Vegetable Stuffed Portobello For One

A very long time ago I said we were going to go to “Meatless Mondays” . We never quite made it. Although, we have cut back on our red meat consumption dramatically, I find it hard to stick to one thing on a specific day of the week. Partly because I haven’t put much effort into figuring out enough meatless meals and also because my husband travels so much that I rarely exert a lot of energy into figuring out what I’m going to make myself for dinner when he’s away.

Last night, it was black bean re-fried beans, dairy-free cheese, and Tabasco that I heated in the microwave. Then I ate it while reading a book.  Don’t scoff, it was quite enjoyable.

But, tonight, in an attempt to get my daily recommended allowance of vegetables, I thought I’d put in a tad more effort. But not so much that it would be too complicated to eat while reading my book.

Grilled Vegetable Stuffed Portobello with Sautéed Rainbow Chard

1 Portobello Mushroom

1/2 Orange Bell Pepper

1 Small Sweet Onion

About 3/4 Cup Broccoli

About 6 Sugar Peas

Rainbow Chard, about 8 leaves, stems removed

Olive Oil

Garlic Powder

Kosher Salt

Diaya Cheddar Style Cheese, optional

Drizzle the mushroom with a little olive oil and rub to coat, set aside. Add the cut vegetables to a bowl, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and garlic powder, and toss to coat. Add everything to a grilling pan and grill on medium-high until mushroom is cooked and moist and vegetables are tender and browned on the edges.

While vegetables are grilling, coat a saute pan with a little olive oil. Heat on medium-high and saute the chard until it is wilted. It will wilt a lot, just like spinach does, so if you’re cooking for more than one, you’ll need to use a full head or more.

If you would like to top yours with dairy-free cheese, you’ll need to melt it under the broiler or in the microwave.

Bits & Bites

I keep trying to imagine Fall in New Hampshire.

We’re hoping we can get there in time to see it in its full splendor and glory. 

Another week and weekend have sped by at what seems like a million miles an hour.

Our house is still for sale and my husband is still traveling extensively. I am still having to live moment to moment in case someone wants to see the house…at which time everything has to be spotless, all pet evidence hidden, every light in the house on, and the dogs and cat and I have to drive around aimlessly or invade my mother’s house while waiting for strangers to critique our home.

We are still trying to cram everything my husband wants to do, everything I want to do, and everything that needs to be done that I can’t do myself into a tiny, 28-30 hour period of time. I will use the word “adventure” to explain how it feels, but really, we’ve come up with a lot more colorful verbs and adjectives lately, because frankly, we’re tired. We’re feeling a little old and worn out and we’re ready to get this show on the road.

So worn out in fact, that my memory seems to be shot. When my husband left for his 6:00 AM flight this morning, I thought, “I am just going to lounge for a while and catch up on all of the blogs I haven’t had time to read and comment on and put-put around the house.” It was all lollipops and rainbows until 8:00 rolled around and I realized someone was parked in front of our house…

Oh yes, and then it dawned on me.

“OH, NO, NO, NO!!!” I yelled running around the house, locking dogs in crates and trying to find pants. I had forgotten that I have two appointments for estimates with moving companies today. One at 8:00 and one at noon. So when the doorbell rang I had to answer it with raccoon mascara eyes, a rat’s nest on my head, my nightgown tucked into a pair of sweats, and a sweatshirt with the pulley thing that had gone missing that I had replaced with a large safety pin.

Classy.

And the worst part…to add insult to injury, it was already hot, so I was already sweating, breathless from running around like a maniac, and…bra-less.

Luckily, our weekend wasn’t quite as hectic. Saturday I was coming off of a four day migraine (horrible!) so we didn’t do much. I was able to rally enough to go out to lunch with my husband after his hang gliding lessons, thank goodness. Then we did a little shopping, and headed home to watch the Olympics for the evening.

Sunday it was supposed to get up to 100 degrees so we headed out early to a street fair in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. It’s a lake city, fun and gorgeous, and just a really nice place to mill around, take some time, and see what’s what.

This is a picture that proves that there are still wonderfully kind people in this world. As we were headed to the kiosk to pay for parking a lady yelled after us asking if we wanted her all day parking pass. She had come to the fair first thing for one specific item and had only been there for 30 minutes. So this lovely lady, handed us her pass and told us to have a great day. That’s Tony headed to our car with our free pass. It’s the little things in life and it’s amazing how one kind person can make such a difference in your day and your view of mankind.

There were lots and lots of vendors. Some of the usual and some new ones. I bought a few items at Blue Creek Apothecary. All lovely, all natural, pamper yourself, smell good, kind of things. You can find her on Etsy & Facebook.

Loved this…it’s SO true! Well, for those of us who love to read anyway… This booth belonged to Sassy-Sisters. You can find them on Facebook.

There were so many beautiful booths with different types of glass-work and sculptures that would have made for gorgeous pictures, but some of the vendors wouldn’t allow me to photograph them and show them to you. Guess they thought I’d run home, blow my own glass, get my blow torch out and fashion some metal for sculptures and copy their creations…

And of course, along with street fairs comes some interesting people watching. There’s always at least one that has the ability to crack you up.

We opted to forgo the street fair food, which I can’t eat most of anyway, and headed home with our treasures to relax and nibble on fresh veggie sandwiches with homemade pesto & goat cheese spread.

You can find the recipe for my homemade vegan pesto here. Then, simply add two Tablespoons of it to a small package of creamy goat cheese and two Tablespoons of olive oil mayonnaise to make an unbelievable sandwich spread.

Next you’ll need a beautiful tomato, an English cucumber, a ripe avocado, and a few slices of gluten free bread, toasted.

Then, you just lovingly slather, spread, and layer until you have something that makes your mouth water and your significant other “ooohhhh and ahhhhhh”.

Bird’s Nest

I thought it was a good idea to eat something somewhat “healthy” for dinner last night after indulging in fried chicken livers three meals in a row…

This is an incredibly simple and gorgeous meal.

It looked so pretty I hated to poke my fork into it…

But that didn’t last long.

Bird’s Nest

Gluten Free Spinach Pasta (I use Tinkyada)

Vegan Walnut Pesto

Organic Red Chard, sautéed with organic olive oil

Squeeze of Lemon

Organic Egg (s), over easy

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

Saute the chard in olive oil until wilted, squeeze about a Tablespoon of lemon over it, and set aside. Take the finished pasta and place it in a saute pan over medium high heat and toss with the pesto. I used about 1 1/2 Tablespoons for one serving.

Arrange the pasta on the plate in a “nest”. Top with the wilted chard. Top with an egg, over easy, and finish with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Fried Chicken Livers & Smashed Potatoes with Pan Gravy

A meal like this is just where all of those bacon drippings you’ve been hoarding come in handy. You do that too, right?

This is how I keep my bacon drippings in the fridge. It lasts a very, very, long time and then you always have it handy for those special occasions when you’re making something extra delicious.

You MUST have a splatter lid when frying the chicken livers. Number one, because it makes clean up of your stove much easier, and number two and most importantly, because you do not want exploding chicken liver all over your kitchen ceiling. You need a splatter guard, which is a mesh screen, because if you cover the liver with a lid, it won’t crisp.

When you flip the livers, hold the screen in front of you and your face. Hot bacon grease and exploding chicken liver is painful.

Fried Chicken Livers

1 Container of Chicken Livers, organic if possible, rinsed

Organic Almond Milk

1 Organic Egg

Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

Organic Garlic Powder

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

Bacon Grease/Drippings (from all natural bacon)

First, let’s remind ourselves that this is a special meal. An indulgence meal…I only make it about once a year. So we won’t be counting calories or worrying about our hips and thighs. We will simply enjoy the comfort and memories of childhood that these types of meals bring with them.

Melt a generous amount of bacon grease in a large skillet. I used about two heaping serving spoons full.

In a medium dish or dinner plate, add about 1 cup or so of the flour and generously season with the garlic powder, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper. Remember, it’s just a dredge so the majority of the coating stays on the plate. You want what ends up stuck to the liver to be flavorful!

Pour about 1/2 cup almond milk into a cereal sized bowl and whisk in the egg.

Once the bacon grease is heated on medium to medium high, dip each chicken liver into the milk and egg mixture and then into the flour mixture. Coat well, shake off, and lay carefully into the bacon grease.

Cover with the splatter shield. Allow to brown thoroughly before flipping. I would say about 6-7 minutes on each side or more, depending on the heat in your pan.

Smashed Potatoes with Pan Gravy

Both the smashed potatoes (basically the lazy cousin of the mashed potato) and the pan gravy are a no brainer. I’ll just give you the ingredients that I used. You can go here for pan gravy instructions if you’ve never made it. It’s SO easy!

Organic Yukon Gold Potatoes, skin on

Almond Milk

Dairy Free Butter

Kosher Salt

For the pan gravy:

Leave drippings in the pan

Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

Dairy Free Butter

Organic Chicken Broth

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

Fig Pillows & An Eye Opener

Remember the book I told you I started the other day? Well, it’s packed full of all kinds of interesting information. I have only made it to Chapter 5 (there are 16) and I am already loving it. Much of the medical information I already knew or at least had heard of, but nonetheless, it’s all still very interesting. Xenoestrogen in particular. Lorraine Pintus, the author of Jump Off The Hormone Swing, refers to Xenoestrogen as Estrogen’s evil twin sister. “She looks like estrogen but she comes into your body from a foreign place.”

If you’re a male and you’re thinking this post isn’t for you, hold on a minute, because even though we’re talking about “estrogen”, it involves you too. Everyone is exposed to xenoestrogens through our environment. They are in the air we breath (chemicals, pollution) the water we drink (plastic bottles, pollution), the food we eat (non-organic foods, animals being given hormones and being fed GMO products), and the products we use (anti-aging creams, lotions, cleansing products, makeup, laundry detergents).

Lorraine says everything from diabetes to infertility are being linked to the “evil twin sister”. Also, many women who suffer from sever PMS and perimenopause symptoms are estrogen dominant. Xenoestrogens are a big part of that dominance problem.

If you would like to learn more about xenoestrogens in particular,  here are a couple more websites. Or, you can just Google “Xenoestrogens” and you’ll find all kinds of information.

http://flowinghealth.org/xenoestrogen_patient_handout.pdf  http://endojourney.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/a-list-of-xenoestrogens/ .

So, without getting completely obsessive and hyper about it, let’s look at it logically. Lorraine uses the 80/20 rule, which I think is a great idea. 80% of the time we can pretty easily control what we use, how we use it, what we eat, and what we are exposing ourselves to. If you leave your house, which we all do, then it makes a lot of sense that 20% of the time, you can’t control it, nor should you worry about it. Life is meant to be enjoyed. So approach this with the attitude of, I’m going to take control of what I put in and on my body and expose myself to, as much as possible. A little awareness and action is better than none.

Lorraine lists a website in her book with a database of all of the common cosmetics, cleansers, and lotions we use. What’s so cool about that you might ask? Well it has a number rating for each item based on how toxic it is. Yep. And let me tell you, it was an eye opener. Even the “natural” things you are buying might shock you. The ratings include reproductive organ toxins as well as cancer toxins, allergies & immunotoxicity, and overall health hazards.   http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

Here is a quick look at their toxin number rating system:

0-2 Low Hazard          3-6 Moderate Hazard          7-10 High Hazard

Just to give you an idea, here is a list of things that I use on a regular basis that I researched on their website and their toxicity number level:

Organix Shampoo & Conditioner  = 4-5

Aveeno Positively Radiant Brightening Cleanser = 5

Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub = (new on the market, not listed yet)

Dessert Essence 100% Pure Jojoba Oil = 0

Yes To Cucumbers Sensitive Skin Calming Night Cream = 2

Kiss My Face Olive & Aloe Lotion (I use it for body lotion) = 5

Colgate Optic White (They didn’t have the specific one, but all of the other whitening toothpastes are the same score) = 5

Bare Minerals Foundation in Medium = 2 

Bare Minerals Mineral Veil SPF25 = 7

Bare Minerals Blush = 2

Bare Minerals Eye Shadow = 4

Almay Line Smoothing Concealer for the Eye = 9

Maybelline Lash Stiletto = 4

(If you have trouble looking up your specific item, just type in the brand name click on the brand, go to the left and click on what item it is..and then scroll down the list to see if it is rated.)

So, before you go gather all of your toiletries and cosmetics to check how awful they are for you, remember the goal is to minimize your exposure to unhealthy things, because truthfully, it is impossible to avoid them 100%.

When you’re finished looking everything up  you can go to the upper tool bar on the website and click on whatever you like to find lists of products from different companies that are non toxic. You can order them online, or print them out to see if you can find them locally.

And just in case you aren’t freaked out enough by the toiletries you’re using, here’s another website she listed so you can look up all of the chemicals in the other every day products you use.

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/

*But even before you do that, you may want to self medicate with a nice cup of soothing tea and my Fig Pillows. Because we all know that pie crust pretty much makes anything better.

Fig Pillows with Fig Glaze & Almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

*Makes 30

2 Portions of Gluten Free Pie Dough

GF Flour For Dusting & Rolling

Trader Joe’s Fig Butter

Powdered Sugar

Almond Milk

Pure Almond Extract

Raw Almonds, finely chopped

Roll out one portion of dough and slice into 30 squares with a sharp knife.

Add about a teaspoon of the fig butter to each square. Then, roll out the second portion of dough and slice into 30 squares.

Using a flat knife (I use a frosting spatula), take one square of plain dough, pat it out just a little with your fingers.

Take the patted out piece of dough and cover the fig jam carefully pressing down around the sides. Score each side with a fork, poke once in the middle so air can escape, and place the fig pillow on a parchment lined baking sheet. Continue with the remainder of the dough until they are finished.

Bake in a preheated oven for 22 minutes and remove to a cooling rack.

While the cookies are cooling, make a glaze with the powdered sugar, fig butter, almond milk, and pure almond extract (about 1/2 tsp.), and finely chop about 1/4 cup raw almonds.

Leaving the fig pillows on the cooling rack, drizzle with glaze and sprinkle with nuts.

A Slice of Life – My Corner of The World

Yesterday was heavenly. I decided to set aside my “to-do” list and just really focus on enjoying the day. I spent the majority of it outside. As you may have read (a thousand times) in earlier blogs, we have been waiting a very long time for summer weather. Well, it’s finally here and I want to soak up every possible minute of it. Plus, sometime soon, our life is going to get very busy, hectic, and even more stressful than it is right now. I want to enjoy our little “sanctuary” in the backyard before we move.

I sat out in the yard, sunned myself, and read for a while. This is one of the books I’m currently reading:

Have you ever read her books? They are based out of South Carolina in the “low country”. I love books about the south. They are amazingly comfortable and soothing, and make me daydream about living in a rich, flamboyant, atmosphere filled with southern tradition. I haven’t read a book of hers that I didn’t like.

While I was reading, I also sipped on this, because it was quite hot yesterday…in the low 90’s. I just simply added a scoop of the Lemon Sorbet I made a couple of days ago to a glass full of spring water and ice. Wonderfully refreshing!

After I read for a while I spent more than two hours on the phone with my husband’s sister, Alysia, catching up on life in my neck of the woods and hers. We don’t talk all that often, so when we do, it’s usually a phone marathon.

After I hung up, I thought, “I should probably do a load of laundry and run upstairs and make the bed…” But I stopped myself. Nope! Today is a NON “to-do” list day. You will go outside and enjoy the weather!  And I did.

I ran across this bible study on the internet and it arrived two days ago. I really love to learn about why we are the creatures we are and how our bodies work. It’s good to learn about yourself and feed your mind and soul. But I don’t have to tell you that, do I? I think that people who blog already have that figured out. We love to learn from others who blog, see what they are experiencing in their lives, and share a bit of our own world.

I already know quite a bit about PMS and Perimenopause after working for a Naturopath for several years. Plus, I somehow was flung into the whole perimenopause thing when I was nearing my 39th birthday. Fun, fun. I love to arm myself with knowledge. I don’t like to treat symptoms without knowing the why’s and how’s and how I might manage things naturally. I bought this study because it was the first time that I had seen someone approach such a touchy subject for so many women (92% of women suffer from severe PMS and Perimenopause symptoms) that not only dealt with the medical aspects but also with the spiritual. We are feeling, emotional, living, beings after all. It only makes sense.

As I lounged in the yard I looked over at Abigail and for the millionth time, I reminded myself how thankful I am for loving pets in our life! They ask for so little and want to give so much. Abigail is always right by my side, just patiently waiting to see what I will do next, ready to assist me in her sweet little way and follow me from task to task.

Romeo was inside, lounging in air-conditioned comfort. He had quite enough of the bees chasing him around.

So basically, that was the majority of my day. Yep, I sat in the yard and soaked up the summer pretty much all day long. 

A little visit with our son in the evening also blessed my day. He warmed my heart yesterday when he told me he wanted to “surprise” his Dad with a little something. My husband has already taken the job back east so he has been having to travel extensively. Life is stressful when you have to change time zones twice a week and are only home for about a day and a half. We have a motorcycle trailer that needs to be sold before we move, but it needs a little work. Of course my husband’s hectic schedule doesn’t allow for a lot of time to be spent on things like that. And that type of thing is way out of my realm of expertise. Brandon wants to spruce it up for him and put it up for sale as a surprise because he knows how busy his Dad is. I thought his suggestion was loving and thoughtful and frankly, it made an almost perfect day, absolutely perfect.

He’ll be over today to work on it. So I will pause for now…and add a bit more later today. I plan on making this day an extension of yesterday. A little cleaning and “to-do” list things here and there maybe, but otherwise, I’m just going to embrace the day and take it a minute at a time and see what it has to offer.

This was my breakfast this morning. A simple breakfast to go along with my easy-going day. It’s half of an Udi’s bagel with organic almond butter and my Aunt Judy’s (she’s really my husband’s aunt, but I have adopted her as my own) unbelievably delicious, homemade, strawberry jam.

I also made an organic vegetable salad to munch on for the next couple of days. The weather is hot and as much as I know I need to start whittling down that organic meat in the freezer…I just haven’t been feeling like making a big to do about dinner for me, myself, and I. A salad is just right.

Getting the trailer ready…he’s so resourceful! How do you just “know” how to wire things and what to buy and how to do it?

He has always been a fixer and loves to create things in the garage. When he was little he built a sprinkler system in his sandbox. Seriously. All the tubing and everything. All he had to do was screw a hose to it and it was a sprinkler system for his sand box army base.

He was born with computer knowledge and has been doing computer repair work on the side for years…and he just turned 20. When he was in the 5th grade, my paper shredder died. He took the entire thing apart, rewired it, put it back together and it worked like new. Since he was in middle school, he has been our computer and technology guru. He wires things for us – new lighting, cable, he was the one who set up our entire television system with all of it’s boxes and speakers and whatever it’s called, while I stood there handing him tools that he pointed to, that I didn’t even know the names of.

Two weeks ago, he completely rewired and re-plumbed my mother’s sprinkler system. He’s amazing…if I do say so myself. And believe me, he didn’t get these skills from his father and I!

Like a lot of young people, he’s a carb addict. So to thank him for his hard work on his Dad’s trailer, I baked him a delicious pan of corn bread that he could slather with honey and butter. You can find the recipe here. 

This is the cornbread I was telling you about this morning, Smidge. To. Die. For.

Sometimes we just absolutely need to set certain things aside temporarily so we can truly appreciate life. We all have our responsibilities but let’s be truthful, a lot of things that take up our time can really be saved for another day.

The little things in life are sometimes what have the most impact. Like taking the time to enjoy the weather and read in your back yard. Learning something new. Being thankful that you have a loyal pet by your side to love on. Sitting in the garage for the afternoon and watching your “grown” son work on a surprise for his Dad. Just taking life minute by minute instead of rushing, rushing, rushing… and instead, being thankful for every little thing and savoring each slice of life.

Camera Surgery & Lemon Sorbet

You may remember from my last post that my camera stopped working on our day trip to Lake Chelan. My son called Nikon a couple of days ago and they wouldn’t really walk him through anything besides just the bare basics of trouble shooting and wanted me to mail my camera to them. And of course, the basics didn’t fix anything. The “basics” are basically put in place for a monkey. Remove the battery, put it back in…blah, blah, blah. All things any thinking person would have already tried.

The plus is that at least the camera is smart enough to give a warning message and it had something to do with the shutter release. So, armed with that tiny and vague message, I got on the internet and started searching.

Lo and behold, numerous other people have had this issue and there was lots and lots of information. Some helpful, some not. I finally found a page where several people had fixed the issue themselves. So I thought, why the heck not?

See that little red wheel? Evidently it’s what makes the shutter mirror (thingy) move up and down. According to the people on the forum, it’s stuck and  just simply needs a bit of oil.

So I started the task of removing a lot of little screws and drawing diagrams so I wouldn’t forget where they belonged. It seems that Nikon thinks that each screw needs to be a different size.

Once the camera was apart and I got over the fear that I was doing something horrible and irreversible, I could see plain as day the “red wheel” everyone was referring to. I moved it back and forth gently and sure enough, it was stuck.

I used a tiny paint brush to paint the smallest amount of sewing machine oil on the wheel, moving it around in a circle as I went. Then, held the battery in place, turned the camera on, and clicked the button a few times. Sure enough, the shutter clicked back to its proper position.

Whew! It worked! I was quite proud of myself.

Then I put the whole thing back together in the order that it came apart, positioned myself for a shot…and couldn’t see through the view finder. Hmmm….why is this not working?!? I did everything they told me to do…crappola! Am I going to have to send this thing into Nikon after all? Dangit!

Oh, whoops, might help if I remove the lens cap…Ha!

Now I’m back in business.

Quick Lemon Sorbet

You will need a Vita Mix or other heavy-duty blender.

Juice of 4 Lemons

Zest of 2 Lemons

1/2 cup – 3/4 cup Light Agave Syrup

4-5 Cups of Ice

Add all ingredients to blender in order. Blend until smooth and mixture comes together. Taste for sweetness. I like mine somewhat tart so I stuck to 1/2 cup agave syrup.