Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a great holiday season. We are back to the old grind in our house. The kids went back to school on Wednesday, and Dan and I went back to work on Thursday…SIGH. This week I have a few extra recipes that I actually forgot to write about in the last entry. I made 2 different casseroles on Christmas morning. Victoria found both recipes on “Pinterest”, and asked if I could make the cinnamon roll casserole for our Christmas morning breakfast. I, of course, obliged. I love cinnamon rolls, but I cannot do sweet first thing in the morning…I need savory. So to make everyone happy, I made both the sweet and the savory casserole. Victoria was very happy with both, so I guess I’d consider that a success. I only made one substitution to the savory casserole. We are vegetarians, so I used veggie bacon instead of the real deal. Here are the links to the recipes that I used: http://www.food.com/recipe/cinnamon-roll-casserole-484134 and http://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/29566/potato-bacon-casserole/detail.aspx
I have been doing a lot of cooking lately, but most of what I have made are tried and true recipes. I have made four panzanella salads, black and white brownies, multiple batches of hummus and homemade pita chips, several different varieties of cookies, homemade macaroni and cheese, and a veggie meatloaf. I did, however, manage to squeeze in a few new recipes as well. My first new recipe of the new year was for cheese soup. I was totally in the mood for soup…I mean c’mon it’s winter and we finally have some snow, so I need to make soup. I love cheese soup, but I don’t like how much salt and fat is usually in it, so I decided to improvise.
Here is the recipe I used:
- 1/2 of a small onion
- 5 baby carrots thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 20 ounces of water
- 3/4 of a large bag of frozen shredded potatoes
- 16 oz milk (I use organic skim milk)
- cheese to taste and desired consistency( I used feta, reduced-fat cheddar, and a 4 cheese blend)
- salt, black pepper, and garlic pepper to taste
1. Sautee onion, carrots, and garlic in a pot with a tablespoon of olive oil. 2. Add the water and bring to a boil. 3. Add the potatoes and milk and let the soup simmer for a few minutes. 4. Add the cheese and spices to taste and to desired consistency. If too thin you can add mashed potato flakes to thicken. If too thick, you can thin it with additional water or milk.
The resulting soup was delicious! Victoria and Dan LOVED it! Ryan of course didn’t try it, but that isn’t shocking is it? ☺ I will definitely make this soup again.
My second new recipe of 2013 was for two-toned banana bread. I had a few over ripe bananas so I knew I was going to use them in banana bread. Victoria always requests that I add chocolate chips to my banana bread, so instead of that I decided to make a banana bread recipe that included chocolate. I’ve had this recipe for a few years, but have never made it before. On Thursday night, my last two clients of the evening cancelled, so I was home from work a few hours earlier than I expected. With my “stolen time” I decided to try the new recipe for banana bread. In a word it is AMAZING! I will never bake banana bread any other way. Holy cow is it delicious! Here is the link to the recipe that I used:http://www.bhg.com/recipe/quickbreads/two-tone-banana-bread/ I did make two substitutions to the recipe. First, I used white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. Also, I used milk instead of rum.
Whilst (there’s my favorite British word again☺) my kids were home on break, I saw a commercial that brought me to tears. Those of you who know me well are not surprised right? Well this commercial was different. It was on the Disney channel, and it was about princesses. What I loved about it was the inspiring message it sent to viewers about kindness and compassion equaling strength. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that message. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a moment and check it out. It’s amazing. Here is the link to the commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUGnu0gXtn4 In case you can’t view it, here is the transcript:
I am a princess
I am brave sometimes
I am scared sometimes
Sometimes I am brave even when I am scared
I believe in loyalty and trust
I believe loyalty is built on trust
I try to be kind
I try to be generous
I am kind even when others are not so generous
I am a princess
I think standing up for myself is important
I think standing up for others is more important
But standing with others is most important
I am a princess
I believe compassion makes me strong
Kindness is power
And family is the tightest bond of all
I have heard I am beautiful
I know I am strong
I am a princess
Long may I reign
Anyway, not too long ago, I was having a pretty deep and philosophical conversation with my two work colleagues and girlfriends Colleen and Peggy. We decided that despite the ugliness that exists in the world, we were going to do our best to remain kind and compassionate. Further, Colleen suggested that perhaps it was our kindness that gave us strength. Oddly, when the Disney commercial aired, Colleen was in Egypt. Whilst (there it is again☺) there she had an epiphany about the same sentiment that was in the commercial. I don’t want to get too existential or mystical, but perhaps we had the same epiphany at the same time. I have done very little research on theories like “collective consciousness”, but I do put merit in that belief. Given that theory, and the fact that Colleen and I are close and usually on the same page, it is totally possible that we could have the same thought or feeling at the same time. Upon Colleen’s return, we spoke about it. I do believe that even if it wasn’t at the exact same moment in time, it was close…very close. That gives me immeasurable comfort. You see, it makes me believe that even if I am on the opposite side of the world as a loved one, we are still very much connected… spiritually and emotionally. I know that it’s kind of a “DUH” thing to say, but it gives me great solace. It means that even if we are not physically present with one another, or speaking on the phone, we are still together. Still linked. Still deeply connected. We don’t even have to say a word, yet we can feel each other’s presence…each other’s spirit.
Further, if you accept that theory, and if there really is some sort of existence after we physically leave this world, maybe we can remain connected in some sense to those we’ve loved and lost. I remember having conversations with people after my Mom died that really pissed me off. Don’t get me wrong, these people had lost family members too, and were attempting to comfort me, but they’d say things like “…I literally feel his presence with me every day.” WHAT? I never ever felt that. So of course then I questioned myself incessantly. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I feel her presence? I wanted it so bad…something…anything to indicate that she was with me. After a lot of reflection, I think at the beginning I was just too sad to feel much of anything…too overcome with grief. After about a year or so, I stopped getting angry when people said things like that. At about the 2 year mark, I started to understand. Now, only a few weeks away from the third anniversary of her passing, I totally get it.
It’s not that I hear her exactly, but I totally know what she is saying. For example, if I am having difficulty with something and find myself wishing for her advice, all I have to do is get quiet. In that stillness, I feel her presence. I can almost hear her voice…almost. I know in my heart what she would say. In addition to troubling times, I also feel her presence in good times. When the kids do something silly, or accomplish yet another milestone, I always think to myself, Mom would love this. In that moment, I feel close to her. In that moment I feel her presence. In that moment, I take pause, and send up my version of a silent prayer. It’s not good enough, but it’s all I’ve got left. I hope everyone has a healthy, happy, and joy filled 2013. Enjoy the recipes! ♥