Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Recipe of the week: Persimmon Pudding

This is one of my favorite desserts, its too bad persimmons are only ripe during the holidays.  It's one of the first things I learned to make when I really started cooking in high school.  You need really ripe persimmons for this, I bought mine and let them sit for a week.  You only use the pulp, I peeled mine and sorta smashed it with a fork.  I used pecans this time but you can use walnuts if you like them better.  Some people put raisins in theirs but I don't really like cooked raisins unless they're in oatmeal cookies.  If you try it let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!






2 cups of persimmon pulp
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 nutmeg
1/2 cup melted butter
2 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1 1/2 cup whole wheat or unbleached flour
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large bowl add the eggs to the persimmon pulp, whisk in the sugar.  Add baking powder, soda, salt and spices.  Pour in melted butter, stir and add the evaporated milk.  The mixture will be sort of soupy, whisk in flour, fold in chopped nuts.  Pour into a greased 9 X 13 pan.  Bake for 1 hour or until knife comes out clean.  Serve with whipped cream.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Easy Gift Idea

The past few years my sister and I have been making homemade marshmallows.  We use this recipe.  (Try making fudge with the homemade marshmallows....hands down the BEST fudge you will ever have!)  So this year this is what I did with the marshmallows. I cut them into stars and put them on chocolate dipped spoons, added a cocoa packet in a cute mug and voila' you've got a great gift.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Recipe of the week: Chicken with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes.







This past weekend a friend of my dad's sent me home with homemade dehydrated apples and sundried tomatoes.  Heaven!  If you're lucky enough to have some of these tomatoes on hand use them otherwise you'll have to make do with store bought.  I served mine with a salad, you could add rice, pasta or potatoes if you like.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

1.5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 lemons juiced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
a dash of basil
a dash of mint
a dash of red pepper

I can of artichoke hearts drained
1/2 cup-1 cup of sundried tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix all of the spices with the lemon juice and olive oil...pour over chicken breasts.  Marinate in a dish or a large plastic zipper bag.  Marinate for at least an hour, the longer the better.  Bake in covered pan at  375 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Add artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes and cook uncovered for another 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Great workout when you can't get to the gym...

I've started doing this on days when I can't get to the gym (or when I was out of town this past weekend).  It's easy, fast, you don't need any equipment and you don't need a lot of space to do it.  Try once and repeat as long as you have time for, I think the other day I did it 4 times in a row.

Pinned Image

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Life's Little Instructions...

I love stuff like this....it's important to remember that it's the little things in life that make the most difference.

Until next time, Ciao.

Pinned Image

Friday, December 2, 2011

Things I love about December

So here we are, already December 2nd.  There's lots of things I love about this time of year, so I thought I'd share a few with you.  These are in no particular order.

  1. I love how most everyone is friendly
  2. Hearing Christmas songs like O Holy Night in the grocery store, what other time of year would you hear a worship song at Vons!
  3. Reading Luke 2 and drinking homemade hot cocoa on Christmas Eve
  4. Getting to say Merry Christmas or Happy New Year instead of just 'Hello', it's so much more fun.
  5. Going to look at Christmas lights
  6. Making cookies and marshmallows with my kids, sister, niece and nephews
  7. Baking some of my favorite bread and cookie recipes and taking them to friends
  8. My mom's English toffee, it's the only time of year she makes it
  9. Getting together with friends and family just because
  10. Dressing up, just to be festive
What are your favorite things about the Holidays?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The most, the best, the greatest

I am fascinated by Mother Teresa. I'm not Catholic but I have great respect for the Catholics and every now and then I enjoy attending Mass.  Something that always rubs me the wrong way is when people say they aren't Christians (I can't stand that kind of division of the Body of Christ but that's a post for another day.)  With social justice, sometimes I want to laugh when someone will tell me about something "new" that's being done.   Don't get me wrong social justice is a great thing and if I didn't have kids at home I'd probably be out doing something about human trafficking.  What I want to say is "Ever heard of the Catholic church or Mother Teresa?"

Anyway, today I stumbled upon this and thought it was beautiful, and I'm always looking for something filled with beauty to inspire me.

Until next time....Ciao.

The most beautiful day: Today
The easiest thing: Equivocate
The biggest obstacle: Fear
The gravest error: give up, to despair
The root of all evils: Egoism
The most beautiful occupation: Work
The worst route to follow: Faintheartedness
The best teachers: Children
The first necessity: TO communicate
The greatest happiness: To be useful to others
The greatest mystery: Death
The worst defect: Bad temper
The most dangerous being: The liar
The most wretched feeling: The grudge
The most beautiful gift: Forgiveness
The most indispensable: home
The quickest way: The correct one
The most comfortable feeling: Interior peace
The most powerful weapon: The smile
The best remedy: Optimism
The greatest satisfaction: The duty done
The most powerful force: Faith
The most needed beings: The parents
The most beautiful of all: Love



Mother Teresa

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Crustless Sweet Potato Pie

About 15 years ago I started making sweet potato pie, the greatest compliment I ever got was from my late father in law....he grew sweet potatoes and was from the south, he said mine was the best he'd ever had!  I really don't care for pie crust or pumpkin pie but I like the flavor (I make pumpkin pie squares as posted here).  Sweet potatoes are a great alternative, in my opinion the texture is much better.  Today I decided to use up the left over sweet potatoes and make a crustless pie (mostly Paleo friendly...I used buttermilk but you could use coconut milk).  We're having it with whipped cream but you could certainly have ice cream or yogurt.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

3-4 medium sweet potatoes baked and peeled (about 1 lb)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp salt
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of cayenne pepper
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk or sour cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl or stand mixer mix the cooked sweet potatoes with the spices and sugar.  Add the eggs.  Beat lightly, gradually stir in buttermilk.  Pour into a greased deep dish pie pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes with foil over the top so it doesn't over brown.  Remove foil and bake another 25-30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recipe of the week: Autumn Fruit Crisp

Fall is my favorite season and this has all the wonderful flavors of fall and will make your house smell amazing!  You need a large deep dish pan for this (I used a super stone pan I got a long time ago from Pampered Chef.)   Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this is a great alternative to pie.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!  (This is the recipe I submitted to Whole Foods but I'm not sure it made it, seems like there was a glitch with their system.)




6-7 cups sliced granny smith apples (about 3 large, I peeled half and left the peel on the other half)
4 cups sliced bartlett pears
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cranberries
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup  organic rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1/2  cup whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  
In a large bowl combine apples, pears and cranberries, toss with lemon juice and granulated sugar.  For the topping, in a medium bowl combine the oats, flour, brown sugar and spices.  Cut in butter until the texture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the walnuts.  Place 1/2 of the fruit in a large baking dish, sprinkle 1/2 of the topping over fruit.  Top with the remainder of the fruit and the the rest of the topping.  Bake crisp at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until fruit is tender and the topping is golden.  Serve with vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt or whipped cream.  Serves 8.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sack Lunches


I got this as an email and had to share!  Thanks again to all who have served.


Sack Lunches


I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.  


Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me. 'Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan.'


After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five
dollars. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time...As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch.  Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till we get to base.'  His friend agreed.  I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill. 'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in Iraq ; it's almost like you are doing it for him.'


Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or chicken?' 'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to he front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class.  'This is your thanks.'


After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room.  A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me twenty-five dollars.  Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, 'I want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my seat belt I stood and took the
Captain's hand.  With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.


Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.


When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane.  Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars!


Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base.
I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five dollars.  'It will take you some time to reach the base.  It will be about time for a sandwich 'God Bless You.'  Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers.


As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so little...


A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'


That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.'

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Recipe of the week: Cranberry Rosemary Muffins

Several months ago I had breakfast at a restaurant called The Curious Palate in Mar Vista (Venice).  If you're even in that area I highly recommend you check them out, they're all about farm to table, and you know how much I love that!  Anyway, we had breakfast, everything was delicious.  They had these muffins and I've been looking for a recipe but I haven't been able to find one, so after experimenting a little bit, this is what I came up with.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!



Cranberry Rosemary Muffins

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 unbleached flour
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp orange rind
3/4 tsp salt
2-3 tsp fresh rosemary
3/4 fresh squeezed orange juice
1 cup chopped cranberries

Topping:
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin pan with muffin liners.

In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients and the orange rind.  In a separate large bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, beat in the egg and then the orange juice.  Add the dry ingredients one cup at a time until just incorporated.  Fold in the chopped cranberries.  Scoop into muffin cups.  In a small bowl mix the brown sugar, flour and rosemary, cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle tops with brown sugar mixture.

Bake at for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Things I'm thankful for...

It's November 10th and I realized I haven't posted since last month.  I can hardly believe the Holidays are upon us.  I love fall, as you already know and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  At our house I like to go around the table and have each person say what they are thankful for.  This month I see a lot of people on Facebook saying each day what they're grateful for, I'm late coming into it so I thought I'd just list a few things here.

  1. A God who loves me no matter what!
  2. My health
  3. A loving husband
  4. Three smart, healthy, talented children that are growing up to be amazing people
  5. Having a loving family (parents, sister, cousins)
  6. Being able to live in a free country
  7. Dear friends that love and support me
  8. My job and getting to work with great people
  9. Opportunities to grow and change
  10. My talents/skills 
I encourage you to take a little time this month and reflect on what you're grateful for.  Even in hard seasons we have a lot to be thankful for (trust me, on this one!). 

Ciao!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Recipe of the week: Candy Bar Cookies

What are you going to do with all that leftover Halloween candy?  Make cookies of course!  This recipe calls for mini Snickers bars but I'm sure the snack size cut into 3 pieces would work.  You can also use Milky Way, Reeses, Baby Ruth, Twix....whatever you like.  I don't make these very often because they're not very healthy, but once in a while won't hurt.  Enjoy!


Candy Bar Cookies
1 cup softened butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
3 cups flour
1 tsp.baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
60 snickers miniature candy bars
chocolate glaze (recipe below)


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.  In large bowl beat together margarine or butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda then add to peanut butter mixture, beat until combined.  For each cookie shape a rounded Tbsp of dough around a candy piece, forming a ball. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake @ 350 for 15 mins, cool on rack.  After they're cool drizzle with glaze.


Chocolate glaze:
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp milk
add additional milk 1 tsp. at a time
mix all ingredients together

Saturday, October 29, 2011

DIY foot scrub

Last year for Christmas my mom asked for family pictures, we didn't end up getting them done because my step-dad hasn't been well enough.  So tomorrow is finally the day we're going to get them done.  We're all wearing jeans and black shirts, I found the cutest shirt at work last week, yay.  I'd like a picture of the five of us barefoot, this week has been busy with back to back football games so I didn't have time for a pedicure like I'd wanted.  I made a scrub for my feet out of stuff in my pantry and refrigerator and it came out well.  My feet are super soft!  (Just make sure you rinse the tub out well after you wash your feet, you don't want to slip the next time you take a shower. )  After a couple of coats of coral nail polish, I think my feet are ready for their close up : )  


In a bowl mix:
2 Tbsp raw sugar
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp oatmeal ground into a fine powder in the blender
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh grapefruit juice (or other citrus)
It's going to be a thick paste.  Smear on your feet, wait about 15 minutes and wash off.  I wrapped my feet in plastic grocery bags after I put the scrub on so I could still walk around and not make a mess.  Enjoy your beautiful feet!
Ciao.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Golden Box


Some time ago a man punished his 5-year-old daughter for wasting
a roll of expensive gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and
he became even more upset when the child pasted the gold paper
so as to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift box to her father
the next morning and said, "This is for you, Daddy."
The father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his
anger flared again when he found the box was empty.

He spoke to her in a harsh manner, "Don't you know, young lady,
when you give someone a present there's supposed to be something
inside the package?"

The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and
said, "Oh, Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into it until
it was full."

The father was crushed.

He fell on his knees and put his arms around his little girl,
and he begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.

An accident took the life of the child only a short time later
and it is told that the father kept that gold box by his bed for
all the years of his life. And whenever he was discouraged or
faced difficult problems he would open the box and take out an
imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it
there.

In a very real sense, each of us as human beings has been given
a golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our
children, family, friends and God. There is no more precious
possession anyone could hold.

~Author Unknown~

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Recipe of the week: Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

I love spaghetti squash, until my kids were older they didn't even know what pasta was.  We like it with marinara sauce or with sauce and meatballs.  I've recently made it and stuffed it with onions, mushrooms, zucchini and spinach, topped with some parmesan cheese and basil.  It goes well with marinara sauce (for the vegetarians in my house), it also goes nicely with a ribeye, like the one I just had or red sauce with meatballs.  If you try it let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

Ingredients:
One spaghetti squash, about 4 lbs cut in half and cleaned out
2Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion sliced
1 glove garlic diced
1-2 cups sliced mushrooms
1-2 sliced zucchini
3-4 cups spinach
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp basil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.  Slice spaghetti squash in half and discard seeds.  (I use an ice cream scoop to clean mine out).  Put the halves in a 9x13 pan with 1/2 inch of water, cover with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes.

While the squash is in the oven, put 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet (I always use cast iron), saute the onion, mushrooms, zucchini.  When those vegis are almost done toss in the spinach, you want the spinach barely cooked.  Take the squash out the oven and spoon the mixture into one of the halves.  I like to leave one of the halves plain and stuff the other.  Top with the parmesan, basil, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with marinara sauce, meat sauce or just eat it like it is....enjoy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Mom Taught Me


MOM taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE:
"If you're going to kill each other, do it outside.
I just finished cleaning!"

MOM taught me RELIGION:
"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

MOM taught me about TIME TRAVEL:
"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the
middle of next week!"

MOM taught me LOGIC:
"Because I said so, that's why."

MOM taught me FORESIGHT:
"Make sure you wear clean underwear in case you're in an
accident."

MOM taught me IRONY:
"Keep laughing and I'll give you something to cry about."

MOM taught me about the science of OSMOSIS:
"Shut your mouth and eat your supper!"

MOM taught me about CONTORTIONISM:
"Will you look at the dirt on the back of your neck!"

MOM taught me about STAMINA:
"You'll sit there until all that spinach is finished."

MOM taught me about WEATHER:
"It looks as if a tornado swept through your room."

MOM taught me how to solve PHYSICS PROBLEMS:
"If I yelled because I saw a meteor coming toward you,
would you listen then?"

MOM taught me about HYPOCRISY:
"If I've told you once, I've told you a million times,
Don't exaggerate!!!"

MOM taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION:
"Stop acting like your father!"

MOM taught me about ENVY:
"There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who
don't have wonderful parents like you do!"

And most of all ..... MOM taught me THE CIRCLE OF LIFE:
"I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

Author Unknown

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Recipe of the week: Vegetarian French Onion Soup


  • Cooking for my family has become increasingly difficult, earlier this year my youngest daughter, Mackenzie, decided she was going vegetarian.  (For moral reasons, which I can support, if you're just jumping on the vegi/vegan band wagon because of some thing you read on the internet, then spare me.)  Her two favorite soups are broccoli cheese and french onion.  She had a mini-melt down when she found out french onion was made with beef broth the last time she ordered it at Panera.  I promised her I'd come up with a vegetarian substitute and this is what I came up with.  (FYI:  Don't start out with sweet onions, as the onions caramelize they will get sweet and you don't want them to be too sweet.)  Let me know what you think (and you can always make it the traditional way with beef broth).  A Votre Sante!


  • For the soup:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 large brown onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2-1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp raw sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp flour (optional)
  • 32oz or 4 cups vegetable broth
  • For the topping:
  • 1/2 to 1 loaf french baguette 
  • Parmesan cheese, Mozzarella or Gruyere (or a mixture)
  • Butter, olive oil or oil spray

  • Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, cook for about 15 minutes then add garlic, bay leaves, sugar. salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 30 minutes maybe a little longer. Add the wine, bring to a boil, turn back down to medium low. Discard the bay leaves.  Dust the onion mixture with flour and stir.  (Optional) Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn, and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the vegetable broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 5-10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  • For the topping:  
  • When you're ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the cheese/cheeses and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Ladle the soup in bowls and cheese bread on top.
  • Alternative method: Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.
  • I wasn't sure if my dishes were oven safe so I floated the cheese bread on the top.   Enjoy!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Top 10 things I love about fall

Autumn or fall is my favorite season, it has been for as long as I can remember.  Perhaps it began with new starts, ie, going back to school, making new friends, getting new clothes etc.  Growing up both my parents were die hard USC football fans, so Saturdays belonged to college football, my mom is famous for screaming at the TV.  Once I got to high school I came to love the game myself  (and I especially love it now that my son plays!!).  So, now you know my number one reason for loving fall....here are the rest.


  1. Football season
  2. Losing those few pounds I gained during the summer
  3. Sweaters, jeans and boots
  4. Baking yummy treats
  5. Curling up with a good book and a blanket
  6. Hot tea (especially when curled up with a good book)
  7. My favorite TV shows being back on with new episodes
  8. The changing leaves
  9. Soups and stews (my favorite dinners are soup, salad and bread)
  10. Gathering with family and friends because of "the holidays"

Now you've heard my top 10, what are yours?  Whatever they are, I hope they are filled with love, laughter and beauty!
Ciao

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Getting in shape

I was at a friends house the other night and we were talking about losing weight and getting in shape.  There are LOTS of different opinions out there and as I've said before I believe in balance.  I've also done my own research on how and what to eat, which I highly suggest everyone does.  The biggest thing you need to know is how what you eat makes you FEEL.  Pay attention to that, keeping a food journal will help.

Now, having said all that, I think eating the Paleo way makes the most sense for me.  A Christian friend posted a negative comment on something I posted about the "caveman" diet months ago and I deleted the link.  Anyone who knows me should know I do not believe in evolution, in the Darwin sense.  If you go back just 100 years you can see how the evolution of industrialization has made us as a population sicker, and fatter.  And I certainly don't see anywhere in the Bible where they're eating fast food or food from packages.  They ate real, whole foods, mostly that were in season.

I told my friend I could have her in shape in 6 months, maybe for some that's a stretch but I dare you to try this for 30 days and see how you feel.  (75 to 80% of losing weight and getting in shape is diet.)  If you do let me know how you feel!  A Votre Sante!


FastPaleo.com CheatSheet


What is paleo and why should I do it?
Paleo is a lifestyle that emphasizes the parts of Paleolithic life which are healthier for us than typical 
modern life. The first main example is eating whole foods such as meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs and 
healthy fats instead of factory-processed foods and newer agricultural products, especially grains. The 
second is making time for regular exercise and proper sleep. Doing these will make us feel better and give 
us fitter, more attractive bodies.     


Nothing in this  FastPaleo.com CheatSheet should be taken to constitute professional advice or a formal recommendation by any certified nutritionist, physician, or therapist; and we exclude all representations and warranties relating to the content and use of this FastPaleo.com CheatSheet.

How do I go paleo? Tell me the steps!

  • Eat a variety of meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs and healthy fats
  • Don’t eat added sugars 
  • This includes “organic” sugar and artificial sweeteners. Never drink soda
  • Don’t eat grains or legumes (This includes soy, rice, corn, wheat, and any grain product like pasta, breads, or cereals)  as well as legumes (beans) and white potatoes
  • Don't eat processed vegetable oils (This includes canola, corn, soybean, peanut, and cottonseed oils, to name a few)
  • Don’t eat any factory-processed foods (If it comes in a box, most likely you shouldn’t eat it)
  • Eat dairy only if it is from grass-fed animals and you digest it well
  • Plan one or two cheat meals a week if it keeps you on track (Try to “treat not cheat” by indulging in more decadent paleo foods occasionally
  • Exercise regularly and intensely, and rest
  • Give yourself rest days throughout the week and extended rest every couple months
  • Get a full night’s sleep in a dark room every night
  • Drink lots of water
  • Don’t drink much or any alcohol, and avoid caffeine late in the day
That’s it?
Yep! But, only if you are consistent. The above paleo basics make up 90% of a 
successful paleo lifestyle, but they must be followed for you to see results. One of 
the biggest keys in doing so is the ability to prepare your own paleo food. The 
FastPaleo.com Recipes page has hundreds of free easy-to-follow recipes you can 
choose from to find paleo foods that you like and can prepare yourself. Check it out 
and as always, Kristin and James and the awesome FastPaleo community are more 
than happy to help out in any way we can.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Recipe of the week: Bellissimo

Several years ago I spent a week at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas and discovered an amazing cocktail.  Sadly, when I was there this past week, it's no longer on the menu.  Good thing I called and asked for the recipe way back when.  I told the bartender what was in it and since he had everything on hand, he was able to come up with a pretty good imitation.  Here's the original recipe (or at least what they told me and how I've been making it).  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!  


1 Shot Red Alize
1 Shot Bicardi Limon
1 Shot sweet and sour mix
2 large dashes Angostura bitters


Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice; shake vigorously until very cold. Strain into a tulip shaped glass or champagne flute, serve with slices of lemon and orange.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Not an accident

I LOVE this!  I couldn't have said it better myself.  Have a beauty filled day!!

Ciao!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Recipe of the week: Farmer's Market Salad

Last week I had lunch at one of my new favorite restaurants, Mendocino Farms in Marina Del Rey.  I love their food but even more so their philosophy.  They are all about locally grown, farmers markets and eating seasonally (which I'm about too!)  I sampled this salad from the deli case and knew I had to try to recreate it at home.  I did and the results were amazing!  They used pecans in their salad, I had walnuts so I used those.  I didn't have any raspberry vinegar so I used red wine vinegar and some fresh raspberries.  If you end up trying it let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!



Farmer's Market Salad
1 large plum sliced
1 pluot sliced
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts (or pecans)
3 oz smoked Gouda sliced into small pieces
4 to 6 cups organic mixed baby greens

Place greens, plums, pluots, nuts and cheese in a large bowl, toss with raspberry mint vinaigrette and enjoy immediately.

Raspberry Mint Vinaigrette

Juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp raspberries (about 6 large)
2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves
2 green onions (only the white part about 2 inches each)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp agave nectar (or sugar)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Put the first five ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.  Add salt, pepper and agave (or sugar), taste and adjust seasoning, pulse quickly.  Add olive oil in a steady stream to mixture, a few seconds in the food processor will mix it up nicely.  Toss over salad, enjoy!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Recipe of the week: Healthier "Chunky Monkey"

Well, it's been quite a while since I posted a recipe.  It's been way too hot to cook, so I've been making lots of salads.  I think I've turned the oven on a few times to make sweet potato fries and once for cookies this summer.   It's September and it's still in the high 80's to low 90's here.

On another note, I've been tweaking my diet a bit.  Trying to eat less gluten, dairy, sugar etc.  Last night a friend and I were talking about ice cream and my favorite is Ben and Jerry's....pretty much any flavor will work, some I'm more fond of than others, one of those in Chunky Monkey.  I had some bananas that I'd frozen for smoothies, but no one has used them, so I thought I'd make ice cream out of them.  This is what I came up with. (This is dairy and gluten free so it's Paleo friendly and Vegan)  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!



4 large frozen bananas
6 Tbsp unsweetened coconut milk (I got mine at Trader Joe's)
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts chopped (I left some whole)
1-2 oz dark chocolate (I used 72%)
pinch of salt

The only thing you need for this is a food processor.  You may have to do small batches depending on the size of your food processor.   Put the frozen bananas in, add the coconut milk one tablespoon at a time, add the vanilla.  (You could also use bananas that aren't frozen and then freeze the mixture later).  Once you have a creamy mixture spoon into a freezer proof bowl.  Add the walnuts, salt and dark chocolate, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until the texture resembles ice cream.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

It's been 10 years since that awful day we now refer to as 9/11.  Where were you?  That's the question of our generation....much like my parents was "Where were you when JFK was shot"?  On 9/11/01 I was just about to get up to get my kids off to school when the phone rang.  It was my mom, she said to turn the news on.  When we turned the TV on we saw a split screen of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and we sat speechless as we watched the second plane fly into the north tower.  Unbelievable.

I was scheduled to help my cousin move from the San Fernando Valley to Corona that day.  After talking it over, we decided to go ahead.  What I remember as I drove through LA was the eerie silence.  We get so used to the air noise of helicopters, planes etc and to hear absolutely nothing was terrifying.  One of those times when the silence is deafening.
I think for me September 12 was worse, mostly because I didn't have anything to do.  I remember being glued to the news for most of the day.  We had my cousin, her husband and friends from the neighborhood over for dinner, the wine was flowing, it was one of the few times when I had to put my husband to bed.
  
I've always been one of those people who get teary eyed during the Star Spangled Banner (especially when my daughter Jade sings it).  I used to get so upset as a teenager when our cross-town rivals who were "the Braves" used to sing at the end of the national anthem "and the home of the braves"....ugh would make me so mad.  Now when I hear the National Anthem, from almost the first 5 words I'm in tears, and if you've actually heard all three verses it means more:

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand


Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!



My prayer now is that we will always remember.  God have mercy on us that we would ever forget and take our freedom for granted.
  
We are the land of the free because of the brave men and women who sacrifice their lives for us every day via military, fire department, police, ambulance and paramedics.   Thank you for your service, today and everyday.  God bless you and God bless America.



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lovely Advice

Health:
Drink plenty of water.
Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
Live with the 3 E’s - Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
Play more games.
Read more books than you did in 2010.
Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
Sleep for 7 hours.
Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

Personality:
Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
Don’t have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
Don’t over do. Keep your limits.
Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
Dream more while you are awake.
Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
Smile and laugh more.
You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

Society:
Call your family often.
Each day give something good to others.
Forgive everyone for everything.
Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
Try to make at least three people smile each day.
What other people think of you is none of your business.
Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

Life:
Do the right thing!
Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
The best is yet to come.
Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Memory Lane

Good grief, I can't believe it's been almost a month since I posted here. Such is life....
To say things have been busy here is an understatement. July was about football practice and getting ready to go back to school, and working lots of hours. I can hardly believe it's already August 17! Christian started his sophomore year of high school and Mackenzie started the 8th grade, Jade will start classes the end of the month and I turned 41!

For my birthday, my mom decided she wanted to take me away for the weekend, to Laguna Beach where I was born. We left on Friday and after we checked into our hotel we went to the Sawdust Festival and the Art A Fair, both were fantastic. I love galleries, paintings, sculptures, photography, hand made jewelry and all the stuff that comes with artists. Friday evening we went back to our hotel and got dressed up (mom insisted) and had dinner at what is now called The Lumberyard. When I was little it was the Ivy House, then it became Cedar Creek...all of which we have loved. Dinner was lovely.

After a goodnight's sleep, we had some breakfast and walked all around downtown Laguna. It was one of those "oh this used to be a flower shop, and this used to be Swenson's Ice Cream and that was the bank" etc. So, I started taking pictures. My mom took me all over, from the place she and my dad lived when they were first married, the hospital I was born in, our first house, where I went to preschool, my elementary school, the restaurant my parents owned etc. I took lots of picture as we were going around you can find them on Facebook if you'd like to see them. The coolest thing about the whole weekend was going to the restaurant my parents owned, the GM was awesome. He gave us a tour of the whole place, showed us all the changes that had been made, even walked us through the kitchen and back office. My mom told me that the walk in refrigerator, walk in freezer and the tile in the kitchen are the one's my grandfather put in back in the early 70's! It was great to have that time with my mom, she's been under a lot of stress the last several months with my step-dad being so sick. I know that this was one of those things that I will look back on and cherish.

Last weekend was a high school reunion of sorts....they've been doing this beach bash thing with multiple classes invited for the past couple of years, this was the first year I went. It was great to see so many lovely faces. It was good to catch up with some dear friends from the past...it was also weird to see some folks doing the same thing 23 years later. Some people haven't gotten the memo that it was time to grow up.

All in all, the last month has been good, but very much a trip down memory lane. When I was in Laguna, I had lots of thoughts like "what if my parents had never split up, what if I'd grown up here" etc....I guess more opportunities to grieve, oh joy, LOL!!

At the end of the day, I find even more reasons that I need beauty and rest for my soul.

I hope you find the same.

Ciao.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Recipe of the week: Pineapple Salsa

I saw a recipe similar to this awhile back and last night I thought I'd make my own. (It's similar to my orange salsa recipe from last May.) I ate some last night with grilled chicken and had a little tonight with mahi mahi...good stuff. If you try it let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!



Pineapple Salsa
3 cups fresh pineapple cut into small pieces (about 1/2 of a large pineapple)
2 1/2 cups tomatoes chopped
2 cups chopped onion (I used a sweet onion)
1 large Anahiem chile diced (you could also use jalapenos)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp dried red pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 fresh ground pepper

Cook the onion, chile, salt pepper and red pepper in a large pan until just tender. Remove from heat and let cool. In a large bowl toss pineapple, tomatoes, onions, pepper and cilantro. Serve with whatever you like, enjoy!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Faces of Grief

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to a women's conference, the title was "Faces of Grief". Our culture teaches us that grief is primarily losing a loved one. While, that is absolutely grief so are so many other losses. Loss of a job, pet, house, health, losing friends to moving. What about the loss of a dream or the dream for your child?

If I'm honest, I've had a ton of loss to grieve the past couple of years. Mostly though I haven't grieved, I've just moved on, or so I think. I know it sometimes pops when I least expect it. I can become so easily angered or emotional and when I dig deeper, it's usually not about what's right in front of me. What I got out of yesterday is that your pain matters and it matters to God. However small or large and that it's important to give ourselves room to grieve, otherwise we might not be able to move on.


At my place setting was a bookmark with this on it:

Isaiah 43:2

You will pass through deep waters (of grief)
But I will be with you.
You will pass through the rivers (of sorrow)
But their waters will not sweep over you.
You will walk through fire (of heartache)
But you will not be burned.
The flames will not harm you.


I'm hoping to get to the beach this week, I need some beauty in my life. I hope you have a beauty filled week.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Recipe of the week: Spicy Peanut Sauce

I've been making this sauce for a long time....the first time I made it was over spring break my junior year of high school in Park City, Utah (my dad and I were there skiing for the week). You can use this on stir fries, marinate chicken in it or use as a base for Pad Thai. I usually use unfiltered apple juice in the jar, this time I juiced an apple. For those who have an allergy to peanuts you can use almond butter or any nut butter. I used raw peanut butter that I made myself and Mother's Market but you can use any kind you like. Let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!


3/4 to 1 cup of apple juice
1/4 cup peanut butter, crunchy or creamy
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
salt to taste

Pour the apple juice in a sauce pan, add the peanut butter and stir until smooth, add pepper and salt. Serve while warm over vegetables or refrigerate and use as a marinade or dipping sauce. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Recipe of the week: Chinese Chicken Salad

I think I've tried every Chinese chicken salad out there and I like my homemade version the best. It's super easy especially if you use bagged salad or coleslaw mix, prepared dressing and left over chicken. If I don't have time to make my own dressing I usually use Newman's Sesame Ginger dressing or Trader Joe's sesame soy ginger dressing. The great thing about this recipe is you can double it or triple it depending on how much you want to make, it's a great recipe for parties or bar-be-ques. I don't usually add wontons or dried Asian noodles, but you can if you want. As always if you try it let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!



3 cups of sliced or shredded chicken breast
1 head of romaine lettuce cut or torn into pieces
3 cups of shredded cabbage or a bag of coleslaw mix, no dressing
1 can of mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
cilantro leaves, to taste I usually use about 6 sprigs
sliced green onions to taste, I use about 3 full onions
Sesame ginger dressing to taste
Dried Asian noodles or wontons if desired

Toss everything into a large bowl and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Christian!

This morning at 12:24 am my son turned 15. He was 9lbs 6oz and 19 1/2 inches long, two weeks ago at his physical he was 180 lbs 5'9" and wears a size 12 shoe! Big difference. It's hard to believe it's been 15 years since I first held him. It goes by very fast.

I'm the first to admit that raising a child takes a village. I feel like this is doubly true for me trying to raise a boy. I don't have any brothers and wasn't really around many boys growing up so having a son and being introduced to the world of boys was like another planet for me. I am very grateful for the people that have come alongside us in raising Christian. Teachers, coaches, pastors and youth leaders, thank you.

I've always thought you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat children and pets. Christian has probably rescued 6 dogs and little kids love him. He has a heart of gold, he's smart, athletic, kind, loves God and loves his family and friends. I've been honored these last 15 years to be his mom. Happy Birthday, son...I love you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Recipe of the week: Asparagus Artichoke Salad

I saw a recipe similar to this over the weekend and decided I wanted to try it, of course with my own twist. I roasted the asparagus with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. This is really easy to throw together. You could add some grated Parmesan cheese if you like or even a little feta would be good (I didn't have either, there's always next time!) Let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!



1 lb of asparagus, trimmed
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
butter lettuce, one head torn or a bag
1 can artichoke hearts in water, quartered
kosher salt
pepper
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tbsp)
1 tbsp of olive oil

While the asparagus is cooking (about 6 minutes in the broiler or on the grill) put the lettuce, tomatoes and artichoke hearts in a large bowl. Once the asparagus is cooked you want to cut it into bite sized pieces and add to the rest of the salad. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper (as much or as little as you like) and toss. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Would You Listen?

THE SITUATION: In Washington, DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold
January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach
pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000
people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a
musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds,
and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar. A
woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to
walk.

At 6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him,
then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes: A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him
along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again,
but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning
his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other
children, but every parent - without exception - forced their
children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people
stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but
continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total
of $32.

After 1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one
noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all. No
one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the
greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most
intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million
dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston
where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play
the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C.
Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a
social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.


The details of the Joshua Bell story by Gene Weingarten of the
Washington Post are here: http://tinyurl.com/3x9s2a

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Recipe of the week: Marinated Carne Asada

I haven't been cooking a whole lot lately...lots of salads and easy to do stuff. I went to a wedding last month and the meat that was served was fantastic! Marinated carne asada and chicken, I asked what the marinade was and was shocked....orange juice, Pepsi and garlic. Weird I know, it's the sugar in the soda that breaks down the fat in the meat making it moist, juicy and tender. (I've used coffee as a marinade for beef for a long time, it also breaks down the fat in the meat making it super tender). I've tried it now a couple of times on both the meat and the chicken and it's fantastic. You can use as much or as little garlic as you want, I used about 6 cloves or 2 tsp of the chopped jarred kind. The secret is letting it marinated overnight, the longer it sits the more tender the meat will be. So, let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!


2 lbs of carne asada (flap steak or thin top sirloin)
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 can of Pepsi about 6 oz or 3/4 cup
garlic as much as you like
salt and pepper to taste

Marinate meat overnight. You can cook this in the broiler or on the grill, it only takes about 12 minutes to cook, 6 minutes on each side, if you like it rarer, less time, more well done more time. If you're doing chicken, then the cooking time would be a little longer, you want to make sure the juice runs clear.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Balance

I believe in balance, in all things. To say I've tried every diet out there is in understatement.
From the SAD to vegetarian, to raw, vegan, eat right for your blood type, Atkins, 80-10-10, Southbeach you name it, I've either read it or tried it. At the end of the day, I believe what I read in the blood type diet saying that only 30% of the population will respond to a give-in program.

I lean towards the Paleo philosophy with a lot of raw food. In my opinion wheat, corn, and dairy are so over processed that we've all developed an allergy to them on some level. But, I admit cheese is my arch-nemesis. My bottom line is how does what you eat make you feel? There are certain things (ie cucumber, bell peppers, iceberg lettuce) that when I eat them I don't feel well, so I don't choose to eat them. Some people call this intuitive eating...I call it common sense. And for me, life is too short to not enjoy the occasional sweet treat (especially since I LOVE to bake) drink or bread...

So, in the end it matters what you do 80% of the time, the other 20%, enjoy! A Votre Sante!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Blind Sign

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his
feet. He held up a sign which said: "I am blind, please help."
There were only a few coins in the hat.

A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and
dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it
around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that
everyone who walked by would see the new words.

Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving
money to the blind boy.

That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how
things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked,
"Were you the one who changed my sign this morning?

What did you write?"

The man said, "I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but
in a different way."

"I wrote: "Today is a beautiful day, but I cannot see it."

Both signs told people that the boy was blind. But the first
sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people
that they were so blessed that they were not blind. Should we be
surprised that the second sign was more effective?

Moral of the Story:
Be thankful to GOD for what you have.
Be creative. Be innovative. Think differently and positively.
When life gives you a 100 reasons to cry, show life that you
have 1,000 reasons to smile.

Author Unknown

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Legend of the Dogwood Tree

This legend fascinates me. Although there is no historical verification, it's a widely held view, that the tree chosen for Jesus’ crucifixion was a Dogwood tree. The petals of its flowers grow in the shape of the cross, each bearing the reddish mark of a rusty nail.

The legend told of why the Dogwood does not grown tall or even straight is best described in a poem by an unknown author.



The Legend of the Dogwood

(author unknown)

In Jesus’ time,
the dogwood grew
to a stately size
and a lovely hue.

‘Twas strong and firm
it’s branches interwoven,
for the cross of Christ
its timbers were chosen.

Seeing the distress
at this use of their wood
Christ made a promise
which still holds good:

“Never again shall the dogwood grow
Large enough to be used so.

Slender and twisted it shall be
with blossoms like the cross for all to see.

As blood stains the petals marked in brown,
the blossom’s center wears a thorny crown.

All who see it will remember Me
crucified on a cross
from the dogwood tree.

Cherished and protected,
this tree shall be.
A reminder to all of my agony.”

Friday, April 8, 2011

Quick Chicken Tikka Masala

I really enjoy some Indian flavors and this was delicious, fast and easy to make. The original recipe didn't have the sugar snap peas in it, but I thought it was add some color and some crunch. I used chicken from a rotisserie chicken that I bought at Costco, but you could easily use boneless, skinless chicken breast, you would just add them with the onion. I had mine by itself but you could serve it with rice, flat bread or naan. Let me know what you think. A Vorte Sante!


Ingredients:

4 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2-3 cups diced cooked chicken breast
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large sweet onion, diced
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger or 2 tsp ground ginger
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
3 cups sugar snap peas, ends trimmed
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish optional

Preparation:
Stir together garam masala, salt and turmeric in a small dish (and ginger if you're using dried). Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger (if you're using fresh) and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add snap peas. Add the spice mix and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a simmer, stir in half and half. Add the chicken. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice, flat bread or naan.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The longest 10 days of my life...

First off, thank you for those who have prayed for us. It's been a V E R Y long 10 days.

As many of you know, my daughter Jade had a bit of a breakdown and was in the hospital. It's unclear at this point if she will return to school at LMU. Today was the beginning of the process...

I'm not sure I believe the quote by Mother Teresa "I know God won’t give me more than I can handle, I just wish He didn’t trust me so much!” It's one thing to go through things like this yourself but an entirely different thing to watch one of your kids go through it.

I know I need lots of prayer, grace and beauty to get through this, I just haven't found time yet for any of that. I'll keep you posted as to how we're doing.

Ciao.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Recipe of the week: Banana Cupcakes

I love banana cake! My high school graduation cake was banana and probably the best I've ever had. Lately I've been searching high and low for a good banana cupcake and haven't found one that I love. There's certain things that I think a banana cupcake cake should have and I couldn't find one or a recipe, so I had to create my own. I don't eat shortening so I wanted one with butter, and I wanted at least part of the flour to be whole wheat and I knew I wanted buttermilk in it because it makes it light, so here's what I came up with. Let me know what you think. A Vorte Sante!



Cake:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup unbleached flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Frosting:

4 oz softened butter
4 oz light cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla and buttermilk. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add mashed banana and walnuts until just combined, you don't want to over mix it. Divide batter evenly into muffin tin (I use an ice cream scoop) Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

For the frosting:
In a mixing bowl or stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter, cream cheese and vanilla until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add powdered sugar, mix for another minute. If you want chocolate cream cheese frosting this is where you'd add about 2 oz melted dark chocolate. Spread over cooled cupcakes and top with a walnut for decoration. Enjoy!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Review: 'It's Your Call' by Gary Barkolow

I got this book last November and finally finished a couple of weeks ago. I would have written this sooner, but I loaned to book to my daughter. There are so many things to ponder, so many things to look deeply at. I love the way Gary writes (and speaks for that matter), he is very authentic and to me that is incredibly valuable.

The first two chapters, 'The Weightiness of Your Life and The Mystery of Your Life' really speak to your heart in regard to how God created you and that He has put a weightiness and glory that is uniquely yours. That you have something to offer the world that will be missed if you don't step into your calling.

I think the thing I got clearest about after reading 'It's Your Call' is that my roles in my life (ie wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend) are not my calling in my life.

I particularly liked Chapter 7, Awakening Your Desires. I was reminded that my desires are the same reason I started this blog...more on that later. One of my favorite parts is near the end when Gary talks about living like an artist. Picasso said "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." I'm not sure what that means for me but I'm definitely pondering it.

Here's a link to Gary's website: www.thenobleheart.com


I highly recommend you get a copy of 'It's Your Call', it's full of truth and beauty.

Ciao.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Recipe of the week: Cilantro Lime Talapia

We love fish tacos at our house.  I used to cook talapia on the grill but the last few times I've done it in my big cast iron pan.  I served this with corn tortillas, cabbage, lime and salsa.  You can add cheese or guacamole if you like.  I make a little sauce for mine.  You can make these as fancy or as simple as you like.  This recipe is also great served with grilled vegetables or just a green salad.  A Vorte Sante!



Fish:

1 lb Talapia fillets  (you might want to do more if you have more than 3 people eating)
1/2 to 1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 bunch of cilantro
2 limes
chipotle powder
canned sliced jalapenos
salt and pepper to taste

If your fish is still frozen that's not a big deal, you just have to cook it for a few extra minutes.  Heat up your pan (I use a big cast iron one) and add the olive oil.  Add the fish fillets and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chipotle.  Cut your lime in half and squeeze over the fish, (I cook mine with the halved lime) add about 2 Tbsp of cilantro leaves, throw and a few slices of the jalapeno, cover and cook about 3 minutes.  Turn over, slightly reseason and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the fish is white and flaky, this will take a couple extra minutes if you start with frozen fish.

Sauce:

1 Tbsp olive oil mayonnaise
1 Tbsp vinegar (red wine or white wine)
a dash of chipotle powder or red pepper flakes

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside in the refrigerator until you're ready to put your tacos together.  Smear a little sauce on your tortilla, add fish, cabbage, a squeeze of lime and a little salsa....a masterpiece!  Enjoy =)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Recipe of the week: Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting


I don't eat a lot of sugar these days, but once in a while I want something sweet.  I like cupcakes but I think that boxed cake and canned frosting is gross.  Once you've had cake and frosting from scratch you won't ever want the boxed/canned stuff again.  My philosophy is that if you're eating healthy 80% of the time, then a little chocolate and sugar won't hurt from time to time.  I hope you enjoy this.  A Votre Sante!


For the cupcakes:


1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the flour and the baking soda in a bowl and set aside.  In a double boiler melt the chocolate over low heat.  In a large bowl, or stand mixer, cream the butter until smooth.  Add both sugars and beat until fluffy, add one egg at a time, mixing well.  Add melted chocolate and vanilla.  Add half the dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk, repeat, until the batter is smooth but not overmixed.  Spoon batter into 12 cupcake liners.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for at least 20 minutes before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

6 Tbsp butter
1 cup powdered sugar
5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbsp milk


Cream butter, add sugar, cocoa and vanilla to the butter.  Add milk to the butter mixture. Slowly add milk one tablespoon at a time until you have the desired consistency.  Enjoy!