This is what ‘not going grocery shopping’ looks like!

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No Grocery ShoppingGrocery shopping: that task we all must do in order to feed our bodies. I don’t know about you, but there are days that I’m not feeling it! Today was one of those days.

Since I decided to not go grocery shopping, I had to get creative and whip up something for my husband and 2 sons (all over 6 feet — help!). But, having learned from my late mother how to make a meal out of practically nothing, I didn’t sweat it.

I took an inventory of what I had on hand:

  • 6 chicken tenders
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 bag of yellow rice
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1/2 bag of frozen, southwestern corn
  • 1 pack of flour tortillas
  • 1 pack of fajita seasoning
  • 1 jar of mango salsa

Afterwards, I went into stealth mode and decided to cook chicken fajitas with yellow rice, black beans/corn, and a side salad. The next time you decide to not go grocery shopping — don’t panic; just get creative!

 

 

Teach a Man to Fish (and Cook)!

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Capellini with Shrimp and Creamy Tomato Sauce

Capellini with Shrimp and Creamy Tomato Sauce

“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Show a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”

Raising three sons, I was determined to raise them to be independent. At age 9, they  were taught how to wash, dry, and iron their clothes, and how to cook simple breakfast foods. I didn’t want them waiting for someone to do things for them. I hope their future wives will worship me. LOL!

Today, my sons are independent, young men, who grocery shop and cook their own meals. My youngest son, in particular, is fascinated with cooking and learning the skills and techniques of preparing gourmet meals. His first gourmet meal: Capellini with Shrimp and Creamy Tomato Sauce, was a smashing hit! We shopped together for all the ingredients. As he cooked, I could tell how proud he was by the way he studied the recipe, measured the ingredients, and taste-tested the food.

Now, if he would just learn to clean while cooking, he’s going to be a good catch one day!

 

Tips to Create Your Quiet Zone

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backyard

The late, legendary Bob Marley so eloquently sang, “So much trouble in the world.” And, today it seems that troubles are plaguing every end of the earth. We’re bombarded daily with news of movements for racial and social justice, terrorist attacks, and political boxing matches — it never ends!

An over-consumption of this sensationalism isn’t healthy. While we may not have control over what happens in the world, we can control our own piece of the earth: where we live.

No matter what’s going on in the world, I try to create a quiet zone, where I can retreat to peace and quiet. A place, a sanctuary, that keeps me connected to the universe and helps me to recharge. During the summer, my backyard is that place, where I can go and enjoy quiet. On the weekend, my husband and I like to enjoy our coffee on the deck to admire the trees and listen to the chirping birds — ahhh! a breath of fresh air.

No matter where you live, you can create your own quiet zone, using the following tips:

  • Set boundaries in your space and don’t allow: loud noise, unruly behavior, and definitely no drama.
  • Surround yourself with nature: plants, water fountains, fish tanks, earthy decor.
  • Light candles to fill your space with wonderful smells (I love Yankee Candles).
  • Listen to nature apps with ocean waves, chirping birds, and relaxing music.

In this day and time, peace of mind and quiet is priceless!

Southern BBQ Favorites

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Peach BBQ Chicken

Southern BBQ FavoritesI come from a family of southern cooks, who used their food as a vehicle for showing their love and affection — I’m no different!

A backyard BBQ is the perfect place to flex my culinary skills, and to show my family how much I love them, by cooking some of their favorite BBQ foods: potato salad, creamy coleslaw w/raisins, grilled salmon, corn-on-the-cob, and peach BBQ chicken.

By using ingredients that are low in fat, sodium, and sugar, I can give my family their favorite, southern BBQ foods that are healthy, without compromising taste.  There’s no better way to show my love!

When Life Gives You @&##t, Make Kebabs!

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Kebab SkewersThere’s one thing that’s certain about life — it’s uncertain!

No matter how much you plan and prepare, life will find a way to give you an unexpected outcome. Losing a job, not getting a job, failing an important test, or losing love can make you feel defeated. Don’t despair! Instead of sulking, get a bunch of vegetables, fruits, meats, or seafood and make kebabs!

You heard right — make kebabs! Why? Because making this dish will give you a quick boost of confidence, since there’s no right or wrong way to place the food on the skewer. This is one moment in life that you can have things your way — exactly the way you want it! If you want to place the vegetables on the skewer first, do that! Or, arrange the food any way you like it.

One thing is for sure, when the kebabs are hot off the grill, the final result will be just as you planned. Now, that’s success!

 

 

Sunday Dinner Series: Eggplant & Spinach Parmesan

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Eggplant Parmesan Step 1

Eggplant Parmesan Step 1

If you’ve ever made eggplant parmesan before, you know that it’s a time-consuming dish to prepare. It’s not a meal that you want to prepare, if you don’t have a lot of time on hand.

In making this dish, you definitely need a system in place for each step in the process — even before you get the food in the oven.

To speed up the preparation, I baked my eggplant slices instead of frying in a skillet. Despite having baked the eggplant, they still had a crunch thanks to the Panko breadcrumbs.

Eggplant Parmesan Step 2

Eggplant Parmesan Step 2

After I completed the first step of baking my eggplant slices, the second step of assembling all of my ingredients was pretty easy.

Eggplant Parmesan Step 3

Eggplant Parmesan Step 3

Although it takes time to prepare this dish, the end result is simply scrumptious!

Eggplant & Spinach Parmesan

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 90 mins
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplant (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 large beaten egg
  • 1 1/2 cups of Panko breadcrumbs
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bag of organic baby spinach
  • 1 sweet onion (sliced)
  • 1 green pepper (sliced)
  • 1 medium jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese

Steps

  1. Preheat oven on 375 degrees.
  2. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil.
  3. Dip eggplant slices in beaten egg, then coat with breadcrumbs.
  4. Place slices in a single layer on baking sheet.
  5. Coat both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil. Bake until golden brown.
  6. In a baking pan, layer eggplant slices, spinach, onions, and green peppers.
  7. Pour diced tomatoes and spaghetti sauce over eggplant. Cover.
  8. Bake eggplant for 35 to 40 minutes. Uncover.
  9. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over eggplant.
  10. Return eggplant to oven until cheese melts.
  11. Serve with salad and Italian bread.

Grilled Eggplant Sandwich – Healthy Food, Fast

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eggplant-sandwich

Grilled Eggplant Sandwich

After working all week, I look forward to chillin on the weekends, which is why I cook quick and easy meals on Saturdays: salads, wraps, and sandwiches. Although I want my food cooked fast, I still want it healthy.

A sandwich made with grilled eggplant, sweet onions, and green peppers is one of my go-to favorites for healthy food, fast!

To prepare these delicious sandwiches, you only need a few ingredients:

Grilled Eggplant Sandwich

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 20 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 sweet onion (sliced)
  • 1 green pepper (sliced)
  • sliced provolone cheese
  • 2 ciabatta rolls

Steps

  1. Preheat oven broiler on low setting.
  2. Place sliced vegetables in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over vegetables (both sides for eggplant).
  4. Season vegetables with basil and fresh garlic.
  5. Place cookie sheet under broiler until vegetables are tender. Set aside.
  6. Lightly toast rolls under broiler.
  7. Spread mayo on each half of roll and top with several pieces of eggplant, provolone cheese, onions, and peppers.


Now, this is healthy, fast food at its best!

Sunday Dinner Series: Moroccan Lentil Soup

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Moroccan Lentil Soup

Moroccan Lentil Soup

There are two things in life that I enjoy: Middle-Eastern dishes and one-pot meals. And, what better way to enjoy these simple, life pleasures together, than in a Moroccan Lentil Soup!

What I love most about Middle-Eastern dishes are the aromatic spices that seem to transport you to a faraway place, with every bite. I will admit that I don’t cook regularly with many of the spices used in these dishes (Cumin, Turmeric, Coriander), which made me a little nervous about preparing this soup.

Although I often cook without a recipe, I made it a point to follow the recipe I used very carefully — only slightly altering with a few extra pinches of spices.

This soup is hearty and simply delicious! Pair it with honey cornbread muffins and you’ve got an exotic meal without the hassle of traveling!

Is it Food or Art?

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As a creative person, I’m always amazed by the creativity of others. Whether it’s reading the prose of a talented writer, or admiring the culinary creations of a chef –there’s something magical that happens in creativity.

Recently, my husband shared photos of food art creations by one of his co-workers. Man, I was blown away! I’ve seen the traditional, scalloped-edge watermelon bowls filled with fruit balls, but never any creations as intricate, as in the photos above.

The detail in each creation shows the passion and dedication of the artist — this is what I admire the most. The time and attention the artist devoted to creating a work of art, to share with others, is overwhelmingly evident.

So, is it food or art? You decide.

Vegan Chinese Anyone?

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Vegan Wonton Soup

Vegan Wonton Soup

Vegan Chicken w/Garlic Sauce

Vegan Chicken w/Garlic Sauce, brown rice, and crispy spring roll

Vegan Sesame Chicken

Vegan Sesame Chicken, white rice, and curry vegetable pockets

When it comes to eating certain vegan foods, I’m a real wimp! Even though I’ve been vegetarian most of my adult life, there are some vegan foods that I just simply do not like. I won’t eat foods that claim to be healthy, but either taste like wood or sawdust. Sorry! I prefer my foods flavorful.

The other day I was invited to eat at a vegan Chinese restaurant. Yep, you heard that right! I wanted to decline because I just wasn’t in the mood for trying foods that I might have to politely spit in my napkin. Yuck! Instead, I decided to put on my big girl pants and explore a new cuisine.

The Harmony Vegetarian Chinese restaurant located in a shopping plaza off Buford Highway, in Atlanta, Ga is a hidden gem, for vegan food. It’s been at the same location since 1996, and serves a culturally diverse customer base. The atmosphere has that quaint, neighborhood vibe, but the food could compete with any top-rated Asian restaurant.

Honestly, I had low expectations for the food, since the restaurant was entirely vegan. But, Harmony exceeded all expectations with its ingenious preparation of mock chicken, beef, and seafood dishes. Its menu boasts all the usual favorites you’d see listed on any other Chinese restaurant menu. But, Harmony uses soy protein and gluten as meat substitutes, and creates dishes that taste even far superior than the meat alternatives.

I don’t know why it took me so long to eat at Harmony, but one thing I do know; I won’t wait so long to go back!