Being the best me I can be through creativity

A Mediterranean Twist

One of my favorite recipes that I found a few years ago involved turkey meat, spinach, and feta cheese.  When I became a vegetarian, I had forgotten all about it!  But recently in my package of mint leaves, there was a recipe for turkey burgers and I knew I had to make these again!  

You can buy ground turkey meat, just as you would ground beef, and I put that in a bowl with oregano, garlic and herb seasoning and onion powder (you can use anything really).  Then I added the best part!

Feta cheese and Spinach! 

(I use the frozen packages of spinach that you just heat up in the microwave.)

Throw all that together and get your hands dirty!  I just dive right in and mix it together with my bare hands.  It’s actually kind of fun!  

Then you grab a bunch in your hand, make a patty and put it on the skillet greased with olive oil.  

If you have a lid to the pan, that is best because it cooks the inside quicker.  I didn’t so I just had to wait a little longer to taste the goodness.  The reason the turkey burger recipe was in with my mint leaves was because it had a recommended chilled sauce of plain yogurt, mint, and lemon juice.  It sounded delicious, but I didn’t get a chance to make it.  You should give it a shot though!

To go along with it, I made some homemade french fries again.  

The trick to these babies is to let them fry.  It’s easy to get antsy, but just leave them in there until they reach a darker brown and you won’t be sorry! 

Enjoy!

A Brownie Debt Owed

Everyone at the library has been loving the baked goods that I bring in……

Speaking of baked goods, I was having a disagreement with my guy about whether baked goods and pastries are the same thing.  What do you think??……..

The janitor at our library told me that he missed out on the goodies that I’ve been bringing in, so I told him that I would make some brownies and bring them in on a night he was there.  Well with school and everything I am doing, I couldn’t find the time for about 3 weeks.  

Anyway, I finally was able to whip something up and this is what I chose, courtesy of Joy the Baker!

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Everything that I make from her amazing cookbook is pure gold!  I love her!

The batter turned out super creamy and smooth and the finished product was the same.  They were just as advertised, brownie-like, but in a cookie form.  They were a huge hit!

And again, I got to use the cool baking dish carrying case my mom got me for Christmas.  Great gift!

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Bourbon “Crack” Chicken

Time to pull out my crockpot again!! I’m making Bourbon “Crack” Chicken. 

Pinterest is the best thing to ever happen to me!  I try not to think of the day when we won’t have it. 

Anyway, since I’m eating meat again after 8 months of vegetarianism, I LITERALLY wiped the dust off my crockpot…..LITERALLY….and there was even a mini cobweb lol……and tried this out.  

I used apple cider vinegar because that’s all I could find at Trader Joe’s.  I was worried that it would make it too apple-y, but it wasn’t.  

I cut the recipe in half so I wouldn’t drown myself in “crack” chicken that my little body couldn’t eat and let it cook on high while I was at work at the library from 4:00 to 9:00.  Oh!  I added a bag of frozen broccoli as well.  

While at work, I forgot that it would need less time to cook since I only made half.  I was freaking out, but it turned out well.  Well enough that I had leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day and I was satisfied!  It was a bit sweeter than it probably should have been (apple cider vinegar I assume), and the chicken was a little dry (maybe try marinating it first?), but I loved it and would definitely make it again!

Memories

I was at Trader Joe’s getting the oranges and mint for my green tea drink, and I saw some blackberries.  

When I was younger, I moved around a lot because of my military family and for 4th and 5th grade, I lived in Waynesville, Missouri.  It was a little bit in the country and at one of the places where we lived, we had to walk like a half mile to the bus stop (at least it seemed that far to my little legs).  The apartments had a lake where we would fish and miles and miles of woods where tomboy me would run and climb.  

Also, off to the side, there was what looked like brush, but it had wild strawberries and blackberries growing!  Now they were much smaller than the ones above, but we would go out there and pick them, bring them home and eat them.  It is one of my fondest memories, so when I saw the blackberries in the store, I got them for old times sake.  

MISTAKE!!!

They tasted like chemicals!  I’m not sure if it was because I just brushed my teeth or what, but they were not good at all.  Very disappointed and that doesn’t help my natural aversion to fruit.  

(well not an aversion per se, but I don’t like a lot of it and it wouldn’t be my first choice of food.)   

Fruit Infusion!!

I found another great recipe to use my fruit infuser with!!  Thank you once again Pinterest!  

It’s called Dr. Oz’s Tangerine Weight-orade, but I just call it tasty and healthy.  I brewed 3 teabags of green tea in a saucepan and filled the middle of my infuser with mint leaves.  Then I cut orange slices and added them to the larger pitcher.

I poured the hot green tea in and filled it the rest of the way with cold water.  

The only thing I would change, if I’m going to use the peppermint tea again, is less mint and more oranges.  I could barely taste the citrus and that’s what I wanted more to keep me up during the day.

I had some oranges and mint leaves left over, so I’m definitely going to make this a recurring drink.  Anything that gets me to drink more water! 

May I Apps You a Question??

I am so darn clever sometimes!!

IMadeFace was number one in the app store so I decided to give it a try.  

That’s me!!  

I was a little disappointed with the array of skin colors (I would say that’s more Native American-ish) and hair styles, but it was fun.  

As a one time thing though.  I had fun making myself and my guy

but it’s lost its luster. One cool thing that, and I just thought of this and am super excited about the possibilities, came up was that the above picture is what I made of my guy, but this is the one he made of himself:

I will say that this one is a little more accurate now that I’ve seen this version, but I still see him in the one above and it was crazy to get that picture of how I see him and how he sees himself/how he really looks.  

Experiment! Experiment!

Anyway, that was my fun with IMadeFace. 

Valentine’s Day Weekend

Because my guy lives a tad far from me, we celebrated Valentine’s Day last weekend.  I got tons and tons of chocolate and a bunch of super cute, fun gifts like a tiara, glow stick lanterns, and bubbles.  Then I got a date at my favorite restaurant, Parizade in Durham.  I’ve been there at least 10 times in the past year and a half and gotten the same thing every single time, the salmon!  

Also! If that wasn’t enough, I tried bread pudding for the first time with him and I’ve taken a liking to it, so he found a recipe for Chocolate Bread Pudding with a Bourbon Caramel Sauce and we made that together!  Yummy!

We made the sauce on Saturday.  I vehemently resisted when my guy wanted to add vanilla to it, but it turned out the sauce was a little bourbony, so while I was gone, he added it and it tasted better. :)    

We were planning on making the bread pudding on Saturday as well, but we went bowling instead.  

We were in a hurry to make it on Sunday before he had to leave, so we were dividing duties……and I messed mine up.  :(   I added a 1/2 cup more sugar than I was supposed to.  

Well we can just double the recipe……we only have 3 eggs left.  :(  x 2

I had to change out of my onesie, yes, I said onesie….

(straight from Denmark!  There were girls wearing these as an outfit during the day, although I haven’t gotten the guts to do that)

….and go back to the store for more challah bread and eggs.  

I get back and in the parking lot, I remember that I ran out of heavy cream as well!! D’oh!

Too late!  I wasn’t going back. 

I get in and tell my guy that and then I learn that he’s already added some honey and cinnamon to the sugar-only mix.  I tell him about the cream and he starts improvising.  He adds some lemon juice to cut the sugar, but then we realized that we already rectified that by doubling the recipe! Then I added more vanilla to cut the lemon juice and we only had 5 more cubes of chocolate rather than the required ten extra, so we just threw them in and added buttermilk instead of heavy cream.  

Oh wait!  The buttermilk should go with the mixture on the stove, not the sugar-only one!  

It was truly a comedy of error after error after error.

Anyway, we mushed on with our doubled recipe, divided the finished mixture evenly and poured it over the two pans of cubed challah bread.

After it was all done baking, I did a taste test……. it was delicious!!

I poured on the bourbon caramel sauce and was delighted by how well it turned out!

 I know my guy will never let me forget how I should trust him when it comes to adding things in.  It worked this time, but who knows what will happen the next time I get ahead of myself or misread something!

Frank the Monster Cupcake

The security guard at my library is leaving us because he got promoted, so I decided to make him a little something as a parting gift.  This also gave me a chance to try out yet another amazing recipe from Joy the Baker!

I decided to go with the Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

I did make a modification though.  I made them into cupcakes instead of one big cake.  

I followed the recipe exactly and was rewarded with delicious and smooth cupcakes.  I had some cream cheese icing left over from my previous baking exploits, so I melted down some of my stash of dark chocolate chips (because what’s a peanut butter cupcake without chocolate on it?!) and added it to the icing.  

Of course, I left some of them without the chocolate, just in case.  And you can see that they are in my cute and functional baking carrying case that I got for Christmas.  You just put it in the bag, zip it up, grab the handles, and you’re on your way!

As an added bonus for him, I made Frank, the monster cupcake.  

I stacked 3 cupcakes on top of each other and stuck them together with chocolate icing.  When he asked how on Earth he would eat it, I told him that his punishment for leaving us was to eat this monster with his bare hands.  And he did!!!

Adios, Daniel! You were the best security guard ever!

Experimentation

Last week, my guy who is a master of bread making, skewed from his norm and made a sweet treat.  He made brownies and to top it off, he concocted his own sriracha cocoa vanilla icing.  

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Sriracha you ask?  Yep! It had sort of a mexican hot chocolate vibe.

Inspired by the thought of experimenting with food, tonight I tried my hand at my own version of one of the many, many ramen noodle meals found here. I first saw this….phenomenon? on Pinterest and it had me intrigued.  I went to the store and bought some ramen.  These were my noodles of choice:

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I was planning on adding cabbage, sliced carrots, spinach, and garlic.

Now, the directions for the vegetarian ramen meal said to cook the noodles first, but I knew my cabbage needed some time to cook so I put that in some boiling water first.  I started to cut up my carrots and I noticed that some of them looked a little odd.  I looked at the package and yep, they had already expired!  This sent me rummaging through my fridge and freezer looking for other veggies to add.  Luckily I found some artichoke hearts in the freezer and I had been meaning to find something to do with them.  I rinsed them under hot water, then threw them in with the cabbage.  

About halfway through, I started boiling my water for the noodles and finally threw them in.  When the cabbage and artichokes were done, I rinsed them and put them in the pot with olive oil and my garlic.  The recipe calls for adding some vegetable stock and I decided this would be the time to put that in.  I poured a little bit and deja vu, it also was expired!  (The perils of cooking for one)  So, I had to skip the broth and improvise.  

I decided to mimic the way I cook one of my other favorite recipes of penne, spinach, tomatoes, and feta.  I just added the cooked noodles to the veggies and doused them in olive oil.  And because you can’t go wrong with delicious tomatoes, I halved some cherry tomatoes and threw them in as well.  

Add lots and lots of spices: oregano, onion powder, chili powder, pepper, and a tad bit of the chicken and chili seasoning packets that came with the noodles.  And voila!

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I think the broth would have made it a lot better, but it was good!  It turned out a ton better than I thought it would given that I was making it up as I went along.  (I’m more of a recipe gal)  

It was fun though.  I will definitely try experimenting again!

Stay tuned!  In a couple of days, I will post my adventure with Peanut Butter Birthday Cake and Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes! Yummy!

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

I’m sure Mary’s garden is beautiful and blooming.  If you asked me on the other hand, I would look at you with a frown and while holding a dead plant.  

I have yet to have success growing things and/or keeping them alive.  This is devastating because to say I like flowers is an understatement!  

Exhibits 1-4:

My wildflower canvas I got from IKEA

Various flower decorations

My roses that I crocheted

Faux flowers from Michaels

And these are just the home decorations! I have flowers that I wear in my hair, flower printed clothing, scarves, wind chime, etc.  

I love flowers!  So why can’t I get them to stay alive??

Well, I’m trying again in an attempt to become more adult.  (See: 28 Days with Sandy Bullock.  You can’t go wrong with her!)  

I started with this lovely red fern terrarium that I picked up in Asheville from this amazing guy named Tristan.  

Beautiful, right?!  Well Terry is also quite amazing because the cap has a magnifying glass underneath, so when you look through the top you can see a closeup of the plant life inside. 

As Tristan said, “It’s forest tv, no electricity required.”  (I told you Tristan was amazing! lol)  He sells them online here

You only have to water it like 2 or 3 times a year, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong.  I think that statement is wrong!  Terry is looking a little droopy. Luckily for me, by pure happenstance, I found out that one of the library assistants where I work makes terrariums as well.  She was happy for me to bring him in for a look.  Yay!

Well if killing one plant wasn’t enough, I decided to go forth all gung ho-like and get more.  My next victim?  Ivies.  

Not the greatest pictures, but I bought them from Home Depot like this:

but I wanted it to be prettier.  I found the cutest tiny bird cages from Michaels one day and couldn’t resist!  I bought tiny clay pots and saucers, which fit into the birdcages, for the plants to go in and I painted them this beautiful blue that really pops when the sun comes in my window.  Then I hung them from the ceiling with lace.  

Tres magnifique! 

They’re a tad annoying to water, but too pretty to take down.

Fingers crossed they survive and flourish.  I’ll keep you posted!