Fueled by a Farmers Market

Farmers Markets can be found in many places and in various sizes across the USA, but not all are created equal. My husband and I have been to a few, and in different states. I like to go and look at the local culture as well as taste local foods. My husband goes, because I want him to experience these things as well. The vote is still out on if he enjoys going or not. Either way, he does seem to enjoy the food we cook based on the things we find at the market.

Being from Kansas, the things we can find at local markets are limited in their uniqueness, but if we travel to a more “hipster” location such as Lawrence, Ks as we did today, we can find a better diversity and not just field corn and tomatoes.

As we wandered around the market, and I ate my Orange blossom Creme brulee from Torched Goodness (one of my favorite food trucks ever!!)

20767797_10154875482750886_5026714746452062314_n

We contemplated what to have for dinner. Brandon had found a Salmon filet packaged in a pineapple sauce on a cedar plank at our local grocery store the week before, and he wanted to thaw that out and give it a try today. So it was up to me and the Lawrence farmers market to come up with a side that I would like, just incase I didn’t like salmon and needed to fill up on sides. Potatoes and corn are always a crowd pleaser and very filling, but I can make that from a grocery store and it will likely taste the same as home grown after I add all my cream, butter and salt to it. So in the light of eating healthier, we settled on a vegetable dish.

We wandered the market about 3 times around until we were set on an Idea. I had seen green beans at one booth, and my husband had spotted the booth with shiitake mushrooms, of course. So, garlic green beans with mushrooms, again? Fresh yes, but something I already make often, why? But then my husband remembered he saw a stand with something called, red yard long beans, or red noodle beans. We talked to the booth owner and she informed us they were like green beans, but they have more flavor and are a slightly different texture. We bought a bundle of beans, a bag of mushrooms and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and set off for home to make dinner in a few hours.

20728286_10154876386475886_1948617635021537223_n.jpg

After a nap, some internet surfing, some outside play and an hour with the new kittens, it was finally time to make dinner. While Brandon was tending to the grill, and grilling the salmon, I made the side dish.

20663763_10154871726030886_918102611235146976_n

Baby kittens left to right: Saphira, Toothless and Mushu (our little dragons) 

 

I chopped the shiitake mushrooms and the rosemary while 4 tablespoons of olive oil heated on the stove in a pan. Once heated, I added 2 tablespoons of minced garlic clove to the pan, until browned. I removed the cooked garlic from the pan and placed it to the side and added the mushrooms with rosemary.

While they cooked on low, I cut the beans into nice sizes and added them to the pan with a TBS of water and the garlic.

20770434_10154876386655886_8746914819298676965_n

I placed a lid on the pan for 3 minutes to steam the beans.

After they were tender I tossed them in the pan and added salt and pepper to taste and then served them along side the salmon.

20727939_10154876387595886_7498469417002655167_n20708359_10154876388435886_4728027971328546203_n20729657_10154876388320886_4361500924841456527_n

The whole side dish was better than I expected. The mushrooms were nutty and earthy, while the beans were crisp and clean tasting. The texture was different than a regular green bean, they were more crunchy and they were oddly squeaky when chewed, but overall tasty and the texture wasn’t off putting.

After our healthy dinner, we treated ourselves to a small piece of pumpkin spice coffee cake that I had made Thursday night for bible study.

20708134_10154876449055886_5246419689225307544_n.jpg

I hope you are inspired to shop local and try something new! Once I can remember how I made the pumpkin spice coffee cake, I just might share it. I tend to make things with random handfuls of ingredients and then never write it down. Wish I would have with this one, It is so good!!

A spoon full of sugar, and an Immodium chaser: PCOS life and Metformin

Welcome to the the wonderful world of Metformin! This was going to be our infertility miracle drug, right? It was going to help me lose weight, balance out insulin and sugar in by body so my eggs could be whole and healthy and my hormones balanced.

Well, It may have helped me lose 40 lbs in a year, but I’m pretty sure my gut will be messed up for the rest of my life. That, and I am still not pregnant. I started Metformin August of 2015 by my OB/GYN. I was diagnosed after an ultrasound and some lab work with PCOS, or Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. I wasn’t devastated, I knew many people with children who had PCOS, and I still see a lot of women give birth who have it as well. I knew Metformin wasn’t going to be a magical medication that would get me pregnant, but I knew it would help me lose weight. Little did I know that Metformin’s warning about GI symptoms would send my gut into turmoil! I started as instructed, taking 500mg daily and increasing over 4 weeks to my set dosage of 2000mg daily. I did well with the 500mg, and okay with the 1000mg, but anything above that and I will spend several hours on a throne of white.

I was sick, and devastated, but mostly sick. This magical medication was going to kill me!?!?!?! Well, that may be a little dramatic, but I sure felt like it was possible at 3 am as I sat there wishing I were sleeping as my insides poured out of me. After about 2 weeks of this non stop pain, unto which I created the “butt box”, I went to the only place I knew I could get helpful information; Dr. Google. I surfed for what felt like days, though it was likely hours, for answers about what I could do to stop this volcanic eruption my gut had become. While most sites and bloggs talk about the “minor GI upset” the medication caused, none of them talked about the real life problems. Like that I could never eat a salad again, or drink a little coffee with my cream and sugar.

If you have ever done any medical research into gastric bypass, you may have heard of a problem called Dumping syndrome. Well my friends Metformin will give you the fast non surgical route to dumping syndrome. What this means is every time you eat something sugary or greasy, your stomach and intestines will dump it or push it through so fast that you do not even have a chance to digest it. This leaves not only the, “oo look yesterday’s corn” aspect of going to the bathroom, but adds “oh, the salad I ate 1 hour ago”. So because my fellow internet writers are not as open about what comes out of them and why, I was doomed to find these things out on my own.

What not to eat, and what you can try.

Don’t ever think you can have iceberg lettuce in your salad ever again. Instead try baby spinach. For some unapparent reason, Iceberg lettuce will not digest, and it triggers at least 2 hours of gut stabbing pain that you can later identify on it’s way down to the sewers. (I am trying not to be too descriptive, but I also want to get my point across)

Don’t drink a soda. Diet doesn’t help here. Though most of the problem in dumping syndrome is sugar, the diet sodas sugar substitutes seem to cause the same problem. Instead, drink tons of lemon water and iced tea. You need to hydrate after all that pooping, and anything other than these two items seem to not agree.

Don’t eat anything fried. This one is rough, but its no joke. Metformin seems to cause anything with grease to slide right out. Instead, bake your favorite fried items, like baked “fried” chicken. And replace any oil with Olive oil. It seems to help.

Don’t eat deli meat. Something about the slimy processed meat bugs me anyway, but I have found it travels almost as fast as the lettuce and is just as recognizable as the corn.

There are a few other foods and what not to avoid, but I want to touch on a few bits of advice instead.

Make a butt box. You will thank me later. My box is a small snap on lid box the size of those 97 cent pencil boxes you had in school. Inside I have 3 Preparation H wipes. These are made with witch hazel and they are a lifesaver after you have pooped for the 5th time in an hour. Next I have a small tube of diaper rash cream. Yep, all that wiping and stomach acid will leave your tender parts, extra tender. Next, I have two meds in pill form. Imodium and Kaopectate. One will stop the liquid poops and the other will stop the nausea and sharp gut pains. Lastly, I have petroleum jelly based hemorrhoid cream. I don’t have a magical pattern into which I use these items. One will feel better one time, and another will the next time, but all are very worth it. I carry it in my work bag and I have one at home next to the toilet.

Carry a small notebook. This is used to log your intake and your output. If you start to have a really bad gut day, write down what you ate so you can figure out what caused the problem. Hard to believe, but not everything you eat is trying to kill you, and not everything affects everyone the same. I learned I can handle a 6oz Dr. Pepper as long as I have some zesta crackers and peanut butter right before. I don’t have any idea how this works, but it does. I also know I will avoid a carmel McCafe at all costs, not even a sip.

And my last bit of advice does not come from a medical professional, it comes from me, a person who takes the meds and lives the consequences; It is okay to skip a dose or two for special days. Now if you take this medication because you are a diabetic, you should not skip your meds, but if you are taking it to help you get pregnant only, its probably going to be okay with your doctor (just ask them). I found if I skipped my dose the night before my special day, and the morning dose that day, I would be fine. I would then start back up with the meds that were due that evening. The only time I didn’t take the meds that evening, is if I had any alcohol. This advice is for everyone, you think fried food makes your bottom burn, try having 3 oz of wine.

Again, none of this should be taken as medical advice, please talk to your doctor, they may have help or other ways for you. Mine put me on the extended release of metformin, and it made it to where I could predict when I would start to have bowel troubles that day and I could plan around them. I still skip my dose for days like thanksgiving and annual baking day, but otherwise I am managing okay with what I have learned. Sadly, I am not losing as much weight as quickly, but at least I am functioning again.

In a Rut

 

 

This weekend I had to work. Usually when I work the whole weekend I write in a notebook my blog for the week and then type it all up on Monday for publishing. But this weekend, I was uninspired, unmotivated and unimpressed with most things in life. I don’t have a good excuse for this, I just simply have that “Bla” feeling this week. I am tired, and burnt out on so many levels in so many ways. I just want to turn my mind off for a few days and thankfully I have the next couple of days off. Working 12 hour shifts is nice this way. You work a few days, sleep for half a day (hopefully) after and then have a few days before going back to work again.

introvert

This artist knows what I mean

I selfishly want these days to be my own. I am so tired of always having something to do or somewhere to go or someone to take care of. Don’t get me wrong, I love my OB job, and I am excited for all the new babies I get to care for, but I also just want to sit on the couch at home, with all the lights off, Audiobook or TV going while I wrap myself into a blanket burrito. I don’t even want the company of my dogs. I feel guilty about this feeling, but really why should I? Why do we feel bad when we “check out” for a day?

We all need to take a break, sometimes its five seconds in the bathroom to just breathe, and sometimes we get a rare opportunity to just hole up in a dark corner of our houses for an hour or two, but we are guilted for a list of reasons by other. Oh you didn’t clean your house on your one day off? You didn’t run all your errands today, you waited to drag your family out on a saturday to the store? You want a night to yourself to watch what you want to watch? or to just lay in a hammock in the yard the one day this week it isn’t 100 degrees out?  Why do we all base our actions and daily activities on what others think? Well guess what, those who you think are judging you, also feel the same way. They too, want the day off. They too wish for a quiet moment, secretly, and too afraid to admit they feel guilty too.

Well, I am here to tell you don’t feel guilty, don’t care what others think, take your break. The last thing your family needs is an outburst of anger or depression because you were burnt out and only fumes remain. I’m not saying let your house go to shambles, and ignore your life duties. I am simply saying, If you did the dishes yesterday after dinner, and tonight you have a choice to let them soak while you go take a bath, or do dishes and go straight to bed; I’m telling you to go take that bath with the door closed and some candles and maybe a radio (far away from the tub because water and electricity don’t mix). The dishes will be there tomorrow night after dinner, and you will be a less stressed and more pleasant person to be around tomorrow.

So, Yes, I cleaned my house this AM, but I put a limit on it. I said I would do what I could until noon. Then stop, and take the afternoon to listen to a book while wrapped as a burrito in my freshly laundered blanket. And maybe, just maybe, I will let one of my dogs cuddle with me.

e20280516_10154816009290886_275742752444412152_o

The End…Of Summer

886399_10151743815965886_1557695482_o

I dislike Summer. I don’t like being hot, I can’t wear my hoodies and jeans because its over 100 out and so humid even my sweat has sweat. The day’s are long, and it makes it too late to stay up for a dark campfire and still get up at 5 am the next day. Kids are out of school, Teachers are out of school and the line at Hobby Lobby is so long and filled with tired faces and apathetic children that you just want to scream, GO HOME! but you don’t because that’s selfish and rude. So you sit there, sweating in shorts and a Tshirt and dread getting back into your oven on wheels. Really, What is there to like about Summer? But Fall, I could live in Fall for 9 months of the year and spring thunderstorm season for the last 3.

I know, July 23rd is hardly the last day of summer per most people and as my husband pointed out, as per the calendar. But for me, Fall starts August 1st. That’s right, I am “one of those people”.

fall cat

Fall is my favorite time of year! The smells of cinnamon, pumpkin spice and warm flannel make my heart explode with joy. I love the colors, the textures and the tastes Fall brings and I usually have a very hard time waiting for the calendar and weather to co-operate with what I want. Living in the central state of the U.S.A, fall doesn’t last long as far as the weather goes. August is still summer, and one of our hottest months, but it doesn’t stop me from turning my house into an Autumn paradise. Once September hits, the leaves are usually still green, the grass is tanned and dead from the 114 degree heat in August, and the stores are filled with the beginning Fall line of home goods and fashion, but it still wont feel like autumn until mid October. By then, November will be just around the corner and it turns winter around Thanksgiving. The bitter cold temps happen over night ant the colors are lost as the leaves die in the wink of an eye.

I know on paper, this sounds like a lot of time, but when you work, or do “Audulting”, you miss a lot of Fall’s simple pleasures. One day you go to work, wishing you could stop to gaze at the turning leaves and smell the autumn air, and three days later you are off  work and its snowing and everything nature around you is brown and dead. I am one of those people who want to travel to the North Eastern coast of the U.S.A just to watch the leaves turn, while wrapped in a flannel blanket, drinking spiced cider around an open campfire. I feel that deprived of Fall here! I could never imagine myself living somewhere like Florida, Arizona or even Texas for that matter where I imagine Fall is maybe a week long, if that.

fall drive

So, with things being the way they are, and I loving my life where it is geographically located at the moment, I have made Fall start August 1st. I wash and set out all the blankets, so they are ready for wrapping up in. I break out every “Fall scent” of candle, wax warmer and wall plug in I can find and make my house smell like that one isle in Hobby Lobby. Decorations slowly start finding their way out of storage bins and onto table tops, door ways and the front porch. Lastly, I brew a tall cup of Mystic Chi Tea, open a book and wrap myself up in blankets and alternate between sipping and reading.

fall

My husband, doesn’t share my enthusiasm for Fall. While he enjoy’s the campfire and warm blankets at night, he dislikes all the smells or tastes, particularly cinnamon and pumpkin. Imagine my dismay when, for the first year we were married, my sadness when he wouldn’t let me bring in cinnamon scented potpourri, or take me to starbucks for Pumpkin spice latte’s and pumpkin scones. During that first year, I made him pumpkin soup for dinner, his reaction was so awful is still tease him to this day. (he tried it, made a face, then placed the bowl on the floor for our late dog Lizzy, who also didn’t try it, leading him to proclaim that even the dog won’t eat it) In his defence, he wasn’t mean about it, just proving a point that pumpkin is meant to be loaded with tannerite and shot at or tossed across fields by trebuchets, instead of eaten. My childhood best friend wasn’t much help either, she is a Christmas nut.

So, alone in my quest to make all things autumn, I continued to decorate and “smell up the place”. That is until I met someone else who shared my insane love of fall. There are many a people out there who say they love fall, and those who may even decorate and dabble in fall things, but there are even fewer people out there who share an obsession with it that boarders a lifetime in a straight jacket, like my own obsession. But I met her! It was our first Fall working together in the same Family practice office. At the time, I had my own desk, and was allowed to decorate to my hearts content as long as it fell within the state and building fire code. I had recently found a new wax scent called maple buttercream, it smelled like a fall breakfast of cinnamon toast and pancakes. Of course I was in love and I felt the stinky medical office needed some Autumn love. So I placed it in my manager approved wax warmer and began to bask in the smells. As I am sure you guessed, not all of my co workers appreciate the smell Fall has to offer us, and were complaining all day. I would be asked to turn it off, or change the smell to a summery smell, after all its August! All day long, except for my new best friend, who loved it so much, she assisted me in making the office more festive. We broke out pumpkin shaped baskets that held tootsie rolls for patients, bought more wax smells that fit our Autumn tates and bought each other pumpkin spice latte’s and ate everything pumpkin flavored. I honestly believe I found my kindred spirit in her. We planned our halloween costumes and exchanged recipes and made sure to buy everything pumpkin spice that was on store shelves just to share with the other. We have created pinterest boards specifically for decoration ideas and future autumn needs. I am pretty sure I am in love with her, either that or I’m delusional from all the cinnamon candles we’ve burned.

14590359_10154049521435886_6581001086598934978_n.jpg

So Today, July 23rd, I began to find my Autumn, things, and I even hung up a decoration on the door, because, why does Fall have to start in August when you have a best friend who is willing to make it start in July with you?

12195798_10153244276695886_869825906774281600_n

Infertility and Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat each provide us with an instant window into peoples lives with the simple swipe and click of our fingers. Sometimes this is a good thing. Grandparents get to watch grandchildren grow up and experience new things. Friends can offer comfort from miles away to someone who is having a bad day, month, year even life. We rejoice in the happy times, celebrate events and can even inform everyone we are safe during a disaster or terrorist attack. But what about all the day to day stuff that we over share? or the Opinion that we insert just to spark an argument or provoke wrath from someone we don’t know on a message board? We have all done this. We feel thousands of emotions and express less than 100 a day. We feel lonely or lost and we want others to know that we feel this way, in an effort to connect with someone even if its the sad emoji on Facebook.

In a book I recently finished and don’t encourage you to read as it wasn’t christian in nature with language and adult content, by Hollywood’s Amy Pollar, she wrote a chapter entitled, “My phone is trying to kill me”. She discusses how we are all so glued to your phones and instant knowledge of what our friends are saying and doing, what trouble celebrities are getting into and finding the goriest images on the news from a recent tragic event. We are so soaked up in instant gossip, we forget what is really going on. We share that grotesk image and forget that that bloodied body, belongs to a person who has family, who has a mother, and who will live (if they lived through the event) with that image being them. What a way to enforce PTSD?!?!

We are distracted from the important moments in life and our moods are changed in a second with each status we read. We are influential people. We are mentally programed to mimic others as a sense of sharing. Much like when you spend a month in a state/country with an accent, you, yourself can begin to use the same accent. Its a trick our minds use to help us empathize and even blend in. That is why, when you fill your life with nothing but negative facebook posts, you yourself begin to feel negative, and start looking at the not so bright side of things in life.

I am very guilty of this. I have found myself praying for a friend’s fertility treatments, crying with another friend who suffered a miscarriage, “Liked” several posts announcing they are expecting (one with twins!) and cooed over newborn photos of those who were recently born, and still I side with the bitter friends who also can’t seem to conceive. My attitude had been stuck in negative mode. Each time I was fronted with a new pregnancy announcement, I wanted to post my own thoughts and woes, I wanted to whine about it being my turn, and cry that it isn’t fair that someone has 5 kids and is pregnant again, can’t you share one with me? But I knew I was being sucked into negative thinking and so I would sit quietly, scrolling past posts and bottling it up.

One day, it just clicked for me though. I stopped being so focused on what I can’t do, and started focusing on who I am and what I am doing now. I am not really upset about my infertility, I am upset by the social shadow that is cast by public opinion on infertility. I want to Share my opinions and talk casually about fertility struggles without being told, “it will happen for you”, “in God’s time and in his way”, “just quit trying, it will work”, “Just adopt”, or my favorite one to dislike, “be lucky, kids are the worst”. I know all these things, I understand where you come from when you say them, But I just want to have a casual conversation with someone about my eggs not growing into a child while sipping on tea with out being judged or feeling guilty that I am talking about something that is as normal to me as driving to work.  I don’t want pitty, and so I don’t post about it on facebook.

People are going to continue to have babies around me. More so than I can control, because I am an OB nurse. I planned my life this way. Much to social media’s disgust, I don’t cry when a mother gives birth, because I have yet to experience it. I cry because I watch the faces of the Mom’s and Dad’s as they lock eyes and grasp their sticky wet infant in their arms. There is a brief second, filled with love, understanding and joy that passess between them, and I cry because I get to experience that with them. I get to be the nurse who they may or may not ever remember. I get to be me, and I get to be casual about it.

So, please, if you know someone who is going through infertility issues, don’t treat us like we are fragile. Don’t avoid conversations about babies, and please share your images of your babies and statuses about them crossing life milestones. Treat us like your friend, and ask us about our life plans and what we want to go do on Saturday. We may share a golden nugget of hope for the future with you, or we may cry bitterly on your shoulder because the lab work came back with unpromising news.

 

 

Jokes

funny-popsicle-sticks-jokes-2.jpg

Summer is in full swing, and its getting really hot out. When I am hot, I don’t find things funny. Matter of fact, I can be quite the grizzly bear when it comes to my attitude when I am hot. So to cool down my husband and I bought some frozen treats to munch on, and lo and behold my humor came back. However I think it was more due to us competing to see who could find the worst frozen joke printed on a wooden stick. Here are a few we have found so far. Share in the comments ones you have found.

Where do you look for kittens in a library? -In the card CAT-olog

Why can an elephant never forget? -because he has a trunk full of memories.

Why did the foot smile? – He was toe happy

What kind of pets does a band have?- Trum-pets

Where does spaghetti go to dance? – The Meat-ball

What is a golf club’s favorite drink? – Tee

What did Zero say to Eight? – Nice belt

How did the phone propose? – He gave her a ring

What do you call a cow with a twitch? – Beef Jerky

What happened to the wind? – It blew away

 

 

ALso, I made my own joke when I was a kid, I still laugh at it today,

What is the last thing to go through a lightning bugs mind when it hits your windshield? – A bright idea

 

4 Recipes for the 4th

4 Recipes for the 4th, or any other day of the week you feel like having some amazing food!!!

Happy 4th of July everyone! I hope you had a safe weekend and will have a safe celebration!

The first 4 days of July are the true start to summer. Yes, it’s been summer since last month, and mother nature turned up the heat about 2 months ago, but true summer doesn’t start until July 4th. We start camping, Barbequing and spending a fortune on outdoor supplies we will use maybe twice this year; but it wouldn’t be summer without it. While many of you focus on your plans, and getting your kids ready and safe for blowing things up, or watching things blow up, I sit and think about the tastes of summer. Yes, every season has its own taste. And this summer, tastes like smoked chicken, sticky BBQ ribs, Peach ice cream and bourbon vanilla whipped topping. Oh, yes! That is your mouth watering at the very letters in that sentence.

Wait, I will be right back!

Now that I have my bowl of peach ice cream with bourbon vanilla whipped topping in hand, I am ready to tell you all the smoky details.

This last weekend we had my parents and his parents over for a summer BBQ. On the menu was the Smoked chicken and Peach ice cream with whipped topping. Honestly, the whipped topping was a total mistake, but ultimately a very delicious one!

The Chicken

19554388_10154746711160886_6356385512498089278_n.jpg

Brandon had really been wanting to start up the smoker, and I had really been wanting to get rid of the two whole chickens sitting in my freezer. So the smoked chicken was born. One week before, I sat the two birds in the fridge to thaw. On Thursday night we took the birds and soaked them in a brine in the fridge until Saturday morning. After rinsing the brine off, Brandon smoked the meat for 2 hours over cherry wood and charcoal.

19601543_10154746711405886_151535781730752073_n

Brandon patiently waiting the 2 hours for the meat to cook

Of course, this doesn’t finish cooking the meat, so it was finished in the oven to bring it to FDA approved temperature.   It looked amazing, smelled amazing and tasted like I imagine heaven will taste like. The breast meat was so juicy it didn’t pull apart in strings, but in whole chunks!19554688_10154746711610886_5028459543261007498_n

After tasting this we decided the recipe was a keeper!

Smoked Chicken

Brine

  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of honey in the raw (or just honey)
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 1/2 tsp savory
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary 
  • 2 tbs basil
  • 2 tbs thyme
  • 2 tbs sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 whole Chickens, thawed and rinsed 
  • 1 gallon of water

In a blender, blend on high everything but the Chickens and half the water.  Place chicken into a large stock pot or a medium storage container or we used a black canning pot. Pour blended mix over chickens and use the rest of the water to rinse out the blender, making sure to get ever last bit of seasoning out and onto the chicken. Cover with lid and place in the fridge for 24-36 hours. 

Smoking

Get the smoker started using charcoal and cherry wood. Get it up to temperature, about 200-250 degrees.  Meanwhile remove chicken from brine and gently rinse some of the salt water off of the skin, while taking care not to remove too many of the herbs stuck on there. Quickly get the chickens on the smoker, as to not loose too much heat by opening the lid. Smoke the chickens breasts down for 2 hours, add wood to smoker as needed to keep it at temperature. Dump brine down the sink and go do the dishes! 

During the last 30 min of smoking, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a half sheet cake pan with tin foil. Once the time is up on the smoker, take the chickens out and place them on the pan, breasts down. Gently place foil over the chickens leaving an opening on each long side to tent the moisture in, but not to over steam. Bake for 45min to 1 hour. Check the temperature of the meat in both the leg and the breast to ensure it is 160 degrees. Let meat rest on baking tray uncovered for 30 min. After rest, carve the chicken and serve. 

We could easily have served this all on its own, but I had 6 overly ripe peaches that needed to be used or tossed. So I decide to make ice cream!

19747777_10154755802000886_953374768_o

Peach Ice cream

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer (yes you read that right)
  • 3 peaches pitted, peeled and pureed
  • 3 peaches pitted, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp clear vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 3 vanilla beans worth of scrapping (or 1/2tsp vanilla bean powder)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  •  1 pinch of salt

Mix everything together in a large pitcher, adding the chopped peaches after everything else has been mixed. Refrigerate over night or at least 2 hours. Once chilled, pour into ice cream maker and mix/ churn until soft serve consistency. Pour into a container and freeze until hardened, or serve as a soft serve. 

This was really good on its own, but while making another flavor of icecream, I had blended some whipping cream, vanilla and granulated sugar a little too long and ended up with whipped topping (honestly I forgot it was in the blender and I had started doing dishes). Now I was stuck with plain old whipped topping. Instead of wasting it, freezing it or eating it with my fingers, I dug deep in the pantry and found that 2 year old opened bottle of Jim Bean burbon I used to make BBQ sauce one year. The recipe is as follows:

Burbon Vanilla Whipped Topping

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/4 each cup granulated and powdered sugars
1 TBS clear vanilla
2 tsp Vanilla bean powder
2 TBS Burbon, or a titch more
Pinch of salt

Blend everything in a blender for 2 min. Scrape the edges down and blend until stiff. Remove from blender and hand whisk until smooth. Serve over that amazing peach ice cream or place in the fridge for later use. 

We ate ourselves silly Saturday. Our parents brought potato salad, chips and a lemon lush desert to go along with our creations and it only left us wanting more smoked meat later in the week. So here we are, it’s the 4th of July and Brandon and I both some how were not scheduled to work. I bought us some ribs, and we set out at 7:30 this AM to make us some lunch!

19247661_10154755451790886_4903583971723371660_n

Sticky BBQ ribs

  • 1 rack of ribs, preferably pork ribs with loin meat.
  • Homemade Sweet and spicy BBQ sauce
  • Homemade BBQ rub
  • 1 Cup Apple cider Vinegar

Set ribs out to warm up to room temperature about 30-45 min. Meanwhile bring charcoal and cherry wood up to temperature, 200-250 degrees. Once meat is room temp, remove the silver skin from the bone side of the ribs. I find the easiest way is to get a corner started, then grab the skin with a paper towel and the meat with my other hand and pull the skin down at a 45 degree angle. It sometimes tears and leaves a bit behind but I go back and pull those off when the majority is done. Make a thin slice down the meat between each rib, running parallel to the bone. Turn over and make a thin slice diagonally down the meat going left to right, then right to left creating a large diamond shape between the cuts. Frankly, as long as you put some thin cuts down the meat, it doesn’t matter what shape it leaves. Just don’t cut too deep.

Pour apple cider vinegar over both sides of the meat in a half sheet cake pan and massage the meat side of the ribs. turn over and let the meat side soak in the ACV for 2-5 min while you make the dry rub.

19656928_10154755450910886_431389893170316498_n

Dry rub

  • 2TBS black pepper
  • 1 Tsp Dry Marjoram
  • 1 Tsp Dry Thyme
  • 1 Tsp Dry Savory
  • 1 Tsp Dry Rosemary
  • 1 Tsp Ground red pepper
  • 1 Tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tsp Steak seasoning ( I used Webber brand)
  • 1TBS Flake or freshly cracked salt

Crack salt over meat side of ribs. Then Mix all other ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle 3/4 of the mix on the meat side. Massage the meat, making sure to get the seasonings on the bone tips and in between the cuts on the meat. Turn over and rub remaining 1/4 of the mix on the bone side. Let rest 10 min meat side up.

Place the meat on the smoker. You can do this two ways; You can lay it bone side down flat on the grill, or you can spiral wrap the meat bone side out and place it on the grill. I decided to spiral wrap, as pictured below. The theory behind this, is it allows the smoke to penetrate the meat, but it doesn’t overbear it. This allow the other flavors you just dry rubbed all over to show through in the final product. 

 

Smoke at 200-250 degrees for 2.5 hours. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, Remove from smoker and lay flat, meat side up on half sheet cake pan lined with foil and brush with half of your homemade BBQ sauce; or you can just leave them dry, or you can brush with KC masterpiece original BBQ. No, I will not say brush with your favorite, because your favorite will make it taste different than what this recipe is trying to do. So just make the semi homemade sauce already! 

Semi Homemade Sweet and Spicy BBQ sauce

19554637_10154755451520886_1436750564502686601_n

  • 1 cup KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce (this is what make this recipe semi homemade)
  • 6oz Dr. Pepper made with Sugar (that is different than just regular Dr. Pepper)
  • 1/2 cup Bourbon 
  • 1 TBS smoked sea salt
  • 1 TBS Steak seasoning ( I used webber brand) 
  • 2 tsp ground red pepper
  • 2 TBS real maple syrup

In a sauce pan twice the size it needs to be, whisk all ingredients together. Bring to a boil and let simmer until reduced by half and thick. (see photo above) Remove from heat and let cool. 

Pour half BBQ sauce over ribs and cook tented with foil cover for 30-45 min at 350 degrees. At the 15 min mark pour 4 oz of Dr Pepper into pan to create a sweet steam. This keeps the meat moist. 

Remove from oven, uncover, pour remaining bbq sauce over ribs and let rest 15 min. Slice ribs off individually between the bones and serve. 

 

I hope you enjoy these recipes and your holiday! You can tweak it however you want to make it yours, but these have been proven tasty and are worth a try in their original form.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July and don’t forget to thank the Men and women who fought and those who continue to fight for our Freedom here in America!

 

Click the photos to enlarge

 

“New Meat” and Judging Others

Starting a new job?

Most of us have been there, the “newbie”, the “rookie”, the “new meat”. We find ourselves under the stare of the crowds eyes as we walk into new employee orientation (NEO). Granted, everyone in this room is also a newbie, but it doesn’t matter as you were the next person to walk into the room.

I recently started my new job at a new place in the same town. Immediately upon entering the lobby of the building, where we were all to meet, I was reminded of the scene from the 2004 movie, Mean Girls, where Cady (Katie) describes the lunch room as an animalistic representation of an African watering hole.

Luckily, there was no actual physical attacking of one another at my NEO. However, it was fairly easy to judge based on first appearances what animal partnered with what person.

You have your Lionesses (there were only 2 guys in a group of 60+); these are the super slim, tight pants, cat eyed women who gave you “the look” the second you walked in. They intimidate with glance and often sit in a pack of like minded women. Then you have the gazelles; those whom avoid eye contact at all costs, they fidget with their torn up paper in their laps and wring their hands. Any loud noise would send them scurrying away. Next we have the tigers; the jocks if you will. Next you have the oxpecker birds, you know, the quiet social birds that blend into the background. They form a symbiotic relationship with many of the animals, serving a purpose, blending in to any social circle. Lastly you have the alligators; the strong rough looking women with soft underbellies. Once you get to know them and look past their outer gruff, you find a heart of gold and a story worth listening too.

So where do I fall into this mix? I like to think I’ve always been a bird. Both now and in my teenage years, I easily made friends with any social circle. I could fade into the surroundings if I wanted to, I am helpful and supportive. I find my bird like position honorable and I honestly don’t dream of being anything else. But this doesn’t mean you are stuck in your animal class, after all we are really humans. Each of us are strong in our own way and in different situations. A novice to one topic and an expert in another.

During orientation, one of our topics discussed touched on the 2-2-1 rule. You have 2 eyes, 2 ears and 1 mouth. In other words, you have more listening and looking tools than speaking tools. Take a second to listen to others, watch their non-verbal communication and then speak. This is all good advice, however we need to watch what we are perceiving when we watch. For example, todays blog was very judgemental on first impressions. I had already decided in the first 13 seconds who I was going to sit with at lunch and who I had every intent to avoid.

It’s these 13 seconds worth of thought that stop us from connecting with others. We judge, and assume we are being judged. Some keep their judgements to their own thoughts and others openly display them, but both groups will eventually hurt someone.

I am personally trying to stop judging others based on that first impression. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes good judgment is needed in a safety situation. You know in your gut that something is wrong, you make a judgement to get out or avoid a situation. However, I am referring to the simple thoughts that cross our minds when we get our patient assignments and judge them based on the report we received, or we avoid a checkout line because on first glance we label the employee as grumpy. Everyone has their own story, their own reason for their looks, their mood, their socio-economical situation, and it is our job as decent humans to listen to that story. To celebrate, to comfort and to simply cut them a break.

This video below really drove home some of these points.

Luke 6: 37-42

37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 
38Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” 
39 And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? 
40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. 
41 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? 
42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

 

Please join me in stopping the judgement. Pray for me, as I will continue to pray for the world and myself; that one day we would all realize, every life has a story and every life matters.

Down time

The words “down time” have always had a huge negative connotation for me. Not only does it imply a waste of my time, but at work our computer system for charting electronic medical records, would break, or be under maintenance and it was referred to as “down time” and you had “down time” paper charting you had to fill out and eventually manually insert into the EMR when it came “back up”.  But today I am not discussing the functionality of an EMR, I am simply referring to the time I am currently find myself in.

I am currently on a week long vacation while I transition from my previous job, and into my next great adventure of a job. I thought I had everything planned out. I was going to use this week to change my bodies horrible on again off again relationship with a night shifters sleep, and use the rest of my time to organize my house and spend time with my husband when he gets off work. This has not been easy and it is only MONDAY! First, my sleep relationship is very rocky. I have to go clear back to Friday to set this whole thing up: Friday slept most of the day in preparation for my shift that night. Worked Friday night. Came home, and slept 4 total hours. Awake from 11am Saturday until 8 am Sunday morning. Slept from 8am-10am so I could attend worship Sunday morning. Had Fathers day Lunch with my parents, came home and of course I was wide awake and didn’t go to sleep until 8:30pm. Slept horribly until 2am this AM, then I was wide awake again.

[Insert down time here.]

What am I going to do at 2 am? I can’t do dishes, laundry, vacuum or organize the pantry. All of these things produce way to much noise in our house and would wake my peacefully sleeping spouse. I tried to read, but couldn’t focus. Facebook was uneventful as it always is at odd hours and Pinterest couldn’t hold my interest. (see what I did there?) So I did what I assume everyone does at that time of night, I watched the rest of Anne of Green Gables on Netflix. Once I finished the last episode, and had bid my husband good bye for his work day, I set out to clean the house.

potato

[fast forward to now, through a fairly uneventful day where I ended up taking a 4 hour nap in the afternoon by accident]

Now: Right now, I find myself in another unpleasant form of “down time”. Sadly during my week hiatus from working, my husband is ‘on call’, and wouldn’t it just work out that he is called into work this evening. I had the house clean, dishes done, candles lit and had started thinking about what to cook for dinner when his phone rang, and he was whisked right out the door to an emergent water leak 67 miles from our house. I am by no means complaining about him working ‘on call’. Him being called out means a little extra money in his paycheck to help pay for my week of not working, but it does mean I am stuck in “down time”.

dc6136f110b37fc4b30d8c7ae79735c9

What do I do with this “down time”? I had no idea. So, I compiled a list, and the reasons I came up with not to do or to do those things…because, hey, I like lists.

  • Go outside- It’s hot, humid and there are mosquitoes out there.
  • Watch a netflix movie- I’ve already spent too much time watching TV today
  • Organize my pantry- but what will I do tomorrow?
  • Vacuum the house again- Again? eh, it too can be done tomorrow.
  • Scrapbook- you want me to pull everything out of storage for 2 hours, HA! No!
  • Social media- again, not interesting.
  • Make myself dinner- But then what will my husband eat?
  • Go out to dinner with a friend- attempted this one, but short notice and the fact that every good place close to here is not open on Mondays, or closed at 5pm. (Why? Topeka?)
  • Eat a jar of frosting from the can.
  • Bake something- I really shouldn’t, I sort of baked 8 dozen cookies on Thursday last week, but at the same time I gave those away….so?
  • Blog and eat gram crackers covered in cream cheese frosting while complaining about not having anything productive to do.

Ultimately I did the last two, sorry to write such uneventful things today.  I baked a simple coffee cake while writing this blog, and yes I ate two cinnamon gram cracker squares with cream cheese frosting from a can. (sorry, not sorry)Dinner is still undecided. I figured I would wait to eat with my husband, but of course he will have to pick something up and bring it home, because I already did all the dishes and put them away.

Simple Coffee Cake

coffee cake

cake

3/4 c all purpose flour

1/4 c granulated sugar

1.25 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 small egg

1/2 c milk ( I used water and vanilla whey protein)

2 Tbs vegetable or canola oil

2 tsp Vanilla extract

Topping

1.25 c all purpose flour

1/2 c light brown sugar, packed. Plus 1/4 cup for between the layers.

1tsp ground cinnamon (or more), Plus some for between layers.

1/2 cup or 1 stick melted salted butter, cooled to liquid room temp

Powdered sugar or cream cheese icing from a can.

 

  1. Preheat oven to 325, and use bakers joy spray to coat a loaf pan.
  2. Mix cake ingredients, first in one bowl whisk all wet ingredients and the salt. In second bowl sift all dry ingredients. add dry to wet and stir just enough to make the dry wet. It will be lumpy and you will want to mix it more, but just don’t do it or your cake will by dry and dense.
  3. Place 1/2 the batter in the pan, sprinkle a layer of cinnamon and brown sugar down, and then add the rest of the batter.
  4. make the topping. literally mix everything together. it will by dry. big lumps are perfect but small is fine too.
  5. dump topping on cake batter, spread in random fashion all the way to the edges and rough it up a bit with a fork for that uneven rebel look.
  6. Bake for 30-40 min. Ovens vary, altitude varies. Just make sure a tooth pick comes out clean and the top isn’t burnt.
  7. Let cool then dust with powdered sugar, or drizzle with cream cheese frosting.
  8. Try not to eat it all before tomorrow. 

Crawfish stuffed Peppers

Wow, it has been a very busy these last two weeks. I ended up not even having the time to post last week. My apologies to those who read my last post and were waiting for the Crawfish stuffed Peppers recipe. We have been planning a vacation and then going to vacation with family. We had a fantastic time in Branson, MO and its surrounding towns. I would have to say my absolute favorite part of the whole trip was our visit to Lost Canyon cave at Top of the Rock. A group of 4 rides on a golf cart through some amazing views of waterfalls and a cave. It costs, as does everything in the Branson area, but it was money well spent! After all, if driving through scenic views out voted our second favorite part of the trip, holding a baby Kangaroo, then it must have been amazing!

19023396_10154683238230886_2963854044267312629_o

Indian Head falls at Lost Canyon Cave- Top of the Rock

 

19055814_10154683210345886_1321290756199877130_o

Brandon holding a roo at Promise Land Zoo Branson

We had a fantastic time, and we are already planning a follow up trip some time this fall. But back to why we are here today. What to do with that left over crawfish. We tried our hardest on Memorial weekend to eat through several pounds of crawfish, but sadly we had leftovers. It happens. But what do you do with leftover crawfish meat?

You make one of the many crawfish dishes, of course! Last year we made crawfish stuffed french bread, and though the stuffing tasted great, we are not fans of french bread. So this year I set out on pinterest to find something we have not tried yet. After a few ideas, we settled on Crawfish stuffed Peppers from a fellow blogger, Ms. enPlace. Now, she uses fresh just caught, uncooked crawfish tail meat in her dish, but leftover cooked tails work just as well, they just get added in at the end of the cooking, to just heat them through. Be careful not to over cook the tails as they can become tough and gummy to chew. She addressed this in the last part of the recipe.

We loved how this tasted, and it was fairly easy to make. The hardest and worst part is peeling all that tail meat out, but it is well worth it.

Here is Ms. enPlace’s recipe.

Crawfish Stuffed Grilled Peppers

crawfish stuffed grilled peppers 4.jpg

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 red bell peppers (can use yellow or orange or a mix)
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb crawfish tails *see note
1/2 tsp Tony’s Creole Seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion
about 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (I used italian cheese blend from Kraft)
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat.  While the oil heats, slice each red pepper in half lengthwise.  Remove the seeds and ribs.  Set aside.

When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and green bell pepper.  Saute for about 5 minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Stir in the crawfish and season with Tony’s and salt.  If the mixture seems dry, add about 1 tablespoon of water.  Cook the crawfish for about 5.  Add the corn and tomato and saute for a minute or two.  Toss in the green onion.

Meanwhile, heat a grill or grill pan.

Fill the pepper halves with the crawfish and corn mixture.  Top each half with about 1/2 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.  Grill for 10-15 minutes, or until nicely browned in spots.  ~~I filled the peppers first then grilled.  It would probably be better to grill the peppers first then fill for even cooking.~~

Remove to a serving platter.  Squeeze the lemon over the top of the peppers and sprinkle the zest on top.

*Leftover boiled crawfish would be good to use here.  If this is the case, add the crawfish with the corn and tomato just to warm them.  Also, keep in mind that boiled crawfish will be spicy.  Season the filling accordingly.
All the credit to Ms. enPlace for such a good dish! We ate it up fast! Happy cooking! and don’t forget to visit Ms. enPlace for other great southern dish ideas.