"Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding". Prov.4:7(NKJV)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My 2014 Natural Hair Journey

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As I sit here and type I’m aware it’s past the day I celebrate my Natural Anniversary (Napturalversary). I had to get over a nasty stomach flu Sad smile For those who didn’t already know, after 9 months of transitioning I went completely natural Dec. 31, 2010. That is when I cut off the rest of my permed ends and became FREE To Be Me! I was left with about 3” of hair to work with. It was long enough to finger coil so that was my first style. From there I just kept learning about my hair, researching all I could to learn to care for it, and just enjoying the journey. Next year will be the last year I document my hair journey. I don’t think I’ll have much else new or interesting to share after that 5 year mark. There’s no need for more research to do because I believe I’m content with everything I know at this point. Before I continue on your are welcomed take a look at my hair pics slide show from the year. Click on the photo to see more.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/natural4life/sets/72157647872658433/58433/#
Click on me
For this post I thought I’d share the highlights of what went on with my hair last year then you’ll be up to date. In March I found a really great deal on Eco Styler Gels that got me through the whole year. I’m still happy about that. In June I made an attempt to figure out my hair type/curl pattern. Someone else shared with me they think I’m more of a 3c curl pattern. I also learned about a new hair journal site that opened for me to keep track of my hair progress. Here's my profile so we can be friends if you plan to join when she has open registrations again. In July I cut the front and sides of my hair for a sort of layered look. I was content with it for a while. In November I cut my hair again but it was around 4” off in the back. I just had to do something else so I’d be happy all around.

That was my recap of the year. Who knows what’s in store for this year. As always I just want to keep a healthy head of hair and look my best in whatever style I’m rocking. As I said in the beginning this 5th year will be the last year I document my journey. Hope I go out with a bang or at least learn/do something interesting. Thank you for those who have taken the time to read along thus far Smile

Friday, December 19, 2014

Marinated Olives, Quick Aioli, and Homemade Olive Tapenade

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Whenever I do an antipasto or a meat and cheese tray I make these olives and take them to a get together. I always get complements on how good they taste. My hubby hates black olives but loves the taste of them when I do it like this.

Marinated Olives

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced (1/2 tsp. of jar kind)
1/2 tsp. of Kosher salt (can use what you have)
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. Agave or honey
a few dashes of an herb of choice (optional)
Green, black, or Kalamata olives

Directions:
Open can and/or jars and drain olives. Rinse the salt off under cold water. Mix all other ingredients in a bowl. Pour in olives and stir to coat. Pour all together (or separate) into a Ziplock bag or container and cover. Let marinate in refrigerator 5-7 days (give it a shake every other day to recoat) before you are ready to use it. The longer they sit in the marinade the better they taste. The olives (especially the black ones) will have a whole new taste so be prepared for a shock to your taste buds.
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Note: My green olives were the 5.75 oz. jar, the pitted black olives were in a 6 oz. can, and when I buy Kalamata olives they are in a 6 oz. jar. Double the sauce for a larger batch or make half the recipe for a single can or jar of olives.

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Here is a quick and easy basic Aioli that tastes good and great to use as a condiment on sandwiches or as a sauce to put on meats as well as using for Fondue dipping sauce. If you don't like or care for mayo give this a try.

Basic Aioli

Ingredients:
1 cup Mayo
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1-2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice (can sub with lime juice)
1 tsp. lemon zest (or lime zest)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper (or 1/8 tsp. cayenne for a kick)

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until blended. Pour in a glass jar with a lid. Refrigerate overnight to let the flavors blend. Serve cold or sit out 30 minutes before using.

Optional: add 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard, some pesto, or any herbs (basil, parsley, chives, cilantro, ect.) and spices (like chipotle, paprika, ect.).  Adjust and experiment to change up the flavor to fit what you like Smile

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I had accidently bought one of those small cans of chopped black olives that I had opened before realizing what it was. I searched online and decided to use it for a quick DIY Olive Tapenade. This doesn’t look so pretty but it’s an olive paste/spread that tastes good as an appetizer on sliced and toasted baguettes, veggies, buttery flavored crackers with spreadable cheese and/or slices of meat, spread on sandwiches, or stirred into your favorite pasta sauce. Tapenade can also be used as a seasoning for fish, or a topping.

Black Olive Tapenade

Ingredients:
4.25 oz. can chopped black olives
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh herb of choice (parsley, basil, thyme, ect.) or 1 tsp. dried
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, Balsamic or any wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:
  1. Combine everything in the food processor or blender. 
  2. Process until a smooth paste forms (15 seconds or so). it may still look kinda thick.
  3. This is best made the day before so it can sit in the refrigerator over night for the flavors to blend. Store in an airtight container. Serve warm or cold.
Notes: You can use Kalamata olives instead or a mixture of black and Kalamata together. I may try making green olive tapenade with this recipe too using basil as my choice of herb. Most people use small anchovies fillets and small capers in theirs but I don’t buy those for anything so it wasn’t part of my recipe.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Crockpot Cranberry Sauce

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Crockpot Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:
12oz. fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup cranberry, apple, or cranapple juice

Directions:
In a small crockpot (under 5 quarts) sprayed with cooking spray put in all the ingredients. Cook on High for 1 hour. Stir and continue cooking another hour. Stir every 15 minutes as the cranberries will soften and pop. Once it is the consistency you want turn off and cool down. Pour into a container and refrigerate over night for the flavors to blend.

Note: This is best made a day or two in advance so that the flavors will have time to sit and blend together. I do a mixture of white and brown sugar to give it an extra flavor boost. Using the juices instead of water enhances the flavor as well.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chicken Corn Chowder

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Chicken Corn Chowder

Ingredients:
6 strips of bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2-3 chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
4 medium potatoes, diced
1 15 oz. can cream of chicken soup (can add 2 if you prefer)
1 16oz. bag of frozen corn
2 cups of chicken broth (or water)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. warm milk (optional)

Directions:
Sauté bacon in a skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels but keep the grease in skillet. Cool bacon off and put in a container to use later. In the same skillet add onions, celery, carrots and cook until soft.  In crockpot add potatoes, chicken breasts, corn, broth, cooked veggies, and seasonings.  Cook on low 6 hours or till potatoes are done. Stir in warm milk the last 30 minutes of cooking. Sprinkle cooked bacon on top of chowder when serving. Serve with a side salad.

Serves 4-6

Monday, December 8, 2014

Crockpot Chili

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Crockpot Chili
Ingredients:
2 pounds ground beef, chuck, or venison (or 1 lb. beef and 1 lb. ground turkey)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil (if using only ground turkey)
3 cans (15 oz. each) pinto, dark red kidney, or black beans, drained (or a mixture of each)
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) diced tomatoes, undrained (can replace 1 can with crushed tomatoes)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 jalapeno, chopped (or 1 tsp. red pepper flakes)
2 Tbsp. chili powder 
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. (each) garlic and onion powder
2 tsp. dry oregano
1 tsp. dry Thyme (optional)
2 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Brown ground beef with onions and garlic; drain off excess fat. Combine beef and onions with remaining ingredients in a 6 quart slow cooker. Stir to blend. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours.

Note: The jalapeno is spicy. Wear gloves when chopping it to keep your hands from burning. If you don’t like things too spicy just use a can of green chilies or 1/4 tsp. of the red pepper flakes. Serve with corn bread or tortilla chips. Top with some shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, and cilantro if desired.

This chili is good on its own or used other ways. It tastes great over hot dogs (chili cheese dogs), fries (chili cheese fries), used on top of hot baked potatoes, for making chili potato skins or chili cheese nachos, ect.
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