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Daily Prompt V.7 – Fruits?

List your top 5 favorite fruits.

My top 5:

  1. Mangos
  2. Strawberries
  3. Blueberries
  4. Oranges
  5. Bananas

Last night, I made a quick meal of smoked chicken enchiladas, black beans, and simple salad. My husband, Bryan, smoked a chicken a few days ago and after considering several options, I decided to make enchiladas. I used drained, canned black beans but amped up the flavor with onions, fresh garlic, and spices.

My smoked chicken enchiladas with butter flour tortillas. These were deliciously spicey.

I decided to treat my family to some fresh fruit parfaits. I cut half of a small angel food cake into cubes and toasted them in a pan on the stove with a little butter. Then, layered whipped cream, toasted angel food cake, two of my favorite fruits (sliced strawberries and blueberries) in small glasses. Mine had chia seeds and cashew cream. It was a lovely scrumptuous treat.

One for myself, daughter, and husband.
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Food Chronicles: Crab legs times two

A couple of weeks ago, I was craving a crab leg boil, so I dethawed the frozen crab legs from my freezer I bought about a month prior. Now, my Haitian mom would not approve of me buying frozen seafood, but it is what it is. I bought some local specialty sausage from the grocery store the day before, like it was a special occasion. It was Easter weekend.

Some dishes I’d rather the experts prepare, but I felt bold and creative this particular weekend. While in the grocery store, I was also going to buy the crab leg boil seasoning, but when I red all the processed ingredients in the packet, I declined and decided to create my own seasoning blend with my spice collection at home.

You hear me talking in this video

My delicious crab leg boil: onions, potato, corn on the cobb, local sausage, shrimp, crab legs, and lots of spices.

The broth was so rich with flavorful.

My husband, Bryan and I, were the only two who partook of the deliciousness. Bryan ate some of everything except the crab legs. He said he’s not that big of a crab leg fan. I thought to myself, “more leftovers for me.” However, our daughter, Elise, had other ideas.ย  She asked me to make a seafood alfredo for Sunday’s dinner, which would be Easter dinner. Hmmm??? I hadn’t thought of that. CHA-LUNGE accepted!

This was an impromtu request. On Saturday evening, I checked to ensure I had all the ingredients, and I did. I’ve been removing dairy from my diet for health reasons, so I was disappointed this wouldn’t be a dairy free version. On Sunday, with my hands, I pulled as much crab meat as I could from the crab legs, and I chopped the shrimp into tiny pieces.

I planned to repurpose the corn, sausage, and potatoes from the crab boil for another dish like a soup, but that didn’t happen. Bryan and I added the sausage to some meals for a couple of days. Then, my week got busy, and I forgot to at least freeze the other ingredients. I was disappointed with wasting food. Sigh…

Creamy seafood (crab and shrimp) alfredo with tricolor gigli pasta
You hear me talking in this video. You’ve got to see me pouring the beautiful and light pasta into the roux.

My son, Caleb, enjoyed the pasta so much that he asked me for the recipe, which he rarely does. He’s a great cook himself and works at a fancy restaurant.

In one weekend, I created two delicious meals with a star ingredient – CRAB LEGS. ๐Ÿฆ€ I’m happy I satisfied my finicky eaters. I’m inspired to make a dairy free version of the seafood pasta one day. I’ll keep you posted.

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Food Chronicles: Quick and Healthy

If it’s one thing I know how to do, it’s whip up a quick and healthy meal. I have the privilege of maintaining a well stocked pantry (and fridge and freezer) with nutritious options. I’ve been working from home for 3 years, so I’ve amped up my quick meal prep in this time. Cooking soothes my mind, and filling my body with nutritious foods is my favorite act of self-care.

Here are some ideas from real meals I cooked, ate, and photographed during the week.

Lunch one day, jeans and all, was a simple baked potato with vegan butter, nutritional yeast, vegan cheese, some green onions, & seasonings. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but it was delicious.
This is a fun way to eat tuna salad…I halved mini peppers & filled them with the tuna salad with a little extra seasoning on top.
Salmon croquette over rice with a salad. Yum!

That’s it for this post. Who knows what quick and healthy options I’ll be creating this week!

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Travel blog with food and how I reset

My work trip to Rockville, Maryland, and Washington D.C. was productive, invorgorating, and most of all, enlightening. It was an exercise in learning new information, applying this information, and collaborating with others to plan for our state. The depth of work we did would not have been possible without meeting in person. This was my first work travel trip since the pandemic, so it’s been over three years. This trip was enjoyable, which is saying a lot for a state employee attending to state matters.

Three days, two nights, and I barely took photos on this trip, but after all, it was a work trip. However, one night, I had the pleasure of enjoying Ethiopian food for the first time with 5 of my colleagues, and it was amazing. I took photos. I kept wondering, “Where have I been to be living this long and just now partaking of this delicacy?”

Actually, every meal I ate was delicious, including my vegetable plate of grilled cauliflower steak, green beans, and mushroom risotto for day one’s dinner at Founding Farmers in Washington D.C. I just forgot to take photos. It occurred to me a few hours before our flight back to Texas that the seafood in this region had to be delicious considering the Atlantic Ocean in its backyard.

With any trip where I travel overnight, when I return, I do the things that bring me back to equilibrium. Think about it: the hustle and bustle to and from the airport, the traveling in unfamiliar places, eating different foods (albeit tasty), sleeping (if I manage to do that) in an unfamiliar bed, and not drinking as many fluids as usual….all of these activities and more take my body out of equilibrium.

One of the first things I do is get a relaxing, steamy shower and good night’s sleep. My husband, Bryan, got us home after midnight early Thursday morning. Remember, we had a late flight. I was grateful that I took the rest of the week off, so I slept in later on Thursday morning. I usually unpack my bags quickly, but I took my time on Thursday.

I was craving my nutritious foods, so I began prepping for my green smoothie and some fresh juice.

Produce for fresh squeezed juice: apple, ginger, celery (going bad), carrots, & a cucumber.

Usually, completely unpacking helps me feel accomplished after a trip, and I tend to do it the day I return. This time, I didn’t completely finish unpacking until Friday morning. I put a few items back throughout Thursday. I took my time and didn’t feel rushed.

I spent the weekend filling my belly with nutritious foods, tending to my plants, doing a little work catch up, and nesting with my family! I’m refreshed for the week ahead.

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Food chronicles: Salads!

Last April, my favorite people at Simple Green Smoothies had the audacity to come up with a 10-Day Salad Challenge and it was absolutely FREE. It’s a great time to start thinking about lighter eating. I received the recipes, including the shopping lists in an email. Initially, I had planned to just use what ingredients I had and modify the recipes as needed. Experienced home cooks like me know that recipes serve as guides. I was mostly ready, but then something happened….My niece visited from Chicago on Day 1 of the challenge. She blessed us for 6 days straight and we blessed her every day with the Austin, Texas food faves.

That didn’t stop me though because I made 6 of the salads while she was in town. It took me longer than 10 days. Of course, I captured every salad in my personal photos. I also attached the actual recipes/pictures from the challenge. And the salads are out of sequence according to my taste. I hope this post gets your mouth watering. LET’S GO!

My version of Strawberry Mixed Greens: Two plates because one was for my niece. I omitted the green apple because I didn’t have one and used a herb salad blend. Fun and scrumptious.
The Sweet and Crunchy Salad: My version did not have pepitas and I used the herb mix again. The dressing on this one was my FAVE!
Bright Berry Salad: This was REFRESHING! I hadn’t eaten grapefruit in years due to my medications, but I thought what the heck, I’m going to commit to this CHA-LUNGE. I’m so glad I did. I missed grapefruit.
Vegan Potato Salad: This version surprised me! I omitted the black olives because I didn’t have any. I probably would not have added them anyway. I served with a side of homemade fried shrimp.
Healthy Pasta Salad: This was the leftovers I served with half a leftover fish wrap. I used leftover garbanzo beans, red pepper, cucumber, and carrots from the Sweet and Crunchy salad recipe. I’m not wasting any food around here. I subbed green olives for black and red onions for green onions and vegan parm for feta. I completed forgot to add the herbs! It was still DELICIOUS and quick to assemble. I made it on my lunch break.
Kale Caesar: Made with no kale in sight. I had romaine lettuce that I didn’t want to go back plus traditional caesar salads are made with romaine, right? I had some produce I didn’t want to waste, so the only thing I followed in this recipe is the dressing ingredients and the addition of garbanzo beans. It was yummy!
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Food chronicles: Sandwiches

Growing up on the south side of Chicago, we didn’t have much. The sandwich was an inexpensive and quick meal, usually made for lunch or a snack. Oscar Meyer had several options: salami, ham, and bologna….in order of my preference. A few slices fried made it special. White bread was cheap and readily available. Melted American or “government” cheese made it complete. And mayonnaise and mustard were the icing.

For variety, there was the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I always enjoyed more peanut butter than jelly. Some people think there is a science to the ratio. It’s really about your preference. I recall when I was younger, an older cousin pitted my same-age cousin and me in a battle of who could make the best PB&J. She took a bite out of each of our sandwiches. My cousin won. It hurt my feelings that I didn’t win.

I had so many sandwiches growing up, cold and hot, that I could NOT stand them anymore in adulthood. At some point, well after we moved to Texas, someone from work recommended a submarine sandwich shop, native to Austin and I quickly became hooked.

Although we lived in South Austin, I worked on the Northwest side for several years. I would go there on my lunch breaks a couple of times a week, trying different sandwiches, but I had my favorites.

As I had my own kids, I experimented with different meals and made sandwiches on occasion. By this time, I had expanded my repertoire of sandwich combinations and learned it was all in the type of bread and accoutrements (condiments and toppings).

The sandwich thing didn’t take off with my kids. Their taste buds were constantly changing. Also, my son, Caleb, was allergic to many foods including peanuts, so PB&J’s were not for him. There was that one Christmas when preteen Caleb asked for a panini press and a panini press is what he got. He was obsessed for a while, but then the obsession faded. I still have the panini press in a cabinet. I’ll give it to him when he moves out.

The next few photos I took are of decadent sandwiches I’ve made and enjoyed over the last few months. I share my food to inspire healthy and nutritious meals, not necessarily to share recipes (although sometimes I do).

I hope you enjoy my creations.

Another smoked salmon sandwich but this time on wheat bread loaded with veggies and pickles.
A little bacon sandwich on wheat with some veggies and avocado.
Leftover Christmas smoked turkey breast with avocado and tomatoes on sourdough bread. Looks like there is a piece of bacon on there too but I don’t remember ๐Ÿค”.

What sandwiches do you love to make?

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Food favorites

Bloganuary Day 18’s prompt is right up my alley: what’s your favorite food to cook or eat? My blog is about self-care, and cooking healthy, nutritious meals is one of my favorite expressions of self-care. My Haitian mom instilled the love of cooking in me, and I’ve run far and away with it. I don’t cook traditional Haitian meals often, but my Haitian roots and methods allow me to cook a variety of delicious food with a Haitian flare.

I have a wide palate, but as of late, my favorite foods to cook and eat are soups and stews. Yes, it’s the winter season, though here in Texas, the high will be 77 degrees today, but I eat soups year round. I’ve blogged about soups I’ve made in Soups On: Fall Favorites and Bring on the soups. All photos are taken by me.

In this post, I will share some of my most recent delicacies through my photos. I also blog about cooking as self-care to inspire others to prepare healthy meals at home. I’ve gone through periods of being vegan, but now I consider my preferences to be mostly plant-based and dairy free (mostly). To ensure I’m getting the proper protein and iron, I’m back to eating meat, which is OH SO good.

The act of cooking is soothing, allows me to be creative, and gives me something to look forward to because I know what I prepare will do my body good.

In the crock pot…Mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion,, and probably a hot pepper knowing me.
This Turkey and Gnocchi soup is a knock-off of an Olive Garden (restaurant) recipe. I used leftover smoked Christmas turkey, and it was absolutely DELICIOUS!
I rarely eat ramen, but I bought a case of it for my kids. After a busy day, I wanted something quick, so I pulled these together and OH MANNN!
This all veggie ramen hit the spot. I added sauteed peppers & onion, green onions, and finished with a dash of sesame oil. I threw the seasoning packet away.
This beef chili was amazing. I loved the salad too.
Sausage & shrimp gumbo with rice.
Not a soup, but a quick beef stew. I found a bag of frozen pearl onions at the bottom of my freezer so I added.
Beef stew with egg noodles. YUM YUM YUM!!!
I just wanted to share these delicious mushrooms I made as a side dish. ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜„
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Soups On: Fall Favorites

It’s been a while since my last post, but rest assured, I’ve been busy doing the things that feed my soul (pun intended) and giving myself some extra grace. These last few months have been rough on my family. My beautiful mother in law passed away in September and my brother in law has been ill most of 2022.

Like many of you, I wear multiple hats as a working mom, wife, caregiver, sister, friend, boss, etc. Information on self-care is so prevalent nowadays and it’s no wonder because self-care is essential to mental well being. I believe this so much that my whole blog is about self-care. You may hear about common self-care activities: take a bubble bath, journal, go shopping, exercise, get a massage, get a manicure/pedicure, read a book, take yourself out to dinner, sleep, etc.

Self-care can actually be anything that fills you up rather than depletes you. You don’t have to do a bunch of things all the time. You don’t have to spend money you don’t have. Self-care is also not just about doing things which can be exhausting, especially when you’re under stress. Self-care can be about being: self-compassionate, authentic, aware, quiet, at peace, etc. Self-care can be about choosing one thing in a moment.

I personally have my “go to” self-care activities that fill me up (pun intended). One thing I love to do for self-care is cook. And I just don’t cook anything..I’m intentional about cooking healthy and nutritious food. It fills me up (pun intended) because I’m being creative, concentrating on the food rather than the problem, giving my taste buds and my family something to look forward to, and will be filling my body with a bountiful medley of deliciousness which will bring about a host of other benefits.

When we returned from Chicago in early October, I started a 10-Day Soup Challenge brought about by my favorite people at www.simplegreensmoothies.com.And this challenge couldn’t have come at a better time because I ate many of the calorie dense Chicago delicacies (pizza, Italian beef, Chinese food, gyros) and was in need of a reset.

Something different about this challenge is that I didn’t make it to all 10 soups. I was getting back to my home and work routine, so I was a little busy. In fact, I didn’t even do the challenge for the 10 days. I completed 8 recipes so that means there are still 2 recipes I didn’t get to. I started the challenge a day late and it probably took me 3 weeks to complete 8 recipes, BUT I DID IT. Now you get to enjoy my photos which I took myself. You can find the recipes on the http://www.simplegreensmoothies.com website. I blogged about my first soup challenge here: Bring on the soups

Keep in mind, I’ve modified the recipes in different ways and it’s been too long ago for me to remember what I modified for each one. My general approach to recipes is to use them as guides. You can do that when you know what you’re doing.

I hope these soups inspire you to cook more of your meals at home, try new recipes, and eat well.

  1. Potato Comfort Soup
  2. Spiced Lentil Soup
  3. Bieler’s Blended Vegetable Soup
  4. 1-Pot Vegetable Soup
  5. Vegan Tomato Soup
  6. Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup
  7. Thai Coconut Soup
  8. Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

1. Potato Comfort soup with kale croutons- This is a favorite I’ve made many times and served with homemade garlic bread. The added cauliflower was pleasantly sneaky.
2.Spiced Lentil Soup – I first tried red lentils in last fall’s soup challenge and I’ve been hooked every since. Delicious.
3. Bieler’s Blended Vegetable Soup – This was a new recipe and it surprised me. Never have I ever blended zucchini, green beans, and celery with a few spices before. I served with a scrumptious salad on the side. This one was a favorite, along with the other 3 blended soups, particularly because I could sip from a mug and consume all the nutritious goodness rather quickly.
4 1-Pot Vegetable soup -This reminded me of the “vegan” chicken noodle from last November, no tofu in this recipe. It was very good.
5. Vegan tomato soup – This was a repeat recipe from last fall’s challenge and it was just as good this time. Pictured are the vegetables simmering before I blended them. I get excited thinking about all the nutrition in this pot: zucchini, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, tomatoes, and spices. This blended soup was another favorite.
6. Slow cooker minestrone – This was a new version of minesteone that pleasantly surprised me. The butternut squash added an irresistible sweetness.
7. Thai Coconut soup – This is an old favorite that I’ve made a few times over the years. However, this was my first time using frozen zucchini spirals. They made my life so much easier in that moment. Sometimes, you need a break. It was also very comforting.
8. Vegetarian tortilla soup – This was a new version of tortilla soup that surprised me. I’ve never cooked a soup with actual tortilla chips (used store bought) in the broth. This was the 4th blended soup that was one of my favorites. I topped it off with my homemade oven baked tortilla chips & a side of one bean taco.
Of course, I used my homemade liquid gold aka vegetable broth in each recipe, which added even more robust flavor and nutrition.
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Soup’s up

You know I love a good food challenge and it’s the perfect time to bring in the fall season with soups filled with bountiful ingredients. Last month, my friends at Simple Green Smoothies sent me an email with an invitation to participate in a free 10-day soup challenge.

I had so much fun last fall, I decided to do it again. Plus, it will be a great reset after a long weekend of visiting with family out of state. Since I’m on the road traveling back from Chicago to Austin, I might be a day behind, but I’ll be posting my luscious soups once I get set up.

In the mean time, you can read about all 10 delicious soups I prepared from the previous soup challenge Here.

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Food chronicles: Summer obsessions

When I tell you my creative juices have been flowing (pun intended๐Ÿ˜), I mean it. Two things I’ve been into this summer are 1) propagating my plants (I’ll take a deeper dive in another post) and 2) pickling. I was inspired to try my hand at pickling cucumbers while doing one of my favorite past times: watching YouTube videos. The set of videos I was watching was either on meal prepping, vegan recipe ideas, frugal shopping tips, high protein meals, or all of the above.

Pickled red onions and cucumbers

I’m not sure why I’ve never thought to pickle anything especially when I learned how easy and inexpensive it is. All you need are common household items like vinegar (your choice on what kind), basic spices like pepper, herbs (if you have on hand), and the produce. I collect jars to store foods in (homemade smoothies, juices, broth), so I had a few to spare. I researched some recipes online to determine what appealed to me the most. I generally use recipes as guides and to give me ideas. When I’m baking, I’ll follow the recipe precisely because it’s backed by science.

Prepped vegetables for Pikliz, a Haitian condiment you eat with most anything, especially rice. Vegetables: habanero peppers (a substitute for the traditional scotch bonnet), mini red, yellow, & orange peppers, shallot, and cabbage.

I used the same liquid for the pickled cucumbers and red onions. I combined a recipe that called for vinegar, water, sugar, garlic, and peppercorns. I didn’t use as much sugar as the recipe indicated. The only difference is I added dried dill to the cucumber jars.

The liquid requires heating in a sauce pan over the stove until the sugar dissolves. I placed the vegetables in the jars and poured enough liquid to cover them. I let them cool down on the counter before sealing with the lids and placing in the refrigerator. I began enjoying the pickled onions the next day on my veggie burgers. I let the cucumbers marinate for 2 weeks and WHOILA, I had delicious pickles.

The Pikliz liquid didn’t require heating and only comprised of vinegar. An addition I made was added garlic to the jars. I used black pepper and thyme. I made a whopping 5 jars of that good stuff. I placed 4 in the refrigerater and one in the cabinet as a test. Some recipes didn’t require refrigeration. It’s been a week and I haven’t tried it yet. I’m looking forward to tasting.

Pickled carrots

Two wonderful things about pickling vetables are: the options are endless, from the vegetables, herbs, and spices; and you’re preserving vegetables which reduces food waste. It also presents a new way to eat them with the added probiotic benefits. This pickled carrot recipe was in the cookbook my son bought me for Christmas called Thug Kitchen… This recipe was particularly recommened for burritos and tacos.

I hope you’re inspired to try some delicious pickling recipes this summer. They will add an undeniable elevated flavor profile to your dishes.