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Puerto Rico Waterfall

With a son who is a talented colorist, an artist really, I have been fortunate enough to try fun hair colors.

My latest look is reminiscent of a peacock!

 

People will say the most interesting things to me.  Some stare.  Some complement.  Some criticize.  One thing is for sure, I no longer blend into the background, unnoticed.  People hold doors for me, say “Hello” even.  Children have laughed out loud and told me they love my hair.  I feel better about myself, and take more care with the way I dress and I even sometimes use a little make-up. Having colorful hair makes me more approachable.  It opens so many doors to connections with people that would otherwise never occur.

Acceptance

Sometimes I forget that I have outrageous hair and am reminded by the behavior of others.  My 4 year old grandson was not happy the first time I tried an unusual color.  He said that he wanted me to have brown or black hair or something.  He has since come to accept that Mom Mom likes to color her hair.

Kaden 4

 

I decided to research what the experts say about people who color their hair unusual colors.  The reasons they gave ranged from – “to get attention” to “to be unique” to “because they are risk takers”.  It was making sense to me.  I’m going through a time of change in my life, and changing my appearance helps me see myself in a different light.

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What I found the most unsettling about the articles I read weren’t the articles themselves, but rather, the comments people made were unbelievable.  The level of condemnation and judgment is staggering.   These individuals who felt compelled to name call and criticize couldn’t look past the hair color, just like they can’t look beyond weight, skin color, gender, affluence, age, or any of the other numerous differences we all have.  It’s sad because it represents what keeps people from connecting.  It is judging someone without giving them a chance to show you who they are.

all my kids and then some

3 lb. ground turkey

1 package Chop Salad (any kind – keep the dressing and toppings for another time)

1 package frozen seasoning vegetables (onions, peppers, celery, and parsley)

1 can black beans

1 can white corn

2 pouches Frontera Lime Cilantro sauce – this is our favorite Rick Bayess sauce – all natural ingredients you can pronounce!

2 pouches Minute Multi-grain medley (uncooked)

Optional toppings:  Lettuce, tomato, avocado, red pepper, shredded cheese, black bean dip, etc.!

Brown meat.  Add veggies chop salad and seasoning and cook until softened.  Add sauce and cook in the crock pot 6-8 hours on low.  About 30 minutes before serving, turn crock pot to high and add in multi-grain.  It will absorb the extra liquid.  Heat tortillas and let everyone make their own burritos!

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Today was food preparation Sunday.  I did my shopping yesterday (following the great, inspiring sales this week), and prepared food today.  The meatballs are a combination of several meats and I made them jumbo, like mini meatloafs.

3 lb. ground beef

1 lb. ground chicken

1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 lb. ground pork  (optional)

2 tsp. baking soda mixed with 2 Tbsp. water

2 c. crumbled cornbread

2 eggs

1/4 c. sweet pickle relish

1/4 c. pesto

3 Tbsp. steak seasoning

1 lb. ricotta cheese

1 jar spaghetti sauce (I used Gia Russa)

4 oz. each ricotta salada and fontina cheeses, shredded

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Combine meats with baking soda water and add in relish, pesto, seasoning, ricotta cheese, and seasoning.

Prepare 13 x 9 baking dishes by spraying with cooking spray.

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Using large scoop, form meatballs and put into baking dishes sprayed with coconut oil.

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Bake at 375F for 40 minutes until internal temperature is 165F.

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Pour  spaghetti sauce over cooked meatballs and top with shredded cheese.  I used ricotta salada and fontina.

 

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Meanwhile as part of food prep Sunday, I browned the remaining ground meats I bought (about 3 lb. total) to freeze and use in a future meal.

I bought a variety of sauces on a clearance sale at the local market and put boneless chicken breasts and thighs into large containers and coated them with the sauces and froze the chicken for future meals.  I only used half of the meatballs I made for tonight’s dinner.  I froze the rest for another night.

 

I served the Jumbo meatballs tonight with a tortelloni that was on a BOGO sale at my local supermarket.  I also bought their spinach ricotta ravioli, and everyone loved the freshness of this delicate pasta.  I will go buy more before the sale ends!

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All in all, a successful food preparation Sunday, ending with a delicious, easy meal made of ingredients bought on sale!

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Cake:

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans

3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for pans

1/2 cup boiling water

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

 

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in center of oven. Butter three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment. Dust bottoms and sides of pans with cocoa powder; tap out any excess. Sift cocoa into a medium bowl, and whisk in boiling water. Set aside to cool.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on low speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides twice. Beat in vanilla. Drizzle in eggs, a little at a time, beating between each addition until the batter is no longer slick, scraping down the sides twice.

 

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk milk into reserved cocoa mixture. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour and cocoa mixtures to the batter, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with flour mixture.

 

 Divide batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of each layer comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans for even baking. Transfer layers to wire racks; let cool, 15 minutes. Turn out cakes, and return to racks, tops up, until completely cool.

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Remove parchment from bottoms of cakes. Reserve the prettiest layer for the top.

Place one cake layer on a serving platter; spread 1 1/2 cups peanut butter buttercream frosting over the top.  Add chopped mini peanut butter cups. Add the second cake layer, and spread with another 1 1/2 cups frosting.  Add chopped mini peanut butter cups. Top with third cake layer. Cover outside of cake with the remaining 3 cups frosting. Pour chocolate ganache over top and let drizzel down the sides.  Garnish with mini chocolate peanut butter cups.  Serve.

Frosting:

3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup peanut butter

Stir together powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Stir in peanut butter. Beat until smooth and spreadable.

Ganache:

8 oz good quality semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

Cook the chocolate chips and heavy cream in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

Molly the Baker is home for a visit with equally talented baker Lein!  The girls made some amazing cupcakes for us tonight as we celebrated.

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Cupcakes:

1 c. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

2 c. sugar

4 eggs at room temperature

4 tsp. vanilla extract

3 c. flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 c. buttermilk

2 lemons for zest and juice

Blueberry Filling:

2 c. frozen blueberries

3/4 Tbsp. water

1/4 c. sugar

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 2 muffin pans (12 each) with cupcake liners.  Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar on medium high until creamed (about 3 minutes) scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat on medium high until combined about 2 minutes, again scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Slowly add dry ingredient mixture into wet ingredients over 3 additions, beating on low.  The batter is thick!  Beat in buttermilk, lemon juice and zest, and continue to blend on low until combined.  Avoid overworking the batter, being sure to stop as soon as it appears uniform.

Spoon batter into cupcake liners.  Bake 18-20 minutes.  Test with toothpick for doneness.

Cool completely before filling and frosting.

Meanwhile make compote by 1 cup of the blueberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan.  Cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat.  Add in remaining blueberries and cook an additional 8 minutes.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

2 blocks cream cheese, softened

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

4 c. sifted confectioner’s sugar

Zest of 2 lemons and juice of 1

Beat cream cheese, butter and sugar until smooth, about 5 minutes. Beat in lemon zest and juice.

Carefully cut center of cupcake to make room for the filling, careful to save a “lid” to put on top of filling.

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Pipe cream cheese frosting on top.

Watch everyone’s delight when they reach the yummy center!

Thank you Molly and Lein!

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2 boxes elbow macaroni, cooked according to directions

12 leftover chicken fingers (you could use any leftover meat)

1 package broccoli slaw, steamed in the microwave (any steamed veggies will work!)

1 jar alfredo sauce (variation – mushroom soup, marinara, any sauce!)

1 c. shredded cheese (I used sliced and shredded up some cheese I had on hand)

Mix cooked macaroni and alfredo sauce.  Place half in the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish sprayed with coconut oil spray.

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Top with cooked broccoli slaw.

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Cut up chicken tenders and spread evenly over broccoli slaw.

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Top with remaining macaroni and sauce.

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Top with cheese.

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Bake at 350F until melted and golden, about 25-30 minutes.  Loved it!!

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1 package wild garlic noodles – love these!

1 jar alfredo sauce

4 c. leftover cooked chicken

3 c. broccoli florets

1 green pepper, chopped

8 oz. sliced mushrooms

1 c. shredded colby jack cheese

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Saute broccoli, mushrooms, and green pepper until softened, but not mushy.  Add in chicken.

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Meanwhile, cook garlic noodles.

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Combine noodles, chicken and veggies, and alfredo sauce.  Pour into 13 x 9 baking dish sprayed with coconut oil.

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Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes until golden.

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1 1/4 c. milk  – I used coconut almond milk

1/2 c. agave syrup – the recipe called for sugar, but I prefer agave

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice – I left this out, since I used pumpkin butter that was seasoned

3 large eggs, slightly beaten

1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)  – I actually used up the pumpkin butter instead!

4 1/2 c. cubed  bread  – I used a seedy whole wheat and the seeds gave it a nice crunch!

Cooking spray

Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk until frothy.  Add bread and toss gently to coat.  Spoon into an 8 inch square baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350.  Place baking dish in a larger dish with an inch of water.  Cook covered for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 10 – 15 minutes until knife in enter comes out clean.

I served it warm topped with vanilla yogurt and some stewed strawberries.

xmas-eve-brunch

With so many gatherings, we decided to have a Christmas Eve Brunch.  I made Cheesy Apple Grits, Apple Dumpling Casserole, and a Egg, Cheese and Sausage Crock Pot Casserole.  All previously posted, super easy recipes.   When I was young, my dad used to make Christmas breakfast of oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar.  We loved it!

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My son in law brought Mini Beef Wellington Bites, and Cousin Laura brought Cheese Blintzes and Green Beans.  Lots of dessert type stuff too.

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Olivia brought Bailey’s to make yummy coffee too!

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Grandma Tina made cookies with my oldest grandson and they were delicious and pretty!

Now, Christmas day will be nice and quiet and relaxing – watching the Steelers play and nowhere we have to go!

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Merry Christmas to all!!

 

I had some leftover London Broil and wanted to make something different.  I shredded it up and made quesadilla with onions, peppers, mushrooms, and cheese.  Yummy!!

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2-3 c. shredded beef

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1/2 each green, red, yellow, and orange peppers, chopped

8 oz. sliced mushrooms

Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. butter

2 c. Mexican shredded cheese

Flour tortillas (I used fajita style)

Saute onion, peppers, and mushrooms seasoned with salt and pepper to taste in olive oil until softened.

Add garlic and butter.  Cook about 1 minute.

Add in beef and toss until heated through.

Keep warm over low heat.

Heat tortillas in oven or microwave.

Heat large saute pan over medium high heat.

Place one tortilla in pan and heat for one minute.  Flip.

Top cheese and then with meat and veggie mixture.  Sprinkle with  a little more cheese, and top with another tortilla.  Heat for about a minute, and carefully flip over to brown the second side.

Cut with pizza cutter and serve with lots of greens!

 

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