• My Journey

    September is National Suicide Prevention Month

    My father killed himself in May 1990 at the age of 40. I was 16 at the time and a junior in high school. Writing about it now, all these years later, my memories are still blurry and feel like the belong to someone else. I struggle to let the shock and the pain in, somehow always managing to keep the emotions at arm’s length. It’s interesting trying to share a story that is 30 years old. I experience it through the lens of being a teenager, while the adult me senses so much she wants to understand. My father, “Poppy” as we called him, had been depressed through that…

  • My Journey

    Still Shut Out of School

    Today marks the start of my children’s new school year. Ridgely is starting middle school, Trafford is in eight grade and Dashiell is a senior! Here in Maryland, our county is 100% virtual through the end of January. Sadly, I continue to be excluded from my children’s education. And at this point it’s because I have such limited visitation. Two weekends a month and two Wednesday overnights. This summer in our court negotiations I campaigned hard to have the virtual learning days attached to my visits. I so desperately missed being a part of their education and having the chance to actually see their work, not just a grade on…

  • My Journey

    Flashback to June 2019

    I recently came across an essay I had written last summer in the midst of my battle to bring my children home. I’m sharing it as is because it is a testament to that time in our lives. I teared up reading it, feeling the pain and frustration all over again. “There’s a plan for your life.”  So many of us have heard that phrase, but what happens when days, weeks, months and years go by, and the thing you want most desperately remains out of reach? My heart’s desire is to have my children home with me. In December 2017, sitting in a courtroom clutching my six month sobriety…

  • My Journey

    30 Days of Writing

    I’m the sneakiest kind of procrastinator. The kind who looks busy all the time. I am a master of busy work. Anything kid related, cleaning, cooking and don’t even get me started on house projects. I jump into those with relish – painting, teaching myself how to caulk outside, even pulling weeds – I love the satisfaction of a job well done. But the truth is, I’m lost. I’m a 47 year old women who keeps turning away from what she knows deep down is her purpose. I feel it – the words, the phrases – always bubbling up inside of me, always flitting, unbidden, into my brain. I know…

  • Flavors,  Mexican,  Recipes,  Sauces

    Tangy Avocado Sauce

    Concocting luscious dips with Greek yogurt is one of my favorite cooking pastimes – almost it’s own little mini-cooking project for me. This recipe gets me excited because it has avocados (one of my favorite foods) and it goes great with pretty much any Mexican meal – which made it a huge hit with my family! Another special feature to this sauce? Once you’ve enjoyed it for dinner, it morphs into a dip – just add another scoop of Greek yogurt to thicken it up a bit. Tangy Avocado Sauce Author: Kate Wagner Serves: 1 1/2 cups Love the flexibility of this sauce – you can decide how spicy you…

  • Appetizers,  Flavors,  Mexican,  Recipes

    Chipotle Salsa

    Chips and salsa are big in our house, so I’m always trying to come up with new versions. I made this salsa for the boys’ first night home from college – Mexican is always their favorite meal – and they all loved it! Of course with three college boys in the house, the whole batch of salsa, and the bag of chips, was gone by the next morning! Chipotle Salsa Author: Kate Wagner Serves: 3 cups Another reason I love this recipe? It’s so quick and easy to make! The salsa would also make a delicious topping to grilled chicken, seafood or steak. Happy cooking! Ingredients 2 (14.5 oz) cans…

  • Pasta,  Recipes,  Salads,  Vegetables

    Orzo and Vegetable Pasta Bowl with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Onions

    This time of year, there’s an amazing abundance of fresh vegetables, and it’s a great opportunity to get your children to try some new produce. Think about hitting a farmers market this weekend, and let your kids pick out something new to try. When you get home, make this recipe. With it’s grown-up and child-friendly versions, everyone in your house is guaranteed to eat dinner. The adults get to enjoy a delicious dijon vinaigrette while the kids sample the new vegetables with the buttery pasta they always enjoy. The slow-roasted tomatoes and onions are delicious, but this dish will be tasty even without them. Although they do take a while in…

  • Appetizers,  Recipes

    Zaxby’s Sauce

    My five years in Brentwood, Tennessee were wonderful in countless ways…beautiful surroundings, a warm and close-knit community, incredible schools, wonderful people and Zaxby’s. I love Zaxby’s! I don’t eat fast food often, but Zaxby’s is one of my favorites. Every time we head to Charleston, Jeff knows that we have to swing by Zaxby’s on the drive from Charleston to Kiawah. What makes Zaxby’s my favorite is the sauce. It is sooooo good. Having a Zaxby’s craving? Try my version, it’s lightened up a bit, but totally delish! Zaxby’s Sauce Author: Kate Wagner Serves: 1 1/2 cups I lightened this recipe up significantly but there’s still mayo. If you want…

  • Flavors,  Mexican,  Recipes,  Sides,  Starches

    Cowboy Beans

    Inspired by Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday, these beans are my take on a beloved Mexican restaurant side. These beans were for the older boys first dinner home from school for the summer. Along with Chipotle Skirt Steak Tacos, Mexican rice and Creamy Guacamole Sauce, big servings of Mexican comfort food were devoured at dinner. Smoky, a bit spicy, Cowboy Beans are sure to become a favorite with your family. Cowboy Beans Author: Kate Wagner Serves: 4-6 Use this classic Mexican bean side to inspire all sorts of flavor combinations. You could add pickled jalapenos, roasted red peppers, or change things up and make a black bean version. Fresh cilantro would…

  • Lunch,  Recipes,  Salads

    Dilly Chicken Salad

    Chicken salad with dill is just a summertime classic…ideal for a lunch at the pool, a picnic, dinner on the deck. Not only does dill taste like spring and summer to me, I always think of the first time I had chicken salad with dill. It was at Cafe Hon in Hampden. I know lots of people go for their comfort food, but for me, that chicken salad with the dill vinaigrette, it’s the only thing I’ve ever ordered. Don’t have any chicken? Try my fail-proof poached chicken recipe for tender, flavorful chicken every time http://gatherconnectempower.com/2016/06/poached-chicken/ Dilly Chicken Salad Author: Kate Wagner Serves: 6 Consider this recipe your template for perfect…