Friday, June 1, 2018

Easy Homemade French Fries

June 1, 2018

My daughter loves french fries. Well, maybe it would be more accurate to say she has a french fry obsession. Ha! I can't believe it took us this long, but today we made homemade french fries. Let me tell you, they were delicious. I didn't even dip them in ketchup. Woah. I am a dipper and I didn't even realize I was basically inhaling the fries until I only had two left.

My hubby and daughter worked together and came up with the perfect fries. They used Yukon Gold potatoes. They started out by cutting the potatoes into about 1/4 inch strips. Let's be honest. Some were bigger, some were smaller. It doesn't have to be perfect.

Next, the potato strips were put in a bowl of ice cold water. This will remove excess potato starch which helps the fries to get extra crispy! The potatoes soaked while they got the burgers going, so maybe 30 minutes to an hour. Drain. Blanch the potato strips in boiling water for 5 minutes. This helps the inside of the fries to be nice and fluffy while the outside will be crispy. They laid them out on a wire rack to cool and dry.

Fry the potatoes in vegetable oil for about 5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from oil and put on a wire rack to drain the oil. Lightly salt the fries. Now get ready for your mind to be blown. So simple but so delicious!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Cucumber Carrot Salad

March 28, 2018

Is winter over yet?! I am itching for warm weather, working outside, and planting my garden. Bring on the fresh veggies. Bring on the light summer dinners with all kinds of salads. All this summer talk made me crave one of my favorite salads. I found the recipe (Cukes & Carrots Recipe) years ago on the Taste of Home website. I always make half of the recipe. It is also delicious for a few days as leftovers. It melds together and is oh, so yum!

This is the recipe already halved:

Thinly slice 2 1/2 cucumbers, 2 carrots, and 1/2 an onion. Chop 1/2 a green pepper. Combine all the veggies. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of canning salt and stir. Cover and put the veggies into the fridge for about 2 hours. Sometimes I'm not that patient. Ha!

Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup vinegar. Pour over the veggies. You can put it back in the fridge for another hour or just be impatient like me and serve it immediately.

This time I made one small addition to the recipe. When I made the dressing, I also added Black Pepper Vitality essential oil. That is a strong oil, even one drop may be too much. So how do you add less than a drop? Dip a toothpick into the oil bottle and then swirl it into the dressing.

My hubby and daughter said that the salad was good but it could have used more Black Pepper oil. Maybe next time we will go with a drop?!

I also made my son's favorite- homemade sloppy joes. That boy doesn't see much of anything else when sloppy joes are put in front of him. Ha!

*Note- I can only speak to the safety of ingesting Young Living's essential oils from their Vitality line.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Reconnect/Understand your soldier after deployment

March 18, 2018

Sometimes your life brings you in a different direction for a reason. Embrace it. Earlier this week, I opened up and talked about my very personal and somewhat embarrassing story in hopes to bring hope to those who may have lost it. That blog post brought me to then want to share something I wrote a few years ago about preparing for military deployment. It could also help struggling mamas, or someone who lives far from their family. I’ve heard back from some military wives that were so thankful for that blog post. One asked me to write another post about reconnecting with your loved one after they return home from deployment. I think everyone could benefit from this entry and find a way to apply it to their life to better understand others. So here goes…

You made it! Your loved ones deployment is over and he is coming home. I’m sure you have heard stories about how they will have changed and how difficult it can be. While this is true, if you open your heart and take a few things into consideration, it can make it a lot easier.

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding” (Albert Einstein).

Take into account how he has spent the past year. He had a heightened sense of alertness, always on the lookout for the enemy. It will be hard to break that habit. Imagine the amount of stress that has put on him. Letting the stress build up will affect his physical body as well. Find ways for him to let that stress go.

He will probably be worn out. During deployment, you don’t really get days “off”. Even if you aren’t on a mission, your state of alertness is always on. Just think how some of us moms feel. I’ve always said that I was ready to be “off” mom duty when the kids tuck into bed so I could relax. Imagine never being able to turn “off”.

When he gets home, you may be anxious to go out and do things together that you’ve been imagining for the past year. Maybe it is a day at the zoo, shopping, traveling, or going to the movies. He may need time to decompress and just “be” at home in his safe environment, where he doesn’t feel the need to have his guard up.

He spent the entire last year being told exactly what to do. Even when he didn’t agree, when he thought there was a better way to do things, he still had to follow orders. Allow him the room to make decisions. It can be hard because for the past year, every decision has been your own. What to eat for dinner. What to watch on TV. What you do on Saturday afternoons. Who you spend your time with. Remember, he hasn’t been able to do any of that.

Let’s talk about being in public. Big crowds may be difficult for him. For the past year, a big crowd to him may have meant it was easier for the enemy to hide right in front of him.

Seating can become something he needs to control. Don’t be surprised if he wants to always have a line of sight to the door. He will likely want to see who is in the room and will not want his back to them.

Sounds. Take a minute to google The David Lynch Foundation and “Sounds of Trauma”. It is a commercial that shows the sounds of war (bombs, explosions, guns firing, etc) along the soldiers fighting. Then it later shows that those sounds are actually in everyday life (alarm clocks, balloons popping, fireworks, etc). This commercial will really help you to understand that there are triggers everywhere. If this is the only take away you get from this post, it’ll be worth it.

Your husband probably had a very particular way of doing things. Things had to be done correctly or someone could get hurt or killed. He may have a hard time adjusting to let go of that control. He may crave structure/ rules/ schedules.

You will need to help your kids to readjust to having Daddy home. It is important to make family time and also one on one time with each child. Kids need to rebuild that relationship. They need to feel safe and trust that Daddy is home. It’s easy to push people away when you are scared and kids may be worried that if they get close again, that it’ll hurt more if they have to leave again.

One thing we may take for granted is sleep. Your husband may have a hard time sleeping. It may take awhile to fall asleep. They may wake up often and lay awake for hours. Survivor’s guilt and “what-ifs” can weigh heavily on them. Find ways to support him getting good rest.

Don’t be surprised if you can’t pick things up right where you left off. You have both gotten used to a certain way of life and now it’s time to bring those lives back together. Communicate. Make time for you as a couple. It’s ok to set boundaries. Maybe you need to tell family not to visit for the first few weeks to allow time for you guys to reconnect.

Your husband now has an incredible bond with the people he deployed with. Even though they spent every day together and probably aggravated each other, guess what? Chances are that after a few days of being home, they will have an unbelievable urge to hang out. It’s comforting for them to be together. They may not talk about their deployment time, but even just being around each other makes it feel like a weight has been lifted. Don’t take it personally that they want to spend time together.

Did you notice how many times I wrote “for the past year”? That was intentional. A habit takes 21 days to form. Your hubby just spent a YEAR deployed. Give him time to adjust. Give yourself time to adjust.

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light” (Aristotle).

Military life is hard. It is difficult to prepare yourself for everything that comes along with it. Not being able to choose where you live; being the “new” girl repeatedly; moving away from friends who become family because your family is so far away; not being able to make plans because you don’t know when you’ll get vacation or be able to visit home; spending countless days/months/years away from your spouse; having a work schedule that changes at the drop of a hat; having your spouse miss out on birthdays/holidays/births/deaths; having to bury friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice; living with the fear of the unknown and possible deployments hanging over your head; having to miss out on family events because you can’t take block leave; the list goes on.

“Change your thoughts and you change your world” (Norman Vincent Peale).

But… the military has also brought a lot to our lives. Take a breath and focus on the good. The military has given us a steady paycheck and job security. It’s given us health benefits and education benefits (for both of us and in the future for our kids).

We have been able to travel all over the country and even lived in Hawaii. My hubby got to travel to Japan.

My hubby was in an airport in Germany on his way home for R&R. He looked up and saw someone familiar. His cousin, who he hadn’t seen in about 25 years, was on his way to Afghanistan! After R&R (leave from deployment), they were actually stationed at the same base in Afghanistan!

He has lived out some incredible dreams. He was Airborne (jumped from airplanes) and even jumped with The Golden Knights (the Army Parachute team). He met Herschel Walker (pro football player) and Troy & Jacob Landry (from Swamp People). He became a helicopter pilot and landed at every public airport/airfield in Louisiana.

The sense of pride from being a military family is simple not measurable.

The friendships you make are some of the strongest friendships you’ll ever have.

You will discover a fierce strength inside of you that you never knew existed. I moved across the country at 19 years old. I lived in Hawaii (4,250 miles away from family) with a one-year-old child by myself at 25 years old while my hubby was deployed.  I moved to a new state and less than 2 weeks after moving into our house, my hubby had to go out of state to school for 6 weeks. We received news while my hubby was home on R&R that one of his soldiers had died. A couple days later I had to turn around and send him back to war. You don’t know how strong you are until you have to be.

We are a few months shy of hitting 20 years in service. We are looking forward to retirement in a couple years but at the same time, in ways it will be hard to leave this life behind.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

How to prepare for deployment &/or all that life throws at you

March 17, 2018

Yesterday I shared about something personal that really made me wear my heart on my sleeve. But if I could help even one person, then it was worth sharing. It made me think about something else I had written a few years ago.

My hubby has been in the military for almost 20 years and has deployed twice. We haven't lived near family since we became adults. We have been to 7 duty stations, moved 9 times, and had to leave countless friends behind. I wrote some ideas/tips that I thought would be helpful for someone who had a loved one about to deploy. However, you could also take these tips and apply them to your life even if you have no connection to the military. So, here goes.... I once again open up my heart to you.

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort" (Herm Albright).

It can be overwhelming to think about spending a year away from your loved one, worrying about their safety, and handling all of the household responsibilities. My husband has been deployed twice. He was sent to Afghanistan in 2004 and again in 2010.

I have learned a lot during these times and wanted to share my experiences with you. This is a short and easy read because I know that you will want to spend every possible moment with your loved one before they deploy. I found that looking up quotations helped me to deal with problems I was facing and helped to give me the positive boost that I needed to continue on. I placed some of my favorites in here for you to enjoy. Take my experiences and advice as a whole or in pieces. If even one page of my experiences helps someone, then I will feel successful.

"When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile" (Author Unknown).

One of the first things that my husband and I had to think about was how we were going to tell our kids about the deployment. We decided that we would wait until about a month prior before telling them. We did not want the kids to sit and worry about it for months ahead of time. Our daughter was 7 years old and our son was 4 years old when we told them the news. 

We explained that daddy would have to go to work for a year and that he would be far away. We told them that we could write letters and draw pictures for daddy. We would be able to talk to daddy on the phone and over the computer. We kept details to a minimum and asked them if they had any questions.

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will" (Mahatma Gandhi).

I knew that in order for me to feel prepared to deal with the deployment, I wanted the house ready. We thought about all of the things that should be done during the next six months. We would repeat this again during his R&R (two week leave of rest and rehabilitation). 

My husband was leaving at the end of October so our list included things like packing away lawn furniture, and hanging shelves in the garage so that I could park the truck inside for the winter. I had him stock me up on cases of bottled water (I hate carrying those things!). We also decided to put my car into storage. Our housing maintenance crew will do snow removal if you do not have a vehicle in your driveway. We live in northern New York and the winters here can be tough. We felt it was worth the money to put the car into storage so that I did not have to worry about shoveling the driveway. The spouse that stays home during a deployment will have a lot of responsibility. Preparing your house for the deployment is a great way to ease the load a little bit.

 “Happiness is often the result of being too busy to be miserable” (Anonymous).

I have found that the best way to make the time pass by is to get into a routine. I know this sounds cliché, but it really does work. A routine also helps kids to adjust and feel like things are somewhat normal. Embrace your friendships. This is the time that you will need to lean on your friends. Make a routine that works for you. 

Here is the routine that worked for me. I sent a letter to my husband every day. Some people may think that they can’t do a letter daily. I felt this was very important. It helped my husband’s morale so much. I would write his letter first thing in the morning while I sipped coffee and checked emails. Don’t think you can come up with something to write about daily? The content does not matter. Your loved one will want to simply see your handwriting. They can “hear” your voice through your words. I would just tell him what we did the day prior, or something funny the kids said.

Each Monday I would send him a package. A typical package had food, toiletries, disks with his favorite TV shows, magazines, drawings from the kids, etc. I sent so many packages for two reasons. This helped my husband feel like he had a little piece of home. He could have his favorite snacks. He could keep up on TV shows. Also, these packages helped me to feel that I could take care of him even when he was on the other side of the world.

Each Friday I would have friends over for dinner. We found a TV series to watch and began it from season one. Each Saturday we would go to a friend’s house for the day. While it is important to schedule time with friends, it is also important to have down time. I looked forward to the beginning of the week. I would spend a few nights just snuggling up with my kids. During the winter months, we would spread out a blanket on the living room floor and have picnic nights. We would eat a picnic dinner while watching a family movie. A routine is a great way to help the weeks feel like they are going by quickly.

 “As one person I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person” (Paul Shane Spear). Whose world will you change today?!

You need to make sure that you still feel connected to your loved one. There are so many different ways to do this. We had a “daddy doll” made for our kids. It is basically like a stuffed animal but has his picture on the front along with a phrase (we put “I love you”). You can also get them with a recorded voice message placed inside the doll. Our local YMCA had a program where they made a special quilt for children with deployed parents. I submitted pictures and a couple of months later our kids were given a very memorable blanket that they could snuggle up with. The kids and I also picked out one of daddy’s t-shirts to sleep with. I ordered a calendar that had our personal photos used as the monthly photos. I had one made for my husband to take with him and one for us to use at home. Our second deployment was so different from our first. This time around we are able to send email, use webcam, and use social networking sites to keep in touch. I liked to leave messages for my husband with memories from past vacations, funny stories, etc. 

A friend of mine sent me an email with a great tool for deployment. There is an Excel spreadsheet called “The Donut of Misery”. It calculates how many months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds have already been completed during the deployment as well as how many are remaining. I used this tool to help show my kids visually how much time we had left. My husband left on a Wednesday, so each Wednesday on a social networking site I would post my status as “x number of weeks down”. It was helpful to see the progress we were making.

"Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength” (author unknown).

There will be times when it feels like there is just too much for you to bear. I had multiple loved ones diagnosed with cancer during the deployment. My kids were sick for three weeks straight. The stress of day to day activities on top of everything can feel like too much. Of course there is also the possibility of injuries occurring within your loved ones unit. It can cause your stress to rise to all new levels. This is the part when you need to pick yourself up and continue on.

 “Any idiot can face a crisis- it’s day to day living that wears you out” (Anton Chekhov).

Keep in mind that it may not be the big issues that bother you the most. You know deep down that you have to deal with them and so you somehow find a way to get through it. I was having a particularly rough week and a seemingly small issue is what pushed me over the edge.

My daughter needed a tooth pulled but was too scared to allow the dentist to get near her. As the dentist told me that I would have to find a pediatric oral surgeon to remove the tooth, I felt myself breaking. It was the small issue that I just could not pile on top of everything else.

I ended up crying like a baby in front of the dentist. Ok, so not my first choice of how I should have handled it. However, it did teach me that we all have our limits. We need to deal with issues and not just push them aside or it will build until we just cannot take anymore.

“Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” (Confucius).

The thing that I struggled with the most was allowing myself to be upset. I felt that I had to be positive every day. I felt that I was showing weakness if I had a bad day. I learned that picking yourself up after a bad day can show more strength than never having a bad day. I can honestly say that the burden is so much easier to carry if you open up and allow others to support you as well. It is not a sign of weakness. It shows that you are human. 

  “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did (Newt Gingrich).

When it comes time for your loved one to come home for R&R, enjoy your time. It will go by so quickly. Do not spend it thinking about having to send them back to finish off the deployment. This time is crucial for you to rekindle your relationship and reconnect as a family.

It is normal to feel overwhelmed when your loved one leaves. It was difficult to think that I still had to go through that entire amount of time alone again. My advice is to get right back into your routine. The routine is what will help the days to pass. Be proud of yourself. You have made it this far and now you know what to expect for the last half of the deployment.

“Forgiveness comes when you give up the hope you can change the past”  (Oprah Winfrey).

A year a part from your loved one can be an opportunity. I chose to use this time to work on myself. I have always had a big heart and cared about others. I wanted to use this time to really try to do more for other people. I wanted to let those I cared about know that I was thinking of them. I wanted to become a better person. I wanted to forgive those who I had past issues with. I won’t let the past actions of others define who I am today.

"The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings" (Ralph Blum).

You can also use this time as an opportunity to further your education. I am finishing up my bachelors degree while my husband is deployed. You could finally take that cooking class that you have been putting off or begin a new hobby. Not only will you feel better about yourself, but it will also help to speed up the time!

"Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power" (Shirley MacLaine and my friend’s fortune cookie).

I thought that was pretty profound for a cookie. I have to say, I agree with that little cookie. The only way to get through a deployment is to push past your negative thoughts and to make something positive out of it. You can apply this to every aspect of your life.

One issue I dealt with was how I let other people’s reactions change me. I may have been having a great day and then because of something that I read on a social networking site, I would fall apart. I had to learn to make myself stronger than that. I decided to not let others affect how I handle today…or any day for that matter.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle” (Plato).

My battle is hard enough. But I do it with a smile on my face, love in my heart, and pride for my husband. I think this quote hits me the hardest. We tend to think that our issues are devastating, while no one else is going through anything. If you find yourself in a situation where someone hurts you, before you respond take a moment to put yourself in their shoes. You have no idea what they are going through. Maybe they had a fight with their family that morning. Maybe they are overwhelmed with everything that they are dealing with. People tend to lash out at those we love most, simply because we feel the most comfortable that they will love us at our most vulnerable.

 “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

If you walk away from reading this with one thought, let it be this… I am strong and can get through this. Find your own way to handle the deployment. Different things work for different people. The key is to understand what works for you and to know what you want to get out of the deployment. Good luck. May your loved ones remain safe.

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances" (Martha Washington).

"I'm a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will" (Antonio Gramsci).


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Here's me, baring my heart

March 15, 2018

I've debated making this entry for a long time. Some of it is embarrassing. Some of it is putting my heart on my sleeve. Most of my friends know my story but I haven't put much of it into my blog. Today I'm breaking that fear. Today I'm breaking that hesitation. Today I am hoping to bring hope to someone who has lost it.

My story begins in 2013. I was sick. Really sick. I had 2 emergency room visits. I had an overnight hospital stay. I can't count the number of doctor visits that went on for months. I went to a gastroenterologist and had a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. Your body has 100 trillion bacteria in it with about 80% of it being good bacteria. I was put on 3 different antibiotics simultaneously which made my good bacteria count ZERO. I lost 8 pounds in a week because I couldn't eat. My husband was away for military training so my parents came to stay with me to take care of me and my kids because honestly, I could barely move off of the couch. There were days that I wondered if I should ask my hubby if he could ask his commander if he could come home early, because I just didn't know if they would figure out what was wrong with me or if I would pass away before finding an answer. I ended up with very little answers but was told that my symptoms could last a year or could last the rest of my life. Wow. It felt like they just couldn't figure everything out and they gave up on me. Being told that you would just have to deal with symptoms as your new normal stinks.

My hope for writing this is to show you that you don't have to put up with what is your "normal". You have to fight for your health. You have to find something that works for you. The answer may be switching doctors and getting a second opinion. The answer may be finding the right medication. The answer may be turning to natural ways to support your body.

My answer was finding Young Living. DiGize and Peppermint essential oils along with Life 9 probiotic have changed my life. They have given me my life back. I remember sitting on the couch crying because my family wanted to drive a couple hours to the Gulf of Mexico to swim and fish for the day. I had to tell them to go without me. I would worry about missing important events (like my kids award ceremonies at school) because I wasn't feeling well. I would get stressed out and have anxious feelings just worrying that I may end up not feeling well which in turn, you guessed it, made me not feel well. And now.... now that I found a way to support my body the way it should be, I don't have to stay home. I don't have to miss out on important events.

Let me get a little more detailed about what works for me.

DiGize essential oil can be used to speed things up or slow things down in the bathroom. It can be used if your digestive system is being a lil too noisy- say if you are in the stands of a soccer game surrounded by people. Just saying. It can be used on your chest if you eat a bowl full of salsa right before bedtime. Sometimes I don't make good food decisions. It can be used if you fill your face full of two helpings of dinner and still stuff down dessert and you feel so full you don't want to move. Feeling a little nauseous? Yep, it helps with that too.

DiGize is a blend made up of the following:
-Tarragon which improves digestion by stimulating secretion of digestive juices.
-Ginger which calms the digestive system and speeds up the emptying of the stomach.
-Peppermint which relaxes the muscles of your intestines.
-Juniper which helps with cramps and maintaining proper secretions of bile in the stomach.
-Fennel which increases digestion by supporting the liver.
-Lemongrass which stimulates bowel function.
-Anise which calms and strengthens the digestive system.
-Patchouli which aids in the breakdown of food.

Life 9 probiotic. Ah. I had tried so many other probiotics during the past few years and never saw any changes in my wellness. I took Life 9 for one day and saw several changes. Life 9 is in a delayed release capsule so it can bypass the stomach, which improves product efficiency. Basically, it gets the good bacteria right where it needs to go. Life 9 has 17 billion cultures in it and it gets them from 9 different strains. It is just as important to have a variety of strains as it is to have a high number of cultures.

Our gut health affects our bodies in more ways than you think:
-80% of our immune system is in our gut.
-Mood. Our gut is called the "second brain". It has 500 million neurons that play a role in making up 30 neurotransmitters. Such as serotonin-a chemical that regulates our moods.
-Weight. Gut bacteria affects cravings, metabolism, and how many calories your body absorbs.
-Skin. Poor gut health is linked to skin problems.
-Stress hormones attack good bacteria.

Top ten reasons for reduced good bacteria in your gut:
1. Processed food (not only destroys beneficial gut bacteria but also feeds candida yeast).
2. Excessive caffeine.
3. Antacids (your stomach has to have enough acid in it to digest properly so popping too many antacids may be hurting you.
4. Tobacco.
5. Antibiotics (overuse, and man can I attest to that one!).
6. Triclosan (it is now in a lot of our toiletries, think toothpaste, soaps, etc and it does not differentiate between good and bad bacteria; it kills it all ).
7. Steroids.
8. X-rays (too many x-rays can harm gut bacteria!).
9. Fluoride.
10. Aging (yep, another fun fact of getting older).

Yes, I sell Young Living. However, I don't love the products because I sell it. I sell it, because I love the products. They are pure essential oil. No additives, no fillers, no pesticides used on the fields. Young Living only uses the first distillation so the oils are potent and have so many beneficial properties. I can't believe the changes my family has had. From my digestion issues, to my hubby's sleep issues, to skin care, to immune system support, I could go on and on. If you want to support your health in a natural way, I'm here to help. I love researching oils. I love talking oils. I will walk you through your journey. You are not alone. You are enough. You are worth it. Don't settle for this being your "normal".

I started with a Premium Starter Kit. It comes with 11 oils, a diffuser, and some samples. The kit is a great start with a variety of uses and is bundled at a huge savings (it is over $330 retail bundled for $160). You also get a wholesale account when you start with a PSK which gives you a 24% discount on anything that you add on to your kit and anything you buy in the future. If you have questions on what oils would best support you, I'm here.

I'll leave my link for those ready to dive into oils. Click "wholesale" if you'd like to start with a Premium Starter Kit. Click "retail" if you just want a few items. If by telling my story, I help even just one person to feel as though they get their life back- then my heart will be full.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Chicken Pasta

February 17, 2018

I love it when a meal comes together. When you see random ingredients, wing it, and it turns out awesome. When the entire family agrees to put it into our rotation. Now let's see if I can remember everything that I threw together. Ha!

I sautéed onion, garlic, green peppers, and mushrooms in olive oil. As they were cooking, I started on the pasta. I decided to cook the angel hair pasta in chicken broth. I make my own broth and I know it's already pretty flavorful so I didn't need to add too much other seasonings. I pulled the cooked pasta and added it to the veggie mixture along with rotisserie chicken and a small container of alfredo sauce. I grabbed some peas from the freezer and threw them into the pot of chicken broth that the pasta had cooked in. They only needed a few minutes then I added them to the pasta. I also added in a little bit of the chicken broth to thin the sauce out a bit.

I actually made this dish a few nights ago and am just now getting around to writing about it. I feel like I added either a drop of Vitality essential oils or maybe even poultry seasoning but I just can't remember which one! That will teach me to stop procrastinating and write down my recipes. Ha! I'm pretty sure that I seasoned the veggies as they sautéed. More than likely I just used salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Most recipes that we make are really not recipes anyway. We grab seasonings, ingredients we like, and wing it. I like looking at recipes to get ideas and then run with it. So hopefully, you'll find an idea in this post and be able to add to your dinner rotation too!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Childhood Favorite for Grown-Ups

February 12, 2018

Days like today, I need to thank my son for my delicious lunch. No, he didn't cook it for me. He was my inspiration though. My boy loves sloppy joes. Like, loves loves them. It is usually the meal he requests on his birthday every year. I found a recipe (Pioneer Woman) so that I could make them from scratch instead of popping open a can. That way he still gets the childhood favorite but I know exactly what is in them and don't have to feel bad about giving in to him. I've made these for years now and they are always a big hit. Today I took it a step further and man, it was so good! I'll get to that in a minute. First, comes the sloppy joe.

I started with 1 pound of local ground beef. Add about 1/3 cup of chopped onion, 1/2 of a bell pepper chopped (I've used every color), and a clove of garlic minced.

Cook over medium heat until the beef is cooked through and the veggies are tender.

Now it's time to add the sauce ingredients. Add 3/4 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon mustard, dash of cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, and salt to taste. In a separate bowl, add a dash of Worcestershire sauce. I prefer to use Black Pepper Essential Oil from Young Living's Vitality line instead of traditional black pepper. This essential oil is strong so I just dip a toothpick into the bottle and then swirl the toothpick into the Worcestershire sauce. I did two toothpick dips (clean toothpick each time). Then add the Worcestershire sauce to the rest of the mixture. If you aren't using essential oil, just add enough black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and let it cook down to the desired consistency. It usually just takes a few minutes.

You are now ready to have the best sloppy joe! But hold up. Do you want to take it one step further? The answer is yes. Yes, you do. I decided to turn my sloppy joe into a sloppy joe grilled cheese. I used swiss cheese and it was delicious!

Here's a tip for the tomato paste. The small can will have way more than you will need. I separate the rest of the can into tablespoon increments and freeze them. Then when my son requests sloppy joes it is as easy as popping one out of the freezer and it melts right into the sauce.

*I can only speak to the safety of ingesting Young Living's Vitality line of essential oils.