Monday, March 26, 2012

Cakes, White walls, curbs, and October Baby

Do you know how some people claim to have selective hearing?  Well in the same way I swear I have selective seeing.  My eye doctor says it isn't so, and my eyes are just fine.  Why then do I not see certain things until I have hit them?

Walls...they pop up out of nowhere, really they do.  People at my work must think I am insane because I frequently run into the white walls at work.  For some reason I walk really close to the walls and then forget they are there and just slam into them.  I imagine to the outside world I must look like some feminized version of Napoleon Dynamite.

Curbs.  Curse those curbs.  I hit curbs in parking lots all the time!  I do not see them!  My depth perception is so off when it comes to parking lots.  My poor Nissan which is about to retire has hit so many curbs in so many States that it is shocking it still runs! I remember when I first got that car about 7 years ago I was running an errand and failed to see the giant cement block at the top of the parking space.  I decided it would be easier to drive forward into the empty parking space instead of backing out so I did...right over the giant cement log!  All of a sudden my car was elevated and teetering on the cement chunk of evil...I panicked and sat there then decided the only way off was to put the pedal to the metal and floor it : )  It worked, and I survived, and so did my car. 

Speaking about survival...go see OCTOBER BABY!  A very powerful movie, with a great message!  The acting was not superb, but the importance of the story line made up for that.  It is refreshing to see more movies being made with positive, Christian, healing, and forgiveness elements in them.  It is time we start holding ourselves and each other to a higher standard of loving each other and every life God places in our paths.  Plus, the music was amazing!  Check out this song...just one example of the good music

Every life is indeed beautiful, and one day hopefully all people will realize that.  Go see this movie and help support a good cause!!!

Any who, I have had a few friends inquire about the method of cake making and here is a nice little tutorial America's test kitchen made.  Thought some of my readers might enjoy it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Crumble Bars and Our Marine

Monday Morning 4am.

The streets were dark.  The neighbor's dog was barking...oh wait those were our dogs.  Sorry neighbors.

My little brother sat on the sofa calmly as he waited to begin the next chapter of his life.

Maybe it was because my contacts weren't in, or maybe it was because it was 4am, but my little brother suddenly didn't look so little as he waited patiently for his ride.

All he could bring with him were the clothes on his back, $20, and a Bible.  Was he really headed into the military and not to be some missionary in a distant land?

I sat there smiling as I remembered him as a 2 year old sitting in the kitchen surrounded by a broken glass bottle of his favorite juice.  His hand was cut deeply and he just sat there happy he found a way into the bottle.  Still to this day that kid would do anything for a glass of apple juice.  How brave he was as he sat there with his hand cut open.  How brave he was as he sat there waiting to become a Marine.

His cell phone rang and his recruiting Officer told him to meet him outside.  The parents, the uncle, me, and me Brodo headed outside.  We hugged him goodbye, wished him well, reassured him of our love and prayers, and bid him adieu. 

Goodbye Brodo.  Do us proud!

Now in the days before he left I was banned from the kitchen and my mixer as he was ordered to loose 5 pounds before he left.  It was so hard not to make him his favorite meals and oatmeal raisin apple cookies before he left.

I planned on going to boot camp at the end of that day, but instead an 18 wheeler truck decided to hit me in slow motion while stopped at a red light.  I mean super, super slow he was stopped behind me then decided he could sneak past me through a very small space...yeah, not so much.  I just sat there stuck between a sea of cars in 5 o'clock traffic with a giant truck slowly crunching my car.  Really, really?  Are your eyes that bad Mister?

Needless to say by the time we had exchanged insurance information in the pouring rain...oh, did I mention it was pouring rain...well it was, and that was the last straw to convince me not to work out.  Instead I went home and made something with apples in it that tasted wonderful and I dedicated them to my awesome Brodo.

Apple Cinnamon Crumble Bars
adapted from the Smitten Kitchen and Baked New Frontier's recipe for Raspberry bars

For the crust and crumb:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter room temperature

For the apple filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound chopped apples, about 4 medium apples peeled/cored/chopped into 12 slices then chunks
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Make the crust and crumb.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9x13" pan and then line with parchment paper.  Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a mixer and mix for a few seconds.  Add the butter and mix until loose crumbs form.
Mixture will be dry, fear not, carry on.  Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside.  Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan.  Bake until golden brown about 15 minutes.Remove from oven and cool, set aside.

Make the apple filling: In a bowl, whisk the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together. Add the apples, lemon juice and melted butter.  Stir until apples are coated

Spread the apple filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling, and slightly press down.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating 1/2 way, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.  Cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator.

Eat your heart out,


"I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter."
-  Winston Churchill 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Saint Patrick's Day and Parks and Recreation

Look at me I am a blogger patting myself on the back for finally posting a holiday recipe before the actual holiday.  Now look away.  Now look back at me as I post.  Took me long enough don't you think?  Punctuality has always been an issue for my kind.

Did I tell you about my latest light bulb going off in head moment?  I finally discovered the secret to weight loss.  I don't know why it hasn't been realized before!  It is all about goals and aiming for those goals until you achieve them.  Here it is folks....drum roll...

Super glue your skinniest pants onto your body.  They will be so uncomfortable that you will not want to eat and eventually your body will conform to their shape. 
Brilliant right?  I have a meeting next week to pitch the idea to the Biggest Loser reality show.  I see big things in my future, quite literally.

Speaking of "literally"  do you watch the show "Parks and Rec."?  I was recently converted to the show by some friends of mine and am now hooked.  All the characters are so ridiculously awesome you just can't help but laugh and keep watching.  One of the characters, Chris, is a hyper active, super healthy, yoga zen man who loves to say "literally" is great.

Chris: I'm engrossed in this book. It's the true story of a woman born with no arms and no legs who attempted to swim the English Channel.
April: That's impossible.
Chris: Oh she drowned immediately. It's kind of a sad story.
April: Cool.

Chris: And then my herbalist took this weird bee pollen paste, rubbed it around my gums, and now my mouth feels like a spaceship.

Andy: If you re-arrange the letters of Peru, you get Europe.

You should watch the show they have some really great moments, and it always makes me laugh.  Just ask my sister.  I was lying on my bed watching Parks and Rec with headphones on while she was lying on her bed watching Downton Abbey (the episode where lots of people die), and she said it was really emotionally confusing to watch when I was laughing so hard across the room and she wanted to cry. : )

Okay onto the Saint Patrick's day recipes.  Now I know this is kind of  cheating because they are just reposts, but really this is honestly what I will be making this year since I love these recipes so much.  It is hard to keep searching for perfection when I already found it...maybe I should start looking for humility instead. : )

First of all make this IRISH SODA BREAD.  Yum.  A piece toasted and slathered with butter is life altering.

Then make this chocolate Guinness cake from Nigella Lawson.  Simple to make, but with complex  flavors it is pure goodness!

Super glue yourself into some skinny jeans, make these amazing Saint Patrick's day treats to enjoy with some corned beef and cabbage, watch Parks and Recreation and thank me later.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Eat your heart out,


Monday, March 12, 2012

A meatless day filled with Lentil Tacos

Please note:  I wrote this post on a Friday but forgot to post it.  : )

This song makes me happy.  Fridays make me happy.  I need happy things this week.

I went on a wonderful vacation at the beginning of this week, and really really didn't want to return to reality.  For 5 glorious days I was lucky enough to be surrounded by good family and friends on a beautiful Island full of refreshing Island breezes.
I want to live on that Island.  It makes me happy. 
Returning to the humid Houston air is always so life sucking.  Not to mention the rest of the family stayed on the Island for a few more days so I had to return home to work while they continued to vacation.  Not complaining, I am grateful, just missing the island...if you knew my island you would understand.  : )

My younger brother and sister followed in my footsteps and attended/attend my Alma Mater.  I love my Alma Mater, and as much as I loathe my student loans, I wouldn't have traded my college experience for anything.  Besides getting an incredible education, I also gained the best friends a girl could ask for.  You can't put a price tag on that.

We were on the island because my siblings were on Spring Break, and they brought a few friends from school with them.  It was so refreshing to be around these good people.  All of these people are kind, caring, and considerate.  Everyone listened, cared, and was kind.  Something that sadly is not as prominent in today's world as it should be.  Everyone chipped in and helped cook and clean the whole trip.  How many 20 something year olds do you know that don't even have to be asked to help? 

We rode our bikes on a crazy scavenger hunt, braved the winds on the beach, lived in the hot tub, soaked up the soothing rays of sun, played games until the birds fell asleep, ate good food, and watched movies. 
Perfect vacation - check.

I love being Catholic.  I love that I went to a great Catholic college.  I love that my siblings have found wonderful people to be their friends and walk beside them on this crazy journey of life. 
I love Lent.

It has been a scatter brained week, can you tell? : )
Here enters a choppy segue into my meatless meal to share with you.

To non-Catholics giving up meat on Fridays during Lent sounds so daunting and impossible...but really it isn't.  I actually look forward to my Lenten Friday meatless meals.  I sit there eating my vegetarian meals thinking..."is this really supposed to be a penance?  I am enjoying this way to much to count as suffering....what is wrong with me?"  Maybe I should strive to make meatless meals that aren't so tasty. 

Do Vegetarians take on eating meat during Lent...think about it.

Make these Lentil tacos because they are good, and also because the word "Lent" is in "Lentil" so obviously it is the best choice for a Lenten meal. : )

Lentil Tacos

Olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 whole jalapeno
2 cups dried lentils
1 cup short grain brown rice (or whatever rice you prefer)
2 cups tomato sauce*
10 cups Vegetable broth/or water
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/4 tsp salt

Coat the bottom of a large soup pot with the olive oil and saute the onions over a medium/high heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and whole jalapeno.  Saute 1 minute.  Add the dried lentils and brown rice.  Stir and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomato sauce, and 1/2 of the water, and all the spices (not the salt).  Cook uncovered over medium high heat for 45 minutes-hour.  Stir every few minutes, and if the mixture is getting too thick and sticking to the bottom add more water.  Cook until lentils and rice are tender.  Then add salt.  Be vigilant with the stirring especially towards the end of the cooking as it is not a soup, but in the end will have a thick consistency like oatmeal.

Serve warm in a tortilla or taco shell and garnish with lettuce/spinach, cheese, salsa, pico, sour cream/Greek yogurt, avocado/guacamole, or cilantro.

*Alternately you can probably throw it all into a crock pot and call it a day.  I haven't tried this yet, but it seems like it would work.  The tomato sauce is not pasta sauce, just plain tomato sauce in a can.  Also, if you don't have tomato sauce you could also use a can of tomato paste and just increase the water by 1 1/2 cups.  This tastes much better made with vegetable broth, but water works fine too.

We make our meatless meal,
We pray the Stations and we kneel,
We strive to improve our souls and our hearts,
We contribute to the poor and do our part,
We offer up our sacrifices and repent,
As we journey through this Holy season of Lent,
We strip away the materialistic things of our days,
We draw closer to Him in so many ways,
As the darkness fades away along with our sin,
We find a quiet peace deep within.