Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NRW: Toowoomba Pasta

My first year of college I lost 20lbs due to depression. Hey, I was 18 living in the most depressing city ever, Pittsburgh, and experiencing family problems back home that I could do nothing about. I couldn't take it for another semester, so I found myself in Charlotte for my Sophomore year. It is there that I found sunshine, happiness, glee, and the freshman (sophomore?) 15. The former had to do with those Carolina blue skies, but the latter happened because of my friends over zealousness with eating at Outback Steakhouse. There were two things I was guaranteed to get back then: kookaburra wings and the Toowoomba Pasta. Yummo! It wasn't until I began working there that I stopped eating there (well, I still go to get the wings!). The fat content? Out of Control! I couldn't deal.

Sunday my mother wanted to go to Outback for dinner, and I reluctantly agreed. I looked at the menu and low and behold, they no longer serve the Toowoomba Pasta! Craziness! Then I remembered a knottie friend (aka virtual friends you make on sent me a Toowoomba Pasta recipe knock off quite a few months ago, and it was on! I decided I would make it this week, just for old times sake. I never ever ever would've imagine how delicious it would turn out! Although I must admit, I do feel like I'm going to go into cardiac arrest at any moment. I was feeling like my girl Paula Dean while making it. Heavy cream and a whole lotta butter? Lawd have mercy! Make at your own risk!

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups quartered baby portabella mushrooms  
  • 1 lb raw shrimp (tails off and de-veined, substitute 1/2 for crawfish if available)  
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion (about 2-3)  
  • 16 ounces fettuccine pasta (I am guessing on the amount of pasta since I make two batches of Easy Homemade Fresh Pasta (Gluten Free)) 
  • shredded fresh parmesan cheese

1. Cook fettuccine as directed.
2. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add cream, ketchup and spices. Whisk together and bring to a boil. Continue to simmer and reduce while you continue with the rest of the recipe, stirring occasionally with a wire whisk. (most of the cream will boil away, leaving you with a dark orange sauce).
3. In a separate small skillet, sauté mushrooms in olive oil until soft. Add mushrooms to simmering sauce.
4. Cook shrimp (and crawfish if available) in the small skillet in olive oil just until pink and add to sauce. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
5. Toss with cooked fettuccine and serve immediately lightly topped with finely shredded fresh parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Recipe Wednesday: Fudge Meltaway Bars

I have had a serious sweet tooth lately, and it doesn't help that I live with the devil, errr, my hubby who eats sweets like some people drink water. He's only encouraging my bad habit, but I digress. I received this recipe from a dear friend of mine in Minnesota. Her mom passed away some years ago, but she likes to carry on the tradition her mother started of making these bars on Christmas morning. Since I'm really feeling the fall weather, and the idea of wearing winter boots soon, this recipe came to mind. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 sq unsweetened chocolate (1 oz)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups graham cracker crubs
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used Walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tbsp milk or cream
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-1/2 sq unsweeted chocolate (1-1/2 oz)
1.Melt 1/2 cup butter and 1 sq chocolate.
2.Blend granulated sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, egg, crumbs, coconut and nuts into butter-chocolate mixture.
3.Mix well and press into ungreased baking dish. 11-1/2 x7-1/2x1-1/2" or square 9x9x1-3/4".
5.Mix 1/4 cup butter, milk, confectioners' sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Spread over crumb mixture. Chill.
6.Melt 1-1/2 sq chocolate and spread evenly over chilled filling. Chill again.
7.Cut into tiny squares before completely firm. Makes 3-4 doz squares.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Sisterhood At It's Finest

In a town like Washington DC, many women, particularly African American women, complain about the lack of female friendships available to them. It seems like everyone here is about their own agenda and could careless about embracing new people in their life. That is, of course, unless it can benefit them in some way (i.e. networking). That has caused me to take a step back from the social scene, and just enjoy the few friendships that I have. When I moved back here from college, it was hard and frustrated. I found that women here balk at the idea of meeting another female that is on their level or higher because surely she wants something from her, so she must stand on guard. Crazy right? Well at least it sounds crazy to me.

It was then that I found a group of sistas online that lived in DC, and just enjoyed chatting with each other all day about any and everything, and getting together from time to time to get to know each other in "real" life. It is through this group, in fact, that I met my bestie! I love these group of girls with all my heart. The truth they give to us, always, ALWAYS giving it to us straight, the laughs, crying together...priceless.

One thing the ladies in this group of 1500 women have in common is that we all love to read. A young lady in the group was reading The Host by Stephanie Meyer and asked if someone could read it with her. Of course several of us said ok, and it turned into a meetup. We met on Sunday at Busboys and Poets to eat, drink, and discuss the book. For those that don't know, Busboys and Poets is a bookstore and restaurant in one. There are dining tables, lounge couches, and books all in the same areas. It is one of the most unique spaces I've found in DC, and I love to take family and friends there when they are in town, but I digress :~)

When I walked through the door I could feel the positive energy. There were several women there that I knew, but a few that I didn't. It was such a joy to sit there with these welcoming smiling faces. No arguing, no giving each other the side eye, no hostility what-so-ever. Just women who were interested in getting to know each other, and wanting to discuss this book (which turned out to be a good read by the way, after the slow start). I took a moment to sit back and just look at us. This was definitely sisterhood at it's finest. We all sat there together, in agreement, with love. It was an awesome experience. So much so that it opened me up a little more to being more friendly to women I don't know who have the potential to become a friend. I must admit, my experience when I first moved back home to DC scarred me from being open to friendships here, but through this group of women, I see a glimmer of hope.

If you have a tight group of sisterfriends, hold them close to your heart, and thank God for them. Sisterhood is really a treasure worth finding.


Friday, September 11, 2009

The Day Hurt & Confusion Thrived

On the day of September 11, 2001 I was at school in Charlotte, NC. For about a week I had been sitting nervously watching CNN day-in and day-out. I just simply could not shake this eerie feeling that something big was about to happen, but had no clue what. I never in a million years would have guessed the events that were to come.

I woke up that Tuesday morning struggling with whether or not to go to my International Politics class because it just felt like a really bad day. My blinds were drawn, so my room was dark, but it didn't matter because the day had started off dark and cloudy, just like my mood. I sat in bed watching CNN, then decided I would go ahead and go, although I felt like maybe I should just sleep the day away. I entered class and sat down in the front row waiting for the professor to come in. I waited...and waited...and waited...she finally arrived after being 12 minutes late. We were a little disappointed since the University had a rule that if a professor was 15 minutes or more late to class the students could bail out. Anyway, she walks in asking "did you all hear what happened??? A plane has just crashed into one of the WTC". "What does that mean?" I wondered. I mean seriously, what did that mean to me? I felt back for the people, but ok, why is it such a big deal that was late for class? Well, she was the first person I heard say that she didn't think it was an accident, but a terrorist attack. About 5 minutes later class was dismissed because the area television news stations wanted to interview her.

I left class and headed to the Student Union. As soon as I walked in I saw the second plane hit. I just felt numb, still confused about what it all meant. I headed to Prospector, the cafeteria in the center of campus, and ran into my friends there. They were all nervous, anxious. My friend Abdulla was pacing saying "they are going to blame it on us! They are going to blame it on us!" I was all "wtf are you talking about?" I was so oblivious to current events and lost during that time. Surely we wouldn't immediately blame arabs right?

I sat there until I heard about the Pentagon being hit. Umm yeah, that was a little too close to home, so I had to get out of there. I started to get up from the table when the towers collapsed. My head started spinning. What the hell was going on??? I jetted out of the cafeteria and started to head back to my apartment, trying to call my parents. My mom works on capitol hill, and most of my other family members do as well. Freaking out is an understatement. I couldn't get through to anyone. It was then that I made friends with other folks from around the Washington, DC area. We found each other in the ruckus around campus, kind of feeling out of place in NC instead of with our DC family.

I finally got back to my apartment complex to watch CNN with my bff Jackie for the next few days (yeah, no one went to class the rest of that week), and we were just shocked. Majority of our friends were Arab, and there was this weird tension. More-so them trying to decide if we were still ok, wanting to be sure we knew that they did not support what happened, they weren't that "kind" of Arab. We assured them that I wasn't that kind of American, and Jackie wasn't that kind of African to just generalize all Arabs because of what this particular group of people decided to do.

I walked through that semester in a complete daze. I went back to my International Politics class twice, but stopped because the professor constantly talked about the various ways the US could get blown to pieces. I was already having nightmares about 9/11, so I thought ummm, I'll pass.

My family was ok. My mom was shook, and looking over her shoulders, but alive. My aunts and friends stayed at their government buildings until late Tuesday night when things were a little calmer and they could make it home.  My aunt that worked on Wallstreet was a mess, but again, alive. My dads father was at home in Queens, safe and sound. I didn't lose anyone that day, thank God! And fortunately, I didn't know many people that had. In that sense it was far removed from me, but because this is my country, and a larger part of my family, it was so personal, and so was the hurt and confusion.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

NRW x2! Broiled Hidden Gem Steaks & Cheesy Shashed Potatoes

Broiled Hidden Gem Steaks

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce 
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic 
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce  
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 1 tablespoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper 
  • 2 (1/2 pound) rib-eye steaks  
  1. In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients together (sans the steak). 
  2. Place the steaks on your meat board and prick it with a fork several times. Next place the steaks in a shallow glass dish and pour the marinade over it, leaving approximately a 1/4 cup behind for basting during cooking.  For optimum flavor, rub the liquid into the meat, coating both sides. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours or more (the longer you marinate, the better).  
  3. Heat your broiler for 10 -15 minutes.  
  4. Remove steaks from marinade, and discard the marinade. Place the steaks on the hot broiler plate and for 8 minutes, turning over half-way through cooking. Use the leftover marinade to baste your steak during cooking. Discard leftover marinade. 
***This is really good with steamed broccoli and cheesy smashed potatoes, so I'm going to post the recipe for the cheesy smashed potatoes (created by the lovely Rachel Ray) below:

  • 2 to 2 1/4 pounds baby Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar
  • 3 tablespoons chives, chopped or snipped
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. Cut potatoes in half and place in a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Work on other dishes while you are waiting for the water to boil. 
  2. When water boils, add the potatoes and some salt, 2 big pinches, and boil for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and return potatoes to the hot pot. Smash potatoes with masher and combine with sour cream and cheese. When cheese melts into potatoes, add chives and salt and pepper and re-smash. Taste the potatoes and adjust seasonings.

Building & Maintaining Intimacy in Your Relationship

When I became engaged, everyone told me that marriage is tough. You have to work hard at it. That puzzled me because I wondered - did you not have to put in work with your relationship? I know I did. So I figured I had that covered. I knew there would be rough times just like there is for every relationship, so I felt like I was prepared to handle that. Surely I would be more committed to handling it in a marriage as opposed to a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.

What I didn't know was that when you live together, you have to work at keeping the intimacy. Sex and touching each other in those naughty places that catch your breath and make you create weird sounds and faces? no longer taboo. It's no longer the forbidden fruit. Not only can you have sex, but you can have it as much as you want, and no one cares. It's not a big deal. That, for me, kind of took some of the excitement away from it. I know, maybe I'm just weird like that, but whatever. I found myself "working" to find the lust again. Not that I'm not attracted to my husband, or don't lurve his body because trust, that's a given. I just found that I have to maintain the intimacy.

By intimacy I mean the times when you touch each other and it's not sexual (at least to start off with). You learn about one anothers bodies and bring each other pleasure that doesn't have anything to do with sex. If it leads to sex, fantabulous! However, if it doesn't, that's ok too because that moment of intimacy filled you up.

With that, I decided that once a week I would do something intimate with my husband. Sometimes I jump in the shower with him and wash his hair, massaging his scalp and his temples. Gently touching him. He loves it! Other times I give him a back/calf/etc. massage. Sometimes I just rub him down with body cream. Intimacy is whatever you and your significant other determine it to be. Well tonight, it was a facial!

I lit some candles all around the room, and put on a Boney James cd. I had two bowls filled. One with hot water to keep the face towel hot and steamy during the facial. The other to cleanse the face brush I was going to use to apply the products. I had him lay on a pillow between my legs with his eyes closed. There were only two rules: NO talking and NO thinking. I had him lay there for a couple of minutes with the hot, wet towel on his face. Next I applied a moisturizing face wash to his face and waited about a minute or two before wiping it off. I paced myself as to make this an enjoyable experience, not a rushed one. I wanted him to relax. I then placed the towel back in the bowel to re-wet and reheat it (I heated the bowel in the microwave for approximately 1.5 minutes before starting, so that the water would stay warm). I then brushed on a face mask, and  placed the hot towel back on his face. I left it on for the required 3-5 minutes. Next I took the towel and wiped off the face mask (which I had also applied to his neck area). I then gently and slowly massaged a moisturizer on his face and neck. By this time he was deeply relaxed. Then I thought I would take it a step further and give him an upper body massage with some body cream. I made sure to take my time and keep up the slow pace.

He LOVED it! I LOVED it! Who knew that GIVING him a facial would be so rewarding to me! During that time I just felt very warm and close to him. It was a beautiful experience, one that I will have on repeat at least once a month. He says that he wants to now learn how to give a facial so that he can do one for me. Sweet! I'm already brainstorming new ways to keep the intimacy in our relationship *smile*

So what do you and your significant other do to keep the intimacy in your relationship?


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Out.of.Control - Battling Weightloss

Since the age of 10, when puberty really hit and I got that monthly mother nature disturbance, I have battled weight loss. It's never been so hard, however, as it has been in the last 3 years. To say that my weight has been a roller coaster ride is and understatement. However, I can be proud that I have lost 35 pounds since January, and managed to somehow keep it off. That alone is a miracle since that has always been my struggle. However, I have sat idly by watching my continual struggle to not drop the ball again since my wedding. On the honeymoon I ate far more than I care to admit, but hey, it's your honeymoon, you're suppose to go balls to the wall with everything right? Well, I may not eat quite as much now, but I'm choosing all the wrong foods.

I love to watch the show Ruby on the Style channel. Seeing her success and struggles with weight loss is so eye-opening and refreshing.Today I watched two episodes where she gained weight back, and is really struggling to stay focus and on track. That's me. I'm totally off track and I keep gravitating to the wrong things. I had a good cry watching Ruby today because I saw me in her. Ruby has gone from 700+ lbs to 350 and that is awesome, awesome, awesome. But we all plateau and hit a wall eventually, and have to find a way to get through it. I have not seen the weight I am aiming for just in the next month since I was in college. I'm just 7lbs away from it, and have been 7lbs away from it for the past 4 months. It should be so easy, but yet there it is staring me in my face, taunting me, telling me how I'm never gonna get there.

But I have to.

I have to do this for my health. The worse things in the world have run through my family bloodline and I refuse to get any of them. I am determined to live a long, healthy life, using up every bit of creativity and love that God has given me. So, I came up with a plan.

My fridge is lacking all the things I need in order to make this journey a successful one for me, so grocery shopping is in order. I use to have veggies with every meal making eggs with spinach and onions and a little cheese, and a small fruit salad for breakfast. Yogurt parfait for a snack. Collard greens and a meat for lunch. You get my drift. I'm jumping back on that. If I wanted fried chicken? I made the best oven-fried chicken in the world! Ask me if there is any chicken in my fridge right now...NOPE! So I ordered some from the carryout on the corner. Ugh, see what I mean. So, I'm making a commitment, starting tomorrow (since this day has already been a wash) to treat my temple the way God intended for me to. This is a new beginning and I am on my way to losing 30 more pounds by 1/1/10. I can do it! Hubby is on board to help me do it. He is going to help train me, and workout with me starting next Monday. I've got to do better! That's not optional. I'm trying to save my own life here.


Friday, September 4, 2009

It's a Spiritual Thing

I'm a very spiritual person. I have a profound belief and faith in Jesus. Our relationship is real deep and I believe there is no me without him. Lately, I've noticed that God hasn't been talking to me like he usually does. He's now speaking to me softly. Before, I could hear his voice inside, but now, I see what he does.

What do I mean by this? Well, I ask for peace, and he gives it to me. I ask for him to speak to me and he'll give me one word or line like "I'm giving you strength". Or I'll go to a prayer service at my church, like I did tnight, and I'll tell him that I notice he is softly, gently speaking to me, and that I just need to know that he is with me. I just need for him to confirm that he knows what's going on with me, that he hasn't left me. I'll start singing Because of Who You Are lowly, to myself and not even a minute later one of the music technicians all the way in the back will put on that exact song and I...I am amazed.

God speaks to us so sweetly, so softly sometimes. It was hard when I wanted him to come in like a storm, speak to me strongly, no denying his presence, but this experience tonight has made his sweet, soft speaking completely ok.

I'm not doing so great with the spiritual part of the challenge - the whole reading the bible part? However, this, this experience I had at prayer service tonight makes me want to give God more than what I have been giving.

Have you prayed for somebody today?


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Natural Hair Care Woes

I've never been one to want to go the hair salon. In fact, I hate it. Even when I found a hair dresser that would get me in and out in an hour, I still dreaded going. All that money and for what? I rarely wear my own hair. Mainly because I have struggled to keep it healthy and growing. Normally the back of my hair grows, but the front...well, the growth is quite stunted. So in January, I decided I would go natural. No more relaxers. That way I could care for it at home more, and just go to the hair salon when I needed a trim.

Since that time, things have honestly gone quite well! I had half of a "big chop" in May. I got my hair cut to about earlobe length to get rid of half of the relaxed hair. Then I would deep condition and co-wash twice a week. Since then my hair has grown about 2.5 inches, and I've gotten about an inch of growth in the front! How exciting is that!

But I'm lazy. When it comes to girlie things, I'm pure lazy. The only thing I can get myself excited to do is my makeup. But hair? nails? facials??? Ha! Yeah, I'd prefer to watch tv. As a matter of fact, I slacked off for about 3 weeks with my hair, and I'm paying the price. I washed and conditinoed it and when it dried, it DDRRRIIIEEDDD! I mean, it felt so dry and brittle I was afraid that it was all going to snap off! I didn't understand what it wanted. It hates plain oils. It prefers creams. I tried giving it that, but nope, still wasn't satisfied. Well, today I decided I would try again. I co-washed with Organiz Shea Butter Conditioner, and then DC'd with Protectiv MegaGrowth Deep Strengthening Growth Conditioner for about 30 minutes. I rinsed, gently massaged Organics Root Stimulator Olive Oil Moisturizing Hair Lotion in it and let it air dry. It feels much, much, MUCH better!

I got kind of frustrated with myself for not staying on top of my hair. My dream is to one day wear only my own hair, and have it be natural and beautiful, whether I wear it curly or blow dried straight. However, I need something to keep me on track so I can stay committed! That's when I remembered reading about a challenge on the K.I.S.S. blog. You can read more about that here. The hair part of the challenge is as follows:

Deep Condition at least 1x weekly

Heat no more than 2x monthly

Moisturize and seal nightly
I can do that. I WILL do that! I HAVE to do that, if I ever want to have my hair be all me. The challenge also has a fitness and spiritual component to it, so check it out!
Here's to loving my hair so that it will love me right back. Wish me luck!