Archive for February, 2016

Spring is Springingly Sprung!

Spring is creeping in on us….perhaps I should have said Spring is transitioning, which would mean the season is slowly moving in as weather patterns are changing….and the Winter season is moving out.

Yes!!! I am one of those who delight in change. I am always looking forward to new decorating challenges and experiences of the new in-coming season. I use the opportunity to leap into the new season with all the excitement and anticipation of a child at Christmas. It doesn’t matter which season it is, I simply love to decorate my home as a joyful salute to the in-coming season, while fondly waving farewell to the out-going season.

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Spring! Birds of a Feather….

Spring! Who isn’t ready for Spring, although the weather this year has really not been the “Norm”…whatever the “norm” is! Twin #1 called to tell me that he was grilling yesterday in the 77 degree weather in Kansas City.  Wow!….and the reason it is a “Wow!”… is that it was only 60-ish here in Florida and a cold 60-ish with a very cool wind.

However, the weather has not stopped the birds from visiting my Secret Garden and the joy they bring me as I watch them fluff in the bird bath or flutter from branch to vine atop the Pergola. I am not sure if their thoughts are turning to nesting…but my thoughts are definitely thinking of little bird nests. 

 

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Exxon Valdez Clean Up….I Hear Ya!

My dear readers, I thought I totally understood how difficult the clean up was/is for any oil spill. I watched news reports and saw workers tirelessly bathing sea gulls and wild life with Dawn dishwashing liquid.  I saw all that dark “gook” that was/is washing up on the white sandy beaches. I certainly do not mean to diminish any of those efforts in any way….BUT, I do believe I am understanding it more. 

In my little corner of the world….my kitchen, I have been cleaning out cabinets, fridges and freezers and I came upon two earthen Emile Henry oil bottles stuck in the back of a cabinet shelf. A high cabinet shelf. When I purchased these bottles, (about 5 years ago)… I had the grand idea of storing my olive oil, vegetable oil, and grape seed oil…well, just about any oil in these nifty bottles.  I had a red, green and yellow bottle. 

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I don’t know how it happened, but two of these bottles became “lost” in the deep abyss of my cabinet shelf.  Yes, I could stand back and look up and see the tops of these bottles, but I thought they were empty.  I mean, I know I would never store them with oil in them!  How goofy would that be?

Wrong! So I drained what little thick oil was in them into a plastic milk bottle (I knew I didn’t want that smelly oil going down the drain) and then filled my sink with Dawn sudsy hot water and plunked the bottles in the white suds. 

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Now, there are times I do not use my dishwasher, especially for clean up after making a recipe for this Blog…I simply wash by hand. Today, was no different…I made the Minestrone Soup (recipe below) early in the morning, to let it simmer for a couple hours…and placed a few dishes and silver ware into the hot water in the sink.  

At some point, I decided to wash the dishes…so I reached into the suds and my fingers felt something that felt like jelly pooled in the bottom of my sink. I lifted the ooey, gooey clump of oozing oil to the surface as it dripped between my fingers back into the water.  I grabbed for the paper towel and was able to remove most from my hand. BUT, the oil had already begun to work its sticky number on the dishes in the sink.  Apparently, there was still oil in both bottles.

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No worries, I thought. I reached for the cabinet handle to retrieve the full bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid…(I remembered the stories and advertisements of this miraculous cure for removing oil) and my fingers left a sticky residue on the cabinet and anything and everything I touched. It was almost like super glue. And, washing the dishes residing in this gooey mess was almost impossible.

Long story short…I washed those dishes and silverware over and over and over again…using the Dawn full strength and the oil residue remained stubbornly, resistant to my scrubbing. Each time I thought a dish was free of residue…I found that it was not.

I kept thinking of how difficult it is working with oil in a cold ocean….because the hot water in my hot water heater was beginning to diminish….I could only imagine their anguish.

The good news is the soup recipe below! The recipe was given to me by an Italian Chef friend of ours and I modified it a bit by using ground beef per his suggestion.  It is really delicious. It has given me the strength to dive back into that grime and re wash the dishes and silverware again.  After, I clean my sink for the umpteenth time.

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Have you my dear readers tried to clean sticky, oily residue off anything?  I would be interested to know if you have a better solution. (Oh, and I tried vinegar and alcohol) The next time I might try the alcohol on the dishes and silverware. 🙂

Have a great week-end!

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Tino's Minestrone Soup
A Chef friend of ours (Tino, not his real name) gave me a recipe for a variation of his delicious Minestrone Soup that he serves in his Italian restaurant and I am sharing it with you, my dear readers.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  2. 1 large onion, chopped
  3. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  4. 3 carrots, sliced
  5. 3 celery stalks, sliced
  6. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  7. 1 large turnip, diced
  8. 1 large potato, diced
  9. 1 pound fresh Swiss chard, chopped with stem removed
  10. 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  11. 2 cans of cannelloni beans (15 ounce), drained
  12. 1-32 oz carton beef stock + 2 cans of beef broth
  13. 1 inch chunk of Parmesan cheese
  14. 2/3 cup cooked pasta, your choice
  15. 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  16. 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  17. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Brown the ground beef (use1 tablespoon of oil, if needed) in large heavy skilllet (I use my cast iron skillet) Season with salt and pepper and cook until meat is no longer pink, break apart the ground beef with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Add the onions to the meat and continue stiring until the onions start to soften and set aside
  2. Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to large dutch oven or soup pot. Add the carrots and celery, cooking for about 10 minutes. Lastly, add the garlic, Swiss chard, turnip and the potato and cook stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes or until the Swiss chard begins to wilt. Next add the crushed tomatoes, 1 can of drained cannelloni beans, all the beef broth (reserving 1 can) and the hamburger mixture to the soup pot. Mix the ingredients together while bringing to a simmer.
  3. Using a blender, combine the remaining can of drained cannelloni beans and the remaining can of beef broth, blending until smooth then add to the soup pot.
  4. Add the chunk of Parmesan cheese and simmer the soup for about 20-25 minutes or until the veggies are tender.
  5. While the soup is simmering, cook the pasta according to package directions (do not over cook) drain and add to the soup pot.
  6. Be sure to taste for seasonings.
  7. Just before serving, stir in the pasta and fresh parsley and top with 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
Notes
  1. You can use the grated Parmesan from Kraft (the green can) if you like, but I prefer the freshly grated Parmesan on the top of the Minestrone Soup.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Two Fer….A Lot of This and A Little of That…

Two Fer??? Sounds a little bit country to me but I am going to do a bit of rockin’ and rollin’ and killing two birds with one stone or something like that.  OK, enough of the metaphors. Sorry, I tend to get carried away sometimes. Actually what I am giving you today are two really easy casserole dishes that can be ready and in the oven while you set the table.

I decided to make these casseroles out of necessity….the necessity to clean out and re-arrange the freezer! I noticed that I had several freezer bags of meat that had dates that were fast expiring and what is the use of freezing left overs if you don’t ever use them?  

Seems like a bit of wasted effort to me, so I jumped to the challenge.  Well, I really didn’t jump, haven’t jumped for a long time and not even sure I can jump and even if I could jump…it probably wouldn’t be pretty or end very well. 🙂

Ham N' Taters N' Cheese

Back to my freezer.  I found ham and a large piece of round steak.  I also saw that I had tater tots, a small package of carrots and a package of broccoli. Soups???? Ham and Beans?  Vegetable Beef Soup? Yes, those were my first thoughts… but then I thought casseroles! Two to be exact! One would be for our dinner and the other would be for a dear friend who recently had surgery. Perfect and perfectly easy.

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The ingredients are already in your pantry I am sure and nothin’ says lovin’ from the oven than the wonderful smells and aromas of a baking casserole dish. Yummy!

Below are the handy dandy printable recipes but they are so easy and versatile that I am sure you can (and have) made them for yourself.

Do you have a preference my dear readers?  Do you prefer soups or casseroles for the “left overs” freezer clean out?

Have a great and blessed day!

Hugs always!

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Ham N' Tater N' Cheese
A quick and easy casserole using left overs....what could be simpler when it is sooooo good?
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound of diced ham, about two cups
  2. 1 medium onion, diced
  3. 2 garlic cloves, diced
  4. 8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
  5. 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup (10 ounce)
  6. 1 pound broccoli florets (I used frozen)
  7. 8 ounces Velveeta, sliced
  8. few drops of Louisiana Hot sauce (Optional)
  9. 32 ounce bag of tater tots or the little "half tots"
  10. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Spray the large casserole dish with cooking spray and begin to layer the ingredients with the ham first, then the onions, garlic and mushrooms.
  2. Pour the two cans of soup over the mushrooms
  3. Sprinkle the hot sauce over the mixture
  4. Add a bit of salt and pepper
  5. Next, add the broccoli, placing the slices of Velveeta cheese over the top
  6. Lastly, add the tater tots
  7. Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for about 1 hour
Notes
  1. The wonderful thing about this casserole other than the great taste is that you can vary the ingredients to whatever you have on hand. You can use chicken, or ground beef. You can also top with mashed potatoes...scalloped potatoes, rice or pasta in place of the tater tots. The soups can be cream of chicken or celery or even cheddar soup. OR...you can make your own thickener with chicken or beef broth and cornstarch or flour. Endless Possibilities!
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/
Easy Beef Stroganoff
Another easy casserole dish that is hearty and delicious! Ready in about 30-45 minutes!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 pounds round steak, cut in chunks
  2. House Seasoning, recipe follows
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 2 tablespoons butter
  5. 1 medium onion, sliced
  6. 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  7. 1 cup of beef broth
  8. 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  9. Salt and black pepper
  10. 1 cup sour cream
  11. 1/2 cup of diced cooked carrots (optional)
  12. Cooked egg noodles, mashed potatoes, rice (your choice)
Instructions
  1. Season the steak with salt, pepper and garlic powder and then dust the chunks of meat with flour Preheat a large dutch oven with the olive oil and butter....do not let it smoke, but oil should be hot. Place the meat in the skillet and brown on all sides....only take a few minutes
  2. Add in the onions and mushrooms and saute for just a few minutes
  3. Add the mushroom soup and beef broth, cover with a lid.
  4. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes
  5. Remove and adjust the seasonings to taste. Stir in the cooked carrots if using and mix in the sour cream.
  6. Serve over your choice of cooked noodles, mashed potatoes or rice.
Notes
  1. When I need a small amount of cooked carrots or peas or corn...such as for soups. If I do not have any left overs I use the individual cartons found at the supermarket. Yes, they are a bit more expensive...but there is nothing left to waste.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

South Of The Border…..

I love Mexican Food….Tex-Mex…Gringo or just about anything that comes from south of the border!  Which border you may ask?  Any border that borders Texas, New Mexico, and yes, even Mexico.

It wasn’t until I lived in New Mexico (and Texas), that I came to really appreciate Mexican food.  I love green and red chiles from Hatch, New Mexico and I love Tex-Mex enchiladas from Texas. I love spice-y!

The first thing you might notice in this recipe is the addition of black beans. You can find black beans just about anywhere these days, but there was a time when it was considered a more Caribbean or South and Central American bean.  

You see the Pinto bean is the staple of New Mexico and Mexico. This brown bean is almost always found simmering on the back of the stove in any New Mexican home. I jumped into the culture immediately (mainly because of all our family and friends) and so, beans and refried beans… became part of my everyday world. Refried beans, or frijoles, actually are not refried at all….but are made with cooked Pinto beans that have been mashed a bit with a bit of onion and garlic much like we might make mashed potatoes. It is thought the misnomer “refried” came about because, in the Spanish language, “re” just emphasized the “cooked thoroughly” concept. Of course, refried beans can be reheated by placing them in a skillet with a bit of lard or reheated in the microwave or oven.  Pinto beans are the bean of choice when doing a “refried” bean.

Let’s talk Santa Fe, New Mexico!

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Santa Fe is beautiful and sits at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

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So pretty, yes? Now, that we have seen Santa Fe, let us go back to the beans, particularly black beans. You will see the connection. 🙂  Sorry, if I am jumping around a bit, but I am excited to share New Mexico with you as well as a delicious, quick recipe!

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I remember the first time I tasted black beans in association with Mexican dishes.  It was at the La Plazuela restaurant in (reportedly/historically) the oldest hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico…the La Fonda Hotel.  This restaurant (pictured above) is nestled in the center of the hotel and in those days it was the “trendy” place to go in Santa Fe to find extraordinary cuisine. The recipes cooked up in their kitchen included black beans, with queso fresco, accompanied with red, green and papaya salsas, served with green onion jicama slaw.  These days, the dishes are pretty common everywhere….but years ago, it was “trendy” and Yummy!

Below is a pic of the roof top restaurant that is closed to the public in the wintertime….but as soon as the weather warms a bit…and the snows start a bit of melting off the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the view from the outdoor eating is amazing. You can see the old church, the Georgia O’Keeffe Art Gallery and many other historic sites.

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In 1948, Simone de Beauvoir, the famed French existentialist and writer, visited the famous landmark hotel often called,  a living museum. “La Fonda is the most beautiful hotel in America,” de Beauvoir wrote, “perhaps the most beautiful I have ever seen in my life.”

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The above pics are Mexicali Chicken Casserole…and it is delicious. Yes, I confess that I get mesmerized with the beauty of New Mexico and especially the people, friends and family. 

The following recipe did not come from the La Plazuela in Santa Fe, but it does contain the infamous black beans. It is so easy to make…toss it all together and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.  Top with cheese and lettuce and tomatoes and another delicious Mexicali Chicken Casserole.

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Have a Blessed day, my dear readers….and if you ever get to New Mexico, you will see why the state is called The Land of Enchantment, and while you are there, be sure to have lunch or dinner at the La Fonda Hotel!

Hugs

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Mexicali Chicken Casserole
A Mexican Chicken Casserole without the tortillas baked in. I still like to serve them warm on the side. Ground beef can be substituted for the chopped chicken.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 bag (11 oz) Green Giant™ Steamers™ frozen corn & black beans with brown rice in a Southwestern style sauce
  2. 2 cups cooked chopped chicken breast (I used deli chicken)
  3. 1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce, Medium or hot, (I use Old El Paso)
  4. 1 small can of chopped green chiles (I use Old El Paso or Ortega)
  5. 4 chopped scallions (green onions)
  6. 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  7. 1/2 cup of diced onion
  8. 1 red bell pepper, chopped (can also use green or yellow or all three)
  9. 3/4 cup finely shredded Mexican style cheese blend
  10. 1 cup shredded lettuce
  11. 6-8 cherry tomatoes, sliced and quartered (you can use a whole tomato if desired)
  12. Warm flour tortillas
  13. Salsa, sour cream or guacamole
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F and spray your casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Thaw the bag of steamer veggies and place in a large mixing bowl
  3. Add in the chopped chicken, onions, red bell pepper, cilantro, chiles and enchilada sauce. Add in about 2 tablespoons of the green onions
  4. Transfer the mixture to the casserole dish and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven and add the cheese to the top; then return to the oven just until the cheese is melted
  5. Top with shredded lettuce, tomato and the remaining green onions
  6. Serve with your favorite salsa, sour cream or guacamole with warm flour tortillas
Notes
  1. if you don't want to use the frozen steamer veggies, you can make your own veggies by combining 1 cup of corn, 2 cups of cooked Spanish rice (or white rice), 1 cup of black beans or pinto beans and add another can of enchillada sauce...your choices.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Ready For Spring Cake!

I am sure many of you are ready for Spring and who wouldn’t want a Ready For Spring Cake to brighten up the lingering winter doldrums?

OK, my dear readers….a couple days ago I showed you a five layer chocolate ganache cake that I made with these cute little Wilton cake pans I found at a craft store.  At the time that I bought them…very inexpensive I might add…the box had the most beautiful pastel colored little cakes with a white buttercream frosting displayed on the front.  So I cut out the pastels to remind me to bake these pretty little concoction only to stash everything away.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Until that is, just before I made the chocolate ganache cake. I commented in that post that I had yet to make the pastel layers that perhaps I would wait until Spring.

 

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50 Shades of…Yep, You Guessed it…Gray!

50 Shades of…Yep, You Guessed it…Gray!

So what does that mean, you ask.  Well, it certainly has nothing to do with any book or movie…instead it is one of the neutrals I am adding to my arsenal of paint colors.

You see, …I am going Neutral!

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It started last year when I needed to pick a color to paint one of our Flip Houses.  If you follow me on this Blog, you will remember the post I wrote about picking an exterior color using various shades of gray.  See link below if you missed it.

Orange is the new black…or gray…or brown…or beige!

It turned out that it was easier picking a shade of gray for the Flip House, because I knew I didn’t have to live with it if I didn’t like it.  I chose a pretty Royal Blue for the double doors…another bold move for this gal of beige’s, browns, rusts and even pastels….(Guilty! on the very pale blue and very pale green for two of our guest bedrooms and baths in our own home…and the reason I thought I could get away with those colors was because we are coastal).  

When you look at the pics below of before and after…you might think the before is a gray…..not really true. It had more pale, pale green hues than gray. And in the shade, the color took on a blue hue.  It all depended on the sunlight hitting the house.

Below are two “Before” pictures of the greenish gray exterior with all white trim and white double doors.

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And below are two “after” pictures of the new gray exterior, with a brighter white trim and a darker gray trim, plus the daring (for me) blue doors for accent.

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The interior is neutral and I liked the clean and crisp contemporary lines….although contemporary is not my first choice of architectural design.  

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I have remained loyal to old Spanish and Mediterranean architecture, which usually consists of the earthy tones.  

However, I do like the decorating choices when a neutral palate is the base.  This is where brighter colors can be brought in as I did with the Kitchen above.  I chose turquoise as an accent color to carry on the blueish theme from the front door. 

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A few years back…the paint companies came up with a new name for certain colors of grays…they called them “greige”, which was simply a way to gently ease us away from builder beige to gray. Some have said the grays are just a fad….but I am not so sure.

My personal opinion is that neutrals will always be “in”… particularly grays. I think the days are dwindling when all the fashion and decorating magazines dictate what should and should not be the colors of our homes and clothing.  I believe inspiration comes from what surrounds us and what works for us.  A sort of simplification of our decor, so that we can perhaps be bold in accent colors that are easily changed, like throw pillows and single chairs or pictures.  It is much easier to change accent items than to repaint and buy all new furniture, when we tire of a certain look.  We change.  Our tastes change. Plus, not many of us have the resources to do a complete make-over of our homes each and every year. 

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So I say all that, to say this, my friends….I am easing out of my comfort zone of the earthy colors of browns, taupes and rust and jumping right into the many shades of gray for our own home.  

So, perhaps you are saying…ok, no big deal, color everything gray and be done with it.  

Well, it is not that simple, because as I have said….the architecture of our home screams loudly of Spanish/Mediterranean!  And if I want to remain true to the original architecture, I have to watch that I don’t turn the house into French Country Provincial Farmhouse Contemporary Shabby Chic….which would be ok, except that I feel that I would have to change all the Spanish style exterior too… and I am almost positive that the Captain would not “agree” to that expense and extreme. 

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So I am starting with the Hall Bathroom….it is the smallest of the 4 bathrooms and very ordinary…and it is used by our guests, because it is the closest bathroom to the kitchen and living room. I will be posting photos of before, during and after the make-over.  If you missed it and are interested, click on the below link which was the first step in the planning process…the picking out of a color(s).

Color Me Pink!

The color of this Hall Bathroom will definitely be gray….a pale gray. I want this tiny room to be soothing and calm, and I consider gray to be a cooler, peaceful color. (not that I want to encourage people to linger in the bathroom) 🙂  

I am also going to play up the white baseboards (which I changed from dark to off-white when I went pale sage green) by using beadboard as a wainscoting.  I am removing the huge frameless mirror and replacing it with a large oval mirror that I have had for years. The frame on this mirror is very dark  so I will be painting it a lighter color with chalk paint.  I am also removing the shower curtain and replacing it with a partial glass partition….not a shower glass door enclosure…you’ll have to see it to understand where I am going with the design. We are also adding a new counter-top and vessel sink and faucet.

Do you, my dear readers…have shades of gray or other neutrals in your home or do you prefer using warmer colors?  What are your thoughts on color?

More to come….Have a great Monday, and lets hope for a sunny day…. not a gray day.

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Lavender Blue Birthday Brunch

Lavender Blue Birthday Brunch and a very special Happy Birthday to my friend….the Counselor.

Happy Birthday my Friend!  

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My dear readers…..today is a special day for my Friend, the Counselor!

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“All I Ask….”

“All I Ask….”

I have to ask you, is this the most perfect song in the whole wide world?  Ok, maybe a slight exageration, and if you don’t know what I am talking about…my friends, I am talking about Adele!

This young lady has the most beautiful voice and her music makes me cry, but in a good way.

I have every album she has ever made and the title of her latest is “25” …which is her age when she released these beautiful songs. Every single song on this album is amazing….I especially love “Hello”

Here is a bit of background on Adele:

“Adele was born in North London, England, on May 5, 1988, eventually attending the performing arts BRIT School. Her first two albums, 19 and 21, earned her critical praise and a level of commercial success unsurpassed among her peers, with the artist selling millions of albums worldwide and winning multiple Grammys. She also received a songwriting Oscar for the James Bond track “Skyfall.” After becoming a mom, Adele returned to the charts in autumn 2015 with the ballad “Hello,” the lead single for her forthcoming album 25.”

My dear readers, if you missed her poignant song….below is the link.

http://ellentube.com/videos/0-3tdu4kkz/

And while you are listening to Adele sing,  “All I Ask...”,why not make yourself this wonderful Chocolate Ganache Cake?

There are a few ingredients that are not most likely in your pantry…but then again, maybe they are.  The cookbook that I found lists Vegan recipes so the substitutions are coconut milk, apple cider, maple syrup in addition to the other ingredients that we have come to know and love. Chocolate! is top on my list.

A while back I purchased 5 cake pans. As you can see, I am a push-over when it comes to individual little cake pans.

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These pans are 6 inch cake pans and I loved the picture of the 5 pastel cake layers, shown on the box…although I have yet to make 5 pastel layers.  🙁

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Aren’t they pretty?  Spring, I am thinking!

However, I decided to make this Chocolate Ganache Cake in five layers. The five thinner layers make the cake pretty tall, but when you are eating Chocolate Ganache Cake, who really cares?

AND, if you are listening to Adele sing her romantic R&B, well, what better time than to be eating Chocolate Ganache Cake? Vegan Chocolate Ganache Cake, none-the-less!

Definition of Vegan is below.  Also the lyrics to “All I Ask…” are below.

Now, if you will excuse me…I am listening to Adele sing “All I Ask…” and eating another piece of Chocolate Ganache Cake!

Have a great and Happy Friday!

Hugs!

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All I Ask….lyrics

I will leave my heart at the door
I won’t say a word…
They’ve all been said before, you know
why don’t we just play pretend
Like we’re not scared of what is coming next or scared of having nothing left! And, don’t get me wrong
I know there is no tomorrow
All I ask is…

If this is my last night with you
Hold me like I’m more than just a friend
Give me a memory I can use
Take me by the hand while we do what lovers do
It matters how this ends
‘What if I never love again?

I don’t need your honesty
It’s already in your eyes and I’m sure my eyes, they speak for me
No one knows me like you do
And since you’re the only one that matters
Tell me who do I run to?
Don’t….. get me wrong!
I know there is no tomorrow

All I ask is
If this is my last night with you
Hold me like I’m more than just a friend
Give me a memory I can use
Take me by the hand while we do what lovers do
It matters how this ends
What if I never love again?

Let this be our lesson in love
Let this be the way we remember us
I don’t wanna be cruel or vicious
And I ain’t asking for forgiveness
All I ask is…

If this is my last night with you
Hold me like I’m more than just your friend
Give me a memory I can use
Take me by the hand while we do what lovers do
It matters how this ends
‘What if I never love… again?

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According to the Merriam-Webster’s Definition of Vegan: a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products; also :  one who abstains from using animal products (as leather) 

Chocolate Ganache Cake
This Chocolate Ganache Cake does not taste at all like a healthy cake...well, perhaps healthy is not the correct word...but "Vegan" is according to the Vegan cook book in which I found this recipe...and we have all heard the praises about eating vegan. However, I just can't give up meat or meat by-products, but when you are eating a chocolate ganache...who is looking at meat?
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The Cake
  1. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  3. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  4. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  6. 2 cups almond, rice, or soy milk (I used almond)
  7. 2/3 cup melted coconut oil
  8. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  9. 1 3/4 cups organic sugar (I used coconut sugar)
For the Chocolate Buttercream Filling
  1. 1 cup pumpkin puree
  2. 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  3. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  4. 3 tablespoons almond or cashew butter (I used almond butter)
For the Chocolate Ganache
  1. 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
  2. 1/2 cup coconut milk
  3. 2 tablespoons maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and set aside
  3. In another bowl, add the apple cider vinegar to the milk and beat until it's frothy. Add in the oil, vanilla, and sugar
  4. Start adding the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients (do this in thirds) and *mix them together (Do not overmix, just blend until combined. Pour the cake batter into two round, 8 or 9-inch layer or springform cake pans that have been greased with coconut oil and lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake is clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
For the Chocolate Buttercream filling for between the layers
  1. Use a food processor to process the pumpkin, cocoa, maple syrup, and almond or cashew butter till smooth and set aside (I placed the filling in the fridge until I was ready for it)
For the Chocolate Ganache
  1. Bring the coconut milk and maple syrup together in a small saucepan to a gentle boil, stirring to incorporate. Pour over the bittersweet chocolate and stir until all of the chocolate is melted. Allow to cool to room temperature... stirring about every 10 minutes or so, until it reaches the desired thickness/consistency.
To assemble the cake
  1. Place one layer on your platter or cake stand (you might have to level the layers if they have rounded tops by gently using a bread knife)
  2. Spread the chocolate buttercream filling over the first layer (do not frost the sides of the cake)
  3. Gently place the other layer(s) over it. **(if you use more than two layers as I did, repeat the filling process for each layer)
  4. IF you are only using 2 layers, you may immediately frost the top and the sides of the cake with the Ganache
  5. Be sure to place the completed cake in the fridge for at least an hour to allow the cake to set up before serving
Notes
  1. *For mixing the cake, I used my electric mixer on the lowest speed, but you may use a spatula or whisk.
  2. I made 5 layers and used the 6 inch layer pans.
  3. **Because I had 5 layers, I put the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour before adding the Ganache.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Good Morning Sunshine!

Good Morning Sunshine!

My dear readers….I absolutely love the early morning sunshine as the sun begins it’s journey to high in the sky. If you have followed my Blog…you will know that I really love to go to my Secret Garden in the early morning hours and have my own quiet time.  Just me, my Bible and the beauty of nature all around me. Many times I have my breakfast outside as it is much more intimate than sitting around the large dining table or even the kitchen nook area.

quiet morning6

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