The end of the 30 Day Challenge-

Some of you may remember that I challenged myself to 30 days of photos… to find the beauty around me.  I used my phone to upload all of these photos to Instagram, (http://instagram.com/acherry67) Here is what I found beautiful;

IMG_20131224_112920 IMG_20131224_154728 IMG_20131225_113348 IMG_20131225_130125 IMG_20131230_122530 IMG_20140103_144323 IMG_20140103_145312 IMG_20140104_082703 IMG_20140105_114026 IMG_20140106_112011 IMG_20140109_095934 IMG_20140109_185450 IMG_20140110_193129 IMG_20140111_141026 IMG_20140113_104426 IMG_20140114_194419 IMG_20140116_203611 IMG_20140117_094031 IMG_20140118_191852 IMG_20140119_080010 IMG_20140119_132538 IMG_20140122_111948 IMG_20140124_161522 IMG_20140124_162406 IMG_20140125_172934 IMG_20140125_185730 IMG_20140127_104357 IMG_20140128_164847 IMG_20140129_103051 IMG_20140129_111618 IMG_20140130_095436

The really great thing about this challenge was that it forced me to really look for the beauty in my life.  And when you find beautiful things around you, your life feels filled with beauty. Even on those days when it felt really ugly, just finding that one beautiful thing made me feel better. The law of attraction at work! So as a new month begins I’ve decided to try a new theme.  Since it’s February, I’m thinking my theme should be LOVE.

Starting tomorrow, I will be taking photos of Love… which I’m hoping will help me bring the love back to my life!

 

Dinner for two- nope, but dinner for two nights!

So last night I made a pot roast.

Most people would say I’m crazy for making a whole pot roast for one person.  And I have to admit it often feels wasteful.  But when I was single and broke, I discovered that being able to stretch a cut of meat into two or three meals was much more economical than cooking food I’d eat for one meal.  So I still buy a whole ham, a whole chicken and in this case a pot roast, and use the leftover meats for the next several meals.  Yes, I plan my meals… yes, I have a list on my fridge… yes, I use the menu to make a grocery list and they’re both stored in my computer.  Yes, it makes me a little OCD, get over it.  I have also discovered that in addition to making the menu and grocery list, the habit of stretching a cut of meat into two or three meals is time saving and more important money saving.  So I made a pot roast-

Amanda’s Pot Roast recipe;

I dry rub it with salt, pepper, garlic and flour

in a pan, I fry the roast on all sides in enough oil to cover the bottom- I set that oil aside to use for making the gravy later

after frying each side I place the roast into an oven safe pot (hence pot roast) with a lid.  I cut up onions and soak it with Balsamic vinegar and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. I put it in the oven at 325 degrees, and roast it for about 2 hours, depending on the size of the roast.

If you want to make an open faced roast beef sandwich, you’ll need gravy-

roast beef sandwich

After the roast is done I transfer the juices into the frying pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  If the flour doesn’t thicken the juices I add a little cornstarch dissolved in water (1TBSP of corn starch to 1 TBSP of water).  If it’s bland I add more balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic to taste.

For the sandwich it’s just bread, roast beef, mashed potatoes, and topped with gravy. I have to admit this is one of my favorite beef dishes.  It’s comfort food for me.  My grandmother used to make a Sunday roast that was usually so dry we had to do these sandwiches to be able to eat them… that or lots of ketchup! LOL

For the next night’s dinner, I use the leftover beef to make beef chimichangas-

Beef chimichangas

I cut the beef into very small pieces.  I warm them in a pan with tomatoes, onions, chili powder, red pepper and a little oil.  Once the meat is brown and onions are translucent (I like that word)- I set transfer them to a flour tortilla.

Inside the tortilla you can add salsa or cheese… I don’t add the cheese because I’m lactose intolerant and I’d rather use the sour cream on top- but that’s just me.  Once you have the tortillas filled you fold them like an envelop.  Don’t allow any of the sides to remain open.

In about 2 inches of HOT cooking oil, you place the filled tortillas and let them brown on one side.  Flip them to the other side and let them brown.  Once cooked set them on some paper towels to drain the excess oil- don’t forget to shut the oil off.  Once cooled, you can top with salsa, cheese and sour cream… and enjoy!

I still have some of the roast left over, so I’ll probably have roast beef sandwiches for lunch- just bread and mayo, nothing too fancy.  I can also use it for a fourth meal which will probably be a salad or beef fried rice. I really like being able to stretch a cut of meat into a week’s worth of meals.  It’s not boring and it’s practical at the same time.

So do you all have a recipe that stretches over a few meals? Share it with me and I might try it out!

Somewhere Over the Rainbow Cupcakes

Somewhere Over the Rainbow cupcakesMy friend Kate would say that every New Year should start with cupcakes.  And 2014 did! I have a family tradition of eating blackeyed peas, collard greens, cornbread and ham on New Year’s day.  Our belief is that if you eat these things you’ll have money and good luck for the coming year.  Blackeyed peas symbolize silver, collard greens are dollars, and cornbread is gold- the ham is a German tradition of bringing good luck for the coming year. So every New Year’s Day I invite neighbors and friends to come over for an open house event to celebrate New Year’s Day.

This year the New Year’s Day open house became a celebration of my graduation from college on Dec. 14, 2013.  I wrote an article for one of my classes comparing my journey toward healing as being like Dorothy following the yellow brick road.  So my graduation party theme became “The Wizard of Oz”.  And if you’re going to see the Wizard, you need Somewhere Over the Rainbow Cupcakes!

The recipe is so simple;

Funfetti cake mix

pillsbury-funfetti-cake-mix

vanilla frosting or aqua blue funfetti frosting- I couldn’t the blue so I used vanilla with blue food coloring added

blue frosting

Airheads Extreme Sour Patch Rainbow Berry belts

airheadsextremesrainbowberry

can of white decorative frosting

cupcake icing

Follow the directions to make the cupcakes from the cake mix.  After the cupcakes have cooled frost with blue frosting.  Cut each rainbow belt in half and use each half to create a rainbow on the cupcakes, the belts will not hold their shape well, so don’t panic.  Use the can of white cupcake icing to make “clouds” on each end of the rainbow belt closest to the cupcake- this will help the rainbow hold it’s shape.  Finally- serve and enjoy!

Because the cupcakes were so much fun, I decided to decorate the whole table in the style of “The Wizard of Oz”.  Here is how it all turned out!

Emerald City using Dollar Store vases filled with water and green food coloring.  Dollar Store poppies placed in florist foam.

Emerald City using Dollar Store vases filled with water and green food coloring. Dollar Store poppies placed in florist foam.

Wizard of Oz balloon using florist foam, chopsticks, Dollar Store poppies, Dollar Store basket, and FTD Ornament vase turned upside down.

Wizard of Oz balloon using florist foam, chopsticks, Dollar Store poppies, Dollar Store basket, and FTD Ornament vase turned upside down.

Crow with diploma for Scarecrow, tin can with aluminum foil wrapped funnel for Tinman, and crown with medal for Cowardly Lion.

Crow with diploma for Scarecrow, tin can with aluminum foil wrapped funnel for Tinman, and crown with medal for Cowardly Lion.

Wizard of Oz Scarecrow, Tinman, Lion

Dorothy's shoes, a house ornament, Wicked Witch of the West ornament, Dollar Store poppies and Sunflower

Dorothy’s shoes, a house ornament, Wicked Witch of the West ornament, Dollar Store poppies and Sunflower

On the entry table I added the Wizard of Oz dolls that inspired it all- and a beautiful scrapbook created by my friend Shannon.

On the entry table I added the Wizard of Oz dolls that inspired it all- and a beautiful scrapbook created by my friend Shannon.

The table from above- complete with Yellow Brick Road

The table from above- complete with Yellow Brick Road

Everyone who came to the open house, enjoyed the atmosphere.  I’m glad I got a chance to celebrate the new year with such great friends.  Here’s hoping that my yellow brick road leads me someplace over the rainbow, where skies are blue…

Eggs Benedict

my first attempt at Eggs Benedict- Dec. 24th

my first attempt at Eggs Benedict- Dec. 24th

You can’t get a body like mine if you hate food- so I obviously love food.  One of my favorite dishes is Eggs Benedict.  If it’s on the menu at a restaurant I usually order it.  I have never made it at home.  There is something about poaching eggs that seemed daunting, so I avoided it. I finally got the courage Christmas Eve to try making it myself.  Here is the recipe; http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/hollandaise-sauce-recipe/index.html

Hollandaise Sauce
2000 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Prep Time:10 minInactive Prep Time: — Cook Time:10 min

Ingredients
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
Pinch cayenne
Pinch salt
Directions
Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use for the eggs benedict. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.

EGGS BENEDICT
8 slices Canadian bacon
4 English muffins, split
2 teaspoons white vinegar
8 eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hollandaise sauce, recipe above
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
Brown the bacon in a medium skillet and toast the English muffins, cut sides up, on a baking sheet under the broiler.

Fill a 10-inch nonstick skillet half full of water. Add white vinegar to the cooking water. This will make the egg white cook faster so it does not spread. Bring to a slow boil. Gently break 1 of the eggs into the water taking care not to break it. Repeat with remaining eggs. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook 3 1/2 minutes until the egg white is set and yolk remains soft. Remove with a slotted spoon, allowing the egg to drain. To assemble: Lay a slice of Canadian bacon on top of each muffin half, followed by a poached egg. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon hollandaise sauce over the eggs. Garnish with chopped parsley. Yield: 4 servings

Here is a video of how to poach eggs that I found very helpful-