Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mediterranean Vegetable Linguine


The combination of the mediterranean vegetables make this flavorful despite the absence of any meat and oil. I added the juice of the bottled olives that gives that salty taste perfect with sundried tomatoes.  If one wants this to be dairy free, just substitute nutritional yeast or dairy free Parmesan cheese for the Parmesan cheese in the recipe.  Refreshing summer vegetarian salad.

Mediterranean Vegetable Linguine

  • 8 oz cooked linguine, saving 1 cup of the pasta water
  • 1 oz sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup bottled olives
  • 1/4 cup juice of bottled olives
  • 1 yellow pepper, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups cooked broccoli florets
  • 1 piece roasted red pepper in water from a jar, cut into small pieces 
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • black pepper to taste
Place in a saute pan the saved pasta water, olives, its bottled olive juice, dry tomatoes, yellow pepper, onion flakes, and garlic flakes.  Allow the liquid to boil till the yellow pepper is cooked and dry tomatoes soften. Add the cooked pasta, the broccoli, roasted red pepper, dry oregano and pepper flakes.  Lower the heat and mix the ingredients till everything is heated through.  Add the Parmesan cheese and black pepper and mix.  

Big Sister Little Brother Friends Forever


Friendship blossoming.

Baby brother now real.

Alien no more.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fat Free Refried Beans and Chicken Quesadillas



Everything tastes good with cheese. With beans. With jalapeno. With chicken. With green onions. This recipe for quesadillas have these goodies.  Plus you can make it with leftover chicken or that rotisserie chicken from the grocery store you always have plenty of left you do not know what to do with them.

I have posted other quesadilla recipes before in the past like this recently posted one but this is different.  I used good old fat free refried beans that conveniently come in a can to spread over the tortillas for flavor and texture.  This additional ingredient really goes well with jalapenos.  And I would say with cilantro also which you can serve on the side if one of your family members detest this vegetable like my picky taster, my husband.  But it really takes it another notch as Emeril Lagasse loves to say. So incorporate it with the rest of the ingredients if you do not have a cilantro hater in your family.

This is pan fried but you can also bake it under a watchful eye.  I find pan frying easier and faster though. Here is the recipe of this easy and quick dish. I almost forgot, you can also just use good old American cheese slices that you have in your deli compartment in your fridge instead of the shredded ones.  This goes to show how convenient this recipe is.  One more ingredient used re-purposed.

Fat Free Refried Beans and Chicken Quesadadillas

Makes 4 quesadillas
  • 3/4 cup fat free refried beans
  • 1 cup left over chicken 
  • 1 tbsp of the sauce of the chicken or barbecue sauce
  • two stalks of green onions, chopped coarsely
  • 1/4 cup of bottled jalapeno slices, chopped
  • 4 slices American cheese or 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice
  • 4- 5 inch tortillas
  • sprigs of cilantro, as a side or incorporated
Spread each tortilla with the refried beans.  Mix the chicken, its sauce or barbecue sauce, green onions and jalapeno slices (and cilantro if incorporating instead of as a side) in a bowl.  Place this mixture over one side of the tortillas and then place the other side over this filled side.  

Spray a saute pan with a cooking spray and heat to medium heat.  Place all four of the quesadillas on the pan.  When the side down is crisp, flip to the other side and continue crisping this other side.

You can serve with salsa or guacamole or just plain.  It is that gooey and good you really do not need embellishments.  Serve with a side of green salad to complete a healthy meal for your family.  Enjoy.  My husband did without the cilantro of course.  

Some Kind of Love





Slowly develops.

Revealing its beauty like

the rose petals do.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Strawberry Jalapeno Chia Jam





Easy jam to make. No pectin used. No boiling needed. Just mix the ingredients.  Adding the chia seeds is the secret in making this strawberry jam spreadable without using pectin.  I love some heat and sourness which I achieved by adding jalapeno and balsamic vinegar to the strawberries. Most recipes in the web that I referred to just stuck to the strawberry, chia and sugar combination like this wonderfully and beautifully written how to from Oh My Veggies.  

This version has a lot of spunk in it.  Do make a lot more than the recipe since it is extremely addictive you will be eating it straight like a dessert just like the Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar  I posted in a post blog except this is the more spirited sibling.  

Strawberry Jalapeno Chia Jam

  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped coarsely
  • 6-8 pieces jalapeno from a bottle
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • salt to taste (optional)
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork or you can place them in a blender pulsing till mixed. Either way you want the consistency of the strawberries to be coarse and pieces visible.  

Serve over toast or crackers for breakfast or snack.  It can also be served as a dessert as is or as a topping over ice cream.  

A New Day Start





Toast with jam. Steaming

coffee with cream. Chirping birds.

Tight hug for good bye.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Vita Mix Chia Cheese Pimiento Spread





The chia seeds do make wonders in making this spread attain a creamy texture despite the absence of cream, butter or real cheese. I have eaten this over toast and as my filling for a sandwich.  (Have lettuce as a barrier between bread and this concoction or spread a bit of Earth Balance on the bread when using for a sandwich).

I have developed a craving for this spread both for its taste and texture.  It is also motivating that it has the superfood chia seeds performing a great role in making the texture appealing aside from increasing its nutritional value. .

I did use my Vita Mix Blender for this spread.  I placed the vegetable ingredients one at a time and in the sequence given and it worked.

I had this for my lunch as a sandwich and as my breakfast over bread that I toasted together with some spinach on top in my toaster oven.  Very satisfying.

Vita Mix Chia Cheese Pimiento Spread

  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and seeds removed, cut into 4 pieces 
  • 1 large whole roasted red pepper bottled in water, drained well of any liquid
  • 20 olives with pimento centers
  • 6 oz Daiya cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp dry garlic flakes or 4 fresh garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp Splenda or sugar (optional)
Place the ingredients into your Vita Mix blender according to the sequence given.  Drain off any liquid.  Let it rest in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.  Serve over toasts or filling for a sandwich or as a vegetable dip.  


Natural Healing



Like water cleansed by

rocks in the stream so will time

wash bad memories.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

My Summer Company







Tree jumping squirrels.

Seed gorging birds. Buzzing bees

Crawling bugs. Hello!





Saturday, June 25, 2016

Every Father's Wish



Lovingly whispers

to this tiny creature. "Will

you grow up like me?"


Note:

Four months ago my daughter and her husband welcomed a baby boy into their family.  They already have a girl.  This picture was taken a month ago at Idlewild Park. I could not help wonder the same thing he was thinking in this picture.




Friday, June 24, 2016

Watermelon Blueberry Popsicles



There is nothing more refreshing than eating Popsicles on a hot day.  That was what Maddie, my granddaughter, and I did this past Monday.  We did not stop at one Popsicle while she was playing in her kiddie pool and water table outside in our yard.  We had two each.  They were commercially bought ones, strawberry kiwi Popsicle from the Dollar tree and the other, strawberry rhubarb,  from Aldi's Grocery store.

Maddie with her Aunt B playing outside with all the water toys her aunt bought.  She spoils her!

I was so addicted to the Popsicles, I decided I should make my own with good antioxidants in them like the pint of blueberries I had in my freezer.  I combined this super fruit with the watermelon I also had sitting in my fridge and one large lemon for some tartness. I really wanted it to be healthy and skip the sugar but I have observed before once frozen whatever you freeze loses its sweetness once in their frozen state.  So I dumped Splenda though I could have added a healthier alternative, maple syrup, which I ran out of.


Anyway I brought some of these Popsicles to Maddie's house and her Daddy, Matt, liked it and of course so did Maddie. Here is the recipe.

Watermelon Blueberry Popsicles

Makes around 8 Popsicles  
  • 4 cups seedless watermelon flesh, sliced   
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • juice 1 whole large lemon
  • 1 cup Splenda or sugar or maple syrup
  • 8 small disposable cups
  • 8 Popsicle or craft wooden sticks
Place all the ingredients in a Vita Mix blender or any blender you have and pulse till well blended and liquefied.  

Place the small disposable cups in a plastic container to hold them in place in the freezer.  Pour the fruit blend into the cups and then insert the wooden sticks in the middle. They surprisingly stayed erect in the fruit mixture which has some viscosity to it.

Freeze till the juice hardens.  

To dislodge the Popsicle from the cup, run hot water from faucet through the outside of the cup or dip the cup in hot water till you can pull the Popsicle out of the cup. This takes only a few seconds.  Enjoy.

Bonding Time with Dadda



Holding her hand tight

You walked in the park. Never

will she forget that.



Note:

Happy Father's Day everyday, to my son in law, Matt.  This picture was taken at Idlewild Park.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tofu Vegetable Soba Noodle Soup


This is a hearty simple plant based soup laden with micro nutrient rich vegetables and protein.  It has the additional plus of having the Japanese soba noodles which are made of nutritious and fiber rich buckwheat, wheat and yam flour.  It has a neutral taste and soft, a tad slippery texture.  You will have fun slurping it.

The vegetable broth for me has enough salt and flavor in it I just added a few slices of ginger for added zing to it but it could be optional.  I would let the amount of soy sauce be left to the discretion of the one eating this soup.  The sesame oil for me gives that added sizzle so to speak to the soup. I would use only one round of it though.  Enjoy!

Tofu Vegetable Soba Noodle Soup

  • 1-3.5 oz bundle soba noodles (The Hana brand I used came in 3.5 oz bundles)    
  • 6 cups water (or as suggested by the Soba noodle package)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 oz firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 carrot, sliced                                                          
  • 6 napa cabbage leaves, sliced
  • 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and sliced (optional) 
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
Soba Noodles

Bring the water to boil.  Place the soba noodles in the boiling water and cook for 6 minutes with occasional stirring.  Drain using a strainer and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.

Tofu Vegetable Soup

Place the vegetable broth, carrots, napa cabbage and ginger in a pot and allow the mixture to boil.  When the carrots are cooked but still firm, add the zucchini.  Allow the mixture to simmer till the zucchini is done.

Assembly

Divide the soba noodles into two soup bowls and ladle the soup on top of the noodles.  Season with soy sauce according to taste and douse with sesame oil before eating.


Transitions



Make believe as a
child. Believe as adult.  Dreams
do come true. We must.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mirror, mirror on the wall

My friend Margaret Soboslay's painting.


Look and say like the
tree I am beautiful. And
So you will become.


Note:

This is a poetic take on one of the tips on aging gracefully given by Christiane Northrup, MD, the author of the book, Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Well-Being (click on the image below for information on how to obtain the book). She was a recent guest on Oprah Winfrey's TV program Super Soul Sunday wherein she discussed some of the ideas in her book on not aging as one inevitably grows old.

She suggests as a daily ritual to look at the mirror and say to yourself "I love you" repeatedly for twenty minutes. If one does this self affirmation which comes from within and not from an egoistic self one would see the lines disappear.








Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Slow Cooker Pineapple Barbecue Sauce Chicken





We did celebrate Father's Day with a barbecue but not on the grill.  The US Open was held this past week at the Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont PA and my son-in-law attended while my daughter did her weekend shift.  My husband and I together with our other daughter baby sat their almost four month old baby boy and the almost three year old daughter.  The baby was a handful and my husband and I took turns taking care of this cute but colicky boy.  We were busy so I decided to turn to my slow cooker instead of the grill to prepare this barbecue dish.



I used chicken for this dish though I would have preferred to use pork but my daughter does not like eating the latter.  So I adapted the recipe I found online for the slow cooker pineapple barbecue sauce pork chops found on the taste of home website. I tweaked the recipe by substituting plain barbecue sauce for the honey kind.  I also used catsup and red pepper flakes to substitute for the chili sauce in the original recipe.  Since I was busy I used dry onion flakes instead of fresh onion slices. I also substituted skinless chicken thighs for the pork chops.  I served it with white rice and steamed vegetables.  My husband and my daughter loved it.

Fast and delicious crowd pleaser.  Two picky eaters liked it.   Another no sweat recipe that calls for six ingredients and the cook and forget it method.

Slow Cooker Pineapple Barbecue Sauce Chicken


  • 3.5 lbs chicken thighs, skin removed 
  • 1-8 oz can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup catsup
  • 2 tbsp dry onion flakes
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes 
Combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix them so the chicken thighs are covered with sauce. Cook for 6 hours at low setting or 3 hours at high setting.  I cooked mine in an Aroma Brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.

Serve it with rice and a green salad or steamed vegetables.

Facing Unknowns



Allow the wind of
chance take you to places, heights
Unimagined. Fly.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Life is a beach



Some things are huge like
the ocean yet flitting like
writings on the sand.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Daily Assurance



Me no worry. Birds
fly, lilies gilded.  Hover
above does He.  Trust.

Let God Love You



Richard Rohr considers life as having two halves.  The first half is when you are performance focused including the spiritual side of your life. You want to prove yourself to God, following laws, commandments, have-to's. However you do not really love God at this time.  You are just afraid of him.

This first half does serve a purpose.  It is when you create the container for your true self which you find in the second half. During this period, a larger true you will now emerge. You will be allowing God to perform on or for you during this time marked by large questions being asked by you during dark moments. His mercy and tenderness will supplant the fear you had in the first half and you then will truly fall in love with him not just afraid of him. 

Note:
Read more thoughts in Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. (Click on the image on how to purchase the book).

Summer Sketches



Ice cream on a hot
day. Dripping mess. Happy grins.
Ever etched on minds.

Plant Based Beans and Greens


One of my favorite Italian side dishes is Beans and Greens. I did not want to use any oil in my plant based version and I instead braised the ingredients in vegetable broth.  The braising method is a good alternative approach to sauteing the onions. The resulting end product was close to the Beans and Greens prepared using olive oil that are served in most Italian restaurants in Pittsburgh.

I used spinach for the greens though kale and escarole are good options also. For the beans I used pinto beans though canneleni beans are more traditional. I also used seasoned salt to give added flavor in one shake so to speak.  My McCormick seasoned salt has no MSG. My favorite dry garlic flakes is better than fresh when braising so I find and less work.

This is a perfect side dish during barbecues and Sunday family dinners or even a main fare with crusty bread for lunch. I love eating this with rice in my case. Very satisfying and comforting.

Plant Based Beans  and Greens

  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1-8 oz bag spinach
  • 1-15 oz can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 tbsp dry garlic flakes
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt or to taste
Place the broth and onions in a saute pan and allow the liquid to boil and cook the onions till half done. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to boil gently till the spinach is wilted.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Loss of a Loved One



Flood of sadness fells
you to the ground. Lifting you,
the fond memories.


Note:

It will be a couple of years since the death of my brother, Anton.  I could still feel the sadness I felt then when I heard the news.  But memories of times we played together as carefree children and then shared our lives later in our adult years come back and enough to lift my soul.  

Friday, June 17, 2016

Delightful Memories




They flutter in like
Butterflies with dazzling hues
Mesmerize the heart.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Slow Cooker Korean Lemon Chicken





The slow cooker really is a great tool for preparing chicken dishes with thick sauce.  The flavor of the sauce really permeates the tender chicken meat.  With the help of a thickening agent like cornstarch the sauce becomes a vibrant enticing topping for the dish.


I have posted several slow cooker chicken dishes in the past of different ethnic origins, Chinese, General Tso's Chiclen; Vietnamese, Banh Mi Chicken; Filipino, Chicken Afritada among several .  In this post I am going Korean with the help of gochujang sauce which one buys from any Asian store.  I have recently posted recipes using this magnificent Korean signature delicacy.  It has that spicy sort of nutty flavor but it does not have any nut in its ingredients.  It is really made of red pepper with rice as a co-ingredient according to the label.  I am in love with it.

I have come up with a recipe combining gochujang with other condiments like soy sauce, rice vinegar and honey.  I have tweaked the proportions of these ingredients which have appeared in past recipes since one has to intensify the saltiness and sweetness when it comes to slow cooking.  The liquid does not evaporate in slow cooking.  I have mentioned before that I used cornstarch to thicken the sauce since all liquid stays in slow cooking.  As for the other spices, I used dry garlic flakes and ginger powder since I was lazy.  Actually they work.  The star of the dish is its tangy citrus taste that comes from the juice of lemon.  I used a large juicy one.  It really complements the spicy sweet taste of the combination of ingredients.

The sauce is a rice guzzler.  It is that good and addictive.  So have plenty of it.  You can double the recipe of the sauce ingredients if you wish.  This a convenient way to prepare chicken with a luscious delicious sauce for a party or family gathering.  You cook and forget it.

Slow Cooker Korean Lemon Chicken

  • 1.5 lb chicken tenderloin or any other cut 
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp gochujang sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dry garlic flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp corn starch in 1 tbsp water
Combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix so the chicken pieces are coated with sauce ingredients.  

Cook for 6 hours at high or 3 hours at low setting.  I used an Aroma Brand rice cooker/slow cooker and I cooked mine for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.

Serve over rice.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sliced green onions.  Serve with side of mixed vegetable stir fry.  Enjoy. 

Spinach "Cheesy" Tostada






I have this for breakfast.  This is my answer to McDonald's breakfast burrito which I was addicted to prior to my plant based days.This is my healthier meatless version.  I used Daiya brand non dairy cheese to make it dairy free but you can use regular cheese if you are not plant based.  I decided to use spinach instead of lettuce as the green component of the tostada. Of course jalapenos graced the tostada and I used bottled sliced ones for convenience.  Remember it is still early in the day.

Since it is open faced I called it tostada. The tortilla has not been fried as customarily done if using soft tortillas. It gets crispy from being baked with the rest of the ingredients. I have used both flour and white corn tortillas.

This has the creaminess from the melted cheese complemented by the spinach and spiciness of the jalapeno not to mention the crunchiness from the baked tortilla.  You can serve with cubed watermelon and lime juice on the side.

This is simple no fuss five ingredient breakfast, lunch or dinner fare.  Let us include snacks and appetizers in its repertoire.

Spinach "Cheesy" Tostada

Serves one

  • 2- 5 inch small corn or flour soft tortillas
  • 1/2 cup spinach leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup Daiya brand non dairy cheddar cheese or regular ones
  • 2 - 4 bottled jalapeno slices or according to preference
  • 1 tbsp sliced green onions
Preheat toaster oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit using bake setting.

Line a pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  Place two tortillas on the pan and distribute the spinach leaves, cheese and green onions between the two tortillas.  Place a slice or two of jalapeno slices on top.  

Bake at preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes till cheese melts and the tortillas turn crispy but not burnt.

Serve with a side of chopped watermelon squeezed with lime.  

Creeping Out of Darkness


Finally some joy
On arid hard rock
Shoot forth a flower.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Monument Men and Secrets of the Soul

    


Seeing the Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child sculpture as one of the central pieces saved by the Monuments Men in the movie of the same title thrilled me to death since I did see a similar sculpture, The Pieta,  in my mid twenties when I toured Europe.  

Sacrifices were made by the Monuments Men, including that by Donald Jeffries who died saving this sculpture from the Nazi Colonel Wegner.  Realizing how much they loved the arts as to die for them made me more appreciate this magnificent piece of art and any art I see now when I visit museums.  


Aside from Jeffries, another life was lost in the quest of  the Monument Men to save precious pieces of art that would have been otherwise destroyed by Hitler during WW II.  When asked if Jeffries would have thought his sacrifice was all worth it, George Clooney’s character, Stokes, unequivocally said yes.  Perhaps the quote in the poster above which I found in singing duo Alex and Sierra’s Facebook page can more aptly express why Stokes would have felt passionately so.  


Agape or Uncondtional Love



He shines on the sun.
Lets the rain to fall on all.
Good or bad. Do we?



Note:

Unconditional love or agape is difficult to have especially towards persons that have committed hideous deeds. This kind of love does not suggest condoning the act.  It is best elaborated in this wonderful link from Sacred Space. The metaphor used in this haiku is a paraphrased form of a sentence that is found in this beautifully well written essay.  I hope you will find time to read it to ponder on what is written or just revel on the beauty of the prose.

But how does one have this type of love? I posted a reflection on forgiveness in this blog when I was challenged to have this type of love during an incident that happened to me.