Friday, January 17, 2014

Too Many Tabs...and Tortilla Soup

There I the zone.
The kids were asleep, the washing machine was working overtime,
the pup was incessantly licking his favorite paw.
I was cozied up in my cushiony arm chair,  MacBook fully charged, 
steaming cup of earl grey to my side.
It had been six months since I had sat down to write a Mangiabella post.
As thoughts and expressions formed words in my mind and began to flow through my fingertips,
The door burst open.

My husband came home spilling over from a sublime encounter.
There was a distinct thrill in his voice as he began vividly recalling the fascinating details.
Without breaking eye contact, I slowly lowered my screen to closing position.
He had my undivided attention.

Each word that fell from his lips manifested in palpable exhilaration,
and I breathed it in until I could literally feel 
the texture, weight and thickness of each morsel as though it were my own.
I was completely intrigued & invested, hanging on every tidbit of the play by play.

Three quarters of the way into this gripping narrative,
I felt compelled to document what he was saying. 
I suppose that’s the writer in me, but I didn’t want to risk either one of us
forgetting such a captivating occurrence. 

As I lifted my laptop screen, and began to chronicle the events, 
something happened…

I was picturing in mind’s eye what he was telling me with precision,
vigorously typing shorthand phrases & notes to reflect on later,
while simultaneously reminding myself of what I had to get at the store the next day,
while opening another draft to put down a few phrases for that post I intended to write,
while making a mental note not to forget to put my daughter’s library book in her backpack,
while silently telling myself to switch the clothing from washer to dryer before bedtime... 
until he said “Babe! Are you still listening to me?”

I totally was!
But I was subconsciously multi-tasking at the same time.

Sigh. Too many tabs open.

I’m guilty of this more often than I’d like to admit, 
but I AM learning that another part of tasting the beauty of life
is reprogramming myself to slow down enough 
to savor ONE moment at a time by
mentally and emotionally committing to the experience at hand.

While I can laugh at the humorous e-card above,
I do believe we have control over our multi-tasking abilities.
And while I believe that without question, 
there’s a legitimate time & purpose for multi-tasking, 
there’s also a time for hitting the pause (or stop) button & switching gears.

Whenever I make a conscious effort to close down the other “tabs”
when the people in my life are front and center stage,
(however valiant, noble or important those tabs may be),
my "operating system" undoubtedly functions at optimal level,
and I find myself drawing more satisfaction out of these fleeting moments.

So does this mean I will resist the urge to Pinterest while watching tv with the hubs?
Baby steps, Bellas. Baby steps. haha.
But seriously, I acknowledge that people do feel disconnected
 when you’re only half present with divided interests,
so yes, I plan to be much more discerning 
as to when and where I get my Pinterest fix.

On a separate note, my husband has been known to be a picky eater have a selective palate.
However, this year, he has declared to be more adventurous and try anything I cook.


Did he say anything?
Indeed he did.
And an adventure it shall be.

To infinity and beyond!

Yesterday I made Tortilla Soup. 
I know, doesn’t seem like much of a leap from what he might normally eat. 
Baby steps, Bellas. Baby steps.
While he might eat what’s on top of the broth without hesitation,
what’s below the broth is not his usual cup of tea.
I’ve only had Tortilla Soup once, and it’s been years.
I didn’t want to search for any recipes,
I just wanted to throw together flavors that I imagined would bring this dish to life.
I made just enough for one serving size to experiment. 
We both shared one bowl and agreed it was superb!
Definitely one to keep for the repertoire.
Tortilla Soup
Ingredients for single serving:
2 Tbsp oil (I used safflower, but can use olive, canola, etc)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 of one green onion, chopped, starting with the white part
pinch of salt
1/4 of small yellow squash, diced
1/4 of small zucchini, diced
1 Roma Tomato, diced
1/4 of  Orange Bell Pepper, diced
1/4 cup of frozen corn
1 1/2 cup of chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
2 oz. of shredded chicken, cooked
1 corn tortilla, crisped in oil, cut into slivers
1/2 an avocado, sliced
1/4 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
pinch of fresh cilantro, chopped
dash of pepper
dollop of sour cream (if desired)

In a small saucepan, sautee garlic & onion in oil with salt over medium/low heat
As soon as the garlic is fragrant, add squash, zucchini, 1/2 of the roma tomato, and bell pepper.
Cook for just a minute, add corn. Cook veggies down for just a few minutes
Add crushed red pepper and cumin and another generous pinch of salt, stir well. 
Add chicken broth cooked chicken
Cook for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, crisp your corn tortilla by using a tablespoon of oil,
letting the oil saturate both sides by flipping, allow tortilla to bubble, flip sides again. 
Allow tortilla to crisp to desired crispness.
set aside, cut into slivers (I used a pizza cutter).
You also could pre-slice tortilla before crisping, whatever is easiest for you.
Remove soup from heat, pour into bowl.
Garnish with sliced avocado, the rest of the roma tomato, cilantro, cheddar cheese, tortilla strips, and sour cream (if desired).
And as always…Keep Shining Sweet Bellas!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Orange Almond Scones & Beef Wellington

It’s been too much fun giggling with my girlfriends
over the new season of Downton Abbey.
Sharing jokes back and forth.
Making little treats to spoil ourselves.
Like these Orange Almond Scones with a spot of tea (recipe below):

And my lil twist on Beef Wellington (recipe below):

One must dine in style for Masterpiece Classic, dahhhlings.

Likewise, it makes me smile to see my husband get ready for the playoffs.
Setting the stage for maximum comfort...beverage, snacks, & remote in arm’s reach.
Pillows fluffed just right, ottoman in place, pre-game banter.
Today I spoiled him with a quick brunch before kick off:

Baked Croissant Sandwich Casserole
click here for recipe

Sweet Bellas, part of tasting the beauty of life is allowing yourself to fully engage in the moment.
To draw joy out of the experience, and cultivate the kind of atmosphere 
that awakens your sensibilities.

As with anything in life, it’s the little details that make the ordinary special.
My friend Shannon likes to say, 
“Us grown ups need our treats too” ;)

What about you, any pre-show/pre-game/pre-event/ or pre-"get in the zone" rituals?

Enjoy the recipes, and as always:

Keep Shining Sweet Bellas!

Orange Almond Scones

2 1/4 Cups  flour
1/3 Cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
11 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 Cup Half and Half
1 tsp of Almond Extract
handful of slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 375 F. 
Whisk together flour, granulated sugar and baking powder in a large bowl until well combined.
Add butter.  Using a mixer (or pastry blender), blend butter into dry ingredients until mixture is the consistency of coarse meal. 
Add half and half & almond extract; stir just until blended

Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly until a smooth dough is formed.  
Pat into a square about 1-inch thick. 
Cut dough into 16 triangles (cut into 4 squares first, then cut each square into fourths diagonally). 
Arrange 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet
Bake until lightly browened 15 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly before icing. 

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp orange zest
2 Tbsp water

Put the sugar in a bowl, add water a little at a time to achieve drizzle consistency. 
Add orange zest, mix through. 
Drizzle over warm scones. top with slivered almonds.

Quick Beef Wellington
In my quick version, the beef is pre-cooked, combined with cheeses and a type of duxelles
all wrapped in puff pastry, and baked to perfection.

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
6 oz. of cooked beef, shredded or diced
10 cremini mushrooms, rinsed, de-stemmed, and diced
1/2 small yellow onion
1/2 cup white wine
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp of olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
6 oz of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup of pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 egg
splash of water


1)Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet out to a 12 x 8 inch rectangle. Cut into six 4 x 4 inch squares.
2) Spread cream cheese (appx 1 oz.) in the center of each square.
3)Meanwhile, in a small frying pan over medium heat, saute olive oil, garlic clove onion salt and pepper for one minute, add cremini mushrooms and cook until onions are translucent. Add wine, cook down a few minutes. Turn off heat.
4) top each square with 1 oz. of cooked beef.
5)Spoon 1 Tbsp of mushroom/onion saute mixture on top of beef on each square
6) Top each square with a good pinch of pepper jack cheese.
7) Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork or whisk to create an egg wash. Brush the edges of the pastry squares with the egg wash. Fold the corners of the pastry squares to the center over the stuffing mixture and press to seal. Place the filled pastries seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Brush the pastries with the egg wash.
8)Bake @ 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 6.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Annus Mirabilis...

I love the start of a new year!
New possibilities... New adventures...
A time of great contemplation for so many.

I was reflecting this morning on the past few years of resolutions,
what it is I had intended to purpose in my heart to focus on for that year,
and as I look back, I can’t help but smile.

In 2009, I had reached a pivotal point in my life journey,
one that demanded a deeper kind of growth and development from me.
And since then, I can see that an intricate little network of building blocks has begun to form!
The ground work was being laid for the next step in my path.

2009 was about letting go, surrender, giving up attachment to results.
2010 saying “no,” and not taking on more than my capacity.
2011 making time for more “time,” being very intentional with my time.
2012 being more gracious, to those I know and those I don’t.
2013 was all about “more,” engaging more deeply.

And this year, 2014, I intend to speak life. Both in my own life, and the lives of those around me.
What does this mean? Well I hope you stick around to find out.
I have great expectations for this year, and look forward to seeing the fruits emerge.

Each new year, a threshold is crossed.
A gateway leading you to the next step on YOUR life journey.
One that is part of an intricate network of building blocks...

What kind of groundwork will you be laying this year?

Keep Shining Sweet Bellas!


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