Posted in Cuisine, HomePage, Uncategorized

Recipe: Peanut Noodles With Vegetables

I want to share one of our very favorite meals. It is quick and easy to make, and only takes a few staple ingredients you likely have in your pantry/fridge/freezer.

Peanut Noodles With Vegetables.

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5 out of 5 bellyrubs

This is really a go-to for us, especially on nights that I know The Mr. will be needing to work late. I made it the night before last, and realized after I started making the sauce that I should share with y’all, so I failed to take a few photos of the before/ingredients (sorry ’bout that!)

The sauce alone is mmm nom nom. I’d like to bottle it and drink it straight!

Peanut Noodles With Vegetables

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This dish is a hit with everyone, but be cautious when using crushed red pepper; it can become quite spicy.


Ingredients

  • 4 oz brown rice noodles (approx. 2 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (approx. 1-1/2 tsp)
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter (a little more than 2 Tbsp never hurt anyone!)
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp liquid aminos (soy sauce or tamari may be used as well)
  • 12 oz frozen stir fry vegetable mix (approx. 3 cups)
  • 1 dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 1 scallion for garnish, if desired

Directions

  1. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain well in a colander.
  2. While noodles are cooking, grate ginger and mince garlic, slice scallion.
  3. Combine water, peanut butter, maple syrup, liquid aminos, ginger and garlic in a wok. Stirring the sauce continuously, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the sauce thickens, around 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the vegetables, red pepper flakes and cook for 4-6 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.
  5. Add the noodles to the peanut and vegetable sauce. Using tongs, toss the noodles to coat them with sauce. Garnish with scallions and serve.

This recipe is for two generous servings; can easily be doubled for a family.

Recipe courtesy of Forks Over Knives, altered by Biscuits & Bellyrubs

 

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Posted in Cruelty-free, HomePage, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Update: Deo For My B-O

Although we had, to the best of our knowledge at the time, been living cruelty-free in mostly all facets of our life, it wasn’t until we became more educated on what that actually meant; it was then we decided to completely, 100% dedicate ourselves to a full-on vegan lifestyle. With that, we learned that being cruelty-free does not mean vegan. So, products that are labeled cruelty-free still may contain animal products/ingredients. It’s amazing how animal ingredients are hidden under different names or labels! It’s bananas! Wait, I believe bananas are only consumed by animals and aren’t actually made from animals…

So, now we must take label reading to a whole new level!

Some time ago I wrote a post about finding the perfect deodorant; if you remember, it was quite a process! Well wouldn’t ya know it… the world’s most lovely CRUELTY-FREE deodorant is NOT vegan! Really?!? Nope! Unfortunately it contains cera bellina wax aka, Beeswax. Ugh.  With this discovery, I had been forced to look for not just a great cruelty-free deodorant that actually worked, now I have to find a great one that is also vegan!

I did a bit of research and review reading and found Primal Pit Paste. The best thing about this product is that it is handcrafted right down the road in Austin!! I love finding a great vegan product and especially love finding it comes from, and made in my home state!

When thinking about deodorant, I think we all picture a stick applicator, right? And although Primal offers a stick option, it is not vegan; their vegan formula is in a jar. I thought to myself, how the heck would this be applied?! Your fingers? A cake spatula? Fingertips. Scoop out a pea-sized amount and spread in each of your pits. Hmm… this is… interesting.

Browsing the flavors (scents), I found it was difficult to narrow it down to one to try first. I went ahead and chose Orange Creamsicle. I thought this sounded the most appetizing at the time.

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Now, I have only been using this for a short time, but I love the scent. It smells heavenly in the jar. I have not noticed a scent after it’s been put on, which is fine. The texture is nice. I thought it may be grainy, but it really is not. It goes on, and spreads quite smoothly on the skin. I also have not noticed any sort of residue. Even with wearing a black bra. It seems to be fully absorbed quite quickly. The true test will be during the summer when temps get hot enough to actually need deodorant. I will wait to give my full impression after I’ve tested it fully.

I wanted to note that when first starting out using a natural deodorant, after using a conventional product, there is a detox period. Primal sells most of their deodorants on three levels based on skin/sweat sensitivity and whether this would be your first natural deodorant, as well as some detox assistance products. Because I have been using natural products for some time, and know I don’t really suffer from the usage of baking soda, I ordered a Level 2 jar, which is what most people use. I don’t sweat a lot, so can’t really imagine needing to bump up to a 3 which is the maximum level.

I really hope I love this as much as I loved Native Deodorant. I wrote an email to Native letting them know how sad and disappointed I was having to discontinue my usage and cancelling my subscription, and asked that they please consider a vegan-friendly formula.

 

Posted in Cuisine, HomePage, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

True Love Sweet Treats n’ Tats

For the Mr. and I, we are the ultra sappy couple that believes everyday is Valentine’s Day, and therefore do not really partake in the actual holiday, Hallmark style. HOWEVER, this year, we did get matching ♥Love♥ tattoos to commemorate and celebrate our Love (cue the (non-dairy) cheesy Michael Bolton music). I could certainly dedicate an entire post, or section for that matter, on our tattoos, but not today. We have been looking for a new artist to permanently mark us after our last guy up and moved to Alaska…

A month or so ago, I saw a story on the local news about a tattoo studio that had a tattoo event with all money going towards the largest no-kill animal shelter in the country, located in Austin, and was so appreciative of their love and passion for the cause that I did some research on the studio and the owner/artist. I have been putting my next, ultra-epic tattoo together in my head for some time now, and was notified that this tattoo studio was going to hold a Valentine’s Day event (choose a 2×2″ tattoo for a flat-rate of $45) and thought this was an ideal opportunity to check the place out, see if we felt comfortable with the artist etc. What would we lose? Possibly $45 on a crummy micro-sized tattoo… Alright! So, I asked the Mr. if he wanted to do something fun and different for the holiday we don’t celebrate, and he was totally onboard! Long story short, we went, were super impressed with the studio, (nicest, cleanest and quietist tattoo place we had ever been in) the artist’s portfolio, client reviews, and will certainly go back to have some work done. The studio is run by a husband-wife team. He does the work and she runs the house. Really great! And I, at least, am very excited to get something started.

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Sweetheart Meal

Our Valentine’s dinner was a new recipe I was anxious to try. Lasagna Mexicana! I found the recipe in the new The Engine 2 Cookbook,  but of course tailored it a bit, because, well, that is just what I do when cooking. Rarely do I make a recipe EXACTLY as stated. I will always have to add some sort of spice or spin to suit us.

 

Lasagna Mexicana

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This is a noodle-free Mexican lasagna that will likely satisfy even the pickiest of eaters and will appeal to omnivores as well. It is super easy and makes great leftovers. Ingredients can be cut in half to make a hearty meal for four .


Ingredients

  • 1 large green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 (15oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15oz) cans fat-free vegetarian/vegan refried beans
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3-1/2 cups salsa, your favorite
  • 24 corn tortillas, or more for good measure
  • 2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Hot sauce of your choice
  • Sliced avocado or guacamole
  • Sliced black olives

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a skillet over high heat, cook the bell peppers, jalapeno, onion and garlic for about 3 minutes, until softened. Add splashes of water to prevent sticking. Add the black beans, refried beans, tomatoes, chili powder and cumin.
  3. Pour a generous 1 cup or so salsa in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan. Cover the salsa with tortillas. Make sure to cover the entire bottom of the pan. It may be necessary to cut some of the tortillas to fit. Spread half of the bean mixture evenly over the corn tortillas. On top of the bean mixture, add a layer of tortillas. Spread the corn evenly over tortillas. Add another layer of tortillas on top of the corn.
  4. Continue the pattern from the beginning: Add salsa, tortillas, remaining bean mixture, tortillas, ending with remaining salsa.
  5. Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until hot throughout. Garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado/guacamole and hot sauce!
  6. *The lasagna will be easier to cut if you allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe courtesy of The Engine 2 Cookbook and altered by Biscuits & Bellyrubs

If you’d like to add a bit a ‘cheesy’ flavor and texture, I’d recommend:

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And honestly, out of all the things I have chosen not to consume any longer, sour cream is by far the thing I miss the most. Mock sour cream is full of crappy oils; I can make a plant-based sour cream with tofu, vinegar and lemon juice, which is fine, but not really sour cream-ish… but then we decided to try this:

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By golly, if unsweetened coconut yogurt doesn’t highly resemble Mexican Crema!! It is a fantastic alternative!!

 

But wait… there is dessert!

The Mr. and I eat a 98% Whole Food Plant-Based diet and that, in my opinion is the best, healthiest way to eat; however, 2% of the time we splurge on some vegan cheese, vegan faux meat, a baked good that uses cane sugar rather than maple syrup… ya know, a real splurge for us.  And because it was a candy holiday, we chose to forgo candy and rather I made a frosted chocolate cake.

Side story… My Grandma made THE BEST chocolate cake ever. It is decadent. You should have had to seek a dealer in order to get a slice of this cake. It had been my go-to cake for major celebrations, and was always highly requested, so after going plant-based/vegan, I never felt the desire to make another chocolate cake, because there was absolutely no way that a cake, full of butter, and sugar and eggs and milk could be veganized AND hold a candle to Grandma’s cake. Nope! Well guess what, folks?! It can! And it was! The recipe I got my hands on, is OH LAWD, so good. It’d likely be top seller at a bake sale and I swear no one would ever guess it was vegan! And because I am not (completely) selfish, I will share it will y’all and beg you to give it a try.

 

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Vegan Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Rich, moist, decadent frosted chocolate cake that can be made as a two-layer or single layer 9×13-inch cake.


Ingredients

Cake

    • 1-1/2 cups plant milk (I used unsweetened walnut milk)
    • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1-1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce
    • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
    • 2/3 cup melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1-1/3 cups organic cane sugar
    • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt

Frosting

  • 1 cup vegan butter, softened (I use Earth Balance sticks)
  • 2-1/2 – 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plant milk (I used unsweetened walnut milk)

Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350° F and lightly spray 2 8-inch round cake pans or 1 large rectangular pan with nonstick spray. Dust with cocoa powder.
    2. Mix plant milk and vinegar in a large bowl and let sit for a few minutes to curdle. In the same bowl, add oil, coffee, vanilla extract and applesauce; beat with hand mixer until frothy.
    3. Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; add to wet mixture and beat until no large lumps remain. The batter should be smooth and creamy.
    4. Divide batter evenly between two round cake pans or all into one large pan.
    5. Bake 25-35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before frosting.
    6. Prepare frosting by beating together all ingredients until light and fluffy, adding more powdered sugar until desired sweetness. If it frosting becomes too thick, add a bit more plant milk.
    7. Frost cake(s) and store in the refrigerator.

 

 

**I opted to make a single rectangular cake this time and halved the frosting recipe. It came out to be the perfect amount for a single-layer cake.

Recipe courtesy of Minimalist Baker, altered by Biscuits & Bellyrubs
Posted in Cuisine, HomePage, Uncategorized

Mac & Cheeze, Please!

I have been in the midst of writing a post on a completely different subject, but placed that particular one on hold to give an impression on a pretty important topic. This cannot wait; it must be done immediately! What possibly could be so important, you ask? The subject: Macaroni and Cheese, or rather, Mac & Cheeze.

Prior to dedicating my entire self to Veganism, I, like a good majority of humans, was a cheese addict. I believe I have mentioned in (much) older posts my complete adoration for the creamy delicacy coagulated cow puss. I literally would crave cheese; and desired it in any form; however my very favorite was between two pieces of greasy toasted bread or covering noodles, pasta and macaroni of any kind.

The Mr. and I are about 98% Whole Food, Plant-Based vegans, however occasionally we will splurge on some “vegan junk food”,  or rather “mock” items; one being ‘cheese’. Periodically, although not as often as I once imagined, I get a craving for some of the comfort foods I used to enjoy in the past, the top one being mac and cheese.

The Mr. and I were doing our grocery shopping and in the frozen food section looking for something in particular when I stumbled upon the Heat & Eat section. I typically don’t even bother glancing around those parts since most, if not all, are highly processed, filler-substance, as opposed to real food (even at Whole Foods). But the pic on the box caught my eye:

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Amy’s makes some pretty darn tasty (real) cheese and veggie enchiladas, and I appreciate that they focus on healthy convenience, so I grabbed two boxes and tossed them in my cart. ($3.99 at 365 by Whole Foods)

I have to admit I was a bit trepidatious to try this. One, because I always hold frozen mac and cheese meals to Stouffers standards (was my absolute favorite); it is made with rice pasta, which I have had in the past and find it to be a bit too soft for my taste; and finally, Amy’s uses Daiya for the cheese sauce. The only experience I have with Daiya is having their mozarella shreds on a pizza from Pie Five, and again at home one night; neither time were The Mr. and I a fan. It melts well, but has a strange sweet/tart taste… Anyhoo. The Mr. took his box to have for lunch at work today, and I had mine at home.

I opted to make it in the microwave, although would have rather baked in the oven, but wanted to compare the end result exactly with the way The Mr. would have his, and also, honestly did not want to wait 40 mins to dig in… so, in the microwave it went. After following the instructions stated on the box, I became quite hopeful this could be a treat and wouldn’t have to opt for a back-up lunch option. It smelled exactly like real macaroni and cheese, and resembled it as well! I added a tiny bit of salt and took my first bite… I was SO pleasantly surprised! And then excited! And then satisfied! And then excited again! It was delicious!!! It absolutely could be put up against a non-vegan frozen entree in comparison and be preferred (except Stouffers… nothing can touch that stuff; nothing)!

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The pasta was not overly soft, the cheeze was creamy and had a sharp cheddar-like taste. Could this really be? My only two less-than-perfect comments are that it needed a bit more salt than I would prefer, and after cooling for a few minutes became a bit tacky or sticky; not a huge deal, because I didn’t allow it to sit thaaaat long… I scarfed it down too quickly.

Overall I was very pleased and now have an option for a quick-grab lunch if need be, and therefore give it 4 out of 5 bellyubs!

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I will be very anxious to get The Mr.’s opinion when he gets home from work later this evening. Now, back to my other post… coming soon… sit tight 😉

Posted in HomePage, Uncategorized

Out With The Old; In With The New & Improved

2018. Hello, you sweet thing you. I’ve been waiting for you…

You (my dear followers) likely don’t know me well enough (yet) to know that the number 18 is my number. My favorite, go-to, always-will-choose-no-matter-what number. I actually like all numbers that contain an ‘8’, but 18 is the best. I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of 2018 as spectacularly big things will happen in my favorite-numbered year…

2017 was a bit chaotic. A grand thing called LIFE got in the way of my ability to write; however, LIFE in 2017 has given me plenty of topics to write about! Biscuits & Bellyrubs is no longer my hobby in 2018. It is no longer going to be put on the back burner, that may eventually get touched if I can find the time; no no. Not any longer. Biscuits & Bellyrubs is my “job”. It is my passion and my joy; it is me. Biscuits & Bellyrubs the blog is just the beginning, or rather the intro to an empire!! I do hope you will join me…

Posted in Cruelty-free, HomePage

Deo For My B-O

Let’s talk about pits. No, not canines this time, but rather ARM PITS! That silly lil crevice that we must keep groomed and tidy and always smelling fresh; because no one wants the aroma of Taco Bell in the morning wafting through the air as you stroll by!! Eek gads NO!!

I am very self conscience of what I smell like, and it must always be delicious! (Duh!) I am a freak for fragrance. I just love scents in general. I just love sense of smell…  Before I don the most magnificent perfume, or smell-good as I refer to it as, I address the underarm situation. I use the Deo(dorant) for my B-O (Body Odor).

I am not really one that sweats a whole lot, or “glisten” as some girls say; I suppose if I am working in the yard on a super muggy day, yeah, I will perspire, but don’t really have a pit-stain issue, if ya know what I mean!?

Since becoming fully aware of animal testing, one of the first things I replaced was my deodorant. I had stopped using anti-perspirants some time ago when the concern of cancer arose, and again, since I don’t sweat a lot, I never really missed it or even noticed at all.

I have been on a quest to find THE BEST natural deodorant stick and believe I just may have discovered THE BEST one; I also tried out some real doozies along the way.  It took me three tries; the fourth, in this case was the charm! I shall give my impression on each and every one that I have tried over the last several months, and reveal both the pros  and cons to each one. Just because one brand did not work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you! However,  I do believe the one that I have come to LOVE will work for EVERYONE!!!

Ok, so here goes –

First I tried out Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant – Lavendar + Sage ($8.99 from schmidtsnaturals.com)

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Now, the scent is nice. It is a bit heavy, as I could smell it all day over my perfume, but not gaggy. The thing about this stick is it is very hard and dry. Before applying, you must place the stick under your arm (in your pit) to warm it up before swiping. Not really a HUGE issue, but the texture is different. Not… soft or smooth. My biggest issue with this brand, (and the same held true for The Mr.) is that over time it burned our skin! Like, badly. It created a rash, and then felt as though we had constant razor burn under our arms, which is so highly unpleasant and made it so we had to discontinue use of not just this product, but deodorant in general until our pits healed! No bueno.

I rate it highly on the fact that it is Certified Vegan & Cruelty-Free, and also the scent of both mine and The Mr.’s was nice, but have to be honest on how it worked for ME, so, I give it :

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2 Biscuits

Next one I tried, and was hopeful about, was Jason Pure Natural Deodorant Stick – Nourishing Apricot ($5.99 from H-E-B)

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I have used Jason products in the past, in fact they were my favorite go-to when I had my first job at Vitamin Cottage back in the 90’s, as the apricot smell is heavenly! This product… well, it not only disappointed me (other than the smell, which is still heavenly!) it was horrible! No good, terrible, awful!!! I could have put nothing under my arms, gone into a sauna, ate a bushel of garlic and come out smelling better than when using this!! I am not sure if it is my body’s chemistry and this product didn’t mesh or what, but it was BAD!! The texture was better than Schmidt’s, and it did not cause a burn, but overall, no thank you! I will give it a single biscuit, ONLY because the stick smells good. Perhaps it could be used solely as aromatherapy…

I actually contacted Jason and inquired about this individual product, thinking perhaps it was a bad batch(?!) and that I had nothing but great things to say about their other body products and I got, and still have not, received a single response! So, buh-bye Jason! I love that you are a Cruelty-Free, animal-loving company, but I will spend my money elsewhere.

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1 Biscuit (because I can’t cut one in half)

 

After that less than stellar experience, I was still on a mission to find a good deodorant stick. Another natural brand I am big fan of is Tom’s of Maine. I love, love, LOVE their toothpaste, and so thought I would give their deodorant a go. I was super thrilled that Tom’s has a powder scent. I love the smell of baby powder; it’s so fresh and so clean! So, I was hopeful about Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting Deodorant – Natural Powder ($4.27 from H-E-B)

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I liked this deodorant. I do believe it works, and I adore the scent, however, the texture of this one is far too ‘wet’. It feels like a liquid while applying, and I find it messy. Since it is so wet, it easily rubs off on your shirt or bra. It would be tolerable if it dried after application, but the biggest problem is, is that it does not. It still feels wet all day long. It’s really unfortunate especially because the price is totally reasonable! Again, I liked it, but that was a huge drawback for me, because while wearing a tight sleeve, the deodorant, not sweat, seeped through my top causing the wet pit effect – YUCK!

 

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3 Biscuits

I am beginning to feel like this is a Goldilocks and the Three Bears kind of scenario. Could there be an ‘Ah, just right!!!’ natural deodorant?!? Well, I was not about to give up!

I did what I do best – extensive research into the situation; which, by the way is what I thought I did initially. That is how I learned about Schmidt’s, so I dug even further and found:

Native Deodorant – Coconut & Vanilla AND Apricot & White Peach (seasonal) ($12.00 from nativecos.com)

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This, my friends is IT! The holy grail of delicious-smelling, dry and SOFT pits!!! This deodorant makes me dance a happy jig!! It is glorious, and so worth the price!! Yippee!!!

I first ordered (a couple months ago) the Coconut & Vanilla scent. That just screamed summer to me; and it was the top-rated scent for women. After I placed my order, directly from their website, I got the most clever and creative confirmation email message. It made my day! I won’t give deets, because you’ll see for yourself when you order! At the time I received my special package in the mail, I was not writing my blog, so I did not capture images of the box opening… Fast-Forward to usage. I knew right outta the gate this was going to be the one for me. The scent was incredible, the application was smooth; moisturizing even. Less is more, so it lasts a good amount of time and best of all, No sweat! No stink! No staining! No need for re-application throughout the day! It’s fantastic! Every day I have happy (and healthy!) armpits! I used up my entire stick and needed more! So, I thought I would give another scent a whirl and see if it was as good experience as the first (Native offers Free Shipping AND Free Returns), so I opted for one of their seasonal offerings, Apricot & White Peach, which, is just as good as the first!! The Apricot & White Peach scent is ever so slightly lighter than the Coconut & Vanilla. Enough that you can still get a whiff of it periodically, but not so overpowering that it is the only fragrance you can smell. I suggest you get it before it is gone!! Also, if you think $12.00 is a lot to spend on perfect pits, I have a money-saving tip! Native offers a subscription program that will reduce the cost to $10.00/stick if you sign-up for a subscription! It’s good all the way around!!

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**End of blog post disclaimer: None of these companies/brands know of, or have ever heard of lil ol’ me. I get paid nothing for my honest impressions; monetary or otherwise.

Posted in HomePage, Lifestyle

Summer Staycation

I have been MIA for the last little bit. Well, actually, not really missing in the literal sense, but rather my desk chair has been missing me and me missing it. The Mr. took some time off work and we decided to partake in a very much needed Staycation. It was glorious! It was so nice to spend so much time together and we really enjoyed being together. The Mr. works really hard and when not in the office, he brings his office back home with him and spends time with it in the evenings and on weekends (he is extremely dedicated), so some time away was long overdue, and I was more than thrilled to hold his attention hostage for a fistful of days.

It’s been quite some time since we had an actual VACATION. This is 99.9% due to the fact that we trust no one with our babies, and frankly no one is good enough. (I have an upcoming blog post dedicated entirely to our struggle finding a suitable pet/house sitter… stay tuned!) Anyhoo, we have a vacation scheduled for next month and another next spring, but in the mean time, a Staycation was very much called for and certainly well deserved. We got a ton of stuff done around our house, i.e. landscaping, i.e. sweated our heinie’s off in the sweltering armpit of the devil, aka Summertime in Texas. Our yards look incredible, but I had to catch up on my neglected household duties the last few days, but now… I AM BACK!!! (whoop, whoop)

Other than the yard work, we celebrated The Mr.’s day of birth, my favorite holiday, we shopped, we dined, we explored. We live in such an awesome place, we found things close to home that were new and exciting and not been done in the four summers of living here before now. One day in particular we took a short road trip 90 miles north, and slightly east to Waco, TX. I had stopped in Waco last fall with my visiting parents, upon returning home from Dallas after the State Fair, but The Mr. had never been, so I was anxious to take him up to the booming tourist destination!

I am a planner. Like, to a fault. Spontaneity, and the thought of it makes me anxious and uncomfortable. So, we had our entire day planned out as to do all we wanted and experience, while not leaving our babies alone for too long without relieving their bladders. Our first stop on our journey was to literally one of our favorite places in the world… a gas station! Nope! It’s more than a gas station… Convenience store? Double negative! It is FAAAAARR more than just a convenience store! It is BUC-EES! Oh, you sweet little beaver, how I am always ecstatic to see your chubby cheeks and buck-toothed grin. Be still my heart…

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If you are from Texas, or have driven through Texas, you best-know-what-I-be-talkin’-’bout. Buc-ee is a legend, and rightfully so. The store, literally has most anything you could want or need or dream of. From groceries, to pre-made meals, sides and desserts (my Mama LOVES their freshly baked brownies), to a counter service restaurant with REALLY tasty fare, clothing, pet goods, accessories, toiletries; all donning my boyfriend the beaver, locally made creations, jewelry, home decor, fishing/hunting supplies etc etc. And the bathrooms. They are world famous. Really. WORLD. They are by far the cleanest bathrooms you will ever step foot in, which, to this germaphobe is HUMONGOUS! The bathroom has a full-time cleaning lady that just hangs out in there waiting to clean up after you. Incredible. (Yes, I know, it doesn’t take much for me to get overly excited!)

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I realized later I failed in taking more than two pictures at Buc-ees… oh geez, I guess we’ll have to venture back just to get some photos I can share with my blog-reading friends… darn.

After tearfully waving a ‘See ya later, Gator Beaver’ to Buc, we continued North to the Dr Pepper museum…

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Soda is likely my biggest guilty pleasure. I absolutely love it and crave it, but since being more health conscious and on Weight Watchers, I don’t drink it often. I will treat myself every once in a great while, and 9 outta 10 times, I will want a Dr Pepper.

Dr Pepper is a native of Waco, Texas and happens to be the oldest major soft drink in America. The beverage was created by Dr. Charles Alderton at the Old Corner Drug Store in 1885, predating Coca-Cola by only one year (did ya know that?); it quickly became popular throughout Waco as well as surrounding areas. The museum is located in the 1906 Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company building in downtown Waco, and is listed in the Register of Historic Places as the ‘Home of Dr Pepper’. The building itself is quite charming. I am very intrigued and appreciate architecture, especially with such a history. Imagine if the walls could talk; the millions of people that have strolled through the doors over the last 111 years.

The museum actually surprised me with the amount of artifacts it had throughout the three stories in one building, and then another section, dedicated mostly to 7-UP, in the building across the courtyard, along with the old-fashioned gift and soda shoppe. It was very busy on the Thursday we went. Several groups of church folks and kids, so it was a challenge to see/read every detail, which was highly unfortunate. They are in the midst of constructing additional exhibits, and The Mr. and I will likely return to see that and revisit what we missed this go around.

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Looking out the window of the second floor of the main museum building, across to the ‘newer’ section. You can see the Magnolia silos to the right.

 

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Original, and still working water well

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We couldn’t go to the Dr Pepper soda shoppe without enjoying an old-fashioned, overly syrupy soda! I sucked mine down in two seconds flat. No regrets.

After the museum, we hiked around the block to the Magnolia Silos. Now, I enjoy the HGTV show, Fixer Upper, but that is not what draws me to Waco or toward The Silos like apparently everyone else and their brother and cousin and dog; I enjoy The Silos for the atmosphere, the shear fact that Joanna Gaines and I should be style BFFs and the cupcakes. Oh! Did I write cupcake?! Indeedy I did. I have been busting my bootie and slobbering at the thought of these darn cupcakes since October 2016, and I was ready to splurge!! I was even willing to stand in a crowded-like-Disneyland-was-giving-away-free-Mickey-Ears kinda queue to shove one (or two!) of those delectable, buttercream treats in my yapper.

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Really, people?! It’s just a bakery!!

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Last fall, when my parents and I popped quickly (literally, quickly) into the bakery, we only walked out with one single, Pumpkin with Cream Cheese Icing cupcake for us all to share… TO SHARE! Not this time! I really would have liked one of each, but refrained and chose to try the Lemon Lavender (I adore and cannot pass up anything with lemon) and Peach Pie. The Mr. chose The Chocolatier and Banana Pudding.

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Inside the bakery, another queue! And cupcakes.

Other than the total deliciousness of the cupcake, what I appreciate most is the attention to detail in the presentation of the treat. They are pretty…

With the box of goodies in hand, we sat at a cute a little table at the base of one of the Silos and each only ate one of our cakes. I chose to try the Peach Pie and The Mr. chose Banana Pudding first. Although the Peach Pie was tasty with the graham cracker crust as the base to the peach cake, I detected no peach flavor in either the cake or icing. There were chunks of peach in the icing, but no real flavor, which was pretty disappointing. The Banana Pudding on the other hand, was very yummy. **Fast Forward to the night; after returning home, we had our other cupcakes with a cuppa coffee for our dinner… Yup. Two in one day! Take that Weight Watchers!! We screwed you!! The Lemon Lavender was divine! I can’t honestly say I had never consumed the flower before, but both the lemon and the lavender were strong. Very tasty, and different. The Mr. said The Chocolatier was good, but he preferred the Banana Pudding.

We then skipped over to Magnolia and did our best to fight the enormous crowds and browse quickly, which was darn near impossible! Then strolled the rest of the grounds around the food trucks and barn to the gardens before taking the short-ish trek back to the museum where we parked (for FREE!).

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Although our cupcakes were yummy, it certainly did not count as a meal, so we stopped at a local eatery, George’s, for a quick bite to eat.

It was not a fancy joint, by any means, but extensive menu, good, friendly service and pretty darn good food. Most definitely a locals eatery, where the staff certainly knows their patrons by name!

After we ate, we headed towards home… But not before stopping to visit our beaver friend again and pick-up a few necessities; a welcome sign for our front stoop, a couple Rtic Stainless Steel Water Bottles, some farm animals for my kitchen… ya know, necessities.

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cutest couple ever
Had a super-duper-fantabulous-terrific day!
Posted in Cuisine, Lifestyle

Initial Impression: Power Air Fryer XL Pro

I am not overly fond of fried foods. Too much grease nauseates me; however, the fried foods I do like, I like a whole lot… fried chicken, doughnuts, cheese curds, french fries… mmmm nom nom. I have a gazillion kitchen toys (utensils, gadgets and appliances) and am always anxious to try out the next latest and greatest invention. When I get a lazy Saturday morning, which RARELY happens, I enjoy sitting in front of the TV with my mondo-sized-mug-o-coffee and watching Food Network with The Mr. and kids; or when flipping the channels getting captivated by either ‘In the Kitchen with ______’ on QVC or sucked in with one of those uberly-excited, over-dramatic, you’re-going-to-keel-over-if-you-don’t-act-now infomercials. And sometimes, I (we) fall for it.

I learned about Air Frying a year or so ago, and have had a Philips Airfryer in my Amazon cart for about that long. I just never felt the need to spend $300 on a toy I may use every now and then, because again, fried foods make me wanna hurl. But then – I saw the informercial for the Power Air Fryer XL Pro. The demo impressed me. The price was a helluva lot less than the Philips and it had a decent try-it guarantee, so as I do with ALL (literally ALL) things I spend money on, I did research! (Google is my inquiry BFF) It seemed to get some very promising reviews AND, long story short, QVC offered it with special accessories and on 5 Easy Pay ($23.80 got it to my door), so why not? I ordered the 3.4 Qt. in Black.

I was excited to receive my new play thing, and had been dreaming of all the fantastic goodies I could whip up prior to it’s arrival, as it claims to not only ‘fry’ things, but bake, sauté, roast, steam and grill – Whooppee!

First things first… what do you imagine the very first thing is to try in the brand new air fryer? Something I have not really had since starting Weight Watchers – Hand-Cut French Fries! Oh yes, tasty little starchy morsels of goodness, that’s what!

I began with a medium-sized, Texas-grown russet tater. (I failed to take a picture of said tater, but figure you know what I’m talkin’ bout, right?)

I scrubbed it with a potato brush and left the skin-on. Skin-on fries are the tastiest and my favorite!

I then cut it into sticks.

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To remove the access starch, soak in a cold water bath for 15-20 mins.

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Drain off the water and give another rinse with cold water; dry completely! I wrapped in cheesecloth and pressed. I let the bowl sit on the counter for a bit and continued to press to absorb as much moisture as possible.

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Remove the cheesecloth and drizzle with VERY LITTLE oil (olive or vegetable), maybe a 1/2 tsp; sprinkle with salt and toss/mix to coat each potato stick. Cooking with air requires little to no oil. I added oil to help aid in the crispiness of the fry. Place in the fry basket.

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The Power Air Fryer has several presetting options, one being for Fries. Once locking the basket into place, and hitting the Fries button, they begin to cook immediately at 400° for 18 minutes. The user manual instructs you to pull out the basket and toss half way through the cooking process, so at 9 minutes, I did as I was told and then placed back into the paused machine.

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At the end of the 18 minutes, I pulled out the basket and gave them another toss to ensure they all looked done. They probably could’ve gone for an additional minute or two, as the centers were less crispy than I would personally prefer.

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The French fries turned out delicious! I’d say they were a cross between those cooked in an oil fryer and those baked in an oven, with zero greasy or oily residue/taste. Essentially the concept of ‘frying’ with air is nothing more than cooking in a convection oven. The hot, pressured air circulates the food being cooked, sealing in moisture while making the outside crispy. However, the time and energy saved using the countertop appliance vs. my wall oven, especially in the summer, is outstanding!! After my first go, I am extremely excited to try out a plethora of other things!

So, on my scale of 1-5 Bellyrubs, after the initial use, I give the Power Air Fryer XL Pro:

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4 Paws-Up!

 

 

 

 

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

-Kate Moss

Food. It is no secret that I love food. I am, however very choosy in what I consume. Not necessarily picky, (ok, perhaps it could be said that I am picky) but I do my best to make good decisions when it comes to food; both for my health and wellness but even more importantly the source in which it came.

I have many likes and many dislikes when it comes to food. At one point in my young life I would give most anything a try and looking back now knowing what certain things are,(think, chicken gizzards, sardines from a can, SUSHI etc.) I am repulsed that I put such things in my mouth. Sure, they may taste good (but do they?!) or are part of some fad, but as a grown adult, I am much more wise as to what hits my tummy; and if I don’t know what something is, well, thank goodness for google!

Right now, at age 37.5, I cannot say I have ever been “fat”. Definitely overweight, but never obese. When I got married to The Mr. (aka Craig, the hubby) in 2001, I weighed less than 100 pounds; I stand at a whopping 5’2.5″, so I was tiny. Granted, I was 21 years old. In the beginning of a happy marriage I likely gained a few ‘comfort’ pounds, but nothing really noticeable. Then 2007 hit. The Mr. was diagnosed with testicular cancer. BOOM!! I became something I had never been, a stress eater. Honestly, during the entire time we were dealing with cancer, my world was a blur. I remember a few things standing out, but mostly my memories are triggered by photos and seeing the girl I had transformed into. My world crumbled to pieces. Perhaps I will dedicate a separate post to the cancer story, but at this time I will just say it was dark and painful. No one, other than Craig and I know what that time was like. No one. Except my scale. I was up at least 65 pounds.

After The Mr.’s treatment (successfully) ended, we decided to slam that chapter of our lives closed, and not just start a new chapter, but rather an entirely new book series. We packed everything we had left and headed for the hills desert. We moved to Henderson, NV in the blistering hot summer of 2009. Starting a fresh new life, I had the motivation to drop a good portion of the stress weight I had been carrying around the last two years. After a strict vegetarian diet and lots of working out via the Nintendo Wii, I lost 30 pounds. I was so very proud of myself and I felt good. I was not, and probably never would be again, the 100 pound petite girl I was 8 years prior, but I succeeded in my mission.

Now, fast forward to the present. Five summers ago, we picked up again, under very different circumstances, and moved to our permanent home of Central Texas. As far as my weight goes, it had fluctuated by only a pound or two here or there. With it being on a steady plateau for many years, I figured, ‘Ok’ I am okay with myself. I know I could shed about 10 pounds and feel even better, BUT– I live in Texas, for crying out loud! I don’t give a rat’s patoot what anyone says, Texas has the best food anywhere. Between the BBQ (oh yeah, I adopted some animal flesh back into my diet since moving South), the Tex-Mex fare and beer, I said I would never want to give any of those things up for the sake of being skinny; and why should I? I basically could eat whatever I wanted, drink between 1-3 beers a day and the scale would still reflect the same number. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the sweet tooth I had. I love to cook, but I LOVE to bake… and then eat it!

I believe I have body dysmorphia. I believe I feel and look to others much thinner than I really am. I’d look in the mirror and see someone I was happy with. My clothes sizes reflected the average sized woman for my age. My jeans were a size 8, my tops a Medium, and dresses 8-10. Normal. Why a need for change? I am approaching 40 years old, I think I look damn good for a woman my age, right? Ummm… not so much. I saw myself in pictures, from behind, and realized who I was in my mind was not who I actually was. Again, I am aging. I need to change my habits and ways of eating so that I may live the life I love for as long as possible. It is much less about vanity, but about my health. I want to be healthy AND feel good. I couldn’t care less about what anyone, other than The Mr. thinks of me, I care about my well being. So with that, I decided on a whim to change my life for the better.

There was really no particular ‘thing’ that made me put my foot down and say “I am going to lose weight, damnit!” I just did. I had no time to physically or mentally prepare for the new way of eating. In fact, my brother had come to visit for a few days and we had stocked our pantry full of delicious Texas foods and beer to indulge on during the visit. We ate out at a few of our favorite restaurants and barely touched the treats. The day after my brother headed back home to Colorado, The Mr. and I started our lifestyle change… why? Because perhaps we thought it’d be fun to keep a strict log of everything we put into our mouths and to waste all the stuff we had just lined our shelves with the few days prior, only to have it taunt us; not sure, really, but I was bound and determined to make it a success.

I signed up for Weight Watchers on 04 April 2017. I downloaded the app on my phone, purchased some measuring spoons to keep in my handbag (should we splurge and go on a dinner date) and gathered together meal recipes that included WW points. The Mr. joined me on the journey two days later. We take this very seriously. We are not on a diet. We have begun a lifestyle change. Diets are temporary. We have full intention that this is our permanent routine; it has been for the last 2.5 months, and it has paid off. I could not be more proud of ourselves. And I could not be more thrilled with our progress.

As of today, I am down 22.2 pounds and The Mr. is down 25.8 pounds. This is HUMONGOUS!! I have not been at the weight I am now, for… golly, I can’t remember. Long before the cancer. My initial goal was a reasonable 20 lbs. I have surpassed that and have created a new goal for myself. Once I hit that, I will be doing all I can to maintain the loss and tone-up. I am happy. I feel fantastic and I actually like what I see in photographs. The hard work and sacrifices are absolutely paying off… and the funny thing is, with a few exceptions, I don’t miss a lot. My tastes have changed. I don’t have cravings for sweets; I have a beer MAYBE once every couple of weeks; I really have no desire for those things. I have always loved fresh fruits and vegetables, so including those into my daily meals has been a joy. The toughest thing has been cutting down on dairy. I love milk. I LOVE cheese… but have found that almond milk is a fantastic and tasty alternative! As far as cheese… well, there is no substitute for cheese, so I have it in moderation. That is the beauty of Weight Watchers and what makes it possible for a successful outcome; you are not denied anything. Nothing! If you want to eat it, fine! Pizza? Sure! Ice cream, Ok! Just be aware of the amount it costs from the point bank (allowance) you get each day.

I LOVE life. I especially love MY life and what The Mr. and I have created together, and I want to make the best of it, for as long as I am granted. So, remember, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

 

 

What You Eat In Private, You Wear In Public

Posted in Creatures

The Kate E. Kat Tales

 

Our furry kids are special. Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure; every parent believes their kid is special. But really, ours are. Like, more than special. Extraordinary, really. Especially our kitty siblings, Katie and Henry. They may be classified as felines, but believe you me, they are really made from the canine, primate (chimpanzee perhaps), marsupial and homosapien-species-cloth. They do things and act like no other kitties I’ve ever seen, nor anyone that has ever met them has witnessed from another cat. Sure, they lounge around, prowl, purr, and knead biscuits (BISCUITS!!) like the best of ’em, but they also have talents & traits found in all the species named above.

Because Katie and Henry and so stinkin’ exceptional, I have decided to share them (well, not THEM, but their silliness) with all the world!! I am currently working on The Kate E. Kat Tales, a You Tube channel, that will feature episodes starring Katie (Kate E.), Henry, Lillie, Pennie, Charlie & Daphnie and showcase all of their amusing shenanigans.

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This is a project I am trying my darnedest to complete, but it has taken longer than I had initially hoped, to roll out. I started putting The Kate E. Kat Tales (TKEKT) together on my Dell laptop and found that the PC was just not gonna cut it in terms of producing a quality show that would capture the interest of others. My Ah-May-Zing husband surprised me with a Mac desktop computer, which has completely changed the game in regards to my creative and artistic capabilities. So, I am in the process (along with all my other millions of projects and work duties) of attending Udemy courses on iMovie production, cinematography and photography. I am a perfectionist; a do-it-right-the-first-time kinda gal, and nothing half-assed will suffice, soooo with that being said, TKEKT WILL be premiering soon, just not a quickly as I would have hoped. In the meantime, I invite one and all to view the trailer for The Kate E. Kat Tales and ask, no beg, that you give it a ‘thumbs-up’ and subscribe to the channel; it’d be very much appreciated!!