Mushroom Pecan Pate – So Delicious

Mmmm! Mushrooms

I made mushroom pate, again. Per request, I have made note of the recipe. A girlfriend of mine lent me her copy of Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.The first recipe I made was the Mushroom Pate. Of course, I never really follow a recipe, but this was my inspiration. Hope you enjoy my version and some day check out he original. Like me, you may find you enjoy vegan recipes.

My brother is vegan and I made this for him at Easter. He tried very hard to eat it all. Although a valiant attempt and he decimated my celery, the effort was in vain. I made enough to insure, I would have some left-over. :)

TIP: I get my mushrooms at my local Asian market. I find they are much cheaper there and make this recipe much less painful on your pocketbook

 

Mushroom Pecan Pate

Approx. 1- 2 lbs. – Mushrooms (I use whatever mushrooms I have in my fridge. Today, I used shitaki, portabella, King trumpet, brown & white bunapi)

Mushroom Pate on Sourdough bread

1 cup toasted peacans

1 white onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP balsamic vinegar

1/4 TSP Taragon

1/2 TSP Thyme

1 TSP Paprika

1 TSP TJ’s 21 spice salute

1 TSP Italian spice blend

Pepper

Salt

Even kids will eat it!

Roughly chop cleaned mushrooms. Heat oil in skillet on medium high. Once oil is heated add onion and cook until translucent. Add mushrooms, garlic and spices. (I am a spice dumper; not a spice measurer, so you can adjust the flavor to your taste) Chef Julia Child says mushrooms will absorb the fat and after about 2 mins. the fat will release. Mushrooms will begin to brown and create their own sauce. At this point, they should be removed from heat.

Toast your nuts in a dry skillet. For me this takes about 10 mins on medium heat. The nuts will not make any noise while cooking to remind you to look at them. Make sure to watch them so they do not burn.

Once nuts and mushrooms are slightly cooled, whirl in food processor. Add vinegar and addition spices, if you like.

I love this recipe warm, room temperature or cold. On bread, with veggies or by the spoonful. Great for a snack, breakfast lunch or dinner. Even makes a great sandwich with some spinach, in my opinion. Hubs was not a huge fan of the sandwich version. Make some today and decide the best way to eat it. :)

 

BBQ Cranberry Meatballs – Your kids will eat it!

I had these in December and forgot to post the recipe. I used Kirkland meatballs, but I prefer TJs. My son loved them, which is always a bonus. Sorry you do not get a picture, as they were all eaten before I had a chance. :)

BBQ meatball sauce with cranberries and pumpkin worked out nicely.

BBQ Cranberry Meatballs


1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp dark honey or molasses
1/2 bag frozen cranberries
1 can tomato sauce
1.5 c pureed pumpkin
1 tsp garlic powder
few drops of liquid mesquite
1 tbsp chili powder
favorite hot sauce to taste
tbsp ground pepper
1 can jellied cranberries

Home-made or ready-made meatballs

Put onion, garlic & cranberries in food processor and pulse until a nice paste. Add to pan with heated oil and serve for a few minutes on low. Add cranberry sauce and stir until melted. Then add tomato sauce, pumpkin and remaining items. You can adjust the sweetness to your liking. Add meatballs to sauce and cook until meatballs are cooked through. (Note: do not use raw meatballs)

Enjoy!

Southwest to Keep my Money! Assistance Requested…

Well, it is the holiday season. A time to spend with friends and family. Sadly, I will not be able to because Southwest Airlines will not allow me!

Back in February, I had purchased a ticket to visit my best friend in Chicago. A month later, I got a job and had to cancel the flight. I booked it again, for early November but had to cancel because my GF’s job took away her vacation because they were under staffed. Now, I am trying to use my credit to fy my GF to CA in December because I am not able to travel and my credits are about to expire.

Southwest says it is not possible to transfer my credits to another passenger, but once they expire, I can pay another $50 to have them extended for another 6 months. Why would I pay them $50, so I can use my money? I thought giftcards were no longer able to charge to do that, so why should Southwest be allowed to? Is it the Holiday spirit to ROB your customers out of their money?

Besides, I am not asking for anything for free. Just want to use the money I already spent for someone to visit me, instead of me visiting them. I was not upset when they told me the credits would expire in February because it seemed like a long ways away. I figured I would be able to reschedule my flight and not have a problem. However, the Universe and now, Southwest are working against me seeing my best bud by not allowing me to use my credit to bring her to see me.

I understand the flight itself was non-transferable, but I cancelled it and just want to use the funds on my account. When I spoke to Customer Care, they stated they no longer allow credits to be transferred, which means that they did at one time. When I cancelled the flight originally, I asked if it could be used by someone else and was told that I could. However, it seems that the policy changed without me being informed. This is HUGELY disappointing!

My GF and I have been trying for almost a year to see each other. What difference does it really make to Southwest Airlines who uses the credits, they already got my money? Unless they were bargaining on the fact that I may not be able to use the credits and they would just get to keep the funds without have to fly me anywhere. This is not how you should treat your customers. Before this, SWA was always the airline I looked to first because I thought their policies and prices were more customer focused. Now, I feel that stealing my money is more important to them, than taking care of their customers.

I hope you will support me in my efforts to get Southwest Airlines to take better care of their customers, by re-posting this on your blog, Facebook or Twitter. Thank you in advance for your assistance in bringing my best friend and I together for the Holidays!

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta – Your kids will eat it

Pumpkins, pumpkins

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The variety of squash is colorful and best for making comfort foods. We have visited multiple pumpkin patches and I am determined to cook all but one of them. Hubs wants to carve the giant one with our son. We got stickers for the other ones, so DZ could still decorate them.

The other night, I roasted the 2 pumpkins not in this picture, another Baby Boo and a Sugar pumpkin. The flesh was a light orange instead of the dark orange pulp that comes in a can. The cooking time took way longer than I expected, but the smooth texture is flavorful. I pureed once it was cooled and am storing it in my fridge as come up with more ideas to use it.

Mmmmm... Good

Last night, I made Creamy Pumpkin Pasta. In case you were worried; yes, there was a form of quinoa in the dish. I used quinoa rotelle which I picked up from my local health food store. I used Jim Carson’s recipe for Pumpkin Bacon Cream Pasta for the idea. However, my version was quite a departure and was missing the bacon. I know, I know… bacon makes everything better. In this case, I forgot it at the store and decided my butt was happier without it.

The best part about this recipe is DZ ate without any argument. The secret is probably that is looks like Mac & Cheese. I would have preferred chili flakes to give it a bit of kick, but simpler the flavor; the more likely DZ will eat. Not everything can come in nugget form, Child!

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta

Closer... Can you smell it?

8 oz cooked quinoa pasta

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp quinoa flour ( all whole wheat  or all quinoa flour can be used, if you prefer)

1 tbsp whole wheat flour

3 cups fresh pumpkin or cups canned

1.5 tsp rosemary

2 cloves of garlic

4 cups of Liquid (broth, half & half, milk)

1 cup Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in an ample sauce pan over medium low heat. Once butter is melted

Look Momma, I am eating dinner!

and bubbly, add flour and whisk until all butter is absorbed and rue is paste like. Cook for about a minute, stirring constantly. Add pumpkin whisking until combined and thick. Spices are next and then liquid (either chicken broth, milk or cream. I used fat-free half and half) Now, toss in garlic so it does not get over cooked and add a bitter flavor to your dish. Reduce heat to low, add cheese and continue whisking until desired consistency achieve or you can coat back of metal spoon. More liquid may be used if sauce gets to thick.

Lastly, toss cooked hot pasta with sauce and serve with fresh Parmesan cheese. For added color you can always sprinkle with fresh basil, oregano or parsley.

My son really enjoyed this. It is a healthy alternative to Mac and Cheese and a great way to use all those pumpkins you picked up from the pumpkin patch. As you can see from my front porch, I have quite a few.

Enjoy! If you have any suggestions for other pumpkin recipes, please let me know.

Pleasure of a Pirate Birthday Party

Ahoy Mateys!

DZ just turned 3 on the 18th. Due to our love of pirates, we decided it was a great theme and since it is October guest could dress up.

I decided to have it at Pizza Pirate in Bencia, CA after running into the owner outside of my favorite Peets (Single lowfat mocha now whip, Anyone?) in Danville where I used to work. (If ever you think advertising on your shirt is pointless, Pizza Pirate earned a 2-hour birthday party for 20 people just because of it.) The restaurant is decorated in a pirate theme and the pizza have names like Pizza of Eight and Maiden Voyage. They do not charge for their party space and pizza is decent. I would have liked the service to have been better. We had to ask for water glasses 3 times and no one ever checked on us, so I was constantly trying to find some for more plates or utensils. Overall, our guest were happy and we had a good time.

My girlfriend, Silvia made the cupcakes; which each  had a pirate ship made of 1/2

Pirate Cupcakes

a brownie bite & a pirate flag. She used beautiful swirls to create ocean waves and placed the “ship” on top. They were super tasty and a big hit. I am so thankful for her help.

Pirates only eat with their hands, right?

One of my favorite moments of the party was little cousin Sawyer devouring a cupcake. She was just do adorable smashing it all over her face. Why do parents always fine this mess making so cute? When I got married and Hubs tried to shove cake in my face, I was less than amused. I guess it is only acceptable for children under 3-year-old. :)

The family and I all dressed in pirate garb, as did some of the guests. We had Pirate bean bag toss and Little Buccaneer Booty Bags. Dustin was probably most excited with his gifts, as most children are. A 2-hour party is just perfect for 3-year-olds. By the time everyone was heading home, we were still tantrum free and it was just about nap time.

I am very proud of my son and the little man he is becoming. Each day is a new experience; he amazes me everyday with the new things he has learned or remembers. Today, he was telling me about the otters we saw in Monterey 3 weeks ago while we were reading about beavers. I can see the connection and was smiling with pride. Yes, 3 is a struggle of wills at times, but I love the conversation and discoveries we have together.

Making a Wish

Happy Birthday, Baby Love. I loves you! Each day I look forward to our new adventures .

First Stew of Autumn – Quinoa with Moroccan Butternut Carrot Stew

A few days ago on my way home from Chico, CA with DZ, we stopped at a few roadside stands. The first one was advertising peaches, so I quickly swerved off the road hoping to savor the juicy taste of Summer that had just slipped away. Instead, what I found was a delightful little shop selling some fruit & veggies, knick-knacks and the best part, PIE! After touring the place a few times, I came to the conclusion I was not going home without a Cherry Pie. Let me just say, this was the best purchased dessert my mouth has ever had the pleasure of tasting.

The next stop was a fruit stand across the street from where I needed to fuel up. This place was wonderful! A beautiful autumn wreath in reds and purples decided to come home with me.In addition, their prices were good, so we picked up Sierra Beauty apples, watermelon, strawberries, butternut squash & as a surprise for Rob, local honey. I have not been disappointed with our treasures.

The apples are very crisp, tart, sweet & juicy; not too far off from a Honeycrisp. Dustin has been enjoying the watermelon. I meant to share some with my friend and her family. Will need to drop some off today before it goes bad.

Strawberries are Dustin’s favorite and he has been eating them every chance he gets. This morning was no exception. He trotted off to school with his bag of strawberries in hand. Now that he is a big boy, he no longer wants me to cut them up. He is too funny. :)

The most exciting part, for me, was the butternut squash. I knew it was going to rain and that is no better time for something with butternut squash. Here is how I determine dinner… I take the ingredients I have and enter them into my search engine. On this particular day, it was butternut squash and quinoa. (I know, I know there was no surprise there. Wait until I post the recipe I modified for banana quinoa muffins) Anyway, Survey says…Quinoa with Moroccan Butternut and Carrot Stew. This recipe was found on Epicurious.com. One of my favorite sites for dinner ideas.

Quinoa with Moroccan Butternut Carrot Stew was originally published by Bon Appetit (January 2006). I have modified the recipe to suit my tastes and what I have in my house. A friend of mine gave me some turmeric, so I decided on this recipe because I wanted to see if I liked the spice. The verdict was yes and it also works as an anti-inflammatory (an added bonus). This is a 2-part recipe, as the quinoa is cooked separately. Meal can be made in advance and reheated at dinner time. Makes enough to share with friends; I did. :)

Your Kids will Love it!

Quinoa with Moroccan Butternut Carrot Stew (serves 10-12)

Stew:

  •  Butternut Squash 4-5 lbs cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 Lg. crisp apple cut similar size to squash (I used Sierra Beauty, but a Fuji or Granny Smith would work)
  • 1 15oz. Can Garbanzo beans (rinsed)
  • 1 15oz. can of petite cut tomatoes in sauce (do not rinse)
  • 1 cup carrots peeled, cut into approx. 1 inch pieces
  • Yummy Goodness

    1 cup of red onion chopped

  • 4 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
In a large skillet, I needed 2, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft and slightly brown. (Caramelizing your onions adds and extra dimension to the flavor of your dish) Add garlic and spices, while stirring frequently, cook for about 1 minute taking care not to brown or burn the garlic. Add tomatoes, chicken broth and lemon. Bring to a boil and add remaining veggies and apple. Cover and simmer until the squash and carrots are fork tender, approximately 20-30 minutes.

Quinoa:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup carrot, peeled & diced
  • 1 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (feel free to use more)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Mint, finely chopped
In a skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add onion and carrots; sauteing until veggies begin to brown. Add garlic and spices; cook about one minute. (make sure not to burn your garlic, this will add an unpleasant bitterness to your dish) Place quinoa in rice cooker, add the cooked ingredients and chicken broth. Leave in cooker until your stew is ready. Fluff with fork, when about to serve and stir in cilantro and mint. (Can be made ahead)
If using pot to cook quinoa, add an additional 1/2 cup of broth and follow cooking instructions on the package.
I serve this dish with fresh lemon, so you can have a little extra tartness. Super delicious and my whole family liked it.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Quinoa-with-Moroccan-Winter-Squash-and-Carrot-Stew-233714#ixzz1a7FdonhN 

Dinner Do-Over

Since we had so many leftovers, the next night I browned breakfast sausage with turmeric, cumin and pepper. Once cooked, I added the remaining stew and simmered until hot. This was served over Quinoa pasta, which can be found at some grocery stores or local health food establishment.

 

Changes on the Horizon; Filled with Hope

 

Well, now that my vacation has been cancelled, I am excited about is taking Dustin to Pizza Pirate in Benica this weekend. We are thinking about having is birthday there and want to make sure he thinks it is fun before setting everything up. I asked him last night, if he wanted a pirate birthday. He said, “No, Momma, I want Toy Story”  Gotta love a child who can think for himself, right?

Most of the birthday parties we have been to have been at home. I just do not want to deal with the mess of having a party at my house. So if Pizza Pirate is not Dustin’s idea of fun, then a park is probably the way to go. With Grampy’s baking skills, I am sure the cupcakes will be awesome. What else does a party need?

What I am most looking forward to this weekend, finally getting my blue extensions. (Grandma, do not worry. Theses will be easily pulled back for job interviews or taken out completely.) I am so delighted that my hairstylist, Sara Russell, was able to find them. Why am I adding blue to my hair?

Changes are needed. I have colored my hair black, which I love!!! Thanks, again, Sara Russell. I have pierced my nose, which I would like better if I did not get the mother of all mucus inducing colds. Added hair flowers to my everyday wardrobe to bring a extra bit of sunshine to my life. There was talk of a tattoo, but I am unable to commit to the pain involved. On TV last night, some guy was having one removed and it took approx. 10 secs. He said it was 4 hours to have it put there. 4 HOURS!!!

In a nutshell, I am changing what I can and accepting what I can’t. The physical changes are one aspect. The other is my career.

There is more time now to focus on what I what from my career. I have a meeting with a professional resume writer on Wednesday. In the mean time, I am trying to find the answers to the interview questions. Usually, I just vomit my experience on my resume and hope for the best. This has only proved to land jobs I am highly over-qualified for and leave me frustrated and underpaid. Looking forward to starting this new chapter in my life. Hopefully, it will be less painful than a tattoo. :)

 

 

With Peace and Clarity, I Resign

“>

More Time for Family

After 7 months of employment, I have officially resigned. This was a difficult decision to make. I weighted the effects on my health and my family with the benefits of working at this particular company. Unfortunately, the extra funds were not enough to make up for the flexibility I was promised, but just was not available.

Every time DZ got sick, the majority of the responsibility fell on my husband. Considering that he is the major supporter of our family, I could not allow this to continue. My being underpaid and over-worked, could no longer take precedence over Hub’s career that he loves, feels appreciated and financially rewarded for his hard work and dedication. We need me to be more emotionally and physically available for our family. The stress of being understaffed for so long, made it difficult for me  to be present and enjoy my role as Momma. Resignation has provided me a sense of peace and allowed me to reconnect with my spouse.

Does this mean I am no longer going to work? Absolutely not! I have recognized that I enjoy having my own career and ability to share my diverse talents with the business world. What I enjoy most is the relationship building, the drive for knowledge and the leadership I acquire through my drive and dedication to learning the business and processes as quickly as possible. After 3 days of minimal training, I was able to jump right in, work unsupervised and with confidence, I could handle most situations thrown my way.

There are many things I think could have been done differently, but I am not sure it would have made much of a different in the end.

Many life lessons were learned and I know I will find the right position in time. Have decided to work with a resume writer to assist with the best way to market myself. Finding the right job for myself and my family is a priority. I am excited for the future. Will be uploading my resume in all of its glory as soon as it is ready.

Please keep your ears open for anyone who may be hiring. I appreciate any referrals you may come across.

Thank you very much for keeping me and my family in your thoughts and prayers during this time transition.

 

Mother’s Day brought to you by Ativan

How did you spend Mother’s Day?
Me, I spent my morning in the emergency room after a week of no sleep and anxiety attacks. The cage I had trapped myself in has been brutal. Since going back to work March 7, I feel like I have been failing at being a Mom, Wife and employee. The perfectionist has become anything but perfect.

“It is always darkest just before the day dawneth”
Thomas Fuller quotes (British Clergyman and Writer, one of the most prolific authors of the 17th century. 1608-1661)

Sunday morning, I called my mom, again, hysterical, She told be to follow the doctor’s advice and go to the ER. I had great fear that they would admit me and possibly take my son away. It never feels safe to go to the hospital for mental health. While I was trying to make the decision, my imagination was running wild and fear was taking over. I needed my mom to tell be to go and reassure me it would be ok.

“For every dark night, there’s a brighter day”
Tupac Shakur quotes (American rap Artist, 1971-1996)

During the last 3 months, I got pneumonia and was sick for about a month, 2 of which I was actually out of work; my child is sick about every other week, if not every 4 days; work has been super stressful and I am constantly feeling like I am not accomplishing enough and Rob got a respiratory infection, which had me believing he would loose his job.

This last week, I was not able to sleep more than 2 hours without waking up with heart palpitations. When Saturday arrived, this woman was a sobbing puddle of pure misery. Saturdays are usually the day I cry from the stress of my week, but once catch up on sleep and I am myself, again. This Saturday was different because I still was not able to sleep. Inside, I feel like a rubber-band wound too tight. No matter what I did, I could not keep my thoughts from circling around and around my head.

“In the real dark night of the soul it is always three o’ clock in the morning, day after day.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald quotes (American Writer. Author of The Great Gatsby. 1896-1940)

After going to the ER, I was giving Ativan, which allowed me to sleep for 14 hours. This morning, I was expecting to be better and go in to work. The anxiety came back within 15 mins of getting out of bed. So now, I am waiting for 9 am to make all the calls to my doctors.

It is shameful to me that I cannot handle the stress in my life. With all the years of therapy, I should have the tools to live a normal life. Well, I have hope that I cannot be hit by a tidal wave forever, right? Eventually, doctors will be able to figure out what is wrong and I life will settle down. I have fear that I am a burden to my family and will loose my job for having to take another day off.

I can only get better from here, right?

The trauma of looking for work and finding daycare

The last few weeks have been pretty stressful. I had a job interview and have spent the earlier weeks lining up daycare, just in case. Having been a stay-at-home mom for 2 years, the thought of putting my child in day care is frightening. Not because I do not think my child will adjust, but because I have had a horrible experience when I was about 4 years old. I never spoke about it until I was in high school. At 4, I was too young to have the words to talk about the experience and as a teenager, I was afraid no one would believe me or maybe my memory was not correct. Here I am almost 36 years old and I can still see his face.

My grandparents retired shortly after that and they became our primary care givers. Dustin does not have that luxury because my parents still work. I think having family take care of child is much less frightening as a parent because you are never leaving them with strangers. Many parents have their children in daycare and I know their children are perfectly fine.

After a long drawn out process, I did except the position and have started my new job this week. Dropping Dustin off the first day was difficult for me, but now, I no longer cry on my way to the car or on my way to the office. Where did all this feeling come from? I thought my heart was black.

Today is day three, I am already getting calls that my child is sick and I need to come pick him up. Luckily, the call came at 5:15 Pm and I was about to pack up, anyway. He had a fever of 99 degrees when they called and by the time I got there, it had reached 99.8 degrees. Since I cannot take anytime off for 3 months, Rob is responsible for taking care of our son in the event that he is sick. Not that Rob cannot handle it, I am stressed because it is usually my role as the momma; part of my identity to Dustin and the one he asks for. I am experiencing a lot of sadness having to give up some of this to Rob.

The good news is this morning was the first day I arrived at the office feeling relaxed and confident that I could make it through the day. Being in an office all day is a bit confining after having the freedom to go to the park or where ever I want for 2 years. However, I am enjoying the camaraderie of being part of an office and having grown-ups to talk to. Just trying to take it one day at a time and be patience with myself. Going back to work has been a huge change, but in the end it will have been worth it. Well, at least, that is what I tell myself. ;)