Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Back in the saddle...Mama's Macho Nachos anyone?

Hello, hello....Is anyone still out there?

Yes, I have been away. I have been busy. Life has taken over but I am back. It's been months since I have posted and I just kept saying to myself, "you need to blog, you need to blog" and finally I'm just doing it. We are several months into the school year, the girls are busy with ballet and The Nutcracker and our world just keeps on turning. I decided the best way to get back in the saddle would be to keep it simple and not try to catch up with all the recipes and things going on in life. So today, I give you a "killer" plate of nachos I concocted a few weeks ago with helpful suggestions from my facebook friends. It was simple, it was fast, it was delicious!! Enjoy!
Mama's Macho Nachos
Bag of your favorite restaurant style tortilla chips
One 8oz bag of Sharp Cheddar
2 lbs Organic Ground Beef
Taco Seasoning
Jar of Jalapeno peppers
One large Tomato Diced
Sour Cream
Taco Cheese Blend 8oz bag
8oz of Velveeta(the brick)
1 can of original Rotel
Chopped Cilantro and Scallions to Sprinkle on top or to taste

Brown your ground beef and then add your taco seasoning packet according to directions or use the large "bottle" of taco seasoning found at Costco or your local market. After browning the meat, I cover the it in taco seasoning, add about 3/4 or more of water to let the meat simmer a little and soak of the liquid, taste and add a dash more seasoning if needed.  While your meat simmers, cut up your Velveeta into one inch cubes, add to a saucepan and pour one can of Rotel in the pot. Let this cook on medium low until melted. Stir often.  When beef and cheese sauce is ready, place your chips on an over safe plate and sprinkle with the shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  Put in 350 degree oven until cheese melts, remove from oven (with oven mitt!) and add your beef, the shredded taco cheese blend, and then your cheese sauce.  Then, add your other toppings:  tomatoes, jalapenos, sour cream and guacamole, and then just a sprinkle of cilantro and green onion.  Additional toppings could be black beans, refried beans, olives, chicken, diced onions, etc...You can get as creative as you want with the toppings.  Serves 4-6 people.

 Bonus Blog Feature....a picture of my Thanksgiving Day cupcakes that I made with my daughters and nieces. The "drumstick" is a white chocolate bone and has a cornflake crust, the"peas and carrots" are Runts and Starbursts and the "mashed potatoes and gravy" are white frosting, a yellow Starbursts and caramel sauce!  The recipe can found in the book featured below.

Not the best quality photo but you get the idea, right?
Available at area bookstores and online retailers like Amazon. Karen Tack and Alan Richardson
There are some really cool cupcakes in this book for every occasion, I should know, I have 3 of their books.  And if anyone is wondering I don't get any kind of kickbacks for this, I'm not a big time blogger just yet but maybe the advertisers will come knocking one day so I can help pay this ballet tuition! Later!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

To Vegan or not to Vegan, that is the question...

Howdy all! I have been away for a bit just enjoying summer, running after 4 kids and suffering through plain old laziness!!  This blog is titled the way it is because about a month ago I watched a documentary called "Forks over Knives" and really began to reconsider my consumption of animal products.  Now, first I thought, how can I possibly be a vegan and be a foodie?  Do I really want to give up the likes of deep fried butter, chocolate covered bacon and ridiculous hamburger concoctions?  NO!!  But on the other hand, do I want to feel better, treat my body well and be as physically fit as possible?  YES!!  So I came up with an 80/20 solution where 80% of my diet would be plant based whole foods and 20% would be whatever "ridiculousness" I wanted to take a part of.  So far so good. I have had a great time experimenting with vegan recipes, I feel better, I have begun to work out and just treasure my time in the gym and whenever I am so moved, I try things like Burger King's Bacon Sundae. I shared the sundae with my kids and they really liked it.  So below, I will show you some of the things I have tried and since I'm a bit late posting I will post the recipe by request only but going forward I will include recipes again.  Both the good and the "bad." 

Breakfast Burrito made with tofu "eggs" and black beans, tomato, avocado and jalapenos.  Kid Approved!
Chinese Spicy Soup with bok choy, silken tofu and three types of mushrooms, enoki, wood ear and baby portabella.  This was so delicious.  Kid Approved!!

Quinoa cooked with almond milk and topped with berries, bananas, slivered almonds and cinnamon.

Kale, pineapple, banana, chia seeds and orange juice and cucumber smoothie. Needed to blend it a little more in the Ninja but I'm looking forward to getting my Nutribullet that claims to be able to handle that!

A quickie lunch...brown rice with beans, spicy cabbage, avocado, tomato and pineapple for dessert.  And I got to use my tv dinner plate!

Vegan Mac N far my first fail!! It looked fantastic, it smelled good but the taste was meh!!  I think I'll stick with the real thing on this.

Oatmeal, Banana, Almond Milk Smoothie.

"Chicken" Fried Rice...this was sooooo good! The key is using the right spices. Onion, garlic, soy sauce are key.

And last but not least Burger King's Bacon Sundae...I know, I know just go ahead and smack me now but boy it was a great treat.  Worth every spoonful! Genius!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bacon Bash 2012...Dieter's Discretion is Advised

Bacon. Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways. I love you with my eggs, I love you deep fried, I love you covered in chocolate even when you make my bum wide.  Bacon. Oh, how I love thee.

Well as you can tell, this blog entry is about bacon!  I was inspired to blog about this because I was invited to a Bacon Bash by a friend of me named Becky.  She loves bacon more than anyone I know and to honor this food item that probably makes her go weak in the knees she held an adult only Bacon Bash at her home just hours after her 1 year old daughter's Yo Gabba Gabba birthday celebration.  It was her way of thanking her friends for being subjected to the likes of DJ Lance, Brobee, Toodee, Muno, Plex and Foofa for 3 hours.  But really I think it was just her excuse to have everyone show up at her house with a pack of bacon.  Those were the instructions but I decided that I would knock out my contribution ahead of time.  I decided on the way home that I would make bacon s'mores to go along with my chocolate covered bacon with sea salt and chocolate covered bacon with maple crystals.

The idea of the party was to come to her house and see all the different ways we could come up with to use the bacon.  When I showed up I realized with great delight and fake horror that they were deep frying the bacon! AWESOME!   I mean awful!!  Right?  Isn't that the politically correct thing to say? Anyhow, this is what we made and please note that all items were deep fried!  And we were all able to live with ourselves because we didn't each get our own dish but we made one helping and then we shared it.  The bacon filled evening was followed by a sweaty session of Dance Central.  Here it goes...The 3 previously mentioned items, bacon and cheese quesadilla, cheeseburger wrapped in a tortilla, wrapped in bacon and yes, deep fried, bacon fritters, bacon wrapped hot dogs and just plain bacon.  That's not so bad, right?  The next one will bring out even more bacon ridiculousness.  Well here are my recipes below.  As they say on Yo Gabba Gabba, "try it, you'll like it, try it, you'll like it."

Start with some thick cut bacon. Put it on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until done.  You can also soak the skewers for at least 30 put the raw bacon on it and then bake. I baked mine first but next time I would skewer and then cook.  I lost a few pieces cooking it first because the bacon would break.

Spread with Marshmallow Fluff

Put graham crackers in a bag and crush with a bottle or rolling pin.

Sprinkle graham crackers onto Marshmallow Fluff (use parchment or wax paper to put it  on for easy removal).

Melt semi-sweet chocolate morsels in double boiler and spoon over fluff and crackers.

This is what it should look like.

While chocolate is still warm sprinkle with more graham cracker crumbles and put in refrigerator to set and chill.

I used a silicone brush to paint the dark chocolate onto the bacon and then sprinkled with sea salt on one and maple sugar crystals on the other.  Put in fridge to set and chill.

This is the what they look like after coming out of the "frig" and sitting on their platter for the drive to Becky's house.

Time to sample!!

Delish!!  Becky, the bacon addict, is the one holding the baby.

Deep fried bacon wrapped cheeseburger...make a cheeseburger, wrap it in a whole wheat tortilla, pin with toothpicks and wrap two slices of raw bacon around it.  Deep fry until bacon is crisp and the oil should be about 350 - 365 degrees.

Make your favorite pancake batter and add tons of chopped bacon, grab a tablespoon and drop into hot oil until browned.  Dip in hot maple syrup!

Just Bacon!!

These are the items I used so you know what to look for.  Now go grab a pack of bacon and have yourself a good time!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A day of Celebration and the beginning of a long journey...Scoliosis.

Scoliosis...curvature of the spine and curve ball in life.

On this very hot but beautiful day we celebrate the 11th birthday of my daughter Sydney who has waited for what "seems like ages" to turn 11.  One step closer to 13.  And yet on this day that we celebrate her life, we spent almost half the day in the Orthotics office so my oldest daughter could get fitted with her brace and begin her 3-5 year journey of 21-22 hours a day of wearing a TLSO brace.  To make a long story short, earlier this year I noticed her alignment seemed "off" when she got out the shower and when I took a really good look at her, I knew she had Scoliosis.  We went to the her pediatrician for confirmation and then to Children's Medical Center in Washington, D.C. for x-rays and testing.  She had two curves, 35 degrees and 23 degrees. No surgery but bracing was needed to try and prevent further progression.  Two months later we had our first visit to the Orthotist for measurements and an examination to make the brace and then 3 weeks later, today, we picked up the brace.

 Her Orthotist (is that right?) is great!  He is a very kind and godly man who has been in the business for over 25 years.  He loves what he does, it's his ministry, and he truly cares about the people he encounters.  He is patient and very knowledgeable about the different types of braces available from all around the world and he allows you to be hands on all along the way.  It's far too much for me to go back to the first appointment to explain the entire process but maybe one day I will have the time and energy to chronicle that.  For now let me just say that after some tears, some anxiety and fear my daughter is now officially in a brace.  She took it quite well and met another girl today her same age who traveled from N.C. to Virginia after her mom did research on the TLSO and searched far and wide for someone who would help her because she felt this was the best option.  I promise to share more but my mind is kind of all over the place right now.  Questions are welcome.  Here are some pictures from our visit today.

After several weeks of waiting, this is it!  This is prior to the adjustments.  She took a picture with her new "friend" who had just gotten hers as well.

This is after all the adjustments.  It was trimmed, holes were cut in it and some padding added under the arm.  This brace pushes back the protruding ribcage, brings the other ribcage forward and also aligns the spine.  Most braces just align the spine.

She got to help crank the handle that was trimming off some of the excess. He would have her put it on several time so that he could make it more comfortable and to fit properly of course.

Her little sister, the birthday girl, helping out while so lovingly spending time here on her special day for her sister's sake.

Smoothing the edges.

Onlookers! The equipment in this place was phenomenal.

This is her trying her best to stand "straight" and she has to practice keeping this position when not in the brace.

Using a blow torch to soften the brace so he could cut a hole in it.

Cutting another hole!

Trying it on, AGAIN!!

Little Sister trying on a brace used in France.  Yes, they really do use this in 2012. It's very heavy.

She was learning how to keep her schedule to show him in a few weeks and also got to look through profiles of other patients to contact for support and filled one out herself.  She has joined a local support group and is looking forward to a swim party this month.

Final results, again.  She will slowly work up to 21 hours over the next two weeks but will wear it through the night starting at 9pm until she wakes up.  She only had to wear it 2 hours today during the day and tomorrow she moves up to 3 and so on and so on.  I'm sure I will be giving her lots of massages.  Pray for my little sweetie. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent...Love it!!

In November of 2011, my friend Lauri P. posted on fb about a homemade laundry detergent she was making and it piqued my interest so I asked her to share her experience and to share the recipe.  After finding all the ingredients at Wegman's per her suggestion, I made my first batch and fell in love.  I was certainly skeptical because I thought, "how could such a small amount of non-sudsing detergent get an entire load clean?"  I used the 2 tbsps suggested and was surprised to find that indeed, this detergent had some cleaning power.  I even used the Fels-Naptha soap bar to treat the underarm area of my husband's shirts.  Well about 2 months ago, I ran out and because I wasn't close to the Wegman's I decided to buy the liquid detergent that I used previously and I can honestly say that my clothes were not as fresh and clean as they are/were with the homemade stuff.  Yesterday, I made my way out to Wegman's and bought all the ingredients and my daughter helped me whip up my second batch.  I ran downstairs to the laundry room to use it right away on a comforter and sheet set that I removed from the dryer yesterday and it just didn't scream freshly cleaned to me at all!!  Not only does this stuff work but it wills save you a ton of money because it lasts so long.  I have a family of 6 that includes an 11 month old and a 3 year old boy and so we have at least 6 loads a week and sometimes more.   The first batch lasted just under six months!  I will never go back and now I know that I need to plan ahead when I start running low so I won't have to go back to the overly priced already made stuff.  Try it, you'll like!

Here are all the ingredients. Arm & Hammer Super Washing Powder, Borax Laundry Booster, A & H Baking Soda, OxiClean and two bars of Fels-Naptha Soap.  I added in about a cup of the Purex Crystals, it's a lavender scented fragrance booster in the form of little beads. I also toss some of the Purex Crystals in the water when I start the wash.  Total costs for all ingredients...$22.43 and if you choose not to use the Purex scented beads, which the original recipe doesn't call for it would cost you $18.44

I put a kitchen sized garbage bag in a bucket and pour the ingredients in in 3 phases.  Add 1/3 of each ingredients mix with gloved hands, and repeat until all ingredients have been used.  I find doing it in 3 parts makes it easier to incorporate all the ingredients evenly. 

I then reuse the OxiClean container and fill it up with the detergent and store the rest in the bag  and inside the bucket until needed.

I also use the scoop that comes with the OxiClean and fill it up to the "2" line for each load.  In this pic, you can see the Fels-Naptha soap that I grated in the in my Cuisinart. Last time I used a box grater because I forgot about my food processor grating attachment, it took less than a minute to grate.  The shreds were kind of long so I then put them back in the processor with the blade and pulse a few time to get smaller bits.  You can also see the purple Purex crystals.  Love this stuff!

These are two of the Scent Boosters that I use.  I love yummy smelling laundry.  And you can see the blue scoop which shows how much of the detergent you use for a large load.  And finally to give credit where credit is due, here is the link to the original blog I got the detergent recipe from

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Darling Ballerinas...beware, proud mama ahead!!

The Apples of my eye...(I had to use some kind of food reference).

  Today's blog entry has absolutely nothing to do with food you eat but with what I will refer to as soul food because looking back at these pictures, truly filled my soul with gladness.  After a trip to the library to do some school work today, we decided to hang out on the AstroTurf lawn out front, enjoy the "Interactive Fountain" and grab some lunch.  At some point my daughter pulled out her Nintendo DSi and began taking pics of her sister doing some ballet moves and trying to capture the perfect picture at just the right time and eventually recruiting me to try to get "the shot" with my iphone.  

  After dozens of leaps and many photo misses, I am posting a few of the best of the bunch but not before I note that as I posted them on facebook, I felt so proud and my heart was just full.  These are my 'babies' and I just love them. So kind, so beautiful, so caring, so strong, so determined and they are my 'little' gifts.  I truly have so much fun with them as we share new experiences together, laugh, joke and just enjoy each others company.  Perfect they are not, but they are my gifts from God to nurture and bring up in a way that pleases Him.  Girls of character who don't have to be the smartest, prettiest, richest, most fashionable or most talented; my desire is that they be kind, loving, respectful, generous, unselfish, polite and beautiful from the inside first and the rest will follow.  I present to you, two precious gifts.

This was the one I got with my iphone after many fails. She was a trooper and kept at it while her slow mama got the shot.

Another shot taken with the Nintendo DSi

Nintendo Shot...notice the ladies in the background looking like, what the?

Recreating Alvin Ailey's "Revelations" that they practiced at home.

More Alvin Ailey...

Daughter 2 who insist I tell you that she could have jumped higher but her denim shorts were too tight. LOL!!

Daughter 2...beautiful!

Daughter 1...fell a few times but took it all in stride.
There you have it, a few moments from our day of laughing, loving and leaping!