Thursday, February 18, 2016

Store Bought Riced Cauliflower

The Headlines:

This stuff is going to blow your mind.

Looks like rice. 

Tastes better than rice.

Healthier than rice.

A while back a friend of mine told me about this stuff... she said she made fried "rice" with it... only it wasn't rice.  Her kids gobbled it up.  Now mine do too!

What is it you ask?  It's Riced Cauliflower.  You can do it on your own with a head of cauliflower... or you can just buy this:  

Yep, the good people at Trader Joe's are one step ahead of ya!  I know we all love that place.  Annnnnnnnd it's Organic too!  Can it GET any better?

But here's the catch (my friend warned me), it's rarely available because everyone buys it up!  She was right.  When I went in months ago, I never found it.  Turns out there's 2 reasons why: it's fairly hard to make and, according to the guys at TJ's, there was a cauliflower shortage in California.  Not to mention the company who makes and packages it for Trader's rations it.  They get 2 cases at a time.  That's nothing.  So I never was able to buy it until last week.  From across the frozen section I spotted it for the first time.  Could it be?  Was it true?  I bought multiples.  I asked, "What gives? How did little ol' me get so lucky?"  They said...

***BREAKING NEWS*** it's now available in the fresh produce section!  So people have 2 options.  Actually, they didn't say the breaking news part, I added that, it's the reporter in me.

Those TJ people - always thinking!

Anyways,  I took it home and cooked it up.  So easy!  Pan.  Olive Oil. Garlic. Broccoli.  I added the "Rice"... then some edamame... I scrambled 2 eggs and mixed them in.  Used garlic powder, salt (lots), pepper, I stirred.  We ate.  

It could use some extra color.  Throw carrots, peppers or something in it if you choose.

Total success.  My kids thought it was a special rice.  It is.  They didn't even blink.  Ate it up.  Yours will too.  

Now ask me why I'm telling you about it?  No, Trader Joe's or the Cauliflower Growers Association does NOT pay me to say this (although I wish they did).  And yes, there now will be more competition to get the stuff... I may NEVER be able to find it again.  But my motivation is simple.  It's just too good NOT to share!  You're welcome.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chocolate Chip (pudding) Cookies!

The Headlines:

Ever have a really good Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe?

Here's a secret ingredient that will make it even better!

Pudding Mix.

I love chocolate chip cookies.  I mean, really, who doesn't?  It's kinda like the equivalent of Apple Pie for Americans but in cookie form.

It seems everyone has a recipe they've been making for years.  I have one too.  It's fabulous but my goal here isn't to make you make it.  You could... it's an amazing recipe.  But my main goal is to make sure you start putting this in whichever Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe you choose to use.

That's right.  It's Vanilla Pudding Mix. They just give cookies and extra chewy, gooey goodness.  My friend's dad has done it for years and I finally tried it!  It's a winner!

Here's what you need:
1 cup butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tspn vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
1 tspn baking soda
1/2 tspn salt
2 cups semi sweet choc chips
1 box Vanilla Pudding Mix

Here's what you do:
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  With an electric mixer beat butter and brown sugar until blended.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  In another bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt and pudding mix.   Blend that with butter mix.  Stir in choc chips.  Use tablespoon to scoop cookies onto buttered cookie sheet.  

Bake until cookies are slightly brown on outside, about 6-8 minutes.  Let cool, then transfer to rack and chow! 

If you want to use your own recipe instead of this one... feel free.  Just add the Vanilla Pudding Mix to your dry mixture and bada-bing!  Your kids will be eyeing the cookies all day just like mine!  WHO can blame them!?  They're gooooooood!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Keep Pounding: A Lesson from the Super Bowl

The Headlines:

I went to my #firstsuperbowlever

But my team lost.

It was tough but sometimes there's a bigger lesson in losing.

From the start of the Super Bowl run most fans, players, analysts and even Vegas odds makers were picking the Carolina Panthers to win Sunday night.  So when they didn't it was a shock to almost everyone.  Including this girl.

But when you lose, you learn.  Perhaps more than winning.

For my personal journey, my Super Bowl lesson started with a little football during the NFC Championship game.  I wrote about how my nieces were given the ball on national television after the first touchdown HERE ...  Within 2 weeks I found myself on a plane bound for the bay area in Northern California.  BP (the husband) and I, along with hundreds of friends and family of the Carolina Panthers were traveling to witness history.  The Panthers first Super Bowl win.

Mr Richardson, the owner of the team, spared no expenses.  He was kind enough to charter a plane for 600 plus Carolina Panthers staff and families to attend the big event.  The weekend was filled with fun parties, celebrities and players, food and drinks, sight seeing and of course the game.  The only problem - in the end - they didn't win.  Everyone came all this way and despite an almost pristine record... the team couldn't pull it off.

The Panthers after party was scheduled to to be a celebratory rager!  A few big bands, excellent food, open bar, coaches and players everywhere.  In the end, it was not to be.  Surprising to many... Coach Rivera still showed up and was gracious enough to take pictures (even though none were technically allowed) and eventually some players straggled in.  The room was understandably deflated.

Payton Manning and his bucking Bronco's conquered again and he looks poised to be much like a cowboy riding off into the sunset as he stands at the pinnacle of his long, mostly admirable, career.
This, while Cam Newton ticked off a lot of people, with what he didn't say, in his post game press conference.  Maybe that was a good thing.  Mama always says, "if you can't say something nice - don't say anything at all."  If he was a tad older and wiser he might've said something simple like,  "We lost but our team will Keep Pounding."

Because that's what the Panthers and really all of us should do.  It's a good phrase even if you don't know what it stands for...

It started years ago when, a former player turned coach, Sam Mills Jr, gave speech to the team telling them to "keep pounding" before a game against the Cowboys in 2004.  He knew what it was like to be in the fight of his life.  He was in one back then.  The phrase stuck.  Well beyond Mills.  He died in 2005 at the young age of 45.  The words were trademarked by a local hospital that helps Cancer patients battle their ailment but the Panthers continued to use it for their battle cry.  The symbiotic relationship has proved to be a strong one.  The Panthers Organization has helped raise approximately $1.4 million dollars for the Levine Cancer Institute at the Carolina Healthcare Foundation.  You can read more HERE.  Eventually, when the team uses it in mass marketing and products... the institute will most likely profit even more as they help cancer patients believe that they too can "Keep Pounding" while in the fight for their life.

The Panthers were in the fight of a life time on Sunday.  But they're still here to talk about it today.  Because unfortunately, or fortunately - however you choose to look at it - losing is part of life.  Some do it in a hospital bed and some do it on the football field.  It just takes far more grace to hold your head high when you come in second.

Winning is easy.  Losing takes guts.

I think there's no question people pay attention when you're number 1... but you look deeper and find better answers when you're number 2.   That's what I try to teach my kids.  Honestly, it's a constant struggle for everyone.

It was a devastating drag that The Panthers lost.  People in that organization feel disappointed and defeated and some may even lose their jobs.  But everything happens the way it should.   Carry on, "Keep Pounding," fight forward and eventually people see that.

Sam Mills Jr. did.  Coach Rivera will.  The kids at the Levine Institute do everyday.  Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Jared Allen and the rest of the team get some time to lick their wounds.  Then they'll pound forward too... just like the rest of us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

5 things I Say That Make Me Cringe!

The Headlines:

Is there ever something you say out loud...

You wish you could take back?

Here are mine. 

A warning:  this post is going to start light and then go dark real fast.  But give it time... it will come out and leave you in a bright spot again.

Two things this week have reminded me what a charmed life I lead.  Really, if you're reading this... dare I say - what a charmed life WE lead.

I'm heading to Super Bowl 50 this week... #myfirstsuperbowlever (that I'm not working) and I'm really excited about it.  Yea, I'm excited but my husband is thrilled.  Like off the charts.  I wrote a post about my nieces last week who were seen on national television after they were given the ball from the Panthers Player (Ted Ginn Jr.) who scored the 1st touchdown of the game.  You can read HERE if you missed it.  Anyways, since we got the invite to attend the big game I've been running around trying to figure out the details of the weekend.  It's been a little coo-coo.  But in the middle of all the hustle bustle I got a text from my friend that made me put everything down and pause.  She was flying across country this week.  She had to attend a funeral.  You see, her niece just welcomed a beautiful baby into the world.  Like so many of us did during one magical moment.  But as soon as he was given to her he was taken away - he died from infant death syndrome.

He was 3 months old.

And even though many agree he's in a better place... that probably doesn't make his Mother feel any happier today.

So I'm a Mom preparing to go to the Super Bowl and she's a Mom preparing to go to a funeral.   Life just isn't fair.  There's really nothing more to say about that.

But times like this, get me to appreciate, pray, simplify and think.

I hate some of the things I say.  They're so ridiculous and un-worthy especially when you compare them to a mourning Mom.  You know what I mean?  You've done it too.  That time when words came flailing over those lips of yours like a log ride at Disneyland... and if you could stop the splash you would but your already soaked.  That.  Happens to me plenty.  Every time, I think, why?

This post is to get it off my chest and, frankly, to ask forgiveness from the world.

1 - "I feel fat"
You say this I know you do... we're all guilty of it at one point.  For me, it doesn't happen often but when it does, it's annoying.  It all started with my Mom years ago.  That woman was/is tiny!  She would tell people, "I need to gain weight!  I'm too skinny.  I wish were bigger!"  As those words hurled out of her mouth and towards women I could see most of them rebounding, turning into daggers and flinging right back towards her!  You just can't say that and not gain enemies.  I learned from her to keep my mouth shut on that subject.  Still occasionally, like near the monthly time, I  can slip.  Ticks me off.  Because for some the weight issue is deeply personal and a real struggle.  Flippant remarks from someone like me can be incredibly irritating.

2 - "My children are driving me CRAZY!" (or any form of that)
This one I briefly talked about in the fertility series I did last year.  If you're not familiar you can get caught up HERE ... in that post (as well as the 2 others) I talked about how some women, including me, have a hard time getting pregnant.  It can not only be devastating and emotionally draining but it can truly make you feel like less of a woman.  The last thing someone going through that wants to hear are words similar to the ones above.  They think... I would take that drive in a heart beat.

Yes, kids can bug us from time to time.... or maybe daily.  It's a valid and real pain.  But one that's not as excruciating as the alternative.

3 - "I can't wait until..." 
Would you agree too many of us wish our lives away?  I try to enjoy the moments... because all of them are precious.  Even the seemingly mundane ones.  But often I find myself saying "I can't wait until this party is over," "I can't wait until it's Winter Break" or "I can't wait until I get this project done."   Keep waiting for the next big thing and you may miss the big thing you're currently in.  Even if it's just driving the car pool.  Do you know how much good fun and intel comes from those car pools?  I CAN wait for all of it except for the minute I'm in.

4 - "There's nothing to wear!" 
I mean really.  Look at your closet.  I did a blog post on mine... 10 Tips for a DIY Dream Closet  click HERE to read it.   You absolutely have something to wear.  Probably plenty of it.  You may WANT something but do you NEED it?  I bet you don't.

5 - "I have no time!"
Time is infinite.  It's what we choose to do within that time that matters.  I constantly complain about being busy.  But I make my schedule.  I don't have a "job" to go to everyday.  I want to write this blog.  I asked to be room mom.  I choose to sign up my kids for dance, soccer, softball, baseball, spanish and golf.  I throw parties like this fabulous "Savvy Chic" one HERE I recently talked about... I love to remodel and do home projects but I don't have to.  No one's making me head to the Super Bowl this week.  They're all choices.  Fortunate choices I get to make.  So yes the margin in which I live right now lessens even more today.  And that's by my own design.

So bite your tongue self.  Pick and choose words more wisely.  Say what you mean.  Do all those things because it's the right thing to do.  Be prepared to slip.  Then take it back and remember it truly is a blessed life.  I think most of us see that.  It's just important to take a deep breath and remind ourselves from time to time.

This week made me do just that.

Now what about you?  What do you say that makes you cringe?  And maybe the best question yet: what are you going to do about it?

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