It’s that time of year again! I love the holidays. The weather is getting colder, there’s a pep in my step but alas, I don’t think this year will be like previous years. COVID has really impacted how we do things. Are you wondering how to still have holiday cheer?
We (BF and I) decided to go all out this year for our kiddos. We are going to do a little bit of all the holidays again. So… a little celebration for Hanukkah, a little celebration for Yule, Christmas of course, and some things for Kwanza.
We’re also planning to do as many charity donations as we can to whatever we come across – we’ve already donated to the local food bank and various animal charities. We’ve planned an activity every week in December: Week 1 will be Christmas cookies and cards; Week 2 will be a Scavenger Hunt for some very large candies; Week 3 will be gingerbread houses; and Week 4 is for watching a Christmas movie.
The kids each have a 24 day advent calendar; a homemade 12 day advent calendar; and 8 days of small things to open each night of Hanukkah. Part of Yule & Kwanzaa will be exchanging homemade gifts so we’re each coming up with 2 gifts for everyone.
It sounds like A LOT but considering I’ve had the majority of our Christmas shopping done since early fall, I think we can manage. I’m so excited to see how the month goes.
My goal with all of this was to take the kids’ minds off the fact that things might look a little different this year but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good holiday season. I want to end 2020 on the best note possible.
What are you doing to celebrate differently this year?
Spring is shifting into summer, but I love when it’s cold outside, mostly because of the food! Perfect time of year to make pork roast is when it’s cold outside and you don’t mind your oven running for several hours. To be honest though, I’ve been known to make this during the summer, more than once!
This is my recipe for making a “stuffed” pork roast. ONCE AGAIN… I failed to get a final result photo. But I did put a photo of another one I cooked and how that came out 😊
I like the pork shoulder roast because the fat layer bastes the roast, but you could do this with any pork roast. Start by preheating your oven to 375 and prepping a pan. I like to use the toss away pans for easier cleanup. Once it’s cleaned, coat the bottom with cooking spray and a layer of salt. I also add crushed red pepper.
Now get your roast out of the packaging. These usually come vacuum-sealed (I believe this one was about 8 or 9 pounds). Put it skin side down in the pan and trim off anything that looks undesirable. Leave the knife in the pan and focus on the veggies.
The normal veggies would be onion, garlic, and bell peppers, but you can use whatever you have on hand: roasted red peppers, green onions, any type of herb, spicy peppers… it’s all up to you. I used onion, garlic, green pepper, and thyme.
The best (fastest) way to get these cut down is to use a little food chopper. Cut the onion and bell pepper into smaller chunks and toss them in the food chopper. Let it do all the work for you and just dump the small pieces into a bowl. It is ok if this mixture has liquid from the veggies in it.
Once you have everything chopped, add a bunch of salt & cayenne pepper (or whatever pepper you use). This is going to season the roast, so be very generous.
With your large knife, cut slits into the roast at various places and stuff the veggie mixture in. Do the top and the sides. Do not worry about the bottom where the fat layer is and do not worry about using all the veggies. You actually want to have some left over.
Once you have enough stuffed spots, flip the roast over and score gridlines into the fat. Once you’ve done that, pour the remaining veggie mixture on the fat and rub it in. It is ok if some falls into the pan. Then spray the entire roast with a generous coating of cooking spray. This will help keep the foil from sticking to the roast.
Add about 2 cups of water to the bottom and cover with foil. Put in the oven and cook for 1 hour at 375 then turn down to 300 for about 4 more hours.
NOTE: If you want to add potatoes, start peeling them about an hour and a half before done time. Cut into large pieces and add to the pan. Please make sure you season them – potatoes soak up a lot of salt – and add more liquid. Recover the roast and let the potatoes cook with the roast for the remaining time.
Serve with sides of choice (I prefer rice and either rolls or biscuits).
Let me know what you think in the comments!
1 green bell pepper
3 cloves of garlic
Several sprigs of thyme
Pork shoulder roast, 8 or 9 pounds
Seasoning to taste
Preheat oven to 375.
Prep pan and spray with cooking spray. Season with salt & crushed red pepper.
Take roast out of packaging and place skin-side down in the pan and trim.
Chop all veggies in food chopper and dump into a bowl.
Add salt & cayenne pepper (or your seasonings of choice).
I love beef shanks – the meat has a great flavor. Today I tried something a little different to see how they’d turn out. Normally, I cook these in the oven, but I decided to try in the slow cooker.
I started with 2 beef shanks; one was considerably larger than the other. This indicates the appetite difference between my SO and me. 😊
Using a small skillet, I browned them one at a time with salt and pepper on each side.
While that was happening, I sliced one Vidalia onion and peeled 3 garlic cloves. I sprayed the bottom of my slow cooker and layered the onion slices and cloves at the bottom.
I also added some salt, pepper, and stock to the bottom. I don’t like pouring liquids over seasoned meat as I feel it washes everything away. You can use beef or veggie stock or water. Just a little at the bottom since we are not trying to boil the meat.
Once the shanks were brown on each side:
I layered them in the slow cooker:
I added fresh rosemary from my garden and then went back to the skillet for a sauce.
I used one tablespoon of butter, ¼ red cooking wine (I’ll explain this in a minute) and the juice of one small lemon. My goal was to get the bits off the bottom. Once everything mixed together, I poured it around the slow cooker. I set it on high for 2 hours then I turned it to Low and cooked for 2.5 hours.
>Red Cooking Wine: Please use real red if you have it on hand. I do not drink wine, so I never have any hanging around. This is easier for me but do what works for you.
I once again forgot to take a photo of the final product. The meat was flavorful, tender, and falling apart. >If I make this again, I’ll try to remember to snap a photo! I’m so bad at the end result pics.
2 beef shanks
1 sprig rosemary
3 garlic cloves
1 medium Vidalia onion
Beef broth or water
½ cup red wine
1 tbsp butt
Salt & Pepper to taste
Spray a skillet & slow cooker with cooking spray.
Season both sides of beef shanks
Sear beef shanks on both sides until brown
Slice 1 onion and peel 3 garlic cloves; layer on the bottom of the slow cooker
Season onion mixture with salt and pepper
Add beef broth to the slow cooker – about 1 inch of liquid
Layer shanks in the slow cooker and add 1 sprig of rosemary cut in half
In the skillet, add 1 tablespoon of butter, juice of 1 lemon, and ½ cup of red wine; reduce.
Add sauce to the slow cooker and set timer:
High for 2 hours then Low for 2.5 hours.
Serve with sides of choice. We served with jasmine rice and shishito peppers.
So I’ve been on hiatus since May, as you may have noticed. I received some startling news in June and have been dealing with health issues. I was diagnosed with Adenomyosis. My doctor and I decided on surgery, so I’m currently home recovering from a hysterectomy. The last 5 months have been an emotional roller coaster.
I will be posting again now that I’m on the mend, both physically and emotionally. Dealing with the emotional part of this surgery was more taxing than I had anticipated and I completely lost my motivation for this website. I’m doing much better with everything now, but there is still some healing left.
Mmm breakfast. My favorite meal of the day. I often do
breakfast for dinner because it’s easy, quick, and delicious. During the week,
I need something for breakfast that I can take to work and eat there with
minimal effort. My latest go-to breakfast meal prep has been biscuits with
I only started making this a few months ago from a special
request. I didn’t realize how easy this is to make until I actually did it.
Now, I wonder how I ever lived without this tasty meal. It is also very
filling! I haven’t tried homemade biscuits yet, so please excuse the canned
biscuits. I do want to try making my own biscuits one day and see how they
What really makes this recipe for me is the sage-flavored
breakfast sausage. I love the extra layer the sage adds to the overall dish. I
would also like to one day try making my own breakfast sausage. When I do, I
will post another recipe of everything from scratch. Until then, let’s go with
the easy version.
Start with one pack of sage-flavored breakfast sausage. I
cut it into discs and lay them around the pan.
When the first side starts to brown, flip them over and
start mashing them out. You want to get them to the smallest pieces possible.
However, if you end up with chunkier sausage, have no fear! It is still just as
Keep stirring these around and mashing them out. You can add
some salt and pepper to taste (I like cayenne pepper).
Once everything is brown, add in ½ cup of flour and stir it
Pour in a pint of milk and stir.
Lower the heat and cover slightly. Cook until the gravy is
Serve over or with your favorite biscuits.
**For meal prep, follow all the above directions. Allow the
gravy mixture to cool then separate into containers for the week. My workplace
has a toaster oven and I’ve found putting my biscuits in while it preheats to
350 plus 2 minutes at that temperature is enough to make the biscuits hot and
And that’s it! What do you think?
1 package sage-flavored breakfast sausage
1 can biscuits (I’ve found the big biscuits work
really well for this recipe)
1 pint of milk
½ cup of flour
Salt & pepper to taste
Cut sausage into discs and lay around bottom of
When side 1 is brown, flip them over and start
mashing the discs out to separate the meat.
Stir & brown all the sausage while
continuing to separate.
When all the sausage is brown, add salt &
pepper to taste.
Add in ½ cup flour and stir.
Pour in 1 pint of milk.
Lower temperature, cover, and simmer until gravy
Serve over or with biscuits.
A couple times I’ve made this, I added two tablespoons of
butter for extra richness. I was also short on milk once and compensated with
half and half. I would one day like to try adding cheese and see what happens.
I’ll update on that if I ever do it.
Being born and raised in Louisiana gave me a wonderful
appreciation for food. So many flavors from very simple ingredients. However,
living up north for as long as I have has forced me to adapt my Cajun
favorites. Boiled seafood is non-existent up here. Boudin? What’s boudin?
Growing up, my mom made fricassee a lot – chicken, potato,
etc. The main difference between fricassee and gumbo is the amount of liquid
you end up with at the end. Gumbo is more of a soupy consistency, but fricassee
is gravy to eat over rice. I prefer to eat rice and gravy.
Let me start by saying I’m not an expert on all things Cajun
by any means. I can only draw on my own personal experiences growing up on what
my mom cooked. That being said, let’s drill down into how I make my Cajun
fricassee with a northern twist…
Both start with a flour & oil base (also known as Roux)
that you brown to a rich color. After that, you add in the aromatics, liquid,
seasoning, protein, etc. What I do may deviate from “the norm” but that is all
based on my own experimentation and preferences. Remember that “holy trinity”
of onion, celery, and carrots? Well… I personally hate celery so I never cook
with it. I also don’t really like any cooked vegetables so that takes the
carrots out. In every fricassee or gumbo, I always use onion. For this
fricassee, I used onion, red bell pepper, and garlic.
Starting with the flour and oil base, get the mixture to a creamy texture. NOTE: Do NOT leave this unattended. It browns really fast and the more flour you use (thicker base), the faster it cooks. Once it burns, there’s no salvaging it. You have to dump it and start over, not to mention it has a pretty foul smell.
Next, brown it up to a nice light coffee color.
I add in my onions, peppers and garlic (all chopped). I have
also used: chopped any-color bell peppers, chopped roasted red peppers, chopped
cubanelles or poblanos, and green onions. I feel like the original intention of
this type of dish was to cook what was on-hand and still made a hearty meal.
Based on that, I experimented until I found ingredients I really loved that
gave amazing flavor.
Once I’ve cooked the aromatics a bit in the roux base, I
start adding my liquid a little at a time to get a good blend. You can use any
type of stock, water, broth, etc. I have recently started cooking with bone
broth a lot so that is what I’ve used here.
Once I have a good mix, I add in seasoning. In this
particular batch, I added in some liquid crab boil. Please do NOT try tasting
this stuff out of the jar… it is very concentrated so a little goes a long way.
Just a few splashes in a large pot is enough. This gives a backend heat – the
kind that isn’t in-your-face spicy but sneaks up on you. Some salt because it
needs to taste good and basically anything else you want.
***NEWSFLASH… I have never eaten File in any gumbo or
fricassee. My mom never used it – so I never use it.
Back to the recipe… While this mixture simmers, I rinse off
the crab. Up here, finding blue crab can be a chore so I’ve had to adapt and
use other kinds. My hands-down favorite is Dungeness Crab but I couldn’t find
any so I went with King Crab. Still very tasty. Most crab here is heavily
salted and frozen, so I get all the ice off and make sure the outside is free
from as much salt as possible. Also a good way to make sure its clean.
I put that in the pot and let it go. The longer you cook
this, the better it tastes. I let this go for about an hour and the crab was
already cooked. I just wanted it to taste amazing. I also added in a container
of claw meat to get extra crab in there. It was on sale so why not.
I forgot to get a picture of the end so here’s a picture of
what was left.
We LOVED it. It was very delicious, and the crab peeled
easily (thank goodness because I forgot I didn’t have the claw crackers when I
bought the king crab).
So there you have it – my Cajun Fricassee with King Crab. I
use the same basic recipe and just add in chicken, sausage, potatoes, etc. I’ve
also cooked pork neck bones like this. It all tastes great. Just cook it up and
serve it over rice. I have discovered that my favorite rice is Jasmine and this
goes really well with Jasmine rice.
What do you think?!
½ bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 32oz container of broth, stock, or water (I
used bone broth)
Oil & Flour (I don’t measure these but you
want a well-blended, creamy consistency)
Liquid Crab Boil (a few splashes)
Salt/Pepper to taste
Other liquid as needed
In a pot, heat oil (about enough to almost cover
Add flour and mix to creamy texture.
Continue stirring until brown.
Add chopped veggies and stir for no more than a
Slowly add liquid until well blended.
Add liquid crab and other seasonings.
Add crab (you will likely need to add more
liquid to partially cover the crab).
Partially cover and let simmer for 45 minutes to
Serve over rice.
Couple things to note:
The type of aromatic/veggies to use is entirely
up to you. If you love celery, then by all means use it, just know that it
could change the flavor.
I sometimes add in a half can (or full can
depending on how much I’m making) of condensed soup for extra richness. Types
I’ve used: Cream of Chicken, Cream of Chicken & Herbs, Cream of Mushroom, Cream
of Mushroom & Herbs, Cream of Shrimp. You could probably also use Cream of
Life is a journey… or something like that. The hardest part for me? Accepting that I am alone. I am a single mom and that means all the responsibilities are mine, and mine alone. There is no one else here to help with anything. It sucks, it’s stressful, and most days I feel like crying.
I come home exhausted but there is no rest. Meals have to be made, things need cleaning up, the cat needs care, all on top of my son’s homework and keeping him on track until bedtime. Unless you’ve been in these shoes, you couldn’t possibly understand the level of exhaustion a single parent deals with on a daily basis.
I had a revelation or epiphany or whatever last weekend. I read something that said “happiness starts when we accept life as it is and not as we think it should be”. I am alone. I have to accept that I am alone. I have to embrace that I am alone. My responsibilities are my own and no one is going to provide assistance. I said it out loud “I am alone” and felt a little better.
We all have to get to the point where we accept life as it is. Whether or not we’re happy with it is a different story. We’re all only one decision away from a new life. But the first step is accepting our truth and our reality. Once we do that, we are free to make any choice we want to change our lives.
I have started making changes… and we’ll see what happens from there.
In my attempts to eat healthier, I did some experimenting in
my kitchen with coconut oil. I know, I’m late to this party but better late
I first tried coconut oil with my scrambled eggs. Not an
altogether horrible turnout. It did have a distinct flavor that was sort of
perfumey. While eating my perfume eggs, I decided to try this with shrimp,
given the popularity of coconut fried shrimp I figured this would be a good
Let me make it very clear first that I hate coconut. I do
not eat it in meals, desserts, or any other place. I tried coconut water,
coconut milk, raw coconut and cooked. I do not like it. But I used the oil to
make lip gloss & lotion bars for Christmas and I really liked the smell
those things had. I know coconut oil is super healthy, so I made the leap and
I’m so glad I did!
Basically, you need equal parts butter and coconut oil.
Seasonings only consist of salt and crushed red pepper.
Put half the butter & half the coconut oil in the pan
and let it melt.
Add your shrimp and season with the salt and pepper.
Flip the shrimp when the first side is pink and add the
remaining butter and coconut oil.
Cook until done which should really only be a few minutes.
Shrimp cook incredibly fast which makes this another winner in my book.
Final product is something very tasty. Enjoy!
1 TBSP Butter, divided
1 TBSP Coconut oil, divided
Salt to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste
½ pound of Shrimp (I used size 26-30)
Melt half the butter and half the coconut oil in
a skillet on low to medium heat.
When fully melted, add the shrimp in a single
Season the shrimp with salt and crushed red
When the first side of the shrimp is pink, flip
It has been quite a while since I last posted. I’ve been
super busy then a fibro flare happened (and is still happening!). This resulted
in quite a few 7:30/8pm bedtimes. The exhaustion, fatigue, and pain are
overwhelming. In the midst of the flare, I decided to do some research on
fibro-sensitive diets (since scrolling on my tablet is about all the energy I
had) and came across many interesting articles that suggest gluten-free.
The last time I went gluten-free, I suffered carb flu very badly.
Because I’m working through a flare, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to
add that on top. So, what have I decided to do? Well, I’m slowly weaning the
carbs out. I started with soda, my morning biscuits, and lunchtime rice. This
presented a few challenges since I usually have sausage & biscuits for
breakfast every morning and a piece of baked chicken with rice for lunch. I can
prepare the biscuits ahead, they travel well and only need a quick reheat in
the toaster oven at work. Plus I never reheat the chicken, just the rice. However,
I really want to feel better. You have no idea how badly I want to feel better.
I decided to still have my sausage, only in crumbles, not in
that yummy white gravy (it’s flour-based, blah). I’ve been eating scrambled eggs
& sausage for breakfast followed by a mid-morning snack of an avocado with
lemon juice. For lunch, I’ve been eating a hamburger patty and salad followed
by blackberries & sunflower seeds.
Needless to say, I’m starving by the time I get home. You
don’t know how filling carbs are until you don’t eat them anymore. Today is
only day 2 so I’m hoping this gets better as the days go by. This is forcing me
to expand my taste buds though and I ended making the most delicious shrimp
Sunday evening. I will post the recipe in another thread.
I’m curious to see how this turns out and I’m hoping for the
best – that I have more energy, less pain, less fatigue, and I can actually do
To all my fellow fibro warriors out there… Keep fighting,
friends. This really sucks. I get you. I feel you. I’m proud of everything we
manage to get done every day. Even if it’s just washing your hair – small
victories add up.
Lol, I love Grumpy Cat! The memes this cat has inspired are some of my favorites.
For some reason, it seems the word “budget” has a bad connotation. I can understand why – it usually means restrictions, cutting back, or completely giving things up. So let’s clear it up!
I’m doing an update on my budgeting plans that started several month back. I’ve learned quite a bit about money management, my own personal spending habits, and will power. Budgeting doesn’t mean restricting – it means creating a roadmap for financial success. A true successful budget doesn’t start by eliminating things. Here’s what I did…
Write down total monthly income.
Write down categories like Home, Auto, Utilities, Food, Savings, and yes, even Fun money.
In each category, write the items that category includes. Example:
Kiddo’s lunch money
Assign values to EVERYTHING: haircuts, weekly spending money, even that expensive coffee splurge – you have to account for ALL of it.
After that, I had a clear view of where my money was going and where it needed to go. I was able to shift things around so that I had a plan that made sense for my family.
Every month since the budgeting started, something has come up – car repairs, Christmas presents, etc. The Savings category has been there to cover all of it. The idea behind Savings, for me at least, was to save money, but it has mostly been a contingency fund. This has been a huge lifesaver since all these extra things have come up along the way.
So how has it been going? Well, I don’t have a savings stashed but I have been able to address random things that have come up with no trouble while not affecting the other parts of my budget. Budgeting allows me to compartmentalize my money so one thing doesn’t affect another.
So wipe out those negative thoughts about budgeting and ask yourself if compartmentalizing your money would make life easier. If so… try making a budget with categories and see if you can get your money moving where you really want it.