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Do We Drive Slower The Older We Are?

Once, while driving home with one of my sons, he asked me why I was driving so slowly. The speed limit is 25 in my neighborhood but I was going 20 mph which, I believe, was too slow for him.

When I saw this sign on a car I thought it fit me perfectly.

Driving Too Close

Are we slower or more careful drivers the older we get?

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Paleo Pistachio Chili

Paleo Pistachio Chili

Motivation for a new and simple paleo chili recipe gave me the inspiration for this recipe.

The main spice in this recipe is chili powder. Sounds simple enough, no?

Chili Powder, Pistachio Nuts and Canned Diced Tomatoes

The handful of pistachio nuts were a last minute idea and I was glad I added them.  They gave a nice crunch to every bite.

The veggies I choose to use were cabbage, green onions, onion and green pepper.  I sauteed them in a tablespoon of olive oil to cook them through a little

Saute Vegetables

The chili is served on a bed of shredded lettuce which gives it a crispness when you bite into it.  I sliced the lettuce up, cleaned it with water then put it in a mesh holder to allow the water to drain.  After a few minutes, I take a paper towel and dry it to remove most of the water.

Prepare Lettuce

I like to use the Organic Ground Beef that I purchase at Costco.  It doesn’t taste grainy when cooked like other ground beef I’ve tasted.

Costco Ground Beef

Once the vegetables are sauteed, I added the ground beef to them until the beef browned.

Add Ground Beef to Sauteed Vegetables

Next I seasoned the beef with the chili powder and salt.  Then I added the canned diced tomatoes.

Season the Beef then add the Diced Tomatoes

Once everything is combined and cooked through, I added the pistachios, stirred and it was ready to serve.

Paleo Pistachio Chili

Pretty simple, no?  Check out the recipe and let me know what you think.

Paleo Pistachio Chili

2-4

Paleo Pistachio Chili

Paleo Pistachio Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3-4 green onions, diced
  • 1/4 head green cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • Handful of pistachio nuts whole or chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cups loosely chopped lettuce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef

Instructions

  1. In a large warmed skillet, add the olive oil and allow it to heat through.
  2. Add the green pepper, onion, green onions and cabbage to the skillet and saute.
  3. Once the vegetables are soft, add the ground beef and cook it through until browned then stir it together with the vegetables.
  4. Season the beef mixture with the chili powder one teaspoon at a time until you get the taste you want.
  5. Season with salt.
  6. Add the can of diced tomatoes to the beef mixture and stir to blend it all together. Allow this to cook through.
  7. Lastly, add the pistachio nuts and stir.
  8. Serve in a bowl with chopped lettuce layered on the bottom.
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A Large Heart Quilt – My Own Design

A Large Heart Queen Quilt

When I was gifted a sewing machine a couple or so years back, I needed practice as I had never sewn on a machine before.  Having YouTube videos to teach me along with online classes I take at Craftsy have really helped.

After I made my first king size quilt for my sister (it took me a year because when frustrated I just put it aside), I posted it on Facebook and made a statement to the effect of “anyone want something made so I can practice?”  Oh boy!  The people came out of the woodwork!  I had about 6 people requesting quilts. Unfortunately they all wanted queen size quilts.  Yes, I could have said no ~ well, come to think of it, I SHOULD have said no.

My sewing machine has a very small harp space and it’s hard to get the pieced quilt top, batting and back through the machine to quilt.  After taking a class on Craftsy on how to make a quilt in 2 or 3 pieces, I felt a little more confident. Not 75%, (or 65 or 50) but just a little more confident (laughing).

This quilt is my fourth and it didn’t come out too bad. Most of the quilts I see online are absolutely gorgeous and I admire them.  Then I found out that one of the quilters whose work I really admire sends her quilts out to a “long-armer” who uses a very large sewing machine to do the quilting.  Disappointment set in as I kind’ve feel that’s cheating.  She gives credit to the long-arm quilter who does her work for her but … still … it makes it seem almost an impossibility that any of my quilts will come out as beautiful.

I’m still hopeful though.

My niece requested a heart quilt ~ one large heart in the middle of the quilt.  She didn’t want smaller hearts surrounding it as she didn’t want anything to take the focus away from the large heart.  The colors she was interested in were purple (first choice), blue, red and possibly orange.

Since I could not find a template that was large enough for this heart, I had to create my own.  I did that by purchasing two large pieces of art paper and taping them together.  Then I folded it in half and cut a heart out of it.  An engineer friend of mine gave me this suggestion.

Next, I auditioned the fabric I would be using after cutting them into smaller pieces that would be pieced together.  Needless to say, the red did not make the cut.  Now I was left with the blue and purple.

Quilting Fabric

I measured the heart as if it were a square piece to determine how much fabric I would be needing.  Then I cut the fabric into smaller pieces ~ they didn’t have to be the same width as I wanted a random arrangement. This was suggested to me by a friend whose a graphic designer.

Once I had a pieced square made out of the fabric, I put the cutout paper heart on top of the square I made with the fabric.

Making A Large Heart Template

Then I pinned the paper heart template to the fabric and used my scissors to create a heart out of the fabric.

Making A Large Heart Template

I then pressed the fabric heart with starch.

Making A Large Heart Template

Notice the random fabric colors?  It came out really well …

The quilt was made in 3 parts and the heart was appliqued into the middle section.  I had approximately 6 inches on each side of the middle section which is needed to 1) take into account some shrinkage due to the quilting and 2) make sure there was enough fabric on the sides to sew to the other two pieces.

Making A Large Heart Template

I did not pin this quilt but used a basting spray which works a lot better for me.

Once the three pieces are quilted individually, they are hand sewn together.   Although I thought this would be hard, it’s really easy but takes time.

The seam is on the right in the picture below. I decided to use an angled serpentine stitch throughout the quilt but I left the space between the large purple stripe (I added one on each side) unstitched. This actually brings the eye more to the middle of the quilt.

Making A Large Heart Template

Once the three pieces are sewn together I hand sewed the binding on.  Now ~ THAT took a lot of time as it was my first time doing a binding by hand.  On this queen quilt, it took this newbie 7 hours.  It looks really nice though and I think it was worth it.

The back side of this quilt was made with one fabric color ~ purple.

Making A Large Heart Template

Here’s the quilt on a queen bed ~ it’s washed but not yet ironed so looks more wrinkled than the final quilt.

A Large Heart Quilt

Well, for a fairly new quilter who did her own quilting on a queen sized quilt with her own created heart design, I’d say I did pretty good, eh?

A Large Heart Queen Quilt

A Large Heart Queen Quilt

If you’re being challenged by a quilt you think you can’t make, hang in there!  My next project will be a star quilt.  Now that should be challenging!

Hope you have a peaceful and fantastic day ~

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Paleo Baked Chicken Thighs With Carrots and Olives

Paleo Baked Chicken Thighs With Carrots and Olives

The end of 2016 crept up rather quickly on me.  The beginning of 2017 did also.

For the past three months I have been troubled by pain in my right shoulder.  One night the pain was excruciating and I finally made it to the doctor’s office. Suffice it to say that I am in physical therapy now and recuperating.  It feels like forever since I’ve posted on this blog although it’s only been a month.

I am currently in downsizing mode ~ getting rid of things I haven’t used in awhile.  And so I went to the cabinet that holds all of my cookbooks and started going through them one by one.

One of my favorite books is Cooking Light and that’s where I found the inspiration for this recipe.  I have tweaked it a bit to make it more simple and have removed grapes from the recipe also.

The main ingredients are carrots, kalamata olives (or regular olives if you don’t like the kalamata ones), onion, chicken and spices.

Carrots & Onion

Carrots & Onion

Kalamata Olives

Kalamata Olives

Throughout my short cooking life, I have learned to substitute spices for what I already have ~ well, assuming I like them.  (laughing)

Spices

Spices

I chose to use the smaller carrots and sliced them in half.  Then I sliced the onion, added them to the carrots along with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt then mixed it all together.

Sliced Carrots & Onion

Sliced Carrots & Onion

I used a handful of kalamata olives that I added to the carrot mixture after it had been roasted for a little while.  I really like the taste of these olives ~ they make my mouth happy.

Kalamata Olives

Kalamata Olives

The spice mixture of cinnamon, red pepper flakes, coriander and cumin can really be adapted to whatever spices you like. Go ahead ~ be bold!  I also added a splash of salt and pepper in the spices.  It doesn’t look like a lot but it was enough to coat both sides of four chicken thighs.

Spice Mixture

Spice Mixture

Once I cleaned and trimmed the bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, I patted them dry with a paper towel then sprinkled half of the spices on them.

Spiced Up Chicken Thighs

Spiced Up Chicken Thighs

The chicken thighs will be put in an oiled skillet skin side down so they can become crusty-ish. While in the skillet, I seasoned the other side of the chicken thighs.

Seasoned Chicken Thighs

Once the veggies roasted a bit in the oven, I removed them and added the olives to them along with the chicken thighs to bake them together.

Add Chicken Thighs to Roasted Vegetables

Sound easy enough?  Okay then, here’s the recipe for you.

Paleo Baked Chicken Thighs With Carrots and Olives

Paleo Baked Chicken Thighs With Carrots and Olives

Paleo Baked Chicken Thighs With Carrots and Olives

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced yellow onion
  • Handful of small carrots, cut lengthwise
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup kalamata olives

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Combine the onion, carrots, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl and toss well.
  3. Add salt and pepper to the vegetables and toss again.
  4. Add the carrot mixture to a preheated casserole dish then bake at 450° for approximately 10 minutes.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.
  6. Sprinkle the top of the chicken thighs evenly with the spice mixture.
  7. Heat a skillet (large enough to hold 4 chicken thighs) over medium-high heat.
  8. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil to the skillet and make sure it is evenly distributed along the bottom of the skillet.
  9. Add the chicken to the skillet to brown it and while that is happening, season the bottom of the chicken thighs.
  10. Cook until browned on the top (lift one of the chicken thighs to check for doneness ~ you want it to be brown and crusty-sh).
  11. Remove the chicken thighs from the skillet.
  12. Add the kalamata olives to the vegetable mixture which should now be out of the oven.
  13. Add the chicken to the vegetable mixture, skin side up.
  14. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through
  15. Note: The chicken thigh "juice" should come out clear ~ no pink, in order for it to be done.
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Beef Short Ribs with Carrots, Onions and Garlic

Beef Short Ribs with Carrots, Onions and Garlic

Beef Short Ribs with Carrots, Onions and Garlic

During the holiday season, I always try to make easy recipes so I don’t feel stressed.  Simple recipes take less time ~

I found this paleo recipe (although they don’t call it paleo) in a magazine called Real Simple and the only thing I changed on it was using Beef Short Ribs instead of Strip Steak.

The vegetables are tossed together with 1/4 cup or less of olive oil then seasoned with salt and pepper and anything else you’d like.  Some of the carrots I had looked a little sad but they were still good ~ no need to throw them out just use them right away, yes?

Side note:  My mother always said to do your best not to throw food away because there are people starving in China.  I believe the phrase was used in “the olden days” because at one time there was a famine in China and people were literally starving.

Veggies

Veggies

The veggies will be put into an oven to roast and while that’s happening, you can season the meat with a combination of coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, and ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl.  Then you’ll be cooking the meat on a skillet to whatever “doneness” you’d like.

Here’s the final product which was quite delicious …

Beef Short Ribs with Carrots, Onions and Garlic

Beef Short Ribs with Carrots, Onions and Garlic

Oh, I see you noticed that the cloves still have the skins on them ~ well, that’s intentional.  When you go to eat the garlic whole, the skin will peel right off.  Pretty cool!

Now ~ since this wasn’t my original recipe, I’ll direct you to where you can see the original one.  Just click below.

Strip Steak with Carrots, Onions and Garlic

We really enjoyed this recipe and it couldn’t be much more simple.  I hope you enjoy it also.

Have a good day!

 

 

 

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Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

It may sound unusual to some people, but I had never tasted Mahi Mahi until recently.  And you know what?  I really like it!  I even like it better than salmon, halibut or cod.  It doesn’t seem to get dry as easily as salmon does.

When I first saw it, it looked a little odd to me ~ beefy. I had never seen a beefy looking fish.  hehe

Uncooked Mahi Mahi

Uncooked Mahi Mahi

I didn’t want to put too much seasoning on it, so I just sprinkled salt, pepper and a little paprika on top.

Uncooked Mahi Mahi

Uncooked Mahi Mahi

I decided to try it with a Mango Salsa.  It tasted great!  Simply easy ….

 

Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa

The Mahi Mahi doesn’t take long to bake ~ approximately 10-15 minutes.

Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

I served this recipe with a carrot/parsnip side dish.

Truly delicious!  Ready to see the recipe?

Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

2

Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 Mahi Mahi Fillets
  • Olive Oil
  • Pinch of parika, salt and pepper
  • Mango Salsa Ingredients (below)
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomato
  • 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped mango
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • Salt (to your taste)
  • 1 fresh avocado, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Prepare a casserole dish by spreading a little olive oil on the bottom.
  3. Put the two Mahi Mahi fillets in the casserole dish and season with the paprika, salt and pepper.
  4. Bake for approximately 10-13 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Internal temperature should be approximately 145.
  5. In a medium sized bowl, add all the ingredients for the mango salsa and stir it all together until it's well blended.
  6. Serve the mango salsa over the Mahi Mahi with your favorite side dish.
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Paleo Chicken Casserole

Every 6 weeks or so I head over to Costco and purchase the bulk items I need.  Then I pick up a roasted chicken so that dinner can be a little easier but we always have chicken leftovers.  And that is how this recipe came about ~ how to use leftover chicken.  This recipe can be used with any meat though but it tasted really great with chicken.

Using leftover chicken makes this a very simple and easy recipe along with the fact that it uses ingredients that most people already have in their homes.

Ingredients for Paleo Chicken Casserole

Ingredients for Paleo Chicken Casserole

I used Trader Joe’s Chicken Broth ~ just open and pour what you need out.

Trader Joe's Chicken Broth

Trader Joe’s Chicken Broth

And to thicken the sauce I use Arrowroot Powder instead of flour ~

Arrowroot Powder

Arrowroot Powder

Then of course there’s your shredded chicken ~

Shredded Cooked Chicken

Shredded Cooked Chicken

Looks like a lot of chicken, doesn’t it?  This recipe is so good though that it will be gone in a heartbeat.  Alright, alright, not that quickly or you’ll choke.  hehe

You’ll basically saute the veggies, toss the tapioca flour over them, add the broth and stir  ~

Saute Vegetables

Saute Vegetables

Then add the chicken and whala!!!!   (You’ll notice the whala doesn’t apply to how wonderful the picture came out ~ not sure what happened there.)

Paleo Chicken Casserole

Paleo Chicken Casserole

But, that’s pretty much what you’ll be doing. I served this dish on a bed of mashed garlic sweet potatoes with a side of avocado.  Scrumptious!

Ready to see the recipe?

Paleo Chicken Casserole

Serving Size: 2-3

Paleo Chicken Casserole

Paleo Chicken Casserole

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless cooked chicken thighs hand shredded into small bite sized pieces.
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • Chives, parsley, oregano, basil, salt, pepper (options for seasoning)

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a medium skillet or cast iron pot.
  2. Stir in the celery, onions and green pepper then saute until mostly soft.
  3. Sprinkle the tapioca flour over the top of the vegetables and cook slowly for 5 minutes.
  4. Gradually stir in the chicken stock until everything is combined.
  5. Add the chicken and stir over low heat long enough to allow the sauce to thicken.
  6. Season to taste.
  7. Serve over sweet potato or cauliflower rice.
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http://www.simplynorma.com/2016/12/01/paleo-chicken-casserole/

 

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Almost Strangled By A Leaf Blower

Autumn Trees, Minnesota

Autumn Trees, Minnesota

On a cool Sunday morning while leaves were still falling, I decided to head out and leaf blow to gather all the leaves in one area of our yard.  Putting on a hat, a flannel lined shirt and wrapping a scarf around my neck, I grabbed the leaf blower and plugged it in.

Leaf Blower

Leaf Blower

Turning the leaf blower on, I did the back of our property and headed closer to the garage to work on the front.  From the corner of my eye, I could see my husband was also outside working with earphones on listening to music on his iPod.

“So many leaves,” I muttered to myself. “And this leaf blower is so heavy.”  We use an electric one so we don’t have to bother with purchasing gas.

All of a sudden, I felt my neck being pulled towards the leaf blower.  Looking down, I noticed that the end of my scarf had gotten sucked into the bottom of the blower. Holding down the leaf blower with one hand and the scarf with the other, I looked around and yelled at my husband who was behind me to unplug the leaf blower.  Alas!  He couldn’t hear me.

Unable to move without letting go of my scarf, I kept yelling and yelling for what felt like many minutes. I didn’t want to panic but fear was starting to creep up in my thoughts.

Yelling even louder, I finally got my husband’s attention and he went and unplugged the leaf blower.

Gathering my composure, I looked at the bottom of the blower to see why my scarf was able to get sucked in.  It had a cover on it but there were holes where the scarf was able to penetrate.

Leaf Blower

Leaf Blower

It’s interesting to me how I viewed this situation versus how my husband viewed it.  He was nonchalant about the whole thing whereas I look back and see that I could have been strangled by a leaf blower.  Not the way I wish to die ~ well, there really isn’t any way I really want to die.

A friend suggested next time I tuck my scarf inside my shirt or jacket.  Good idea ~

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The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Autumn Flowers, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Autumn Flowers, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is an amazing place to visit.  I was awed by the 1137 acres of beautiful plants and trees which includes a hosta garden and a Japanese garden which is quite spectacular!  Of course, I love Japanese gardens so I may have a slanted view.

There were very few people when we visited which made for a peaceful walk throughout the arboretum.

One of the places we spent a goodly amount of time at was the “tree” section. They had all varieties of tree ~ both small and large.

Northern Catalpa Tree, Minnesota

Northern Catalpa Tree, Minnesota

For some reason, trees seem to “talk” to me.  I know that sounds kind’ve odd but when I look at a tree my brain usually relates it to people and their journeys in life.

This tamarack really did a lot of “talking.”  (No, I’m not going nuts …)  It reminded me of how our lives branch out into different areas and yet each branch is connected to the main trunk.

Tamarack Tree, Minnesota

Tamarack Tree, Minnesota

Whether alone or grouped together as in a “family,” the trees all spoke of their journey in this world.

Trees, Minnesota

Trees, Minnesota

This vibrant crabapple tree with its branches full of berries reminded me how much we as individuals are able to give to each other from the experiences that we have.  Empathy, joy, compassion ~ so many things humans have to offer.

Trees, Minnesota

Trees, Minnesota

As in a deep color red, some of us have experiences that go far back in time ~ many of us can’t even understand why we do certain things in our lives yet ~ yes, yet, an old experience creeps in our daily lives unnoticed.

Crabapple Tree, Minnesota

Crab Apple Tree, Minnesota

I was surprised when we came around the bend and ran into a sculpture garden.  Although I enjoy looking at sculptures, many times they confuse me and I can’t wrap my head around what the artist was trying to convey.  I am definitely a tree person.

Harrison Sculpture Garden, Minnesota

Harrison Sculpture Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Harrison Sculpture, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Harrison Sculpture, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

So ~ what do you think the artist was trying to portray in the sculpture below?

Harrison Sculpture, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Harrison Sculpture, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Harrison Sculpture Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Harrison Sculpture Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Lastly (although there was much more to see) we walked through the Japanese and hosta gardens.  I could have stayed here for a long long time as it is such a peaceful atmosphere.

Japanese Garden Entrance, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden Entrance, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

I really believe that my genes are misplaced ~ I’m really Japanese instead of Puerto Rican.  hehe

Japanese Garden Gate, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden Gate, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Although “rock” seems cold to me, whenever they are placed in a pathway, they always make me feel “at one” with them ~ as if we are journeying together.

Japanese Garden Walkway, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden Walkway, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The fountain in this garden is one I’d like to replicate in my own yard.  The sound of moving water is supposed to keep deer away also.  Interesting, no?

Japanese Garden Water Fountain, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden Water Fountain, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

More “falling” water …

Japanese Garden Waterfalls, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden Waterfalls, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Japanese Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

From the Japanese Garden we went straight into the Hosta Garden.  We have so many hostas in our own yard that they don’t excite me as much as they should, however, I do like the walkway on the path.

Hosta Walkway, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Hosta Walkway, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Such a beautiful arboretum ~ calm and thought encouraging.

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