“Oh My God, I Actually Like Brussel Sprouts!” Recipe

Ok, so I’m trying to make healthier choices in my life. Exercise on a regular basis, eat better, etc. Surprisingly, one of the easiest changes I’ve made has been adding in lots and lots of green veggies. Turns out I’m not half bad at cooking veggies. At least, I’m not half bad after some serious trial and error.

The veggie I’m most proud of is the humble Brussel sprout. Because who knew they could taste so good? Also proud because I had to eat a lot of not so tasty Brussel sprouts before figuring out how to cook them the way I like them. My mom loves Brussel sprouts, and she throws a huge thing of whole sprouts in the oven, sprinkled with balsamic, salt and pepper and they taste great! When I tried to copy it they never cooked all the way through.

Then I tried making Brussel sprout chips after seeing them online. These too didn’t turn out for me. I don’t have the best knife skills so they cooked unevenly.

Undaunted, I decided to give up on the oven and the idea that my family will ever eat Brussel sprouts with me. So the following recipe is for a single serving.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 decent sized Brussel sprouts
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • garlic salt
  • lemon pepper

Instructions

  1. Halve or quarter the Brussel sprouts depending on how big they are and how quickly you want them to cook
  2. Warm up a medium frying to medium high heat
  3. Throw in your sprouts with some olive oil (I use about 1 teaspoon) and lemon juice (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  4. Season them with garlic salt and lemon pepper.
  5. Cover them for about two minutes, or until the sprouts are bright green.
  6. Uncover and continue to cook until they are as crispy and brown as you like them.

**** I always break my sprouts apart while I cook them. Not only do they cook faster, but the little “leaves” of the sprouts turn into crispy little Brussel sprout chips.****

The acidity of the lemon juice really makes these pop. And getting them nice and crispy makes me pine less for potato chips. They are also super filling without a lot of calories. In conclusion; Brussel sprouts for the win!

 

 

 

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The “Perfect” Week and Writer’s Block

Last week I challenged myself to accomplish two goal this week. The first being closing all my activity rings on my Apple Watch, and the second being blogging every day this week. They were relatively small goal, but I’m still proud to have accomplished both of them. But it got me thinking about writing and my relationship with writing.

I started writing when I was in third grade. I wrote and illustrated a series of books about a kingdom of mice, and while the books have been lost to time, I feel confident in saying they were epic. When I hit puberty I started using writing as an outlet for working through all of my normal adolescent frustrations. By the time I was in college my two main ways of coping were writing and killing off facsimiles of people on The Sims. Hey, it’s better than drugs.

The thing is, I’m not subtle. So to use writing as a coping mechanism meant that I had to give zero fucks about what people thought. I once wrote a play about things ending badly with a guy and named the villain after the guy. I had an acting teacher I didn’t get along with so one of my characters cut out the tongue of her acting teacher. A stranger once called me a bitch in a supermarket so I murdered him with a shopping cart…. in a play that I wrote.

I was really good at not giving a shit. It was fun, liberating, and made me feel like a badass. But all of that changed when I became a mom. Kids are usually a package deal. When I became a mom I also became a partner to my (now) husband, a daughter in law to my in laws, so many different things to different people. And quite suddenly I went from giving zero fucks to giving allllll the fucks.

I bit my tongue, I tried not to curse (which I really enjoy doing and believe I’m pretty good at), I tried to be so many things to so many people, that a part of me got lost in the shuffle. I worried about what people would think of me and how they would judge me. And I couldn’t write anymore.

I kept getting into my head and shutting myself down. I was worried. Worried that the people around me, who cared about me, would judge me. I mean, the idea of telling my Christian in laws that I was writing a feminist, vampire erotica sounds awful.

Even worse somehow, is that all those fucks I suddenly gave were for people I love, but who also annoy the shit out of me occasionally. My husband and I are incredibly lucky to have built an amazing support system for our family. But what do I do when that support system pisses me off? I can’t write about mowing them down with shopping carts, they are an amazing support system, they read everything I write.

The whole thing has made writing incredibly hard for the last eight years.

Which is why, tonight, I’m patting myself on the back for reaching my goal of a perfect week. I wanted to end the week with a post that’s a little more personal, a little more raw. Try to get back some of that catharsis writing used to provide. Honestly, it just feels good to write. About anything.

A Trip To Tinkertown

Summer is in full swing here in New Mexico. This is the first year I’m home with both kids during the summer and it’s….. a lot. Fun, yes. Fulfilling, mostly. But a lot. I thought I’d fill the days with productive house cleaning and fun DIY projects for the kids, but mostly there’s been a lot of video games and movies. There was one science project that involved water, clear nail polish and construction paper, but it didn’t really work out. So I think we were all grateful the other week when my husband suggested a quick afternoon at Tinkertown.

Tinkertown Museum is located in Sandia Park, about twenty minutes from Albuquerque, which means it’s 10 degrees cooler, which is very welcome in the 100 degree heat we’ve been having. It started as a traveling exhibit of wood-carved figures and dioramas, with antique toys mixed in here and there. It’s now a rambling museum of oddities. IMG_2172

I love bringing the kids here. It’s small enough that I don’t worry about them getting lost or separated, and there’s something new to discover every time we go. They love exploring here. Pushing buttons to bring the dioramas to life, pumping quarters into the old carnival machines, putting messages in bottles.

The outside of the museum is as fun as the inside. With hummingbirds diving at all the feeders, and a mini western town to wander through. In the gift shop there’s stick candy and fancy soaps. My daughter gets a grab bag for a couple dollars and my son gets a glider in the shape of a butterfly.

It’s always good to get out of the house, go somewhere. Somewhere a little cooler preferably. And off the beaten path. It was a relaxing afternoon. IMG_2202

Gluten Free, Slow Cooker Apple Crisp

My mom can’t cook. She has lots of great qualities, but she can’t cook. Growing up there was lots of burned fajita veggies, pancakes with batter in the middle, and lumpy Mac and cheese. But, there were a few recipes she excelled at. Her apple pie was delicious.

A few years ago she went gluten free for health reasons, so no more apple pie for her. So when I found myself with lots of apples, I thought it’d be nice to make a dessert that was reminiscent of her apple pie that she could actually eat. Bonus points for it being made in my slow cooker.

Ingredients for the Crumble Top

  • 1 cup gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • 1 cup walnuts

Ingredients for the Apples

  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used 8 small Gala apples)

Instructions

  1. Put all of the ingredients for the crumble topping, except the butter, into a food processor.
  2. Cut your butter into pats and add it to your food processor.
  3. Pulse for 30 seconds to 1 minute until you get a crumb texture. Set aside.
  4. Mix your white sugar, cornstarch, ginger and cinnamon together.
  5. Dump your chopped apples, the sugar mixture, and the lemon juice into your slow cooker and stir until your apples are evenly coated.

    IMG_2464
    Chopped apples. Bite size.
  6. Evenly pour your crumb topping on top of your apples.
  7. Cook on the high setting of your slow cooker for two hours.

And that’s it. Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy having your whole house smell like apple crisp. And if you don’t have a gluten allergy, feel free to use regular flour, it’ll still turn out yummy.

 

 

My Favorite Quick Service Restaurants at Disney World

I love Disney World. I love food. So, naturally I have a lot of thoughts on food at Disney World. I decided to share some of those thoughts with you. Below I highlight my favorite quick service (aka counter service) restaurants in each of the main theme parks.

Backlot Express – Hollywood Studios

Backlot Express is, fine. I chose it because right now, before the opening of Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars Land) there aren’t a whole lot of interesting quick service options at Hollywood Studios. It beats out the other options solely because of the Star Wars theming to the food. I’m a sucker for Darth Vader waffles, what can I say?

It serves pretty standard theme park food, chicken nuggets, burgers, fries, with a Star Wars twist. So those chicken nuggets become Dark Side Chicken and Waffles (Vader waffles, yum), the burger has a black bun, etc. The food is good, but basic, and there are decent lighter options as well. My favorite things about this place are the super cute themed cupcakes and the Star Wars glow cubes in my drink.

Columbia Harbour House – Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom has lots of really good quick service restaurants, so what makes this one my favorite? Two words; Upstairs. Seating. I know, what’s the big deal about upstairs seating? In my personal experience, no matter how crazy busy the park is, the upstairs at  Columbia Harbour House is always relatively quiet. This is the restaurant I go to after using all my Fast Passes, riding all the mountains, meeting Mickey and the princesses, and the kids (and adults) have melt down. I get my good food and I head upstairs to find a table by the window.

Harbour House sits in between Liberty Square and Fantasyland, so depending on where you sit you have some fun views of Haunted Mansion or Rapunzel’s Tower. I like the food too! They have great Mac and cheese (my daughter’s go to), a huge meal with fried fish, shrimp, and chicken nuggets (my husband’s go to), and lots of other options that have a tendency to change so that I get the variety that I like in a restaurant.

Tangierine Cafe – Epcot

Okay, this was a hard choice. I loooooove eating at Epcot. Picking just one restaurant from there is almost as hard as picking which of my kids I love most. And honestly, I hardly ever have a full meal at a quick service at Epcot because I’m usually enjoying all the small plates that are offered at one of their many food-centric festivals.

But if I had to pick, Tangierine Cafe would be my favorite. It’s located in the Morocco pavilion in World Showcase and offers up huge, delicious portions of Mediterranean food. Shawarma, couscous, hummus, so much yum! They also offer up great vegetarian options and less adventurous options for the kids. The shawarma chicken and lamb platter is full to the brim with deliciousness and also enough to split between two people who aren’t huge eaters.

Flame Tree Barbecue – Animal Kingdom

Going from the hardest choice to the easiest. Here’s the thing. Animal Kingdom has really good food. The stuff at Harambe Market looks mouthwatering. I’ve heard great things about the quick service food in the new Pandora land. But somehow, even when I have every intention of expanding my horizons, and trying something new, I always end up at Flame Tree Barbecue.

Why? Well it probably has something to do with the smell. As soon as you enter Discovery Island you can smell the smoked meat, and once that happens all intentions of eating somewhere else disappear. The food tastes as good as it smells, and thank goodness that barbecue sauce is self serve so I can drown everything in it. And I can’t not talk about their French fries with pulled pork and cheese. Because it is my everything. I tried this late at night with Animal Kingdom’s signature beer, the Safari Amber, and all the stress of the day just melted away. And it had been a stressful day. We were visiting Pandora the second day it was open and I had Fast Passes for Flight of Passage for 8:15am. But none of that mattered when I bit into those fries.

I love the seating here as well. It’s all outdoors, but covered, and a lot of it has very nice views of the water. It can be very tranquil, however, my favorite place to sit is where I can see Expedition Everest and hear people screaming on the ride’s big drop.

So those are my personal favorites and why I like them. Agree? Disagree? Let me know. And if you go to Disney World soon, bring me some of those fries?

 

Mojito Recipe

Full disclosure; the only reason I grow mint every year is so I can have mojitos all summer long. I love them. They’re light and refreshing and pretty easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 1 shot (1 oz) of light rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice
  • ice
  • club soda
  • 5 or 6 fresh mint leaves

Instructions

  1. Put the mint leaves, sugar, and lime juice into your glass (I use a 12 oz glass).
  2. Muddle(smash the heck out of) the ingredients at the bottom of your glass. The more you smash and bruise your mint the more minty your mojito will taste, so get violent.
  3. Fill your glass about halfway with ice. Pour in your rum.
  4. Fill with club soda. Stir.

And enjoy your refreshing mojito!

I also enjoy making virgin mojitos for my kiddos. Just leave out the rum (duh) and put in more sugar. Another 1/4 teaspoon should do the trick.

Pancakes For Beginners

This is not the recipe for the best pancakes you will ever eat (at least I kind of hope not), this is a basic recipe and more importantly, some simple tips for cooking pancakes. This is for people who curse at their griddles and can’t figure out why their pancakes never work. This is for people who have all but given up. 😉

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter (melt it before you start mixing your ingredients so it cools slightly)

Instructions

  1. Mix your dry ingredients.
  2. Add your wet ingredients, making sure to not over stir your batter.

Cooking Your Pancakes

  • Get your griddle or non stick frying pan to the right temperature. I put mine on a little over medium heat and let it warm up while I make my batter. ***Test your griddle or pan to make sure it’s the right temperature by splashing just a little bit of water on it. If the water droplets “dance” on the pan it’s a good heat for cooking pancakes. If the water evaporates right away, the pan is too hot. ***
  • I spray my pan with cooking spray right before I drop the batter in the pan because my “non stick” frying pan has a tendency to stick. If your pan or griddle is better than mine, feel free to skip this step.
  • Drop some batter into the pan. The smaller the pancake, the easier to flip and the faster it’ll cook, so if you struggle with pancakes, you might want to start with silver dollar size.
  • *** Don’t try to flip your pancake too soon. Wait until your pancake starts to “bubble” before you flip it. 

    IMG_2370
    Bubbles and my sticky non-stick pan.
  • *** Don’t smush your pancakes once you flip them. It’ll make them dense, aka, like hockey pucks.*** Let them cook on the other side for about two minutes and you should hopefully have some pretty decent pancakes.

I hope these tips and tricks help you impress your family with a delicious pancake breakfast. Enjoy!