My Comfort Food is #Pasta, Sun Dried Tomato Pasta!

Some days, I just have to have a bowl of fresh pasta. I know, the gluten thing. I’m here to tell you that King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill are the best hands down, but if you are going to have to use a gluten free flour, I highly recommend Manini’s. I have made so many recipes with this flour and I have success every time.sundriedtom pasta

So, this weekend I spent time in the mountains, specifically in Circle C Ranch north of New Meadows in Idaho. Despite the clouds greeting us on our arrival, Zeke and I enjoyed a very quiet weekend. I gave our host a mason jar of my homemade marinara sauce and the conversation evolved to pasta or gnocchi. Both are tasty!

Home now, I realized I don’t have gnocchi on hand nor any pasta. But for goodness sakes, I can make my own pasta! So, as the Super Bowl 50 plays in the background, I search my kitchen for ingredients. Voila!

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

Serves 4 to 6

1/3 cup Bella Sun Luci sun-dried julienne cut tomatoes, in olive oil & herbs

1 ½ cups quality flour, such as
Bob’s Red Mill unbleached white

2 large eggs

¼ cup hot water

NOTE: you must use a pasta machine made of traditional steel with a set of parallel cylinders, hand cranked. No exceptions if you want quality!

In large food processor, pulse until sun dried tomatoes are finely chopped. Add flour and eggs, pulse until mixed thoroughly. Drip hot water in chute until flour mixture forms ball. Be careful not to add too much water. If so, add more flour. Flour mixture ball should be smooth and integrated.

Knead by hand for a few minutes on a floured surface. When dough is smooth, it is ready for the machine. Form into a flat ball and cut in quarters. Set the thinning cylinders at the lowest setting, and make your pasta according to the machine’s specifications for the desired type of pasta.  Hang pasta on drying rack for about an hour.

Cook as you would any fresh pasta; this will only take five minutes or less in boiling water. Drain and toss cooked pasta in quality olive oil, fresh basil cut chiffonade style, and your favourite cheese!

Bon Appétit!

#BellaSunLuci #sundriedtomatoes #freshpasta #ManinisFlour #recipe

Marching To Make a Difference, Communication is the Key #ACSCAN

Today is February 1, 2016 and I am heading to downtown Boise this morning. I will participate with other cancer survivors today and speak with our State Legislative representatives with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Our primary focus will be to ask the state legislators for quality access to the kind of healthcare that allows not only cancer patients a chance but all Idahoans.

be strong

Last weekend I organized receipts for the dreaded task of getting my act together for tax preparation. In the process, I found the journal I had when I was diagnosed with breast cancer 1995. Twenty years ago I wrote in this journal for six months. I definitely had an Oprah Ah Ha moment, except my moment lasted more than that afternoon.

I am taking this journal with me today to the Idaho Capitol. I am going to read a few excerpts which I am hoping will make a difference:

“I found a lump after a self-exam”

“After a mammogram…. I was in a bit of a daze, but I went back to work”

“My doctor came out to meet me in the waiting room and asked me to wait. I knew, right then and there”

“My doctor said I should have my left breast removed”

“Dr. F said it penetrated my ductal walls”

Anxiety dreams, gripping pain, I was so nervous after my mastectomy. I had chosen to have both breasts removed and immediate reconstruction. I had supportive and caring physicians that always returned my phone calls or faxes – hey, this was 20 years ago! – of questions I had.

“I kept crying while I worked, so I began to admit to myself that is was time to talk to other cancer survivors. My friends and family could not possibly know how I feel inside”

“I feel at a loss. And I am terrified of chemo”

“I am starting to crack and weaken”

Seven months later, I wrote this: “You just have to go on”

Looking back, I have finally realized that my strength has always been a part of my essence, my being, my spirit, a part of me. I’m taking that with me to the Capitol to support better healthcare choices in Idaho. I will communicate what I went through to tell my story and listen to the stories of the others that I will be with. I am truly looking forward to this day….

Wish me luck!

#ACSCAN #IdahoHealthcareChoices #BreastCancer #CancerSurvivor

 

 

You Need to Be Ready to Be Right for Another to Love

You need to be ready in order to be right for another person to love, and to be in love. For that next person. For that next person you were not sure you would ever meet.

don't need to rush

We all have a life trauma or tragedy that leaves a scar on our broken heart. Don’t get me wrong, scars are the memories in life that we can look back on, hopefully recalling a lesson learned. I wrote that stains on clothes are memories. Same goes for scars.

I had a heart that was broken in to a million pieces when Paul died. It doesn’t seem possible that the one-year mark has come and gone. I know he would not want me to mope, so I have given this dating thing a try again. I thought I was ready.

In the process of being “ready”, I have learned that others are not, but they sure do put on that façade of “I’m going for it” attitude. Thanks, but no thanks. Guys, you need to be ready, too. Otherwise, you will certainly stumble.

Don’t pull me in and then retreat. Don’t say all the right things and then disappear. Don’t, please don’t act as if you are ready when deep down inside you are still a chocolate mess.

In my past, I have always given myself a time frame after a significant breakup. A year. Yes, a year. Because I wanted then and to this day, I want to be sure. Jumping in to another relationship is simply not healthy. (yes, there are exceptions to this rule: only if the other person is someone you truly know and already love as a friend).

Yes, at first you will be lonely, so lonely that your heart aches. Yes, you will miss the intimacy and by that I mean the simple act of touching and being touched. Yes, you will miss many, many aspects of a relationship. A good relationship.

So, this brings me to the point. No matter how that relationship ended, give yourself that time period to let go of your past. This will make you a better person for that next time you are ready to love again. Doing so takes courage, but you surely can muster the strength. Waiting will be challenging, but it will save you from stumbling in life.

You are no good to another person if you have not yet let go of your past attachments. You make think you have let go, but believe me, there are hang-ups that need purging as well. It’s called baggage, emotional baggage.

Just don’t tell me everything is fine when it is actually in chaos. I’ve been there, remember?

#grieving #lifelesson #relationship

 

 

 

I Am Going to Share My Favorite Song, Just Because

This past weekend was full of surprises, most of which were completely unexpected. I am convinced the unexpected is just about the best ever gift from God and the Universe!

once a year

As I proceeded to come down from cloud nine Sunday, while I was hiking with the Z man, I realized I do not have a “favorite” song. How can that be? I love music, right? I go bananas when my favorite artists just happen to be performing at least 200 miles within my vicinity, right? But not a favorite song, not really. I’m not saying that has to change or anything, but I am telling you that favorite songs are from everlasting memories. For me, there are simply too many! Maybe now you understand.

I suppose I have had – and will continue to have – memories to fill that “book” so many of us long to write. But I won’t write that book. I have decided if I am going to do anything, it will be to compile a book of music that influenced my life, the life that has shaped me to who I have become as the woman I am now. The question is, where do I start?

I went to the Guitar Center in Boise on Saturday for the first time. Guitar overload. I smiled broadly as I was literally pulled to the acoustic guitar room. You see, when I was in high school, I made a feeble attempt to learn how to play a guitar. I thought about the songs I could actually strum! Not a big list, mind you, but a few that took me down memory lane.

Taking that occasional trip down that memory lane is good for the soul. Moving forward and learning is a gift of life we cannot and should not squander. But, I think I will just start at Memory Lane and see where I end up! After all, that will be moving forward, right?

#lifelesson  #memorylane #favoritesong

 

 

Grand Marnier Balls or Name This Dessert For Me!

Based on a recipe I have for 3 ingredient energy bars, I gave a traditional rum ball recipe some thought. How could I incorporate my favorite cookie to replace the vanilla wafers? How could I add a fruit of some kind? And, better yet, replace rum for a better flavor?powdered balls

Well, this is my creation and I am sharing with you today. This batch makes 2-3 dozen to take to a party or serve at your own event. Some friends want to call these Grand M Balls, Super 8 Balls, Reindeer Balls. Call them what you like, you won’t be disappointed!

Ingredients

1 package of Oreo Thins

2 cups pecans

2 cups dried cranberries

2 mini bottles Grand Marnier

Agave nectar

Directions

Divide ingredients in half and pulse in food processor until finely ground. Add the Grand Marnier and agave until mixture reaches consistency that you can form balls. Resist the urge to make large balls, make them small because these will be so delicious that not any person can eat just one. Really.

balls refer

Arrange on baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Roll in powdered sugar and enjoy! Graciously accept compliments and have another.

Bon Appétit!

#recipe #dessert #grandmarnier #oreos

 

Goodbye 2015, Here’s to My 2016

Looking back at 2015, I am astonished by my resilience from a year filled with circumstances one typically watches in a movie with the tragic twist. Talk about the plot thickening as each month unfolded!

make NYE goal

But get through it I did, and I eventually recognized just how strong a woman I am. And yet, I realized just how vulnerable I could be at the same time. Seems a bit on peculiar, but true nevertheless.

By now you all – my friends – are aware of my journey. It’s been a tough ride and yet one that I was able to plow through with determination. I refused to let anger take space in my heart. Forgiveness came naturally with time. There is not one day that goes by when I don’t think about Paul in one way or another, but it’s different now. After he passed away, I missed him deeply; now I miss the relationship and everything that came with a mutually loving man to share a life with.

I always have known that we never stop learning and this year proved to be my life test. Being diagnosed with cancer was crazy enough, but having Paul die in my arms, revived by EMT’s and dying again when we pulled life support was just too much. I curled in to that proverbial ball and desperately tried to shut out the craziness that followed. And yet, 2015 was my year to blossom.

Trust me, it’s not that I no longer want to write about my experience. It’s that I am now ready to walk a different path, a new path. I want to heal more than I want to hash it out. I now want to step in to the new year with a brighter outlook, and for me that means a shift in my thinking, a shift in my writing, a shift in my everyday life.

I have gotten my groove back. And it feels great! So be it, fate. So be it.

#grooveback #lifelesson #healing #journey

Gorgonzola & White Wine Sauce with Gnocchi & Bacon

My friend, Barbi, inspired me to make a gorgonzola sauce for gnocchi, her favourite dish. And delicious it was! What a pity she was out of town. {insert smirk} And, please forgive this picture; my gnocchi wanted to be saucy that night. Or would that have been sassy?

gnocchi

At any rate, I wanted to make it a bit lower in fat than a recipe I have used in the past. First of all, one key item is milk and I don’t drink milk, so I had to find a substitute for that. Well, I had a bottle of chardonnay that Gregg did not finish earlier in the week. Thank you, Gregg, for this ingredient! The next item that was easy to switch out was reduced fat cream cheese. Don’t give me grief, believe it or not, there are organic choices at your local store. The only thing in life that I will not, no not ever, substitute is real butter. That is a given!

I basically followed my other recipe but changed ingredients and amounts. The result today’s blog post and Pinterest worthy!

Ingredients

1 16 oz. package gnocchi

¼ cup butter

¼ cup quality flour

1 cup dry white wine

½ package reduced fat cream cheese or 4 oz.

¾ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

4 strips crispy bacon, crumbled

¼ cup chopped green onion

 

Directions

Prepare pot to cook gnocchi per package directions, how much water, etc. Set aside to actually cook the gnocchi later since it cooks up so fast there is no need to pre-cook. But! Being ready is essential once the sauce is done due to the incredible aroma.

In a smaller pan or pot, add butter and melt over medium heat. Add the flour and blend to a smooth consistency, just slightly bubbly, approximately 1 minute. Add wine and whisk until mixture is thoroughly blended and thickened. Add cream cheese in small chunks and whisk again until well blended. Now is the time to drop in the gorgonzola cheese and stir to the consistency you desire. The sauce should be tempting you to dip a finger for a taste test. Please do so at this point. Turn off heat.

Bring the water pot to a boil according to package directions and cook the gnocchi until it floats to the top. Drain well and transfer to your serving bowl. Pour the sauce over the gnocchi and garnish with bacon bits and green onions.

Bon Appétit!

#gnocchi #quickmeal #baconbaconbacon

 

What Are You Giving for Christmas? #HolidayGifts #Give From Your Heart

Since living in Idaho, I have made a commitment each holiday season to give presents that I have either made myself or something that was made in Idaho. Believe it or not, this can be an easy task no matter where you may happen to live.HOPE

One year I made neck roll pillows! If my friends knew the lengths I went to in order to put them together, they would be chuckling right now. From where I lived in Ketchum, I drove to Burley – or was it Jerome? – and found a long 7” diameter foam roll. Great! I’ll take it! I went home and used a bread knife to cut the main piece in to number of smaller rolls. I purchased a soft blue denim colored cotton and tied the ends with a red bandana material. No kidding, I wish I had one of those pillows today…..

After I moved to Boise, I was fortunate enough to meet Angie Sebolt of La De Da Jewelry  I was impressed by her simple, whimsical designs that were beautiful. My gifts one year were a pair of La De Da Jewelry earrings for each close friend. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it was to pick a pair of earrings with care for each person I had in mind. Now Angie and I are steadfast friends and my jewelry collection is mostly from her talented creations.

My point is, that if you cannot find something to make, try to find a local artist to help you give a special something with meaning. You know how each year we are reminded to shop small? Have you thought about adding “local” to your shopping list?

Here in Boise, we have the Capitol City Public Market almost year round now. Think about the times you may have walked a morning at your own Farmers Market and ask yourself, were you only focused on the produce or did you notice the hand crafted goods?

Is there a special area in your town that features unusual gifts? In Boise, we have a few wonderful strip malls that have undergone a “facelift” that turned the spaces around to evolve to true places to gather for more than one reason. It’s called placemaking and many of these revitalized areas have small shops with many treasures.

Looking for a gift that is unique is part of the joy of giving. I hope you can find a treasure or two that makes a very special gift this year.

Make your holidays bright with joy and hope, Merry Christmas!

#gifts #giving #lifelesson #shopsmall #shoplocal

let it be

It’s Not About Me, It’s Not About You, It Is About US

This past year, while I was in the midst of grief, at times it felt as if I was on the outside looking in more often than not. You know, those times watching events as if you were not in the room, people talking about dealing with what you would consider totally mundane but oh so important to them. Or being in a situation where their joy was your pain, but your pain was truly your choice because did not choose to be more positive. Hard to admit, but true all the same.let it be

I have been outside for a time and looking in has pushed me to learn in a deeper way. I no longer “see” but “hear” life differently. I listen better and yet still not enough. Listening is a true art. You have to close your laptop, put your phone away, sit in a position to hear better, and even keep eye contact to make sure you are giving it your all. I know when I am listening better, that I am giving better. In the moment.

That moment. In Buddhism it is called the present moment.

Which brings me to my point. It is not about me, and it is not about you. These days, it should be about “us”. When are we going to stop pushing and pulling and just figure out how to meet in the middle? What happened to collaborating? I want to know why the discourse has become so hateful. I want to know why we don’t trust each other any longer. I want to know why hatred and fear has taken over our lives instead of helping and healing. Big questions.

Why can’t “we” be “us” again?

For Christmas, for the holidays, all I want is to experience people talking, not arguing. All I want is for people to listen to each other and not to assume the worst when you do not have all the facts. I just want solutions instead of battles.

All I want is peace.

#listen #peace #bereal #solution #lifelesson

My Kitchen is My Happy Place, Even If I Mess Up a Recipe

On Sunday I gave in to my craving for lemon pomegranate cookies and used almond flour, just to experiment. I am here to tell you that the cookies are delicious, but more cake-like that cookie texture. I tried, right? Now I have a few dozen of chewy, soft lemony cookies that melt in my mouth. Great for consumption but not for gifts as I had planned. However, if you happen office at the Downtown Keller Williams Realty Boise location, you will be in for a treat! Just bring me an Americano, please.problems-possibilities

I have learned that it’s perfectly okay to make mistakes in life, particularly in the grieving stage I found myself in. The point is to try again, and that is exactly how I pulled through to where I am now.

As I look back at a very difficult year in my life, and I am surprised at how I muddled through it all and yet kept my sense of humor. I have also learned just how strong and resilient I am as a woman, a sister, a friend, a mentor to those who have watched me in my process called grief. It wasn’t easy but I was determined to not hold on to the anger of grief that would have been so easy to succumb to.

I tried to be Super Woman, but that was just too tiring. I cried and I cried hard. I tried to be positive, which I am anyway. But it took real effort to make myself move on some days. I tried to work as usual but came to the realization that I needed help. Not an easy thing to admit for a doer like myself! The help was so welcome that I was relieved and ever so grateful. I tried to go out and about, but all I wanted was to go back home and just be with my dog, Zeke.

Eventually, I found a tiny cottage to live in and made this place a home. This new place gave me the wings to fly again, to breathe peacefully and with purpose. My happy place, a small kitchen has the least amount of counter space I have ever lived with. And yet I have been cooking and baking up all sorts of goodies this fall! Canning tomatoes, marinara, tomatillo sauce, and tomato paste. Making my garden herb salt. Those lemon pomegranate cookies I mentioned? Total flop but still so darn good! I tried banana nut bread last weekend with that same almond flour. Don’t try it! Save yourself the trouble and use regular flour. But darn it, it sure was good to nibble on, despite the fact it fell apart.

Being in my kitchen and trying recipes reminds me of that trying effort in life. Yeah, some things just do not work out. Learn from it and try again. Some flavors just don’t mix. Eliminate them and try again. Some ingredients are like water and oil. Switch them out and find the right mix.

I am ready for that bigger kitchen in life. I am truly looking forward to the coming year!

#grief #tinykitchen #recipes #tryandtryagain #lifelesson