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I recently cancelled all but local channels, which has led to me viewing much more news programs than I have in years.  I had recently only sourced my news from the internet, except to occasionally watch a 60 minutes, 20/20, Sunday Morning, or other such program.   Actual picture of me watching TV.

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Photo Creator:James Steidl & Kyle Gruba – Copyright:©2008 James Steidl James Group Studios inc. – no copyright infringement intended.

 

On Sunday Morning last week, they spoke about loneliness.  The researchers they spoke to said they initially expected to find that those suffering from loneliness would be largely comprised of the elderly.  This turned out to not be true.  The pattern of loneliness they discovered involved the isolative, divisive world of social media and media in general.  How many friends do you have?  How many likes did your post get?  When did you last pick up the phone or get together with someone you love?

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Here I sit, isolated, and there you sit, isolated, and the real connection you and I may actually have available to us is mostly lost.  Yes, you may identify with me momentarily, or think I am right, but no interaction or conversation will take place which could lead to a deeper connection.  We will both believe our own truths filtered through our own needs.  Do whatever we need to reinforce our own beliefs.

being right

I am heavily involved in a local non-profit organization that presents personal growth seminars a minimum of every 6 weeks to our local South Florida community.  At these seminars, more than anywhere in my usual daily life, I have an opportunity to connect:  to feel heard, to feel a sense of value, to listen to what people are really saying.

connection

I’ve come to the conclusion that the world has reached a collective “not good enough” place of shame and isolation that could prevent many of us from experiencing the joy that is part of our everyday lives.  One of my favorite poets, Merrit Malloy, said in a poem I didn’t understand the first time I read it.  She describes how a victim thinks.

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She also said something profound about living in the present.

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Seeing others’ lives online so that we can envy or judge them.  I can’t decide which is worse.  I do know that neither serves me or nurtures me.

stop comparing

Connection both serves and nurtures me.  I will continue to attend self-growth workshops, see a therapist as needed, speak to strangers at stores, and write my blogs.  Read more Merrit Malloy.

things i meant to say to you.jpg

The drought in connection in today’s world will potentially be the end of our civilization, just as the drought the Mayans suffered, leading them to scatter and disappear.  They ran away from the drought, leaving behind a paradise.

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Programs that help people connect are the hope for this world.

merrit malloy tell them vinyl quote

Do I write this now to connect with someone?  If I say yes, I may have an expectation of an impact in the future by my posting this and I set myself up.  Or am I thinking it will be read by more people than it is, leading to disappointment.  Do I fail to dream of something that could happen, and believe no one will read it?  Again disappointment.

Here’s my take on life – I am writing this for me and my inner child.   No matter how the rest of my day goes, I have connected with myself today and looked at who I am and what I love about myself.  Definitely “good enough” stuff today.

scan0001 (2)My inner child.

At the very least, it got me into feeling, writing, and reading Merrit Malloy again!

 

 

 

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Tex Mex Empanadas

Leftover chicken chili was the inspiration for these yummy empanadas.

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2 packs Goya frozen turnover cough  (these are my faves because there’s plastic sheets separating them.  No more dough sheets sticking together!

4- 6 cups leftover chili

I egg for egg wash

Water to deal seams

I finally got myself an empanada press.  Now making empanadas is so much easier!

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Lay the dough on the press and top with filling.

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Run your finger dipped in water along the dough edge and fold over filling pressing gently so it will deal well.

20190205_202249Squeeze closed.

20190205_202257Viola!  Place on sheet pan lined with parchment, sprayed with coconut oil.

Brush with beaten egg and bake at 37tF for 20 minutes.

So many variations of fillings!!  Sloppy joe.  Ground meat in gravy.  Sausage and cheese.  Barbecue.

Make Ahead Sandwiches

My mom used to make and freeze sandwiches for us to pop into the toaster oven any time we wanted one. Twenty four sandwiches sounds like a lot, but they go quickly!
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You will need meat and cheese and buns.
I used:
1 lb orange chipotle Turkey
20 sliced assorted cheeses
24 small hamburger buns
Lay them out for easier assembly.
Saute some onion (I used one large sweet onion, finely chopped) in oil, season while it cooks. Once the onion is translucent add 1 stick butter, 2 Tbsp. Mustard or other condiment, and fresh herbs. I used Dijon mustard and Italian seasoning.

Then tear off 24 pieces of foil and lay out the buns for assembly.
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Top each bun with the cooked onion spread.
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Top with meat and cheese.

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Wrap in foil and freeze.
To prepare, Bake at 350 in toaster oven 15 minutes. Cheese will melt and bun gets crispy.
The original version had a little Worcestershire sauce and poppy seeds in the sandwich spread. Needless to say the variations are endless!

 

Tuesday night is girls’ wine club, and I always try to make something that everyone, even my grandsons, will like.  The local market had frozen plantains on a BOGO sale, so my menu inspiration started there!  The chicken was cooked in the crock pot all day.  When I got home,  I shredded the chicken, I put the rice in the rice cooker, and heated up the black beans.  It’s more appealing to the eye if you serve each component up separately, but with our gang, I put it all back in the crock pot on warm so it stays ready to eat until everyone is ready to eat.  I put the plantains in the oven late, after the other food was ready, so not the best planning I’ve ever done!

Chicken, yellow rice, black beans and plantains

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 pouch Frontera fajita sauce

6 c. cooked yellow rice

2 cans black beans

2 pouches frozen plantains

Olive oil to cook the plantains

Cook thighs in fajita sauce in crock pot on low 8-9 hours.

Cook rice in rice cooker and meanwhile heat up black beans in a saucepan.

Cut up or shred the chicken and add in the rice and beans, and keep warm in crock pot.

You can either make the plantains while the rice is cooking, or after you’ve put everything in the crock pot.  I bought frozen, like I said, that was on sale.

Toss frozen plantains with oil and spread evenly on a baking sheet.   Bake at 400 F until plantains are golden and crispy.  It took 25 – 30 minutes.

Plantains

 

Today is my oldest son, Austin’s 30th birthday.  We will be celebrating all day, starting with quiche and berries!

 

I made four different quiches – three vegetarian and one with chicken apple sausage.

I set up an assembly line and made them all at once.  The following is the basic recipe for one quiche.

1 pie crust

5 eggs

1/4 large sweet onion

1/2 c. carrot matchsticks

1/2 tsp. seasoned salt or salt mix

1/2 tsp. herbs of choice (I used rosemary and thyme)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 c. sour cream (I used tofutti for my son, Donovan, who can’t have dairy)

1/4 c. milk (I used almond unsweetened)

1/4 c. cream cheese (again, I used tofutti)

1/2 package veggie shredds or shredded cheese of choice

1 package frozen vegetable of choice, cooked and drained – I used broccoli rabe, broccoli, and asparagus.

8 oz. cooked meat instead of or in addition to veggies – optional – I used apple chicken breakfast sausage.

Cook onion and carrot in olive oil, seasoned with salt and herbs, until softened and slightly browned.  If you’re making more than one, cook enough for all of them and save the pan for cooking the meat separately if you’re trying to keep any of them meat free!  Meanwhile:

Get pie crust ready.  I used 2 refrigerated and 2 frozen, since I only have two pie plates!Crust immaculate

Set out bowl to place cooked, drained veggies in.  Top with onion/carrot mixture, sour cream, cream cheese, shredded cheese, 5 eggs (per quiche) and blend.

Pour blended fillings into pie crusts.

Bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes or until knife in center comes out clean.

Many quiche recipes call for baking the crust first.  Totally not necessary!  These were a huge hit!

 

 

 

 

Okay, I confess, I didn’t set out to make a deconstructed rice bowl.  If I’d thought of that, I would have hard-boiled some eggs and served it in a bowl.  Next time!  And there will be a next time.  This dinner was yummy.

Sausage, Brown Rice, Roasted Veggies, and Salad

6 Cups cooked brown rice.  I always use a rice cooker and season with a salt blend and a spoon of duck fat (purchased at my local market).

1 Medium onion, chopped roughly.

2 lb. smoked sausage (I used smoked turkey sausage)  Lots of possibilities here!

1 yellow squash and 1 zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick and tossed with olive oil and salt or other seasoning blend.   I used Italian, but rosemary and thyme would be good.

2 ob. baby portobello mushrooms, cut in half, and tossed with olive oil and salt or other seasoning blend.  I used onion salt and a pepper blend.

1 can beans of choice, drained and rinsed.  I used cannellini beans.

This meal is so versatile, you can season and imitate different international cuisines.  Use garam marsala, or five spice, curry, or coriander with lime zest, etc.  You get the idea.  Take it whatever flavor direction you want.

I served this with Banh Mi veggies I always keep on hand, and it was a huge hit.  I also put together a salad kit.

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2018/01/30/chicken-and-biscuits-banh-mi-fusion/

 

First cut up the veggies and toss with oil and seasonings.  Tasting it raw is the only what to make sure it’s not underseasoned.

Put rice in rice cooker next, as it will take longer than the rest of the foods.

Heat olive oil in skillet and cook onions over low 5-10 minutes, while you cut the sausage into semicircles.

Once the onion is softened, put sausage in on top of it and put on a lid.  It will take about the same amount of time as the rice for this to caramelize nicely.

Put the squash and mushrooms on a baking sheet and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes, or until tender.

When the rice is nearly done, and just a little liquid remains in the bottom, unplug and stir in beans.  Place lid back on to keep warm while squash and mushrooms finishes.

I really wish I’d thought of the rice bowl angle earlier.  A nice egg on top would have been the bomb!

Cauliflower was on sale!  I decided to make Cauliflower Steaks, after reading raves about them for years.  Daniel brought me some rosemary and oregano from his garden, which added such a nice, fresh element to the oil mixture I brushed the cauliflower with.   I served it with a simple chicken cutlet and salad.

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Spray baking sheet with coconut or olive oil. Cut cauliflower into slices, trying to keep them intact so they look like tree silhouettes.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Mix together olive oil, chopped rosemary and oregano.  Brush both sides of the cauliflower steaks, and bake at 400 for 20 minutes, turning about half way through.  Sprinkle with Parmesian (I used vegan) and serve!  Yum yum!

 

 

Lucky’s (the sip and stroll store) had some beautiful sockeye salmon on sale that called out to me!  My surrogate daughter Beth, who is vegetarian, was over.  I wanted to make a hearty  side for her to join us!  We all loved the rice, and the lentils and garbanzo beans provided her with a little protien.  The color is not as pretty when you cook the veggies in the rice cooker as opposed to stir frying them and adding them in at the end.  It is, however, much easier to throw it all in the rice cooker and walk away!  It tastes yummy, but if I was having guests, I would opt for the stir fry method for prettier presentation.  I threw together some things I had on hand for the marinade and it was a hit!  The non-fish eaters had boneless chicken with the same marinade and said it was good too.

Rice and Lentils with Salmon

Marinade salmon filet in a mixture of Italian dressing and balasamic glaze (2 to 1 ratio), with a little minced ginger added.  My marinade was about 2 Tbsp. dressing, 1 Tbsp.  balsamic glaze and 1/2 tsp. ginger for each serving of fish.  The filet was 1.2 lbs. and I cut it into three servings.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350F and start the rice in the rice cooker, because it will take about twice as long as the salmon will.

For the rice:

2 C. brown rice

1/2 C. wild rice

1/2 C. dried lentils

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 bag broccoli slaw or other coarsely chopped vegetables

3 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. seasoned salt or other seasoning blend

6 C. water

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

Combine all except garbanzo beans and cook in a rice cooker (one of my favorite small appliances!).  It will take about 40-45 minutes, so set the timer for 20 minutes, then put the salmon in the oven in a shallow baking dish, pouring remaining marinade over it.

When the liquid in the rice cooker was almost gone, I stirred in the garbanzo beans.  My rice cooker has a tendency to overcook towards the end, causing some of the rice to stick and over cook, so I usually stir in a little olive oil while there’s still a little liquid left to keep this from happening.

 

 

Leftover roasted potatoes are the star of this quiche. The bacon and onions don’t hurt either!

 

2 Immaculate pie crusts

1/2 pound bacon

3/4 cup chopped onion

2 to 4 cups leftover roasted potatoes cut into small cubes

10 eggs

One package mozzarella shirts vegan cheese

One half cup tofutti sour cream

Cook onion and bacon until bacon is crispy. Place in pie crust in pie pans sprayed with coconut oil. Combine remaining ingredients and pour into pie shells. Bake at 320F for 45 minutes.

 

 

I had some Pearl couscous and was inspired to mix it with some broccoli slaw I had on hand.  The result was so yummy and so easy, I will definitely serve it again!

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Just cook the Pearl couscous according to directions, let it cool and then mix it with the broccoli slaw. Yummm.

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