic Chili Recipe


    • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
    • 2 medium onion, chopped
    • ½ cup chopped celery
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 2 pounds ground beef
    • 2 cans (28 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
    • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
    • I cup water
    • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon pepper
    • 2 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained


    In a Dutch oven or large soup kettle, sauté green pepper, onions and celery in oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook until browned; drain. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add kidney beans. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes longer. Yield: 10-12 servings (3 quarts).

    Let us know what you think or share your best chili recipe with us.


  2. Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy

    “The love of a family is life’s greatest blessing.” –William Saroyan

    February is American Heart Month.  Heart disease kills about a 800 million people every year in the United States, or 1 in every three deaths.
    With larger portion sizes, technology that makes jobs easier, and  the everyday stresses associated with life, it seems like we can’t protect ourselves or families. But, there is great news. You can!

    We’ve put together a list of some things you can do with your family right now to help keep your hearts and bodies happy.

    1. You are what you eat

    Your diet has a direct relation to you health. Swap white grains for whole wheat, and water for soda. Limit your sodium intake and eat lots of fruits and veggies. Veggies can be expensive so consider making your own garden or attending local farmer’s markets. There are great farmer’s markets nearby your home that you can took a family trip to. Keep fatty and sugary foods out of the house and make these foods a special occasion, like if your child earns great grades this quarter. Getting children on healthy eating early will help them make better choices with eating growing up, too.

    2. Exercise as a Family

    One of the great things of living in Florida is warm weather year-round. Take a family bike ride, or visit a local park to go hiking. Sarasota has many parks for families of all ages. Are you water fanatics? Enroll in swimming classes or rent a kayak for the day. If you’re short on time, you can always take a stroll around the neighborhood.

     3. Don’t stress

    Even though stress is a normal part of life, no one likes to feel stressed all of the time. According to WebMD, stress can lead to problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, skin conditions, and even depression. Try mediation, taking deep breaths, or even give your self a massage. You can always have family discussions at the dinner table to help get things off your chest.

    Your family members hold the key to your heart. Keep those hearts healthy by trying out these tips today!

  3. Will you be mine?

    Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. While it may not get the same type of exposure or attention as some of the other major holidays, think Christmas and Thanksgiving, it is still a great opportunity to tell ALL the loved ones in your life just how much you adore (and appreciate) them! Why not spread a little love this year and surprise your friends and family with these unique Valentine’s Day gifts?

    Valentine Gift Ideas:

    Mom’s: Make Mom’s day extra special by giving her the gift of free time! A certificate to the spa is always an appreciated gesture. Or, how about buying her tickets to the movie or theatre?  Tell her to round up her gal pals and enjoy the day.

    Dad’s: For the ‘Do It Yourself’ Dad’s out there, any tool or gadget will be a welcome gift! Another great idea for Dad is a certificate to a sporting goods store. There is no doubt he will find something there that will have him smiling from ear to ear!

    Children: Let your daughter know how special she is to you. Splurge on a fresh bouquet of flowers! Let her know she will always be your special Valentine! For your son, an iTunes gift certificate will have him ‘singing your praises’.

    Friends and Business acquaintances: If you love to cook or bake, why not surprise your friends and colleagues with some sweet homemade goodies? If you work in a large office, this will have all your co-workers smiling!

    Don’t forget your pets! Why not get the kids involved and make special Valentine’s Day doggie treats! There are plenty of healthy and creative recipes online!

    Still not sure what to buy your sweeties for Valentine’s Day? Flowers, chocolate and a homemade Valentine’s Day card never go out of style! And don’t forget that special Valentine in your life….your spouse, of course! A nice, romantic dinner is always the perfect way to end the day! Don’t forget to make reservations!

    Happy Valentine’s Day!


  4. Fun in February: Upcoming Community Events

    It’s hard to believe February is in full swing!

    Being a Floridian has its many perks, including warm weather in February.  With no such thing as the Winter Blues, why not get out and experience some of the things the Gulf Coast has to offer?

    We’ve put together a list of some events we found taking place in February. For a complete list or additional information, check out the escape to Sarasota website.

    Circus Sarasota- The annual Circus Sarasota will be ongoing in the month of February and will take place under the Big Top at Tuttle Ave and 12th Street. Last year, Sarasota’s own, comic daredevil Bello Nock, made an appearance. Here’s more information.

    Florida State Fair- Step right up! The Florida State Fair has food and fun for all ages. This event takes place on Feb 7th at the fairgrounds in Tampa. Find more information here.

    Greek Festival- It’s all Greek to me.  Feb 14-17 check out the Greek Festival at the St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church. Admission is $4 and traditional food and festivities, including Greek music and dancing will keep you entertained. Find more information here.

    Exotic Car Fest- For the car enthusiast out there, check out the Sarasota Exotic Car Fest Feb 23. Ferraris, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini’s and more will be on display for your enjoyment.

    Living in a Neal Community puts you in a prime location to live and enjoy all of the wonderful things the Gulf Coast has to offer.

    Which event are you looking forward to in February?