Another week has rolled on by and we are still frozen here in the midwest. The sun shines, snow flutters, and the winds howl. Grateful is what I am. Grateful that I didn’t say no coffee this year! Who would have known the weather would be below zero so much! And, since I am sugar-free, that takes hot cocoa out of the realm of options. So, I sit with a free cup of hot coffee, a wrap around my shoulders, and my coat over my lap—still trying not to freeze. Apparently, Starbucks is the place to be: the doors keep swinging open, sucking the feels-like eight below air across my already chilled body.
The thought that warms me? I won a Starbucks gift card at Heartland Church last weekend. They were throwing chocolate and coffee cards (with chocolate taped to them, so they would stay airborne). No chocolate for me this month, but I nabbed the card. While I gave the chocolate away, I might not have been entirely lady-like about catching the card.
My January Rest (MJR) is officially more than half way over! I promised to write about some of my food uses, creations, and discoveries. My appetite is challenging me. The cold makes me want to eat, everything! And, I am craving junk and sweets. While I haven’t point blank cheated, I’ve pushed the boundary by eating several handfuls of dried fruit a couple of nights ago. It did satisfy the sweet urge, eventually. Banana pancakes have also been a treat. My plan in going sugar-free isn’t to eat everything sweet I can, it is more to rest my taste buds from sweets and rest my body from the effects of sugar. But occasionally, I find something that satisfies that craving and is healthy. Banana pancakes are great: no sugar added and good nutrition. And, it uses up ripe bananas, while it soothes my sweet tooth and provides fiber. Feel free to check out the super simple and healthy banana pancake recipe!
Besides fighting my sweet tooth, I’ve been trying to stay warm: soup and chili are a great way to warm things up. A large tub of stock from the freezer made a terrific brothy bean soup. The broth was a bit spicy, so when it hit the back of my throat, it heated things up in more ways than one. We’ve also been loving taco soup, my version, with no pre-packaged spice mixes. I made my own spice mix, which works well since my girl doesn’t care for cumin. But, when you are out of garlic powder for the spice mix, you are extra glad for fresh garlic.
For those of you who know my cooking habits, I am not great at cooking big hunks of meat. Those odd things—hunks of meat—go into our freezer and then I forget about them. Or, I don’t have time to thaw them—for days—before cooking them. That would require meal planning. Or planning ahead a little bit more than I do at times. While digging though the freezer, and making the hit-list (things to use up), I found a large roast. While I was thinking roast with potatoes and carrots, my husband was thinking Italian beef. Italian beef won because we all love savory and I had a new bottle of pepperoncini in the fridge. Between slow cookers and crock pots, I haven’t had to work too hard to cook. The Italian beef is fantastic and we are still eating it. Did I mention it was a big roast?
One discovery that I am seriously elated about, is that I discovered you can cook ground beef in a slow cooker. I put two pounds in on high then went to take a nap. When I got up, it was almost done! I drained it and was good to go. Why elation? I abhor browning hamburger. My dear husband usually takes on this task, but he wasn’t available to bail me out of this duty. This was so easy. I used part and froze part, so I can now easily make something down road without cooking more hamburger.
When I made the taco soup, to my daughter’s dissatisfaction, we had no sour cream. Our Great Neighbor almost always has sour cream. My daughter loves sour cream so much she knows this fact and even is motivated enough to call and mooch some from time to time. But we remained out until…
We had guests over. Our guest brought sour cream for her dish and I forgot to give her the container to take home. An honest mistake I assure you, but I admit to smiling when I realized we were now in possession. Now we have sour cream for the taco soup and burritos too. That made my girl happy! And, we didn’t have to mooch from our Great Neighbor, at least sour cream. There is a brownie story coming though.
This is when MJR becomes fun. Another friend gave me colored bell peppers and leftover cilantro, because she has an aversion to them, and I adore them. The girls wanted breakfast burritos and I suggested beef burrito with cilantro lime rice with black beans. They went for it. The link to the recipe is close to what I made. I used some of the Italian beef, made the cilantro lime rice with black beans, then loaded up the tortillas, plus sour cream and shredded cheddar. It was a hit.
As a part of MJR when eating, I’ve tried to slow down and savor the flavors. As I took a bite, I thought “What if I were writing about my experience? What would I write?”
As I took a bit of the fragrant dish, I noticed the sweetness of the sauteed yellow pepper and was surprised by the heat in the black bean as it touched the roof of my mouth. The onions were sweet as well, but a subtle sweet, which was different than the slight spice of the bell pepper. The spinach tasted like…well, it tasted like spinach and all together it tasted like good health!
For January’s First Friday Hand’s on Art event, I invited people to help me make Do Good: Artist Trading Cards. My guests started them, and I am finishing them. I hope to sell them for $25 each with 100% going to purchase these meals to feed the hungry. You can see the progress on my Angel Ambrose Fine Art Studio Facebook page.
January’s First Friday was a frigid night—isn’t it always lately!? For hospitality, I made a package and served samples of Midwest Food Bank’s special meal called Tender Mercies (red beans and rice). The leftovers, I gladly brought home.This was my favorite left over! Topped with hot sauce, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a grind or two of cracked pepper and I was in heaven. My husband decided to finish the rest of it off and I was sorry to see it go.
This is a sampling of my food fun for MJR. Next, I’ll share a shopping update. The area of shopping has challenged me this year. I hope you are enjoying your January. Thank you for joining me in my journey. How is your journey going this month?