Monday, December 16, 2013

Recipe of the week: Dark Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

I've been making these cookies for several years now and they are always a hit.  I adapted the recipe from a Martha Stewart recipe....she used unsalted butter, then added salt, which I always think is silly.  She also used corn syrup for the chocolate ganache which I think is unacceptable, you don't need to use corn syrup ever to make something delicious.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) butter, divided
½ cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups unbleached flour
2 ounces semisweet chocolate (about 1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together 1 stick of the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the flour, beginning on low speed and increasing to medium-high.  Using a small cookie scoop or heaping teaspoons, roll the dough into balls, and place 1-inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and make an indentation into the middle of each cookie. Return to oven, and bake until light brown on the edges, 7 to 9 minutes more. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Combine chocolate, 2 tablespoons butter Set over a pot of simmering water; stir occasionally until melted and smooth. (Alternately, you can microwave the mixture on 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until completely melted and smooth.) Allow to cool slightly. When cookies are cool, fill the thumbprints with the chocolate mixture.

(Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living, December/January 1994/1995)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Recipe of the week: Pumpkin Crisp

Nothing says fall like pumpkin, it seems like all the stores have pumpkin stuff right now.  I am not a fan of pumpkin pie, I don't like the texture, but I do like the flavor.  I made this the other day and it was delicious.  I used a cake mix from Trader Joe's because it has less junk in it than others.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

Pumpkin Crisp

1 15 oz can of pumpkin
2 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup of sugar (I used raw)
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 butter or white cake mix
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 stick of butter melted

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl until eggs are incorporated.  Pour into a 9X13 pan that you have sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle cake mix over the top so it's evenly distributed.  Top with the chopped nuts.  Drizzle butter over the top and bake for about 45 minutes or until the knife comes out clean.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Recipe of the week: Watermelon Lemonade

Most people who know me well, know I don't like watermelon, but I buy it because my family likes it.  I try to buy seeded when it's available because it's not genetically modified.  Sprouts sometimes has it, sometimes I have to go to some place like Cardenas market to get it.  Watermelon is great for rehydrating and this past week the weather has been very hot and very humid.  I'm also very susceptible to heat exhaustion (ever since I was a kid and had it one summer at Mono Lake) so I try to drink lots of water and eat plenty of water rich foods.  So this recipe has been bumbling around in my head for a couple of weeks, I like all sorts of lemonade so why not try watermelon lemonade, it came out pretty good.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

1 to 2 cups watermelon puree (seeded, chopped and blended)
4-6 lemons depending the the size of your lemons
1 Tbsp raw sugar (you could use Stevia, just reduce the amount)
3 cups of purified water
3 leaves fresh basil (optional)

Cut and seed your watermelon and blend in the blender until you have a nice smooth consistency, it's like juice only thicker.  (About 1/4 to 1/2 of a watermelon depending on the size).  Juice your lemons, making sure there are no seeds and pour into the blender.  Add sugar, water, and basil if desired.  Blend for a couple of minutes and serve.  (Enjoy, you could easily make this a cocktail if you wanted with your choice of alcohol.)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My thoughts on turning 43...

Yesterday was my birthday, yay....happy birthday to me!  It was also the first day of school which for me is sad.  My husband and kids made sure that I woke up to roses, cards, and chocolate, it was very sweet.  Then I did the usual and made breakfast and lunches.  After the kids left I sat down with my coffee and cried a little.  When the kids were in elementary and middle school I looked forward to them going back, now not so much.  It's different now that they're teenagers/adults...I miss them when they're gone more, I really enjoy hanging out with them and their friends.  Ten years ago, I couldn't for the life of me imagine getting to this point but here I am.

Anyway, after a good workout I met three of my friends for lunch.  I am so incredibly blessed to have Godly women in my life, people who love you no matter what, that is a precious gift.  I ran some errands and picked up a cake at Costco, which was amazing (Chocolate Tuxedo Cake)!  Christian and some of his friends were here, along with my girls and they sang happy birthday to me before the guys had to leave for football practice.  Tomorrow I'm going to TAPS with my mom for dinner and next week meeting a couple of friends for dinner at Citrus City Grille.

One of the things I've been thinking about is how at this age it's weird to me that some people I know from high school are having grandkids and some are having babies.  In 2.5 years my kids will all be graduated from high school, Jade will have graduated from college and on to grad school.  She's moving next month to downtown Riverside and starting school at UCR, I'm really proud of the woman she's become and the challenges she's overcome.

The end of the month starts football season and it will be the last year for Christian, as he's a senior!  Crazy.  Pretty soon it will just be Mackenzie at home, then on to being empty nesters.

I am really really blessed.  I have a wonderful family, friends that are like my family (probably closer), I'm in good health and pretty good shape.  I used to be worried about aging and getting older, now not as much (of course I still have my days, who doesn't?).

All in all it was a good day, hoping for a great week, month, year!  Happy Birthday to me! :)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Recipe of the week: Lemonade Cookies

I love all things lemon, especially in the summer, even though lemons are typically ripe in the winter.  I whipped up a batch of these last night and they were definitely a hit.  You could use pink lemonade as well and they would a pretty color.  Let me you think.  A Votre Sante!

Lemonade Cookies

1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated or raw sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
1/3 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 and 3/4 cup flour (I used unbleached)

In a large bowl or your electric mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Mix in the baking powder and baking soda.  Beat until well combined.  Add the egg and the lemonade concentrate.  Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition.  If the cookie dough is sticky put it in the frig for about 30 minutes.  Drop the cookies by tablespoon on an ungreased cookie sheet (12 fit perfectly on mine).  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Let the cookies cool before frosting.

Frosting for lemonade cookies

2 Tbsp salted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
4-6 tsp of lemonade concentrate (start with 4 then add more if the frosting is too thin, I used 6)

Beat the butter and powdered sugar together.  Mix in the lemonade concentrate.  If your frosting is too thin add more powdered sugar, too thin more lemonade.  Frost the cookies when they are completely cooled.  This made about 2 dozen, if you use a teaspoon your cookies will be smaller and it will make more.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Recipe of the week: Quinoa Tabouli

I've been craving Mediterranean food, I love it, it's just a little heavy on the wheat.  So I had some left over quinoa and decided I'd use that in my tabouli.  Quinoa is actually part of the seed family, it's high in protein and fiber and gluten free, I've been eating it for over 20 years, it's also one of two "grains" that are on the alkaline food scale (millet is the other).   I added some olives this time too.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

1 to 2 bunch(s) of parsley with the stems removed
3-4 tomatoes diced or 1 can of petite tomatoes, juice removed
1-2 cucumbers peeled and diced, depending on the size of the cucumber
3 green onions chopped (any onion will work)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 can olives drained
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (you want it room temp or cold)
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

In a large bowl add all of the vegetables, parsley, olives, and quinoa.  In a separate small bowl mix the lemon and olive oil, pour over and toss well.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate or let it sit for about 30 minutes before serving so the flavors meld.   Eat by it self or serve with pita bread.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Recipe of the week: Lemony vegetable salad

I realize I've neglected my blog for the past couple of months.  I've been really busy and it's been a hard couple of months.  My daughter's best friend past away the end of April and we have all been devastated, plus it was the end of the school year and we moved.  Whew, finally trying to catch my breath here.  Anyway, I made this the other night, and it came out great.  It would make an easy and refreshing addition to your 4th of July celebration.  A Votre Sante!

1-2 peeled and thinly sliced cucumbers
1 zucchini thinly sliced (use 2 if yours is small)
2-3 thinly sliced tomatoes
2 thinly sliced carrots
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 large basil leaves cut into tiny strips (Chiffonade)

I used a mandolin slicer for the vegetables so they would all be the same thickness.  For a 1/2 cup of lemon juice I needed 3 lemons.  I put all the vegetables in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl stir the olive oil and lemon juice together, add salt, pepper, and basil.  Pour over vegetables and toss well.  The longer it sits the better it tastes.  Mine only sat about 30 minutes before we ate it.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How coffee and hot cocoa can improve your health

Let me start off by saying I don't want to necessarily talk about the benefits of coffee or chocolate (there are plenty, I'll let you look that up on your own).  I want to talk about using coffee or hot cocoa as a delivery system for an amazing supplement called Ganoderma Lucidum.

Ganoderma Lucidum is a rare red mushroom that has been used for centuries with all kinds of amazing properties.  There is a ton of research proving that Ganoderma Lucidum supports the immune system, oxygenates the body, boosts energy (who doesn't need that!), supports blood circulation.  Ganoderma provides more than 200 phytonutrients, 150 of which are antioxidants, it promotes cell rejuvenation, detoxifies the body and also promotes restful sleep.

Back in March a good friend of mine invited me to an event out in Ontario.  It was the launch party of a company called GanoLife.  GanoLife has come up with a line of coffees and hot cocoa that are enriched by Ganoderma.  These beverages are all delicious and are a fraction of the cost of Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or whatever your favorite place is.

Did you know that coffee is second only to water as the most consumed beverage on the planet.  (Something like 2 Billion cups of coffee are consumed every day!)  It's also second only to oil as the most traded commodity.

I know that there are other coffee companies out there, why is this one different?  GanoLife is 100% pesticide free, certified Kosher, and 100% USDA Organic (certified).  GanoLife is also in complete control of all manufacturing, has an in-house distribution process and has total vertical integration.  Since the launch my husband and I visited the home office and were taken on a private tour of the facilities and we were both very impressed.  Erskien has never been a coffee drinker and even he loves these products, you can read his experience here.

I have a new website you can order products to try there or if you're in the area I'd love to have you over to sample the coffees.  We're looking for people who want to get healthy, save money, make friends, and make a fantastic living, all while drinking coffee, let me know if I can help you with any of those things.

Until next time, Ciao!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

You are more....

I know there are plenty of people who struggle with their weight and body image.  The number on the scale can be deceptive and most importantly it does not define you as a person.  You are amazing, talented, and God loves you regardless of the number on the scale.
Lots of fitness experts say ditch the scale altogether and use a body fat monitor, well those sometimes aren't that accurate either.  A few months ago, I checked mine twice within about 10 days and it fluctuated by 8%.  Tape measures are a better way to chart your progress or take pictures once a week.    

I do still own a scale and I think as long as you're not obsessive over the number, scales are a useful tool.  My husband is an ultra-runner and he uses the scale for measure how much water he's lost on a long run.  

Muscle weighs more than fat and the more muscle you have the more calories you burn.  Weight training, yoga, and body weight exercises will all increase your muscle so don't be super surprised if when you first start exercising the number on the scale goes up.  I've always told my kids that you have to find something you love to do for exercise or you won't do it.  So whether it's dancing, running, weight training, yoga, whatever just get out there and move.  Exercise produces endorphins so you end up happier in the long run.

Until next time, Ciao!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Recipe of the week: Lemon Charred Edamame

I don't eat much in the way of soy, but once in awhile I like edamame.  There's a restaurant here in Corona called Citrus City Grille, they serve a charred edamame with citrus salt, this is my version of theirs.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

1 lb organic edamame
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
the zest of one lemon
fresh ground pepper
kosher salt

In a skillet heat the olive oil, add the edamame, let it get slightly browned on one side before stirring.  Once the edamame is browned on both sides, add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and pepper and salt to taste, enjoy!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A little Spring update...

Spring has definitely sprung here in southern California, everything is in bloom and the flowers are beautiful this year.  I thought I'd give you a quick update on what we're up to.

I haven't been blogging as much, I've been using my phone more since my laptop died back in December.  I do use my desktop sometimes but it's not nearly as convenient.   Last month I got a new phone, available here.  My old one was a first generation Andriod and having all kinds of issues, I really like the new one and I now have an Instagram :)

Erskien and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary on March 30, which happened to be Easter weekend so we had our date the following weekend.  There are days when it seems like it can't have possibly been that long, then I look at my kids and think yeah, it's been that long, they're almost adults now.  I'm still working part time at Anthropologie and working on a couple of projects, more on that later.  I've been really enjoying doing more yoga the last few months, I'm still working out 4-5 days a week just not lifting as much.

The college journey part 2 with Jade has ended up with her deciding to transfer to UCR in the fall.  She got into UCI, UCSC, UCSB, CSULB, Cal Poly Pomona, and with all things being about equal she chose UCR.  Most of you know she had some health problems two years ago and had to come home from LMU.  She's been at RCC since then, doing very well...Deans list every semester.  By staying in Riverside she will be able to stay with the same doctor and she's close to home, plus she's made some good friends locally, and we all know how hard it is to start over.

Last week, I went to a football meeting for next year with Christian, it's hard to believe he's going to be a senior!  A few weeks ago he went on a ride along with OCFD and he loved it, he feels like he was made for it.  He plans to pursue becoming a firefighter/EMT when he graduates next May.

A couple of months ago, Mackenzie decided she wanted to run track, (much to her dad's delight!) and she loves it, she's even talking about running cross country for next year.  She gets a little nervous about us watching her so I try to sneak in and sit in the bleachers without her noticing and it never fails that one of her friends tells her I'm there.  When I asked how they knew I was her mom, they said because she's my mini me.

So there you have it sports fans.  We're all healthy and doing well, navigating the challenges we do have with as much grace for each other as possible....what more can you ask for.

Have a beauty-filled day.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Recipe of the week: Sun-dried tomato and avocado pasta

Avocados are a staple year round at our house.  I ended up with 3 that are perfectly ripe, normally I'd make guacamole but I wasn't in the mood for mexican food so I made this instead.  I would be really good with artichoke hearts too but I didn't have any.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

Sun-dried tomato and avocado pasta.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. cooked pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 orange or yellow pepper, diced
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 large avocado, diced
1/4 balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper, basil, Parmesan cheese to taste

Cook pasta according to package.  (You could always use gluten free pasta, I didn't this time.)  While the pasta is cooking saute the onions, shallot, and pepper in olive oil until tender.  Add sun-dried tomatoes, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and basil.  Pour over cooked pasta and top with diced avocado, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Recipe of the week: Southwest Bean Soup

For over a year now I've been trying to come up with a vegan chili recipe, this is close but I don't know if it qualifies as chili.  I used what I had and was really happy with the result.  I had it for dinner with avocado and cheese (not pictured).  You could use bell peppers but I didn't have any and didn't feel like running to the store.  I did not use the seasoning package that came with the soup, I threw that away, it had all kinds of junk in it.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

1 package 16 bean soup mix
2Tbsp olive oil
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 shallot minced
1 onion chopped
3 med-large carrots chopped
1/2 packet of taco seasoning
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder

In a large pot add the beans and 2 inches of water.  I followed the directions on the package for the quick soak, then rinsed the beans and simmered for an hour with 1 cup of water before I added the vegetables.

In a separate pan saute the shallot, onion, and carrot in the olive oil, once the onion is soft, add to the beans, add the can of tomatoes.  Bring up to a boil, then turn it down to simmer for about an hour, maybe a little longer depending on how soft you want your beans.  Serve with avocado, cheese, sour cream, or whatever you like.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Recipe of the week: Grain Free Almond Bread

For Lent I gave up gluten and it's been harder than I thought.  I've been tweeking this recipe for a few weeks now and I think I've finally got a good one.  Be aware that the texture isn't exactly like bread, it's a bit more spongey because of the eggs.  You can use melted coconut oil instead of the olive oil if you like, I tried it that way and didn't care for it.  You can also add herbs or seeds, I've made it once with Italian seasoning and once with flaxseeds, poppyseeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower Tbsp of each.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

Grain Free Almond Bread
1 ½ cups almond flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
4 eggs
¼ cup olive oil
2 tsp honey, optional
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a standard loaf pan.  Set aside.
Mix almond flour, coconut flour, flax meal of salt, baking soda in a bowl, set aside.  Add in eggs, oil, honey, and vinegar.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Recipe of the week: Blood Orange Julius

As a kid I loved Orange Julius, every time we went to the mall I would beg my mom to get me one.  I heard you can still get them at Dairy Queen but now as a health conscious adult I would rather make my own, so I know what's in it.  We had a bunch of blood oranges off of someone's tree so I thought I'd make my version with those.  I used almond milk in mine but you could use regular milk or coconut milk.  You could also use sugar (about 1/4 cup) instead of the stevia.  A Votre Sante!

1 -1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 packets stevia
a handful of ice

Blend in the blender and enjoy!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean?

I saw this the other day and loved it, so I thought I'd share it with all of you....enjoy.

Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean?

You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She then pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, Mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity -- boiling water -- but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor of your life. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you changed by your surroundings or do you bring life, flavor, to them?


~ Author Unknown ~

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Recipe of the week: Pesto & Vegetable Stuffed Portobellas

I really like mushrooms, portobellas and baby portobellas in particular.  I found some that were larger than I normally see and I thought they would be great stuffed, and they were.  If your mushrooms are smaller, you'll be able to fill more than six mushrooms, if you have left over filling you can always use it on a sandwich or in an omelette.  I used prepared pesto, canned artichoke hearts (in water), and fresh spinach for mine.  You could use frozen spinach and artichoke hearts, you would just need to thaw and drain them.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

6 large mushrooms, cleaned, dried, and stems set aside
2 cups spinach leaves, torn into small pieces
2 Tbsp pesto
3 artichoke hearts quartered and chopped
2 Tbsp sun dried tomatoes chopped
Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove the stems of the mushrooms and set aside.  Rinse the tops and dry, then bake on a baking sheet for 5 minutes.  Chop stems of mushrooms and set aside.  In a bowl add spinach, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, mushroom stems, add pesto and toss until the vegetables are lightly coated.  Remove mushrooms from oven and add filling.  Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes (until the mushrooms are tender).  Remove from oven and add a sprinkle of Parmesan and a little fresh basil, bake for 2 more minutes.  Remove from oven and serve, enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Oscar Fashion Favorites

I LOVE the awards show season, mostly because of the fashion.  I love princess dresses and all things feminine.  These were my favorite from this years Academy Awards (in no particular order, except that Jennifer Lawrence was my very favorite).

Friday, February 22, 2013

Recipe of the week: Blood Orange and Beet Salad

I've seen a couple of beet and orange salad recipes lately so I decided to come up with my own.  I'm not a big fan of raw onions but if you are, red onions might be nice in this.  I blanched my beets but you could also roast them like I did here.  If you can't find blood oranges you can always use regular ones or tangerines.  I made my own dressing but you can easily use any prepared dressing you like.  This salad had a hearty feeling to it but was also light and refreshing if that makes sense.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

Blood Orange and Beet Salad

1 medium to large bowl of spinach and mixed greens
1 beets, blanched and sliced
2-3 blood oranges, depending on the size
2-3 sprigs of fresh parsley
1 Tbsp honey mustard
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
freshly ground pepper

In a pan with a steamer basket, steam beets for 4-5 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water (that will stop them from continuing to cook).  While the beets are cooking, remove the stems from the spinach leaves,   peel and section the oranges, set aside.  Slice the beets.  In a small bowl add your honey mustard, olive oil, and vinegar, whisk together, add freshly ground pepper to taste.  Add oranges, beets, and parsley to your greens and toss.  Drizzle with dressing and serve.  If you're not serving it right away, wait on the dressing, no one likes soggy salad.  Enjoy.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

First Love

On Wednesday night's, I'm going to a Beth Moore (via video) Bible study called 'Beloved Disciple'.  It's a study based on the life of the Apostle John.  Last night at the end of the video Beth was talking about how at the end of his life the elderly man preached almost exclusively about love.

In Revelation 2, John writes to the church in Ephesus, and in verse 4-5 says this:  "4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.".  Again, I am no Bible scholar but I know Beth Moore has done her homework and I wanted to share this with you.  According to Beth the word forsaken in the Greek is the same word as forgive in Matthew 6:12  "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."  I, for one, found this very interesting.  The word in both places is afihmi, which means “to let go of or release".  She went on to make the point that if you are holding on to unforgiveness you don't have any room for love.  I don't know about you, but I think that's true.

I once heard that unforgiveness is a prison and the prisoner is you.  I've worked hard in my life to forgive people that have hurt me and move on but it's not always easy.  I think it might be easier if we knew on the other side we'd have more room to love, at least that's what I'm hoping.  So, I'm asking myself these questions "what am I holding onto?  Am I holding onto my First Love (Christ) or am I holding onto unforgiveness?"

I want to love more, I want to be someone known for showing the love of Christ.  Today (Valentine's Day) of all days is about here's hoping that today finds you showered with love, the love of Christ and the love of those around you.

Until next time.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Recipe of the week: Buttermilk Pancakes

It's hard to believe it's been 2 weeks since I posted's been a very long two weeks.  First, it was my daughter's 21st birthday and we celebrated a few times.  Then, we had tragedy strike in our community and no one has really wanted do anything or go anywhere.  So, just like that it's Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tueday/Mardi Gras.  I decided to make pancakes tonight to try to make everything right with the world...I'm sure nothing has changed but at least we were comforted for a bit.  You can easily make this gluten free by using coconut or almond flour and dairy free by using coconut or almond milk.  I doubled this batched and made half with chocolate chips and half with blueberries and a smashed banana.  Both were amazing!  Let me know what you think.  (I used about 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips for the first one and one banana and 3/4 cup blueberries for the other.)
A Vorte Sante!

1 1/2 cups flour (of choice)
2 Tbsp sugar (of choice)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg slightly beaten
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 Tbsp oil of choice

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients.  In another bowl stir together wet ingredients, whisk together until just slightly lumpy.  Cook about 1/4 cup of batter on medium heat until golden brown, flip and repeat until all the batter is gone.  Enjoy!

*Add fruit or chocolate chips once the batter is mixed.  If you don't have buttermilk add 1Tbsp of vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar) to the milk, let sit for 10 minutes and voila, you've got buttermilk!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Resolutions vs. Small Changes

A lot of people I know made New Years resolutions and have already abandoned them.  I read that 60% of the people that make resolutions are regarding health, these are the top four:  lose weight, quit drinking, exercise more, and quit smoking.  I think sometimes resolutions set you up to fail because it's an all or nothing mentality.  I'd rather strive for progress instead of perfection.

So,  in an attempt to keep it real and in striving for progress, I thought I'd share a couple of things I've been keeping track of.  For January, I had a total of 16 workouts.  Sixteen out of 31 days was not my goal, but considering I didn't do anything until the 7th due to illness (either I was sick or had a sickie at home) 16 out of 25 is okay.

Another small change I wanted to make was to juice more, not every day because sometimes even that can sometimes cause stress.  My goal was to make juice (primarily vegetable) every other day, that hasn't happened either but hey I've done it 3-4 times a week, so I'm going with this as a win.  I was taking one of Christian's friends home the other day and we were talking about diet.  Christian proceeded to tell him how nasty my vegetable juice is but then said "dude, you feel so good after drinking it!"  Another win.

Another goal of mine was to get outside and enjoy beauty more, so far I haven't done that, but I surely hope you have.

I hope you find beauty all around you....ciao.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Recipe of the week: Triple Layer Brownies

These are by far the most decadent thing I make, therefore I don't make them very often.  I've been making this for several years now, and over time have modified the recipe a bit.  

The original recipe called for unsalted butter in the brownie layer, but as you may recall, I'm a big fan of the sweet and salty thing, I use regular butter.  If you use unsalted, you'll need to add 1/4 tsp of salt.  Since there is only 1 cup of flour you could easily make these gluten free by using almond or coconut flour, or whatever else you might use.  I also reduced the amount of unsweetened chocolate in the glaze to just 2 oz instead of 4.  (You can use the 4 oz if you like, or even try semi sweet.) 

I made these today for my oldest daughter's 21st birthday.  We will probably have them with some vanilla bean ice cream, if I get to the store.  These also go well with coffee or an after dinner coffee cocktail.  Cut them into small pieces, I'm often told these are too rich....which there is no such thing, in my book, haha!   Let me know what you think....even though these aren't healthy.  A Votre Sante!

Triple Layer Brownies


1 cup of butter + 3 Tbsp
8 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup flour
3 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half

For the 1st layer:
(Preheat oven to 300 degrees)

Melt together (in a double boiler or the microwave):
1/2 cup butter
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, set aside and let cool slightly

Beat together for 8 minutes (you want this fluffy) on medium-med/high speed:
2 cups sugar
4 eggs

Fold chocolate mixture into egg mixture.  Add by folding 1 cup of flour and 1 tsp vanilla.  Bake in a greased 9x13 pan for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely before frosting.  (You can always do this the night before.)

Melt until a caramel color, approximately 7-8 minutes on medium low heat:
1/2 cup butter

Beat the butter with 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 heavy cream and the remaining 2 tsp of vanilla.  Frost brownies while the frosting is still warm then cool to room temperature.

2 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 Tbsp butter

Melt together and pour over frosting.  You can serve them as is or cold.  I usually serve them cold, they're a little easier to cut when cold.  They freeze nicely.  Enjoy with ice cream, coffee, or a coffee cocktail!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Recipe of the week: Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love tortilla soup and have for years, I think the first time I had it I was in high school and I've been trying to perfect the recipe ever since.  You can very easily make this vegan, which I sometimes do for my husband....instead of the chicken I will use more beans and more corn (1 can of kidney beans, 1 can of pinto beans, and the entire bag of corn and obviously vegetable broth).  I use Trader Joe's taco seasoning because there's no MSG or junk in it.  I have a friend who hates beans so she uses zucchini and yellow squash instead, if you want to do that, you just need to add them towards end so they don't get mushy.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
32oz/1qt chicken or vegetable broth
1 onion diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 carrots chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
2-3 small zucchini chopped
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 bag of frozen corn
1/2 package taco seasoning
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 bunch cilantro

sour cream
tortilla chips

Cut chicken into small pieces. In a large soup pot, saute with onion, carrots, and garlic until almost done.  Add broth, tomatoes, black beans, taco seasoning, salt, sugar, pepper, and corn.  Bring to a boil and turn down to very low, after about 10 minutes and add zucchini and cilantro.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, serve with your choice of toppings.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Recipe of the week: Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha

I'm a fan of most things sweet and salty.  Dark chocolate covered pretzels, dark chocolate with sea salt, salted caramel hot chocolate, fleur de sel caramel, kettle get the picture.  I'm sure it goes back to going to the drive in when I was a kid and having popcorn and Milk-duds.  My tastes are a little more sophisticated now, I mostly eat dark chocolate, the darker the better.

I don't go out for coffee very often but when I do I like the salted caramel mocha from Starbucks, I don't however like the calories or how much sugar is in it (47 grams in a tall!), even if you only do 1 pump of each flavor it's still a lot of sugar.  I've made this several times, without the coffee, you've salted caramel hot cocoa, which my girls love.  This is for one serving, when I'm making more I just double or triple everything.  Start out with a little bit of sugar and salt and adjust to your taste, you might like it saltier or sweeter.  Sometimes instead of adding more sugar I'll use some stevia once I've poured in the coffee.  You don't have to use sugar, you could use maple syrup or agave.  You can also use your choice of milk, I've made it with 2% and I've made it with almond milk, both were delicious.  Let me know what you think.  A Votre Sante!

Salted Caramel Mocha

1/2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
2-4 tsp sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
dash of salt

Brew your coffee as you normally would.  In a sauce pan melt butter, add vanilla, stir with a whisk and add sugar.  Once combined add milk and dash of salt.  Add cocoa and whisk until completely combined, taste and adjust salt and sugar.  Pour into mug, add coffee and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Recipe of the week: Balsamic Roasted Beets

I haven't made a new recipe in a while because I've been busy.  With football season going until December 15th and working a lot during the holidays I just haven't had the time.  I even baked cookies from a mix for Santa on Christmas Eve!  (Hey it was after 8pm, who wants to make cookie dough at that hour?!)  The other day I made these beets and they were a hit, easy and only 5 ingredients.  You could definitely double or triple this easily but I only had the 2 beets, so I used what I had.  Let me know what you think.  A Vorte Sante!

2 large beets halved and sliced
2 Tbsp butter
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.  Slice beets that you've rinsed, removed the tops of and halved (save the tops for juicing).  You'll need an oven proof pan for this.  In your pan, melt your butter on the stove, then add your beets and 2 Tbsp of the vinegar, I used about 1/2 tsp salt and a few turns of my pepper mill.  Stir and place in your preheated oven.  Bake until the beets are tender with a fork or knife.  Mine took about 6 minutes.  Remove from the oven and add another splash of balsamic vinegar.  Serve warm.  Enjoy.