I am so happy that you have landed in my little corner of cyberspace. If you join me here, you will, hopefully, get to know a little about me. You will read my thoughts, my hopes and dreams, and see some of my favorite things. I hope you will visit often. I will try to update it regularly and hopefully you will see an improvement in the blog along the way. Thank you for stopping in to see me as I travel on this journey called "life"!

Monday, January 31, 2011


I'm linking this photo up here for Mellow Yellow Monday. 
Won't you join me?


Have a great day!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


While out surfing through some of my favorite blogs recently, I found this very intriguing recipe over at Tri to Cook. 

Pumpkin Black Bean Enchiladas....

 I've been reading a lot of savory pumpkin recipes this year in the blogosphere and have wanted to try my hand at making something savory using pumpkin for quite some time.  Since we are huuuuge mexican food fans here, this seemed like the perfect recipe to try first.  I've tried enchiladas just about every way possible and love them so much.  This, however, was something completely different than anything that I've ever experienced before and I knew it was going to something that I simply must try out.  

As I have shared with you already here,  I was on a cooking frenzy last weekend and one of the things that I made was a huge pot of black beans.  I wish I could give you the exact recipe of how I made these beans.  I wish I knew how I made them too because I would definitely recreate them again and again.  They turned out soooo good.  I had been already the Italian Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup when I started the black beans and by this time I was pretty tired.  I had leftover scallions, bell pepper, celery, carrots and garlic that were already cut from making the soup so I threw those in a stock pot with olive oil and minced fresh jalapeno....

And some chopped up bacon....

And some spices that definitely included cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and I'm not sure what else at this point...

And some petite cut tomatoes....

And black beans that had been soaked overnight Friday night....and all day on Saturday.  You don't have to soak them that long.  I was just so busy with other stuff that it took me that long to get around to cooking them.

And chicken broth....

And bay leaves....

And a little trick that my mom taught me because she's the "bean queen", I added some honey....

I brought this to a boil and reduced the heat to simmer it for a couple of hours.  It takes black beans quite a while to cook and I was getting sleepy so I dumped them in the crockpot and set the timer for 10 hours and went to bed.  I was up and down all night.  Every time I woke up, I went by the crockpot and shook some more seasonings in the pot and gave it stir and a quick taste....in the dark....by night light.  The next morning I woke up to find all of this in front of the crockpot....

And all of this inside of it...

I had the pumpkin black bean enchiladas on my mind as one of the recipes that I wanted to try with the black beans this last week.

I showed the recipe to David and he was a little skeptical; but after years with me, he is finally learning to trust me a little bit.  He was agreeable to giving it a try.  I almost backed out of using the pumpkin sauce at the last minute.  He had offered some to the Daughter and Chef Son-in-Law for their dinner since they were both working that night so the pressure was on to make something that was tasty. I just wasn't so sure about the pumpkin sauce.  I'm so glad that I went ahead with it.  It was fabulous.

Here is the recipe as given by Shannon at Tri to Cook....

Pumpkin Black Bean Enchiladas
Adapted from Bob & Everyday Food
Serves 4-6

1 15oz can pumpkin puree
2 1/2c water
2 lg garlic cloves, minced
2t salt
1/4t black pepper
1/8t ground cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
1t chili powder
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2c 2% greek yogurt
1 chipotle w/1-2t adobo sauce
1/4c chopped baby leeks (or scallions)
10-12 6" corn tortillas
grated sharp cheddar cheese for the top (3/4c or so)

Add pumpkin, water, garlic and spices (salt, pepper, cayenne and chili powder) to a blender and puree until smooth.

Add 1c black beans to the bowl of a food processor, along with the yogurt and chipotle and adobo. Process until smooth and transfer to a bowl. Add in the rest of beans and leeks/scallions and stir to combine.

Pour 1c pumpkin sauce into baking dish (either a 9x13 dish or 1/2c into 2 smaller ones), you really just need to coat the bottom of the dish. Wrap corn tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for ~1min to soften. Mound filling on tortillas (3-4T), one at a time, and roll up. Place, seam side down in the baking dish.

If you're going to freeze the enchiladas to serve at a later date, cover surface with saran wrap and a layer of foil. Pour the rest of the pumpkin sauce in a freezer-safe container and place the enchiladas and sauce in the freezer. Don't forget to label them!

To bake unfrozen enchiladas, pour pumpkin sauce over enchiladas and top with shredded cheese. Bake in preheated 400deg oven and bake for 25-30 min, until cheese has melted and sauce is bubbly. Let cool a bit before serving.

To bake frozen enchiladas, thaw the pumpkin sauce in the refrigerator the night before (or thereabouts) you want the enchiladas. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400deg. Remove the enchiladas from the freezer and remove plastic wrap. pour thawed pumpkin sauce over enchiladas, cover with foil and bake for 30min. Remove foil, top with shredded cheese and bake uncovered for another 30min, or until bubbly and cooked through. Let cool a few minutes before serving.

I made the pumpkin sauce just as the recipe is listed.

Since I had the black beans already prepared, I used those and ignored the recipe directions for the filling.  My beans were already spicy enough so I didn't worry about doing a thing to them. 

I didn't have corn tortillas so I used flour.  I haven't been able to find decent corn tortillas since I moved.  Not that the flour choices are real great here but they are better than the corn choices. 

I placed some of the sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish.  I filled the tortillas with the beans....added a little grated Cabot Sharp Cheddar cheese...rolled them up and placed them in the baking dish on top of the sauce.  Once I had the pan filled, I spread some of the sauce on top of the rolled enchiladas to cover.....topped with more grated sharp cheddar cheese.  I baked them in my little convection toaster oven and they turned out fabulous.  We like our cheese a little well done and the oven does that perfectly.

Because I made such a small pan of these enchiladas, I had plenty of the sauce left.  I divided it up into plastic storage bags and placed them in the freezer for future enchiladas. 

I have one more container of black beans left in the sub-zero.  I had it designated for chili; however, it just might become more enchiladas this week or maybe some more of those black bean burgers that turned out so delicious.  It's a big container of beans so maybe I can squeeze two meals out of it.  It's definitely worth a try.

This post is linked up with Seasonal Sundays.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Saturday, January 29, 2011


My dear friend, Mitzi, over at Daily Reflection recently passed on these two awards to me....

Thank you, Mitzi!  I am so grateful and blessed to have met you in the blogosphere and honored to call you, my friend.  Thanks for thinking of me.

I was, also, contacted last night by my new friend, Miz Helen, over at Miz Helen's Country Cottage.  She was sweet enough to pass over to me this very thoughtful award....

Miz Helen, thank you so much for thinking of me!  From the moment you popped over here and invited me to your Full Plate Thursday, I knew we would be friends.  There's always good food and good fellowship at your place and I love that our paths have crossed out here in the blogosphere.  You remind me of home, Miz Helen and for that I'm truly grateful.

As with all awards, there are rules.  Mitzi's awards have survey questions to answer. Miz Helen's award requires that I list 7 things about myself.  I won't bore you any longer than necessary so I'm going to answer the 10 questions and call it even.  You will then know much more about me than you ever cared to know.

If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this?
If you aren't anonymous, do you wish you started out anonymously, so that you could be anonymous now?

I don't blog anonymously although there aren't too many people that I know personally that are aware of my blog.  David has been encouraging me to share this information but I'm really pretty shy.  My blog started out in such a weird way that I just didn't think it was news worthy and I still don't.  I have only recently started sharing with my friends and family that this is something that I have been doing.   I have always found it difficult to call attention to myself in anyway.  I prefer to be behind the scenes.

Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side.

I am quite sure that I am stubborn....most probably about a lot of things.  I can't think of one particular incident to share with you that would show this.  I'm going to pass this question.

What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?

If I told you what I really see when I look in the mirror, you are all so sweet and supportive that you would immediately start arguing with me because that's just the kind of friends you are.  When I look deeper inside, I see a woman who loves God...who loves her friends and family.  I see a woman who has made her fair share of mistakes and has learned from each and every one of them.....I hope.  I see a woman who is doing her best to live life on purpose.  I see a woman who wants to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

What is your favorite summer cold drink?

I love a Coke Icee on a hot summer day more than anything.  I don't drink them often but it's my favorite treat.  That's something I'm going to miss here in New Hampshire.  I don't think I've seen one Icee machine since I've been here.  My favorite drink that I indulge in often is our Iced Mint Green Tea that we make in our sun tea jar.  I like mine unsweetened, please. We can definitely make that here when the weather warms up some.

When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

I enjoy getting my nails done.

 Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life?

I would like to go back to school and get my degree.

When you attended school, were you the class clown,
the class overachiever, the shy person or always ditching?

None of the above really.  I always did well in school and stayed out of trouble.  I never skipped school and always applied myself and did my very best.  Now outside of school, I very social and enjoyed life and I did not always stay out of trouble with my parents.


If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see?

There are too many that I could share and none of them that I am prepared to get into on this blog.

 Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog, or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people and events?

Everything you read here is written from my heart.  I find it very easy to share these things with you. Having said that, there is a lot that I don't get into on my blog.  Some people use their blogs as a means to pour their heart out and I applaud the freedom that they have in doing that.  At times, I wish I could do that myself.  That's just not me though.  I've just never been that way.

If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

Definitely, I would choose reading over talking on the phone. 

I would like to award Mitzi at Daily Reflection with the Stylish Blogger Award.


I would like to award Miz Helen with the Life is Sweet Blog Award and The Irresistably Sweet Blog Award.

I would like to award the following people
with all three awards...

Mary at Food Floozie
Brandie at The Country Cook
Lesapea at Lesapea Musings
Cherie at Bakow Bubble
Mama Hen at Mama's Little Chick
And I could go on and on.....

If you have an award free blog or would otherwise rather not participate, I completely understand.  Some people don't like awards or to be tagged.  I hope you will accept the award in your heart and know that I'm a fan. 

Thanks again, Mitzi and Miz Helen!

And if you are still reading this, thanks for hanging with me through this very long post.

Friday, January 28, 2011


First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for your encouragement.  I was feeling a little blue last week as I wanted to have accomplished so much more by the time I posted the update.  Your encouraging comments were just what I needed to get back focused on the small victories.  So...thank you!  It has been a good week. 

I've shared with you the Green Monster, the Italian Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup and Jammin Jerk Chicken.  You haven't seen the huge pot of black beans that I made overnight Saturday night...

And how I packaged them up into individual packages for dinners this week....

 and stored them in our "sub-zero" freezer....

Where in a matter of hours, they were frozen solid and looked like this.....

I haven't shown you the Pumpkin Black Bean Enchiladas that I made with some of them....

or the Black Bean Burgers that we had tonight.... 

Both of them were new to us recipes and both of them were absolutely wonderful!  Those are two virtually meatless meals this week for us.  I say "virtually" because in that huge pot of beans, I did saute a little bacon and add it to the pot.  That's 1/4 of a cup to a pound and half of dried beans....not a lot!

I haven't showed you the salads that I've made for lunch...

 or the Purple Monsters that I've had for breakfast...

Those are some of the good choices that I've been making.  Along with those yummy meals, I made some amazing banana muffins that Mary at Life in a Small Town gave me the recipe for. 

While they were full of sugar and carbs, they were made from scratch and not a mix so I count that as a small victory as well.  I, also, didn't eat but one of them.   David came home just as the muffins were coming out of the oven.  This photo was taken about fifteen minutes later.... (I checked the clock!)

And right after I took the above photo, I snapped another....

Yes, they were that good.  I really should share that recipe with you.  Thanks, Mary!  That's twice you have hooked me up recently with wonderful recipes.

Since we have moved, there has been a whole different feeling with how we are living and shopping and eating.  For many years, I've passionately read about nutrition and food and tried my best to make good choices regarding the food that I put on the table.  We haven't always made good choices and have had times of backsliding like crazy; but for the most part, I've tried to do the right thing.  Even with making good choices to eat lean meat, low fat dairy, whole grains and vegetables, there has been some serious room for improvement.  I've had to ask myself some serious questions lately such as:

"Where does the meat that I buy come from?" 
"Were the animals raised humanely?" 
"Were they allowed to roam free?" 
"What kind of diet were they fed?" 
"Were they given antibiotics and growth hormones?"

Since I've been in New England, I've been thinking about these things as I've purchased the meat for my family.  I've found that there is a better selection of meat that comes from animals that were allowed to roam free....animals that were vegetarian fed....animals weren't given antibiotics or growth hormones....and I've been trying to purchase meats that fit that criteria.  Those particular meats are more expensive than the other meats sold in the market.  Consequently, we are eating less meat these days as evidenced by some of the meals that I've shown you above.  I know that even with taking all of that into consideration that there is still room for a lot of improvement.  I don't know under what circumstances these animals were butchered and processed.  Even if they are raised humanely and under the healthiest of conditions, there still could be serious issues with the way they are butchered and processed.  I could find sources locally and investigate the processing a little deeper and I hope to do that in the coming year.   These are all small changes that we've been making in our lives and it feels good.

I've been buying more fresh vegetables since I've been up here.  The selection is so much better than it is in Louisiana and  I've been able to find some really good deals lately in the mark down bins.  I've grabbed the deals where I have seen them  and taken some steps to put them away for future use....

I peeled and cut up two bunches of these bananas for future Green and Purple Monsters.  I'm seriously loving those for breakfast these days.

I found two packages of these beauties at the market the other day and I knew they were mine.  I wish they had been Romas but I'm going to make them work...

I cut them up and roasted them in my little convection toaster oven with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground sea salt...

I put these away in the "sub-zero" to be used in future pasta dishes or chili.....that is if I can keep my hands off of them.   I literally could eat every one of them by themselves.   We use a lot of canned tomatoes around our house; but I've become increasingly concerned with BPA in cans.  Prevention Magazine said in this report that canned tomatoes are the worst offenders.  I'm going to try to only use fresh from now on unless I can find tomatoes in jars.  As of right now, I have not been able to find those in the supermarkets where I shop.

So even though I've been making good choices and I'm very pleased with the direction we are going, there is room for improvement!   More of the fruits and vegetables that I purchase needs to be organic; but it gets really expensive really fast to do that.  I ran across a link to the Environmental Working Group's Shopper's Guide to Produce while visiting Sarah over at Semi-Sweet and it lists the "Dirty Dozen" to watch out for along with the "Clean 15" so that you can make better decisions on the produce that you buy.  You can find that guide here.

As the weather warms up and the growing season begins up here, I will have access to more local, organic food that should be less expensive than that offered in the supermarket.  My mother-in-law has a garden every year and I hope to be able to grow a few things in containers myself.  I look forward to having fresh herbs again.   We have discussed potentially having a community garden and I really hope that works out.  The growing season is shorter up here but it will be a lot more pleasant to garden in this climate than it is to garden in Louisiana.

Another way that we have changed our lives is through recycling.  I've used cloth shopping bags for awhile now....when I remember to bring them with me, that is.  Recycling has been something that I have been wanting to do for some time now; however, the recycling centers were very limited where I lived in Louisiana.  I could recycle newspapers and soda cans and there was a place to bring plastics such as water bottles and we did that; but, there were so many other ways that we could have recycled if there had been facilities available to accept them.  Since we have moved, our landlord takes care of the trash removal here but he requires us to recycle.  No problem!  We recycled some of our moving boxes and used them to set up an area to hold our recycling.  We not only recycle newspapers, soda cans and plastics....but we recycle glass bottles and cardboard and other heavier plastics, as well.  It feels really good!  Now if I could remember to bring the cloth bags with me to the market every time that I go, we wouldn't have to bring the plastic shoppings bags to the recycling bins at the market! 

When I look back at how things have changed since we moved up here the week of Thanksgiving, I am amazed that it's only been two months.  The last quarter of 2010 was a whirlwind and our lives were completely turned upside down.  With all the changes in our lives, we have made a conscious decision to simplify our lives and live in the present.  Life is meant to be lived...not endured!  And we are celebrating all of these small changes...one decision at a time.

Thanks so much for sticking with me through this very long post.  I have found it difficult to keep up with blogging about all of this since I've been so busy lately.  I hope this post catches you up.

Have a great weekend, friends!

This post is linked up to:  Project 2011, Fresh Clean and Pure Friday, Follow Friday- 40 and Over and Boost My Blog Friday.



Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jammin Jerk Chicken, Mango Salsa & Cilantro Lime Rice

It may look like winter outside; but, it was all about summer in our home this week.  I had an orange from the fruit that my in-laws brought over and thought it would be great in a jerk marinade

I used a recipe that I found on McCormick's website for a jerk seasoning paste. 

1 tablespoon McCormick Perfect Pinch Mediterranean Herb Seasoning
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 tablespoon Orange Juice

A tablespoon of Orange Juice wasn't very much, I thought, with the amount of powdered seasonings. I went ahead and used all of the juice of the halved orange.   

 Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty...

Once the marinade is all rubbed into the chicken tenders, I covered them and refrigerated them for 24 hours.  You don't have to marinate them that long if you don't have that kind of time.  The recipe doesn't actually say that you have to marinate them at all.  This worked for me.

Prior to grilling the chicken, I prepared the Mango Salsa and refrigerated it to allow the flavors to blend together.  I like to use Ellie Krieger's recipe for the salsa. 

Mango Salsa

1 mango, peeled and diced  

1/2 cup peeled, diced cucumber

1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno

1/3 cup diced red onion

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves

Salt and pepper

Combine the mango, cucumber, jalapeno, red onion, lime juice and cilantro leaves and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

I have used this basic recipe with both fresh mango and fresh pineapple and love each one of them so much.  She uses cucumber in her recipe and I generally leave that out of mine.  This salsa is good on grilled meat or on tortilla chips.   We have it a lot in the summer.

I thought the jerk chicken and the mango salsa would be perfect with a recipe for Cilantro-Lime Rice that I recently discovered on one of my favorite blogs, MEATLESS MEALS for MEAT EATERS.  You can find the recipe here.

I used brown basmati rice for my version of this dish and added some grated lime zest to kick up the citrus flavor even more.  This recipe was absolutely wonderful with the Grilled Chicken and Mango Salsa.  I will be making this again and again, I'm sure, to go with other meals too.  Thanks Miriam!

This meal was a healthy taste of summer for us in the middle of winter and I don't think we could have enjoyed it any more than we did.   

Isn't it pretty?

I'm linking these dishes up with Miz Helen

Won't you join me?

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
Thanks so much for stopping by,