Christmas in July

 

With the kind of start to the month that my family had you would definitely understand why I titled this post, “Christmas in July”. Our lives were rocked by an incident that  caused my family to be separated from each other temporarily at the beginning of the month. The things that we were going through made me empathize with the many families who have been separated by the border patrol agents, the justice system and even medical ailments and diseases.

Our reunion this month truly felt like Christmas came early. With joy in our soul and love in our hearts, it was just the pick me up we all needed to remind us that the love of God is real and ever present. Feeling like I had witnessed a miracle happen before my very eyes I was soaring like an eagle spiritually when my birthday sailed around on the 14th of this month.

My birthday wish this year was simply to have my family be together and not disjointed. I got exactly what I wanted so it was certainly time to celebrate.

Circumstances each day are beyond our control but how we get through these situations are the true tests that life throws at you unexpectedly. My family and I aren’t strangers to hard times as we have survived and overcome many obstacles placed in our way. Celebrating my 37th birthday was a welcomed reflection of all that I have experienced, endured or overcame in my lifetime thus far. I am proud of the woman I am today. I am hopeful for the woman I will be tomorrow. The food spread was amazing and catered by yours truly. Yes I cooked my own food. I like my food the best. I’m just saying. The final spread included a Family Variety Feast from Bojangles that contained chicken, chicken tenders, mac and cheese, dirty rice, french fries and sweet tea. I prepare and cooked 2 racks of BBQ ribs, cheeseburger sliders, a crawfish boil, steamed and spiced shrimp, guacamole, hot dogs and crab dip. Of course there was tons of food to last us a couple of days and it was all delicious. I ate so much crawfish and shrimp on my birthday that I didn’t even get a chance to eat an actual plate after that. It was cake to top it all off and that was all she wrote. I was stuffed.

The crawfish were so fresh and juicy. I found a new home at Captain Greg’s Seafood on Mechanicsville Turnpike. The ladies there were friendly and knowledgable. I picked up the crab dip here too and a few sleeves of Ritz crackers too.

Today I woke up and got right back to the things that I have been working on because this is important to me. I miss working on my blog. I miss the excitement and intrique of engagement. Seeing the notifications and comments, watching the numbers rise slowly each month. It’s not a science that I have yet perfected but I am invested enough to keep giving this my best shot.

I jumped back on the bandwagon today and found a new recipe on Pinterest. I was looking for a recipe to use my overipened bananas in. I remembered pinning a Jamaican Banana Fritters recipe a few week ago, so I pulled it up and confirmed I had all of the ingredients or a suitable substitute before immersing myself back in blog life.

This recipe was great right off the bat because of it’s ease and convenience. How many times have we braved the kitchen to whip something up magical and realize we are short an ingredient or two or three? I dread the shame walk back to the store to retrieve additional items. Proper planning is key to reducing these dreadful trips back to the supermarket.

The Jamaican Banana Fritters recipe that I tried today is courtesy of http://www.cookingmaniac.com. The ingredients needed are 3 super ripe bananas, 2 eggs, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, flour, milk, molasses, sugar, salt and oil to shallow fry fritters.

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My super ripened bananas to be used in the Jamaican Banana Fritters.

The recipe boasts five steps and is not exactly clear as to when the molasses should be incorporated into the mixture. I figured this out when I was ready to fry and I realized that the recipe didn’t address it. So I added it into the batter/mixture  before beginning the frying process.

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Jamaican Banana Fritters being shallow fried in a cast iron skillet.

This recipe is super simple and it came out light and delicious. I found the final product to be very light in sweetness overall but the confectioner’s sugar helped tremendously. So long story short, if you like them barely sweet keep this recipe as is. If you want more sweetness add in more sugar to the batter or coat generously with confectioner’s sugar after fried and cooled.

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The finished product Jamaican Banana Fritters coated generously with confectioner’s sugar.

So far 2 of my four children have all tasted and approved the Jamaican Banana Fritter’s recipe. I ate 3 so far myself so that’s got to mean something good right? I’d interested to see if my daughter will like these, she’s a big eater but sometimes she just doesn’t gravitate to certain things. I think my husband will tell me it’s good regardless but I definitely don’t think these are his cup of tea. I’m interested to see how similar New Orleans beignets are to these fritters. Maybe I’ll try that next.

Either way I’m back, and you can see what’s going on around this side of the woods by following me on Twitter @PleasantsMomof4.

Hope to see you soon!

Peace and Blessings,

A Very Pleasant Mom of 4

 

 

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Life in Full Bloom this Month

May, a month many of us look forward to for our own reasons…maybe you welcome the change in climate, the holidays we celebrate (Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Teacher Appreciation, Memorial Day, etc.) or maybe it represents something else for you. The rainy blah of April welcomes an exciting and expectant month of May and so far this month has not disappointed one bit!

I had planned to do a Cinco de Mayo inspired spread of delicious foods instead I was whisked away to Grand National Harbor for a romantic getaway by my husband. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend my Saturday night and Cinco De Mayo. We had a beautiful night, a classy and swanky, Voltaggio Brothers Steak House set the ambiance and back drop for a night to remember. The food was pricey but well worth it. My husband’s steak was huge and so tender it didn’t need a knife, I had the crab cake that was mostly crab – that was baked in a metal tin to keep it together. The wait staff made the experience that much better. They made you feel like VIP for the bread you spend.

Our stay in Oxon Hill, Maryland was the best kickoff for a month that has been blossoming into one surprise after the other. We look forward to going back and rekindling our romance right where we left off. If the Grand Harbor is booked, Harborside is literally right around the corner and it was a hit at a great price. Of course it wouldn’t be a trip if we didn’t stop at Potomac Mills Shopping Mall on the way back home. I’ve got one word for you – Deals! There were so many deals, I promise you there is something for everybody in that mall. I even got the chance to make a Unicorn for my daughter at the Build -a- Bear store. That was truly one of the cutest experiences I’ve ever encountered…the care and sentiment they put into crafting your child’s keepsake is out of this world. I ended up making a purple unicorn that smells like cupcakes with a colorful tutu. By the time we had shopped, we were ready to drop, and see our babies.

The week ahead would prove to be a busy one as usual. Teacher Appreciation Week had been on my calendar for months and of course my surprise trip threw me off a little bit. Monday I woke up ill prepared for teacher appreciation and headed straight to the store once I dropped the kids off at school. I had no solid plan but I knew I wanted to send them something daily. I found white paper lunch bags, grabbed some snacks, and drinks. Each day they received a different snack or treat bag and on Friday I sent in school supplies per the schools’ request. Mind you, I have three children in elementary school, and 1 of them has 2 teachers so that was a total of 4 bags each day. The first day I let the kids draw pictures on the bags, another day I found a poem that  I taped to each bag. I tried to make each teacher’s bag as individual and unique as they are. I wish I had taken pictures but it was one of those weeks that I feel lucky that it got done, even if their isn’t a picture to capture the memory. What I do have? Thoughtful messages and thank you cards from my children’s teachers and those I certainly intend to keep. Shout out to the hardworking teachers and staff at Harvie Elementary School! Special thanks to our former teachers Mrs. Bradford and Mrs Raymond. Super special thanks to our current teachers Ms. Dowell, Ms. Brown, Mrs. Brooks-Giles and Mrs. Purnell, all beautiful ladies, inside and out!

With Teacher Appreciation Week out-of-the-way, a full week of activities that now includes basketball practice for the boys at two different schools twice a week. I was happy to return to my norm and happy place in my kitchen, and who would’ve thought that I would have cooked a complete meal on a Friday night? Fridays’ are typically a fast food type of night or a DIY type of meal – meaning it’s everyone for themselves. Yes, my younger kids can make their own food as long as it’s in the microwave or fresh. My oldest son is a Sous Chef in training, so his privileges and skill in the kitchen are a little more advanced. He even has his own apron. The specialty of this Friday, the 11th was southern fried whiting, macaroni and cheese, collard greens with smoked pork neckbones and Jiffy cornbread. My Friday night dinner turned out great. The fish was crispy and flavorful from the Creole seasoning I added to the fish coating. The macaroni and cheese was creamy and gooey. The collard greens were seasoned perfectly, you could taste a hint of the apple cider vinegar and the red pepper flake. The cornbread was moist and cake like from the vanilla extract that I added to the mixture of Jiffy Mix, egg and milk.

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Southern Fried Whiting, Macaroni and Cheese, Collard Greens with Smoked Pork Neckbones and Cornbread

One thing I had done was properly prepare for Mother’s Day as I had been picking up gifts and cards for the past month or so. So I was smooth sailing as Mother’s Day approached and only needed to pick up a couple of things to complete my shopping. The only other thing that was of importance to me was to make sure I paid homage to one of the best mothers I’ve ever known, my Granny. Visiting her grave is always an emotional thing for me. Even though I don’t want to cry when I get out there, I always end up sobbing by the time I’m driving off. I miss her a lot. I knew she would appreciate the yellow roses I added to her headstone. On this particular day it was only my daughter with me, she watched me closely as I cleaned up my grandmother’s plot. I removed the old flowers and brushed the dust off with my hands. I kissed the top of the headstone as if she could feel it in heaven and then I had to leave because it was too hot to be standing out in the cemetery crying, and my daughter was visibly confused by my tears.

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Beautiful yellow roses for my Granny, Mrs. Viola Chambers.

Leaving the cemetery left us hot and sweaty,  and the kids needed something to do. I don’t know what I was thinking but I decided to take them to the splash park in my area. 60 minutes was all I could stand but I’m nobodies fool, I put my bathing suit and shorts on too. There was no way I was going to sit out in that heat and sun without indulging in the cool refreshing water play.

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Fun at the Splash Park with the Youngest Bambino’s.

By the next day – Mother’s Day I was worn from the busy week, when my husband asked what I wanted to do that day my response was simple, “absolutely nothing”. And nothing was what I did that day from the comfort of my bed. I caught up on much-needed beauty sleep and chillaxed catching up on missed shows like “The Last O.G.”. I gorged myself on the 30lb bag of Haribo Gummy Bears I was gifted by my family, a Wendy’s single with bacon combo and brown liquor, lol (Shout out to Loni Love – that brown liquor is the truth). As Ice Cube said, “it was a good day” and there is nothing that I would change about it. What do you get the Mom who truly has it all? Flowers galore, a new cellphone and 30lbs of Gummy Bears (I might be exaggerating a tad but I promise you we are still eating the same bag of Gummy Bears). Even though I wasn’t expecting or in need of anything, I was very delighted by my husband and children’s thoughtfulness.

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Mother’s Day proved to be relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time and rightfully so, I had another jam-packed week coming up with more wonderful delights blooming each day. I woke up first thing Monday morning to be reminded that I had “Muffins with Mom” at the school with the kids. I made it to the school fashionably on time and enjoyed some time with my babies eating pastries. It was a great turnout! There were so many moms, grandmas’, and mother figures – I had to park behind the school and walk around the building. I appreciate their school taking time to recognize us Moms and the roles that we play in our homes and children’s lives.

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A selfie at Muffins with Mom.

I can’t remember how long but maybe a couple of months ago I wrote nominations for each of my children’s teacher’s for Henrico County Public Schools “Heart of Henrico” Contest that recognizes Henrico County employees who demonstrate the heart of our great county. Lo and behold one of my nominations was selected for my son King’s 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Brooks-Giles. As a result Mrs. Brooks-Giles and her entire class would be recorded one day at the school, and on a separate day I would be recorded at my home. Wow, my first filming in years. I can’t remember the last time I was actually recorded but my last notable appearance was in an Arthur Ashe documentary on HBO back in the day. Yes, I am on film being instructed how to hit the tennis ball by the late, tennis great, Arthur Ashe. So anything in between then and now was small beans. I wanted to look good for my new debut to television so I went on the search for a Loctician to hook a sister up. Thank God my search engine took me to Natural Beauty Salon & Spa where I submitted my appointment online late Monday night. Tuesday morning my appointment was confirmed, and before I knew it Mrs. Alecia had me washed, re-twisted and styled. I was ready.

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These locs have been slayed!

     Wednesday morning was a blur, my allergies had kicked my butt and was wreaking havoc on me. The film crew arrived on time but I needed 30 more minutes to let my allergy medicine fully kick in. I couldn’t be on camera sneezing and snotting all over the place. That would definitely not be a good look. With my house in order, the refreshments laid out, and my allergy medicine working I was ready when Mr. Gill and his associate showed back up 30 minutes later. “Always be prepared” is the girl scout motto or at least it was when I was a Brownie Scout. That lesson has stuck with me my whole life, even when I decided the last-minute to cut my grass the Tuesday before. Thank God I did. We had cleaned my house from top to bottom (okay the main floor and the basement/den floor) to prepare for the filming. You can imagine my surprise when they suggested filming outdoors to change-up their normal scenery…inside the schools. I smiled as I thought about all the tidying and straightening up that we had done in preparing of the recording. Still, the yard looked great due to the last-minute cut, and the recording went smoothly. He asked me a few questions, and had me say a couple of lines. I was officially a STAR!

The next day King and his class would be recording their segment of the video and he couldn’t have been happier. Even though it had been raining cats and dogs for days their smiles that Thursday en route to school was as bright as the shining sun. King looked good. He was ready for his debut too.

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We lucked out and was able to finish our week off on a high note. The kids got Little Caesar’s pizza for dinner and I treated the older folks to one of my favorite dishes…Old Charleston Style Shrimp and Grits compliments of allrecipes. This time I used bags of small shrimp and andouille sausage that I had on hand in my deep freezer. It came out spot on point. The Shrimp and Sausage gravy was comforting and sumptuous. The grits were creamy and cheesy at the same time. Together in a bowl – it was heaven on earth. Yet as good as it was, it’s all gone. My husband  demolished most of it overnight. I woke up to one bowl left so needless to say that was my breakfast of champions.

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Old Charleston Shrimp and Grits with French Bread

A distant memory is all that remains of the Shrimp and Grits but it’s okay because I’ve moved on in my heart and kitchen. I am on the cusp of finishing yet another meal – this time – pulled pork, potato salad and collard greens. The pork is done. The greens are almost done and the minute I get up from finishing this blog post I can finish the potato salad.

In the meantime I hope you will sign on to follow my journey – there are lots of great things to look forward to and I can’t wait to share it all with you in hopes that you too are finding new ways to enjoy and live your most pleasant life each day. I’ve got a 10 part post series promoting Self-Care, Health & Wellness coming up that I can’t wait to share with you all. I’m working on a book review, and some other well thought out ideas that I hope you guys find refreshing, helpful or at the very least entertaining. Till next time!

Peace, love and fish grease!

A Very Pleasant Mom of 4, Tameka

#TeacherAppreciationWeek

#HeartofHenrico

#MothersDay2018

#AllRecipes

#FishFry

#Shrimp&Grits

 

 

 

Chinese Pepper Steak, Chinese Spare Ribs and Crab Rangoons

Happy Monday! It’s the second week of May and I’m excited to get right to it! You all know I’m attempting to master Asian cuisine dish by dish. I’ve done General Tso’s Chicken, Shrimp Fried Rice, Orange Chicken, Korean BBQ and tons of stir fry. Recently I had the taste for Pepper Steak and I knew I had a flank steak in the deep freezer, so I thought, “let’s give it a shot”.

Justapinch.com has a great recipe for Chinese Pepper Steak that is very simple. 13 ingredients and 3 steps..not too bad. There were a couple of swaps and a substitution, oh and I had to get 1 item – the dry sherry. I substituted the peanut oil for vegetable oil, and swapped out fresh ginger for ground ginger I have on hand, and minced garlic in the jar that I keep in the refrigerator. I did buy fresh peppers and onion because my husband loves that largely cut crisp of the fried peppers and onions. You could use a frozen pepper and onion mix to save time but the veggies won’t be as firm.

Right off the you want to slice your flank steak diagonally against the grain.

With the flank steak sliced, the official first step is to mix the marinade in a howl. That includes the soy, dry sherry, sugar, cornstarch and 1/2 cup of water.  I let my meat marinate for at least a couple of hours.

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The sliced beef flank steak marinating in the soy sauce mixture.

When you’re ready to cook your pepper steak you’ll want to get your wok hot. Not too hot though. I’ve made the mistake multiple times of letting it get to hot, adding in my oil and garlic and getting popped by hot oil on my arms or face. Oil, garlic and scallions are added to the hot wok for 30 seconds before the first batch of sliced beef flank steak is cooked for 3 minutes.

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The first batch of steak to be cooked.

The cooked steak is removed from the pan before the remaining half is cooked in the pan. With all of the steak cooked, the cut peppers and onions are fried in the pan.

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The vegetables being stir fried.

I browned my veggies a little before adding the remaining marinade to the wok and cooked till bubbly and thickened. All of the cooked steak is added back into the pan and mixed in with the sauce and vegetables.

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I poured the contents of the beef flank marinade in the pan with the steak and vegetables and allowed it to cook until the liquid began to bubble and thicken.

I also made Chinese Spare Ribs to go with the Beef Pepper Steak. I found a pack of St. Louis style spare ribs in my deep freezer that I thawed before removing the back membrane.

 

I was able to use a butter knife to remove the membrane from the ribs. Once the membrane was gone, I was able to easily slice the ribs individually.

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With the ribs cut, I was able to prepare the marinade according to the recipe instructions. The recipe I used is compliments of Food Network courtesy of Jeff Mauro who uses hoisin, soy sauce, honey, five spice powder, ginger and food coloring for the best Chinese Spare Ribs I’ve ever tasted. I prepared the marinade by combining all ingredients into a non-reactive bowl. I did season my ribs with meat tenderizer before bagging them in a gallon zip bag and covering them with half of the marinade. I allowed the ribs to marinate in the refrigerator while I prepared the Pepper Steak.

Once marinated I grilled the ribs indoors on my grill pan, basting with the reserved marinade before I baked them all together in a pan for roughly 1.5 or longer until the ribs were tender.

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With the ribs baking away in the oven I whipped up some Shrimp Fried Rice (you can check out a previous post I think for the details) and lastly but not least, the Crab Rangoon. First let me say, it took me a couple of stores to find the wonton wrappers. I was delighted to find them in a Food Lion near my house, so I grabbed two packs as they were 2 for $5.00. The packages had to have at least 24 wrappers or more as I had so much filling and wrappers to use, that I ended up frying the remaining Crab Rangoons the day after as a snack.

Crab Rangoon are easy to assemble. Dinner Then Dessert.Com has a great recipe that is simple to make yet full of flavor. 7 ingredients is all you need for restaurant quality Crab Rangoon  – crab meat (imitation is noted in the recipe), 8 oz of cream cheese, minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, wonton skins, a beaten egg and oil for frying. Once the crab meat is chopped into small pieces it is then mixed well with the cream cheese, garlic and worcestershire sauce. I also added some green onions to mine before I assembled the Crab Rangoon. There were multiple methods that I employed in fixing these, the best method that allowed the pocket to retain all of the filling was a double skinned wonton that was pinched together in the center. The beaten egg was used to seal the edges of the Crab Rangoons before they were deep-fried to golden perfection.

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With all of the items done, I fixed our plates anxious to dig in.

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When dinner was complete my husband walked in, in search of the infamous Chinese food boxes that litter our trash at times. There were none. He was impressed. I was content. We ate. We enjoyed it. It was actually good and it tasted fresh and authentic. I am so pleased with how this meal came out that I will definitely be adding this to our regular meal rotation.

Till next time … Be Blessed and Be a Blessing!

A Very Pleasant Mom of 4

#ChinesePepperSteak

#ChineseSpareRibs

#CrabRangoons

#Delicious

 

Baked Alaska and a Lesson in Lawn Maintenance and Life

I’m not even going to waste time and look at the date of my last blog post. It’s going to make me disappointed in myself temporarily and ultimately dampen my good mood. So on with the good stuff, this blog post is going to be jam-packed with lots of good stuff so let me not waste your time either!

I haven’t had the chance to cook that much in the last week because it was one of those weeks. If you have kids and a busy schedule, sometimes you have a period of time where it feels like all you’re doing is moving. In and out the house all day, every day for multiple days in a row. The day-to-day life of the daily grind Monday through Friday is already exhausting but add appointments, extracurricular activities, repairs, school activities and the extra stuff that you don’t do each day and you can find yourself winded by the time it’s all said and done. Actually the last two weeks have been like this, now that I think about it. The Baked Alaska I’ll be sharing today was made on Monday, April 16th as the second cake for my oldest son’s 14th birthday.

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A shot of the birthday table before I made the fruit salad, lol

His first cake was a store brought 1/2 sheet cake with half yellow cake and half devil’s food chocolate with whipped icing. The second cake was my first Baked Alaska. After being given the idea by one of my sons’ dentist I decided that it would definitely be a good recipe to try. It looked complicated once I realized what a Baked Alaska was. I think I confused it with Baked Apples, I dunno.

So now since I knew what Baked Alaska consisted of, I found that there were many flavor variations that could be used to construct the cake. First you should know what Baked Alaska is in case you don’t. It’s a cake that has been topped with ice cream and browned meringue according to Wikipedia’s definition that popped up in my Google search. With that being said, the possibilities are endless when it comes to what direction you choose to go in. This was also the perfect cake for my son because like a Baked Alaska he is sweet and cool. He has many layers to him just like the cake I dreamed up and I love that the most about him and the young man he is growing into. My son loves Brownies so I decided to make the cake layer 2 layers of Brownie. The Ice cream layer was a first layer of cookies and cream ice cream and a second layer of caramel ice cream. The Meringue covered it and encased it a fluffy covering that encased the ice cream and brownies.

I decided to short cut the brownies for the first layer by using a box brand mix from the grocery store. The instructions were pretty straight forward – I bought disposable cake pans because I didn’t want a ton of dishes in the sink afterwards. I sprayed my pans with Baking Spray and then mixed together the brownie batter. The brownie batter was then poured into the cake pans. At that point I realized that I should have just made 1 layer of brownie as the second pan was barely enough to call it an actual layer but I went ahead because I didn’t want to pour that batter into the other pan since it had the baking spay in the pan too. It might not have changed the brownie batter but at the same time I didn’t want to risk it. I wouldn’t have time to fix it and have it ready to eat on his birthday. I just made a mental note to check the brownie layers as the smaller layer would cook faster.

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The finished brownie layers.

The first brownie layer was perfect brownie texture, the second was a thin almost cookie like version of the brownie. I shuttered for a moment and kept moving. It was too late to turn back now. During the brownie baking I put together the ice cream layer. First I lined a plastic bowl with several layers of plastic wrap making sure to leave enough hanging over the bowl to pull the ice cream out once frozen. Next I scooped the thawed ice creams into the bowl and wrapped it closed before freezing it again.

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Before making my meringue I assembled the brownie layers on the bottom and then put the ice cream dome on top before wrapping it all together in the plastic wrap. The recipe I used to guide me cut the excess ice cream or cake off. I hate waste so I just used my hands to mold the ice cream in shape with the brownie layers, re-wrapped it and returned it to the freezer.

In most of my research the meringue is assembled over a double boiler however the recipe that I used did not. So I separated my eggs, putting the whites in a bowl with the cream of tartar. I used my hand mixer to beat the egg whites and tartar for so long that my arm started to hurt. When I saw the peaks beginning to form, I got excited and stuck my (clean) finger in the foam and then I unknowingly licked my finger. Gross! There was no sugar in that yet so that was totally disgusting. Back on track I added in the remaining ingredients and continued to beat it together. Truly I’m positive my meringue was still a little lacking but I would have to play around with this recipe another time to troubleshoot what might have gone awry.  With the meringue to my satisfaction I removed the frozen layers and unwrapped it on top of a cake stand. I did this all very fast as the kids were done eating and anxiously awaiting the second cake – the nerve of these kids right?

Next I began spreading the meringue all over the dome until it was completely covered. Of course my torch lighter was low on fluid and it would have given me that perfectly browned look I was going for. Even putting it in the oven on Broil didn’t give it the browning I was looking for. My last resort was my husband’s torch lighter that allowed me to just touch a few spots. I was done and it was time to serve the Baked Alaska Brownie treat up.

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The finished Baked Alaska.     

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A slice of the Birthday Boy’s second cake.

The Baked Alaska was a hit. It was absolutely scrumptious. The brownie layers complemented the other, the soft chewy one made the crispy one just as good. I’m glad I opted to use two flavors of ice cream. The caramel was smooth and rich – the cookies and cream was sweet with bits of cookie. The meringue was light and salty. (Not sure if I goofed or if this was mixing issues) Even the salt was good, with all the sweet it was just enough to tie it all together. Everybody loved the cake! My sons friends and some random kids devoured the whole cake and poof, in an instant it was gone. My son graciously thanked me for the cake and his great birthday party with a great hug. I was pleased all around. Though I had some issues, baking and otherwise (the first laptop I bought hours prior had a screen issue), it still turned out to be a great day and that’s all that I care about…the people I love knowing that they mean the most to me and them showing them how.

With my sons’ birthday behind me I had a quick moment to tighten up the backyard. So I pulled out my trusty Weedeater by Briggs & Stratton and prepared to do a quick cutting of the grass. To my disbelief and horror my lawn mower failed to start repeatedly. I checked everything. It had oil. It had gas. I moved it to a flatter location, primed and pulled the cord – still nothing. My heart began to sink. Yes I said it, my dead lawn more made me sad. One I like for my stuff to work and be operational especially when I need it but then I hate having to replace things or have them fixed. People aren’t honest or do the best work these days so nine times out of ten I would just buy another one. I’m too crafty and handy for that and my husband sparked my interest when he said that I might need a new spark plug. To YouTube I went in search of lawn maintenance videos. I did my research and found out what parts I needed and how to do the tune up to my lawn mower. I picked up the items over the next day or so, I think I found everything at Wal-Mart which was great because I feel like I live in Wal-Mart sometimes.

Yesterday, armed with my oil and spark plugs (I bought two different ones because I wasn’t 100% sure), the toolbox and my lawn mower I proceeded to perform the tune up. I needed a torque wrench though and I couldn’t find it. I’m certain we had one but I was at a standstill if I couldn’t change the spark plug. By the time I rounded my house a second time, checked our pick up truck and then re-checked the closet I still hadn’t found it. Something just said, “Tameka try to start the lawn mower up.” I did and it started right up just like it usually did. I let it go, and started it again, and it roared back on. Yay, I shrieked in victory. I ran inside, changed shoes and got back to my working lawn mower.

Yeah I know you were hoping for maybe more detailed instructions but in general good maintenance on your lawnmower is changing your oil and air filter (if you have one) and changing your spark plug. Some videos suggest cleaning the carburetor too. Surprisingly all of these tasks are fairly simple with the right tools. Also FYI, I believe you can borrow tools from AutoZone which I will keep in mind when I do have to actually change the spark plug.

The life lesson in this whole thing, don’t let anything get in your way of getting something done. I just walked away from my lawnmower for a couple of days and then it started working again. Moral: It wasn’t as bad as I originally thought it was. What else in your life can you apply that too? I don’t know but it was a simple moment that made a big impact and yet I am all the better because when my lawn mower does need maintenance I have broken the cycle of repair or replace. I instead can resolve on my own first, or at least try to. If by some chance that doesnt’ work, I’ll go back to replace or the repairman.

Happy Friday folk!

Be blessed and be a blessing!

A Very Pleasant Mom of 4…Tameka

#AHappy14thBirthday

#BakedAlaska

#Wikipedia

#AMothersLuv

#LawnMaintenance

#Briggs&Stratton

#LifeLesson

 

Peri Peri Chicken

I know what you’re thinking. How did I end up cooking Portuguese Peri Peri Chicken? Well I saw a chef make it on one of the many cooking shows, it might have been Beat Bobby Flay. It looked delicious. Peri Peri  or Piri Piri chicken is grilled whole chicken that has been butterflied, or split or cut into leg quarters that has been marinated and basted in the peri peri sauce. The peri peri (or piri piri) sauce is made up of a blend up Peri Peri or african bird’s-eye pepper, garlic, sun ripened lemons and spices. Originally I thought this dish was Portuguese as there are spanish variations. However I prepared the African version as I used a shortcut this time, the already bottled and packaged Nando’s Medium Peri-Peri sauce. I did want to fix it but I didn’t want to buy a long list of ingredients to make the sauce, sometimes I’m here for it – the homemade taste and flavor of cooking from scratch. Then there are those days when I am absolutely not here for it. I want to cook, I want it to be good but most importantly I want it to be convenient. So I grabbed two bottles of this 4.7 oz bottle because I was skeptical if I could make such a small amount go far. But at $3.49 a bottle in Kroger, two had to do.

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Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce (Medium)

It probably would have been cheaper to buy the ingredients and make the sauce, but again, I was buying time and convenience in a bottle. I would also benefit from getting the authentic Peri Peri flavor versus what I hoped it should be if I made it myself. So it was still a win win situation. I found mine at my Kroger on the condiment aisle. Once back home in my kitchen I prepped my chicken leg quarters for the marinade. I opted to get quarters because they are affordable, you get a gang of them, and I would have a bunch left over to cook another day. Still winning right? Right. So with my chicken rinsed and dried I covered 4 leg quarters in a gallon zip loc bag with a whole bottle of the sauce. I massaged the sauce into the meat and let the bag rest while I lit my grill. Normally I would recommend marinating your chicken overnight. If you don’t have time, 30 minutes is better than nothing. While my chicken marinated and the grill heated up, I googled side dishes that went with the Peri Peri chicken. I found a rice dish and grilled corn. Of course I included a side salad because that’s a staple at my table.

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The leg quarters marinating in a Ziploc bag covered in Peri-Peri sauce.

 

Once my coals were nice and hot I placed 4 leg quarters on the grill rack that I had already sprayed with Canola oil to keep the meat from sticking. Sometimes I cover the grill rack with aluminum foil when I want to slow down the cooking process or prevent the food from cooking too quickly. When I’m cooking bulky meats like leg quarters I try to get a direct heat source to help them cook evenly and completely. The best advice I have received to date is to cook to temperature and not time…when it comes to meats anyway. The quick marinated leg quarters went directly on the grill rack and were basted with the remaining sauce from the bag before it was discarded.

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The leg quarters grilling and basted with Nando’s Peri-Peri sauce.

 

While the leg quarters cooked on the grill I went back inside to prepare the rice dish, Portuguese Rice. Yes I know, I thought I was on a whole Portuguese thing with the chicken but I was already invested – no turning back. Again the ingredients were pretty straightforward: long grain white rice, olive oil, chopped onion, minced garlic, salt, crushed red pepper flakes, bay leaf, chopped tomatoes, water, parsley, and cilantro. The recipe calls for fresh herbs but fresh herbs go bad quickly. I keep dried herbs on hand because it’s more convenient and affordable. First you want to get your oil hot in a sauce pan.

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The chopped onions cooking in the olive oil for the Portuguese rice.

Once your onions have softened a little bit, you add in the garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. This cooks for about a minute or so and then the chopped tomatoes are added. Your tomatoes need a couple of minutes to soften and then the water, parsley and cilantro are added and brought to a boil. Once boiling the rice is stirred in and then the pot should be covered and the heat reduced to low. The recipe suggests cooking the rice undisturbed for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. An additional  5 minutes of rest time is given before the rice is fluffed for serving.

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The finished Portuguese Rice. Looks pretty good eh?

With the rice done, the chicken was coming along beautifully. It had a slight char around the edges but it was cooking to a golden brown with splashes of red peri peri sauce. During the grilling I had used the half of the second bottle to baste and brush the leg quarters as  flipped them over. I pulled the leg quarters about five minutes after they read 165 degrees on my meat thermometer and covered them in foil.

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Peri-Peri Chicken

Along my research I also stumbled upon Peri Peri chips and sauce. Essentially it’s potatoes that have been either cut or sliced in chip form and fried and served with a sauce that is mayonnaise and peri peri sauce mixed together. I short cut it and picked up a bag of Kroger potato wedges and whipped up the sauce (1/4 cup of mayo and 4 tablespoons of peri peri sauce) while I fried the potatoes in my cast iron pot. I tossed the fried potato wedges with smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and black pepper.

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Kroger’s Potato Wedges with Skins

The final product looked pretty good once I put it all together. If you ever eaten at Chicken Fiesta, my finished plate almost resembled a meal from their menu if I have to say so myself. What do you think?

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Peri Peri Chicken, Portuguese Rice, and Peri Peri Chips with Perinase

I can’t forget I shucked a couple of pieces of corn, and cleaned and then covered with olive oil, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, garlic powder, and old bay. I grilled the corn about 12-15 minutes while turning the corn over 5-6 minutes. The plate above is my husbands’ plate who doesn’t care for corn. The  plate below is the plate I prepared for myself and my mother in law.

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Peri Peri Chicken, Portuguese Rice, Peri Chips, Portuguese Grilled Corn and Perinaise

With all of the semi hard work done it was finally time to eat. Upon first bite the chicken was juicy and flavorful. The Peri Peri sauce was spicy and tangy. It wasn’t overly spicy but mind you I got the Medium version. There are a Hot and a Lemon Garlic version as well. The Portuguese rice was different. It too boasted lots of flavor but there was one flaw. The rice was still crunchy and  this was after determining at 20 minutes additional cook time was needed. So I added more water, replaced the lid and put it back on low setting to cook longer. I know I cooked it another 30 minutes or more and it still wasn’t completely tender. I didn’t care for the corn. I would have preferred it if I had boiled the corn first to get it tender and moist first before grilling. The Perinaise wasn’t my cup of tea. It was a little thick in taste and texture. In the future if I were to attempt it again, I might add more spices and fresh lemon to the mayo to lighten it up a little more. I ended up eating my peri chips with ketchup. Overall the meal was entirely delicious. The rice was still a hit, I would definitely add more water and a longer time to cook. My husband liked it. I liked it. I definitely didn’t get my kids to try this. This was way too elevated for their peculiar taste buds.

I give this meal 3.5 out of 5 stars, it delivered on the flavor and it was not very complicated to put together. With the modifications discussed I think this could definitely be a five-star meal.  So what’s next on my plate? Umm, at the suggestion of one of the doctor’s at my kid’s dental practice…baked alaska. Interesting right? Yeah, and my oldest son’s birthday is Monday and even though I bought him a traditional store brought cake, I still want to do something special for him. Two cakes for a special kid. So check back to see how my Baked Alaska turns out!

Till next time – Happy Eating  and Be Blessed!

Tameka, A Very Pleasant Mom of 4

#NandosPeriPeriChicken

#Portugueserice

#Kroger

#PortugueseGrilledCorn

#AVeryPleasantLife

#ittastesgood

 

 

Southern Hamburger Steaks: Homage to My Granny

It’s rainy and cold today, the complete opposite of the beautiful sunny and warm temperatures we were blessed with yesterday. There is nothing that I can think of that would be better right now than a plate of my Granny’s hamburger and gravy. I was hankering for a taste of nostalgia a few days ago when I ran across the Southern Hamburger Steaks with Onion Mushroom Gravy Pin on Pinterest. I gravitated to this recipe because of one of it’s ingredients…something unexpected. Bacon. I was hooked. I’m certain my Granny didn’t have bacon in her burgers but I knew if she were alive, she would appreciate the upgrade. Oh and it also has mushrooms too. I’m not a big fan of mushrooms but I do like them sometimes, it just depends on what it’s accompanying and how it’s cooked. While I’m certain the mushrooms would have been a delicious addition to this meal; I didn’t have any and I wasn’t about to slow myself down for mushrooms considering again that I’m not a big fan. I did have bacon. That worked for me.

The recipe was pretty straightforward – cooked and chopped bacon, ground beef, garlic powder, mushrooms, onions, egg, beef broth, gravy master, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, flour, seasoning salt, olive oil, bread crumbs and water. I didn’t have bread crumbs so I used crushed crackers instead and it worked like a charm.

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The ingredients before hand mixing.

This is a recipe that will require you to get your hands dirty so be prepared to get real up close and personal with your ingredient. The first thing I did was cook the bacon. I pan-fried it so that I could crumble it into the meat. Once the bacon was cooling I mixed together the ground beef, crushed crackers, diced onion, egg and seasonings. Aside from the seasonings used in the recipe I also added some smoked paprika because I love smoked paprika. Once I mixed it all together I added the bacon crumbles last before forming the meat into 8 hamburger steaks/patties.

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The formed hamburger patties dipped into a flour coating.

The next step was ingenious to me – coat both sides of the hamburger patties in flour. I also added some seasoning salt and black pepper to the flour mixture before covering the hamburger patties. Next the olive oil was heated on medium-high heat to pan fry the hamburgers brown on each side.

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The sliced onions carmelizing in the pan drippings.

Once the burgers were brown the patties were set aside while the sliced onions were cooked in the pan drippings with a tablespoon of water. Afterwards the recipe instructs you to mix the beef broth, water, flour, seasoning salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and gravy master until well combined. This will then be poured into the skillet with the onions and stirred until it thickens. Once the gravy begins to bubble the hamburger patties are returned back to the pan to cook on each side for a few minutes. I allowed mine to simmer over a low heat while I prepared the white rice and sautéed spinach that I served with it.

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Finished Product: Southern Hamburgers Steaks with Onions

Two simple bags of white rice were fluffed with a pat of butter and black pepper. The bag of pre-washed spinach was sautéed in bacon fat for a few minutes before I topped it with the bacon crumbles,  a splash of apple cider vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper. My mouth was watering ridiculously by the time I assembled our plates for dinner. The kids don’t have an appreciation for Classics so they definitely weren’t getting any of this.

This Southern Hamburger recipe was fantastic! There was so much flavor packed into the gravy and the patties. I savored each bite delectably enjoying the next bite more than the last one until it was all gone. This meal was a home run, a touchdown, a victory; yes it was a success. My Granny would have approved and enjoyed this meal too. So I’m giving this recipe a huge thumbs up. I will definitely be cooking this recipe again, the next time I will be sure to get the mushrooms. My husband loves mushrooms so I know he will definitely enjoy it more.

What’s a meal that brings great memories for you? There are a couple of other meals that stand out in my mind that remind me of my childhood instantly – pork chops and applesauce and I can’t forget..spaghetti. I don’t know any kid that doesn’t like spaghetti. My kids love spaghetti. Matter-of-fact that should be coming up on our meal rotation soon. I’m looking forward to hearing what meals bring  back a sense of home for you. Praying your Saturday is all that you want it to be.

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing,

A Very Pleasant Mom…Tameka

#SouthernHamburger&Gravy

#HomageMeals

#LuvMyGranny

#Pinterest

 

 

 

Happy Spring Break!

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Yay! It’s the first day of Spring Break and I hope you all had a fabulous Easter holiday! No matter where you are in the world, I pray that you had the blessing of experiencing God’s love, the comfort of family and some good food to top it off! To me that is one part of what Easter is about. If you aren’t familiar with the specifics, pick up a Bible (New Testament) and brush yourself up on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the significance in the message and it’s impact on people and maybe even you.

Many an Easter Sunday ago my Granny thought it was important that we (my cousins and I) not only attended church but also showed up in our Easter Sunday best with our tithes and offerings sealed in envelopes ready to hear the message of the miracle and blessing of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I get it now. Even though I missed church today God is alive and He was very much with me and my family today as He is every day. My relationship with God is rock solid so for me Easter is a celebration and remembrance; an opportunity for revival and renewal. I still gave it my Easter Sunday best in the name of Jesus Christ and I think my Granny would have been proud. My dinner came out great (okay there was 1 fail – we will get to that later), my kids had such a great time and my husband loved the food and enjoyed himself. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. I remember when it all came together smiling so hard thinking – Jesus you outdid yourself this time!

Picture it…Richmond, Virginia – Easter Sunday. It was a balmy sixty something degrees outside. The sun was shining. The smell of grilled and smoked barbecue perfumed the air. The youngest Pleasants children sped around the cul-de-sac in the girl Pleasants princess carriage pumped up on sugar while the eldest boy Pleasants played(I will not reveal the outcome of the game) father Pleasants in NBA Live. Mother Pleasants sat in her chair satisfied with the outcome.

Okay that’s a brief rundown of my favorite moment of the day. It was a great day and culmination up to Spring Break. I am so looking forward to sleeping in at least 1-2 days if possible. The before school morning routine is crucial. The struggle is real! Let’s just say that we need this break, okay I need this break. The last few months have felt grueling and we’ve had way more tardies than I care to admit but in the sense of my glass is half full theory – a tardy is better than an absence, right? Right. So again, I need this break. We were getting back on track but Spring Break is a great chance to regroup and recommit. We’re always accountable but we still want to improve where we can. So before we can jump into Spring Break I have to share with you the spectacular meal that I made for my family and friends for Easter Sunday.

It took me a few days to finalize a menu but luckily my deep freezer held a few gems that would save me some time and money at the grocery store. My menu was a Smoked Turkey, Roasted Ham, Grilled Pork Loin, Grilled BBQ Chicken, Smoked Beef Brisket, Hot and Spicy Shrimp Dip with French Bread Crostinis, Macaroni and Cheese, Potato Salad with Bacon, Stuffing and Turkey Gravy, Deviled Eggs, Collard Greens with Smoked Ham, Homemade Dinner Rolls, Sweet Potato Pies and Carrot Cake Donuts. We were gifted a delicious pound cake from one of my neighbors that was a nice addition to our spread.

 

Although this feast turned out great there were a few stumbling blocks to overcome. Let’s start with the fact that I started cooking right after a trip to the mall with my kids and then Wal-Mart. You already know both of those tasks can be complicated alone so imagine how tired I was when it was all said and done around 6ish Saturday evening. Still I was in a good mood to start cooking, so I hopped right in my zone by grabbing my Beatz headphones, charging up my phone and setting my Pandora on rotation. Drake radio station is a favorite play list of mine on any given day. I blessed my meal and my hands before I started and delved right into cooking. I finished around 4ish Easter Sunday but that was after a trip to the store, and grooming and dressing the kids.

Starting so late in the game Saturday evening I made several improvisations to my menu to ensure that we would be able to eat at a reasonable time. Initially our plans included going to church but I can’t even lie, when I walked out the store at 10:47am with the last of my ingredients I knew I could rush home, wake the kids, get them fed and dressed, get myself dressed and leave and possibly get to church before it ended. I didn’t think it was impossible but I knew I would be rushing and irritable throughout the entire process. So I continued on with my cooking trusting that God would deliver me the special Easter message I was seeking like so many people walking into churches all over the world. The first task on the list was to cook the bacon for the potato salad so I cooked that in a foiled covered sheet pan. Another game time decision was to do a mock smoking of the Turkey. If you’ve seen my previous post “Diary of an Amateur Smoker” then you know my last attempt at Smoking was not very successful. I made some modifications to my process per my research and determined that I would need a ton of time in order to properly smoke the turkey, brisket and pork loin. So the turkey was going into the oven with what I call I mock Smoking created with a foil packet of lit hickory pellets and placing it in the bottom of the oven underneath the roasting pan. To elevate the smoked hickory flavor I made a compound butter that included liquid hickory smoke , rosemary, smoked paprika, black pepper, seasoned salt, ground thyme and garlic that I used to put beneath the turkey skin. I covered the bird in vegetable oil before seasoning it with the same seasoning blend. With the main meat in the oven I could focus on other tasks.

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On the stove top I began boiling the potatoes and eggs for the potato salad and the elbow pasta noodles for the macaroni. While I waited on those I put together a simple cheese sauce that consisted of Velveeta Cheese, milk and butter for the macaroni and cheese.  The noodles finished first so I finished the macaroni and cheese by buttering the baking dish and mixing the noodles, seasoning, shredded cheeses and finally the cheese sauce. I mixed it all up, covered it in foil and baked it at 350 degrees for an hour. Once the eggs finished boiling I allowed the eggs to cool briefly before preparing the Deviled Eggs. I found a really simple recipe that called for ingredients I had on hand. I did swap out Paprika for Smoked Paprika and I also sprinkled on some parsley for decoration once done.  I was off to a good start and feeling confident about my spread. Next up was the ham. Luckily I had a petite Honey Ham in the deep freezer so I prepared that according to package instructions. I did sprinkle some brown sugar all over the spiral arranged slices in the pan. The ham needed to bake for roughly 30 minutes so I used that time to fix the collard greens. I sautéed onion, minced garlic and smoked ham neckbones in a little canola oil (of course I ran out of olive oil) and then added in a little apple cider vinegar. I let it heat up and then filled the pot up with water. I then added in chicken bouillon cubes and let the water mixture come to a boil before adding in the pre-washed and shredded collard greens.

 

Next up on the list was the sweet potato pies. I put the sweet potatoes in the oven and let them roast for about 45-60 minutes. Imagine my surprise when I went to retrieve 8 lbs of what I presumed to be chicken wing drummettes when I discovered an obvious blunder when I accidentally picked up chicken drumsticks. And not just any chicken legs – the biggest chicken legs that I’ve ever seen in my life. I was frustrated for about 9 minutes. It was after 12am Easter Sunday and I didn’t want to run back to the store for chicken wings. So I opted to prepare one bag and get the wings later. I continued on thawing the chicken legs for grilling. The potatoes had cooled down which meant it was the perfect time to prepare the potato salad. First the potatoes and eggs had to be peeled and then diced. I used a short cut and used my little food processor to chop the boiled eggs, onion, green pepper and celery into small pieces. With the potatoes and eggs diced I seasoned the first layer of the potato salad liberally with smoked paprika, seasoned salt and black pepper. I then added in the chopped vegetables, mayo, a little mustard, sugar, and sweet relish. You’re going to need your muscles to fully integrate the components of the potato salad. Making potato salad takes a lot of fine tuning flavors to get it just right. With all of the standard ingredients mixed in I then added in my bonus – crumbled bacon. Afterwards my potato salad took its rightful place in the refrigerator where it could blend and come together.

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I know you’re probably thinking when is she going to bed. I don’t know what time I went to sleep but it was after I had taken the rolls out of the oven and brushed them with melted butter. I woke up at 4am on the couch covered in my comforter. I was up and back at it in no time. It was still too cold to go out and start the grill and smoker so I finished the sweet potato pies and put together some Easter treat bags, gifts, and cards. I also did some cleaning and began setting up. By 8am the sun was out though it was still cool. I wrapped up in my husband’s jacket and prepped the grill and smoker. The grill was simple and was hot in no time. In effort to save time and ensure doneness I split the chicken legs down the middle to grill. The smoker was a little tricky but I finally bit the bullet and used a little lighter fluid to help ignite the chimney starter. The lighter fluid was what  I needed to get the flame and temperature right. I modified the use of my smoker for only 1 tray versus the 2 so that I could position the water drip tray on top of a tray instead of directly over the coals. This helped tremendously. Once the drip tray was in position I could position the last tray on the middle rack. My brisket was seasoned with the included seasoning package but I also covered the meat with copious amounts of ancho chile powder, cumin and meat tenderizer and wrapped in foil before it was placed on the inside tray

It was definitely time for another unplanned change. Initially the plan was to smoke the pork loin with the brisket but the 1 tray challenge nixed that plan. The bbq chicken grilled quickly so I wrapped that pork loin in foil and placed it on the grill. (FYI the chicken legs were seasoned liberally with chilli powder, seasoned salt, garlic. meat tenderizer, onion powder, smoked paprika and black pepper and lastly coated with Sweet Baby Rays Honey Chipotle BBQ sauce.) A quick store run got me the last ingredients I needed to finish my dinner. The shrimp had thawed so I put together the Shrimp Dip first. A box of Seapak Shrimp Scampi went in a pan over med-high heat  while I diced some of the medium shrimp. After dicing a quarter of the shrimp I opted to leave the rest whole since I had to dice peppers. I used about a quarter of each – red, green and orange peppers and added that to the shrimp. Once the Seapak Scampi was done, it was mixed together along with cream cheese, shredded pepperjack seasoning, Louisiana hot sauce and creole seasoning. I sprinkled parsley all over the top and baked it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes till it was bubbly and slightly brown on top.

With the Hot and Spicy Shrimp Dip in the oven I could devote my attention to the Stuffing, Turkey Gravy and Carrot Cake donuts. The gravy was simple. I sautéed chopped onions, minced garlic and the turkey neck in butter. I then added 1/4 cup of flour to that and browned it altogether. I had some chicken stock in reserve for another dish so I added that to the flour and stirred it up. Then I added in the Turkey Juice packet included with my turkey and some additional water. I turned the heat up and watched the gravy bubble and thicken. I used the same chopped onion, in addition to celery and sauteed it in butter before adding in chicken stock. After a quick boil the stuffing mixture was added in and voila, I was almost done cooking and in the nick of time because bellies were getting hungry.

The carrot cake donut recipe seemed easy enough though I had my concerns right off the jump. I don’t cook or bake with yogurt a lot so I was concerned about the consistency of the donut. My family loves carrot cake so this was a good opportunity to display a great flavor profile in donut version. I should have quit on the donut when my attempt to crush the pineapple first and lastly matchstick carrots in the blender. The pineapple worked out but the carrots didn’t and I was running out of steam so those matchstick carrots went in regular. I should probably note that I left the standing mixer running while checking my grill and smoker. I may have over mixed my dough too much but the consistency resembled the description on the recipe so I proceeded with caution. I funneled my dough into a gallon zipper storage bag and cut the end off. I piped the dough into a silicone donut mold that had been sprayed with baking spray. The donut molds were baked on top of baking sheets as directed. They had ample time to cool as I had to stop cooking to get my kids bathed and dressed and rather sharply if I have to say so myself.

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When I returned to my kitchen there was very little to prepare. The Easter eggs had been hidden by eldest boy Pleasants who also looked pretty sharp too. I mixed together the pineapple cream cheese frosting to dip the donuts in. I sprinkled some chopped walnuts over a few and kept the others plain in case my husband wanted to try one. At that point I could relax so I watched the kids run around the house looking for Easter eggs that had been hidden so well, that eldest boy Pleasants had forgotten where he had hidden them all. There was much fun and laughter that our family were able to share together. The food was a hit! Okay there was 1 miss that I referenced earlier – the carrot cake donuts. Though they looked fine – they tasted horrible…to me. The kids seemed to enjoy them just fine though. They scarfed them down till I took them off the table after I tasted them. Everything else was on point. The brisket and pork loin were sliced thinly after they had ample rest time and arranged in spirals. The turkey was carved and everything was out and ready to eat. My favorite dish of the evening was definitely the Hot and Spicy Shrimp Dip. It was a perfect combination of cheeses, peppers and shrimp and it went perfect with the Crostinis. The second fave was the brisket – it was flavorful, tender and moist. On the briskets’ heels was the pork loin.

The rolls came out great. They had great texture and were highlighted with a smidge of butter or margarine. The turkey gravy was rich and supple. It went perfectly over the turkey and stuffing. The macaroni and cheese had a creamy consistency that blended well with the melted shredded cheeses. The greens were good but next time I wouldn’t use the pork neckbones because I did’t the pork flavor I was looking for. A surprising hit was the potato salad with crumbeled bacon. It gave the normal potato salad a little punch of salt and texture. There was something for everyone’s individual tastebuds and no one went to bed hungry. By the time that I ate my food and served my husband the first heated slice of Sweet Potato Pie I was ready to retire to my bed to put my feet up.  After eating my own slice of pie, I retreated back to the kitchen for a slice of my neighbor’s pound cake and I’m certain that I dozed off shortly after that.

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I woke up Monday morning around 4am and watched some television, one of my old favorites Real Housewives of Atlanta and a very hilarious Watch What Happens Live with guests Kenya Moore and Michael Rappaport. Once filled of my Shameful TV fix I found my way downstairs to my desk to start working on this blog and breakfast. Yes I forgot to get breakfast for the kiddos on the first day of Spring Break. They could eat cereal but only 3 of 4 kids will truly eat cereal. So I whipped my Super Mom cape out and managed to throw together Link Sausages, Wildberry Muffins, Mini Pancake Bites (Plain, Cinnamon, Pineapple, Strawberry, Chocolate Chip and Sprinkle) Strawberries and Orange Slices.

 

I started working on this post around 6am this morning, it’s 12:49pm and I’m on my way back to bed for a couple of hours till I have to do something fun with the kids. Can’t forget it’s Spring Break – Day 1. Hope your Spring Break started with a bang, mine’s did. In a day or so I’ll have my full write up of each Pinterest inspired recipe under my She Tried It board.

Thanks for stopping by! Till next time…. be blessed and be a blessing!

Peace and Blessings,

A Very Pleasants Mom

#SpringBreak

#HappyEaster

#familygoals

#EasterSunday

 

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