Sunday, December 23, 2012

Three Trees...An Unusual Christmas Story


I read this story for the first time several years ago and it quickly became one of my favorites...


Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, "Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty."

Then the second tree said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull."

Finally the third tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me."

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, "This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter,"and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.

At the second tree the woodsman said, "This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard." The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, "I don't need anything special from my tree, I'll take this one," and he cut it down.

When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay.

This was not at all what he had prayed for. The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end. The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark. The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.

Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.

Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said "Peace" and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.

Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined. We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.

May your day be beautiful and blessed. Until we meet again, may God cradle you in the palm of His hand.  Ciao.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Recipe of the week: Braised Brussels Sprouts with Shallots

A few weeks ago, a friend made this for a work party, they were amazing!  She didn't have the exact amounts of what she used (come to find out her boy friend who is a chef at The Salted Pig in Riverside helped her a bit), so I played with the ingredients a few times and the last time I nailed it.  People ate these that don't even like Brussels sprouts!  These are a bit on the Asian side but go well with most things.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!





1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts
2 shallots finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
1 bunch green onions finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

First, cut Brussels sprouts in half, then finely chop or mince the rest of your vegetables.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet, add Brussels sprouts flat side down.  Once they start to brown, about 5-8 minutes add the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, coating the sprouts.  Add the shallots, green onions, and garlic, sauteing until translucent, (about another 5 minutes) add red chili flakes.  Pour into bowl and serve, enjoy!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Signs in front of Churches


Signs in front of Churches
===========================

1. The best vitamin for a Christian is B1.

2. Under same management for over 2,000 years.

3. Soul food served here.

4. Tithe if you love Jesus!  Anyone can honk.

5. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without
   giving.

6. Beat the Christmas rush, come to church this Sunday!

7. Don't wait for the hearse to take you to church.

8. We should be more concerned with the Rock Of Ages, instead of
   the age of rock.

9. Don't give up.  Moses was once a basket case!

10. Come early for a good seat in the back.

11. Life has many choices, Eternity has two. What's yours?

12. Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due.

13. A man's character is like a fence.  It cannot be
    strengthened by whitewash.

14. K-mart isn't the only saving place!

15. Preach the gospel at all times ... Use words only if
    necessary.

16. Delay is preferable to error.

17. It's hard to stumble when you're on your knees.

18. What part of "THOU SHALT NOT" don't you understand?

19. A clear conscience makes a soft pillow.

20. The wages of sin is death.  Repent before payday!

21. Never give the devil a ride.  He will always want to drive.

22. Can't sleep?  Try counting your blessings.

23. Forbidden fruit creates many jams.

24. May is God's apology for February.

25. To belittle is to be little.

26. Don't let the littleness in others bring out the littleness
    in you.

27. God answers knee mail.

28. Try Jesus.  If you don't like Him, the devil will always
    take you back.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Recipe of the week: Chocolate Pumpkin Smoothie

This time of year pumpkin is in everything including smoothies.  I had some left over pumpkin after making this recipe for a crustless pumpkin pie.  I love pumpkin chocolate chip cookies so I thought I'd try combining the two flavors in a smoothie and this is what I came up with.  It was a great after workout pick me up, let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!


Chocolate Pumpkin Smoothie

1 cup milk of choice (I used almond milk)
1/4 canned pumpkin
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp chia seeds
dash of cinnamon
ice (optional)


Add everything to the blender until ice is blended and enjoy.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Do it anyway...

A couple of days ago, a dear friend gave me this quote in a lovely frame.  She knows how much I love the Catholics and Mother Teresa.  In fact, this blog was originally inspired by a book I'd read about Mother Teresa, her philosophy in life was "let's do something that's beautiful for God".  Anyway, this is one of my favorite quotes and now I have it framed.

Enjoy, until next time.

Ciao.

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.


If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. 

If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. 

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

Mother Teresa

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hints on How to Be a Friend


Hints on How to Be a Friend


1. Be Trustworthy.

When a friend tells you a secret, keep it.
Don't repeat it to others.

Trust is a vital part of friendship.
Loss of trust can destroy a friendship.

2. Be sensitive.

Be aware of a friend's needs. Try to know when your friend
needs to be with you and when your friend wants to be alone.

Respect his or her wish for privacy and need for personal space.

3. Be dependable.

If you make a promise to a friend, keep it.
Don't let your friend down.

Be there for him or her in good times as well as bad.

Let friends know they can count on you.

4. Be a good listener.

Kids like to talk to someone who listens actively.

Show a genuine interest in the things that are important to your
friend.

Maintain eye contact while he or she talks.

5. Be honest.

Let a friend know how you feel.

If a friend says or does something that hurts you, talk it over
with him or her privately.

Express your feelings as honestly as you can, and encourage your
friend to do the same.


A Social Studies lesson passed out to a third grade class.
Taken from "Feelings About Friends," (c)1988–The Learning Works.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How Do You Live-Strong When You've Been Father-Wronged?

The following I received as an email from a friend and Pastor in Orange County.  I think it's well written and addresses the heart of the matter, so I thought I'd share it here....

huddle1huddle2
“Father of orphans, champion of widows, is God in His holy house.
(Psalm 68:5 MSG)

“Father of orphans, champion of widows, is God in His holy house.”

(Psalm 68:5 MSG)

How Do You Live-Strong When You've Been  Father-Wronged?

My heart broke this past week as I watched Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from cycling. It wasn’t that his actions didn’t deserve the penalty, but underneath the fame Lance is just another broken orphan boy struggling from the wound of his father. It breaks my heart. Dr. Keith Ablow recently published an article on the subject that I can’t wait to share with you.

“Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from cycling. Pat McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Union, the sport’s governing body, said Armstrong, “deserves to be forgotten.”

It may be that Mr. McQuaid’s words were exactly wrong and also a key to understanding the weakness in a man named Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong’s life story is, from a psychological perspective, less noteworthy for its triumphs than its tragedies, and his racing away from them seems to have failed, as it always does. In life, the truth always wins, no matter how cagey a person might think he is in outsmarting it.

Armstrong’s truth—and likely the driving force in his winning seven Tour de France titles while allegedly injecting himself with steroids and mainlining his own blood—is that his father abandoned him at age 2.  To this day, Armstrong has refused to meet him.  His mother then married another man with whom Armstrong did not get along, and with whom he has had no contact for years.

An abandoned and forgotten boy is—absent extraordinary healing—forever an abandoned and forgotten boy.  Two years old is plenty old enough to be torn apart at the level of the soul by the abrupt severing, without explanation, of a father-son bond.  It is plenty old enough to be shredded by the haunting suspicion that one is unworthy and unlovable.  It is plenty old enough to set the stage for a decades-long race for enough fame and adulation to fill the emotional black hole inside you that keeps threatening to make you disappear into it.

And, so, Armstrong seems to have pedaled faster and faster.  And if his teammates and adversaries wondered how a man could be so driven as to declare himself a winner when he was not, again and again and again, to have seemingly no compunction about celebrating hollow victories, and to maintain a synthetic fiction in the face of seemingly incontrovertible fact, they need only remember the hollowness inside that man, born of being a forgotten boy—that black hole and the threat of complete psychological disintegration it represented to him, if only unconsciously.

If the contentions of the officials who banned Armstrong are correct, the vacuum of real self-esteem that could reside within him predicts that he will continue—probably forever—to deny that he ever used performance enhancing substances and keep fleeing his core feelings, until he can’t come up with any other way to dodge them.…Lance Armstrong, in a game of tragic of one-upmanship spent his life racing away from other men, when his father raced away from him.…he allegedly spent decades injecting himself with male hormones, as if to be male enough to be a worthy son, rather than forgotten one.

It is not lost on this psychiatrist that the very attempt to cheat the truth—to bury grief and rage, rather than facing them—could turn one’s very manhood into a cancer and make malignant the most graphic anatomic symbol of masculinity and fatherhood.

And it is not lost on this psychiatrist that Pat McQuaid, president (father, if you will) of the International Cycling Union, would stumble into repeating the biggest psychological trauma in Armstrong’s life, by calling him “forgettable.”

You see, to truly Livestrong after being injured catastrophically as a boy by abandonment requires looking at your pain, sitting with it, really feeling it, not trying to outdistance it—which is impossible and a race to oblivion.  It requires realizing that you were always loveable, even if you were unloved, and that false fame and a Superman-lean frame will only separate you from that healing reality, which many people correctly call God.

And, so, it is with that knowledge that I wish Lance Armstrong Godspeed on his continuing journey toward the certain knowledge that he was always a worthy person, even if his father was too broken to love him. That is the only race worth winning in Lance Armstrong’s life, and it is the beauty of this miraculous existence of ours, that it can still be won.”

Dr. Keith’s words are a powerful reminder of what happens when little boys and girls are born ‘forgotten’. To live-strong after you’ve been father-wronged requires a miracle within the human heart. Those types of wounds are only healed by the power of God’s love.

In His Smile,


 ed-sig




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Recipe of the week: Spinach Artichoke Pasta

I was reading this blog the other day and thought hmm, why didn't I ever of that!  My family loves my spinach artichoke dip found here.  I'm always looking for stuff I can do ahead of time or in the crock pot since I never know when football practice is going to end and how much time I'll have to fix dinner.  Let me know what you think of my version.  A Votre Sante!




I lightened up mine a bit, plus made a smaller amount, here's what I did different:

Spinach Artichoke Pasta

2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups of 2% milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 can artichoke hearts quarted
1 bag baby spinach
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3 oz mozzarella
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 lb Mostaccioli (it's like Penne only not ribbed, my nana always used it, Barilla makes it)


Cook Mostaccioli according to package, al dente.  Drain and set aside, covered.
Over medium heat melt butter, add garlic.  Once browned add flour to make a roux.  Add milk, wisk until smooth, keep stirring once it's bubbly turn down to simmer and add Parmesan cheese and vegetable broth.  Minus the vegetable broth and you have an Alfredo sauce...keep going if you want more.  Add the mozzarella, artichoke hearts and 1/2 of the spinach.  Once the pasta is drained and back in its pot you can pour the mixture on top.  You can stop there if you want, otherwise get out a 9X13 pan.  Pour the pasta/sauce mixture, stir in the rest of the bag of spinach.  Top with an addition sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.   Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.  Enjoy!



Friday, October 12, 2012

Recipe of the week: Roasted Eggplant Soup


Recipe of the week:  Roasted Eggplant Soup


We had our first fall rain yesterday, and it's chilly today so I decided to make soup.  Sadly, this lovely fall weather isn't supposed to last, it's going to be in the upper 80's again next week.  Jade and I had a soup similar to this in Seattle a couple of years ago, it's a little like eggplant Parmigiana in a bowl, serve with some bread, cheese, and a salad and you've got lunch or dinner.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!





2 small eggplants chopped into about 1 inch pieces
3 small or 2 medium zucchini chopped slightly smaller than the eggplant
1 onion sliced
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tsp sugar
fresh ground pepper
1 Tbsp fresh chopped basil (or 1 tsp dried)
4 cups vegetable broth





Put the chopped vegetables in a 9X13 pan.  Add olive oil, red pepper, black pepper, and garlic.  Roast in a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until eggplant is tender.






Transfer roasted vegetables to a soup pot, add tomatoes, broth, sugar, basil, and add a little more salt, pepper, and red pepper if you want to.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for about 20 minutes.  You can stop right here if you want your soup really chunky.  I put mine in the blender on chop in batches until it was in very small chunks.  That's it, serve with some more basil and Parmesan cheese if you like.  Enjoy!









Friday, September 28, 2012

Recipe of the week: Lemon Basil Brussels Sprouts

I feel as though I'm finally starting to come out of my funk, the proof is I've cooked 4 out of the last 5 days!  A few months ago my friend and I had lunch and PF Chang's and they'd recently put "lemon scented Brussels sprouts" on the menu, we both loved them.  This is my attempt at duplicating their recipe.  I used my food processor for this so if you don't have one, you'll have to slice everything.  Lots of people don't like Brussels sprouts, I'm not one of them.  This is going to become a regular recipe at my house.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!



Lemon Basil Brussels Sprouts

1 lb Brussels sprouts
1 lemon (for zest and juice)
1 one inch piece of ginger peeled & grated
3 green onions
1 Tbsp Thai basil (or regular basil if you can't find Thai)
1 clove garlic
olive oil
1 tsp salt
pepper






Using the slicing blade on the food processor, slice the Brussels sprouts and onion.  Transfer vegetables to a bowl and add the zest of the lemon, ginger, and salt.  Toss with the juice from the lemon.  In a large skillet heat about 1 Tbsp of olive oil, add garlic cook for about 2 minutes then add vegetable mixture.  Cook for about 6 to 7 minutes (half way through add the basil), add fresh ground pepper and more salt if needed.  Enjoy!



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Live like a dog....




Our dog Sunnie died on September 9th.  He'd been going down hill the past couple of months so it was expected but still sad.  He was a hyper but beautiful pure bred Pomeranian....and lived with us for almost all of his 15 years.  We got him when he was 10 weeks old because I'd been reading  'The puppy who wanted a Boy' to my son who at the time was a year and a half.   I decided that every little boy needed a puppy.  I may have rethought things if I'd known I'd be having a puppy and a baby at the same time, then again maybe not.  Some of my fondest memories of Sunnie are when he was a puppy and I was pregnant with Mackenzie.   He hardly ever left my side, where I was, he was.  If I was laying down, he was at my feet.  I had Mackenzie laying in the sun next to our bedroom sliding glass door and there he appeared to take peak at her from under the bed/dust ruffle.


Growing up the only pets we had were outside dogs, so having an inside dog was all new to me....now I can't imagine not having one.  Two years ago my son found a Yorkie (Sadie) in the middle of the street, after looking for a few days for lost dog signs and not finding any I decided to keep her.  Last year at almost 14 years old, Sunnie became a father, we kept one of the puppies and gave the other two away.  I'm so glad now, Simba has a completely different temperament but he's a great dog.  I've never really thought of myself as a dog person until now.  Sunnie was more my husband and son's dog, but Sadie is definitely my dog and Christian say's when he's grown and moves out, he's taking Simba with him....we'll see about that.

A friend sent me the sweetest email last week and it was a story of a six year old whose dog had died and he explained the reason that dogs don't live as long as humans.  He said "people are born so that they can learn how to live a good life--like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?"  He continued, saying "well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long".  Sounds like a pretty good explanation to me.  I've definitely been sad and maybe a little depressed...grief sometimes sneaks up on you.

Here's the poem that was in the end of the story about the dog:


Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.
Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
ENJOY EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY!

Until next time....ciao.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Husky Football Schedule

A few people have asked me for the schedules, so instead of trying to post them on Facebook or getting email addresses I copied them into a blog post.  Here you go!


HUSKY FOOTBALL
CENTENNIAL HIGH SCHOOL

2012 VARSITY SCHEDULE

DATE OPPONENT LOCATION TIME
Fri, Aug 31 St. Bonaventure (FOX) Moorpark College 7:30 PM
Fri, Sept 7 Long Beach Cabrillo Centennial 7:30 PM
Fri, Sept 14 Alemany Centennial 7:30 PM
Fri, Sept 21 Carson Carson 7:30 PM
Fri, Sept 28 Etiwanda (HC) Centennial 7:30 PM
Fri, Oct 5 *Corona Corona 7:00 PM
Fri, Oct 12 *Norco Norco 7:00 PM
Thur, Oct 18 *Martin Luther King Centennial 7:00 PM
  Fri, Oct 26 *Roosevelt (SR) Centennial 7:00 PM
Fri, Nov 2 *Santiago Santiago 7:00 PM Fri, Nov 9 CIF First Round TBD 7:30 PM
Fri, Nov 16 CIF Quarterfinals TBD 7:30 PM
Fri, Nov 23 CIF Semi-Finals TBD 7:30 PM
Fri, Nov 30 CIF Championship TBD 7:30 PM
Fri, Dec 7 CIF State Regionals TBD TBA
Fri/Sat, Dec 14/15 CIF State Championship TBD 8:00 PM

* - The Big VIII League Games
HC - Homecoming
SR - Senior Night
FOX – Fox Sports TV



HUSKY FOOTBALL
CENTENNIAL HIGH SCHOOL





2012 JUNIOR VARSITY SCHEDULE


DATE OPPONENT LOCATION TIME
SAT, AUG 25 TESORO+ TESORO 11:30 AM
THUR, AUG 30 ST. BONAVENTURE CENTENNIAL 4:00 PM
THUR, SEPT 13 ALEMANY+ ALEMANY 4:00 PM
THUR, SEPT 20 CARSON+ CENTENNIAL 3:15 PM
THUR, SEPT 27 ETIWANDA+ ETIWANDA 3:15 PM
THUR, OCT 4 * CORONA CENTENNIAL 5:30 PM
FRI, OCT 5 LOS OSOS (R) CENTENNIAL 3:15 PM
  THUR, OCT 11 * NORCO CENTENNIAL 5:30 PM
FRI, OCT 12 CHINO HILLS (R) CENTENNIAL 3:15 PM
WED, OCT 17 * MARTIN LUTHER KING MARTIN LUTHER KING 3:15 PM
FRI, OCT 19 ETIWANDA (R) CENTENNIAL 3:15 PM
THUR, OCT 25 * ROOSEVELT ROOSEVELT 5:30 PM
THUR, NOV 1 * SANTIAGO CENTENNIAL 5:30 PM
FRI, NOV 2 LOS OSOS (R) LOS OSOS 3:15 PM

*  Indicates Big VIII League Games
+  Indicates a 5th Quarter for reserves
(R) Indicates reserve game








Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Recipe of the week: Pina Colada Smoothie





I love pineapple, it's my favorite fruit, I could eat a whole one by myself.  Pineapple is high in digestive enzymes and has many health benefits, you can read about them here.  This smoothie has been my breakfast the past few days.

The few weeks have been really hot and humid here.   In this weather I have a hard time regulating my body temperature, I can't do anything about the weather but I can control my internal temperature.  I decided to eat mostly raw food for at least a couple of weeks.  (I seem to be easily susceptible to heat stroke, ever since the first time I had it at nine years old).

I use unsweetened coconut milk from Trader Joe's but you could use the canned if that's what you have.  It will add some fat and calories though.  You can always throw in some protein powder for a post workout drink, it's also good with some chia seeds and shredded coconut.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!



8 oz coconut milk
1 cup fresh pineapple
1/2 banana
handful of ice


Blend the ingredients and enjoy!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Twenty minute at home workout


Twenty minute at home workout


Half burpees 30
1 leg push ups 30  (15 each side)
Jump lunges 30
Sit ups 30
Squat & side Kick 30
Tricep Dips 30
Bicycle Abs 30
Side Plank 30 each side
Mountain Climbers 30
Tuck Abs 30

50 Jumping jacks in-between each one of them
Go as fast as you can using good form, it should take about 20 minutes, if you need to rest fine, but not more than about 30 seconds.

I am a big fan of the at home workout, there are times when I just don't have time to go to the gym.  Plus not everyone has a gym membership and honestly you don't need one.  You can get in the best shape of your life at home for free.  There are a couple of at home workout movements online that I follow, Bodyrock.tv is one and Blogilates is the other.  The past couple of months I've spent less time in the gym doing cardio and lifting because I've had some low back issues.  One of my yoga instructors suggested that my hamstrings might be too tight from lifting and I think she was right.  I've done this workout a couple of days a week and done yoga 3 days a week and my back is feeling pretty good most days.  I'm still just as strong and getting leaner, last week I bought a pair of jeans in a size 26!  Yay, I'd say that's proof you don't need a gym.

Now I'm off to do this workout.

Ciao!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Recipe of the week: Lemon Blueberry Cookies

I love berries, raspberries are my favorite but blueberries are a close second.  I found this recipe on a blog I follow and wanted to make it today, since I'd just bought blueberries and lemons from the farmers market yesterday.  You could easily make this gluten free by using almond or coconut flour.  These aren't overly sweet so you could eat a couple of these before a workout.  Let me know what you think.  A Vorte Sante!




Lemon Blueberry Cookies


Ingredients
1 stick (or 1/2 cup) butter; room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
zest of 2 lemons
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ cup blueberries
raw sugar; for sprinkling

Directions:
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, light brown sugar and lemon zest together until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla extract, scraping down bowl frequently.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix until dough comes together and fold in the blueberries.  Scoop any desired size and bake @ 325 degrees until edges start to turn golden brown and centers of cookies are baked through, about 13-14 minutes.  Cool.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

You'll know them by their love...

The other day, I was listening to a sermon on the radio and the pastor was preaching on John 13:35  "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."  The pastor was saying that as Christian's most people aren't known for their love but what they're against.  Like being against abortion, Islam, or gay marriage.  This has always bothered me and a pastor/friend of mine once said something that was paradigm shifting for me.  He said, "if Jesus were here today he'd be hanging out with the prostitutes, abortion doctors, drug dealers and the gays".  Jesus hung out with the prostitutes, the tax collectors, sinners, and the lepers.  And yet, we as Christians typically have contempt for the prostitutes, abortion doctors, drug dealers, and the gay community. According to what I see in scripture, most Christian's have the wrong attitude.

The support Chick Fil A day last week really bothered me, not because I don't believe in traditional marriage or freedom of speech because I absolutely do, what bothered me was it became about hating gay people.  What about love?  What I see in scripture is that love never fails and kindness leads to repentance.  My daughter is a lesbian.  There I said it.  I love her unconditionally and accept her.  In regard to the Chick Fil A day this is what she posted on Facebook "To all the Christians blowing up my newsfeed about gay marriage and freedom of speech: why didn't you take your money and buy groceries for a homeless person? Pretty sure that's what Jesus would have done anyways".  That's how I feel as well and again not because I'm against Chick Fil A, traditional marriage, or freedom of speech.  If I read scripture correctly, what I see is that the only people Jesus was against was the self righteous religious rulers.  I see Jesus taking care of the lost, hanging out with the sinners, healing the sick. He said to do the same thing.  (I think there are something like 300 verses about caring for the poor/least of these, Jesus was deeply concerned about social justice.)

I don't often post about my walk with God or my faith....it's been a difficult journey the past year or so.  If I've said something to offend you that is not my intention, so I invite you into a conversation with me about it.  I see Jesus being about relationship, with His father and others, and I want the same thing.  I want to be about love, peace, patience, kindness, and of course beauty.

Until next time.

Ciao

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Recipe of the week: Cherry Cupcakes

As a kid my favorite cake was cherry chip with canned cherry frosting.  (I would usually ask for it for my birthday, one year the cake had canned cherry pie filling in the middle)  A friend of mine found the mix a couple of years ago and brought me a box, it didn't taste as good as I remembered.  It was sickeningly sweet and I hate canned frosting now, it leaves a nasty film in your mouth, not to mention all the chemicals it's filled with, I'm pretty sure that stuff doesn't have an expiration date on it!  I've been experimenting with a cherry cupcake recipe, I started out with this and made a few modifications and only made half a batch of frosting and it was plenty, too much frosting can ruin a cupcake in my opinion.  Let me know what you think!




Cake Ingredients:


3/4 cup frozen cherries, thawed
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cherry kefir, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup dried cherries chopped


Directions


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
Place cherries in a small food processor or blender; process until pureed. You should have about 1/2 cup of puree, add a few more cherries if necessary or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together kefir, almond extract, vanilla, and cherry puree; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the cherry mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, add dried cherries and mix until just blended.
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.



For the frosting:

3 Tbsp cherry puree left from cupcakes
1/2 cup (1 sticks)  butter, firm and slightly cold
1 and 3/4 cups powdered
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Directions:

 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy.Reduce mixer speed and slowly add powdered sugar; beat until well combined. Add almond extract and 3 tablespoons cherry puree, mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.  Frost cupcakes, garnish with a fresh cherry and enjoy!





Friday, July 27, 2012

Recipe of the week: Nut Burgers


There are two recipes I've been looking for, for over ten years, this is one of them.  I was so excited to make it!  After calling finding something similar online and calling the restaurant, I think I have it.  Here's the backstory on this recipe....

Growing up, my Nana (my dad's mom) lived in the San Fernando Valley.  She lived near one of the first Trader Joe's, I remember going there when they had a real butcher and were mostly a wine and cheese shop.  She used to also frequent the Italian market, but her personal favorite, especially as she got on in years was Follow Your Heart (she got on the health bandwagon back in the 70's).  Follow Your Heart is a grocery store similar to Mother's because they have a cafe, and sells a lot of the same products as Sprouts and Whole Foods.  They also have a line of dressings, which you can find at Vons & most of these health food stores.  My personal favorite is the Lemon Herb but so far I've only been able to get it at Mother's.

Follow Your Heart serves this nut burger two ways.  One, on a bun with raw cheddar cheese, topped with alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, vegenaise and special sauce.  The nut burger supreme (my favorite) is served on a bun with raw cheddar cheese, lettuce, mushrooms, onion, shredded carrot and a little sauerkraut.  I ate mine as a lettuce wrap (in romaine lettuce) with tomato & a little sauerkraut. If you want gluten free I'm sure you could use quinoa instead of cracked wheat.  Let me know what you think, I was very happy with the results.  A Votre Sante!










Nut Burger

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 Tablespoons chopped green bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped yellow squash
2 Tablespoons soy sauce (or Bragg's liquid aminos)
1/2 cup water
1 clove minced garlic
   Dash of dried basil (or 1/2 tsp fresh)
   Dash of dried dill weed (or 1/2 tsp fresh)
1/2 cup finely chopped  or shredded carrot
1/2 cup bulgur wheat (cracked wheat)



Directions:
Grind sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews and walnuts in food processor until coarsely ground. Set aside.







Combine onion, green pepper, and squash. Mix soy sauce and water in a small glass bowl. Process vegetables with garlic, basil and dill weed, adding soy sauce/water mixture a little at a time the food processor or blender.




Pour puree into saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Add carrots and bulgar, bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.




Remove from heat and add nut mixture.. Mix well. Form into 8-10 patties depending on the size you want. Refrigerate until ready to use.




Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or grill, or brown in a heated pan until heated through and browned on 1 side. DO NOT TURN, they will fall apart because there's no binding agent. Top each patty with a slice of cheese and melt slightly, optional.  Enjoy!











Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thrift Store Shopping


Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good deal.  Recently, I found some great stuff at Goodwill and Jade suggested I post some of my strategies for shopping at the thrift stores.  I hope you find these helpful.

First of all you've got to have some time to dig through stuff.  Just like going to Marshall's, Ross or TJ Maxx, it takes time.  I look for brands, when my kids were little I would look for stuff like Carriage Boutique, Gymboree, Osh Kosh & Little Me....high quality and pricier stuff.  I wouldn't typically buy things like Carter's at a garage sale or thrift store because I know you get them at the outlets, Costco and Ross for not much more than at a thrift store and lots of times baby clothes are stained.

Now I usually head to the denim section first, it takes a while to go through lots of jeans but it's worth it.  I found Mackenzie a pair of J Brand jeans for $7.99, they retail for $158+.  I also found 4 pair of 7 For All Mankind and a pair of AG's, sadly none of them were in any of our sizes.  Other brands I look for are Joe's Jeans, Citizens of Humanity, True Religion, Paige Denim and Hudson.  

As far as dresses, blouses, sweaters etc, I look for designers, or things that are exclusive to Nordstrom for example, like Caslon.  Some other brands I look for are Ella Moss, Banana Republic, Free People, Kate Spade, J Crew, Zara, Carlos Santana, White House Black Market, Steve Madden, Christian Louboutin, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Douney and Bourke.  (Hey you never know....once I found a green and tan D & B purse for $10!).  

I prefer Goodwill over Salvation Army because they usually have fitting rooms.  Consignment stores are great too, but usually you'll spend a bit more.  Lots of times thrift stores will have a 50% day on Fridays or a colored tag special of the week that's 25-50% off.  That's how I got my new Carlos Santana's for $7.50, they were $15 with 50% off.  



Lastly, I look for things with the tags still on them.  A few months ago I found two brand new sweaters with the tags still on them from Nordstrom.  Both were over $100 and I paid about $5 each, Jade took one and my mom took the other.  

Oh, and one more thing, thrift stores in wealthier zip codes are more likely to have designers, so next time you head to the beach, leave a little earlier and stop by the local thrift store.

Until next time,

Ciao.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Recipe of the week: S'more Cupcakes

I love s'mores, they are hands down one of my favorite desserts.  I've looked and looked for a recipe and couldn't find one that I liked, so I had to improvise.  Last year I had dinner at a restaurant in Los Angeles called The Six, they had a very rich version of a s'more and I wanted something along those lines, not your typical milk chocolate thing, so this is what I came up with.  

The taste is every thing you remember from the campfire, only without the campfire and a tiny bit more sophisticated.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!








S'more cupcakes

Graham cracker crust (base)

1/3 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (I used Trader Joe's honey graham crackers)



Cupcakes

You can use any chocolate cupcake recipe or boxed mix you like this is my favorite recipe.  I didn't have any  unsweetened chocolate, and I try to use what I have so I used 3 oz (approx 1/2 cup) dark chocolate chips and added 2 Tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder.  Since you have the graham cracker crust you have to fill them a little less, you can probably make a few more, I think I made an extra three, just fill the empty spaces with water so they still bake even.  Bake as directed or until a toothpick comes out clean.



For the top:

I wanted to use what I had, which was large marshmallows, more chocolate and the left over graham cracker crust.  So instead of letting them cool, I cut the marshmallows in half, the first time I tried it I used 2 and 1/2 marshmallows which was too many because they slid off in the oven....second time around I used 1 1/2.  Put them back in the oven, set to broil and watch them closely.  I think mine took all of 4 minutes until they were golden brown.  While they're in the oven melt another 1/4 cup of dark chocolate (about 45 seconds in the mircrowave).  Once they're out, drizzle with about 1 tsp of the melted chocolate and top with a little bit of the leftover graham cracker crumbs.  Let cool for at least 30 minutes.  Voila, s'more cupcakes.  Enjoy!  I took them to a Fourth of July party and they were a hit!!!



This was attempt #1 with more marshmallows, I said I needed to work on the presentation....both were equally yummy so as always, play with your food, and let me know what you think!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My summer project

I've decided to give myself a summer project.  There are certain things that every kid should know, my kids know how to do some of these things but I want them to know how to do all of them by the end of the summer.  My kids are certainly internet savvy and have done well in school.  They all know how to cook basic stuff and can do their laundry.  I'm proud of them for their many accomplishments and want them to be successful going forward.  So this is my list...


How to cook an entire meal from scratch
How to write a thank you note
How to iron
What to wear to pick up a job application and a job interview (both are equally important)
How to grocery shop 

I'm sure there's lots mote and I can endlessly add to this list.  What do you think every kid should know?


Until next time, 

Ciao.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Recipe of the week: Homemade pizza

I love homemade pizza, it's so much better than store bought or delivery.  It is time consuming I admit that...one way to cheat is by buying Trader Joe's already made pizza dough, you still have to roll it out but it's still less time than making your own.  When I make my own I use this recipe, I've been making it for years and it comes out every time.   I've made bbq chicken pizza with this crust, caprese pizza, pineapple jalapeno, mushroom olive and onion, the possibilities are endless.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!


Tonight I made two pizzas one with just cheese, I used mozzarella and parmesan.  I used jarred pizza sauce from Trader Joes.  The other one I made was a Greek pizza, same sauce, spinach, sliced red onion, artichoke hearts cut into pieces, tomatoes, kalmata olives, mozzarella and feta cheese, baked in deep dish stone pie pans at 450 degrees for 12-17 minutes.  (The Greek pizza took a full 17 minutes).  Enjoy.


Plain cheese.....(I served this with extra marinara sauce and big salad)


Greek....(I served this with tzatziki and hummus)



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A few Fourth of July ideas

I've been looking for some cute ideas to do with fruit for the 4th of July.  We eat a lot of fruit around here, especially my husband and sometimes it's just fun to jazz things up.  I hope you all have a happy and safe July 4th!

Until next time, Ciao











Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Recipe of the week: Gazpacho

Last week I made this and my husband posted about it on Facebook saying how much he loved it but he called it martian salsa....silly.  I don't like cucumbers but after every one raved about it, I had to try some, it was actually pretty good.  I blended most of it, then chopped another cucumber and more tomatoes to give it some texture.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!




Gazpacho

2 large cucumbers, peeled
1 jalapeno
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1 red onion
6 tomatoes
3 stalks of kale, woodsy part removed
2 limes
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper


Cut one cucumber and 3 of the tomatoes, jalapeno, kale,  and red onion into chunks, and 1/2 of the cilantro (stems removed) put them in the blender and blend on the chop setting  Pour into a large bowl.  Chop the other cucumber and remaining tomatoes and add to blended mixture.  Add the juice of the limes, the rest of the cilantro leaves.  Salt and pepper to tasted (I used about 1 tsp of salt 1/2 tsp of fresh ground pepper).  Let sit for about an hour, serve with chips and avocado if you want or just eat it plain.  The longer it sits the spicier it seemed to get.  (Remove some of the jalapeno seeds if you don't like a lot of spice)  Enjoy.

Friday, June 22, 2012

You are what you eat



I'm a big believe in you are what you eat, but you already know that.  I saw this earlier and I really liked it.  Let me know what you think.  
Until next time.  

Ciao.




Sunday, June 17, 2012

Blackberry kale salsa



I get emails from Whole Foods and last week there was one saying they were having a berry recipe contest. Last fall I tried to enter one and there seemed to be a glitch on their end because mine didn't post, which was sad because it was a good one you can see it here.  So, with the berry contest they said no refined sugar and only 7 ingredients, not including things like oil or salt & pepper.  Seven ingredients isn't a lot, especially if you're baking, so I decided to remake my kale salsa but with berries.  I decided blackberries would hold up the best to the peppers and onions, I had it with grilled salmon and vegetables and it was delicious.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!


                                                               My 7 ingredients


6 oz fresh blackberries
4 kale leaves, chopped (removed the middle woodsie piece)
4 green onions chopped, both green and white parts
3 tomatoes diced
juice of 2 limes
1 jalapeno finely chopped (1/2 the seeds removed)
1/4 bunch cilantro, stems removed
kosher salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste

Chop your onions, tomatoes, kale, and jalapenos.  I halved some of the large blackberries.  Mix in a medium bowl.   Add the lime juice, blackberries and cilantro.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.   Let sit for a few minutes and serve.  Enjoy.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

My current workout play list....


So once again tonight I've been working on my workout playlist and I'm excited to go workout in the morning.  A few people have asked me to share what I've been listening to so I transferred this from Itunes.  It came out in reverse order alphabetically and I'm not sure how to fix it, so oh well on that one.  I've said my taste in music is pretty eclectic so don't judge...it's all about the mood you're in....and sometimes I skip through till I find something I'm feeling.  


So there you have it...enjoy.  I hope you find some beauty in this =)  Ciao.


Headstrong Trapt
Eye of the Tiger                 Survivor
All Summer Long A Salute to Kid Rock
Only Girl (In the World) Rihanna
I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) The Proclaimers
Move, Shake, Drop              Pitbull
Youth Of The Nation           P.O.D
Moves like Jagger Maroon 5
Sweet Home Alabama         Lynyrd Skynyrd
In the End Linkin Park
Can't Fight the Moonlight LeAnn Rimes
Bad Romance Lady GaGa
Poker Face Lady GaGa
We Owned The Night Lady Antebellum
Because of You                  Kelly Clarkson
Behind These Hazel Eyes     Kelly Clarkson
Stronger                            Kelly Clarkson
California Gurls                   Katy Perry
On The Floor (feat. Pitbull)   Jennifer Lopez
Hollaback Girl Gwen Stefani
Losing My Religion              Glee Cast Version)
How To Save A Life             The Fray
Over My Head (Cable Car)    The Fray
Dog Days are Over              Florence and the Machine
Big Girls Don't Cry               Fergie
Bring Me to Life   Evanescence
Paradise Coldplay
Viva la Vida                        Coldplay
Fallin' For You Colbie Caillat
Lady Marmalade Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya & Pink
Before He Cheats                Carrie Underwood
My Prerogative                    Britney Spears
Circus                                Britney Spears
Livin' on a Prayer Bon Jovi
Let's Get It Started              Black Eyed Peas
Just Can't Get Enough          Black Eyed Peas
Single Ladies                      BeyoncĂ©
If I Die Young The Band Perry
Wunderkind Alanis Morissette
Black Roses Red                 Alana Grace
Set Fire To The Rain            Adele
Rolling In The Deep Adele