Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Zombee San Gris-Gris ♥

This past weekend was one for the books! I am so proud to be a part of The Agora Borealis here in Shreveport. It is a beautiful art market filled with wonderful artwork and other items by local artists and craftspeople, like myself. On Sunday, I hosted one of my Candles & Cocktails parties here and got to meet lots of new Zombee fans. 

As usual, I wanted to have a new, themed cocktail for the occasion, so I went with sangria. It turned out so lovely, that I thought I'd post the recipe for you to enjoy! Here's what you'll need to create this delicious concoction I like to call Zombee San Gris-Gris.

2 red pears, diced
1 pkg raspberries
1 bottle Verdi Spumante
3 bottles of crisp white wine
1/2 cup 100% pomegranate juice
edible flowers
[you can add a shot or two of gin for an extra boost!]

As with all the sangria recipes I've posted, just mix these ingredients to taste! They aren't exact. My one piece of advice, however, is to dice the pears and mix them with the raspberries and let them sit in the wine for an hour or two before your event. The fruit will soak up the alcohol and make for a nice burst of wine flavor! 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

When Love Isn't Enough

Well ... he's gone.

I was torn as to whether or not I should address this issue publicly, but to be honest ... it's happening and I have to deal with it, so I'm going to be honest with those of you who have kept up with my life so far.

This [new and improved!] blog is now a place for me to vent my frustrations, show my gratitude, visualize my new life, and of course, still post about Halloween, food, and parties.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband left after 9 years together; 6 of them married. We have a 14 month old daughter together. ::deep breath:: There, I said it. I can't put it any other way. He changed; lost faith in me, in us. It sounds absurd, it really does ... especially from us. But, that is what happened. It's important to me that people I care about know that I didn't want this. I still don't. There may have been pain in the past; this year alone has been full of big life changes, but I don't believe any of our issues are worth giving up our commitment to each other. But, I'm only one part of our us.

As being dumped goes, I'm doing okay. He still sees Wednesday every day, of course and we don't yell and scream like crazy exes. It just doesn't feel right. I wish we weren't in this situation, but I'm going to make the best of it. I have to!

I have Wednesday with me every night; she breathes life back into my soul as I rock her to sleep and she starts my day off with a beautiful smile and a big hug each morning as I sing our wake-up song. People always say, "it's the little things that mean so much." I'm living off of those little things now and they're becoming bigger and bigger. I'm now a full-time working single mother with a small business. Holy hell.

I don't know what the future holds, but whatever happens, I know that I'll always be there for my daughter. And she for me. Nothing can ever change that. Onward and upward, right?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Maca, Maca, Maca! ♥ [Bonus: Green Smoothie Tips!]

So, my smoothie game has been on point lately, as the kids say. Every week day, I make a green smoothie. I recently started working more [more on that later] and I was worried that it would throw off my rhythm, but it has really worked out so far! Even if I don't get my hair all the way done, or my lipstick on, I make sure I whip up the smoothie to bring with me on the way out the door.

I am not a super health nut, as you know. Most of my food recipes are classic, in that they are not augmented toward lowering calories, but I am working on getting a little more balance in my intake. When I was pregnant, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and I had to attend a day-long class on changing your diet to manage diabetes without having to take insulin or any other kinds of medicine. I remember the women in the class admitting that they'd rather just take the medicine. I, however, did NOT want to inject myself every time I wanted to pig out, so I adhered to the strict, though totally doable diet with great results. So, I'm hoping when I stop breastfeeding, I'll be able to get back to that diet. I don't like to deprive myself of certain things, which is why the diabetes diet is great ... there is very little you can't have; it is all about moderation and balance. 

I think the green smoothies are going to help me transition into balancing my intake, but the real reason I am so happy with this rhythm is ... MACA! I'm quite obsessed with this "superfood." I was doing some research on aiding hormone imbalance during breastfeeding when I came across this South American food. It is touted as a male hormone enhancer as well as an energy booster, but the other benefits seemed worth a try. I put a heaping tablespoon in my smoothies and within a week, I noticed that I had more energy past noon, which is a big deal for me as a first time mom. But more importantly ... I'm 78% sure that this stuff is curing my IBS. As several of you may know, I have suffered from IBS [irritable bowel syndrome] for about 8 years. It is stress related, so I have to be careful of what I eat or I will get a very upset stomach! It is debilitating. A lot of people suffer from it in different capacities. It almost completely went away while I was pregnant, which is crazy, and another on the long list of reasons why I loved being pregnant! Anyway, I've noticed that my stomach and bowels seem downright normal lately and I think it has something to do with the maca, since that is the only thing that has changed, diet-wise. 

I'm going to keep an eye on it and see if this is just a fluke month where my insides are normal, or if the maca truly is helping as much as I think it is. And in baby-related news, the maca does seem to be helping me regulate my hormone levels!

Here are some of my smoothie tips. I am by no means an expert, but I enjoy learning from other people's experiences, so these are some thing I've learned ...

* you don't need no stinkin' fancy blender! My friend gave me a Magic Bullet years ago and I've only ever used it for frozen margaritas until last year, when I found that it works perfectly for blending fruit and veggie smoothies. I'm pretty sure any decent blender will work. 
* think in terms of the whole week. It can get overwhelming when you're trying to plan your food week, so just go shopping for one smoothie recipe to make all week that way all your fruits/veggies will be fresh and won't go bad because you're trying to have a different smoothie every day. 
* the main part of your smoothie needs to be green. Don't make a sugary smoothie, add two leaves of spinach and call it green. Totally cheating. I start with at least two cups of spinach or whatever green I am feeling that week. The other stuff is secondary. The smoothie should be ... green.
* throw your vitamins and herbs in there! Some people like chia seeds, but they kind of mess with me sometimes, so I only use them occasionally. Others like hemp, but I haven't noticed any benefits with that.  I add fenugreek, biotin, apple cider vinegar, maca, dandelion when my skin issues flare up, red raspberry leaf when I'm on my period, etc. There are so many things you can add and it is so much easier than having to remember to take pill. Just open up the capsules and add it in! Fair warning, depending on the size of your smoothie, it can't always mask the dry taste of the herbs. 
* drink it cold. I blend my smoothie, and add it to a blender bottle sans blender ball, plus ice; just makes it tastier, I think. Just to be clear, I don't blend the ice IN the smoothie. I pour the smoothie over ice and drink it with a straw from my blender bottle.
* don't be annoying! To be fair, this is more like life advice, but anyway ... besides this blog, I don't try and push people onto the smoothie train. It is pretty trendy right now, so they're seeing enough of it on Pinterest and Facebook, trust me. Just DO YOU and if someone asks about it, you can spread the gospel. I have done smoothies here and there for awhile, but I have just in the last year or so made an effort to do it on a schedule and I've only been doing it 5 days in a row for a few months, so everyone has their own style of doing things. I'm glad this trend stuck with me, but it isn't for everyone and there is nothing worse than a person trying to convince you to do something that they are still experimenting with. That is why it has taken this long for me to blog about it! I want to be sure it is something I'd like to promote and not just something I'm flirting with. 

Here is an easy way to "build" a smoothie: 

Pick a green [about 2 cups]:
spinach [my go-to]
kale [meh]
romaine heart
bib lettuce

Pick some fruit [I usually do 2 different, about 1/2 cup of each]:
strawberries [my go-to]
pineapple [acidic, be careful]
banana [makes everything smooth and sweet]
avocado [so good!]

Pick a liquid to blend [I have never measured this]:
almond milk
coconut water
greek yogurt
*some people use plain milk, but I don't because it doesn't go well with the ice
*I also see where some people add juice, but I think that is adding way too much sugar ... you already have the fruit and yogurt, so adding fruit juice might just use up all your sweets for the day in one drink ... plus a lot of fruit juice is acidic and doesn't blend well with everything else.

Add your herbs/vitamins & smooth it up!

Hope this helps any of you looking to try the smoothie craze. It is a great way to get a good breakfast, lunch, or snack on the go and it is super versatile, so you can make it to fulfill your specific needs. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

DIY Baby Food ❤️

Wednesday ate nothing but breastmilk until she turned six months when we decided to start her on solid food. The whole time I was pregnant, I always said we would get a fancy pants Beaba baby food maker. We never did. Instead, I just decided to take the long road by steaming and mashing veggies and it has gone really smoothly so far. Skip the fancy [expensive] stuff, you can make baby food quite easily without it. 

Here's how we do it, using squash as an example:

1 butternut squash
1/2 cup of water 
2oz breastmilk [formula if you're not BF]
shallow pan for roasting 
food processor or blender
 [I use a Magic Bullet!]

The heat the oven to 400°. Slice your butternut squash in half, longways. Place the butternut squash have facedown in the pan and add about a 1/2 cup of water. Depending on how big your pan is, you might want to use more or less water. Basically, you want the squash to be sitting facedown in about a quarter of an inch of water.

Roast the squash for about an hour. When it's finished, take it out and let it cool. When it is mostly done cooling [I'm never patient enough to let it cool all the way], scoop out the fibrous stringy parts and seeds; do not add this part to your baby's food. Then, scoop out the flesh of the roasted squash into your blender/processor and purée. Add breastmilk to get to your desired consistency. Wednesday liked a smooth purée to begin with side she was just learning to chew, so we used about 2 oz per full squash. It's up to you how much, if any, that you add. I think that adding the breast milk also helped her stomach make the transition to something new, but again, your choice! 

This method will work with pretty much any squash or steam-able veggie. I make a big batch and store it in an airtight Tupperware for use all week. If you're using breastmilk and your recipe, you can use the breastmilk storage guidelines for storing the food. That means it is good for about a week in the fridge.

I'll add some more recipes later, but I think this is a great way to get started. 

We have since moved on to blending fruits and veggies and oatmeal. Wednesday loves oatmeal. She does not like sweets, however. She's the only baby I've ever met that won't eat bananas. But, I'm okay with that. She is a veggie lover like her Pop! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Quick, Seared Tuna ♥

I make this quite often and I get lots of questions about it. So, here is the "recipe" ... I use that term lightly because it is so simple! I love to get tuna tataki at Sushi Gen here in Shreveport and one of my favorite pastimes is trying to mimic my favorite meals from my favorite restaurants. I started with my spin dip, modeling it after the amazing tip at the Oyster Bar [which they no longer serve!] and had great success. Since then, I've been able to recreate several recipes that I can make for less than going out on the town. [such a homebody]

Tuna tataki is served over pickled onions and fresh cucumber and with a sauce that is distinctively Asian, so I'm just showing the tuna prep/recipe only which will make it up to you how to serve it. I think that it is a super versatile protein [about 7g per oz - same as beef!] that can be incorporated into any style or palate. We put it over different salads, wrap it up with veggies, serve it as an appetizer when guests are over, dip into ginger sauce and eat with noodles for a heavier choice. So many options!

You'll need:
1 tuna steak - thicker the better, about 6oz
roughly 1 cup spice/herb mix of your choice 
1 tbsp olive oil
medium sized tupperware

Fish have their own natural oil, so you won't need to dredge the steak in anything to get the spice mixture to stick. Mix your spices/herbs in the tupperware dish, add the tuna steak and press the mixture into all sides, covering the steak completely.

Get your pan nice and hot, you're going to want to have a good, quick sear on this. I add just a little bit of olive oil [tbsp or so] while it is warming. Sear the steak for about 2 minutes on each side. I think it is easier just to use my hands and start with the thin sides first, finishing with the broad sides. Tongs are helpful if you're new to the technique and silicon tipped tongs are best since they won't cut into the sides of the steak. 

When you're done, place the tuna steak back in the tupperware [where your spice mix was], seal it and stick it in the freezer for about 45 minutes or if you're planning well in advance, a few hour in the fridge will have the same effect. Cooking it did will ensure the crust stays solid and the steak will slice beautifully.