Summertime

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“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.”

 ~Ada Louise Huxtable

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Mexican Casserole

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Mexican Food has always been one of my favorites.  I used to think I could eat enough of it that eventually I would turn into one big burrito. Even though I don’t eat it as often as I used to, I do know good Mexican Food when I eat it.  This recipe is GOOD.  Initially, I expected it to be a heavy dish, but it is surprisingly light. It has been 2 days since I made it and I’m already craving it again!

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Ingredients:

  • Ground Beef  (I used 85%)
  • Onion Powder (2 T.) or 1 Medium Onion, diced
  • 2 1/2 cup Salsa (I used Pace Chunky Mild)
  • 1 can (15 oz) Red Kidney Beans- rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup Italian Salad Dressing
  • 2 T. Taco Seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 6 Flour Tortillas (8 inch)
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 3 cup Mexican Cheese Blend
  • Lettuce, shredded (Garnish)
  • 1 Medium Tomato, chopped (Garnish)
  • Minced Cilantro (Garnish)

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  1.  Cook Ground Beef and onion on Medium Heat until no pink remains; Drain.
  2. Stir in Salsa, Beans, Italian Salad Dressing, Sour Cream, Taco Seasoning and Cumin.
  3. Spoon a layer of Mixture onto bottom of baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle a layer of Cheese.
  5. Place a layer of Tortillas.
  6. Repeat Steps 3,4,5. (Last layer should be a layer of Cheese)
  7. Cover with Foil. Bake at 400 F for 25 minutes.

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Honestamente yum!

SHINE!

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

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Summertime.. Hot Hot Hot weather, lots of sunshine, and LEMONADE. 

 This isn’t just ordinary lemonade though.

This is the crown jewel of lemonade.

This is my family’s favorite Summertime drink. We can go through 2 pitchers in one day.

Plus, Its a cinch to make.

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 Squeeze lemons

1 cup (more or less) Sugar to sweeten ( I like it sweet)

1/2 dozen Strawberries, sliced

Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves

1-2 Lemons, sliced

Fill pitcher with water and let it sit it the refrigerator for several hours to give it time for all the flavors to merge and mingle.

For extra ease, use a  Kool-aid lemonade packet in place of the fresh squeezed lemons and make as usual. Then add the extra goodies. ( I wont tell.)  My kids are 8 and 10 and they make this lemonade themselves.

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I hope your day is filled with sunSHINE.

 

 

Barbecue Bacon Cheddar Chicken

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 I am going to share with you a family favorite: Barbecue Chicken topped with Cheese.

This is a recipe that we usually make AT LEAST once a month.

It is amazingly good and easy to make. Sometimes, for some extra deliciousness we will top the chicken with crispy bacon before adding the cheese.

Think about it.. Chicken, cheese and bacon. How can you not LOVE it.

It’s important when cooking this chicken to make individual foil pouches to sit each piece of chicken in. It will keep the chicken moist and allow the juices to be absorbed or drizzled over after it is cooked.

Also, its extra-easy to clean-up. Just throw away the foil pouches.

Voila, Pan is clean.

Ingredients:

Chicken Breast, boneless and skinless (as much as you want to make)

Salt/Pepper, to taste

Garlic Powder, more or less to taste

Onions, sliced (optional)

Barbecue Sauce ( I use KC Masterpiece Original or Hickory Flavored)

Butter

Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Cooked Bacon (optional)

My Chicken 2

Preheat Oven to 350F.

First, make your tin foil pouches. Take a sheet of tin foil and fold the edges to make a square to sit the chicken in. Make sure there is no holes and the sides are high enough so the juices and sauce won’t leak out. Sit Chicken inside.

Season the Chicken Breast with Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder.

Add sliced Onions on top of the Chicken. (Add as many as you like.)  I add a lot to my husband and I’s, but I skip the onions on the kids. Its a matter of preference here, but I believe it greatly enhances the flavor. Also, FYI Onion is a natural tenderizer for meat.

Drizzle with a generous amount of your favorite Barbecue Sauce.

Next, add a heaping spoonful of butter right on top in the center.

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Cover the baking dish with foil and bake.

(If using bacon- cook desired amount on the stove. Prepare as usual.)

Bake Chicken 40 minutes, uncover and bake 10 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.

Top Chicken with (Bacon) and then top with a heaping of Cheddar Cheese. Place in the oven for an additional few minutes to melt the cheese.

 

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The hardest part about making this chicken is folding the tin foil. Well, if you make the bacon it adds to the work but really is worth it.  Either way though this chicken is awesome and I could eat it once a week for the rest of my life and be a happy girl.

ENJOY!

 

shared recipe at: http://www.designsbygollum.blogspot.com

http://www.carolynshomework.com  

homework 

Living with OCD

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Ok, deep breath.

I mentioned to you before that I have OCD.

Well, today has been a really tough day.

I was working on a project earlier that seemed to take my attention most of the day (4 hours to be exact). The problem is that in reality it should have been done in about 10 minutes.

Why did it take me so long? I was caught up in the details, details, details. Examining, rearranging and then redoing it all over again.

You see, ever since I was a little girl I have been “different” or “weird”.

My mom would tell me to go clean my room and she wouldn’t understand why I would consistently feel the need to clean my drawers and closet while the rest of the room was a mess.

Cleaning was a source of anxiety for me because no one knew or understood that I felt that the drawers HAD to be cleaned first for it to be done “right”. That picking up a handful of items could take me hours because each item needed to be folded perfectly or to be tiptop clean. Next, I needed to catalog the information in my brain. I needed to “think” about the important information about each item and the reason why I liked that particular object.

I did other “weird” things.

I would spend hours and hours “picking” items from catalogs. Our J.C. Penney and Sears catalogs were riddled with my initials where I had written and rewritten them over and over again on each page. I would spend hours doing this, only to go through the same catalog a few days later. It was fun for a little while, but I felt that I had to do it not that I wanted to do it. The key word here being: “HAD”.

I called my rituals and way of thinking “My Game”.

I had no clue why I did the things I did.  It was just what I knew and the way I was. It didn’t have a fancy term.

Once, I became older, I eventually was able to give my condition the proper name OCD. (I still generally refer to it as “My Game” to this day.)

Even though my condition now had a name, I still felt alone. I didn’t fit the norm of what you usually think of when you hear the term OCD.  I didn’t wash my hands till they were raw. I wasn’t afraid of germs. I didn’t recheck the door to make sure it was locked. I wasn’t “Monk”.

A few weeks ago, I found an article that talked about my type of OCD. I was so happy, because for the first time I wasn’t so alone. This article described ME.

I have Perfectionist OCD.

A Perfectionist often sets extremely high standards for themselves and set a lot of goals.

I have a lot of goals and set extremely high standards for myself as well. The difference between a perfectionist and a person like me with OCD is that the perfectionist is likely to achieve them. The perfectionist with OCD rarely achieves or finishes a task because they set impossible standards and find nothing they do to be good enough. So they find themselves always moving in circles just to find themselves back at square one.

The average person can take a glass out of a dishwasher and put it away and mark it off their chore list. I take it out of the dishwasher and then must hold it up in the light to check for spots or blemishes. Then it must be spaced perfectly in the cabinet. The ritual can sometimes take up to 10 minutes for one glass. That’s if the glass doesn’t need to be rewashed of course.

Try to clean a house with that attention to detail. How much do you think you would actually accomplish in a day?

You may have just spent 4 hours straight cleaning and only have a dishwasher worth of dishes to show for it. I know, because that is, at times, my reality.

I joke that I’m perfectly imperfect. I know that the standards are impossible to ever achieve and yet I don’t know how to stop my brain from making me feel that something needs to be done a certain way in order for it to count as “right”.

I know that a lot of people joke about OCD. It seems silly and irrational. I joke about OCD and I have it. It is silly and irrational.

But OCD is so much more than that. It’s frustrating, emotionally draining and it strangles you. For the people that love you it is that and more.

I have decided to put this out there not because I want people to laugh at me or view me as crazy. Not because I want people that know me to talk and whisper about me. I am sharing my story because I was alone and I learned that there was other people out there like ME and I want other people to know that there are people that are like THEM.

I no longer want to be ashamed of the person I am. I don’t want to pretend to be someone I’m not. Living with OCD is like living with the boogeyman hiding in the shadows and living in constant fear. You know what though, the boogeyman isn’t quite as scary when the light is turned on.

 

 

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Bruschetta

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I like the combination of tomato and basil.

Just wondering, but has anyone grown basil indoors before?

I would love to know how it turned out if you did, because I’m wondering if I should attempt to grow some in a pot.

It seems that every time I buy basil it just goes bad so quickly.  I use it up within days during the summer months making my family’s favorite strawberry and basil lemonade,  but after a day or so the leaves begin to blacken.

Anyways, this Bruschetta topped with cream cheese, garlic, tomatoes, basil and shaved parmesan is de-li-cious.  Its perfect for lunch or as an appetizer.

Also, the Roasted Garlic is sooooo good. The cloves get all soft and mushy and transform into a garlic spread that is heaven on bread. If you have never made Roasted Garlic..make it. Make it NOW.

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Ingredients:

Roasted Garlic

3 tsp.  Extra- Virgin Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper, to taste

1 Medium Tomato, diced

1/4 cup Fresh Basil, shredded

4 oz. Cream Cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, shaved

Sliced Baguette

1. Combine Tomato, Basil, 2 tsp. Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper in a bowl and set aside.

2. Squeeze Garlic out of skins. Mix Garlic, Cream Cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese in a small bowl and set aside.

3. Place bread on baking sheet.

4. Spread Garlic Cream Cheese mixture on top of bread and sprinkle generously with Parmesan Cheese.

5. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Top with tomato mixture and sprinkle lightly with cheese.

To Roast Garlic:

Whole Garlic Head

 Extra- Virgin Olive Oil 

Salt

Pepper

 Aluminum Foil

Preheat Oven to 350F

1. Cut 1/3 the top of the garlic off, exposing cloves.

2. Place on aluminum foil and drizzle liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Wrap completely in foil and Bake 45 minutes-1 hour or until fork tender.

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Recipe adapted courtesy of: http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/roasted-garlic-and-tomato-bruschetta-recipe/

 

Arugula & Berry Salad with Honey Roasted Sunflower Seeds and Homemade Strawberry Vinaigrette

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Since its Summer time, I wanted to make something light, that would be easy to put together and a recipe that would use fresh seasonal ingredients.

Have you had the Strawberry Salad at Longhorn? Well, If you like that salad, I guarantee you will LOVE this salad.

This salad is AMAZING.

This is honestly my favorite salad and I will be making it several more times before summer is over.

 Oh, and the Honey Roasted Sunflower Seeds…forget about it. One bite and you’ll be hooked. I had to stop myself from eating it by the handful. Actually, my husband already has plans of me making batches of this so he can take it to work for a snack.

Everything about this salad is delicious.. especially the vinaigrette.

It’s Summer, time to try something new!

Salad:

Baby Arugula

Blueberries

Feta Cheese, crumbled

Strawberries, sliced

Honey Roasted Sunflower Seeds:

1 cup Sunflower Seeds

1 teaspoon Butter

1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tablespoon Honey

½ teaspoon Sea Salt

Strawberry Vinaigrette:

1 clove Garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard

1 teaspoon Hot Sauce (I use Cholula)

¼ cup Rice Vinegar

3 tablespoons Strawberry Preserves

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ cup Canola Oil

Sea Salt, to taste

freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste

DSCF4522To make Honey Roasted Sunflower Seeds:

Preheat Oven to 400F.

Place Butter and Olive Oil in Small Cake Pan (I used a Small Cast Iron Skillet) and place in oven for 1 minute until butter is melted.

Add Honey and Sunflower Seeds to the pan and stir to coat completely.

Cook 5 minutes, Stir, Cook another 5 minutes.

(Careful not to burn)

Remove from oven and place on tin foil sprayed with nonstick spray.

Salt to taste and let cool.

Store in an airtight container.

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To make Strawberry Vinaigrette: 

In a bowl combine Garlic, Dijon, Vinegar, Preserves and Hot Sauce. Stir to combine.

Add Oils while whisking continuously.

Add Salt/Pepper to taste

Place in a bottle for serving.

(Store in refrigerator for up to 2 days)

 

To make Salad:

Place a bed of Baby Arugula on a plate.

Top with Sliced Strawberries, Blueberries, crumbled Feta Cheese and a sprinkle of Honey Roasted Sunflower Seeds.

Drizzle with Strawberry Vinaigrette.

Serve immediately.

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This salad is a meal in itself because you will want to eat more and more and maybe, just a little more.

*Recipe adapted courtesy of: http://thecafesucrefarine.com/2012/05/arugula-blueberry-salad-w-goat-cheese/

 

Introduction

Hi there!

It is so great that you’ve stopped by for a visit. Sit back, Relax, Kick off those shoes and Get cozy.  Maybe we’ll laugh together, share some tears together, explore together, cook together, or just share our lives with each other.

I’m creating this blog as a reminder to make memories. To LIVE life.. whether it’s loving my family, trying a new recipe, going on an adventure or just appreciating the little things.  Life is about living, learning and discovering and not taking the small moments for granted.

 Well, I’ll start out by introducing myself. I am a Mom of 2 beautiful children and a Wife to the Love of my life and Best friend. We live in the Smoky Mountains near Asheville in North Carolina. We have a manic dog, a chubby guinea pig and one fish.

If we’re gonna be friends then I need to let you in on my “secret”.

I have OCD.

Unless, you are fortunate enough to have OCD.. the thinking process seems to be completely crazy and irrational. Well, here’s something you may not realize.. When you have OCD, the thinking process seems to be completely crazy and irrational. The difference is even though you know it… you feel like there is no choice but yet to comply. 

I’ll let you into my brain for a moment. OK, lets do an experiment. Do Not Blink. Well, I’m sure you can sit there and hold your eyes open for a minute, maybe. Soon, you will start feeling an uncomfortable sensation. Shortly after that, you will inevitably give in.. not because you want to, but because your body feels the need to. And that my friends is OCD to me.

They say certain chemicals in the brain are different and take different neural pathways than a “normal” brain.

At times, my ocd can make up an intricate and large amount of my psyche.  It can sometimes make living in each moment a challenge. I experience a lot of roller coasters and my brain sometimes is similar to riding a carousel and repeats repeats repeats around and around in loops. These loops can sometimes consume hours of my days and keep me awake till the early morning. I have a tendency to miss out on adventures life has to offer and completing a goal or chore can be an overwhelming task.  But ocd is merely a part of me just like all the other parts that make up ME. I’m just perfectly imperfect.

My goal here is to conquer my pinterest boards, to kick that bucket list, to share my thoughts and to savor and embrace the imperfections and find the beauty in them as well. We all have struggles and ocd is  just one of mine.
I truly hope I inspire someone.. somewhere.. in some way…
Find your
SHINE!
– Melissa

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