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Friday, January 23, 2015

BEST Brussel Sprouts (trust me)

Do you like brussel sprouts?  I have only recently learned to love them.  This shouldn't really come as a surprise to me, since I am a broccoli lover from way back, and they are so similar in flavor.

I've tried roasting them on a cookie sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and they are delicious -- but, the other night, I outdid that method.  For some reason, I decided to put them in a foil packet.  This is just a method of steaming [the brussel sprouts] to tender perfection.  There are probably a kazillion recipes out there, but I didn't even look.  I just did my own thing, and I'm sharing what worked for me.

Preheat your oven to 450F.  To prepare the brussel sprouts: rinse them well and remove the outer leaves.  Cut off the stem-end, and cut them in half to [theoretically] make the cooking time shorter.

Place the cut brussel sprouts on an extra-long sheet of foil.  I sprinkled them with a little olive oil, some sea salt, and freshly ground pepper, just like when I roast them.  [You could also add a little lemon juice, or any spices that you enjoy.]

Then, fold the foil in half over the brussel sprouts.  Fold up and crimp the three open sides.  Place directly on the oven rack, and "bake" for about 20-25 minutes at 450F.  Carefully slit the foil with a knife [beware the steam!], and test for done-ness with a sharp knife or a fork.

Not rocket science, just crimp edges tightly.

The result is super-tender, melt-in-your-mouth, flavorful brussel sprouts.  No tough spots or hard edges.  Just pure deliciousness!

I didn't take any pictures when I made them the first time.  After tasting the result, I knew that I wanted to share the idea with you -- and my mouth has been watering just thinking about making them again.  The second time did not disappoint!

Also... I read some interesting information about brussel sprouts HERE.  Imagine that by steaming them, you "up" their cholesterol-lowering power!  Who knew?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quick Valentine Wreath

You may remember this wreath that I made a few years ago for winter and Christmas.  Since it was so simple, it stayed nice for a long time.  But when I took it down this year, I knew I wouldn't want to use it one more year. It was easy to dismantle without damaging the wreath itself, so I decided to put the grapevine portion to good use for another holiday -- Valentine's Day.

My girl and I hit Hobby Lobby the other day and looked around for supplies to turn our grapevine into something love-y, and came up with these supplies: pink and red bandanas, and felt hearts.

I love using unusual items for the "bow" on a wreath.  I simply rolled the bandanas corner to corner, and then tied them around with wreath in a square knot.

I took the ribbons out of the felt hearts, and used clear fishing line to tie them to the wreath-form.

What I specifically like about this wreath is how it is seen from the street.  It is obvious that it is covered in hearts, and if you're going to go to the trouble, then... well, it's nice that it can be seen for what it is!  

Admittedly, no crafting skills were used in the making (and I use the term loosely) of this Valentine wreath. But also, not much time was used -- and that was exactly what I needed this year.

A friend on FB recently talked about Valentine's Day being her favorite holiday, and reminded her friends that #LoveIsWorthCelebrating.  Since my kids are older, I tend to let these little holidays go, but the reminder was a good one for me.  I don't, however, think you have to celebrate in an "over-the top" way in order to recognize the holiday, and this simple wreath follows that same philosophy.

Do you usually celebrate Valentine's Day, or just let it slip by?
Don't forget: Love is worth celebrating!

* Linking up with Share Your Cup Thursday

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Farrago ~ 1.16.15

Have you ever found yourself at a loss for words? -- specifically BLOGGING words?

I am SO THERE right now.  I am at a blogging low.  I long to post something... anything... to be present here, but people: I got nothin'.

In case you're wondering what I've been up to instead of blogging, I've been:
* drinking hot tea
* wishing the winter away
* rubbing my hands together to keep warm
* circling scarves infinitively around my neck, indoors and out
* trying to keep up with the laundry
* NOT taking pictures
* watching my hubby can applesauce
* wishing for sunshine
* working on Project Life scrapbooks for a friend
* waiting for the sun to come out, so I can take some indoor pictures
* staying home because things have been cancelled
* wishing the winter away again [and again]
* drinking more hot tea
* NOT being creative & wondering where those creative juices have gone this year?
* still drinking out of Christmas mugs
* watching my hubby can MORE applesauce
* finally putting the Christmas mugs & all of the other Christmas stragglers away
* having a friend over for lunch
* baking bread in the bread machine -- though I want to try THIS METHOD!

and last but not least:

* thinking about making a Valentine wreath for my front porch, but haven't gotten to the store for those specific supplies yet

What's new with YOU this Friday?
TGIF ~ and have a great weekend!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Recipe: Teriyaki Pork Roast

A long time ago, I teased you with a peak at a recipe.  This morning, that same recipe is cooking away in my crock pot, and I thought I would finally take the time to share it with you.  It contains a couple secret ingredients.  Don't leave anything out -- and be sure to make the gravy!  It is fantastic -- and oh, so flavorful!

Turn roast fat-side UP for cooking.

Teriyaki Pork Roast

¾ c. apple juice
2 T. sugar
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. vinegar
1 tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. garlic powder
⅛ tsp. black pepper
1 lean boneless rolled loin pork roast (2-3lb.)
3 T. cold water
1½ T. cornstarch

In crockpot, mix juice, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic powder, and pepper.  Add roast, turning to coat.  Turn fat side up.  Cover & cook on low 7-8 hours or until meat is very tender.

Transfer meat to warm platter.  Cover & keep warm.

Strain cooking liquid & place in saucepan.  Skim off fat.  Over medium heat, bring to a boil.  In a small bowl, mix water & cornstarch until smooth.  Stir into boiling liquid.  Stir, bring to a boil, & boil for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.

TIPS :: Sometimes, I like to shred the meat, and mix with gravy and egg noodles, making a casserole -- but you can also serve the gravy and meat up separately  (sliced or shredded) with noodles, rice, or potatoes.  Delicioso!  ENJOY!

When roast is done, remove layer of fat on top and shred (or slice) meat.

Best gravy ever!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Say It Out Loud!

New Year's Resolutions.  Not.  They have never been my thing.

Words have worked.  JOY.  Trust.  Mostly JOY.

But, I've been noodling over this thought that was planted in my head recently by I-wish-I-remembered-who! Was it a blogger?  Probably.  If it's YOU, claim it in the comments here, will you?

The idea was that when you encounter people (friends, loved ones, strangers) and find yourself thinking something complimentary about them, SPEAK IT ALOUD TO THEM.

While Christmas shopping, I found myself pulling open the door to Panera, close behind another women who had the most beautiful colored coat on.  I don't remember the color now, and the color isn't what's important. It's what I did next that's important.  I touched her shoulder and said, "I love your coat.  The color is gorgeous!"  She smiled and thanked me.  But as she turned away, I saw that her smile stayed.  It cost me nothing.  We both moved through the door together.  No time was lost.  So, why don't I do this all the time?

I know most of the cashiers at my neighborhood grocery store -- even though I tend to go through the self check-out line.  But on this particular day, there was a new cashier, and I went through her line.  And then I saw... her fingernails.  I don't remember the design now, but the design isn't what's important.  It's what I did next that's important.  As she scanned my groceries, I said, "Your nails are beautiful!"  She smiled, and told me a story about them.  It cost me nothing.  I stood still directly in front of her while she did her job.  No time was lost.  Why don't I do this all the time?

"Sir... the black stripe in your scarf
really brings out your beautiful charcoal eyes!"

[The picture may be a bit of a *wink*, but the sentiment of this post is sincere!]

Both of the moments that I mentioned were just a small connection.  It's not likely that I will speak with these women again -- or maybe I will.  But did you notice?  Neither of the "connections" took any additional time. So why don't I do this all the time?

Please know that I am not trying to "toot my own horn."  Rather, I am trying to plant a thought in your head. WHAT IF.  What if when we found ourselves thinking a nice thought about someone, we expressed it?  What do we have to lose?  -- and more importantly, what would the person receiving our comment gain?

How far would this little task go in building people up and encouraging them?

I guess we'll never know unless we try.

My plan for 2015, is to try HARDER.  Will you join me?

Feel free to report back if you have interesting results!

[Linking up to Share Your Cup Thursday.]

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