Monthly Archives: November 2014

School Lunch

My daughter went to a private Lutheran school for two years prior to entering the public school system. At this private school I paid about $4 a day for her lunch, OUCH! She ALWAYS wanted to eat lunch at school, always. The lunches were exceptional; I ate with her a couple of times and wow, don’t mind if I do! Then my daughter moved into the public school system for the last semester of her pre-k year when we moved to Fort Worth. She went back and forth between wanting to take her lunch and wanting to eat lunch at school. I decided to go and eat lunch with her one day to check it out for myself, on the menu was hamburgers, excellent! You can’t screw that up, right?

She instructed me on what and how to order, she choose Strawberry Milk so I happily played along. We sat down to eat our food, mine was a few bucks hers was $1.50. I open my hamburger thinking well… it doesn’t look all that great, but never judge a book by its cover, right? I prepare my hamburger and then sink my teeth right into the first bite. OH BOY…. I had to really choke it down, it was awful! I reach for my milk to get that awful taste out of mouth, ewww, even worse, what is this? I turn it around, I read it, Non-fat Strawberry Milk… WHAT? NON-fat, MILK? For kids? I get we have an obesity rate that we are trying to counter, but…

I have since let my daughter willingly take her lunch to school everyday to ensure she has good, HEALTHY, food for her belly so she is able to focus.

Here’s my really big issue, our brains NEED fats! YES! I said it, and I will say it again! OUR brains NEED fats to process information, and to learn and retain. I am not talking about candy, cakes, or other surgery treats – because there is a huge difference. I am talking about legit good for you fats: milk fats, protein fats, butter, nuts, etc.

I read the book, “Why we get fat and what to do about it” by Gary Taubes as recommended by a friend who follows a Keto diet and eats butter topped with bacon on the regular. What I learned in that book made me question every food pyramid ever published, and you should too. You should look into why breads were made to be the largest category. Can you starve eating Ramen Noodles everyday? Our culture is obsessed with counting calories and yet our obesity rate has risen. I should also add the friend that eats butter with bacon lost quite a bit of weight when he switched to that lifestyle, oh and did I mention, he has crazy amazing abs? Yes, these are his abs.

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What am I getting at? Is the nutrition plan that schools are federally required to follow really the best alternative for the kids? Are we perpetuating a bigger problem? Why do we not consider the long term damage of restricting good fats in the diet?

There is some legitimacy to the ol’ feller who ate bacon and eggs everyday for breakfast and lived to 90 years old. Just some food for thought.

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Grandma’s Cranberry Fruit Salad

If you are a lover of the sweet and sour then this recipe is going to be a little bit of heaven for you! This was my grandmothers recipe; I don’t care if someone you knew made it, in my head and on this blog it was my grandmothers. My grandmother was a strong, amazing woman. She was in the U.S. Air Force where she worked in Radar in the mid 1950’s; which is also where she met and fell in love with my Grandpa, who also served in the U.S. Air Force.

This is the stunning woman that was my grandmother…

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She died when I was in high school, of cancer.  I took it very hard, I still take it very hard, as I tear up thinking  about how amazing and endless this woman’s love was.  She had the best kind of love, the tough kind, that forced you to get up off your duff and do something with yourself, forced you to think for yourself and say what was on your mind.  I learned from her, you NEVER give up.  NEVER GIVE UP!  If she had given up, I would have lost the last 11 years of life with her.  She kicked cancers ass for 11 years!  When she spoke it was usually powerful and intentional.  The last Thanksgiving that I got to spend with my grandmother she was bed ridden, she didn’t get to prepare the meal as she always did, and so it was up to all of us to take on a portion of the meal and get’er done.  I was tasked with Cranberry fruit salad.  I ran back and forth from the kitchen to her bedside where she would tell me the next ingredient and how much.   I have made it every year since.  There will not be a Thanksgiving that goes by that I don’t make this recipe and think about how amazingly powerful she was. I wish that she could have met my Daughter, my daughter keeps people on their toes just as Linda Jean did, Em is so much like her;  Feisty and wicked smart.

This is the Cranberry Fruit Salad that she taught me to make:

  • 2 large bags of Ocean Spray Cranberries – washed and picked through, remove all the mushy ones

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  • 1 large can crushed pineapple – drained (or you can use fresh / I go back and forth between fresh and canned just like my grandmother did)
  • 2 large cans of Mandarin oranges, drained and chopped into little pieces
  • 1 cup of pecans – chopped into pieces (I usually use more than just a cup of pecans… because can you go wrong with toooooo many pecans???)  I prefer the ones from my mom’s yard that she has hand shelled just for me 😉

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  • Then you whip up some Whipped Cream about 3-4 cups (you have to say it like Stewie from Family Guy because it is funnier that way)
  • Last you add lots of sugar, to taste, start with about a half up (or a substitute, I use Truvia Baking blend if I have diabetics that are going to be munching on this because of the natural sugars and added sugars it can be a lot)
  • Let it rest overnight, this lets all the flavors marry nicely; although my daughter and I just start eating it immediately, because we love the tartness of the cranberries!

photo 2I have played with this recipe for years, one year I added pomegranates, that was an amazing flavor addition, but the seeds in the perils make for an odd texture when you are eating.  I hope you love this as much as my family and I do.

Happy Thanksgiving, I hope you have and spread lots of kindness this holiday season!

Cheers,

Danielle

Tortilla-less Soup

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One of my MOST favorite soups in the entire world is Tortilla soup.  Seriously, I could eat it daily for many days in a row; it is a beautiful creation, thank you to the human being that threw those items together and called it a meal!  I took a stab at my own version last night, and to my shock, I was successful at least to me and my crew.

Here is what I did, I pulled out a big pot, the biggest one I had.  I was thinking go big or go home!

I put all these ingredients into this big’ol stock pot and cranked up the heat to get it going, I was HUNGRY and didn’t want to waste any time!

  • 1 Rotisserie chicken shredded
  • 10 (ish) tablespoons of Chicken, Better than Bouillon
  • 1 bag of frozen corn
  • 1 bag of frozen stew veggies
  • 1 tablespoon Fajita Seasoning (I only use one brand when it comes to Mexican spices and that is, Fiesta)
  • 3 (ish) tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Cabbage sliced into bit size pieces
  • 1 can Hatch brand tomatoes and chilies (you can use Rotel, I prefer the Hatch brand)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can strewed tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato sauce – I only used half (you could also sub paste)
  • lots of water – to fill pot
  • salt and pepper to taste (I prefer the course ground pepper with extra bite) CHOMP!

I cooked that for about an thirty minutes to let the seasonings to do their thing, then I tasted it and adjusted based on what we like.   When I served it, I set cheddar cheese, avocado, and Tabasco sauce out for spicing up your individual bowl.  My daughter doesn’t like to fry her taste buds just yet, we are working to develop those Texan taste buds.

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This is the type of fun you can have while playing with your Cabbage and making your very own Cabbage Patch Kid!

disclaimer.

I feel the need to address a little typo that a friend of mine, Dan, so kindly pointed out. I spelled wait as weight, Sigh… I am shaking my head at myself. When I write my blogs they are late at night after a full day of data mining, stats, logistical planning, and technical troubleshooting blindly… then I go home and take care of my family, cooking dinner, and cleaning.  After I put my daughter to bed, I sit down to write and my brain tends to be a bit sluggish and tired, not to mention my aging eyes.  I apologize for my typos, normally I would catch them.  I do proof my work before publishing, alas I am human, and become even more so late at night, my brain stops working after 8:30PM.

Cheers and spread a little kindness today!

Danielle

World Kindness Day

For the past few days I have been having some personal trials, bad luck, being tested, or whatever you believe to be true in your culture when you are having some downright bad things happen to you.  Yesterday morning I had to get up earlier than usual to go to a parent teacher conference at 7:15AM. The conference went well, my daughter is rocking and rolling along in Kindergarten and learning lots. I can’t relate, I wasn’t an intelligent kid, I was just flitting away catching flying roses.  Yes, flying roses, that is an actual story; maybe I will write about it, one day.  I say goodbye to the teacher and as I am walking out to my car I notice a gentlemen lingering at my car and then. I. see. it. A flat tire. BAM!  The first cold front of the season comes in and my battery has to be replaced and five days later, now I have a flat.  I pull out my Hyundai air compressor that came with my car, instead of a spare tire… I am not bitter… Ok maybe I am, Hyundai, seriously, no spare!  Come on!  OK, I will take a little ownership in this, I didn’t ask. I didn’t think to ask.  Anyhoooo, moving on.  I check out the tire, apparently a piece of shrapnel took shelter in my tire to stay warm.

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I head over to Discount Tire where I purchased the original set, including a warranty (BEST investment ever!).  It is packed, so I drop off my car and head next door to the local eatery and sit down for some breakfast and most importantly some more coffee!  I see a gentleman, rail thin, really dirty, and he is visibly cold. He makes his way into the building after lingering outside for awhile. He is in the dining room for about 20 minutes then comes up to me, “can you spare a quarter?” my response, “are you hungry?” “no, umm, well, yes… But I need a bus pass” (I am aware the shelters are on the opposite side of FW, in front of my office). The woman beside me hands him a handful of change and I go buy him breakfast. He was very appreciative, and we talked for a bit, he makes his living selling photos of Marilyn. He devoured his plate, and as I am sitting there, it hits me, I am unbelievably grateful for how blessed I am.  Looking back these trials haven’t really been that bad, they have cost me money, time, and inconvenience because I wasn’t anticipating them happening; but I am healthy, happy, and loved.

Today is World Kindness Day, I challenge you to let in a person trying to merge, wave when someone lets you merge, buy someone a cup of Java, pick up the phone and call a friend, help a stranger, or help out an organization that could use some helping out.  I have talked about Pimping Joy before on my blog, I wish I could tell you that Judy is still with us, she died  a couple of weeks ago, you can watch her pimping joy here.   A friend of mine is the founder of MyDonationPage.com, and I am a huge supporter of hers and this type of fundraising, go check out her page, donate to a cause that touches your heart, set up a page for yourself or someone you love, and then go and like her Facebook page to stay connected  you will never regret doing a Random Act of Kindness (RAK).

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Cheers and kindness, I challenge you to Pimp Joy today and everyday.

So, I have been thinking…

I really LOVE cofee; in fact most of the world seems to be in agreement with me. That beautiful bean when grinned down to itty bitty pieces and then brewed with hot water or the process of cold filtered when done correctly, YUMMMMM! My boyfriend jokingly says that coffee is my one and only, true love. Then again, I have never been burned by coffee… That first initial sip of warm coffee in the morning and you feel the warmth run down your throat all the way down to yo’ BELLY! It is fantastic!

I got to thinking, I live in an area where every Starbucks in the morning has a perma-line at least 10 cars long and the wait is at least 10 minutes… 10 minutes folks. That coffee you were not able to brew at your house would have only taken about 2 minutes to prep, set the auto brew and could have been greeted by the most loyal of “puppies” when you staggered into the kitchen in the morning smelling that fresh aroma of java. So, I got to thinking why do people insist on going to Starbucks when there is a McDonalds within close proximity, or insert any other chain, and their turn-over time is quicker, less expensive, and here it is, McDonald’s coffee actually tastes better. I know what you are thinking, lady you are out of your mind! It is true, blind taste testings have said so; and you know people people don’t make up statistics. In my opinion, I actually agree, Starbucks coffee always tastes a little… I am going to say it… burnt. However, I LOVE me a Grande, Caramel Macchiato, with sugar free vanilla, and soy milk; but, it has to be a grande, otherwise the proportions are all off.

While I was in undergrad I worked at a Coffee shop called Sweet Eugene’s located in College Station, Texas – WHOOP! Let me tell you, I have been on the chase to find that quality of coffee and treats ever since. That is another story for another day, if you are ever in there, stop in and get a Pecan coffee and a chocolate chip scone, just for me, and savor it!

I digress, the point of this post was to say McDonald’s (MCD), you are missing a complete niche’ market! MCD has the perfect opportunity to expand here, let me explain. You see the “starbuckers” don’t want to go to the MCD line because they don’t want to fuss with MCD. The service isn’t that stellar, the staff is usually not excited to see you, and they are just “going through the motions”. To the contrary Starbucks greets you with enthusiasm, they remember your name, and when they don’t know your name they always ask it (see what I did there) they are very friendly and usually you find yourself smiling while you are waiting in the perma-line for your $5 coffee. MCD can set up little coffee shops and offer their great coffee, with a rapid turn-around time, with their same reasonable pricing. The bonus, it is has already branded, McCafe! GENIUS! You’re welcome McDonald’s, you probably paid a ton of money to a consulting firm to come up with your next big idea, and I just gave you one for free. You can pay me with a lifetime of free McCafe coffees.

Wow, I could been quite a bit more concise, but would the post have been as fun?

Cheers!