A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015

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It’s almost April, and April means A to Z Blogging Challenge. Last year it was so much fun, though a bit challenging to post every day for a whole month, but I learned to love the short format, and it’s actually how my Almost Wordless Wednesday idea came to be. Short and sweet and straight to the point. Here is the link to learn more about A to Z Blogging Challenge http://www.a-to-challenge.com

Last year my A to Z Blogging theme was Life in Quotes. This year’s theme is Emotions. Why emotions? Because I think they often get bad reputation being viewed as something unfavorable and less desirable. We are all too focused on physical and intellectual sides as we consider them strong and productive, yet emotions are thought to be weak, unstable and something that knocks us off balance. This erroneous notion cannot be any further from the actual truth! A truly balanced person has all 4 pillars intact and in constant interaction with each other – physical, intellectual, emotional and intuitive – all sides have to harmoniously co-exist and enrich personal experience. If a person denies the true depth or even mere presence of certain emotions, it’s like a three-legged animal that can’t get far in life as we are not just a shell of physical cells and intellectual grey matter, we are humans and we feel emotions, we get hurt or angry and we experience love and joy.

Many emotions feel foreign and scary, even if those emotions are positive, such as love or trust, so people tend to just push them away. Always remember, now matter overwhelming certain emotions feel, you are still in charge! Feelings are just visitors, guests into a dwelling of your heart, welcome them, fully experience them and then keep the ones that make your life richer and let go of the ones that do not serve you. When some emotion rises, ride it like a wave rider, you are always on top, you have a choice to drown or be in control while still fully experiencing the ride. If you are too scared, you have to face your fear and say hello to your emotions. Trust me, your soul will thank you!

One of the very first tasks that I often make my clients do in therapy is to learn about all kinds of human emotions (and there’s a long list of them) and then learn to recognize and experience them without fear or judgement. Join me this April on a journey to explore some of those emotions.

Here is a schedule of my future posts, all days except Sundays have a letter assigned, and each letter will correspond to a certain emotion.

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I will still continue writing Almost Wordless Wednesday and Foodie Friday posts, and will try to squeeze a few regular recipe posts, that means that on Wednesdays and Fridays there will be two posts. If you are not sick of me now, I guess you will be by the time April ends! :)

Who Shut The Spring Off?!

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Whoever it was – I want it back, so you better bring it! I was waiting for four months to get out of a winter coat so I’m not losing my ground so easily! Snow? Really? I’m just going to close my eyes, stay inside and pretend it’s not happening. Not on March 28!

But, I guess it’s OK, there’s stuff to do at home anyway. And April looks to be very busy so a little R&R at home is a good thing right now. The kid started having little anxiety attacks that once he leaves for college, that he’ll have to go without my home cooked meals (and do his own laundry) so he’s extra clingy and food demanding. And he’s asking if I’ll be bringing him some baked goods every weekend.

Kid, as much as I love you, I’m not making 6-7 hour (one way!) drive just to bring you muffins every Saturday, you’ll have to rely on college food! Maybe once in a while I’ll mail you something. The rest of the times, if you really miss mama’s cooking, you’ll just have to come home. No, that does not mean you are getting a car! I know you have a license and drive every week. You recently drove me home (and I did not die!). Yes, you did a great job, with all the swag and confidence and easy moves – you were quite a “smooth operator”! But in no way does it mean you can now get a motorcycle for your 18th birthday! You’ve been asking about it since you were 13, the answer has not changed, it’s still “hell NO!” So just stop asking!!

Why don’t you instead come and sit next to me, so I can hold and kiss you while I still have you at home with me. Pretty soon you’ll be gone and may never return home after that, thinking about it making my heart ache how fast all the years flew by from that very first moment when I held you in my arms (you had red hair and dark blue eyes, and a feisty little spirit) to that day that will come in August when I have to drop you off at your college and pretend that crying was not on my mind at all, and no, I will not embarrass you like that, I promise.

So come sit with me, let’s have this brunch together, I know it’s your favorite, I made it specially for you.

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“Mama, you cook so good for me! I will die without you, I will die!” No, baby, I promise you, you will not!

What’s Cooking This Week

Most people try to make seasonal recipes, I do too mostly, especially if it’s related to fresh fruits and vegetables that are better during some particular season, but other times, I just don’t pay attention to that. If I want pumpkin bread in July, I don’t see any reason why I can’t. Cranberries and persimmons are considered winter fruits, but I can still find persimmons in some stores, plus frozen cranberries are usually not an issue either (with these snow flurries today, you’ll feel that this recipe is actually quite seasonal). And, if you can’t find persimmons, you can substitute peaches in this recipe. The relish will keep in the fridge for at least 7-10 days, and you’ll find that it goes well with a lot of other dishes.

Apple-Cheddar Turkey Burgers with Spicy Persimmon-Cranberry Relish

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1 lb ground turkey

2 small red apples, grated

1/3 cup cheddar, shredded (I used dairy free daiya)

2 tsp dry chives

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp parsley

salt, pepper, olive oil

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1 bag of fresh or frozen cranberries

2 small persimmons, cut

1/4 cup of sugar

2 Tbsps of fresh ginger, ground

2 Tbsps of bourbon

1 tsp of paprika

1/2 tsp of allspice

Zest from 1 small orange

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You can make relish the day before and keep it in the fridge or make it earlier and cool off before serving. In a medium pot, combine cranberries, sugar and bourbon and simmer until berries start popping and releasing juice. Then stir in spices, zest, ginger and cut persimmons, cook until all is soft (but not overdone) stirring often.  Set aside or cool off and put relish in the fridge.

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To make the burgers, combine turkey meat with salt, pepper and spices, then fold in grated apple and cheddar shreds into the mixture, divide into burgers, you’ll get 5-7, depending on size.

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Yes, that’s a bottle of wine in the background.  Don’t you find everything comes out better if you’re drinking wine in the process?! :)  Heat up some olive oil and fry the burgers, don’t make the heat too high as both apple and cheddar tend to burn easily, you don’t want your burgers to be too burned.

Serve them immediately, top with some relish and use your favorite bun. I’m having mine with Udi’s gluten free bun, kid likes his with an onion bun.

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Serve with any side you like, we have homemade purple cole slaw here.

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Foodie Friday – You Had Me At Hello

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Welcome to my new “short feature” – Foodie Friday! In the past few months, my (Almost) Wordless Wednesday posts proved to be quite popular, and it’s something I enjoy posting very much! I try to find inspirational, wise and interesting life quotes and pictures to share with you, my readers. Foodie Friday is a new short feature that will be dedicated strictly to my love of food and anything cooking related – be it a quote, an artsy food photography or even a picture of my own homemade cooking created for an earlier post. And, of course, regular recipe posts will continue to appear on my blog, but Wednesdays and Fridays will now be dedicated to short inspirational or food related clips. I hope you love my Foodie Fridays!

I Need a Hug

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I need a hug today! Please! My pain level is through the roof!

Something happened with my left knee, over the past few months, it’s been getting difficult to walk up and down the stairs (going down is more problematic than going up), and it’s now to a point where I can’t walk down without literary bursting into tears from pain. People probably think I have a metal rod in my left leg, the way I walk down, with a straight leg, almost sliding down the stairs – I’m quite a sight!

Up until last night, I was still generally OK if I didn’t have to face the stairs, but now I’m in pain all over, both legs, top to bottom. I had to go to the city with my kid today, to attend a “hometown” reception by one of the colleges he got accepted to, and I barely made it through, getting up and down the subway stairs was a visual to remember too!

So, as much as I hate to admit it, it’s time for a trip to see a doctor and get whatever tests they’d probably put me through to find out what’s wrong with my knees, there’s definitely some inflammation going on. I need to somehow feel better by mid April as we have trips to take to schools where kid got admitted to, and all the trips are many hours-long drives.

For now, it’s mom to the rescue! No matter how old you are, mama makes everything better! I’ve already tried all the pills you can take without being completely drowsy,  my mom is bringing some different medicine to try, I don’t care if I fall asleep mid-sentence, I need to not feel the pain at least for a little bit!

And, I’m sure, if you come around with a hug, that’d make me feel better too!

What’s Cooking This Week

When you feel bad, and your mood is down, making some comforting food is a way to bring some moment of cheer back into your life. Today’s recipe is a classic dish reinvented, into a healthier grain-free option you won’t mind eating anyway. It uses pumpkin, technically not a spring dish, though I don’t pay much attention to it, I cook what and when I want it. Plus, judging by yesterday’s snow, we are still in winter mode.

Chicken and Kale with Grain-Free Pumpkin Dumplings

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1 lb boneless chicken breast, cut up

2-3 cups fresh kale

1 large red onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, pressed

1 can of pumpkin purée

3/4 cup of quinoa flour

1/4 cup of potato starch

1/4 cup of coconut flour

2 eggs

1 tsp of oregano

1 tsp of coriander

1/4 tsp of nutmeg

Salt, pepper, olive oil

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First, put a large pot with water to boil. Then combine together all the flours with a pinch of salt and nutmeg, then beat in the eggs and finally pumpkin, set the dough aside to rest (coconut flour usually needs some time to soak in the liquids).

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In a mean while, cook the chicken. In a deep pan, heat up olive oil and sauté onion and garlic until golden, add chicken, sauté for another minute, season with salt, pepper, spices and cook until chicken is done. Mix in kale and let it wilt for another minute, don’t over cook. Shut the flame off, cover and set aside.

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When the water is boiling, reduce heat, add some salt, and start cooking dumplings in batches. Using a small spoon and a fork (batter is sticky), slide off each dumpling into the water, cook until dumplings rise to the surface, about 1-2 minutes, then, using a slotted spatula, remove dumplings and place them into a pan with chicken and kale, cover the pan again. Repeat the same steps with each dumplings batch. I wasn’t very particular with the shape of dumplings, I kind of like them uneven, adds to that “homemade” feel, but, if you want, you can try shaping them round.

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Return the pan with chicken and dumplings to a medium heat, mix and coat dumplings with chicken juices and seasonings.

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This may not help with the actual pain, but it does feel like a hug from the inside!

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Now can I have my hug?!

St. Patrick’s Day in NYC

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Seen in the Financial District.

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I’m pretty sure both the Wall Street Bear and the Bull would attack you if you proceed, so would not risk it either!

Strawberry cupcakes for a party would help to fight off the bears. Yes, they are not green, but, after a few drinks, would you really care?! :)

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