Tree in Bloom, New Mexico
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A Trip To New Mexico

Seems like I’ve been gone forever, but in reality it was just a week’s vacation to visit friends in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  Have you ever been there?

We were fortunate to be able to use our airline miles to purchase tickets ~ 3 legs were first class and one was economy. Flying first class is very different from economy.  It made me wonder why there are different classes though.  Why can’t they just have airplanes that have all first class seats?

Oh well …

After a two hour layover in Houston, our friends picked us up at the El Paso, Texas airport and whisked off to Las Cruces.

Although we were only in New Mexico for 5 1/2 days, we had 3 days where the temperature reached 85°.  It really didn’t feel hot though ~ as long as we stayed in the shade. The afternoons brought strong breezes that quickly died down by evening.

I must say ~ it was pretty. Brown, yes, but pretty nonetheless. I had never realized that the desert could have so much color.

We were warmly welcomed by our friends who moved here in September 2014. The back of their house faces the Organ Mountains. It is quite pretty.

Here is a picture of the back of their house ~

Back Patio

Back Patio

And here are a couple of pictures of the view they have of the Organ Mountains ~

Organ Mountains

Organ Mountains

Organ Mountains

Organ Mountains

The sky was blue most of the time we were there with an occasional almost cloudy afternoon.

I was surprised ~ really really surprised ~ at how much color the desert can have. Perhaps this is during springtime when everything comes to life.

Springtime in New Mexico

Springtime in New Mexico

Flowering Plant, New Mexico

Flowering Plant, New Mexico

Even the trees were starting to bloom …

Tree in Bloom, New Mexico

Tree in Bloom, New Mexico

The colors ~ so vibrant.

Tree in Bloom, New Mexico

Tree in Bloom, New Mexico

The Ocotillo plant was also blooming. Some believe this is a cactus but … it’s not.

Ocotillo, New Mexico

Ocotillo, New Mexico

We visited the City of Rocks State Park which is located between the cities of Silver City and Deming. The park is in the Chihuahuan desert region of southeastern New Mexico and sits at an elevation of 5,200 feet.  The “city” is a geologic formation made up of large, sculptured rock columns that rise as high as 40 feet and are separated by paths or lanes that resemble city streets.

City of Rocks

City of Rocks

City of Rocks

City of Rocks

City of Rocks

City of Rocks

I was intrigued by this camper who set up his tent right in between the rocks with a rock hanging overhead.  Would you camp here?

City of Rocks

City of Rocks, New Mexico

I was surprised this picture of a raven in flight came out so well.  It reminded me of the poem “Quoth the Raven, Nevermore” by Edgar Alan Poe. Have you read it? I first read it in high school ~ so many years ago.

City of Rocks, Raven

City of Rocks, Raven

Here’a another picture of the Ocotillo plant.

Ocotillo

Ocotillo

Here’s the view looking out from the City of Rocks.

City of Rocks View

City of Rocks View

We didn’t get out and walk around but chose to drive through the park and enjoy the scenery ~ me in the back seat. It was nice to have a driver so I could just snap pictures.

Every time we returned home the Organ Mountains loomed from every area of the deck. So peaceful and relaxing …

View of Organ Mountains

View of Organ Mountains

Isn’t New Mexico pretty?  I’ll post a few more pictures soon.

 

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Coconut-Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa
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Coconut-Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa

Here’s another Rachael Ray recipe that was quite good, and the only change I had to make to paleoize it was to use olive oil instead of vegetable oil. Cool, eh?  (Hmmm … does anyone say cool anymore?)

Ingredients for Coconut-Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa

Ingredients for Coconut-Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa (1 of 2)

Of course, we’ll need chicken.  I used four (4) skinless boneless chicken breasts.

Skinless and Boneless Chicken Breasts

Skinless and Boneless Chicken Breasts (2 of 2)

Then I prepped the vegetables ~ just a little dicing.

Prep the Vegetables

Prep the Vegetables

The chicken is dipped in a whipped egg and tossed in the unsweetened coconut to be coated.  Then it’s cooked in a heated skillet on both sides before baking in the oven.

Coat the chicken with egg and unsweetened coconut flakes

Coat the chicken with egg and unsweetened coconut flakes

Once the chicken is brown on one side, turn it over and cook it on the other side.

Cook the chicken

Cook the chicken

Okay then ~ ready to see this simple and easy paleo recipe?

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound frozen mango, thawed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 4 – 6 ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees .
  2. In a small bowl, combine the mango, bell pepper, onion, cilantro and vinegar then season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a shallow bowl, beat the egg with 1 teaspoon water and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Place the coconut in another shallow bowl.
  5. Dip the chicken in the egg, then in the coconut. Press to coat. You want to make sure the chicken is coated on both sides.
  6. In a large, ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  7. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until golden, about 3 minutes.
  8. Transfer the skillet with the chicken in it to the oven and bake until cooked through, about 12 minutes.
  9. Serve the chicken with the mango salsa on top or on the side.

Coconut-Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa

Paleo Coconut-Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa

I served this with sliced avocado and a zucchini-carrot medley.

To see additional paleo recipes, click here.

To see the original recipe, click here.

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Quilted Table Runner
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Quilted Table Runner

In my quest to become a better quilter, I ordered two (of the same) table runner kits as I really liked the pattern.

The kits came with all the necessary fabric but did not include the batting (the middle of the quilt) which worked out fine since I had leftover batting from a previous project.

I noticed immediately that I would have a lot of fabric left over so I will actually be able to make three table runners.  Woohoo!

The first table runner came out pretty good although I’m finding that my lines don’t run completely straight when I’m quilting.  That may be due to the fact that I am still a little off balance due to a severe bout with vertigo that I suffered back in 1997.  Residual effects …

In one of the quilting classes I took on Craftsy.com, the instructor suggested using blue painters tape to make sure the lines are straight. You simply sew next to the line. In the future, I’ll have to remember to do that.

This is how it started …

The Start of a Quilted Table Runner

The Start of a Quilted Table Runner

The end result is very pretty.

Quilted Table Runner

Quilted Table Runner

Quilted Table Runner

Quilted Table Runner

The table runner measures 15×28 and I used linear quilting.

I like the modern look.  Do you?

On to my next project ~

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Greek Salad with Sliced Steak
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Greek Salad with Sliced Steak

I like recipes that incorporate meat with a salad. It feels ~ well, let me use the word “whole.”

These types of paleo recipes are normally very simple to make and I was glad that I bumped into this one.

It does seem to have a quite a few ingredients …

Ingredients for Greek Salad with Sliced Steak (1 of 3)

Ingredients for Greek Salad with Sliced Steak (1 of 3) ~ Olive Oil not shown

Ingredients for Greek Salad with Sliced Steak (2 of 3)

Ingredients for Greek Salad with Sliced Steak (2 of 3)

Ingredients for Greek Salad with Sliced Steak (3 of 3)

Ingredients for Greek Salad with Sliced Steak (3 of 3)

Even with all the ingredients, it still was worth making as I had most of them already in my cupboard.

I purchased the steak at Costco, sliced it thin then prepared it for the salad.

Steak

Steak

So ~ let’s take a look at the recipe, shall we?

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Bell Pepper (I used an orange one)
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced, plus 2 teaspoons zest
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I used Grey Poupon)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 kalamata olives, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak, sliced thinly 
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 5 cups ~ combination of iceberg lettuce and romaine (or choose your own)
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes – quartered
  • 1 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • Sliced pepperocini, for garnish

Directions

  1. In a saucepan with cold water, add the cut sweet potato (make sure there is enough water to cover the potatoes), bring to a boil, add salt and cook until firm (approximately 4 minutes) then drain.
  2. In a bowl, combine the shallot, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, vinegar, mustard, oregano and red pepper flakes.
  3. Whisk in about 1/3 cup olive oil to combine.
  4. Stir in the olives. This is now your dressing.
  5. Pre-heat a skillet over medium-high heat.
  6. Drizzle the meat with olive oil and rub it on the meat.
  7. Season the meat with rosemary, salt and pepper.
  8. Add the meat to the skillet and cook until the meat is cooked through. (Turn it at least once to cook on both sides.)
  9. When the meat is cooked, remove from the skillet and set it aside on a plate to rest for a few minutes then slice it at an angle.
  10. Wipe the skillet clean, turn the heat to medium high and add a little bit of olive oil.
  11. Add the potato cubes to the skillet, season with salt and pepper then cook until the cubes are browned (3 minutes or so).
  12. Flip the potatoes and add the onion and bell pepper then cook for 5 minutes.
  13. Set this aside.
  14. In a large salad bowl, combine the romaine, tomatoes, feta and pepperocini.
  15. Add the contents of the skillet to the salad bowl and combine.
  16. Meanwhile, add the dressing to the skillet and heat for a minute. Slowly, pour part of the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. (Use only as much as you’d like.)
  17. To serve, arrange the salad on plates and top with steak.

Pretty easy, no? I believe this was the first time I used a cooked sweet potato in a “cold” salad.

Greek Salad with Sliced Steak

Greek Salad with Sliced Steak

For additional paleo recipes, click here.

This Paleo Greek Salad with Steak recipe was adapted from one by Rachael Ray.

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SimplyNorma.com ~ Moclips, WA
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Thought for the Day

Seen at a retirement complex ~ “Word processors should be combined with food processors ~ in case we have to eat our words.” ~ Unknown

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

Hope you all have a blessed Sabbath.

SimplyNorma.com ~ Moclips, WA

SimplyNorma.com ~ Moclips, WA

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Paleo Sloppy Joe
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Paleo Sloppy Joe

Sloppy Joe! Now, who doesn’t like paleo Sloppy Joe? Having it with no bread is no big deal either. It’s quite simple to make and tastes scrumptious!

Take a peek at the main ingredients ~

Ingredients for Paleo Sloppy Joe

Ingredients for Paleo Sloppy Joe

After prepping, you’ll be putting everything into a skillet and allowing it to cook through then serving it on a bed of lettuce with, perhaps, guacamole on top. Yum! (I didn’t show the guacamole in the above picture as it was a last minute decision ~ a good one too!)

Cook thoroughly

Cook thoroughly

Let’s take a look at the recipe, shall we?

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • 10 ounces ground sirloin
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and beef to the skillet.
  3. Cook approximately 5 minutes or until the meat is browned and the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the carrot, chili powder, maple syrup, oregano and cumin then cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Next, add the diced tomatoes and bring this to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 10 minutes or until it thickens and the carrots are tender. 

That’s it! Your meal is ready. Serve on a bed of lettuce with guacamole.

Paleo Sloppy Joe

Paleo Sloppy Joe

For more paleo recipes, click here.

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The Waze App

When we moved to Minnesota, my husband and I didn’t realize how much traveling we would be doing visiting relatives in North Dakota and Illinois.  Whew! We’re surviving but those 4-7 hour mostly weekend trips definitely take a toll.

Not too long ago, my husband told me about an app that he uses called Waze.  It sounded interesting, so I started using it also (when I’m the passenger and he’s the driver).

The app is useful for letting you know when there are traffic hazards, accidents, traffic jams and, dare I say it?, police officers. You know, those speed traps that are out there?

Other “Wazers” post when they come across something that should set off an alert for other drivers. It’s really quite helpful as many times I’ve been alerted that there was a car stopped on the side of the road so I’ve had ample time to pull over.

I consider myself to be a safe driver and don’t go more than 5 (perhaps 6) miles over the speed limit. And, I have passed many a police car going at that speed and have never been stopped. But, occasionally, very occasionally, my speed will be quite pokey considering everyone else who is driving around me. In those times, I’ll move along with traffic. But, if Waze alerts me that there is a police officer ahead, I’ll bring myself down to my “normal” speed.

Quite frankly, it’s hit and miss as to which one of us who are “flowing” with traffic will get pulled over. Will it be the one in front, the middle or the one in the back? Better safe than sorry, no?

This is a snapshot of what I see on my cell phone. The blue arrow was my location on the highway.

The Waze App

The Waze App

Normally the alerts are well in advance of when you get there, say 1-2 miles, but it really depends on when the Wazer in front of you added the alert.

In addition, the app can point you to where the cheapest gas is in the area. Pretty cool, eh?

There have been articles written regarding the police complaining that Waze stalks them but the app doesn’t post pictures or names of officers ~ it only shows where users have posted that the police have been.  Sometimes I get to that spot and there is nothing there and I report that on Waze.

I find it a very useful app. Thoughts from those of you who have used it?

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Paleo Honey Chicken Salad
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Honey Chicken Salad

This Honey Chicken Salad was deeeeelicious! It was a pleasure to try and only needed a little tweaking to make it paleo.

Have you ever run into a recipe that you know you’ll use over and over again? This is that kind of recipe. Perhaps it’s the addition of honey in the ingredients. All I know is my husband and I both like it and that’s good enough for me.

So ~ here’s what you’ll be needing to start your journey to this wonderful salad ~

First, you’ll need two skinless and boneless chicken breasts ~ season them with a little salt and pepper.

Chicken Breasts

Chicken Breasts

After cleaning the chicken breasts, slice them into even amounts. You’ll be baking the chicken breasts at 350° for approximately 20-30 minutes (every oven is different).

Slice Chicken then Bake

Slice Chicken then Bake

While you have the oven on, toast the pecans for approximately 10 minutes or so.

Toast pecans in oven

Toast Pecans in oven

Now that you’ve got that ready, here are the ingredients you’ll be needing for this recipe ~

Ingredients for Honey Chicken Salad (mayo not shown)

Ingredients for Honey Chicken Salad (mayo not shown)

Yes, you will need some paleo Mayonnaise in this recipe.  Try this recipe here that I use over and over again.

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise

Okay then ~ ready to see the entire recipe?

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (more or less, add a little at a time to get the consistency and taste you want)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. In a medium sized bowl, add the cooked chicken, celery, cranberries and pecans.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise, honey, salt and pepper.
  3. Add the chicken mixture to the mayonnaise mixture and stir everything together to combine it.
  4. Taste and make sure it’s the right consistency for you along with having the right amount of salt and pepper.

That’s it! I used less honey, celery and cranberries than the original recipe called for ~ call me a rebel!

Paleo Honey Chicken Salad

Paleo Honey Chicken Salad

Total deliciousness!

Note:  I adapted the Honey Chicken Salad from My Recipes to make it paleo (mainly by using paleo mayonnaise).

Enjoy!

For additional paleo recipes, click here.

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A Sirius Secret

Want to know a little secret about how not to pay full price for Sirius Radio? It’s true. Never never never pay full price for Sirius Radio ~ at least, it’s worked for me each time.

Here’s the scoop …

When we purchased our 2012 Ford Escape, it came with 6 months of free Sirius Radio (radio channels that you normally wouldn’t get).

When we first received a renewal notice, it had a special rate on it and we renewed. No problem. But the next time we went to renew, the renewal amount was higher. The interesting thing about the renewal though is that it costs MORE to renew at the yearly rate than it does at the 5 month rate. Really. It’s true. I find this bizarre but, hey, it is what it is.

Each time I have called to renew, I speak with a Customer Service Representative who tells me that there are NO special rates available and that I will have to pay the current rate of $12.99 per month. The current 5 month rate is $24.99 which is only $4.99 per month.

When I tell the CSR that I would like to cancel they usually tell me to call back the day before my contract expires. I normally call 4-7 days prior to expiration. I tell the CSR, “No, I want you to cancel it on the last day of the contract. Why should I have to call back?”

They then tell me “I can’t do that but will transfer you to someone who can.” That person is called a Deactivation Specialist. They are in charge of “saving the sale.”

When I tell the Deactivation Specialist that I want to cancel effective the last day of the contract, I’m asked “Are you willing to keep the contract under your current rate?” When I say yes, they say “I can do that for you.”  Uh, what? It’s true!  It has happened every time for me.

So, the Deactivation Specialist quotes me the “new,” uh, same, rate, confirms I’m okay with it, gives me my new 5 month expiration date “at which time your contract will renew automatically at the higher rate unless you call” they explain.

Once confirmed, I say to the Deactivation Specialist, “can you tell me why the first representative couldn’t give me this rate?” The response? “They are only Customer Service Representatives and can’t offer you the special rate.”

What a horrible way to do business. Perhaps there are enough people who forget to note their calendar to call to cancel and “negotiate” their rate, but it’s really pathetic and, at least in my opinion, isn’t saving the company money if we have to call back every 5 months and talk to two representatives.

Are there really that many people out there who pay the higher rates for Sirius Radio?

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Chicken with Tomatoes
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Chicken with Tomatoes

You’ll need a crockpot for this paleo Chicken with Tomatoes recipe.

It’s quite an easy recipe to make and in winter, I especially like to use the crockpot.

Crockpot cooking also frees up time for me to do other activities in the afternoon. It’s a win-win all around. Quilting ~ here I come!

For this recipe, I had skin-on bone-in chicken thighs in the freezer, but, after thawing, I removed the skin from the chicken.  Did you know that it’s cheaper to buy chicken with the skin on? Helps the budget out to spend just a little time removing the skin for a recipe that calls for no skin.

No charge for the tip ~ (laughing).

Four Skinless Chicken Thighs

Four Skinless Chicken Thighs

I used an orange pepper ~just to make it more pretty. This one looks like it was almost on its last leg (laughing) but it worked out fine.

Orange Pepper

Orange Pepper

Well, here’s the recipe without any more fanfare …

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, cut into thin slices
  • 4 skinless chicken thighs, cleaned and dried
  • 1 orange pepper, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • One (1) 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Directions

  1. In a crockpot, add the chicken, onion, pepper, raisins and garlic.
  2. In a bowl, add the tomatoes, tapioca flour, curry powder, cumin and celery salt, mix it together then pour this over the crockpot ingredients.
  3. Cook on low heat for 5 hours or on high for 2.5 hours.

We served our chicken with a baked sweet potato.

Chicken with Tomatoes

Chicken with Tomatoes

Enjoy!

For additional paleo recipes, click here.

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