Category Archives: recipes

Recipe Friday: Spinach Stuffed Steak Roulades

July 17, 2015

A few days ago, I saw this blog post in my news-feed entitled, ” The 15 Best Things I Ever Ate.” over on Cupcakes and Cashmere, so of course, I had to satisfy the curious foodie in me. I clicked on over, not only learning that I need to be watching The Best Thing I Ever Ate.’ on The Food Network, but that if I had to come up with a list of 15 of the best things I ever ate, I might be hard pressed to do so.

While I try to eat the rainbow, with a little bit of wine and dessert thrown in, I am pretty routine in my food choices. I’ll admit it, I eat the same handful of meals every day.   Even when I go out to eat, I don’t really explore much beyond what is instantly recognizable to me.  Because I enjoy eating, I’m not going to waste an opportunity on something I’m not at least 75% sure I’m going to like.  I know, I’m crazy. 

I’m not strictly a meat and potatoes kind of gal, but I will say steak frites is one of my favorite meals.  I guess, that would be the first entry on my list; now, to narrow it down to where I had the “best” steak frites”.  Decisions, decisions. 

While I ruminate on the plates and places that got my palate percolating (see what I did there?), I’ll share with you one an easy and flavorful recipe that makes for a great dinner time presentation.  And, let me just say, last night, I had the camera out and was clicking artfully styled images of each step of the process to turn these 5 ingredients into a delicious dinner.  I uploaded my images. I edited them just a touch. I downloaded them to WordPress and then. . . error message.

I tried again. I adjusted some setting. I closed some programs. I re-opened others. I went to add the images and. . .error message.

One more try and still nothing. My morning is but a memory and my afternoon is heading into the oblivion of post-camp/pre-bedtime scramble as I have to scoop up M and C in about, oh, 5 minutes.  I don’t know what’s worse, writing an epic post, not hitting save and losing it OR writing an epic post, saving it, but then not being able to use the coordinating images that you worked really hard on because error message. Sometimes, I just want to shake my Mac like an Etch-A-Sketch and have everything settle where it’s supposed to be.

Ugh.

Anyway, my apologies for an internet stock photo, but trust me, if you make this yourself, you’ll want to take your own photos to show what an awesome kitchen warrior you are!

Happy Friday, y’all!

Spinach Stuffed Steak Roulades

spinach, stuffed, steak, roulades, real simple, Charles Masters, Real Simple, recipes

Spinach Stuffed Steak Roulades photo by Charles Masters, Real Simple Magazine

Recipe courtesy of Real Simple
Serves 4

Ingredients

1/2 pound flank steak
1/4 cup olive tapenade
2 cups  spinach, thick stems removed
kosher salt and black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat grill to medium-high. Cut the steak in half horizontally (don’t cut all the way through) and open like a book.
  2. Spread the tapenade over the steak; top with the spinach. Roll up; tie with twine at 2-inch intervals. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  3. Grill the steak, covered, turning occasionally, 15 to 18 minutes for medium-rare. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Recipe Friday: DIY Detox Water

June 26, 2015

I’ll admit it.  I want a flat stomach.

I don’t need rippling ab muscles.  I’m not trying to wash clothes on my stomach. I just want a smooth, flat space from under the girls to below the bellybutton.  I want the “pooch” to disappear.

I know that a few months ago, my post 21 Day Fix photo popped up showing me with a more defined midsection.  I worked hard for that definition.  Really hard.  Which is why I’m so frustrated with how things are going now.  Two months of not working out at all and I’m back to my pre 21 Day Fix measurements.  I’ve heard the adage that there’s someone out there who wishes your weakest/heaviest/worst was their fittest/thinnest/best. I get it. I totally get that, but. . .

I want a flat stomach.

Two years ago, I shared with you all my experience with diastasis recti, the separation of the abdominal muscles due to weakened core, pregnancy or hormonal changes. I had heard of this condition before; basically, the sheet of abdominal muscles separates.  It’s not life threatening (at least, nothing I read said that it was), but you are supposed to use caution when doing crunches and sit-ups in the off chance that your cause further separatation of the mucles.

From what I remember from anatomy and phys., of the multiple sets of abdominal muscles you have, your rectus abdominis is the sheet of muscles that is where you get your six pack.  The muscles are connected by a tendon that runs down the middle.  The tendon has no elasticity in it, which means if you put on a lot of weight (as in the case with a pregnancy), the muscles separate, the tendon gets stretched.  After you lose the weight, the muscles, which have elasticity, retract, but the tendon is still in the same stretched out shape it was in when you put the weight on, thereby causing the gap between the muscles.

“To check yourself for diastasis, lie on your back with your knees bent.  With your fingers pointing down toward your feet, hold two fingers flat on your bellybutton.  Press your fingers down as you slowly lift your head (keep your shoulders on the ground).  Do you feel a gully between the two muscles?  Measure how many fingers wide it is (mine is about 2.5 fingers wide).  If you can fit two or more fingers inside, you should not do crunches or sit ups.  If this is you, I would recommend halting all traditional abdominal exercises and doing the workout on this page until your separation heals.” — from Dear Diastasis Recti, I’m so over you by Inspired RD on June 19, 2012

The earliest chance I got, I’m on the floor with my knees bent, fingers in my belly button. I’m kind of thinking whatever’s about to happen is going to make me less than pleased, but I soldier on. I start to slowly lift my head and let me tell you, my abs parted like the Red Sea and my fingers were Noah.  Sweet fancy Moses! I’m pretty sure I could have pulled Jimmy Hoffa, Ameila Earheart, and the Holy Grail out of the gap between the muscles.

*le sigh* Ultimately, the gap is what contributes to the nefarious “mommy pooch”, and apparently it can be overcome by strengthening the core.  So, what’s a girl to do? No crunches, apparently.  The website provided a list of alternative exercises to do to strengthen the muscles, but I honestly don’t believe a gap like mine or the ones described can just be “healed” (their word, not mine).

In 2013, I visited a plastic surgeon as part of my second ankle repair surgery. After we discussed how he would work in conjunction with my orthopedist to revise the scar on my leg (so much for that), I asked him about my C-Section scar.  That in turn lead to a convo about abdomnioplasty and diastasis recti.  The doctor had me lie back with my knees drawn up and my feet flat on the table, just like the Inspired RD describes.  He then measured the separation, again, just like described above.  Diagnosis? I’ve got it. And he assured me he could fix it. I think his exact words were, “Oh, I can totally take care of that!”

Totally.

Part of me was hoping he was going to say that my situation was all in my head, just me being vain and it wasn’t anything a few thousand crunches couldn’t fix. Part of me was validated though, and I totally want everyone to stick their fingers in my gut so I can sit up and be like, “See, what I’m talking about?!”

But, surgery isn’t going to happen for a variety of reasons, tops on the list being, I need to get over myself.  Close second is I’m in no rush for more surgery, followed by I really need to get over myself.

So, in the interim, I try to eat right and am counting down the days until I can exercise again.  The healthy eating is coming along pretty nicely. Pinterest — of course — has tons of useful recipes and suggestions, which brings me to today’s recipe.  Detox Water to Shrink Your Belly.

The pin bragged a slimmer stomach in 10 days.  I thought, “I’ve got 10 Days. What’s the worst that can happen? I drink more water?” So, I tried it out.  Honestly, though, I don’t know if it is working.  I’m going to say not working, but only because I have a habit of cozying up with a spoon and some almond butter every evening.  Oh have the mighty have fallen.  Still, I’ve increased my water intake significantly, so, you know, there’s that.

Happy Friday, y’all!

 

DIY Detox Water to Shrink Your Belly

from DIY Beauty Tutorials

 

Ingredients

  • 3-5 slices of cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 3-4 mint leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
Lemon, ginger, honey, mint, cucumber

Lemon, ginger, honey, mint and cucumber

While the original post included step by step instructions, I’ve made a few modifications to make this recipe more my own.

Every evening before bed, I grab a Tervis tumbler and my supplies. I usually have snapped a few sprigs of mint from my herb garden earlier in the day, so I drop those into the bottom of the cup.  I use a mandoline and pass a cucumber over the blades’ thinnest setting about four times.  Drop those into the cup.  Next, I take out my microplaner and get busy with the ginger.  Ginger is the key ingredient for boosting your metabolism, so I’m pretty heavy handed with it.  I half a lemon and squeeze the juice on in.  Then I top it off with blorp of honey from the honey bear and fill the cup with water. Into the fridge it goes until the morning.

  • detox water, flat stomach, water, ginger, lemon, cucumber, honey, mint, paper straw

    Drink Up!

 

When I get up at 5:30, I clip clop downstairs, grab the water and straw. I also grab a 900ml cup and fill that with water.  Then, back up the stairs to set up a mini hydration station on my nightstand.  While I do my first set of 20 minute squats for the day, I drink water.  While I watch the news, I drink water. While I do my second set of 20 minute squats for the day, I drink water.  The 900ml cup provides refills, though the flavor gets more and more diluted with each pour.  By 7am, I’ve had about 46 oz of water, which is close to 6 cups.  I’ve also been to the bathroom about as many times.

Recipe Friday: Birthday Cake Milkshakes

June 19, 2015

What a week!  M and C had camp, which meant V and I got to hang out for some one on one time.  We did the Children’s Museum — twice –, grocery shopping, a lazy day at home and of course, a trip to Target.

Today, as the camp for M and C came to an end, both of them had a little program in one of their classes.  Camp started at 9am.  C’s program was at 11:30am, M’s at 3:30pm.  Pick up was at 4pm.  You can imagine what kind of yo-yo action was going on today as I did my best to get to everyone’s activity with a cranky-free V in tow.

And did I mention that C leaves for a week at sleep away camp on Sunday and M leaves for Camp Grandma on Monday? There’s been a bit of running around going on to get everyone squared away.  Tempting as it was to just flop down on the couch and let the girls do what they would, I decided I had enough juice left to whip up a fun summer treat.

Ice cream, frosting, sprinkles in a frosty glass? Who doesn’t love that?

milkshakes, real simple, yummy

How fun do these look?

Happy Friday, y’all!

Birthday Cake Milkshakes
recipe from Real Simple Magazine, July 2015

milkshake, real simple, yummy

frosting, milkshake, yummy, real simple

Frosting on a small plate.

sprinkles, yummy, milkshake, real simple

Gotta have sprinkles!

milkshake, yummy, real simple

Milk, ice cream and frosting ready to be blended.

 

milkshakes, real simple, yummy

In the frosty, decorated glass with a jazzy straw!

milkshakes, real simple, yummy

Happy Campers.

 

Recipe Friday: Pad Thai

June 12, 2015

I’m a sucker for unique packaging. I like minimalist backgrounds, pops of color, and fonts that look like giggles and tickles. I saw this on the shelf at The Fresh Market the other day.

Usually, when I grocery shop, I try to stick to the list I’ve prepared.  For the most part, my cart is full of produce and fresh foods. I try to keep the packaged foods to a minimum.  Like I said, however, I’m a sucker for packaging.  I mean, look at this box! Let’s break down why I find it so appealing.

1. Marion’s Kitchen  — one of my grandma’s was named Marion. She didn’t cook, though.

2. Pad Thai — Um, delicious much?!

3. Black and White Photo of a smiling woman — Black and white photography is a favorite style of mine.  As for the woman, well, I don’t know her, but that grin says, “Yes! You can make Pad Thai in two easy steps and it will be incredible! Look at my smile! It says you are a Top Chef and Asian cuisine is your specialty!” Well, maybe it doesn’t say all that, but it’s implied.

4. The text  — I don’t know the font, but I know it’s not Comic Sans.  2 steps for 2-4 people in 20 minutes? What’s not to like? The promise of quality ingredients? Well, since you’re supplying them yourself, you’ve got control over that.

It’s no surprise this box made it from the shelf to the cart to my kitchen counter. Even though we are in the midst of grilling season, I took a break from searing steaks and I served this dish along with some Trader Joe’s Asian Cousin — Trader Ming’s — favorite side dishes: potstickers, cha siu bao, and scallion pancakes.  With a head of steamed broccoli for some additional color and nutrition, I had a complete meal in a little over 20 minutes.

As far as the flavor profile, it was certainly evocative of pad thai. All of the elements were there: chicken, rice noodles, scallions, egg — I even added some crushed peanuts on top for crunch.  My noodles weren’t as soft and slippery as you would find a traditional Thai restaurant, nor was my chicken sliced as thinly. Both of those kitchen tricks come with practice. The flavor of the sauce was sweet and tangy, but again, not exactly identical to the pad thai sauce I’ve had in restaurants.  We certainly ended up with more than 2-4 servings, which I was happy to share with my parents when they came to visit the following day.  Much like it’s cousin, Chinese take-out, this Pad Thai was even better the second day.

With other dishes like Butter Chicken and Red Thai Curry, looks like Marion has a few other things cooking in her kitchen.  Maybe I will, too.  Happy Friday, y’all!

Marion’s Kitchen Pad Thai Kit

pad thai, wok, stir fry, dinner

 

Instructions from Marion’s Kitchen Pad Thai Kit

Includes

– rice stick noodles
– pad Thai sauce

– 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
– 400g thinly sliced chicken, pork or whole peeled prawns
– 1 egg, lightly beaten
– 1 spring onion, finely sliced
– lemon wedges to serve

pad thai, chicken, dinner, yum, Marion's Kitchen

Prep Work While The Chicken Browns

Directions
1. Place RICE STICK NOODLES in a large heat-safe bowl and cover with boiling water. Use a fork to stir and separate the noodles then leave to soak for about 5 minutes or until softened. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water. Set aside for later.

2. Heat oil over high heat and fry your favorite meat or prawns for up to 5 minutes (2-3 mins for prawns) or until just cooked through. Push everything to one side of the pan and add egg to the empty side. Let egg set for a minute or until just starting to firm up. Break up egg with a spatula, then toss through your meat or prawns. Add softened rice stick noodles to the pan, along with my PAD THAI SAUCE. Use tongs to separate and toss noodles through the sauce until mixed through. Remove pan from heat and toss though spring onion. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over just before eating. Enjoy!

dinner, pad thai, yummy, cooking

Dinner is Served

Recipe Friday: Ice Cream Sandwiches

May 27, 2015

It really doesn’t get much easier than this.  Sadly, most of the end product was consumed before I could snap some photos. What you see here are stock images found on Pinterest. The spirit is the same!

I’m really going all in this summer, trying to max out on activities and fun times with the girls.  I’m marvelling at how quickly they are growing up and I want to be really present to enjoy these times.  I haven’t really enjoyed the girls as much as want to, given all the challegnes that I’ve been facing trying to recouperate. There’s been a lot of me telling them “No” and “I can’t do that” or “You have to wait for someone else”.  Not much fun when what they really want is to spend time with me.

Slowly, slowly, I’m rectificying that.  Last week-end, I took C and V with me to the Home Depot.  We loaded up on herbs, marigolds, begonias and potted plants.  Pinterest said all you need is some herbs and a dream to make your backyard garden a reality.  I bought into it 100%.  We spent the bulk of Sunday afternoon elbow deep in potting soil and watering cans.  I think I enjoyed it more than the girls did.

Memorial Day, the girls and I christened the grill for the 2015 year, firing up hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken breasts. We sat outside and had a lovely time around the picnic table and under the umbrella.  I passed around some cans of Coke and you’d have thought they’d each received a golden ticket. I mean, what’s a cook-out without some Coca-Cola, right?

While I do have a more tricks up my sleeve to keep us entertained this summer, I’m dangerously close to blowing my wad in the next few days.  Yesterday, I made a grocery list, asking the girls what kind of sweet treats they’d like to have. Ice cream sanwiches were top of the list.  Ahh, the ice cream sandwich, a true summer time staple, only surpassed by the ice cream sanwich made with chocolate chip cookies.  We’re a big fan of those.  The girls put their requests in and off I went to the store.

My hands were on the box of 6 Good Humor Chocolate Chip cookie sandwiches when it occurred to me, this is so easy. I could make these myself.  So, that’s what I decided to do.  The box went back into the depths of the frozen food department. I navigated my way around the aisles, grabbing a gallon of Breyer’s Homestyle Vanilla and a package of Break and Bake Toll House cookies.  At home, I turned on the oven, dropped the cookies on the sheet and let them bake.  Once they were  done, I let them cool while the ice cream softened on the counter.

I ended up with a dozen good sized cookies, upon which I dolloped a healthy scoop of softened ice cream and then topped with another cookie.  All told, I finished with six CD sized ice cream sandwiches, which I slid into the freezer to harden.  Could I have rolled them in sprinkles or chocolate chips or some other sugar based confection? Probably.  Did I? Nope.  First time out of the gate, I went for simplicity. We’ve got the whole summer ahead of us; plenty of time to coat ourselves (and the floor) with a rainbow of sugary crystals. Despite the rather plain appearance, the reaction to this dessert was anything but.  Who doesn’t love an ice cream sandwich? And an ice cream sandwich made by Mom?! #winning !

What’s your favorite summer time ice cream treat? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Happy Friday, y’all!

pinterest, cookies, cooking, baking, summer, treats

Yum, yum, yum!

Chocoloate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

recipe via Cooking on the Side with some edits by Hilary with One L

Ingredients

1. 1 package of 12 break and bake (or slice and bake) cookies

2. 1 pint of vanilla (or your favorite) ice cream

3. Sprinkles, chocolate chips, nuts or other toppings (optional)

Directions

1. Bake the cookies according to the directions on the package. Allow cookies to cool.

2. While cookies are cooling, allow ice cream to soften, no more than 5 minutes.

3. Divide the cookies into pairs.

4. Lay one cookie on a flat, clean surface, bottom side up. Place a small, round scoop of ice cream on the center of the cookie. Close the sandwich with a second cookie, gently pressing down so that the ice cream spreads to meet the edges of the cookies evenly.

5. Carefully roll the sides of the sandwich in your decorations (gently press them into the ice cream to help them stay put) and immediately transfer the sandwich to your tray in the freezer.

Enjoy!

Recipe Friday: Cassoulet

April 10, 2015

You ever notice how when you decide to make a change in your life, wherever you look, you see that very thing all around you? Maybe it serves as a reminder to stay the course and follow through with your plan to make a change for the better. Maybe it serves as temptation to which you succumb.

Either way, it’s been my experience that when I decide to make a change, I’m inundated with information or situations about that very thing.

A month ago, I made the decision to kick up my clean eating regime by doing a 21 Day Fix.  Then I was promptly invited out to several lunches, a cocktail reception and two baby showers.  Food! Food! Food!

I am moving ahead with my third (and hopefully, final) surgery, on my leg this coming Monday.  I know that I’ll have a period of recuperation, so I decided that I’d rather do some preventative maintenance when it comes to staying active than just let it all go out the window.  I had been training for The Alum Run 5k and sticking with my Zumba and weight lifting, but I wasn’t seeing the results that I wanted.  My friend who coached me through my clean eating challenges posted a few photos of people she had coached on this 21 Day Fix.  These were regular looking people. No one did an Ugly Betty to Gisele type of transformation.  There were some serious success stories of course, but the take away for me was that the program was do-able.  And I kept thinking, “If I don’t do it, three weeks from now, I’ll be thinking, I coulda been finished.”

There was a lot of prep work involved:

proper prior planning

I did it, and when people say three weeks makes a habit, it’s true.  I’m done with my three weeks, but I’m still portioning out and using my containers.  Sure, I went a little rogue on the nut allotment here and there, but it was nuts, not Cheez-Curls or Oreos.  Truthfully, I’ve changed the way I shop, much to the chagrin of the children.  M came home from school and started rooting in the pantry for a snack.

“Where are the Doritos?” she said, frantically pushing aside bags of raw cashews, almonds, and pecans.

“Probably at the store where I left them,” I replied with a shrug.

Ever been given side-eye by a nine year old? It looks a lot like this:

M's face

I am NOT amused.

I committed to this 21 Day Fix in part because I was thumbing though my post-op protocols.  Sure, there was the usual rest, elevate, ice and so forth. I was looking for the green light about exercise.  Day 1, blah, blah blah. Day 10, blah, blah, blah.  Then it jumped to week 3 — walking without crutches while still wearing the boot is permitted.  Um. . .I need a little more than that. I read on. Week 6 — Walking without the boot, using an elliptical without the boot is permitted.  Um. . .that’s not going to work for me.  3 months — light jogging is permitted.   Yeah, that definitely isn’t going to work for me.  What in the world? You all know that I’m pretty active. I’m going from high intensity two-a-days to light jogging? After three months?

oprah, cry, crying, all the feels

all the feels

Anyway, after  the 21 days, while I didn’t have the marble hard abs to which I aspired, I was a few pounds and a few inches lighter.  Not too bad. I definitely didn’t want to undo my hard work, but Easter was coming up and I wanted to make something special.

Back in February, The Hubs and I finagled a dinner down in Williamsburg.  His choice of appetizer prompted me to go digging for this recipe when we got home.  I’m all for a break from tacos, and spaghetti, chicken piccatta, and hot dogs.  The usual list of staples that I end up plating for the family needed a shake-up. In my folder of ripped out recipes, I searched for one that I’ve been sitting on from 2012 and have never made: a recipe for cassoulet.

Cassoluet, is a hearty stew-like casserole mainly comprised of slow simmered beans, meat, spices and sausages. In a number of French themed fiction I’ve read, cassoulet is often mentioned.  Curious to know more about the origins of the dish, a quick search informed me that it comes from southern France’s Languedoc region.

I’ve had cassoulet twice.  Actually, on both occasions, it wasn’t even my plate.   Both times I’ve tried it, the dish was delicious.  In between those samplings, I found a recipe in Richmond Magazine, tore it out, but never used it.  Time rolled by, as it is prone to do. In those crests and troughs,  I have seen cassoluet on menus, but I didn’t order it.  While I’m happy to sample someone else’s cassoluet, whenever I have a chance to eat a French restaurant, I’m going for my tried and true when it comes to appetizers: escargot.  Mmmmm, garlic, butter, snails.

Valentine’s Day found the Hubs and I having dinner at the Blue Talon.  I ordered the escargot, (obvi), while The Hubs ordered the cassoulet.  It came in it’s earthenware crock. It was warm, inviting, and as he dipped his spoon ribbons of steam, spice, and comfort swirled around us and our little table.  Generously, the Hubs offered me a taste. It would have been poor form to refuse.  While my escargot was really good, that cassoulet was even better.  Clearly, because I pulled out that ripped out recipe and started reading the ingredient list and  preparation instructions.  The list of ingredients extensive causing my plan to whip up a cassoulet that very  week-end started to dissipate like the ribbons of steam from the crock itself.  See, not only did I want to make this dish, I want to make it really, really well.

I had this vision of using my stoneware, sipping a full bodied red as I chopped and stirred.  I wanted to make sure I got only the best ingredients, which was going to require some careful planning (and probably a tour of RVA) as I made my way from shop to shop to get things like duck confit, a nice pork butt or shoulder, ham hocks and the like.

Aside from the fact that I don’t like cheese — says the woman who eats snails — I really think I must have been French in a previous life. I love wine and chocolate and escargot and a number of French inspired dishes. Cassoulet, especially today when I look at the temperature and see that it is a rainy 51 degrees, is something I wouldn’t mind dipping my spoon into for lunch or for dinner. It’s s evocative of thick woolen sweaters and exposed beams and fireplaces and wrapping your hands around a steaming cup of tea. Sipping your wine and reading magazines and having your feet tucked up under you with a cozy blanket spread in your lap.  Basically living out some of my favorite tumblr images and watching the cold world outside your window.  There’s nothing wrong with that, right?

A few weeks earlier, while having lunch with a friend, the conversation turned to food and food prep.  She told me about the hamburgers she makes using prime cuts of meat from a butcher. She went on to talk about some chocolate chip cookies she’s added to her repertoire, using only premium flour and butter.  No ordinary chocolate chips will do, either. A visit to the chocolatier for chocolate shaved off of the block  was to be added to her mix.  I’m not even close to doing her description justice, but never have flour, sugar, butter and chocolate sounded so appetizing in their separate states as they did right then.

All of the things my friend had done in order to ensure that the cookies she was going to make were going to be high quality were necessary.  When I reviewed the ingredient list for the cassoluet, I knew that a trip to my local supermarket wasn’t going to suffice. My cassoulet had to follow similar steps. So, the Monday before Easter, V and I went to Belmont Butchery.

choice ingredients

The recipe stated that the meal could be achieved in about 3-4 hours, not including prep time.  I flipped open my copy of Joy of Cooking; their recipe for cassoulet said it was a “multi-day” recipe, especially if you planned to make one of the primary ingredients, the confit, yourself. Now, while I am ambitious, I do know my limitations.  I saved the duck confit for the experts, letting Belmont Butchery hook me up with that.  I got hamhocks, pancetta, pork butt,  and Italian sausage.  Williams Sonoma helped out with the duck fat.  I went to the Fresh Market in search of dried beans (none to be had), fresh spices and veggies. I chopped and diced all week so that come Sunday morning, I could just add ingredients as needed.  I saved the crusty bread for a Saturday purchase and swapped out the salad for fresh green beans.   All the components to make this a complete meal, purchased, prepped and ready to go by Saturday afternoon.

To say putting this dish together was a labor of love would be an understatement. In this multi-step recipe, several portions required the ingredients to simmer for 90 minutes before adding additional foodstuffs.  We had an Easter egg hunt to go to at 1:30.  I wanted dinner to be ready by the time we got home.  Guess who was rising and shining at 5am ? Had to get my workout in before I started cooking at 6.  I started to worry that I had purchased the meat too early in the week because as things started to cook, the house started to smell. . .funky.  Now, I was simmering hamhocks. . .and pancetta. . .and pork butt. . .I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that it smelled a little porky.  I panicked, though, thinking that dish was going to come out terribly. So, I did what any other domestic goddess would do.

I made a back-up meatloaf.

By 9am, everything that needed 90 minutes to simmer had simmered.  It was time to combine the multiple pots on the stove into a Dutch oven and jam it into the oven for three hours.  While the cassoulet did it’s thing, I twisted M’s hair, folded laundry, caught up on Outlander (don’t judge me), got everyone dressed for the Easter Egg hunt and got myself cleaned up as well.  Then I took a nap.

Of course we all know that no nap was had by me that day. We had our fun with our friends and came home to a wonderful meal prepared by moi.

IMG_5605

#omnomnom

 

le dîner est servi

Well, the Hubs and I found it wonderful. The girls, not so much. Did I know that this would happen?

Yup.

Did I ignore my better judgement and make this dish anyway?

Yup.

The Hubs and I had two servings. Each of the girls had a spoonful of which, between the three of them, maybe two bites were taken.  C ate the sausage, M at the bread and V ate the butter.

*le sigh* You try to cultivate refined palates, but whatever. . .

We have at least three Tupperware dishes of cassoulet left over, so if you’re wanting to try it, call me. I’ll hook you up.

Truthfully, I would make this dish again.  I’d half the recipe for starters, but I’d make it again.  It was challenging, time consuming, but ultimately delicious. I felt accomplished for having successfully executed such a recipe.  I felt satisfied that even though I ate two servings, I didn’t completely go off the rails from my 21 Days of portion control.  And while the meatloaf didn’t wasn’t necessary in the end, I froze that bad boy for the family to have when I’m recovering next week.  Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

Please send me some love and good wishes for Monday.  I’ll check in with you guys when I’m able. Happy Friday, y’all!

 

 

Cassoulet

Originally printed in Richmond Magazine, “Hearty Links” by Tina Eshelman, November 2012. Recipe provided by Diane Fraser of Cucina in Church Hill (314 N. 25th St., 243-8753) provided this recipe.

Sausage is an essential component of cassoulet, a slow-simmered mix of beans, herbs and meats. This classic dish from southern France’s Languedoc region is perfect for gatherings of family and friends on a chilly afternoon “with a fire in the background, and a glass of wine in hand,” says Diane Fraser, owner of Cucina Fine Foods Market and Catering.

Recipe Friday : Pad See Ew

January 7, 2015

The first complete week of January is behind us and I’m doing pretty well with my “no-resolution” resolutions.  Last time I checked, still the same ol’ Hilary with One L as before.  Not to break my own arm patting myself on the back, but not bad. Not bad at all.

As for my foray into the organization of the linen closet, I plan to visit Target (again) this week-end.  Something is getting organized, dang it! I’ve taken more measurements. I’ve pretty much crawled into Pinterest and camped out there as I consider all the linen closet storage and organization options I have.  What I have discovered, is that not many of those “before” closets look like my current closet.  With respect to dimensions and layout, most of the closets I’ve seen pinned are probably no more than 4 or 5 feet across, like a traditional coat closet. My closet is a little longer than that, which means I’ve had to shift my aspirations of pairs or trios of bins and buckets.  I’m going to need quads and quintets, I think.

All that rummaging around Pinterest turned up a lot of other goodies, too.  I’ve already cataloged a couple of non-food Valentine’s Day treats for school. I found some outfit ideas for this winter weather that has wanting to just walk around in sweatpants all day.  There was this gel eyeliner hack that I saw that I am definitely going to try the next time I get dolled up.

Scotch tape as a guide to applying eyeliner for a flawless cat-eye.  Yeah, I’m definitely going to try that because this is my current eyeliner situation:

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I know I’m not the only one, right? Right.  But, back to my new finds on Pinterest.  There are some new hairstyles that I plan to try on the girls, provided they sit still long enough.  There are some hairstyle how-to’s to help me on my #growit #noheat hair challenge.   On my craft board, there are some nifty DIY crafts that I want to try. I’m determined to make some Sharpie Mugs that don’t flake off or wash off after one use! Oh, and the food board.  Can’t forget about my bestie!  Even though I’m still working this clean cleaner moderately clean-ish eating plan, I still make regular meals for the kids. Yeah, I know I said I wasn’t going to be a short-order cook, but many a plate went uneaten (theirs) and many a tear was shed (theirs again) when I served up something that wasn’t 1). Sushi for M 2). Chicken wings for C,  3). Chocolate for V, or 4). Anythinganything, from a restaurant.  While some may argue that the kids should eat what the parent eat and that I’m making more work for myself by making separate meals. . .yeah, I don’t have a response to that except that I tried it and it didn’t work. So, I’m doing what works for me.  This recipe for Thai Stir Fried Noodles works just fine.

Happy Friday, y’all!

 

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Recipe Friday: Clean Eating & CrockPot Steel Cut Oatmeal

November 14, 2014

After 400 days. . . .yes, FOUR HUNDRED . . .using the My Fitness Pal app, I cracked.  I’d had enough tracking. I’d had enough of eating the same meals or variations of the same meals day after day after day.  I went rogue.

It was a glorious three of weeks of just eating with reckless abandon.  No counting portion sizes. No counting calories. No counting my water intake. I ate when I was hungry. I drank what I wanted, when I wanted to.  Sure I ate my same ol’ boring breakfasts and lunches, but if I wanted a cupcake, I ate it! Another glass of wine? Why not?  Should we get some fries at lunch? Bring ’em on.

After a while, though, I realized that I wasn’t feeling that great.  I was tired. My pants were a little snug, despite my daily check-ins at the gym.  I wasn’t sleeping well at all.  I decided to get back on track with My Fitness Pal.  Re-entry was a little tough, but three days make a habit, and soon I was back in the fold of recording my meals.  A few days later, a girlfriend of mine said that she was going to do a 7 Day Clean Eating Challenge to get herself back on track.  She thought I might be interested in joining her.  I saw the words “clean eating” and thought, nope. No. And again . . .nope.

I’d like to think that while I’m not bellying up to the trough on a regular basis (with the exception of those 3 weeks of course), I eat pretty well.  I know it’s not “clean” — I fry stuff. I use white foods.  I use regular salt and sugar.  Still, I didn’t really want to peel away anything else from what I was already doing.  Nor did I want to add any more fruits and veggies.  I’m a picky eater; I like what I like and that’s about it.  To try to incoroporate more clean foods — or any clean foods — was going to take some doing.  I couldn’t even think about getting Snap, Crackle and Pop on board with it.  Still, I was intrigued by it.

So, on Sunday, I had my “last meal”, and woke up on Monday ready to get down to business.  Thankfully, the challenge was moderated by someone who has subscribed to the clean eating lifestyle for a while.  This woman really knows her stuff.  In additon to daily motivational check-ins, she provided exercises, nutritional information videos, meal planning ideas, and encouraged the participants to keep a dialogue going of how they progressed over the week.

I used one of her meal planning guides to help me through the ensuing seven days.  I needed something definitive so that there would be no question of what to do when and no opportunity to go off the rails.  This clean eating plan had me eating meals at 7, 12, and 5 with snacks at 10, 3, and 8.  I adjusted my personal timetable accordingly and got down to it.  Monday morning, I selected several options from the breakfast choices, bypassed by morning cup of joe in favor of some water and kept it moving.  I had a good start to the day, but I was starting to get some hunger pangs way before my designated snack time. I filled up on water.  Lunch time came around and I made some minor modifications to what I had been regularly eating.  I was feeling pretty good about how things were going.  Dinner was the same thing.  The first day was in the books and I was strutting around, having knocked it out of the park.

Then Tuesday came.

I woke up ravenous.  I’m surprised I didn’t mistake my pillow for a marshmallow during the night.  Breakfast felt like an appetizer and my mid-morning snack became my personal white whale.  I filled up on water and practically sweated it all out at the gym.  My work-out had been great, but my stomach was protesting.  I felt a serious cranky coming on and attributed it to low blood sugar.  Thankfully, snack time rolled around — what am I? A pre-schooler?) and I was able to make it through to the end of the day.

Wednesday was better. I had found my stride and drew upon my Type A personality to help me prep and plan meals and snacks.  My purse had little baggies of almonds and hard boiled eggs.  The fridge had pre-portioned servings of fruit and vegetables.  I even made tuna fish using avocado instead of mayonaise.  I was really doing it!

Thursday, I was to meet a friend for lunch at a local restaurant and almost cancelled.  I didn’t think I’d be able to keep this good thing going in the face of a menu that had items like “Fried Green Tomato BLT” and “Southern Short Rib Pie”.  I grabbed my big girl panties off the shelf and dealt with it.  Mixed fields greens with grilled chicken, dressing on the side, no croutons.  I felt like Sally Albright, but no matter.  I navigated a meal out and stuck to the plan relatively well.

By Friday, some of the new changes had become habits and I was looking forward to having certain things that I would not have imagined the week prior.  Sure, there were a few fails — quinoa is forever banned from my kitchen — but there were lots of wins, like chicken salad made with avocado, Greek yogurt, lime juice and cilantro.  I almost broke my arm patting myself on the back at my success thus far.  I wanted to celebrate! So I did.

with a steak.

and fries.

and wine.

Imagine that you’re a child whose drawn on the walls. Your parent spends an inordinate amount of time scrubbing those walls in order to restore them to their unmarred condition.  You, you cheeky little monkey, celebrate your parents’ hard work by drawing a celebratory pastiche on the aforementioned walls.  Describe for me how your parent might react.

Basically, when you have cleaned something and then you gunk it back up, there are going to be repercussions. In my case, there were digestive repercussions, along about 3 o’clock in the morning.  I was crawling to the bathroom, vowing to eat clean for the rest of my life if the cramping in my stomach would just stop.  I made it through the tummy troubles and got back on the wagon the next day.  I finished the challenge strong, losing a few pounds, a few inches, and gaining a little definition around my middle.  It’s been about a week since I finished the challenge, but I’d say I’m eating about 75% of my meals like I’m still on it.

I had snap peas and baby carrots for a mid morning snack today! And they were good!

The best meals I had were breakfast, actually.  I think I’m late to the steel cut oatmeal party, but better late than never.   The recipe below is not a “clean eating” version — for that you’d have to omit the sugar and butter.  I’ve had both, the one below and the clean version with a touch of honey and they’re both delicious.

Eating clean is not as difficult as I thought. There were some points during the challenge where I would have preferred to eat something else, but I actually started to look forward to my breakfast and snacks. While I don’t know if I’m ready to go all in with clean eating 100%, I think I can keep some of these good habits in play for the long term.  I’m going to have to figure out a way to work some lean beef into the equation without wreaking havoc on my stomach. 

Happy Friday, y’all!

 

Crockpot Steel Cut Oatmeal

(via)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Steel Cut Oats (Not Regular Rolled Oats)
  • 4 cups Water
  • ½ cups Milk
  • ¼ cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • ½ teaspoons Vanilla
  • ½ teaspoons Cinnamon

Preparation

1. Combine ingredients in a crock pot.

2. Plug crock pot in.

3. Cook on low for 8 hours!

Your house smells so delicious in the morning, and you get to sleep in an extra five minutes, because your breakfast is READY!

Many add-ins are possible: chocolate chips, flaxseed, honey, nutmeg, grated apple, cherries, peanut butter, cranberries. Let me know what your favorite add-in is!

 

Recipe Friday: Chipotle At Home

August 29, 2014

First week of school is in the books.

No tears were shed. No tantrums were thrown.  We  survived and the girls are excited to go back next week!   Reading, writing, and arithmetic? Yeah, I guess they’re interested in that. Evidently, the promise of hot lunch from Chick-Fil-A on Monday and Pizza on Friday is a more powerful motivator.  But like I said, the first week is in the books.  Check back with us in about six weeks and see how things fare.

In preparation for back to school, I did try to get us back on track with an early to bed, early to rise type of routine.  While my intentions were good, the execution was severely lacking.  Throughout the summer, I continued to rise early, around 6 or 6:30am, although, when school is in session, I roll it back to about 5:30.

Why this madness you ask? I need to ease myself into my day. When I get up in the darkness of the early morning, I have about 45 minutes to call my own before the children get up.  I make my breakfast, I sip my coffee, and I read the news.  I may throw in a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher, but between 5:30 and 6:30, it’s my quiet fortification for the day ahead.  Again, between June and August, I dialed it back, sleeping in an hour, but still savoring that 6:30 to 7:30 solitude.  Rolling it back to 5:30 this past week as been as eye opening as the ALS Ice-Bucket challenge.  The alarm goes off and I think, “Wait, I just closed my eyes.”  This week alone has been like a montage from a Simon Pegg movie, showing the daily ritual of a character in bitten off shots of wake, wash, eat, work, and so forth.  I fall into bed each night around 10 or 10:30 and am immediately knocked out.  It’s been a flurry of daily activity.  Between the morning routine and getting the girls out to school, there have been orientations for each of the girls, even V. Two-day preschool starts on Tuesday! There have been meetings and scheduling and the start of activities. I’m trying to wrest some of the responsibility for packing lunches and backpacks from my own hands and put it in the hands of M and C.  C’s first grade teacher reminded the parents at orientation that she expects them to pack their own backpacks.  “And I tell them,” she informed us, “you don’t pack your mamma and daddy’s briefcases for work, do you? Well then, they don’t need to be packing y’all’s backpacks!”

What?! I don’t?!  Let the congregation say, “Amen!”

To that end, we’ve got a new system in place (well, new to us), set up in the kitchen. The girls empty their bags with the lunch sacks going into the sink, their important papers going into the aptly labeled “In” tray.  While they relax after such a hard day, I peruse the papers, signing where indicated and so forth before depositing them in the aptly labeled “Out” tray.  After dinner, the girls assist me in packing their lunches, which I have found ensures that the majority of the lunch will be consumed instead of returned.  In the morning, after they’ve been fed, dressed, washed, and so on, they retrieve all of their items from the outbox, pack up and hit the car.  We are five for five on success this week!  And I’ve told them again and again how proud I am of their behavior and how much I’ve enjoyed the morning routine as a result.  They love that.that

I know, I’ve got a 4th grader and a 1st grader and it’s only now that I’ve figured this out? Better late than never.

Of course, it’s the first week, so things are bound to change as time passes, but for right now, I’m going to enjoy it.  This afternoon, the girls each have a little friend coming over to play.  To celebrate the first week of school, I’m taking them to Sweet Frog for a little treat.  I don’t particularly care for Sweet Frog — there are so many other wonderful things to eat — but I did have a mini first week of school celebration of my own.  Was it Chipotle? Uh. . .of course it was!

I could eat Chipotle just about every day.  While I do consider it “fast food”, I don’t equate it with the golden arches and their kith and kin.  Chipotle is pretty much the only place I can eat and not feel like I’ve completely wiped out any exercise or good health habits I’ve been working on.  I know there are some naysayers out there who would tell me something to the contrary, but I’m going to continue to enjoy it.  Truth be told, my Chipotle addiction needs an intervention, like yesterday, so I’m going to try to recreate the magic at home.  Tall order? Possibly.  Can it be done? Probably. I’ve been searching copy-cat recipes on-line.  There have been some hits and misses.  My cilantro lime rice was a certifiable miss, most definitely not attributable to the recipe, but more to the recipe follower.  I think I either missed a step or didn’t wash the rice enough or just decided that the time I would be spending making cilantro lime rice was equal to the time it would take me to get in the car, go to my nearest Chipotle and buy some cilantro lime rice.  Cooking’s overrated anyway.

I kid (or do I?).  In any event, I’m going to try my hand again to see if I can save my dollars and eat at home.  Better for the wallet and the waistline, right? This recipe is just for the chicken.  There is a link to the cilantro lime rice above and if you are interested in what additional toppings would work with this, just send me a message in the comments!

Happy Friday and Happy Labor Day Week-nd, y’all!

 

Chipotle’s Chicken (Copycat Recipe)

recipe via
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 (2 oz.) package dried ancho chiles, soaked at least 12 hours (see notes)
  • 1 (7 oz.) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ c. canola oil, divided
  • 5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Instructions
  1. Split open each softened ancho chile and rinse the inside to the stem and all seeds (wearing gloves is recommended). Place in the bowl of a food processor or blender.
  2. Strain adobo sauce into a small bowl, discarding peppers or reserving for another use. Press down on the peppers to extract as much liquid as possible (you should have at least ¼ c.). For an especially spicy dish, add chipotle pepper seeds to taste. Add strained liquid to the food processor.
  3. Add onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, 5 tsp. salt, and 2 tsp. pepper to the food processor. Pulse several times until a coarse paste develops.
  4. With the motor running, pour ¼ c. canola oil through the feeding tube and continue to process until smooth. You should have two cups of marinade. Reserve one cup for immediate use and freeze the remaining for future use.
  5. Meanwhile, place half the chicken in a large freezer-safe plastic bag. Spoon in half the marinade, close the bag, and mash around to distribute. Add in remaining chicken, remaining ½ c. marinade, and repeat the mashing until all chicken is evenly coated. Place the plastic bag in a dish and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
  6. To cook, preheat a grill, indoor grill pan, or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with 2 T. canola oil. Grill the chicken in batches, turning occasionally until the internal temperature reaches 160°F on a thermometer and bits of caramelized fond have begun to cling to the outside of the chicken, 10 to 15 minutes. Add 1 – 2 T. oil to your grilling surface between batches.
  7. Remove to a cutting board and chop into small pieces. Season to taste with salt. Serve on tortillas or in bowls with additional toppings as desired.
Notes
¼ c. Ancho Chili Pepper powder (such as McCormick brand) may be substituted for the dried Ancho chiles. Skip step 1 and add the powder with the other spices in Step 3.

Recipe Friday: Curly Hair Cocktails

August 15, 2014

I have been struggling with my hair lately.  I had gone for a trim earlier in the summer to get rid of this really wonky looking curly rat-tail that has migrated from the base of my skull down to the nape of my neck.  This was not business in the front and party in the back. It was just yuck and it had to go.  So, my stylist snipped a little here, snipped a little there and it came out really well.

It was kind of a tapered bob that I thought I could maintain.  Key word: thought. See, with curly hair, there are different schools of thought on how it should be cut. Should it be cut wet? You’d think so, but then you’ll be in for a surprise when it dries and shrinks up.  Should it be cut dry? You’d think so, but you even dry, the amount of shrinkage from root to shaft varies from day to day. Some days, my hair looks longer than other, because some days I air dry and some days I diffuse dry.  It’s a crap shoot.

After a couple of weeks, my head began to look as though the rat tail just slid over about 3 inches to the right.  I started wearing a bun and a visor, 24/7.  I was worried about shedding and breakage and low porosity and high porosity; it’s a wonder I didn’t worry myself into looking like Mr. Clean.

Truth be told, I started to entertain the idea that I would just big chop my hair one more time.  If this rat tail was determined to assert itself, I was just going to have to assert myself more.  I’m cool with a  tabla rasa ‘do.  It’s just hair and it’ll grow back.  Yo Lee, one of my guest bloggers from earlier in the month, did a Big Chop and wears her hair extremely close.  She looks phenomenal.   My friend Denise, whom you met when she guest blogged on Monday of this week just did a Big Chop and it’s flawless.

I’ve had my phone in my hand, with my thumb hovering over my stylists number, all week.

Before I go ahead and lop it off, though, I decided to give my hair one more try.  I am a part of several boards on FaceBook devoted to natural hair. I’m constantly on Pinterest looking for tips and tricks, as well as other sites such as CurlyNikki.com, BlackGirlLongHair.com, KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com and a whole host of others.  There is so much information out there. I had to find some products that I could easily find, easily apply, and easily tame the wonky curl pattern at the back of my head. Not only that, these products had to work for me, and Snap, Crackle and Pop. That’s not too much to ask for, right?

Behold the products that are currently in our arsenal.

  • Spray Bottles
  • Organix Moroccan Argan oil infused shampoo, conditioner, and renewing treatment
  • Almond oil,
  • Coconut Oil
  • Jamaican Castor Oil
  • Vitamin E Oil
  • Lavender Oil
  • Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo
  • Kinky Curly  Knot Today Leave In Conditioner
  • Jane Carter Solution Twist Out Foam
  • Tresemme Naturals Sulfate Free Conditioner
  • Aloe Vera Juice
  • Distilled Water
  • Vegetable Glycerin
  • Garnier Fructis Frizz Free Serum
  • Deva Curl Poo Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser
  • Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie
  • As I Am Coconut Co-Wash, Leave In Conditioner, Curl Jelly, and Curl Defining Butter Cream
  • Not pictured: assorted wide tooth combs and detanglers and four different sets of rollers (perm rods, flexi rods, curl formers and plastic rollers)

It’s kind of ridiculous now that I look at it.

In my defense, though, I do have four heads of hair to do at least once a week.  I’m very conscious of how often we’re moisturizing, how often we go to get our ends clipped, and how much water we drink in order to hydrate our curls from the inside out.  I limit the amount of heat I put on our hair. I’m doing every step I can think of to keep shedding down, curls elongated and the tangles at bay.

Well, that’s not entirely true — I do skip the hot oil treatment only because I can’t find 20 minutes to do the treatment properly.  I know, that’s a weak excuse, and just my luck, my lack of follow-through is probably why the rat tail blossomed in the first place. I suppose if I have time to fit a Chipotle run into my schedule, I can carve out the time to treat my scalp, too.

Anyway, my research on the internet has provided some interesting results.  There were a few weeks when I was trying to counter, if not prevent, the damage daily swim practice was wreaking on the girls’ hair. I found a website that offered 5 different hydrating moisturizing mists that you could make yourself.  I went to Whole Foods and bought Vitamin E oil, raw honey, vegetable glycerin, lavender oil, aloe vera juice and brought it all home. The kitchen looked like a mad scientists lab crossed with the Chopped Kitchen.

We started with a sweet honey moisturizing mist. Basically, take distilled water, coconut oil, viatmin E oil, raw honey and lavender oil.  Put it in a spray bottle, shake and apply.

From the website,  “Honey is extremely versatile in its uses and works well in your natural hair. Honey is a humectant and will help your hair to attract and retain moisture and prevent frizz. Coconut oil is a moisturizing oil that will penetrate your follicles and add moisture from the inside out. Lavender adds a nice fragrance to the oil and also helps soften your natural hair.”

This combo did all of those things, but it also made the girls’ hair sticky, despite my adherence to the proper quantities of each ingredient.  You know that saying, “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar”? I now know exactly how many flies you get.

We scrapped that one after two weeks and tried and aloe and lavender moisturizing mist, which again included several oils and aloe vera juice instead of water.

From the website, “This simple yet phenomenal spray will not only help moisturize your natural hair but will also help soften dry strands. Aloe Vera and lavender oil help strengthen your hair strands while coconut oil adds moisture to dull hair. You could also use apricot or olive as an alternative to coconut oil.”

This one worked pretty well, but I think I may have misread which oils to include because I could have sworn it said you could substitute sesame oil for coconut, almond, or apricot.

Which I did.

To which M said, “Mom, I smell like Chinese Food.”

Time to step away from the computer and the wealth of information.

That was about two weeks ago.  We’ve been using leave in conditioner to help keep our hair moisturized while we were at the beach.  It worked, but it also saved every single grain of sand onto the girls’ scalps.  We’re back to two strand twists for them until next week when they get their Back to School bi-annual hair cuts.  I’ve been trying to come up with the best way to style their hair (and mine) that won’t leave them (or me) in tears.  So, back to the boards I go.

I had read on another board that their Coconut Co-wash is extremely good and ended up ordering some, along with their Curl Defining Butter Cream in order to do the two strand twists (I know, it’s time for a product intervention).  Shortly after I placed the order, a friend of mine posted how she recently tried As I Am products, and was throwing away all of her other products because the results were amazing.

I was intrigued to say the least and when my package came in the mail, I decided to try her methods and chronicle my results.

picstitch

I started with a product laden, sweated out wash and go (top left).  I finger detangled last night with some Jamaican Castor oil and just bunned up the sections. In the morning, I went to the gym sporting pig tails. When I came home, I took my hair down to finger detangle before I jumped into the shower (top right). I used the As I Am Coconut Co-Wash and the Leave In Conditioner, per the directions on the labels.  In the shower, I detangled with my fingers and with my wide tooth comb. I did have some shedding, but no more or less than usual.  Then using the Miss Jessie’s shingling technique (which I’ve never done before),  I put in the Curling Jelly (bottom left).

I sat under the dryer with the heat on low for 30 minutes (bottom middle). Then I fluffed it out with some Jamaican Castor oil on my palms to help reduce frizz (bottom right).  Including the time under the dryer and assorted maintenance in the shower, this took me about an hour, maybe an hour and 15 minutes.  That’s typical for a wash day.

In my opinion, my hair has some massive shrinkage, but the curls are well defined.  If I do this again, or if I do it on Snap, Crackle and Pop, I will reduce or eliminate the time under the dryer. Or maybe I’ll just hit the roots with the diffuser.  There are still lots of options.  My hair feels just a touch crunchy, but nothing that’s overwhelming.

Tonight will be the true test of the success of this method when I put the satin bonnet on and go to sleep.  I’m not sure if I should pineapple it, bun it, or leave it.  Decisions, decisions.   In the morning, I plan to spray with distilled water and fluff out. 

I’ll keep you posted, hopefully with better pictures (i can’t get the hang of selfies at all).

Happy Friday, y’all!