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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Spread it Like Jam

Photo taken in Clarksville, Va.
This entry is simple and just for you
It's about loving yourself and what you do
About taking the time, to enjoy your view
About accepting the differences, between me and you
Maybe taking those walks, put off for days
And expressing your desires in varying ways.
Make your tomorrows today, and your laters right now
Unleash your inner artist, some way, somehow
Loving thy neighbor and lending a hand
Teaching your doggy a new command
Wearing that color, you think is all wrong
Go to karaoke, pick a random song.
Support an organization, recycle, reuse
Turn the cannots into some can do's.
Give a compliment to a stranger, hold the door for a change
Try to smile instead of grimace, this world is your stage
Let the sunlight in, instead of shutting it out
'Man up ya Pansies', don't stand there and pout
Try a new recipe, cook something wild
Grab a coloring book, love your inner child
Watch a magic show, a circus will do
Catch the matinee at a theater near you.
Love the skin you're in, our flaws and all
Not everyone was meant to be skinny or tall.
Be an ear to be lent, let some steam off some time
Have a coffee or Boba, you've gotta unwind
Love the moment it takes to think about rest
An afternoon nap, when your schedule lets
Bake some goodies like cookies, maybe bake some loaves
Give the gift that keeps giving, it will come back in droves.
Stock is skyhigh, from Love's demand
Laugh as loud as your lungs can stand
Model your actions, with kindness and respect
Give out the Love, you plan to get
Love is the answer, Love is the key
Love is what binds us, you and me
Take time to be peaceful, put quarrels aside
Accept different cultures, with arms open wide
Make each day our best day, we can't go wrong
Hand in hand with Love, is where we belong.
Spread it like jam.



Monday, July 8, 2019

Pasta Bake Ninja

I just love love love my Ninja Foodi!  It truly has single handedly made my oven a lonely soul.  I love that my slow food recipes have been sped up dramatically.  I love that I can set it and walk away, being free to do other things.  Normally, I'm always leary of getting too far away from the kitchen, especially when I have recipes that require hours of simmering, braising or baking.  With my Ninja Foodi, the specific functions do their thing and even turns itself off.
I rarely use the oven because now I can crisp and roast, air fry and sear or saute, all in the same pot.  The pressure cooker aspect is a beast!  At first, I was somewhat nervous, afraid I'd do something wrong and cause an explosion to level the house, like a scene from the Die Hard or Lethal Weapon series lol, but of course that was me being apprehensive from lack of experience.  After I read my  manual many, many times over, I felt I had gathered the strength and prowess to manipulate this sophisticated new toy and the rest is delicious history. 
My go-to on an easy night is often a pasta bake.  I add the cooked ingredients and top it with cheese and set it on 'air crisp' for about 3 1/2 minutes and reveal a masterfully browned, ooey, gooey, one pot, one dish meal, that can't go wrong. Just throw in a salad and some fruit and your labors for dinner are done!  I brown the beef and veggies in the Ninja and make the sauce, but I still like to do my pasta on the stovetop, I fear the dreaded over cooked pasta!  My Ninja has instruction for pasta and even rice, but I feel most comfortable doing them as a sidecar, as opposed to an all in one deal.
If you are shopping for a new gadget or appliance, definitely consider this guy, I knew we were meant to be.  I've cooked everything from air fried or roasted chicken to pig tails and "Pad BowThai" Pasta in this vessel and I keep getting better and better at it.  Make the Ninja Foodi a part of your wish list and be glad you did!  

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Greens Machine!

Growing greens at home can be a time and money saving venture.  Aside from adding some natural beauty to your surroundings, growing greens, especially for fresh salads and components to smoothies, can be an enriching and nutritious endeavor, easy enough for the kids to not consider work! Plus kids respond well to foods they help cultivate!  When children know where their food comes from, it builds awareness and appreciation for the efforts put into growing the foods we love.  I found it key to instill in my girls the origin of the fruits and vegetables in the supermarket. They knew from an early age, that food starts first as seeds in dirt and grows, not magically waved into existence as mature, ready to eat food. Strawberry Shortcake videos and movies helped along the way too.  "How a Garden Grows" is one of our favorite songs from the series. It's awesome when our children can learn and be entertained at the same time, the lessons are more likely to stick. 
The above greens are some I grew in a vintage sink, leftover from a remodel years ago.  The basins are nice and deep, able to hold lots of fertile organic soil.  The drains in the bottom help to keep the soil from getting soddy and too moist.  I positioned the sink on stands about 1 foot from the ground.  It's in the back yard, where the morning sun hits the greens first thing.  I water them in the evenings to avoid scorching the tender leaves.
I used a sweet gourmet greens seed mix and also some micro greens from the brassica family.  I like the mixed variety because it contains at least 6 different types of greens that would otherwise have to purchased separately, saving time and money.  If they grow too big for micro, simply add them to your salads for added superfood and antioxidant power.  Texture and color are everything when it comes to a nice salad and this mix hits all the right notes, just throw in some other garden goodness like cucumber, tomato, fresh herbs and carrots. I have some colorful carrots growing too! I am so excited, as it's my first time and I love the bursts of color they'll add, from fresh salads to pot roast!  Recipes to follow. 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Plum Crazy!

Plums, which are a part of the stone fruit family, are in full swing and the getting is more than good, it's great!  These beautiful and delicious treats came from a local man's home, and were free to pick.  My children and I enjoy plums regularly, and being in season makes for a sweet deal and satisfying snack, especially when chilled just a bit. Plums are loaded with vitamins, minerals and benefits your body can use.
Plums are great for helping the body to absorb iron.  They have measurable amounts of vitamins C,  copper and vitamin K.  Dried plums are prunes, even though we hardly think of them as such.  Soluble fiber in plums is a good part of  managing weight and also stabilizing blood sugars.  The antioxidant properties found in these guys, like the ones found in blueberries, can help fight off free radical that damage cells in the body, in turn are fighting off certain cancers!   Not bad for something that can fit in the palm of your hand huh!?
Ask around your neighborhood, you may be surprised what free gifts in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables that are literally ripe for the taking!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Old Fashioned Blueberry Hand Pies

Summer has sprung and so has an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies, and berries!  A delicate and delicious blueberry is a great choice for a handheld pastry, individually portioned for on the go home made treats.
Blueberries are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Anthocyanins are the antioxidants that give blueberries their brilliant color.  These vital superpowers help to thwart damage done to DNA by free radicals.  Also, other beneficial  properties include but are not limited to a good source of calcium, manganese, iron, zinc, magnesium and more, supporting healthy bones, regulating blood pressure and lower LDLs.  LDLs are low density  lipoproteins and also the undesirable one, the favorable one being HDL  or high density lipoproteins.  Blueberries are good to and for you and in season.  Have some fun with it.
These hand pies were a real hit with the whole family.  My neighbor gifted me a huge 2 lb. bag of these tasty little morsels.  I also made a pie, smoothies, blueberry pancakes and more.  My girls snacked on blueberries by the bowlful.  The finished pies may be frozen too, so don't be afraid to make extras.


Recipes:

1 lb. fresh or frozen blueberries, (I used frozen Maine blueberries, small and sweet)
1/4 to 1/3 c. pure cane sugar or to taste
1 c. unsweetened apple juice
2 tbsp. cornstarch, mixed with a little water to make a slurry
4 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
4-9 inch roll out pie crusts
zest of whole and juice of 1/2 lemon
parchment paper for baking
egg wash for brushing tops, if desired
Instructions:
Place blueberries in a medium sauce pan along with all other ingredients except  the butter,vanilla, lemon juice and cornstarch.
Bring up to a boil over medium high heat and let cook for about 10 minutes, allowing to reduce as it cooks.
Once liquid has reduced by about 1/3, remove from heat and stir in cornstarch.
Allow berries to return to a boil, stirring often and thickening.
Stir in vanilla and lemon juice.
After about 2 minutes, remove from heat and stir in butter.
Allow to cool before making the individual hand pies.
Use a pastry cutout of desired shape.  You will need two cutouts per hand pie.  You will be baking them in a 350*F oven.

Place small portions in center of bottom crust, as too much will overflow excessively.
Press around edges of pies to seal in filling, using a fork or device, dipping the fork in flour to aid in sticking.
Vent top crust with knife or using cutout gadget..
Brush with egg wash if desired.
Space out evenly on baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake until golden  and filling is bubbly, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Yield depends on size of cutouts.


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Smokinhotchef
Smokinhotchef
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