Thanksgiving Prep

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I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes.  Recently I discovered a new website (well new to me, at least), Primavera Kitchen, which has lots of healthy recipes.  Since I’m trying to cut down on carbs, I decided to give the Roasted Butternut Squash Mash at try.  The recipe was easy to follow, and while the squash was cooking in the oven, I was able to prep and complete other dishes.

1121181411_HDR~2Here is the squash cleaned, seasoned with salt, pepper, and minced garlic, and ready to pop into the oven for about 40 minutes.

Now on to other dishes – homemade cranberry sauce is a must in my house.  I just follow the basic recipe on the bag – with a few tweaks.  I replace half the sugar with raw honey, and add a dash of ground cloves.   1121181428_HDR~2

Once the berries are fully cooked, just remove from the heat and add the zest and juice of one orange.  I love using my vintage glass juicer; for some reason it just makes me happy.  1121181436_HDR~2

Spoon the finished sauce into a serving dish, let cool, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.1121181447_HDR~2 Of course, if you’re like me you probably can’t wait to enjoy this yummy side dish, and sneak a little advance taste. Definitely one of the perks of being the cook!

1121181451_HDR~2While the cranberries were cooking, I used the time to chop the veggies for the dressing.  Originally, I was going to to skip the dressing, but decided to won’t be Thanksgiving without this traditional dish.

 

1121181535a_HDR~2My husband loves celery, so I always add extra along with the onion and some carrots for extra crunch and color.  Plus they’re good for you!  I like moist dressing, so I use about twice the amount of liquid (using the recipe on the package as a guideline) and one beaten egg to hold it all together.  Once it’s all mixed together, just pop it into a covered casserole, refrigerate and you have one more dish ready for your Thanksgiving feast!

1121181452a_HDR~3While I was making the cranberry sauce and the dressing, the squash continued to cook.  Once it was fork tender, I simply removed it from the oven and let it cool while finishing the dressing.  It came out slightly browned and the roasted garlic smelled heavenly.

Once the cooked squash is cool enough to handle, scooped out from the shell into a bowl or pot for mashing.

1121181545a_HDR~3I mostly followed the recipe, but omitted the ghee as my husband doesn’t care for butter on his vegetables and after tasting, I didn’t think that this yummy dish really needed the butter.  You can use a regular or hand-held mixer to mash the squash.  Or, go old school and use a potato masher.  The one I have is over 60 years old and used to belong to my mother.  It has seen a lot of action through the years and still works great!  🙂

 

1121181553_HDR~4My mashed squash it in a serving dish, and tomorrow all I need to do is heat it up a bit in the microwave.

I’ve certainly gotten a good head start on the cooking for tomorrow.  All that’s left to do is to clean and prep the turkey for cooking and get my vegetables ready.  I’m going to put fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, & thyme) in the bird’s cavity and  I plan on using Primavera Kitchen’s recipe for roasted Brussel Sprouts, adding carrots and parsnips, too.

 

Hope you have a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving!  I know that I am thankful to Olivia of Primavera Kitchen for sharing her recipes with us.

Enjoy, Mary

 

 

 

 

 

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A Home Cooked 4th!

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I wasn’t planning on making potato salad, but when buying grass fed beef (trust me, it tastes sooo much better) for burgers, I saw a bag of potatoes and figured why not!  It’s not hard to make and if you know your way around the kitchen, you really don’t need to refer to a written recipe.

Knowing I wanted to get an early start, so everything could be nice and chilled for later today, I started at about 7:45 and was out of the kitchen with potatoes and eggs cooked, and dishes done by 8:30.  That’s with all of my usual distractions including making and drinking coffee, and taking photographs, too.  Here’s my morning prep:

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Scrub and chop your potatoes. I leave the skins on because there are more nutrients there.  (Totally staged shot, because I’m left handed. HaHa)

 

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Put eggs in a pan of cold water with about 1t of salt & 1T of vinegar (makes for easier peeling). Bring to boil and then remove from heat. Let sit for 20 minutes off heat.

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Add chopped potatoes to cold salted water and bring to boil.

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Bring potatoes to a rolling boil; reduce heat and cook for about 5 more minutes. Taste for desired doneness.

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Drain eggs; run under cold water and place in ice bath to halt cooking.

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Drain potatoes into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop further cooking.

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Wash up your dishes. I like to clean as I cook so there is not a big mess in the kitchen.

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Have a refreshing beverage, you earned it!

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I’m having cold brew iced tea.

 

Next steps for later in the day.

Potatoes and eggs are cooked and cooled! Now it’s time to gather our ingredients and make some potato salad – – –

Time to practice our knife skills – –

Peel and chop the eggs:

 

The ingredients are chopped,  so now we need some seasonings – –

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French seasoning mix, Italian dressing, mayonnaise, salt & pepper.

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Oops, almost forgot the dill.

 

Let’s mix it all together – –

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Add potatoes to large mixing bowl and season with the Italian dressing – about 2T

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Add and stir in the chopped ingredients. The eggs to the left are for Deviled Eggs.

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About 1/3 cup of mayonnaise

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Time for the herbs! Season with salt & pepper to taste.

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Mix well, place in lidded container, and refrigerate.  Correct seasoning prior to serving.

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Clean up the dishes and you’re done!

 

It took me about 35 minutes to chop, mix, season, and clean up. If I hadn’t been taking photographs during the process, it would have take less time. Added bonuses to your time spent in the kitchen – – tastes better than store bought, you can control the ingredients, the satisfaction and pleasure of making good food!

 

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Don’t forget to give your kitchen supervisor a treat.

 

My Sweet Tooth

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Sometimes I try to ignore my cravings for something sweet, especially if it is baked and chocolate flavored!  Over the weekend my cravings for got the better of me so I pulled out my Fat Witch Brownies cookbook and it fell open to page 67.  I’ve never made this recipe before, so maybe it was meant to be, or maybe it was the “witch.”  Ha!Ha!

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Page 66 & 67 of Fat Witch Brownies cookbook

The “Intense Chocolate Brownies” were as the name implies, intense with the flavor of chocolate!  Of course they can’t be bad for you because the recipe uses unsalted butter, unbleached flour (please don’t buy bleached flour – it really is not good for you), 70%  cacao bittersweet chocolate, just the right amount of sugar.  Since these brownies are homemade they contain no preservatives or artificial ingredients, just lots of love.

Now, I didn’t have bittersweet chocolate on hand, but I did have some organic cocoa (purchased from Thrive Market) so with a little on-line research on making substitutions, I was ready to bake!  It really doesn’t take long to make brownies from scratch, and the recipes from Fat Witch are pretty straight forward and uncomplicated (unlike others I have tried).  Best of all I didn’t have to use my mixer, so clean-up was easier!

Even though I didn’t follow the recipe exactly – using cocoa powder and half whole wheat and half unbleached flour – the end result was delicious!  The brownies were moist, with a rich chocolate flavor and just slightly crumbly.  Since there are only two humans in my household, and I’m the big brownie eater, I am still enjoying these treats.  Being the caring parent of two cats, I don’t let them eat chocolate even when they start begging for a taste!

If you have any leftovers after making some, just make sure to store in an air tight container.

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Finished product – Cooling and waiting to be devoured!

I’ve never been disappointed with any of the recipes that I’ve made from my Fat Witch Brownies cookbook.  As a tea lover, I even tried the Earl Grey Brownies, which were delightfully different.

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Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding

Hope you will try your hand at making homemade treats.  If you like chocolate, Fat Witch has some free recipes available on their website, or if you live in New York City, you can stop by the shop and buy some freshly made goodies.

Happy baking & eating 🙂

World Cancer Day

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Today, February 4th is World Cancer Day.  I imagine that most people have been touched by cancer in one way or another. They may have had cancer themselves, or been through this life-changing event with a loved one. Perhaps you know a neighbor, church member, or student who has had cancer.  Thankfully, with today’s advances in medicine the prognosis for cancer patients is improving. However, it all depends on catching the cancer early.

In January 2009, my father was diagnosed with late-stage throat cancer. he had ignored the signs and would not see a doctor until the cancer was quite advanced.  By mid-February we said our final goodbyes at his memorial service.  Later that same year, I too was diagnosed with cancer, fortunately my outcome was different.  I knew something was wrong, but not what and went through test after test, all with negative results until an ultra-sound finally uncovered what was wrong; I had bilateral ovarian cancer.

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With my mom, in 2010 after chemo-therapy. We are both wearing teal for ovarian cancer.

Today, I consider myself one of the lucky ones in that my cancer was discovered at stage 2, which is still an early stage.  Only 20% of all women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at an early state.  Yet, an early diagnosis means a world of difference and an amazing 94% 5-year survival rate.  Unfortunately, there are no tests for early detection. Instead, it is important to know the symptoms and your body.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge from your vagina that is not normal for you.
  • Pain in the pelvic or abdominal area (the area below your stomach and between your hip bones).
  • Back pain.
  • Bloating.
  • Feeling full quickly while eating.
  • A change in your bathroom habits, such as having to pass urine very badly or very often, constipation, or diarrhea.

If you experience one or a combination of these symptoms, and they persist for several weeks then you should see your doctor for an evaluation.  Being aware may save your life or the life of another woman.

For more information on ovarian cancer, please visit the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) or the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA).  You may also click on the link below to open a PDF file with information provided by NOCC.

http—ovarian.org-docs-NOCC14.08_PDF

Love to Craft and Love Supporting NOCC

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Ever since I was a young girl I have loved to make things. My parents bought me crafting kits, oil paints and canvas to keep me busy. Remember rock tumblers, bottle cutting kits? I had those and more.

These days I prefer to work with items I have on hand. As a result I usually have a wide selection of materials from which to choose. Recently I found the Madly in Love crochet hat pattern from Moogly that I wanted to make, so I just went shopping in my yarn room for yarn. I used to call it my craft room, but in reality it is mostly yarn right now. I freely admit to having a yarn addiction and having a problem with passing up a yarn sale (but I’m working on it – LOL).

Asymmetrical Blush & Gray Set

Recently I’ve added jewelry making to my list of crafting passions. Hmm, must have started with that rock tumbler kit because I recall that there were jewelry findings in the kit. I’ve learned techniques from some classes on Craftsy and Annie’s and just played around.

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Most all of my pieces are unique and one of a kind, although I must admit to using a kit when I wanted to learn a more complex beading technique. I’ve included a few of my pieces in this post. I hope you like them!  You can see more at my ETSY shop, MarvelousMeows.  50% of all shop proceeds, until October 31, 2015, will go to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC). Enter code TealPower and get free first class shipping to anywhere in the United States.

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September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

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At the beach in N.C. with my mom shortly after finishing chemo

This year I celebrated 5 years of being cancer free after my diagnosis, surgery, and chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. Ever since my diagnosis and while going through treatment I did what I could to spread the word about ovarian cancer, its signs and symptoms. You see, while I had my annual PAP test and breast exam (oh, the joys of mammograms) I knew nothing about the early signs of ovarian cancer. In fact, I knew nothing about the disease.

Before my cancer was found I knew something was wrong, but not what.  For months, and months, and months I went to doctor after doctor and had test after test. I was checked for celiac disease, had my gall bladder tested, had blood work, I even had an abdominal ultra-sound (not pelvic), but all of the tests and exams were negative.

I was ready to give up and just live with my symptoms, but my husband pushed and pushed, so I kept going to doctors. It was only because of an abnormal PAP that my cancer was finally found by means of a trans-vaginal ultrasound. Please, please, please remember that a PAP test does NOT detect ovarian cancer.

So what are the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer?

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or Abdominal Pain
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urgency or frequency of urination
  • Changes in bowel movements

If you have one or more of these symptoms on a persistent basis, please, please, please go see your doctor.

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I was lucky, my cancer had not spread beyond my two ovaries and one Fallopian tube and I have survived. Most women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are not so lucky; 70% of my teal sisters do NOT survive five years.

On Sunday, September 20th I will again walk in the Central Maryland Chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Run/Walk in order to raise earlier awareness about this deadliest of gynecological cancer and to support more research.  Please consider lending your support to help educate others and save the life of a mother, daughter, grandmother, sister or niece.

2014 NOCC Walk Run Event

2014 NOCC Walk Run Event

Team Teal’s Team Page for the NOCC Walk/Run

In order to help raise awareness and help fund further research, I am donating 50% of all proceeds, through October 31, from my ETSY shop to NOCC. In addition, you can get free first class shipping to anywhere in the United States. Just enter the code TealPower at check-out.