Cooking Therapy –

We are still in lockdown here in New Jersey... although we can get take out or delivery, our family is having fun cooking from scratch and trying different recipes! Without the commute time, everyone pitched in and we had this meal in less than 1 hour! One night this week, my daughter got the idea to try to recreate one of her favorite meals from a restaurant in Blacksburg, VA

Cabo Fish Taco Soy Ginger Shrimp Tacos is what we tried to recreate! I am pleased to say it turned out AMAZING… and healthier since we didn’t beer batter fry the shrimp! Take a look at the process!

Soy Ginger Shrimp Tacos

I’d start with the Marinade…. just to get things moving….

1/3 C Soy Sauce

2 TBS honey

3 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp ginger minced

1 tsp sriracha sauce

2 tsp fresh parsley chopped

1 Lb of shrimp (We doubled the shrimp and marinade for 5 people… you can make what you want to eat but leftovers will also be amazing so okay to make more than you need!)

Here’s how they’ll look when they bubble and when they are ready!

You’ll want to make your salsa before you assemble it all… you can do this ahead of time and save some prep time in the moment! Don’t skip this step… jar salsa just won’t do in this case!

Take a little time to prep the fixins…. either shredded cabbage or lettuce and some extra cilantro and your salsa!

Also helpful to take the tails off the shrimp prior to cooking! Heat a skillet and add all the shrimp and then the marinade! Once shrimp are cooked through, remove them and leave the remaining marinade in the skillet. Make a rue with about a cup of hot tap water and about a TBS of corn starch and mix thoroughly before adding to the marinade…. stir over medium heat until thickened. This can be drizzled over the tacos when assembling!

VOILA! Bon Appetit!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Please comment and tell me how yours turned out!

Corona Cooking

I’ve never cooked so much in my life…. well, maybe when I was newly married saving for a house… but I have experience now! I’m such a better cook after years of experience! I hardly use a recipe anymore (except for baking) and I have lots of gadgets. I dug out lots of gadgets after years of collecting and I’m using them again! I’ve used my Kitchenaid (pasta maker attachment included) Oster juicer, OXO mandoline, handy chopper, mixer, Hamilton Beach egg sandwich maker, Silpat baking mat, Cuisinart food processor and my Ninja Foodie.. which I admit may be my favorite… even though it’s a beast on my countertop… it is AWESOME! I admit it’s kind of fun! I am a creative human… and I like to create but let’s face it… it’s a lot of work!

I’m also trying to not go to the grocery store very often.. it’s a process of Clorox wipes, Purell and face masks. I try to avoid it so when I go, it’s an ordeal… I feel like I am going to war with all the supplies and I try to stock up on as much as I can without hoarding. When I get home, I begin to cook like I remember my mother doing.

What ingredients need cooking.. what’s going to go bad first? I feel like a pro here…. fresh veggies for the week and let’s make the best of it! My strategy is to chop all the onions and peppers when I bring them home…I mean, I could just leave them laying around but they may go bad and I don’t want to waste! I chop them like I would for chili or an egg scramble and I chop them in slivers to use in Pad Thai or Fajitas and I freeze them in a gallon zip lock bag FLAT. The key is to freeze them flat so you can break them apart… otherwise they’ll end up like a block of ice you can’t break apart. Cooking is easier when your veggies are pre-chopped… a lot less prep in the moment. Freezing bananas when they are ripe to use in banana bread or oatmeal and slicing apples before they go bad and dehydrating apple chips. I even started storing my fresh asparagus by cutting off the stems and standing them in shallow water just like they do at the grocery store… duh… now I know why they do that…. it lasts much longer! The key is using everything… just like the depression era my mom remembered… I think I can relate more than ever to the stories I heard growing up. I get it now.

I’m glad my mom taught me how to cook… well, she tried anyway…. I was raised on home-cooked food although I’m not sure I paid that much attention when I was younger.. but I guess it gave me an appetite for good food which made me want to cook for my family as an adult. I wish I knew what I know now when I was a young mom. Oh how cooking was much more of an ordeal when you’re juggling kids activities and dinner…. I wish I had the Ninja Foodie (pressure cookier/air fryer) and my knowledge of freezing peppers and onions when I was in the busy days…. it would have saved me a ton of time!

Now, in this Covid-19 stay at home mandate… I have a lot of time… a lot of time to plan meals, cook and prepare. The trick is to cook what needs to be consumed first… it’s like being on the show Chopped. You can use 2 tomatoes, one cucumber and whatever else you have in your fridge. I’ve given up on counting calories and watching carbs and cooking like my mom did…. a “balanced” meal with a carb, a veggie and a protein. Gotta make things last in this pandemic. We are eating rice and potatoes and even making homemade pasta and bread… of course we are balancing it with veggies and protein…but boy is it good! Let’s call it comfort food.

Don’t worry… with all this eating, we are getting lots more exercise too! Truly, our eating and exercising habits are very much in balance! I’ve never felt more satisfied on that level…. but back to food! ūüôā

I’m quite happy with some of our creations.. pictured below.. and although this Pandemic is changing everything from our socialization, our work habits and our lives…I’m grateful we have the time and resources to enjoy meals at home. Bon Appetit!

Sweet Tooth!

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So I have been on a massive “slim down” for summer…. and if you’re like me…. YOU love Chocolate!

Well… this does not exactly taste like rich chocolate mousse…. but it does help the cravings and gives me something to sip on in the evening that feels like a treat!

Another idea to feel like you are getting something decadent….combine non-fat greek yogurt with stevia sweetener… Coconut, chocolate… pick your favorite and just enjoy!    On the Weight Watchers plan, it is ZERO points!  I’m all about that!   I think I’m going to try freezing some to see how that tastes!  YUM!  Stay tuned!

Let’s GO!

Years ago, I would pack large! It was a challenge to keep my bags under 50 pounds but as airlines started becoming more strict and started charging for bags I figured I had better pack lighter. It can be quite a challenge when you want to pack lots of options! A few years ago, our family travelled to Italy and my husband put a lot of pressure on every family member to only bring a carry on. EEEK! I knew why though… and it made sense but traveling between cities would be miserable carrying big bags…. So, I packed in packing cubes and with a carry on and a back pack I was able to pack for 10 days!

I rolled my clothes so I could see them.. and I packed maybe 3-4 pair of pants and lots of tops for options… stuffed underwear and socks inside of shoes to help save room and help them keep their shape. Toiletries and more shoes in the backpack and I was in perfect shape… and even had a little extra room to pack a few goodies I picked up along the way! Jewelry also could dress up or dress down any outfit so I packed a few collections to layer and change up outfits! I was so pleased with myself!

As you pack for your next trip, I’ll challenge you to pack light and tell me how you like those packing cubes and any other packing tips you have!

Quick & Healthy Dinner Ideas

For the past 2 years, I’ve had to modify my diet. ¬†I’m almost 51 and it’s harder to keep weight at bay… so I’ve cut out gluten, sugar and most dairy… and eat Low fat now. ¬† ¬†I think I’ve finally weaned myself off sugar because my sweet tooth seems less demanding! ¬†I never thought I would see that day coming!

I love how the grocery stores today are helping with the prep work!   Already cut up veggies makes this a super simple supper!

Just throw all of these ingredients into a skillet with a little broth, add lid to “steam” and then add some low sugar full of flavor Fra Diavlo sauce and some crushed red pepper and you have yourself a meal! ¬†I’m a huge fan of spices to really kick up simple dishes a notch! ¬† Add some protein… some saut√©ed shrimp, chicken or chicken meatballs ūüôā ¬†and you have a super healthy meal in less than 20 minutes!

So next time you’re at the store, avoid the pre-packaged foods with lots of preservatives…. go with fresh ingredients…. cut up if necessary to save time and you’ll be on your way to healthy in no time!

What are your go-to healthy meals? ¬†I’d love to hear!

 

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Own it!

So…. I turned 50 years old this past spring and well, it kind of threw me for a few weeks…. couldn’t say the word “Fifty” when anyone asked my age! ¬† ¬†I got my AARP card in the mail and well, that made me feel old.

This fall, I took my youngest to college and became an empty nester and that was a big change too…. When you devote 18-20 years of your life to raising and taking care of your kids and then it just stops for the day to day routine, you have to find your purpose again and reconnect with your spouse and your friends! ¬†Don’t get me wrong, the kids still need you but more as a mentor as they grow to be fully functioning adults. ūüôā

Luckily I still love my husband and WE celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this fall…. I hope for at least 25 more! ¬† ¬†I’m proud of the marriage we created…. before the kids were born and during the process. ¬† If there’s one thing I would advise younger couples to do is to nurture their marriage…. don’t use the kids as an excuse for not taking care of yourself… or your marriage because when the kids are gone, you’re alone again and you want it to be fun!

So I guess I say all this to say I’ve decided to OWN it… when it comes to my age and stage in life…. I have had a journey…. of raising kids, working, building a business, building a life, losing a job, a parent or two and having to move a few times…. In life you can always expect change and it’s truly how you deal with that change that defines you…. YOU can own it… and deal with it or you can mourn it and wish for the past. ¬† The past won’t get you anywhere though….. Embrace change…. embrace your age and stage in life and Own it…. Enjoy it and come to peace with it! ¬† Enjoy life to the fullest and meet new people along the way! ¬†Life is a journey and I’m glad I’m on it!

 

Hot Hot Hot!

Cooking skinny so you can get in that bathing suit this summer? ¬† ¬†Here’s a no fat, no carb, no sugar and no dairy, ¬†PACKED with flavor Mexican chicken recipe with Spanish Riced Cauliflower that is YUMMY!!

You’ll need: ¬†Chicken, Chipotle Seasoning, Cilantro, ¬†Rotel Tomatoes, Jalepeno slices, and Juice of 1 lime to make the chicken! ¬†It takes about 5 min of prep and 20-30 min of bake time depending on the thickness of your chicken.

Just shake chipotle seasoning on both sides of your chicken in a large baking dish. ¬†Sprinkle chicken with chopped cilantro and then dump on can of Rotel Tomatoes on top, ¬†sprinkle some jalape√Īo slices on top of that and then squeeze lime juice over entire dish of chicken. ¬†BAKE!

As a perfect SIDE dish with no carbs… .Try Spanish Riced Cauliflower instead of Spanish Rice

Here’s what you’ll need in addition to your riced cauliflower you can find in your local grocery store!

Just saute your riced cauliflower in chicken broth… Just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. ¬† Add and mix in a can of Rotel Tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, Garlic salt and Oregano to taste…. cook until cauliflower is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.

All you’ll need is a side salad to compliment this meal!

Enjoy the flavor and none of the guilt!

 

 

Maybe Tomorrow…..

No pun intended… but Maybe Tomorrow I’ll get something done! ¬†Today I’m reflecting on my past….. Enjoying the nostalgia and thinking about¬†touring the country with the National Broadway Tour of Annie when I was 13 and 14!

At the time, I didn’t really realize the magnitude… the iconic show that truly was a phenomenon. I was simply doing something fun! ¬†I begged my mom to let me try out and because I was an only child, she helped me fulfill my dream! ¬† I was truly blessed!

Today, at the age of ¬†50, I look back to what seems like a lifetime ago. ¬†I feel blessed to have been a part of this musical! ¬† ¬†We recently had a 40th Anniversary reunion of all the Annie’s thanks to Inside Edition and we all had a special bond whether we worked on stage together or not! ¬† For me, it was a family of sorts. ¬†I never had sisters or brothers so touring with 6-7 girls gave me that sisterhood…. some of the adults in the show were like aunts or uncles to us! It was magical! ¬†We marvel at the thought that this was “back in the day” when there were no child labor laws and we performed 8 shows a week… ¬†we didn’t have child wranglers to keep us contained back stage and we didn’t have body microphones so we had to sing LOUD! :). ¬†It was a different time. ¬† We marveled at how this show became so iconic… possibly because it was one of the first Broadway Musicals that was family friendly…. and it had a positive message with kids and a dog! ¬† Who knows why it became such a success and will continue to be performed for years and years.

I’m just thrilled to have been a part of it and I will look forward to our 50th reunion and all the little ones in between!

 

Martha Stewart – Here I come!

I am a trained Interior Designer but have not practiced in a while! ¬† Recently…. My daughter told me she never liked the lime green that I had painted her walls when she was 5! ¬†LOL! ¬† I tried so hard not to decorate a room in traditional pinks and purple “girl” colors when she was little…. I chose a great palate with lime green and raspberry ¬†that was fun and youthful, not too little girly that would transition into teens and I do feel like I did that effectively.

Now she’s 17 and about to go off to college and we are re-doing her room for Christmas into a more “mature” palate. ¬† Why, you ask, would I re-decorate her room before she leaves us in 6 months? ¬†Well, first of all, I’m ready for a change but secondly, I want her to enjoy it for a while and own it …. I want it to feel like “hers” before she leaves so she can enjoy it as “hers” when she comes back!

I’ll post some before and after shots but the “before” will depend on when she doesn’t have clothes strewn all over the room and on the floor (remember, she is still a teenager)

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The “green/blue” lattice and solid will be in the adjacent bath and her room will be a soft gray paint from Benjamin Moore #harbourgray with a geometric print on the window and different scale prints for pillows and accent trim.

With today’s more gray palates being more “in style” it’s hard to transition the “golds” into the gray palates but with some fabrics, I think we can effectively do just that!

Stay tuned for some before and after shots! ¬†It may take a month but I’ll get there!

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What room in your house do you want to re-do? ¬† Some people don’t place a lot of emphasis on this sort of thing but I think our interior has so much to do with our mood and our energy! ¬†We need to get energy out of a space… ¬†whether we want calm or energizing, ¬†bright and bold or muted and serene. ¬† ¬†What’s your ideal space look like? ¬†Clean and simple, colorful, neutral, or do you have a favorite color that really makes you feel good?

Wednesday Wisdom

Admittedly, I’m almost 50 years old….. (How did that happen?) ¬† But I love where I am in life because I have figured out a lot! ¬† Of course, my elders would say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”, and that is true. ¬† I say that about my kids. ¬† They are very responsible and make good decisions so far in life but they don’t know what they don’t know… and that can ONLY be learned through experience. ¬† ¬†Life is a series of experiences…… and experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want most of the time!

I’ve learned a lot in my short life so far…. even had to deal with the death of two parents and that, my friends, will give you experience. ¬†I have thought a lot about my blog and where I want it to go…. ¬†My passions are family, faith, food and entertaining, creative ideas like decorating and fashion/accessorizing along with my passion for gadgets and products I love…. I also LOVE organization and love to travel. ¬†I love to cook healthy food and FINALLY figured out how to keep my “mid-life weight” under control by choosing healthy food….. REAL food and not products I have to purchase. ¬†THAT makes me excited!

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It gets me excited to share this wisdom with people who have not figured it out yet….. Being a woman today is an interesting journey…. Many of us work, either part time or full time and want to maintain a balance of work/life and family…. while trying to be organized enough to cook healthy meals, take care of ourselves and do all the things that make us happy while not losing our sanity as we try to take care of the ones around us that we love.

I really feel like I have some great tips and great ideas to help women keep that balance, feel productive and feel sane doing it because of “experience”. ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†We won’t all be perfect… but we will find some peace and sanity doing it.

Follow me on this journey of blog posts….. if nothing else, my daughter can read this one day and get advice from her mother ūüôā