Friday, December 31, 2010

2010

Well, 2010 was a year of milestones and since today is the last day, I'd say I made it through the year.  Not without a few bumps and bruises along the way.  I think in most ways 2010 was bittersweet.  Hopefully 2011 will just be sweet.

Happy New Year.  I pray 2011 is full of beauty, hope and joy for you and your family.

Ciao.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!  


Today is the day we celebrate God's promise to us....


“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6


Luke 2


11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.




Now if we could just get everyone agree to have peace on Earth and good will towards each other!    I pray you have a very blessed Christmas wherever you are, whatever you're doing.  For me, I'm just hanging out at home, waiting for the kids to get up.  It's a lot different with them being teenagers!  Later, we'll go to my mom's for dinner.  I'm grateful to have my sister and my step-dad both home from the hospital in time for Christmas.


Maybe the Spirit of Christmas bring you beauty, peace and joy!


Ciao.



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recipe of the week: Cranberry Bread


I love baking for the holidays!  Cranberries are only in season this time of year so I try to buy a few bags and freeze them.  This is one of my favorite recipes and I'd say, hands down it's the one people ask me for the most.  It's great by itself or with cream cheese on it.  I love to put it on holiday goodie platters because it's pretty.  I usually use one cup of unbleached and one cup of whole wheat flour.  Let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!

Cranberry Bread

Ingredients:
2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1-2 Tbsp orange rind
3/4 cup orange juice
1 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix the dry ingredients together into one bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Stir egg with orange rind and orange juice.  Blend mixture into flour mixture, stir until just moistened.  Fold in cranberries, raisins and nuts.
Spoon into 2 small greased loaf pans or 2 large one.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 75 minutes.  Sixty  minutes for 2 loaves and 75 for 1...or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan for at least 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack.  Store wrapped, wait 12-24 hours before slicing.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Our Greatest Need

If our greatest need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness,
so God sent us a Saviour.
-Roy Lessin

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sad Girl Days...

There are those days when you're just sad.  Today is one of them.  Life on planet earth can be brutal at times.  Sickness, disease, poverty, death, aging and abuse, sometimes it's all too much to bear.  


As best as I can, I "accept the things I cannot change".  I accept that I'm at the point in my life where I'm going to lose people.  My grandparents are all gone, my husband's father and step-father are both gone,  two of my uncles are gone, I lost a dear aunt 12 years ago....I have a few friends that are widows.  And yet it doesn't get any less hard.  The only comfort I have, Sara Groves sums up well...."I know to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord, and from what I know of him, that must be pretty good."


I'm going to need large doses of beauty, thankfully tonights sunset was stunning.

I hope you're finding beauty as well.

Ciao.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top 10 Reasons why God created Eve


10. God worried that Adam would be lost in the Garden of Eden
because he wouldn't ask for directions.

9. God knew that someday Adam would need someone to hand him the
TV remote.
(Parenthetically, it has been noted that men don't want to see
what's ON TV; they want to see WHAT ELSE is on.)

8. God knew that Adam would never make a doctor's appointment.

7. God knew that when Adam's fig leaf wore out, he would never
buy a new one for himself.

6. God knew that Adam would not remember to take out the garbage.

5. God wanted man to be fruitful and multiply, but he knew Adam
would never be able to handle labor pains and childbirth.

4. As "keeper of the garden," Adam would need help in finding
his tools.

3. Adam needed someone to blame for the Apple Incident and for
anything else that was really his fault.

2. As the Bible says: "It is not good for man to be alone."

1. And the No. 1 reason of all

[Tada, drum roll, fanfare, etc.]

God stepped back, looked at Adam and declared:
"I can do better than that."


Author unknown, but I don't think was written by a man.


=) I hope you have a beauty-filled day.

Ciao.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Awareness Examen

AWARENESS EXAMEN
 
        This short prayer exercise is to help increase one's sensitivity to the Spirit working in one's life and to provide one with the enlightenment needed to co-operate and respond to this presence. If you use this daily you should find it helpful in noticing spiritual movements.
Thanksgiving ....
        Begin by looking over the day and asking to see where you need to be thankful. Do not choose what you think you should be thankful for, rather, by merely looking over the day see what emerges, what you notice, even slightly. Allow gratitude to take hold of you and express this to the Holy One who at this moment beholds you.
Ask For Light ....
        This is a prayer for enlightenment from God. In the next step we will use our own reflection skills to dispose ourselves for the awareness that we hope will come more directly from God. This often happens unexpectedly or by way of a special little surprise even when we are expecting it! We have a hard time to believe that our own reflection and self understanding here is but a disposition for the Spirit's teaching us (Matt 10:20). Therefore ask the Spirit to show you what God wants you to see.
Finding God In All Things ....
        Again look over the events of the day. This time ask the Spirit to show you where God's presence has been in your life, either in you or in others, and in the events of public life:
        What public events from your local environment and larger world have impact or should have impact upon you? 
--  where are the signs of the Spirit?
--  where are the destructive or divisive powers?
        What interior events were significant for you?
-- notice what stands out even slightly, such as joy,
pain, turmoil, increase of love, anger, harmony,
anxiety, freedom, enchainment, presence of God, isolation.
        Where do you sense you were being drawn by God's Spirit?
        How have you been responding to these events or experiences?
 
Respond To God In Dialogue ....
        Is there any one area you are being nudged to focus your attention on, to pray more seriously over, to take action on? This is where your energy needs focus instead of on the many other things you think are important. Discuss this with Jesus.

  Express what needs to be expressed:
 ... praise ... sorrow ... gratitude ... desire for change ...
 ... intercession ...

Help And Guidance For Tomorrow ....
        Ask God for your needs for tomorrow. For example, you may need to pray to overcome something ... to be more sensitive to God's activity in your environment ... to celebrate in some way you ... to let go ... to deal with some issue ... to be open to conversion in some area ... to make some decisions to act against some destructive forces in the various worlds of your life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shopping

Well, here in the US the day after tomorrow is known as Black Friday.  The day's name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would  occur on the day after Thanksgiving.  Use of the term began by 1966 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that "Black Friday" indicates the period during which retailers are turning a profit, or "in the black."  (Taken from Wikipedia) 

Honestly, I think I've only been out once on Black Friday, it was the year that Tickle 
Me Elmo was hard to find, maybe 1996?  I don't much like crowds, so shopping the
day after Thanksgiving doesn't much appeal to me.  I have a few tips in general when 
it comes to shopping, at least for clothes.  

1.  Go by yourself or with a good friend.  It's too hard to shop with kids and if you 
want a second opinion on how something looks you want an honest opinion. 

2.  Try everything on.  Don't buy stuff without trying it on, chances are you'll have to 
return it.  And try stuff on that you wouldn't normally wear, I have a couple of tops that 
I didn't think much of on the hanger but once I tried them on I loved them. 

3.  Let sales people help you.  A good sales person will get different sizes for you 
and give you honest feedback.  I once had a lady at a jewelry store tell me the bigger
necklace I was looking at didn't look as good on me as the smaller one.  She was more
interested in what looked good on me than making a bigger sale.  Guess what?  
We went back to her for the next three jewelry purchases we made.  Clothes are 
the same way, a good sales person will tell you what looks good on you and not try 
to sell you stuff that's unflattering.

4.  If you shop online, do your online returns through the mail.  Almost all companies these
days send you a return label, go ahead and send that item(s) back.   (Side note, another 
reason to go into the store and try stuff on!  So you know it fits)

5.  If there's an item that you really really want, save your money and get it instead of buying stuff
you don't really want or need.  Chances are you you could have gotten what you really wanted
instead of all those things you bought for $10, $15 or $20.

If you're going out on Friday or just shopping in general I hope you find great deals and things 
you look beautiful in.  The world needs more beauty!


Ciao.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Recipe of the week: Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a great alternative for pasta, and much healthier!  (About 42 calories per cup and pasta is about 220).  When my kids were little, they thought the squash was really pasta, unfortunately now they know better.  The hardest part of this is cutting the squash.

Preheat oven to 375.  Get a large knife and cut in half.  Scoop out the seeds like you would with a pumpkin.  Once you have it cleaned out, put it into a large class pan 9x13 or larger depending on the size of the squash.  Place it skin side up in the pan, fill with 1/2-1 inch of water and bake for 45 minutes to an hour.  You want it tender and stringy but not mushy.  Remove from oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes before handling.  I use an ice cream scoop or a pasta fork to get the squash out of the skin.  Serve with you're favorite sauce.  I like marinara and a little Parmesan cheese on mine, pesto would be good.  I tried it one day with salsa and pepper jack.  When my son was little he didn't like tomatoes, so the only thing he'd eat on his was butter and Parmesan.  As always, play with you're food and let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's just a feeling

Feelings aren't right or wrong, they just are.  Ugh, if I could only remember this!  It's not what we're taught by our parents, teachers or society.  Feelings are those spontaneous, internal, instantaneous responses to our thoughts and or our beliefs about actions or events; they are our own unique internal reactions to something we see, touch, taste, smell or think.

It's when we try to live by our feelings (or make decisions about things)  instead of what we know is truth that we get into trouble.  Time by yourself, to really get to know yourself is really important, so that you know what is true for you.  Large amounts of beauty helps.

I hope you are finding beauty in your life.  Today was one of those 'the clouds have parted and I feel like I live a charmed life' kind of days.

Ciao

Friday, November 5, 2010

Recipe of the week: Corn Chowder

I love Mimi's Cafe corn chowder.  I've had their recipe for several years and love to make it at home but like everything else I've modified it a bit.  Mine has more vegetables and less fat.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

Corn Chowder



Ingredients
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup onion chopped
1 cup celery, large dice
3 cups hot water
2 1/2 cups raw potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 cubes
16 oz bag frozen corn (white or yellow)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tea salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
5 Tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups half and half
2 1/2 cups milk
fresh ground pepper



Directions:
In a large pot or dutch over, melt butter.  Add onion, celery, simmer until softened but not browned.  Add water potatoes, corn and seasonings.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes or until tender.  Whisk flour into 1 cup half and half and stir into soup.  Add remaining half and half and milk.  Simmer 15 minutes, until soup thickens.  Add salt and pepper.  To thin add a little more milk, to thicken simmer 5-10 more minutes.  Serve with fresh ground pepper.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

How to eat healthy at parties

The holiday party season is upon us.  I know there's tons of advice out there on this subject, here's mine...

It's not impossible to eat healthy at parties, it just takes a little planning.  One night won't ruin your fitness/weight loss goals.  My strategy is to bring something that I know I will eat and I try not to arrive starving.  It's a lot harder to make good choices if you're really hungry.

I always offer to bring a salad or a vegetable tray.  Your hostess will most likely appreciate your help.  (In my group of friends I'm known for my salads!)  Costco has large vegetable trays with a lowfat peppercorn ranch dip for about $10.   (They don't usually have celery on them, so I like to slice some up and take it on the side)

I try to make my salads very colorful.  I usually use an organic greens mix, sliced tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, sliced yellow or orange peppers, olives, avocado, sometimes dried cranberries, sliced almonds, or sunflower seeds.  I'll slice cucumbers and either red or green onions and take them on the side (because I don't like them).  I also like to grate carrots, raw beets, or zucchini.  I don't put meat in my salads because I want there to be at least one vegetarian option.  You can add cheese if you like, sometimes I'll add feta.  There's plenty of dressings out there that are healthy options, Trader Joe's has several, I also like Paul Newman's brand or Litehouse makes some good ones.

I like Bethenny Frankel's advice, "taste everything and eat nothing".  To me that means have a little bite of whatever it is you want, just don't go overboard.  You'll be less likely to overeat if you have a little bit of that brownie or red velvet cake.

The most important thing is to drink plenty of water!  Lots of party foods are really high in sodium.  I also try to get in at least 30 minutes of some kind of cardio in early in the day.

A Votre Sante!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Recipe of the week: Pumpkin Pie Squares

In honor of fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving I thought I'd share my pumpkin pie squares recipe.  I actually don't like pumpkin pie, it's a texture thing for me, plus I'm not a big fan of pie crust, so I make this instead.  If you don't like pecans try walnuts or even sliced almonds.  If you try it let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

Pumpkin Pie Squares

Ingredients

1 cup unbleached or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 15 oz can organic pumpkin
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
2 large eggs
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans chopped
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
Whipped cream or ice cream (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Combine flour, oats, 1/2 c brown sugar in a mixing bowl.  Mix on low for 1-2 minutes or until crumbly.  Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9 X 13 inch pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.

While the crust is baking combine sugar, pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs and spice in a large bowl, beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes.  Pour over crust.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Combine pecans and the remaining brown sugar in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over filling, continue to bake for 15-25 minutes or until knife comes out clean.  Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Cut into bars.  Top with whipped cream or ice cream.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Proverbs 31

In my small group today we talked about the Proverbs 31 woman....most people overlook the fact that it's the woman's character that's being discussed.  The end of the passage is my favorite part...

Proverbs 31:

 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
      but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
 31 Reward her for all she has done.
      Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

I hope you've had a restful weekend and found plenty of beauty to restore your soul.

Ciao.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Recipe of the week: Fried Green Tomatoes

One year I had tons of tomatoes that seemed like they were taking forever to ripen so I thought I'd try making fried green tomatoes, after having seen the movie by the same name.  I don't make them very often but when I do, this is the recipe I use.  I use bread crumbs, if you don't like them, I'm sure cornmeal would be fine, it might be an even more authentic southern taste.  I say to use a mixture of canola (or safflowers) and olive oil because the smoking point of olive oil is fairly low and you need an oil you can fry in.  I still have lots of tomatoes right now at the middle of October and once again it seems like they're taking forever to ripen, so this is what we had for dinner tonight.  I'm not sure how you get ahold of green tomatoes if you don't have a garden, maybe ask your local produce person at the store or someone from your local farmer's market.  If you happen to try it, let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!



Ingredients
6 medium, firm green tomatoes
salt

black pepper
1/2 -3/4cup unbleached or whole wheat flour
1/4 cup milk
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs or cornmeal
1/4 cup canola oil, or a mixture of canola and olive oil

Directions:

1. Cut unpeeled tomatoes into 1/2-inch slices; sprinkle slices with the salt and pepper. Let tomato slices stand for a few minutes while you place flour, milk, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes.

2. Dip tomato slices in milk, then flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs. In a skillet fry the coated tomato slices, 5 or 6 at a time, in hot oil over medium heat for 2-4 minutes on each side or until brown. (If tomatoes begin to brown too quickly, reduce heat to medium-low. If necessary, add additional oil.) If desired, season to taste with additional salt and black pepper.  Serve with Louisiana hot sauce.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Candy Shop

There are many people out there raising awareness about human trafficking, the slave trade, exploitation of children, here's one of them:

http://www.stopthecandyshop.com/


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Recipe of the week: Apple Almond Gingerbread

I saw this on Whole Food's website yesterday and thought it looked yummy. (Apples, almonds, gingerbread....what's not to like!) I made it last night and it came out great, and it smelled wonderful baking...all the flavors of fall. I followed the recipe exactly (probably a first), next time I'll add more ginger and I'm sure you could use pecans or walnuts if you don't like almonds. Let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!





Apple Almond Gingerbread

Ingredients
5 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for greasing
3/4 cup slivered almonds, divided*
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons lowfat buttermilk
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
11/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
11/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 Fuji or Gala apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped

Method
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch loaf pan with butter. Put 1/4 cup almonds in bottom of pan and then rotate pan to distribute them around the bottom and sides (they’ll stick to the greased pan); set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, molasses, sugar, butter, vanilla and egg. In a second large bowl, combine flour, ginger, baking soda and remaining 1/2 cup almonds. Add apples and toss well. Stir flour mixture into molasses mixture and then spoon batter into pan. Bake until cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes and then invert onto a plate and serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Love Story, Love146 Our name is her story

In 2002, the co-founders of Love 146 travelled to South East Asia on an exploratory trip to determine how they could serve in the fight against child sex trafficking. In one experience, a couple of our co-founders were taken undercover with investigators to a brothel, where they witnessed children being sold for sex. This was their experience. This is the story that changed our lives.


"We found ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder with predators in a small room, looking at little girls through a pane of glass. All of the girls wore red dresses with a number pinned to their dress for identification. They sat, blankly watching cartoons on TV. They were vacant, shells of what a child should be. There was no light in their eyes, no life left. Their light had been taken from them. These children...raped each night... seven, ten, fifteen times every night. They were so young. Thirteen, eleven… it was hard to tell. Sorrow covered their faces with nothingness. Except one girl. One girl who wouldn’t watch the cartoons. Her number was 146. She was looking beyond the glass. She was staring out at us, with a piercing gaze. There was still fight left in her eyes. There was still life left in this girl...

"...All of these emotions begin to wreck you. Break you. It is agony. It is aching. It is grief. It is sorrow. The reaction is intuitive, instinctive. It is visceral. It releases a wailing cry inside of you. It elicits gut-level indignation. It is unbearable. I remember wanting to break through the glass. To take her away from that place. To scoop up as many of them as I could into my arms. To take all of them away. I wanted to break through the glass to tell her to keep fighting. To not give up. To tell her that we were coming for her…"

“Because we went in as part of an ongoing, undercover investigation on this particular brothel, we were unable to immediately respond. Evidence had to be collected in order to bring about a raid, and eventually justice on those running the brothel. It is an immensely difficult problem when an immediate response cannot address an emergency. Some time later, there was a raid on this brothel and children were rescued. But the girl who wore #146 was no longer there. We do not know what happened to her, but we will never forget her. She changed the course of all of our lives." -Rob Morris, President and Co-founder

We have taken her number so that we remember why this all started. So that we must tell her story. It is a number that was pinned to one girl, but that represents the millions enslaved. We wear her number with honor, with sorrow, and with a growing hope. Her story can be a different one for so many more.

http://love146.org/love-story

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Love is...

I woke up thinking about the passage in 1 Corinthians 13...


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (NIV)


Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. t does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (NLT)


Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. Love never dies. (The Message)


I'm challenged this morning because I don't feel very loving, nor do my relationships. Thankfully I'm a work in progress and so are the people in my life.

I desperately need to find some beauty today, I need room for my soul. I hope you find some too.

Ciao.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Top 5 things I miss about having Jade home

This is for you, honey, in case you forget, now you'll have it in writing. =)

1. I miss having you to watch TV with, no one else cares about Top Chef or Housewives.

2. I miss having you ask how my day was and actually listening to what I have to say.

3. I miss you being my biggest fan when it comes to culinary adventures/experiments, you like 95% of what I make. The others here, not so much.

4. I miss having an errand buddy.

5. I miss having you say, "come here, I wanna hug".

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Recipe of the week: Tomato & Avocado Salad




The first time I had this salad was 10 years ago when my Aunt was visiting for my sister's wedding, I've been making it ever since, with a few twists. Sometimes I use kalmata olives instead of black olives and sometimes I add a little feta cheese on the top. (I made it last night with tomatoes out of my garden and it was wonderful!) As always, play with it and find out what you like. Let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!

4-5 large tomatoes diced
3-4 avocados cut into small chunks
1-2 can(s) black olives cut in half
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add the tomatoes and olives in a medium to large bowl, drizzle with olive oil gently fold in the avocado. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve right away so the avocados don't brown.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Settling In

I write this today sitting in Mammoth Lakes, CA. It's so beautiful in this part of the state! See for yourself at http://www.mammothweb.com/index.cfm I really needed this for my soul, unfortunately I haven't been able to unplug as much as I had hoped, there's been lots to do for my uncle's memorial service this evening. I have been out for a walk and a run and today we're going to the top of the ski area

It's been a week since I moved Jade into her dorm at LMU, moving day I was a disaster, on more levels that one. Day 2 was better, they had welcome stuff for the parents and a wonderful Mass at 5:00 pm. I really love the Jesuits, if I could find a church like that near me, I think I'd go quite often. It was an emotional service, I felt really settled and very good about where she's at. I miss her like crazy but I'm adjusting to a new normal. Thank God for technology! Texting, cell calls and FB chat are keeping us connected!

Something I realized is that we went from having 3 kids at home to two, there was a time when we only had 2. Then, when Christian goes to college, we'll only have 1 at home and there was a time when we only had one....what a strange paradox. Then it will be just the two of us...like before kids. I guess that's when we've really worked ourselves out of a job.

I'm heading out for a walk, to just enjoy the majesty of the mountains. I'm finding beauty, I hope you are too.

Ciao

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pat Albert D'Amato

A month ago today my uncle Pat died. He was born April 29, 1955 and died July 25, 2010, he was 55 years old. He died of a massive heart attack at about 4:30 in the morning, he probably didn't know he had a heart condition. Fifty-five! Gosh, that seems so young to me, especially since my husband just turned 53.

Pat and I were once close, not so much in the last several years. My grandmother (Nana) was the glue that held this family together, and when she got sick and then passed, the family scattered. It really makes me sad. It's been quite a month, trying to deal with Pat's estate and get Jade ready for college. Pat loved the outdoors, was always helping someone do something. He never married or had children, his friends were his family. He was living in Carson City for the last 15 years or so but he lived in some other amazing places as well. When I was little we all lived in Mammoth and that's where his memorial service is going to be, Minaret Vista Sunday September 5th at 5:30 pm. Pat helped found the Mammoth Lakes Search and Rescue Team and there will be a reunion held at O'Harrel Canyon on Saturday September 4, starting at around 11:00 am. I know that my Uncle Pat will be very missed, may he rest in peace.




(This picture was taken in Zion National Park, March 2010)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Harder than I thought

This is way harder than I thought. Don't get me wrong I'm super excited for my daughter to be going off to college, I just didn't think (probably naive on my part) that it would be this hard. Today she said good bye to lots of people at church, people that have poured into her life, and ours and have loved her well, it was hard, hard for her, hard for me and probably hard for them. Crying sucks, it leaves you with a big fat head ache.

I feel in some ways that I'm getting a do-over. I didn't leave home on good terms and this has been a process for all of us. To get what she needs, think of all the things that may come up... a time for all of us to process. It's good, hard but good. I'm really proud of the woman that Jade has become. Right now my job is to release her into God's hands. *sigh* Easier said than done.

Life can be such a beautiful thing and yet so painful. Find some beauty this week and I'll try to do the same.

Ciao

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Recipe of the week: Lemon garlic dressing

I've been making this recipe for years. It tastes a lot like Caesar dressing but doesn't have raw eggs or anchovies in it. You can make it up and leave in the the refrigerator for up to a week. I usually make it several hours before I'm going to use it, so the flavors have time to develop. You can also use it as a marinade for chicken or fish. Let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!


Lemon garlic dressing

Juice of 1 large lemon (homegrown if you can get it)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tea sea salt
1/2 tea black pepper (freshly ground if possible)
1/2 to 3/4 cup safflower oil (Or 1/2 safflower 1/2 olive)

Combine lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Beating continuously with a fork, slowly add the vegetable oil in a stream. Let stand until ready to serve. (A little goes a long way)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another milestone

Well, I made it through another milestone. A week ago I turned 40. Jade threw me a surprise party with my girlfriends, which was very sweet and I had a GREAT time. One confession, she did have to tell me...three or four people invited me out for the night and I said no. Finally, on Thursday she had to tell me so I'd leave the house. She said I was being a miserable brat, she's probably right.

I had my agenda, I wanted to do my usual Sat. morning thing of going to the gym and the farmer's market, add in a pedicure for the day and I was happy. Well sort of, I'd really wanted to have a birthday party this year but with Jade leaving for college in 2 weeks and having a party this week for her I just didn't want the bother. I figured I'd have a party at some point, I mean really, I'm going to be 40 for the entire year. I am amazingly blessed! I have incredible friends, awesome kids and a wonderful husband. I especially love my GIRLFRIENDS! Thank you for a wonderful birthday...even if you weren't able to make it, your notes, thoughts, gifts and prayers, I cherish.

And now...we're having a graduation/going away party for Jade. I'm not sure what I'm wearing yet, except I know I'll have waterproof mascara on! Seems to be a regular thing lately...

I hope you've a beauty filled week.

Ciao

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Recipe of the week: Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Last summer I had several people give me zucchinis out of their garden, I love zucchini bread and thought what if I added chocolate? Because we all know everything is better with chocolate.  This is what I came up with  .My favorite way to eat this is with a little cream cheese    Let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!




Chocolate Zucchini Bread

2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup safflower oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or sliced almonds
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
In large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt, mix well. In separate bowl, combine sugar and eggs, beat until well blended. Add oil and vanilla; beat until combined. Stir in zucchini. Add flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Spoon evenly into loaf pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pans; cool completely on wire rack.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Update

Well, it's been a month or so since I updated this blog. I've been working a lot, which has been good, I love feeling productive. Unfortunately, my back has been hurting for about the same time. The thought occurred to me the other night that it might be grief. Sure enough, when I spoke that out some relief came.

The truth is, I thought I was okay with turning 40 and I thought I was okay with Jade going off to college, turns out I'm not okay with either. I've been doing the best I can to just put one foot in front of the other the last month or so. Jade had severe separation anxiety when she was little, I think I'm now the one experiencing it. Blah. So that's what I know. We're having a graduation/going away party for her on August 14 (one week after my birthday... I figure I'll celebrate at some point...my first born leaving kinda trumps all else). Move in date at LMU is Aug. 27....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Recipe of the week: Banana Bread

I've been making this recipe for years but I think I perfected it when I was baking for the coffee bar at church (which sadly I'm not doing anymore). I almost always double it but this is for a single loaf. For the flour I use 1 cup of whole wheat and 1/2 cup of unbleached, but you can use all unbleached or all whole wheat. I never use all purpose in anything. I also always use non-aluminum baking powder. We like walnuts but you can try pecans. I've even added dark chocolate chips, the kids loved it, kinda like Chunky Monkey ice-cream in bread. Let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!




Banana Bread

1 cup ripe mashed bananas (about 3 medium)
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1/4 cup canola or safflower oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and add bananas, oil and egg. Mix until combined, add nuts. Spray loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and fold in batter. Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence vs. Relationship

I can hardly believe today is the 4th of July! This year is just flying by. Happy Independence Day. I am grateful to live in this country, grateful for my freedom, grateful to those who have died to make it possible.

I used to pride myself on being an independent type of girl. A couple of years ago I read an amazing book called 'The Shack'. This quote challenged me: "When you chose independence over relationship, you became a danger to each other. Others became objects to be manipulated or managed for your own happiness. Authority, as you usually think of it, is merely an excuse the strong use to make others conform to what they want." - Sarayu, These days I'm trying to choose relationship more often. Even when it means being late, or not getting something done. I've found it to be worth it. I'm certainly not perfect at it, and sometimes need to be reminded, but in the end our relationships are we've got (according to Sara Groves).

I hope this day finds you well and surrounded by love, beauty and relationships.

Ciao.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Reflecting on graduation...

Well, I made it through yet another milestone. I can now say I am officially the parent of a high school graduate. The last couple of weeks have been really busy with all of the senior activities. I prepared myself by buying waterproof mascara, I thought for sure I'd need it and surprisingly enough I didn't. I think by the time we got there I was just happy. So proud of Jade and all that she's accomplished. I'd listened to her practice her speech several times so even that didn't make me cry.

The only thing that bothered me was that my dad wasn't able to be there. My mom and step-dad were there, as were my sister and brother-in-law (he videoed Jade's speech, I haven't gotten a copy yet, hopefully it came out well!) My friend who is visiting from Minnesota braved 4 hours on the freeway to be there. Jade's friends Kaylee and Brianna were there with us and Brianna said the sweetest thing on our way of the the stadium. She wanted to make sure we took a picture of just the 3 of them, they have one from each one of their graduations. *sigh* That meant so much to me as a mom, you hope and pray that you're kids are going to have good friends, and that just touched me.

So, this week Christian has promotion from eighth grade and Mackenzie has promotion from sixth grade. I keep shaking my head wondering where the time has gone. Oh, and Jade and I have freshman/parent orientation at LMU.
It's a beautiful thing to watch these kids and their friends becoming wonderful young people.

I hope you find something that fills you with beauty this week.
Ciao.

Jade, Kaylee, and Brianna. :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Story of Three Men

A woman came out of her house and saw three old men with long
white beards sitting in her front yard.

She did not recognize them.

She said "I don't think I know you, but you must be hungry.
Please come in and have something to eat."

"Is the man of the house home?" they asked.

"No," she replied. "He's out."

"Then we cannot come in," they replied.

In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had
happened.

"Go tell them I am home and invite them in!"

The woman went out and invited the men in.

"We do not go into a house together," they replied.

"Why is that?" she asked.

One of the old men explained: "His name is Wealth," he said
pointing to one of his friends, and said pointing to another
one, "He is Success, and I am Love."

Then he added, "Now go in and discuss with your husband which
one of us you want in your home."

The woman went in and told her husband what was said.
Her husband was overjoyed. "How nice!" he said.
"Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and
fill our home with wealth!"

His wife disagreed. "My dear, why don't we invite Success?"

Their daughter-in-law was listening from the other corner of the
house.

She jumped in with her own suggestion: "Would it not be better
to invite Love? Our home will then be filled with love!"

"Let us heed our daughter-in-law's advice," said the husband to
his wife.

"Go out and invite Love to be our guest."

The woman went out and asked the three old men,
"Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest."

Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other two
also got up and followed him. Surprised, the lady asked Wealth
and Success: "I only invited Love, why are you coming in?"

The old men replied together: "If you had invited Wealth or
Success, the other two of us would've stayed out, but since you
invited Love, wherever He goes, we go with him.

Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!!!!!!

~Author Unknown~

I hope your week is filled with beauty.

Ciao.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Graduation Announcement

Erskien and Barbara Lenier
are pleased to announce

Jade

is graduating, Salutatorian
from Centennial High School
the Sixteenth of June
2010
Seven o’clock in the evening
1820 Rimpau Avenue
Corona, CA 92881

Jade will be attending
Loyola Marymount University
in the fall of 2010





Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Recipe of the week: Peach Cobbler

Peaches are one of summer's treasures. Two years ago, we had so many peaches on our tree, we ended up freezing 20 gallon Ziplocs of pitted, sliced peaches. I made peach smoothies, peach cobbler, peach pie, even peach salsa. What we loved the most was the peach cobbler. I took this to a bar-be-que and it was gone in 5 minutes, I didn't even get a piece! It's an easy recipe but takes a little time. If you can get peaches off someones tree, great! If not, try to buy organic, peaches are one of the fruits that are typically sprayed with a lot of pesticides. If you like more cobbler on the top, it's easy to double the topping. If you try it, let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!


Peach Cobbler

1 cup whole wheat or unbleached flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tea baking powder
1/2 tea cinnamon
1/4 butter
5-6 cups sliced peaches
1/3-2/3 cups sugar
1 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup water
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla divided

Preheat oven to 400. For the topping, in a medium bowl stir the flour, 2 Tbsp sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

For the filling, in a large pot combine the peaches, the 1/3-2/3 sugar, the cornstarch,1 /4 cup water and 1 tsp vanilla. Let stand for a few minutes. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Pour into a 2 quart baking dish (a 9x13 pan should work too, if your doubling the recipe a lasagna pan will work)

In a small bowl stir the egg, milk and vanilla together, add to flour mixture, stirring until just moistened. With a spoon drop the topping onto filling, covering most of it.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Enjoy!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Just had to get something off my chest

I've recently become aware that a few people have "un-friended" me on facebook because I've offended them.  Well, I stand by what I've said before, sometimes you have to offend the mind to expose the heart.  I think if I have offended someone (unintentionally) then, it's probably more about them than it is about me.  Instead of being offended why not open up a dialog (again something I've said before).  Offense can be an invitation to a conversation.  How in the world are we supposed to work things out and find common ground if there's no dialog?

I spent the first 34 years of my life trying to be everything to everyone all the time and it got me no where fast.  These days, I know who I am and Whose I am.  And if that offends someone, well then so be it. 

There's a line in the song 'I just showed up" by Sara Groves that goes:

I'm going to look you in the eyes

I'm going to listen and hear until it's finally clear and it changes our lives

Those are the kind of relationships I want. 
I hope you find something that fills you with beauty today.
 
Ciao.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Recipe of the week: Roasted Red Potatoes

 This is one of my family's favorite way to eat potatoes.  It's super easy, you can use red or yellow bell peppers if you want but I usually use green.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!





Roasted Red Potatoes

1 lb red potatoes cleaned and quartered (about 10-12)
1 green bell pepper diced
1 onion diced
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375degrees. Toss potatoes, bell pepper and onion together and spread out in a 9X13 baking dish.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake covered for about 45 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mother's Day Blessing

I know Mother's Day is over but I was so blessed by this I wanted to share it.  My friend Lisa, from Minnesota sent this to me.   Lisa said to imagine it being read very slowly, each word distinct and purposefully chosen. I hope it speaks to your heart as it did mine.  I'd love to hear how this impacts you.

I hope your week has been beauty-filled.

Ciao.



Mary’s Mother’s Day Blessing by Mary Martin Wiens

I am the mother of three little boys ages three and under. I am also a woman who struggled with many years of infertility. During that time of suffering and waiting, the invitation that I heard from God was to become a mother in my spirit with no guarantee that there would ever be children from my body. Because of that invitation, I began to see that there are many ways to give birth, to give life, and to nurture life. So, as I pondered what kind of blessing to offer today, it felt important to honor the mother I was before children, the mother I am now, and the many women I know who mother in both traditional and untraditional ways. I have seen friends do the work of a mother by giving birth a book, by giving medical advice, by teaching, by standing up for justice, by laying hands on others in prayer, by listening. Just to name a few.

So, today I want to bless each of you women who sacrifice so that life can come through you to another. I invite you to let in whichever of these words seem to be for you and let go of whatever is not for you…Now, mothers, receive this blessing…

Mothers of children
Mothers of adults
Mothers to ailing parents
Mothers in spirit
Mothers of creative works
Mothers to those in need
Mothers with empty wombs
Mothers whose arms ache to be filled with one who once was there
You life givers and life nurturers
You who hold the small essential things that make a world
You who are the sole witness to private stories unfolding
You who are the ground on which others find their footing
You who respond to cries of hunger, heartache, fear, or pain
You who shelter growing things
You whose most significant work is unseen
You bringers of tenderness and comfort
To mother is to make oneself vulnerable to loss
To give oneself wholly to something that has the guarantee of at least a measure of failure
To give birth to something beyond you, that doesn’t belong to you, that you can’t control
To engage in a work that reveals both your best and your worst
To surrender your time, your body, your rhythms, your resources
For the joy set before you
So Mothers,
May God the Life Giving Spirit be your source
May God be both witness and companion to all the unseen moments of your life
May God preserve you at your core when the needs of others threaten to wash you away
May God give grace as you seek to unwind the knot of both founded and unfounded guilt and enable you to bring healing in places where you have brought harm
May God give you courage at thresholds of change

May God make of your emptiness a wide and free place
May the One who holds all things together, assure you that divine arms surround all that is beyond your reach
And, When you lift up your eyes to see your life, may your joy be great.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Recipe of the week: Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I made this a couple of weeks ago and it was pretty good. I got the original recipe from The Flat Belly Diet website. (Which in my opinion is a great resource). As usual I've done some tweaking, I added the cocoa powder and the walnuts and flaxseed and reduced the amount of chocolate chips. I think bittersweet chocolate is better than semisweet, it has a higher cocoa percentage and is less sweet, so it makes it seem more decadent. (I use Ghirardelli 60%)  Let me know what you think. A Vorte Sante!


Chocolate Zucchini Cake

1 & 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c cocoa powder
2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/3 c canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 c shredded zucchini
2 c bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c flaxseed

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat an 11" x 8" baking pan with cooking spray. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cocoa and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs, sugar, yogurt, oil, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Whisk in the zucchini and 1/2 cups of the chocolate chips, walnuts and flaxseed. Stir into the flour mixture just until blended. Spread into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups chips over the cake. Spread with a small spatula as they melt to form an icing, placing back into the warm oven, if needed, for about 1 minute. Makes about 12 servings. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the women I know.  Even if you haven't had a biological child, you are a nurturer, you love, you are a care-giver.  If those things aren't mothering then I'm not sure what is.  I thought I'd share a few of my favorite mothering quotes with you...

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body" ~Elizabeth Stone

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers. ~Jewish Proverb

A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest. ~Irish Proverb

All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother. ~Abraham Lincoln

Today I am grateful, that God saw fit to entrust me with my children; Jade, Christian and Mackenzie.  It truly has been like having my heart walk outside of my body!  I wouldn't change a moment of it. 


Have a beauty-filled Mother's day!

Ciao.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I love dresses

Dresses are a complete outfit, just add shoes. A dress can be fun, sexy, flirty, comfortable, or drop dead gorgeous. They are so versatile and so feminine. They're used for milestones...flower girl dress, prom dress, little black dress, wedding dress.

I didn't always love dresses. I remember in the third grade my mom made me wear a dress every day to school (except one), probably because I'd lived the previous 2.5 years in Mammoth and hardly ever wore a dress. I remember being teased for being "too girly" and I grew up going to a church where you had to wear a dress every Sunday or else. Bleck.

Now, it's my choice to wear dresses, and as far as being "too girly" I don't care, its part of who I am!  I'm especially fond of ones you can dress up or dress down. Over the past year I've bought a couple of my favorite dresses, ever. At Anthropologie, of course =) (Sometimes you can get great deals there.)

So for my dress loving friends my encouragement to you is to find a dress you love and wear it. Tomorrow is Mother's Day and you'll find me wearing a dress.

I hope you have a beauty-filled weekend!

Ciao.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Recipe of the week: orange salsa

Happy Cinco de Mayo. In honor of the day, I thought I'd share my recipe for orange salsa. I've been making this for a few years. My husband was at an event and had a salsa like this and asked me to try to duplicate it. This is what I came up with. As always, play with it and see how much heat you like, you can always add more jalapeno seeds or more ground pepper. If you like lots of cilantro, you may want more. My favorite way to eat this is with lime chips. (Have'A Corn Chips are my favorite!) This salsa is also really good on carne asada. Let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!


Orange Salsa
1 red onion chopped
2 jalapeno's chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro
2 oranges, peeled, segmented and cut into small pieces
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Once you've chopped the onion and jalapeno cook it for about 3-4 minutes, with no oil or anything in the pan. Basically you're making them sweat, it takes a little bit of the edge off. You don't want them mushy though, so watch it closely. Let them cool. Combine everything else in a large bowl. Once the onion and peppers are cooled, add to rest of the ingredients. Grind fresh pepper to taste and stir. You can add sea salt if you like but I usually don't, I think the tomatoes add enough salt but it all depends on your taste. Enjoy!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Being kind

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Plato

Sometimes, being kind can be so hard.  Whether its to myself, my kids or the homeless person on the freeway off-ramp.  And yet, the times when I practice random acts of kindness, I know, in a small way, it changes things.  The greatest affirmation I ever got for doing things for people, however small, came when my youngest daughter got an award from school for random act of kindness.  More is caught that taught when children are concerned.  They observe everything...they're not so good at interpreting things but kindness, in my opinion is outside of interpretation.  Kids just know, people just know, when you're being kind.  This song is on iPod and sometimes it just haunts me....

"Hands"


If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we're all OK
And not to worry 'cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these
I won't be made useless
I won't be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear
My hands are small, I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own

And I am never broken
Poverty stole your golden shoes
It didn't steal your laughter
And heartache came to visit me
But I knew it wasn't ever after
We'll fight, not out of spite
For someone must stand up for what's right
'Cause where there's a man who has no voice
There ours shall go singing
My hands are small I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
I am never broken
In the end only kindness matters
In the end only kindness matters

I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
My hands are small I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own

And I am never broken
My hands are small I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken
We are never broken
We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's mind
We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's heart
We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's eyes

We are God's hands
We are God's hands
(Jewel)

So in light of the song and the quote, my challenge is to anyone who's listening to be kind, and to practice random acts of kindness....you never know, it just might change the world =)

I hope you've had a beauty-filled week.

Ciao.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Recipe of the week: Healthier macaroni and cheese

I don't know anyone, kid or adult, that doesn't like macaroni and cheese. So, when a friend emailed me and asked me to come up with a healthy version, I was happy to!  I've been making healthy fettuccine Alfredo for years so I figured that this wouldn't be too hard.  I think that the next time I make it, a combination of cheddar and pepper jack would be wonderful (but only if you like spicy).  Anyway, this is what I came up with.  Serve with a salad or steamed vegetables and you've got a meal. Of course if you want to serve meat, chicken or fish on the side that's great too. A Vorte Sante!


Healthier macaroni and cheese

2 tbsp butter
1/4 c flour
3 c skim milk
1 1/2 c shredded cheese (I used 1/2 cheddar 1/2 jack)
1/4-1/2 c shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
1/2 tsp salt
1 box cooked pasta (I used whole grain medium shells cooked without salt or fat)

Melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan or skillet over low heat. Add flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Gradually add milk; stir well. Cook over medium heat 10 minutes or until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Add 1 1/2 cup cheese and salt, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in cooked macaroni. Spoon into a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Offense

I am part of a wonderful group of women who are doing a book study.  We're going through 'When the Heart Waits' by Sue Monk Kidd.  We go rather slowly and  have incredible conversations about what we're reading.  We're all on the journey of discovering who we really are and trying to live authentically.  Yesterday we were talking about being offended.  The Bible says not to be easily offended.  I know I have been guilty of being easily offended more than a few times.  One of the gals said "offense is just an invitation to a conversation".  Wow.  That caused a major paradigm shift.  What if next time I'm offended, instead of getting all upset and defensive I just open up a dialog?  Hm.  What if? 

Well, that's my pondering for the day.  I thought someone might relate.

I hope you're having a beauty-filled day.

Ciao.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Recipe of the week: Vegetable walnut pasta

This is a recipe that I originally found on a box of pasta, but as always I have modified it. It's super easy and I thought you might enjoy it. If you don't like broccoli or artichoke hearts you could easily substitute zucchini, spinach, or green beans. (Or anything else you like). Just adjust the cooking time, especially if its spinach...I'd add it as I was tossing the pasta so its not mushy. Like I've said before, I believe in playing with your food...see what you like and let me know if you try it. A Votre Sante.

Vegetable walnut pasta

Ingredients:

1 lb Farfalle or other pasta
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil and herbs, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and cut into fourths
3 cups broccoli florets
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated if possible
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into thin strips (you can use 1Tbsp dried, but fresh is much better)
salt to taste
black pepper, freshly ground to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Toast walnuts in a small skillet for 1-2 minutes until slightly brown. Place in large bowl. Add sun-dried tomatoes, including some oil from tomatoes, garlic and olive oil and artichoke hearts.
Cook pasta, according to package directions. (Add broccoli the last 4 minutes) Drain, add pasta and broccoli to bowl. Add Parmesan cheese and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well and serve. Serves about 4. Enjoy!