Posted in Recipes

My West Virginia October 2020 Trip Videos Part 1 of 3

This is a collection of videos from Hubby and my trip to Elkins, WV. During the 3 day excursion, we visited the West Virginia Wildlife Center, traveled around the Monongahela National Forest, explored our “cabin” and backyard river, visited Buckhannon, and rode on a train to see fall foliage.

We traveled there because it was the one year anniversary of my mom’s death. Buckhannon was her favorite place to visit, so this was a way of remembering her legacy she left for me. Her favorite time to visit was during the fall.

Continue reading “My West Virginia October 2020 Trip Videos Part 1 of 3”
Posted in Recipes

Easy Salmon in the Air Fryer (GF)

Easy Salmon in the Air Fryer

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

-1 wild caught salmon fillet

-2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

-1/3 c. Brown sugar

-2 tsp. Garlic herb seasoning


Directions

  1. Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix together the mustard, brown sugar, and garlic herb seasoning.
  3. Pat dry the salmon fillet. Remove the skin, if desired.
  4. Slather on the mustard, brown sugar, and garlic herb seasoning all over the salmon.
  5. Place in the air fryer.
  6. Cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Enjoy with your favorite side dish.

Posted in Recipes

Homemade GF brownies

Homemade Brownies

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

-2/3 semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (dairy free for Paleo brownies)

-5 Tbsp. coconut oil

-2/3 c. coconut sugar

-2 eggs

-1 tsp. vanilla extract

-2/3 blanched almond flour

-2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder1

-1 tsp. baking soda

-1/4 tsp. salt/

-Mix ins:  2/3 c. chocolate chips or chopped nuts


Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper or spray with non stick spray.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt chocolate and coconut oil over LOW heat until it’s smooth and glossy.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut sugar and eggs.  (I used my Kitchen Aid)  Set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  (Almond flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Whisk together the sugar-egg mixture and the melted chocolate until smooth.  Stir in vanilla.  Mix.
  7. Fold in the dry ingredients. until mixed.
  8. Fold in the mix-ins.
  9. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
  10. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  (Mine took almost 30 minutes.)  Make sure the center is cooked.
  11. Remove from oven and allow to cool before cutting.
  12. Enjoy!

Posted in menu plan monday, Menu planning, Recipes

Menu plan: May 24, 2021

Yesterday I went to see my dietician. We came up with a b rough plan for me eating. I’m dealing with disordered eating, trying to lose weight, and change of diet in the past month. I have moved back to eating a gluten free mostly vegetarian diet. My exception is seafood.

After meeting with her, I went home and wrote out a meal plan with items needed at the grocery store. Crossed out items are items I already have at home. Highlighted items were bought.

Well, the Kodiak cakes were a bust. I will change that to smoothies.

Posted in Recipes

Out of the River, Onto the Raft – My Faith Journey (Revised)

I have been working on revising and editing my book. Which has been a slow process. I hadn’t worked on it for the last 2 months. Today I began revising it. I had stopped at my faith journey. This is the revised version of my story.

I had shared the original version earlier. Here is the updated version.


When I originally wrote about my faith in God, I wrote in a linear fashion because that is how life is – minutes, days, weeks, months, and then years. But is that how our faith is, does it go in a straight line one moment after another or are there rapids we must overcome? Those rapids might cause our faith to go off course.

I can tell you that I always went to church as a child. Or at least from what I remember. My paternal grandpa was a United Methodist Church pastor and baptized me within a week of my birth. My mom would talk about the different churches we attended while in Pennsylvania but honestly, I can’t remember any one of them. I was either too young or traumatized.

It wasn’t until we moved to Ohio that I can remember the whole going to church and the expectation that I attend on a regular basis even after staying out all night at prom. We first attended church at my mom’s childhood church. I remember the experiences I had at that church: music “tour” trips and being in plays. Even though it felt like home, it wasn’t really my church home.

Then in 1987, we moved across town away from that church. We could have still attended the church I had attended for my first two years in Ohio, but God had other plans. In the new area where I lived was a church and as soon as I saw it, I announced to my mom, “I want to attend a service here.”

She obliged and quickly I was in the confirmation class. Within 6 months of attending the church, I was standing up in front of the church becoming a member. I had just broken my leg a couple months prior and was expected to help with the communion on confirmation Sunday. With the help of God, I did not drop the communion tray. At that moment, my faith journey really began.

You see within a year or so of attending the church, I met a person who would truly help me with my faith. He didn’t realize it at that time, but his constant loving of me as though as a daughter really helped me grow as a person and as did my faith. He saw through my human fallacies and shakable faith to see me as someone that had a purpose in life.

For the next seven years, I faithfully attended that church and was active in youth group, clowns for Christ, and attended several mission trips helping those who were misfortunate and needed our help.

Then life happened. Just like there is a bend in a river where you can quickly change course, my life did that. In 1995, I was accepted to be part of the Disney College Program. While on the program, my relationship with God was not priority. It was not going to be that way until I met my husband 2 years later. However, God never forgot me. HE had my back even though I was flapping around like a fish out of the water trying to discover who I was as a person.

Then I met my husband and well I started going back to church on a more regular basis. God was bringing me back to his fold. As I mentioned before, he will find the one lost sheep. HE was searching for me and found me.

During the Christmas break after my husband and I had started dating, I was given the opportunity to talk about my teenage church.

I was handed an envelope.

“Who is this from?” I asked myself as I looked at the card with signature.

Instead, there was $500. No one confessed to who had given me the money because they wanted to remain anonymous.

The fall quarter 1997 was a difficult time in my life. I was a struggling college student with limited income. I had been working myself to the bone with both a full class load and working almost full time. I was given the envelope after I had talked about my dreams of completing my college degree and eventually becoming a teacher. Not one word came out of my mouth about my worries about not being able to pay for college. Even though I had limped away from a relationship with God, He saw my struggle and saw to it that I was given grace. However, there was still doubt that God really loved me a broken young adult.

My grandparents and I were estranged for almost 5 months during the summer into fall of 1997. We didn’t agree about many things which caused a divide. My life was rapidly changing. God knew I needed them in my life, so he used my future husband to help with us reunite.

In my early 20s, I didn’t seek God with my problems. He placed me on a long rope and allowed me to wander away from him. What I didn’t know was he was planting seeds in my life. When I became a Christian, he gave me the spiritual gift of a strong faith. He knew I was going to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in education and be the only one in my house that had a bachelor’s degree. He knew that I was going to become an Intervention Specialist and not the classroom teacher.

“. . . if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 17:20

Even though my faith in God and lack of a real relationship with him, I became a member of my future husband’s church. Soon afterwards, I stood up at the front of that church and married him. Thus, began the tradition of going to church almost every Sunday. This was his childhood church and my church for the next twelve years. Our sons began their spiritual journeys in that church.

To be honest, I was complacent with my relationship with God. Going to church became ritualistic and not built on building a relationship with HIM.

A political issue caused our church to crack. People we had called family turned their backs on us, because we weren’t on the same side of the political issue. Eleven years later, they still won’t talk to us if they see us in public.

On a nippy March evening in a clubhouse of a golf course, we became part of a group of people gathering to form a new church. A leap of faith as we change courses with our church. Those people on that night had the faith of a mustard seed. Almost eleven years later, my family still attends the church.

My grandparents died in 2003 and 2008. My faith was not shaken during that time. However, the last ten years have seen some challenges that have rocked my faith. My faith that had been complacent for so many years. I have stumbled over the rocks and thorny plants that have taken over my road of life. No matter what, God was by my side picking me up whenever I stumbled or fell. He never forsaken or forgotten me.

The two biggest rocks in my path were the deaths of my sister in 2016 and then my mom in 2019. I could have gotten off course when I began to doubt God and why he would take away an almost 39-year-old. She still had so much life to live and now she was gone. It has been something I’ve struggled with for the last 4.5 years. The only positive part of her death was the relationship I was able to develop with my mom during her last 3 years of life. I brought her back to Christ. She enjoyed helping others and was able to do that at the church.

Right before she died, we took a class about spiritual gifts. I discovered I have 2 gifts. Unwavering faith and exhortation or spiritual encouragement. As I doubt my purpose in life and why I was able to survive my childhood and outlive my father, mom, and sister, I have to remember God has never forsaken me. He wants me to use my story to encourage others.

The foundations of my faith began in the church I attended as a teenager. However, it was not until the Coronavirus pandemic that my faith began to flourish. God picked up the broken pieces of my faith and began to rebuild it much stronger. I had 20 plus years of self-discovery before I could fully embrace how God sees me. He started to pull the rope, so I could come back to him.

On a Thursday morning in late February 2021, God took that moment to say look towards me. Tears were flowing down my face as I listened to a worship song “Graves to Gardens.” God had finally broken through my heart and whispered, “Now, let’s build this relationship.”

When you have a relationship with God, the church is meant for you to worship and praise the Lord for all he has done in your life. However, you need to begin a real relationship with him. Church helps you get there, but it needs to be a personal journey.

Posted in Chicken, Electric Pressure Cooker, Recipes

Monterrey Chicken Foil Packets (GF)

Note: You need an Electric Pressure Cooker to make this recipe.

Monterrey Chicken Foil Packets

Stars of the recipe:
  • 1 lb. boneless and skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 c. barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c. bacon bits or 2 or 3 bacon slices cooked and crumbled
Steps:
  1. Cut the foil into 12-inch by 12-inch squares. You’ll need 4 squares.
  2. Lay a piece of chicken in the middle of the foil.
  3. Sprinkle each piece of chicken with cheddar cheese and bacon.
  4. Pour barbecue sauce over the chicken, cheese, and bacon.
  5. Wrap the foil around the chicken so that it is sealed.
  6. Pour a cup of water into the electric pressure cooker. Carefully place the trivet on top of the water. Gingerly add the foil packets.
  7. Manually set the electric pressure to 35 minutes on high. Place the lid on it making sure the vent is set to seal.
  8. Once cooked, allow to naturally release for 10 minutes and then open the seal so that it can finish releasing the pressure.
  9. Remove the lid and take the packets out of the pressure cooker carefully.
  10. Enjoy with extra cheese on the chicken.

Stay kind!

Have a magical day,
Traci

Posted in Recipes

White Christmas

A few years ago, we had a white Christmas which is unusual for my area of Ohio. So what do meteorologists consider a white Christmas? There must be at least an inch of snow on the ground. Sometimes we get some flurries or a dusting but nothing significant.

In 2004, we had snow and ice on the ground. That Christmas was truly was a white Christmas. I was pregnant with my youngest and my oldest was 17 months old. We couldn’t get out of our driveway/ cul de sac because of how much snow/ ice we got that Christmas. Our neighbors checked on us during the time because they had a 4 wheel drive. I think they got us butter or something like that for us.

I just looked up the amount of snow we got that Christmas. We had 16 inches which is unthinkable for our area.

Hubby still talks about that winter and how we got all the snow.

This year, we escaped our area and went on a socially distance trip to the beach. There is NO snow on the beach. My area was predicted to get snow but not enough to be classified as a white Christmas. The forecast has changed to be cold NOT white. They are supposed to have a high of 21 degrees.

I wish I had photos of that white Christmas. It was a time prior to digital photos being common. Plus being 2 months pregnant and a mother of a toddler, photos of the snow was the least of my worries.

Stay kind!

Have a magical day,
Traci

Posted in Recipes, Salad

Simple Shrimp Veggie Salad

What You Need:

  • Raw shrimp (See note) – How to shell and devein a shrimp – Follow the link.
  • Butter
  • Lemon
  • Mixed greens
  • 1 cup of your favorite raw veggies
  • goat cheese, feta cheese, or blue cheese
  • Raspberry Vinaigrette (I like the Raspberry Merlot from Bolthouse Farms.)

Simple Shrimp Veggie Salad

Stars of the Recipe:

  • 1 oz. raw shrimp (see note)
  • 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 c. mixed greens
  • 1 c. cut veggies (I used bell peppers and cucumbers.)
  • 1/4 c. Goat, Feta, or Blue Cheese (I used blue cheese.)
  • 2 Tbsp. raspberry vinaigrette

Steps:

  1. Heat the skillet to medium heat.
  2. Add the butter, deveined, and shelled shrimp.
  3. Cook for 3 minutes. Flip.
  4. Squeeze the lemon over the shrimp and then cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, in a bowl place the mixed greens and cut veggies.
  6. After the shrimp are finished cooking, place on the greens and veggies.
  7. Top with cheese and vinaigrette.
  8. Enjoy!

Note:

You can also use already cooked shrimp if you don’t want to cook the shrimp.

Posted in Drinks, Holiday/Christmas, Recipes

Homemade Peppermint Mocha

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to make a peppermint mocha that wasn’t full of a lot of calories.

Can I be honest? The ones from Starbucks are not my favorite. They add way too much chocolate. I would rather have the peppermint shine through. I love peppermint in my lattes so that makes sense.

Yesterday I found a peppermint mocha ground coffee at Aldi’s so that is what I’m using for the coffee part of the recipe. So good.

For the recipe:

  • ground coffee – I used peppermint mocha flavored coffee.
  • peppermint syrup
  • almond milk – I used vanilla unsweetened almond milk. You could use real milk or any non dairy milk. I just prefer almond milk.
  • cacao powder
  • whipped cream

Peppermint Mocha Latte

Stars of the recipe:

  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. ground coffee (I used a reusable K cup pod for my coffee maker.)
  • 1 Tbsp. peppermint syrup
  • 1/2 c. milk (dairy or non dairy)
  • 1 to 2 tsp. cacao powder
  • 2 Tbsp. whipped cream

Steps:

  1. Add the peppermint syrup to the mug.
  2. Then brew the coffee. I brew my coffee using the bold setting.
  3. While it’s brewing, froth the milk and cacao powder.
  4. After the coffee is done brewing, top with frothed milk and whipped cream.
  5. Enjoy!

Note: You either need to use a frother or froth it without a frother. Place milk and cacao powder in a mason jar, place the lid on it, and then shake it. (Arm workout) Once it’s increased in volume, remove the lid carefully. Microwave it for 30 to 60 seconds.

Stay kind!

Have a magical day,
Traci