Mediterranean Meatball Ratatouille

Two weeks ago my husband, Bill, aka Papa/Bro and I decided we both wanted to try a new approach to  losing some unwanted pounds. After a lot of on-line research, and a trip to a local bookstore, we decided to give the Paleo food plan a try. This food plan is all about eating whole foods. It is also known for being a food plan that can help reduce inflammation in the body, something both Bill/papa./bro and I are excited to try.

One of the two books we bought to help us understand the Paleo food plan, and to provide recipes for us to follow the plan, gives this nutshell description of the Paleo food plan. “Paleo Made Simple:

  1. Eat whole foods, not processed
  2. Don’t eat grains (especially wheat, but also corn, rice, oats, barley)
  3. Eliminate dairy products
  4. Avoid legumes (beans, peanuts)
  5. Enjoy lots of fruits, vegetables, and plenty of protein

The Paleo food plan is often called the “caveman” diet because it is based on whole foods that have not been processed in any way. Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, eggs, and grass-fed meats (when possible), i.e. beef, pork, bacon, chicken, and seafood.

Bill/Papa/Bro and I read through all the information and decided we are both “all in” to give this new food plan our best shot. The first thing we did after making our total commitment to this new food plan was rid our home of anything that is not on the Paleo plan. No need to have temptation in our way right?

This is week two for us and so far, so good. Bill lost 3 1/2 pounds and I lost 2 pounds. Everyday we try a new recipe from the Paleo books we bought. So far all of them have been very good and filling.

Today, I made Mediterranean Meatball Ratatouille. This is a picture from the recipe book showing what it is supposed to look like.

I started out chopping up some grilled zucchini (Bill grilled up a lot of fresh veggies for the week), and I added fresh mushrooms, and onions.

 I made meatballs out of ground Italian seasoned turkey, and browned them on all sides. Then I put the meatballs in the crockpot with the zucchini, onions and mushrooms, spices, and just enough chicken stock to keep it moist and set the crockpot to low for 5-6 hours. At the end of the cooking time, I put a can of diced tomatoes and two tablespoons of tomato paste into the crockpot and continued cooking an additions 15 minutes.

While that was cooking, I made a Paleo Bread from almond flour, baking soda, salt, eggs, honey, and apple cider vinegar. First I mixed the dry ingredients together,

then mixed the wet ingredients together,

and combined them to make the bread dough.

That was baked in our little outside oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, and produced this beautiful loaf of Paleo bread.

The next step in our dinner preparations was to process a head of cauliflower to make “riced cauliflower”,

that I stir fried in a non-stick skillet until it was tender but still a little firm. It was used to serve the ratatouille over.

The end result was delicious and something both Bill/papa/bro and I agreed we would definitely want to have again. High protein and very low carbs but very tasty, filling and satisfying.

It takes thought, time, and planning to cook whole foods vrs eating out, or using processed foods, but Bill and I are committed to this, and so far it is working great. We are excited to keep trying new recipes and see where this takes us.

Stay Tuned!

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New Year’s Traditions

My husband, Bill, and I never go out on New Year’s Eve. Not that we don’t like to socialize with family and friends, we have many opportunities to do that throughout the year, but 30 years ago, Bill and I started our own New Year’s Eve tradition. We decided we always wanted New Year’s Eve to be spent with just the two of us enjoying each other’s company. We have a nice dinner, and spend quality time talking about things we want to do in the New Year that will help us be overall better people. We talk about what we want to do that will help us continue to keep Christ front and center in our lives, what we can do to continue to grow our love for each other keeping our relationship and our marriage strong, and the priority in our lives, how we can help our family and friends that may need our help, and now that we are full-time RVers, we talk about what we want to do in regards to summer travel plans in the New Year. We find it is a great way to reflect on the past year, center ourselves, and make goals for the New Year ahead.

Making sure we get enough exercise is a big part of our lives. We try to take a walk or hike at least five times a week. So today we took a lovely walk around the Fountain Park in Fountain Hills. This park is a little gem that sits right in the center of the lovely town of Fountain Hills, just 4 miles from where we host at McDowell Mountain Park.

The fountain goes off every hour on the hour for 15 minutes. We can see the fountain from our host site at McDowell Mountain Park.

It was a beautiful day and lots of folks were out taking advantage of the beautiful mid 70 degree weather… This is why I never want to be anywhere but Arizona in the winter months.

From every angle around the park there are beautiful views.

They even have a Veterans Memorial in the park. So special. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

 

 

 

 

The park is surrounded with beautiful plants,

and artwork is everywhere…

There are sculptures with memorials to loved ones lost throughout the park. This one brought tears to my eyes.

 

This one was titled “my buddy.” So special.

As you make your way around the park, there are lots of shops and places to eat…

The park also has frisbee golf. That looks like it would be fun!

Bill and I had a fun time exploring this beautiful park in the middle of Fountain Hills, something we have talked about doing but haven’t done until today. We loved it and will be back.

Over the years, I have had many people say to me “you and Bill always seem so happy and in love. What is the secret after 30 years together?” The answer is there is no “secret”. Bill and I were friends first, then, over time, that grew into a love relationship that we treasure, and decided right from the start we never wanted to lose. We are certainly no experts (we have both been married before) but we have learned, from past mistakes, if you really want to keep any relationship alive and well, you have to give it the time and attention it needs. It is now our number one priority. For us, we never keep score, but we know that as long as we keep each other first, me giving all I can, and him doing the same, the rewards triple any effort.

I thought the next picture from the park expresses what I am sharing in regards to relationships, so much better than I can say. Just like you don’t mind the time and attention you would give to your child, pet, etc, We give that time and attention to each other, but we don’t think of it as a “job”. You get the idea…

Bill and I wish all of you the very best of 2018. Whatever your heart’s desire are worth the effort you put into achieving it..

Stay Tuned!

Sixty-nine And Counting

Today is my husband, and very best friend, Bill’s, birthday. To celebrate, Bill and I met our daughter, Shantel, at her doctor’s appointment, and the three of us went out to lunch to what was once Bill/Papa’s favorite Mexican restaurant, Abuelo’s, in Chandler.

We arrived, and were seated promptly, and everything looked to be the same as the last time we were there last year.

Bill ordered an appetizer of jalapeno cheese fritter balls, served with a sauce. They were delicious.

We were served warm chips and three kinds of salsa, just like always.

I ordered grilled sea bass taco’s that were the bomb! They were served with a side of rice and pinto beans cooked with bacon.

Shantel had one chicken and one spinach enchilada, served with beans and rice. She loved the chicken enchilada, but said the spinach one tasted like “tea leaves” to her.

Bill ordered a green chili smothered beef burrito. That was always his favorite, and the only reason he wanted to go there for his birthday lunch (the other option was Cheesecake Factory that was just across the street). Unfortunately,  the recipe changed, and what he was served was not anything like what he remembered, and loved so much in the past… He ate it, and said it wasn’t awful, but he was just really disappointed that it wasn’t what he remembered it to be…

But, as with all things in life… or at least this is what we try to live by…, it’s not about what you get, or what happens…, it’s more about how you react and deal with all of it… Bill, Shantel and I all agreed that today was not about the food, it was about taking the time to spend quality time together to celebrate another important event in our lives…, Bill/Papa’s birthday.

Happy Birthday Bill/Papa, we love you!

Stay Tuned.

 

Christmas Cookie Baking 2017

Today Bill went to our daughter, Shantel’s apartment where he spent the day helping Shantel, and her best friend, Jaz, bake Christmas cookies for Christmas Eve, and to take to our family friends home for Christmas Day. This cookie baking day is an annual event for Bill, Shantel, and Jaz.

They made Neiman Marcus and Ginger Snap cookies, and a lot of them! They also made a batch of fudge for the Christmas celebrations.

Shantel loves, loves, loves, to bake. Bill captured the pictures below that show how well Jaz and Shantel work together to accomplish the job. Shantel and Jaz met when they attended the same college, and they have been best friends ever since. Bill and I feel so blessed to have Jaz in our lives as Shantel’s best friend. She is a very special young lady, and we love her like one of our own daughters.  Bill was helping with the cookies as well, but he had to stop every now and then to capture pictures to send to me so I could document the event on my blog for Shantel to read back on over the years. I just love seeing that big smile on Shantel’s face!

Shantel has no problem working in her kitchen. When she is cooking or baking, she likes to keep the cabinet doors open (so does her papa) but when I’m there, I have to keep asking her to shut the cabinet doors because I tend to walk into them… Funny how she is blind and doesn’t hit her head on the open doors, and I can see but seem to always walk into the open doors… Ha!

 

This next picture shows Shantel placing cookies on her coffee table to cool, and placing them in the storage tins after they were cool. She so loves to know that there are plenty of cookies for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and beyond… 🙂

From the looks of the first storage tin, I don’t think she is going to have to worry about not having enough cookies!

After all the cookies and fudge are made, the next part of the annual cookie baking tradition is that Bill takes the girls out to lunch which is the perfect ending to their perfect Christmas Cookie Baking Day!

I so love that Bill, Shantel, and Jaz, have this time together every year to bake and bond. They all look forward to it.  And, since I don’t like baking, it allows me an opportunity to have some “me time” without having to be involved in smelling the cookies I don’t eat, bake, or be involved in cleaning up the mess that goes along with it… Win, Win…

I spent my “me time” today making coconut curry chicken for our dinner, took a nice long walk, did some laundry, and posted this blog post… And now, I’m headed to happy hour!!!

Merry Christmas!

 

Dial-A-Ride, Or Dial-A Problem

As many of you already know, our daughter, Shantel, is totally blind. She recently was hired at a large company, that can accommodate her computer needs, and she is currently in training for a new position that will allow her to take “live calls” regarding declined purchases and/or reporting fraud… She loves her job and looks forward to getting to work everyday.

Because Shantel is blind, and cannot drive, Bill and I help her out by paying $65.00 a month to Dial-a-Ride that is supposed to allow unlimited trips for her to travel to and from any destination throughout the Valley for $4.00 each way…

However that is not always the case. And what happened this past week, is but one example of what continues to happen over and over again. And, I’m sure this type of thing is not only happening to our daughter, but to many other people that depend on Dail-a-Ride throughout the Valley. In fact, I know for a fact, that the other two blind co-workers that Shantel works with report the same type of poor service from Dial-a-Ride.

Here is what happened to Shantel just today: She scheduled a 4:30 a.m. pick-up that would allow her to get to work at 6:00 a.m. (allowing for all the other folks that have to be picked-up and delivered along the route) but, keep in mind, that when you schedule your ride in advance, you are supposed to be guaranteed delivery to your destination “on time”. But, today, Shantel didn’t get to work until 6:25 when she is supposed to start at 6:00 a.m.

Of course Shantel was upset that she was late for work, due to circumstances beyond her control, and of course she called Dial-a-Ride the first chance she could to make a complaint. She explained the situation to the person taking her call, letting them know that the person that scheduled this ride should have to be put into the same position to lose their job as she is put into when they cause her to be late.

Shantel went on to tell the person taking her complaint that on the return trip home, her pick-up time was supposed to be 3:00 p.m. but Dial-a-Ride notified her that they couldn’t get there until 4:45 -5:00 p.m. So Shantel decided to take Lift ride service home (costing her $30.00). She had already been riding Dial-a-Ride since 4:30 a.m. and just wanted to get home at this point… I don’t blame her.

However, when she made her complaint, she was told the ride service was over 25 miles from her home  (which we have never been made aware of that making any difference ..) and “Rules are rules”,… and that perhaps she should move closer to work… then they hung up on her!!

Yes, this job is more than 25 miles from Shantel’s home, but that should not make any difference when we are paying a monthly fee to make sure she can get to and from her destinations on time… This is but one example of how our daughter, who is not the only person out there that could just sit home and collect Social Security Disability payments and food stamps every month and not work…, but wants to work, and earn her own way in life… but is met with more obstacles than you and I could ever imagine dealing with each and every day just to get to work..

There has to be a better way for people with disabilities that want to work to be able get to and from work safely, and  on time. Shantel can’t take a bus or light rail because that requires her being able to cross a street by herself, and because she lost hearing in both ears due to the chemo she received while being treated for the cancer that took her sight, she wears hearing aids in both ears so she is not able to pick up on the traffic surge when the light changes to cross an intersection safely, and now with the electric cars, she can not pick up on them at all.

Shantel, Papa and I continue be amazed at how hard you work to get to work… We love you and are so very proud of you, and we continue to pray that things get better for you and all people with disabilities that just want to work… Never give up on your dreams baby girl.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goat Cheese, Cranberry, and Walnut Stuffed Pork Chops

So easy and simple to make and, OMG! It really is as delicious as it sounds…

All I did was mix one package of goat cheese with a good handful of chopped walnuts, and dried cranberries.

 

Then I took thin, bone-in pork chops, and just pressed them out with my hand to make them a little bit bigger… I was going to stuff the pork chops but I didn’t buy them thick enough… so I went to plan (B). There is always a plan (B) if you want one…

then I put  about a handful of the goat cheese, cranberry, and walnut mixture into the center of each pork chop, pressed the mixture out a little, and rolled them up.

Then I dipped each pork chop roll into an egg and milk mixture, then into a mixture of Panko breadcrumbs that I seasoned with a little smoked paprika, and black pepper.  Next, I placed them on a copper rack that fits into a copper tray, them put them into our outside oven on 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Thirty minutes later we had the a delicious pork chop roll up meal that was tender and moist, yet also had a crunchy panko crust. I served this with potato salad, that my sister, from another mother, Holly, made, and peas. Big shout out to my sister, Holly, who loves to cook as much as I do, and who always cooks too much, like I do, and always shares what she makes with Bill and I…

So loving this beautiful Christmas season of spending time with family and friends.  Cooking is what makes me happy, but sharing what we have, no matter what that might be, with those we love is what always warms my heart, not just at Christmas, but all year-long…

Merry Christmas!

Heartwarming Update

I wanted to post this update to my previous post, Random Acts Of Kindness. I spoke to our daughter, Shantel, and she told me that she was in the laundry room at her apartment complex again yesterday finishing up her laundry, and a man came in and asked her if she had some clothes in a washer with tide pods in it and quarters in the slot yesterday..? Shantel said yes, and he said he was the person that removed her clothes, and used the washer with her tide pods and quarters. He didn’t say why he did that, but he did give her money back and said he was sorry.

I asked Shantel if she knew him and she said she didn’t, but that he told her he sees her in the laundry room a lot and he said he felt bad about what he did. I asked if she got his name, she said no, but he sounded like he was an older man, and that he seemed to really be sorry about what he did.

 

I believe in miracles, do you?

Merry Christmas!

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