Monday, February 24, 2014

Berry Breakfast Parfait...and Monet!

There are times in our lives when we are caught 
between moments that we wish would never end,
and moments that we wish had never begun.

When our hearts are most unguarded,
and we least expect it,
it comes...
a tender touch...
a glimpse of hope and a reminder of all that's good and true in our world.
It sneaks on up, reaches right in and
awakens something deep within us.

When I first heard some three years ago that a scrapbook was being compiled 
to be filled with sentiments and recipes from bloggers across the blogosphere
that was intended to spread a little sunshine
to someone very dear to my heart,
I was overjoyed at the chance to participate.

has won over the hearts of everyone who has crossed her path
in the most memorable way, through her thoughts and
contemplations, her stories, her photography, and her delightful recipes.

It was a privilege to pray her family through 
an especially difficult season of their lives...
a season that had been eclipsed with numerous tragedies and heartache;
And the hope was
that the small token of love
from those who adore her
would be a healing salve during that time...

So often I have felt her heart and hands wrapping around my soul. 

I have imagined sitting at her table,
breathing in the aromas of her freshly baked delicacies,
and sharing our worlds over a cup of tea. 

Stop by her blog and experience it for yourself.
Thank you Monet, for spending your morning with us.

Mornings have become special times for me. I wake up next to my daughter, next to my husband, and I take in ten deep breaths of thankfulness.

As some of you know, my family experienced a season of great loss. In 2010, my father-in-law committed suicide. A few months later, my youngest nephew drowned. Then, unbelievably, in the spring of 2011, my oldest sister and her family were in a fatal rollover car accident. We lost my nephew, and sister in the days following the accident…my brother-in-law six months later.

To say I felt scared is an understatement. I felt terrified. Confused. Angry. Lost. And yet in those darkest of dark days, I was offered cords of hope. The love and support of friends and family near and far pulled me through this season of loss into a season of healing light.

And our dear Bella was one of the kindest. Her words and compassionate presence reminded me to hold onto my faith. She doesn’t know how much she means to so many people…she doesn’t know how much she means to me. 

I could have lost myself in a sea of grief and depression…but thanks to the love of many, I got to the other side. 

On June 25th, 2013, I gave birth to my first daughter. We named her Lucille, which means “Bringer of Light” and indeed….what light she’s brought into our world! For the past year, I’ve learned what it means to be mother. I’ve learned to let go of control and to celebrate each day for what it is: an opportunity to love and to be loved.

I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday. The second the doctor lifted her to my stomach, my body swelled with such a potent mixture of love and thankfulness and pride. Tears fell freely as I thanked God again and again. Not only for the miracle of birth but for his continued presence during the quiet and easy days of my life and his faithfulness through the dark and frightening moments of the past few years.

So my dear friends, for those of you who are hurting, please know that there is so much love in this world. Let us surround and support you. Let us help you get to the other side. I’m so thankful for the people who stood beside me…and now I pray that I can do the same for those brought into my life.

This morning parfait is a simple recipe but it’s one I love. I hope you enjoy it too.

Berry Breakfast Parfait
One 6 oz container of full-fat Greek Yogurt (2% is fine too)
Fresh berries (Organic, if possible)
1/2 to 1 cup granola

Place above ingredients in a big, beautiful bowl and enjoy! (Talk about mom-friendly!)
Have a most glorious week
and as always
Keep Shining Sweet Bellas!!

P.S. Congrats to Rach Vendetti, she won a copy of "Beautiful Outlaw"

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bruleed Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Apple Compote

Sweet Bellas, I have yet another treat for you today…
A mahhhhvelous guest post dahlings.
It is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to
Gina Stanley, THE Self Proclaimed Cookie Queen.

With a wicked repertoire of recipes under her belt,
she continues to touch so many lives through her genuine acts of kindness.
I have personally been on the receiving end of her genius, and generosity,
and I simply cannot rave enough…
She has been SUCH an inspiration to me in ways that are too numerous to count.

She will have you laughing till your belly hurts, but still be hungry for a nosh!
Her authenticity, magnificent story telling, and mad cooking/baking skills
are undeniably one-of-a-kind-wonderful.
Her creative energy and enthusiasm spills over on to everyone that journeys with her…

Trust me Bellas, you want to take some time to visit her at her blog over HERE

Take it away Gina!

I'm excited I am able to help out my friend Jaime whom I met by what would seem like complete accident 4 years ago when we both had the bright idea to enter a cooking contest searching for amazing home cooks. "I’m a pretty darn good cook", I told myself. My naive little self plunged in hook, line, and sinker. The contest didn't end how I'd hoped, not because I didn’t win but because I learned a few things along the way; the hard way.  I decided to use my failure as an opportunity to grow instead.  Not only did I find Jaime, but a whole world of others who shared my same passion. I was worried at first at my naivety falling away, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise and has helped me see things in completely different ways.  Trying something I never had before helped open up a whole new world of possibilities. My venturing into uncharted territory wasn't random; it was what I was supposed to do.

I have found with age I am able to truly know the value of what the most important things in life are.

Younger more naive me thought breakfast was a waste of time, just something that would slow me down in the morning.  As time marched on so did my recognition of the importance of starting the day off on a good note.  I can't even imagine what my mornings would be like if that old habit had stuck with me.  You see everything we desire in life is a constant battle, and as much as I'd like to walk away sometimes from making some of the necessary changes; I find taking a deep breath is much more effective.  

There are days when everything feels like a struggle.  Struggling to find a rare clean spot on the counter to put a pot down, struggling to find a free moment to sit down and write, struggling to find the energy after a long day to do something for myself, struggling to overcome constant setbacks.  I have to remind myself to be vigilant about the way I'm thinking, not to be naive and realize there is something much bigger at play, more to every story, more work to be done, more joy to be found, my hugs to be given, more patience and kindness to be doled out.    

Sometimes a quite contemplate moment with a bowl of warm oatmeal is enough to start changing things in the right direction. 

Bruleed Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Apple Compote 
(recipe adapted from

1 cup Steel-Cut oats 
2 cups water 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 cup milk (or Almond milk, I had good results with it also) 
2 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and diced in 1/2-inch sized pieces (I used Fuji apples)
1 tablespoon butter 
Juice from one half of a lemon, about 1 tablespoon 
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
1/3 cup light brown sugar 
4 tablespoons granulated sugar 

Combine oats, water, salt, and milk in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 18-20 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often. 

Melt butter in a small skillet and add apples and lemon juice, cook on medium heat for 5-6 minutes until the apples start to soften.  Add the pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Set aside. 

Stir apples into finished oatmeal and fill 4 small oven-safe ramekins equally with the oatmeal. At this stage you can add about 1 tablespoon granulated sugar to the top of each ramekin and put them under the broiler until the sugar is browned about 5 minutes. (A kitchen torch will also work well.)   

I know mornings are crazy and it’s hard to always have a hot breakfast, hopefully this tip will help:
Make the oatmeal while making dinner, cover the dishes with plastic wrap. Microwave the dishes in the morning for 45 seconds or so and then add the granulated sugar and put them under the broiler for a few minutes. 

It's no accident when you plan to start your day off right, nor is it an accident when the right people come into your life.  When I feel like I'm not doing a good enough job with everything and everyone, I just have to remind myself to get back to work and work that much harder.  One battle at a time, one breakfast at a time I find is much more palatable than taking on the whole world at once. 

Thank you for sharing your beautiful, inspiring space with me Jaime.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Spread a lil' love...And A Giveaway!

A Valentine’s tradition we started last year, and hope to continue,
is making this day a "Random Acts of Kindness" day.

Sweet Bellas, what an opportune time to show some love 
to a neighbor, family member, friend, or stranger!

It can be as simple as leaving coins in the meter, 
or laundromat, with a note that says “have a nice day!"
Take a neighbor’s trash can out (or shovel their driveway!)
Leave an encouraging note on someone’s windshield, or a gift card!
Bring valentine’s to an elderly home.
Call a family member or friend just to tell them you love them.
Pick up someone’s tab at a restaurant.
Bring treats to co-workers.

These are just a few simple ideas, but the possibilities are endless!

Whatever you do today, I hope it is done in love.

Speaking of love….I would love to spoil you once again!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of 
“Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldredge.
You’ve heard me rave about Elredge before…  
In his latest book, Eldredge invites you to experience
the playful, disruptive, extravagant personality of Jesus.
John Eldredge is a master story teller,
and an expert in the art of heart recovery...
I know you won’t be disappointed.

And hey, don’t just take my word for it…
Anthony is reading this right now,
and gives it a resounding two thumbs up!
If you’ve read this book before, 
don’t let that stop you from entering,
it makes a wonderful gift!!

All you have to do to enter to win, 
is tweet, share, or pin this post
by Thursday February 20th, noon PST,
and leave a comment below telling me you did
(you may leave one comment for each thing you do).

Good Luck!
And spread a lil love today….

Keep Shining Sweet Bellas!!!

Monday, February 3, 2014


Sooooooo, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. 
Aaaaaand my husband’s team lost the Superbowl.
Aaaaaand I got the worst stomach virus of my life. 
Is this month still redeemable?

I daresay yes, yes it is.

Sweet Bellas, do I have a treat for you…or should I say treat(s).

This month shall be action packed chock full of goodness to the last drop.
I mustn’t spoil all the surprises….but to kick things off,
I have invited four guest bloggers to share something glorious with you
each Monday, for the month of February.

After all, the spirit of Mangiabella is about 
tasting the beauty of life, 
and sharing it with you...

It was almost four years ago, that I entered a recipe contest. And through that recipe contest, a community of kindred spirits began to form. And within that community, a certain thread was birthed. And within that thread, friendships emerged. And through those friendships, one particular friendship became a sisterhood.

It is my great pleasure to introduce the very Multi-Dimensional Lorraine Brown, Actress, Writer, Poet & Lyricist, Former NFL Chicago Bears Cheerleader (The Honeybears), Co-Founder of the Chicago Bulls Cheerleaders (The Luv-A-Bulls), Decorator, Cook (with recent appearance on the Live Well Network's “My Family Recipe Rocks” hosted by Joey Fatone), and so much more...

She will inspire you with incredible meals, poignant poetry, and her heart of gold. Beauty drips from her fingertips and her words....truly....are a GIFT.

Please take a moment to stop by her blog, you’ll be so very glad you did. 
Take it away Lorraine…

When my beautiful friend and soul sister asked me to write a guest post, I didn’t hesitate to say...  


Jaime, to step inside your blog is to step inside a fresh spring meadow ~
     the presence of a loving spirit washes over us as you invite us to feast on life!

From the very first day I visited, the beauty and eloquence of your words drew me in – as if there was something greater here than keystrokes – I felt the sincerity of a heart overflowing with love!
In you I’ve found a sister and my life is rich because of your friendship... 

"Sweet Bella Jaime"

You bring warmth to a cold winter’s day
By the light you shine so brightly our way,
You inspire us with phrases which danced across your keys,
Your ambition is to share His love, to encourage and to please...
You challenge us so gently as you give us thoughts to ponder,
And cheer us on when weaker moments tempt our souls to wander...
Your hunger for the best in life whets our appetite
As you combine ingredients to comfort and delight...
You blend the truth together with the goodness from above,
Mix it in with tenderness and serve it up with love...
You pour a glass to cheer us on
And celebrate the day,
Then prepare for us a hearty feast
And send us on our way...
Your recipes for food and life
Leave us wanting more...
Yes, just another bite
Of the flavors we adore...
Satisfied, yet stirred
To reach the highest height...
Savoring each morsel ~
Tasting ALL of Life!

~ (Love, Lorraine) ~

Sweet Jaime... In keeping with the delicious theme of your blog I’d like to finish with a recipe... and...

Since February is the month of LOVE ~ Let’s celebrate the best way I know how....with....

Lovely Lava Cake:

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature) – plus extra for ramekins.
1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (melted)
3 large eggs

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Dutch Cocoa (sifted) for dusting inside of ramekins

Confectioner’s sugar (sifted) for dusting finished cakes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly butter 6 small (3/4 cup) ramekins (or 6 muffin tins). Dust with sifted cocoa and tap out excess...
place on cookie sheet and set aside. 

In bowl of electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy; Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in flour and salt just until combined
then add melted chocolate until just combined.

Pour batter into the six ramekins (or tins) and keeping them on the cookie sheet, place in 400 degree oven. Bake approx. 8 – 12 minutes until tops of cakes are puffed and cracked
(the insides of the cracks will appear wet).

Remove from oven and either serve immediately inside the ramekins or let the cakes stand for 10 minutes,
then run a knife around the inside of ramekins to loosen and turn them out (bottom sides up) on to individual plates.
Dust with sifted confectioner’s sugar.

Serve with ice cream (vanilla is our favorite) – or whipped cream
  - or both if desired...    We Desire ;)

(adapted from various recipes, including Martha Stewart and Williams Sonoma)


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