Monday, December 22, 2014

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

One of my sweet friends recently gifted me a beautiful book titled One-Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson.

I had been wanting to try more vegetarian meals and the idea of vegan sounded enticing.

I spotted a recipe in the book that made me curious...

So I made a trip to the grocery store and ...

Boy am I glad I did.

This recipe was terrific!

It only took about 30 minutes to throw together, and the taste...

Was outstanding!



Here's the recipe adapted from that lovely book.

Enjoy!

Cuban Black Beans and Rice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
4 garlic cloves, pressed/finely chopped
1 small can of tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste

In large saucepan over medium heat, add oil, onion, bell pepper, zucchini and garlic.  Cover and cook until veggies soften, about 5 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste and seasonings, mix well.  Add diced tomatoes and beans.  Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until veggies are tender, about 15-25 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Serve over quinoa, white rice, or brown rice.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Coal Region Boilo

There's a drink in Pennsylvania's coal region called Boilo.

It's very similar to a super delicious hot toddy.

Served warm, this drink is made out of fruit, spices, honey, and moonshine or whiskey.

My husband grew up the coal region and has been talking about Boilo since I've known him.

This holiday, I decided to attempt at making his hometown holiday classic.

After searching for recipes, I discovered numerous versions of Boilo.

Meaning, there are many ways to skin this cat.

So....my first batch had too much whiskey.

The second was too citrus-y...

and after a few tweaking...the third was just right!

Whew - Coal region nectar!


After several attempts and tastings, I was F-L-A-T on the couch.

To avoid multiple tries and making this perfect the first time, here's the recipe that worked best.

Coal Region Boilo

4 cups water
1 cup clover honey
3 oranges
1 lemons
3 cinnamon stick
2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp anise seeds
12 oz moonshine or whiskey (Jim Beam)

Juice oranges and lemons (keep the rind).  In a medium pot, add water, honey, orange & lemon juice, orange & lemon rinds, all the spices.  Simmer until rind softens.  Strain pulp.  Add whiskey.  Pour into jars and add one cinnamon stick (optional).  Serve warm.  Store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Preschool Gifts

This year...

Christmas snuck up on me!

Oh....did it sneak up on me!!

I've been super busy with all of my volunteer projects that Christmas presents just fell by the wayside.

Presents for my family.

Presents for my friends...

and presents for my son's classmates!!

While I overlooked my son's classmates, I organized a group gift card from all the parents for his teachers.

That counts a little, doesn't it?

(No.... NO it doesn't!!)

Oh... his presents for his classmates!

How did I miss the boat?

UGH!

I look forward to making these presents each year.

Last year, I spent weeks on these birdseed gingerbread shaped ornaments for all 20 of his classmates.


These were messy, super time consuming, but lots of fun.

This year...

Feeling like a failure of a mom, I dug around in my craft box looking for some ideas the morning of his Holiday party.

I found some acorn jingle bells I bought in the Fall, some leftover precut cards, and some holiday stamps...

oh, and a little ribbon and...

a little five-year old with a marker...

WHA - LA!

The final product....all in less than ONE HOUR!!



Thank goodness for my hoarding ways.

Next on the list, presents for the family :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Amish Breakfast Casserole

Happy December!!

It's one of my most favorite times of the year...

and also the busiest.

From holiday parties to ...

Husband's office potlucks to ...

Breakfast playdates to ...

Fellowship breakfast meetings to ...

yadda .... yadda .... yadda.

The list is endless and for all of it -

I bring food.

I know, it's too much sometimes ... but I love it.

My go-to dish this holiday season has been an Amish Breakfast Casserole.


This dish is always and I mean ALWAYS a hit!

Even the gluten-free folks go nuts over it.

I found this recipe years ago online and recently discovered it again for this year's holiday gatherings.

It's amazingly simple and delicious.

I just throw the ingredients together the night before and store in the fridge.

Then the next morning, I bake it for 35-45 mins and BAM...

My kitchen smells amazing and I have a yummy crowd pleasing dish to share.

In case, you're in the market for a scrumptious casserole to bring to a breakfast or brunch this busy holiday season... consider this yummy casserole.

Amish Breakfast Casserole
adapted from allrecipes.com

1 lb sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups  frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Mexican four cheese (or swiss, or mild cheddar)
16 oz small curd cottage cheese

In large skillet, cook onion in olive oil until translucent.  Set aside.  In large bowl, combine eggs, hash browns, and cheeses.  Stir in bacon and onions.  Transfer to a greased 13in-9in-2in baking dish.

Either bake immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 mins until bubbly.  Let stand for 10 mins before cutting.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veteran's Day!

Veteran's Day is a federal holiday that I never really understood.

I knew it was a day when we remember and thank those who have served and those who are currently serving in the US military.

I also knew it was a day when restaurants gave free food or discounts to the retired and active duty military, as well as retail stores offering discounts to retired, active duty and their families.

As a military spouse, I looked forward to this day for the shopping discounts and free food.

I just love great deals.

But...

As a daughter to a retired Navy veteran, I never thought twice about the retirees.

I mean, yeah.... I thank them and all.

But, Veteran's Day had turned into my day of getting great deals.

Sad, but true.

It wasn't until recently that I started questioning every holiday and observance.

Federal .... State .... Religious ...

Why do we celebrate these?

Are they holidays and observances that I want to celebrate and/or make time for?

Am I just going along with the status quo and going through the motions?

Do I really understand them enough to teach my son the specifics on ... "Why we celebrate?".

Well...

As it turns out, Veteran's Day is a federal holiday to honor those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

People in other parts of the world also celebrate this day as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day as it marks the end of World War I.

The war ended at the 11th day at the 11th hour at the 11th month in 1918.

Since that day, the U.S. celebrated Armistice Day, but in 1954 this holiday evolved in the U.S. as Veterans Day.

How about that?!!

Today, I'm looking at Veteran's Day with a new set of eyes.

I'm bursting with gratitude for those who have served to protect the freedoms that I take for granted.

The freedom of unalienable rights as described in our Declaration of Independence.

God bless you for your sacrifice for this free nation.

DIY Spray Painted T-shirts

Ever since my son watched Spiderman 3, he's been obsessed with the villain...Venom.

So when I was cleaning his closet last week and discovered a black shirt hanging in his closet with oil stains on the front, I had an idea...

Venom!

So, I researched venom logos and drove to the craft store to figure out how to put the white logo on a black shirt.

THREE hours later, I left with Tulip fabric spray paint, Elmers spray adhesive, masking tape, and a black t-shirt.

I picked up a black tee as backup in case I mess up with the first shirt.

Here's how my first shirt turned out...

It came out great and my son LOVED it!

So, thought I'd detail the process with the back-up t-shirt.

1.  Print the image in the exact size that you'd like on the t-shirt.  Nothing fancy.


2.  Place image on a cutting board.  Cut out the image with a blade.  An x acto knife would have been much easier than the box cutter, but I couldn't find my x acto knife, so this had to do.


Remove the image.  Now you have a stencil.  Woo Hoo!!!


3.  Prepare the t-shirt by putting something inside that's flat.  Also in case the paint seeps through the shirt, it doesn't bleed through on the other side.  Here I used an old Disney book.


4.  Take the stencil, turn it over and spray with the spray adhesive.  Let sit for 2-3 mins.


5.  Center the stencil on the t-shirt and make sure it's flat on the shirt.  Straighten out any bumps and make sure the outline and edges are glued down.


6.  Take large pieces of paper and masking tape and cover the shirt around the stencil.  This protects the shirt from any paint splatters and such.  Here I used newspaper.


Spray generously.


Here's the paint I used.

7.  Let sit for 30 mins.  Then quickly peel the paper off the shirt.  The paint will still be wet, but if you rip quickly it won't smear.

I let this dry overnight...


Voila!

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Grateful Heart

It's Monday and I really don't like Mondays.

When I woke up this morning, I reached over for my iPad to look at my calendar for the day.

With a little dread, I realized that I had scheduled some time for me and my son to volunteer putting flags on Chaplains graves at the Fort Sam National Cemetery.

UGHHHhhhhh!!!

Although it sounded like a great idea last week when I signed up, but on Monday morning at 8:15am...

Not - so - much!

I pulled myself together...

Rushed my son through breakfast...

And raced out the door.

Hurried and a little bothered with the start to my week, I met my friend at the cemetery office who gave me flags, a list of Chaplains, and a map of the cemetery.

I figured that we'd rush through finding the sites, push flags into the ground, and then quickly get back to our cozy little home.

But...

As I stood frustrated next my car attempting to figure out where to find LTC Richard Carty's tombstone in Sec 41 Plot 619...

I looked up and saw this.


This beautiful image.

It took my breath away.

My little boy facing the graves of our nation's heroes.

I was overcome with emotion.

At this point, I knew it was going to be very special morning for both of us.


We took our time and found tombstones for many Chaplains....

Put flags down and...

Prayed.

Thanking God for their beautiful life of service in this world.

Not only to this country, but service to people.


It was an honor to be among them.


My heart burst with gratitude.


Many wives were buried with their husbands.

Their epitaphs were carved on the backs of tombstones...

And as we walked back to the car to leave, I noticed this one.


This put a big smile on my face.

Most of the epitaphs that I walked by read...

"forever in our hearts".... "loving wife & mother"... "beloved".

This one stood out with "I took the one less traveled by"

I don't know this lady, but I sure do love her.

I wonder if we would have been great friends.

(If I were older, of course).

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will." - Romans 12:2

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hatch Chiles

It's October and I'm going through Hatch Chile withdrawals.

These seasonal peppers explode into the grocery stores here in Texas around Aug & Sept.

Then...

They're GONE!

GONE... GONE... GONE!!

It's so sad.

They're from Hatch, New Mexico and I fell in love them.

And you would too if you like peppers or anything spicy.

So...

Next year when the Hatch frenzy comes back, here are some things to look forward to.

Central Market's Hatch Chile Fest.

It's really amazing!

The place is crawling with Hatch EVERYTHING.

Hatch chips.....Hatch scones....Hatch jelly...

Here are a few things I picked up one morning.


Nevermind the malt balls and chocolate almonds.

They weren't Hatch.

I just had a major sweet tooth that day :)

Needless to say, I made several trips to Central Market during the season.


I also frequented other stores.


Aren't they gorgeous?!

Great price too.

There are many ways to cook these lovelies.

Here's a link to some recipes.

A recent favorite recipe and one that I've been using lately came from my friend.

It's super simple.

Here's a photo.

These are just cut in half, filled with 1 Tbsp light cream cheese, and wrapped with a half strip of low sodium bacon each.

Bake at 350 until pepper is tender and bacon is cooked.


Oh, man...

I so wish I could make these right now!


Yum - ME!!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Just Food

Trying to figure out what to write about after a six month hiatus, and all I can think of is food ...

Just food.

Maybe it's because I'm hungry...

Maybe I just always have food on the brain...

Or maybe I don't want to dive into anything too heavy after being away for some time.

Nevertheless, I searched my phone to see what I had snapped the past six months.

This is what I found...

This photo is my Hatch Chili Burrito taken at Shady Grove in Austin, TX during hatch chili season.

I highly recommend visiting Austin during the hatch chili season (Aug - Sept) if you like spicy.  The town goes crazy over these spicy big peppers.

Amazing food to be had here.


This was my husband's amazing Hatch Chili Chicken Fried Steak.


Incredible - incredible - incredible!

Or as he described, "this was KICK-HATCH!".

(he's silly)

This next picture is my go-to-dish for my meal deliveries.


I made this for a sweet friend who just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

This Chicken Pasta dish is super easy, inexpensive, feeds many, and always a big hit.

Moving on...

Looking at this photo just breaks my heart!


I snapped this picture on a dessert and coffee date with my husband at one of our favorite places in San Antonio, Bakery Lorraine.

Their regular coffee never disappoints and neither does their pain au chocolat.

However on this day... disappointment.

Not the quality.

Oh, never the quality.

.... just the quantity.

I don't need that much cream.  In fact I don't need cream at all.

:(

Speaking of creme...

Krispy Kreme gave away free donuts to pirates one day.

Look at those adorable pirates!


See this large plate of caramel-ly goodness?

Our neighbor's aunt visiting from Mexico delivered this gem to us one night.

A whole big plateful of flan.

Holy cow!

For just the two of us?!?!

I think I put on 5 lbs just snacking on this bad boy all week.  Eeeek!

This is a photo of my plate at the Auslander Restaurant and Biergarten in Fredricksburg, TX.

It was a Chickenschnitzel with hot German potato salad and potato pancakes.

Honestly, not my fav.

German food doesn't really appeal to me, but my husband keeps trying to convince me otherwise.

He loves it and hopes to move back to Germany one day.

Oh Lord.... help Me!

And finally, I saved the best for last...

Roasted Kale Chips!!

Woo Hoo.....Kale Chips!!

My favorite evening snack.

Simple recipe:  fresh kale de-stemed, coated in olive oil, roasted in the oven at 300 degrees for 30-45 mins until crispy.

Delish!

Thanks for reading :)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

I Miss My Blog

There was a time when I spent a lot of hours in the world of blogging.

Not only reading blogs, but building mine, and writing down my simple stories to publish.

I loved it.

Absolutely - without a doubt - loved it!

It was my way of chronicling my thoughts and my great recipe finds.

Journaling my mindless chatter, just helped me look at things more clearly.

And surprisingly through my blog, I made some great friends and also strengthened some friendships that I already had.

So….why did I take a break?  

Such a very long break?!

Unfortunately, the only thing that I can think of …

 My schedule became complicated.


My volunteer projects went from one … to two ... to three … to four …

Then there were school field trips, fundraisers, parties …

And the many sports programs that kept my son busy.

Not to mention our weekly playdates with friends and such.

Frankly, I was OVER-scheduled!

I miss my time of gathering my thoughts and just writing.

I miss being simple.

I miss my blog.

"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it really complicated." - Confucius

"Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." - Mark 6:31

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hello 2014

Welcome New Year….welcome!

I'm so excited for another year and am thankful that everyone in my family is relatively healthy.

We kicked off our new year with family in town visiting for a WHOLE WEEK...

… and loved every single minute of a super noisy, cluttered, and chaotic house.

Since my son is the only child, having his cousins in town for seven days was just heavenly.

Not only for him, but for me & my husband.

It was joyful.

Here's a photo of everyone gathered around our tree.


My mom brought my nieces and nephew down from Dallas to spend the remainder of their holiday break with us in San Antonio.

Such a blessed time getting to know each of my sister's children.

I've lived away since they were all born and flown home for visits once or twice each year, but my occasional visits didn't allow for deep and meaningful relationship building.

This whole week with my family really helped me get to know each of them and truly love and appreciate the beautiful people they're growing up to be.

I hope for more of these opportunities in this new year.  Happy 2014!



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