Let’s Take a Minute to Reflect

Thanksgiving is a week away, and I think this is the perfect holiday to check-in with yourself! Let’s reflect on all of the amazing accomplishments we’ve done this year. Let’s analyze where we had great successes, personally and professionally, as well as setbacks.

I’ve always looked at the calendar year and the seasons like a life cycle. I think this helps beat any feeling of winter blues because you’re so focused and in tune with yourself, that it’s really hard to feel down when you’re reflecting at how amazing you are!

That sounds narcissistic, I’m sure. In reality, it’s far from. It’s all about bettering yourself. Look at each day like an opportunity. That phrase, ‘Seize the day,’ clearly came from someone with the same mindset. Some days will be the shittiest of days, but knowing that you get to start over when you wake up is sometimes the much-needed relief we all need!

In Winter, I look at this as the R&R period, not ‘Rest and Relax,’ but instead ‘Reflect and Restart!’ Look at the previous year, and analyze the setbacks and successes and move on. Bust out those resolutions, make them achievable and realistic, and get to cracking! I hate resolutions that say I am going to lose 30 pounds. Instead of challenging your waistline, challenge your willpower! You know that if you want to lose weight, you have to eat right and exercise. Doing that DAILY are the small successes we all need! It will challenge your willpower and you will see results! It may not be 30 lbs, it may be 45 and it may be 15, but they’re all steps towards a better direction and ultimately, a better you.

In Spring, everything is starting to bloom and so should you! Use this as your coming out season. You’re refreshed from the reflections, you know what you want, and this year is just beginning to be YOUR YEAR, so make those things happen! Analyze your progress, celebrate all of your successes, and learn to embrace setbacks! Setbacks are needed for continuous growth, because you always learn from them. Life is not a continuous success, so don’t strive for that ideal perfection. A life full of small victories and occasional setbacks… is what makes life so perfect to begin with!

In Summer, everything is in FULL BLOOM. It’s all about long days and short nights. Take some time off, from all of the distractions, to just enjoy life. It’s also a great time to check-in, when you’re ready, to analyze the ‘Halfway Mark’ of the year, and maybe rework that goal that you had at the beginning of the year. Not all plans are good ones, so analyze what activities or rituals you’ve made great habits in the first 6 months that made you feel great, and continue to implement them into your daily routine. For the things that you dread doing, find a way to give them a facelift. For example, if you hate going to the gym, but love working outside in the garden, find a beautiful park to walk in and get your exercise that way. Always think outside the box, it will help you get to where you want to be!

In Fall, where we are now, use that time to tie up loose ends. Use this time to reflect on the successes and the setbacks, and start to formulate a plan for next year. November is one of my favorite months, it’s the perfect month to recognize others who’ve helped you get to where you are in that very moment. We celebrate Thanksgiving this month, i don’t focus on pilgrims and indians as much as I celebrate surrounding myself with friends, family, and God’s love. You can’t help, but feel blessed and in good favor when you take stock of just how great life is.

I hope you too can find a way to reflect on all of your blessings this season, there’s no right or wrong way or a one-size-fits all to self-improvement. You’ve got to do what works for you!

Cheering you on,

B

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Fresh Starts

I made a huge move to Dallas a few months ago, and time has just flown by. I can’t believe it’s already November and Thanksgiving is a week away!!

I am having the time of my life here in Dallas. I do miss my friends and family back east, but it’s been a somewhat easy transition moving from a small town in Pennsylvania to one of the most busiest, beautiful cities in the country!

I was worried about the challenges I’d face, and there were plenty when I started out. The most simple, mundane tasks like going to the grocery store became a task because I had to find a grocer with quality produce and veggies, and Texas did not disappoint. They have plenty of wonderful options!

There are some challenges I’ve yet to face and overcome, but that’s life!! Part of the fun (and sometimes the headaches) are the mystery life brings to your everyday life!!

Fortunately, all those years of self-taught, home-cooked meals has been paying off. Being on somewhat of a budget means less meals out of the home, and more meals around the dinner table. I’m all in favor of that!!

One of the biggest surprises, even to myself, is that I’ve become a lot more dependent on my faith while adjusting to my new life. Sometimes they say you become dependent on faith when life is hard, but my adjustment wasn’t hard. There’s a quote that C.S. Lewis once said ‘God whispers in your Joys, and Shouts in your Pain.‘ Meaning we don’t see Christ when we’re having a good time, but we are always seeking his help and guidance when times get tough.

I’ve always been very private about my relationship with God. It’s not something I’ve ever been ashamed of, but not something I feel needs promoted either. I respect everyone’s right to worship whomever they choose. I stayed away from church when they turned me away years ago when I came out of the closet. I know that my love for God never changed, so I stayed faithful that God’s love for me never changed as well.

Along with the rest of America, I feel ashamed that I’m living in a country where mass shootings have become a part of our everyday life. It’s now American culture to expect a breaking news bulletin that there’s been a mass shooting, and just today.. someone went on a shooting spree in Northern California.

We’re quick to judge, scream, and cry that something needs to be done to prevent these from happening, but the one thing I was appalled by was when my peers were attacking others for sending ‘Prayers’ to the victims of the shooting and for their families.

I found that so disheartening. Not even the sacred act of prayer was safe. What is going on?! I mean, you may be asking that as you’re reading a ‘Food Blog,’ and this post is rather personal and a cry for help for this country to get its shit together.

I think that’s what’s been driving me back to relying on my Faith. I pray for a better tomorrow than today, and I’m grateful for every second I’m on this Earth. Life is a gift, and the very air we breathe is sacred. We all have struggles in this life. I will continue to pray about mine, and for others and their struggles.

I don’t know where this country got so off track, and that’s not a politically driven attack, that’s an honest question. When did it become not okay to pray for your neighbor? When did it become not okay to write a letter to your representatives to ask for better legislation to limit the sales of weapons that allow mass casualties?

Christians call it an attack on Christianity, while others are saying your prayers are not enough. It’s a vicious cycle, and the only light at the end of the tunnel is knowing in my heart, that I will continue to fight for what’s right, but before I do that… I’ll pray about it.

What I do know… is that every person has their struggles. In a day and age where shootings are happening to innocent children, your Faith in God can easily become one of those struggles. Let’s not tease others for trying to ease that pain by praying.

Contrary to popular belief, prayers work!!

Also contrary to popular belief, so does calling your representatives!

Let’s just all get along.

 

Overnight Oats; A Love Story

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I don’t know who “They” are, but I’m almost habitual when it comes to skipping breakfast during the week, because way I’m too busy hitting the snooze button leaving me in a frantic state when it’s actually time to get ready.

The sad truth is, I need more sleep so I wake feeling refreshed and ready to conquer my day because breakfast actually IS the most important meal of the day. It improves your brain function, kick-starts your metabolism, and gives you the actual energy needed to conquer your day.

This still doesn’t help me get to my daily dilemma of there’s never enough time, and I don’t even have kids! (I have plants, which are sometimes just as fussy!)

This was all until I recently was speaking with a friend who was panic-stricken because her daughter had been diagnosed with having a gluten allergy. She sought my help because ‘Everything’ I make is not from a box, but she’s short on time. I told her not to panic, and that eggs or fruit take minutes to prepare. I told her I’d get back to her with a few more ideas.

I empathize with children who have sensitivities to certain foods. While I am not allergic, I’m fascinated by clean eating and do notice that I actually feel better when I’m eating clean foods, and making conscious lifestyle choices.

Her mother told me that she loves oatmeal. Technically, oatmeal isn’t gluten-free, even though it’s not wheat. There’s too much room for cross-contamination as wheat and oats are usually planted side-by-side. Ariannna… points if you get the reference. 😛

I stumbled across this crazy method of preparing oatmeal that has literally changed my morning routine. Overnight Oats.

It’s exactly what it says. Oats that ‘Cook’ overnight, except they don’t cook. They may break down with some of the fruit juice acids or cultures in the recipes, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

I’m a go-go-go kind of person. Once my day starts, who knows when it will end. The benefit of this recipe is that it’s a sure sign of the end of your day. Which to me, cooking and preparing food is very therapeutic. It’s a way to simmer down the stress of the day, and time to take a little “You” time. Also, I have excess energy at the end of the day. This is probably due to my addiction to cold brewed coffee, but I’m mentally stimulated and have a good idea of what I’m doing which is probably a good time for me to prep meals for the next day.

Overnight Oats is super easy to prepare. You can get very elaborate or you can make it hella easy. You’ll need a mason jar with a lid and a good small spatula to stir your ingredients.

I’ve tried a few recipes and I’m at a point now where I just experiment with different flavors.

The method is this,

1/4 cup of gluten-free (doesn’t have to be though) quick-cooking oats.

and 2/3 cup of a nut or grain milk of your choice. I prefer almond.

Alternatively you can mix in some Greek yogurt if you like. This is going to make your oats creamy and delicious.

Finally, if you want some added good-for-you texture add in a tablespoon or two of Chia seeds.

Now we get those creative juices flowing and talk about your add-ins, the toppings, and the overall mood of your overnight oats.

Most of the food we eat gets described as sweet or savory, and the same is true for these oats. You can go bold or you can be a little subtle and bright with your flavor palette. And the saying, “A little goes a long way,” is so true for these. You’re flavoring your oats, so it’s not the time to get crazy, it’s just a hint of flavor, so we’re talking a 1/8 of a teaspoon to 1/4 of a teaspoon.

For Bright Flavors consider adding,

  • Citrus Zest (1 tsp)
  • Vanilla (1 tsp)
  • Maple Syrup (1 tsp)
  • Honey (1 tsp)
  • Toasted Coconut Flakes (1 Tbsp)
  • Toasted Slivered Almonds (1 Tbsp)
  • Fresh Citrus Juice (1 Tbsp)
  • Fresh Blueberries
  • Banana slices
  • White Raisins

For Bolder Flavors consider adding,

  • Cocoa Powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Carob Powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Vanilla (1 tsp)
  • Honey (1 tsp)
  • Cinnamon (1/8 to 1/4 tsp)
  • Fresh Orange Juice (1 Tbsp)
  • Dried Cherries
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Dark Raisins

Once you’ve added your selected toppings, stir the ingredients until they’re mixed together, and close the lid. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours, or overnight. 😛

These aren’t recipes, they’re suggestions as add-ins. You can mimic a key lime pie version by using lime zest and coconut flakes, or you can go bold and sexy with doing a version a la chocolate covered cherries. I’m anxious to try a few this fall with some add-ins like Pumpkin and Ginger!

My friend’s daughter tried this and made a few of these herself, she’s 11! She is hooked and loves them. Recipes like this are super easy, and it helps kids use their imagination as it teaches them experimenting with flavor. Did I mention it teaches some science too?! The breakdown of oats is usually accredited to heat and liquid, but in this recipes; It’s time, liquid, and the citric or lactic acids found in Greek yogurt or in the citrus you’re using.

It’s not bullshit I promise. Ceviche, a popular Peruvian dish, uses Citric acids to lightly ‘Cook’ raw fish, sort of like Peruvian Sushi. Citric acid is powerful stuff, and it’s packed with good-for-you vitamin C to help conquer your day!

 

Russian-Themed drinks for tomorrow’s Comey Hearing #DayDrinking 🥃

Ah, the sweet taste of impeachment! Full of treason, obstruction of justice, and collusion… What else would we expect from America’s Commander in Pussy-Grabbing?!

What better way to celebrate and watch it all go down than with a drink, or two, or five!!

Here’s a list of “Russian-Inspired” drinks that will help you feel festive, if nothing else, while watching it all go down on a fake news channel of your choice! Here’s a hint, they all have vodka.

The Honorary White Russian aka “The Kushner”

You too could taste like deceit, lies, with undertones of Trump’s fragrance line and hints of Penicillin.


2oz Vodka
1oz Coffee Liqueur
Heavy Cream
(Recipe and Image from Liquor.com)

The “Are You Loyal To Me” Martini

The President asks everyone this question, even Melania! Now you can look just as paranoid, questioning the vermouth while whole-heartedly trusting Russia… Vodka. I meant to say Vodka. 


6 parts Vodka
1 part Dry Vermouth
Shake in a ice-filled shaker
Strain in a martini glass
Garnish with one or two olives, depending on how dirty that delicious testimony is
(Image from Liquor.com)

The Mail-Order Bride who Won’t Hold My Hand

God Save Melania. I wouldn’t touch that hand with a 10 foot pole! The sacrifices she makes for Cartier… What an American, err Slovenian Hero! 


4oz White Cranberry Juice
2oz Vodka
1oz Triple Sec
Shake in an Ice-Filled Shaker and strain 
Garnish with your favorite berry! 
Alternatively, you could use red Cranberry juice, but let’s be real.. this administration likes nothing of color! 
(Image from Purple Clover Events)

The Bad Hair Day, All- Day, Everyday

After daydrinking, you too could look just like our commander in chief! Extra points if you can score home-grown cucumbers from the Russian compound in Maryland! 


1 Cucumber, cut into 3 chunks
2oz Fresh Lime Juice
10-15 mint leaves, from 4 sprigs of mint
1.5oz Simple Syrup
3oz Vodka
Muddle 1 of the cucumber chunks along with everything else except the vodka in a shaker. Really get that Cucumber mushed down into bits. Just focus on the popular vote vs electoral votes in this past election, and this should do the trick.
Add ice and your vodka to the cocktail shaker. Strain and serve.
You can garnish with Cucumber slices or snack on your leftover Cucumber chunks. Alternatively, make more of these! They’re yummy!
(Image from Pinterest, Recipe is derived from one on Food52)

The Golden Shower before the 3AM Tweet

Tastes like hooker piss and delusion! Pairs nicely with Ambien. 


5oz Orange Juice
2oz Vodka
Serve Chilled or on the rocks 
(Recipe and Image from Mix That Drink)

The Whistle Blower came from my Twitter

When this day finally comes, this will be all I drink. Our take on the mimosa, with pear nectar and monk fruit! Fancy!! 🥂


Put a few drops of Pear Nectar in each flute and sprinkle with Monk Fruit powder. It’s great for the skin, and will sweeten it up a bit!
Top with Champagne of your choice.
Garnish with a Sliced Pear
Revel in our American Glory!
(Image from Robust Recipes)

 

Although I hear Trump doesn’t drink, he may need a few of these concoctions after tomorrow’s hearing!

Lock Him Up,

B




An Asian-Persuasion One Pan Wonder

I’m a straight up fiend, like crack-addicted fiend, when someone mentions Chinese food. Think rabid dogs…

I will literally twitch with the anticipation of Lo-Mein and General Tso anything hitting my mouth. So the thought of doing a night of “Take-In” Take-Out made me even more excited.

I’m all about food that’s both good and good-for-you, so I was trying to invent ways to mimic Asian flavors at home. 

The combination I came up with was pretty stellar, and using those spiralized zucchini noodles in place of lo-mein means that I can have my “Fat Kid Friday” any day of the week! 

In a wok, heat up some olive oil, and to that add some sliced mushrooms. I just did button mushrooms, but y’all can get fancy and use oyster or shiitake. 

Let those bad boys sweat! Meaning it’s releasing its moisture while they sauté to a gorgeous brown caramelized color. 

Then, add some broccoli rabe, snow peas, a red or yellow pepper, and let that steam/cook. This is going to brighten the flavors of your dish. 

Now the fun begins (and your almost done!) Add your spiralized zucchini and carrots! I used 2 zucchini and 2 spiralized carrots. Toss them into your wok with tongs. They don’t require a ton of cooking, a couple to a few minutes at most. 

Remove your pan from the heat. Add 2 to 3 tbsp of Tamari, and about a 1 1/2 tsp of toasted sesame oil. I also dashed in a few splashes of rice vinegar to liven up the flavors and give it a probiotic kick. 

You can get fancy and add some heat like Chinese chili flakes or add mirin or hoisin, but I went straight basic Asian persuasion and it was amazing! 

Better than take-out, and way better for you! 

Pair it with a saké, and pretend you’re Lucy Liu!

B

One-Pan Zucchini “Pasta” 

A few years ago I was turned on to One-Pan cooking. It’s easy, less mess, and record cleanup time. What’s not to love?!

In that same year I was turned on to Lucinda Scala Quinn, author of the Mad Hungry cookbooks, and frequent QVC extraordinaire with her Spurtle magic! If you don’t yet own a spurtle (or two,) you need to rethink your life and get one (or five!)

She has this amazing take on home-cooking. It’s beneficial for kids and families, and just better for us as home cooks to eat in and not out! One of her great recipes was a one-Pan pasta. It combined all of the essentials in one Pan and left no draining of the pasta because the cooking water soaked into the noodles. It’s a method I’ve gone back to repeatedly as I’ve cooked dinners throughout the years. 

As I mentioned previously about my obsession with the spiralizer, I flirted with the idea of doing a one Pan “Pasta,” but with spiralized zucchini noodles. 

It worked! It wasn’t what I expected, but it was a flavorful dinner that tasted amazing. Like summer on a plate! 


In the Pan, you want to combine Olive Oil, the “Noodles,” along with a chopped red onion, a clove or two of garlic, and some chopped tomatoes, along with some basil. 

Just let it cook over medium and keep tossing it around. You won’t be disappointed. This recipe served two, but you could easily do more and have dinner in under twenty minutes! 

Add the end of its cooking I added a 1/2cup of Freshly grated Parm and stirred it in. It was cheese heaven, paired with those quintessential Italian flavors of quick sautéed red onion and basil. My mouth is literally watering! 

Try it out and get creative! You won’t be disappointed! 

Ciao Bella,

Intervention: My Spiralizer

Hi, my name is Brian. I’m 31 years old and I’m completely addicted to my spiralizer. No this isn’t some crazy ass addiction like, “Help! I can’t stop buying ceramic cats on eBay!” This addiction is real, and it’s life-changing!! 

Spiralizing isn’t anything new. I’m actually so late to the party with this. My mom bought a handheld spiralizer a few years ago, but I thought it was a pepper mill and gave up on it about 45 seconds in. 

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago when the Spiralizer I ordered arrived through Amazon Prime, and what was once, “As seen on TV” is now, “As seen in every damn meal I make!”

A spiralizer cuts various vegetables like Zucchini into ribbons, thick spirals, or thin spirals. And by spirals… I mean noodles. Carb-Free Noodles!! 

My inner basic white girl just calculated how many more Pumpkin Spice Lattes I can ingest due to the lack of carb-loaded noodles now missing from my diet!! Yasss Queen!! 

As if this wasn’t reason to celebrate enough, it cooks your “Pasta” dishes way faster which is great for the warmer months. You spend less time in the kitchen and more time doing what matters most… *insert what matters most to you* 

I’ve made everything from Asian Stir-Fry, to a One-Pan “Pasta”, and a no bake Cacio e Pepe. I’ll be sharing my creations in the coming weeks with all of you! Total game changer, and the spiralizers are not expensive. I bought the veggetti pro for $20 but saw one this weekend at Nordstrom for $65. It was literally the same machine and size but a different brand and in a “Monochromatic Color Palette.”  

I’m pretty sure my family will stage an intervention for my spiralizer before they take on my occasional Rosé and Xanax induced binges. God Bless you Zucchini!! 

Spiralize your Life,

B