Who knew there was a such thing as a Chief Grilling Officer? I was 37 years old when I learned of such a thing, essentially a day ago. Perusing through the local news website I saw the story that Reynolds Wrap is looking to hire a Chief Grilling Officer to travel for two weeks sampling delicious BBQ! Finally a dream job that I wanted to apply for.
So I find the website and read the details, the contest ends in hours, and it just happens to be worded in a way to confuse people. So I had to kick it into high gear and get my entry done quickly. I ran to the store and scored the ingredients I needed to nail my Beef Ribs recipe. The entry required an brief explanation why I wanted to be Chief Grilling Officer along with a picture of me grilling my favorite recipe.
If you’ve cooked Beef Ribs before you know it’s not something you can rush, it is a labor of love and patience to get them tender and keep them from drying out. But I’m always confident in my process so I began marinating the ribs (coca cola, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, liquid smoke and beef broth). The plan was to marinade them as long as possible (at least 4 hours) but I was losing daylight and there was rain in the forecast. I worked on my written part of the entry on my phone and then I heard it, the rain.
I shot up and ran outside, moved my grill from its normal spot and positioned it under the my umbrella to get the grill lit. After a few attempts my grill was hot and ready for action.
I managed to get my husband to take a few pictures of me grilling before the downpour. It’s not a cute or flattering picture but I am glad I got it done and submitted in time.
I haven’t had a lot of luck in the job department but this could turn it all around for me! The stipend is $10,000 with paid travel for you and and a guest. This could be the honeymoon me and my husband never had! He loves BBQ more than I do. So keep your fingers crossed, maybe just …maybe.
Here’s my entry pictures:
I’ll keep you posted! Till then be blessed and be a blessing! And keep grilling!
This will be one of this blog’s last entries. Sometimes in life we have to re-evaluate and recommit. I have decided to take that position when it comes to various things in my life including my blog. I’ve spent so much time, money and resources trying to do things one way or another without seeing the success that I want. I’ve been all in committed at times and forcing myself to get it done at others. Either way my blog’s account expires on January 21, 2019, and 9 times out of ten I will let it go. I should keep it considering I’ve had my beautiful business cards inked with the website but I pride myself on being the girl who can let go, cut off and eliminate waste without hesitation.
I have truly enjoyed putting together some of these blog posts, and interacting with people from all over the world but what I’m not going to do is: 1) Waste money. 2) Beat a dead horse. I’ve been trying with this blog for two years and I haven’t connected with people the way that I intended to. I’m not quitting though. If you’ve read any of my posts then you already know I’m not a quitter. Like so many people who have reinvented themselves time and time again, I am seeking to do just that. I’m thinking about different formats. Thinking about a podcast, a new YouTube channel and just focusing on honing my crafts all together. I don’t have time to write blog posts for a non existing audience but I do promise to come back to blogging once there is a need for whatever information I can share with the world.
To my few subscribers, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your vote of confidence, what might have been a simple click to you, has meant much more to me. Your acceptance has helped to fuel my confidence and belief in myself. It’s inspired me to keep dreaming and keep believing, that there are more people who might find something useful, helpful or informative in my work. As I transition into different projects or things that I’m working on, I will use my last 30 days on WordPress to just express whatever I’m feeling. I have no solid ideas, so we will see what’s ahead.
In the meantime, I pray that your holiday is filled with love, good food and great company! Happy Holidays!
Where did the time go? Can you believe it’s December 1st? I can’t but then I can. That’s how life is. You look up and time has not stopped. It never did but at some point you failed to acknowledge that every day, every hour, every minute and every second counts. If you take too long to acknowledge it, years have passed you by and you’re in the same place. Problem is, that’s not what you want – to be stuck or stagnant in your life. Well I’m here to tell you that it happens to all of us at different points in our lives. I can’t count the numerous times I’ve performed a self-analysis of my life and not been pleased with the results.
It’s December 1st and I’ve been having one of those moments for the last I don’t know how long. I’ve been feeling like I’m not pleased with where I am at in all areas of my life right now and that I need to do something about it. Don’t get me wrong I’m very thankful, grateful and blessed to be where I am but there is a longing inside that wants more. So in order to get back on track to attaining the “more” that I’m looking for, I’m trimming all the fat, getting back to very basic and fundamental elements and creating a new vision for what I want and how I intend to get it.
Even though the popularity of vision boards have taken off in the past few years, I’ve been into making collages since I was a little girl. I’ve always loved the craft of collaging and the relaxation that unleashing your creativity can bring. It’s been a few years since I’ve made a vision board and now couldn’t be a more perfect time, as the new year approaches. I’m always looking for a reason to organize an event, so I have put together a Vision Board Workshop that I’m hosting on December 29, 2018 that will be at Varina Library, 1875 New Market Road, Henrico, VA 23231 from 1pm – 4pm. If you can’t make it, stream live with us and complete your own vision board too. Start visualizing what you want and see for your life and exactly what that looks like if you had to lay it all out. The best part of it all, bring the kids too. It’s never too early to
I’ll post some pictures of my board after the workshop and I hope you’ll post your pictures of your board too. Check back for details of the live stream, and exactly what you’ll need to pull off your best vision board possible.
I’m full, slightly tired but so happy that I am here to celebrate another Thanksgiving with my family and closest friends. I’m thankful for my relationship with God and all that he has blessed me with and looking forward to what’s in store for my future.
Even though I love holidays they can feel bittersweet at times. The dysfunction in my families is what keeps my inner circle very small. Small isn’t always bad though. The disagreements are few, and we never have to worry about people taking too many to go boxes home, lol. We had put a few invites out into the universe but ultimately knew it would be just us (the 7 in my house always feels like a crowd either way). And I’m always okay with that. Even though most couldn’t make it, my God daughter, Miss Acacia and one of my best buddies, LaDonna came over and we had a great dinner. The food was great and conversations were good; I enjoyed myself from start to finish.
I even got a chance to talk to my other best buddy Nichole, and my other gal pal Candace briefly over text today. Adulting comes full circle when you can see how much you’ve grown over the years and can experience and appreciate it with people who have been there through a lot with you.
I’m thankful for every one of them and how much they keep me grounded, humble and grateful. Big hearts, hugs and much love to Big Fred, Fredo, King, Cassius, Praise, Carol P., Acacia, LaDonna, Nichole and Candace.
In case you want to know, our Thanksgiving Dinner included (I’ll post links to the recipes I used later): Oven Roasted Turkey (Dry brined with Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme), Stove Top Cornbread Stuffing (apparently it’s a black thing, lol.), Brown Sugar Glazed Ham, Cajun Shrimp Dip and Crusty Bread, Macaroni and Cheese, Cranberry Sauce, Turkey Gravy, Pigs in a Blanket (yes I know this is random and questionable- lemme explain: Cassius is picky. He likes few things and definitely not on Thanksgiving. He does like hot dogs so this was my play on it. There.), Cornbread Muffins, Potato Salad, String Beans, Collard Greens, Yams, Chicken Wings (Dry rub, Honey Garlic, Buffalo and Fried), Sweet Potato Pies, Strawberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake, Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Pie and a Hot Chocolate Bar.
Everything came together so well, I even finished cooking hours earlier than years past. Plus it wasn’t a rushed or frantic process, I started two days ago and kept a great pace. I didn’t overwhelm or overwork myself. It was a great pleasure to serve God and my family today. The reviews were all great, even the slightly burned Pigs in a Blanket.
I couldn’t have done it without the help of my entire family who played a part in the whole process. We did it together as a team, and family and I’m incredibly blessed and thankful for them. That’s what today and every day is about for me.
“Go with the flow, and yet be thankful” is how I’ve come to live my life. I do my best to avoid a lot of negativity and negative things. That doesn’t mean I get to completely avoid it though. I’m thankful for who I am today and I know where I’ve grown in my life because my attitude towards the things I have been going through has changed. Because of my relationship with God, I am able to “go with the flow”. I’m reminded constantly that my faith can’t be high just because things are going a certain way for me. Having that relationship with God is securing and soothing in a way that won’t allow me to get caught up in the muck of it all. Sometimes you have to go through whatever it is you’re experiencing. I’m right where I’m supposed to be at this moment and I’ve got to see it through. Now I’m a problem solver, a self-proclaimed solution specialist when it comes to life. Problems, issues, obstacles are going to arise. It’s without a doubt. Things might be going so good you think nothing can bring you down. Then that thing happens and you’re faced with a challenge. If you are familiar with my blog you know that my family and I have been experiencing so many challenges in the past 6 months. It’s been one thing after the next. My husband was arrested twice in 24 hours. We had 6 vehicles in May-June and now I have two left (1 parked to be fixed) and a truck that has become our lifeline. It’s not a pretty situation. At the present moment 3 of my 4 children are home sick on Halloween. Fun, right? No, it’s not but it will be alright because I have perfected “go with the flow”. Sure my babies aren’t feeling well and won’t be able to trick or treat this year. My husband and I weren’t feeling the whole trick or treat scene this year with all the crime, shootings, murder, rapings, kidnappings, accidents, hit and runs, and assaults going on. Funny not funny. So we had already decided to pass out candy. Well God had a better plan because now I don’t have to pass out candy. No one wants candy from the sick bunch, right? Either way I’m not opening my door letting in cold air, boogie monsters, ghouls or germs.
I have mastered “going with the flow”. I had what I thought was a promising career in banking years ago. I just knew I was going to climb that corporate ladder quickly if I applied myself and did my very best. When that didn’t happen I had to make adjustments. I’ve been a licensed taxi cab driver, delivery driver, and a Sales Assistant in the past three years. Now I’m a Kitchen Helper at Frostings Bake Shop in Short Pump where I get to help with the prep around the kitchen. This is my first commercial kitchen experience and for the first time in my life, I am finally doing something that I love to do. Each day I look forward to learning and getting more experience under my wings to be a better cook, and future chef. I was supposed to be finished with Culinary school by now but I had to put it off after my car accident. I’m going with the flow until I can complete Culinary school by getting as much cooking and commercial kitchen experience I can. Yesterday I acquired my second commercial kitchen position as a Kitchen Helper for Healthy Jars, a local healthy meal delivery service. I start that gig on Sunday. Next to typing away at my keyboard, I’ve found the most contentment career wise in a kitchen. It’s a day that doesn’t require me to watch the clock like a hawk. I’m always excited to see the happiness in people’s faces when they enjoy something they ate. The delight and excitement are rewarding and validation that you are doing something right. I’m trusting that I’m right where I’m supposed to be at this moment. I’m thankful for the reasons and even the seasons. It’s all apart of the divine plan.
If you find yourself feeling down because life has been more down than up lately, you’re not alone. Keep your head up, and go with the flow. Happy Halloween folk! Be safe and be blessed!
Moms make the world go round! We work, work and then work some more for our families and loved ones! I know so many great moms that I want to bring together for sisterhood, support, motivation, inspiration, friendship and good ole’ FUN.
A few years ago I put together a group that I called LNO or Ladies Night Out, of women friends that I have met in my various walks in school, work and just life. We had some fun times! We did a Paint Night at All Fired Up! There was the trip to the exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts! There was dinner at Chuy’s. We were well on our way to more when life caught up with me and my group. I hope that I can bring together an equally esteemed new group of mothers to form #MomSquad and I would love if you join us.
LNO was such a classy and fun group of women, and I truly miss being able to engage and connect with other women outside of my children’s school or work environments. I believe that we can do it again, even better than before and I hope that if you are a Mom who wants to connect and fellowship with other Moms, you will consider joining our #MomSquad.
I first heard this poem read to me by my 7th grade Civics teacher as a student in middle school. Mr. Lewis was clear, eloquent and distinct as he recited “Don’t Quit” before my classmates and I. He enunciated and pronounced each word carefully as to engrave it in our budding minds. It was almost 25 years later that I can clearly remember hearing the words of that poem in my head as I wrestled with the turmoil of adulting, stress and ultimately what to do next.
Things in my corner of the world had been spiraling downwards since July 1 and even though my family and I had taken these last so-called lumps and bumps to the chin like a champ I was growing weary of how to fix certain situations and feeling down on my luck but still clinging to my faith. My stint as a delivery driver had come to an end rather abruptly, I did the best I could but the job was as emotionally demanding as it was physically. The long hours caused me grief because I was missing my family and feeling like a bystander in their lives instead of a Mom and Wife. Then there was the disorganization and mismanagement that was reminding me of the corporate environment that I had left many years ago. The worst part of it all, that this job had the nerve to have corporate level demands and below entry-level pay but the opportunity presented itself at a time when I needed it. So I am grateful to have had the experience but once again I was in a position of how I was going to make money in the meantime.
I began applying for so many positions, job and even gigs. I was determined to not let my circumstances get me down because God had never let me down before. All I had to do was keep trying and the right opportunity would find me, right? Call me crazy but I want to work for myself. I know I have what it takes to run a successful business and I don’t want to give up on that. Here’s a little background on my upbringing. I was raised in a two parent household with my mom and dad, where my mom worked part-time and later full-time when I was older. My dad was an entrepreneur who was the original “Jack of all Trades” to me. He did it all. There was nothing he couldn’t do and wouldn’t do to help the families that he worked for. He cleaned homes and businesses, landscaped and yard work, and banquet serving and bartending to name a few of the tasks I’ve seen him take on professionally. He was good at what he did, he had a great rapport with people and he thoroughly enjoyed what he did. The people he worked for became extended family to us. It also didn’t hurt that he made good money working for these families to the point where he could support our family alone on that income. For years I watched my father work harder than he had to. If only he had taken his business acumen a step further and set it up legally and professionally, he could have hired employees and long ago retired. Y’all don’t know how many times as a child I urged him to take the next step with his business. My pleas fell on deaf ears, my father being a Taurus was stubborn and intent on doing things his way. It also didn’t help that my father felt that he lacked the education and knowledge to cement his business having dropped out of school in 7th or 8th grade to work to help his family.
I grew up working as his helper a lot. It’s because of him that I’m self-sufficient and self-taught at many things. I can do everything he could and more. In addition to the skills and experiences I picked up working with him I was also a devout learner in school and out. I picked up on typing and administrative functions when my desire to write my own books grew as a little girl. The business bug had bitten me a long time ago. I babysat my relatives and neighbors. I used my allowance to buy candy in bulk from wholesale clubs that I sold at school in between classes during my middle school years. I can’t forget when I signed myself up to take the jewelry making class from the Beads and Things store on Broad Street. I might have been 14 at the time. I learned how to make hand crafted jewelry that was growing popular back then. There are so many memories I have of my attempts at as a young entrepreneur.
Yet I finished high school, and attended college off and on for a couple of years before eventually ending up in the “workforce”. That’s not a totally bad thing because I was blessed enough to find jobs that were good and I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business. When I was in high school I worked at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and local legend, Attorney Harrison Bruce Law Office. After that I worked for VCU in the Department of Gerontology where I was a salaried office specialist in my early 20’s. I’ve also worked for Department of Social Services and Department of Health Professions in really great departments that allowed me to serve the community. Eventually my path would lead me out of the government sector and put me square in the middle of Banking and Finance, working for the likes of Wells Fargo, SunTrust Mortgage and CCO Mortgage.
Still I left the corporate world about two years ago and I’ve been trying not to look back. Leaving corporate wasn’t something I wanted to do but more what I needed. I liked what I did. I made great money. I didn’t like the politics and the unprofessionalism that ran rampant in my organization. It left me feeling rejected, unhappy and insecure about my role within the company. I was working my butt off and seeing little for it. My promising career in mortgage was stalling. Not to mention there was a lot going on around me that involved management and coworkers that I had no idea about until many years after I had left. There were seedy and demoralizing things going on right under my nose. I wasn’t playing the corporate game their way.
So I’ve been mostly “gigging” the last few years while I’ve been at home with my family. My daughter started school last year leaving me with my oldest son whom we’re homeschooling, and he’s a rising freshman in high school. He’s ready to go back to school so that means I’ve got nothing but time and opportunity on my hands to do something more than I have been, not to mention I’ve needed to. That brings us to the present day where I was reminded of Mr. Lewis recital of “Don’t Quit” as I questioned what to do. I’ve been applying for all kinds of jobs and gigs. My persistence paid off when I received an email in response to a Sales Assistant position I had applied for via Craigslist. I was contacted by Nitra Singh, the lead designer and curator of Glitter Trunk. We communicated a couple of times over email before finally speaking over the phone. Nitra was looking for a Sales Assistant to help her as a Vendor at the Festival of India being held at the Richmond Convention Center over the weekend. She still had a couple of people to talk to but she assured me she would let me know her decision soon. I was so happy when she welcomed me to the team in text message. This was the opportunity that I was looking for. All along I’ve been wanting to help people with their homes or businesses and now I had my shot.
I was so excited and looking forward to the chance to do what I feel like God has been calling me to do. Saturday when I showed up to the convention center I was blown away by all of the vendors and their offerings but I was even more pleased when I found Nitra and her Glitter Trunk booth in the Exhibit Hall. There was a lot to be seen and savored but her jewelry was distinctively and strikingly unique. Each piece is truly a piece of art, unlike the other. This was high-end Fine Art Jewelry that wowed you. I was relieved that it was still classy and sophisticated.
I was greeted and welcomed by Nitra with warmness and comfort of a relative. Even though I was working, it didn’t feel like work at all. She went over what she needed me to do and where everything was and before we knew it traffic was picking up. I packaged the jewelry in beautiful boxes and organza bags as she sold it. I also helped women try on the jewelry and kept the displays and booth neat. Essentially I was just trying to be her right hand and make sure that she had the support she needed to focus on her customers. By day 2 of the convention we were in sync with one another and enjoying each other’s company. In the almost 20 hours that we were together over the weekend we talked, laughed and worked. I can’t forget to mention that I was wearing the jewelry too.
I fell in love with Glitter Trunk the minute I walked into the booth. It was like I had walked right into Fashion Jewelry heaven! I had the pleasure of wearing the popular Adjustable Cuff Earrings, that is a two-part earring of a stud and a studded cuff attachment, along with the beautiful choker and pendant. This jewelry is elegant and very fashionable. There were so many things that I wanted for my personal collection I had to remind myself that I was there on business and not shopping. I’m definitely a fan and customer for life because I will be wearing one of Nitra’s designs when my husband and I renew our vows in the near future. Every woman should have something beautiful from the Glitter Trunk collection no matter what their style or price point is. The quality of the stones, beading and the craftsmanship is one of a kind. There were many other jewelry vendors within the festival but Nitra’s designs stood out amongst them all and everyone knew it. Customers were at the booth for hours admiring and trying on different pieces.
It was such a great experience to assist her and be exposed to Indian culture. She shared traditional Samosa with me and it was absolutely delicious. To me it was a cross between what tasted like the contents of a Jamaican chicken patty inside a fried rangoon. I also began my love affair with Indian clothing. A kurta is next on my shopping list. They come in so many styles and colors, the flexibility to dress it up or down is stunning. I saw some very fancy and dressy ones, then I saw some that were more casual and made of a sportier material. The colors and designs were breathtaking. I’m so thankful and grateful for my time there because I learned so much and have been forever changed. Not to mention that I was able to connect with a successful business owner and provide the service that I’ve always sought out to do. Some of my favorite stars are already wearing Glitter Trunk like House of Payne star, China Ann McClain and Orange Is The New Black’s Alysia Reiner.
It was a great experience from start to finish and I am again blown away that I got the chance to do what I love and for such a great person and company. I’m glad I was reminded by that middle school poem recital when things felt like they weren’t going my way to stay on the course. I am hopeful that another opportunity will come that will allow me to help another business or family. In addition to the chance to earn money doing what I love, I have forged a valued friendship and relationship with Nitra and her company, Glitter Trunk that I hope will last for years to come.
I’m not quitting, and neither should you. No matter what you are going through, hang on, something good is right around the corner. Till then here’s the poem that clearly made its mark on my life.
Don’t Quit By Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959)?
When Things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and debts are high,
And you want to Smile but have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won if he’d stuck it out,
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You might succeed with another blow.
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might captured the victor’s cup.
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown,
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.
What are you working towards or hoping for? No matter what it is, keep that dream close to your heart.
A sincere and grateful thanks is owed to the lovely Nitra Singh. Thank you for giving me the shot that I’ve been looking for. Your trust and belief in me, has given me more wind in my sails.
I encourage you all to visit GitterTrunk.com and buy something beautiful for yourself or someone you love.
I hope you all have enjoyed this post as I have enjoyed living it first, and then writing about it. Till next time, be blessed and be a blessing.
P.S. I’m thinking about preparing some traditional Indian cuisine in a future blog post. What do you think? Leave me a line in the comments.
It’s been “caketastic” around the Pleasants house for the past week. I’ve been on a personal baking bonanza and I think we will all agree that it has been absolutely great! It’s definitely not the most weight conscientious thing to do but it has all been delicious! Let’s not forget about those incredible peach pies I made last week. I’ve been enjoying my latest baking adventures. I can also see where I’ve improved and what more I probably need to do to hone my baking abilities. The three recipes that I used are all great recipes especially for a home cook like me. I wouldn’t say I’m a beginner baker because I’ve been baking for quite some time. I would say that I’m not a consistent baker. I bake mostly for holidays. I had almost called myself a beginner baker but then I remember those Caramel Apple pies I made when my husband and I first got together. That was at least 15 years ago maybe longer. So I’m definitely not a beginner baker but I would love to be better. I used to do a lot of boxed cake mixes and pre-made pie crusts and dough but I’ve felt comfortable enough to experiment with making my own doughs and batters.
Our week of Cake Cake Cake starts off with a breathtakingly moist chocolate cake! I was tired of the boxed cake mixes and wanted to tackle the chocolate cake from scratch. I must say I hit this one out the park thanks to NellieBellie.com . I found this recipe on you know it…Pinterest! The pin boasts that it’s “the best, homemade chocolate cake” so that made it worthy of at least one try. It also didn’t hurt that I had everything on the ingredient list in my cabinets and refrigerator. That always makes me happy! A tip this recipe stresses is to let your ingredients come to room temperature prior.
This is a really easy cake mix for any level baker. I was very much at ease following the recipe which instructs you to mix and beat the batter after the addition of every ingredient including adding the eggs one at a time. I used my standing mixer, although a hand mixer would do, and if not, by hand always works. This batter was smooth and not too thin or too thick. It poured beautifully into the cake pans that I had previously sprayed with baking spray. The recipe will advise you to use parchment paper and next time if I have some on hand I would give it a shot, otherwise as you can see from the last picture above, the cakes came out perfectly. They released from the pan easily and held its shape. After allowing the cakes to cool I fixed the chocolate frosting recipe that accompanies this delicious cake. 3 ingredients is all you need for a great frosting and I could not believe it. Two sticks of softened butter (please be sure to soften it – key to consistency), cocoa powder and powdered sugar. This frosting was light and tasty. It spread easily and smoothly on the cake layers and I didn’t need a ton of it. The first mistake I can tell you I made was not allowing my cake layers to cool long enough before I started frosting the bottom layer. So when I saw it melting, I threw it in the fridge to finish cooling. So next time I will be patient and allow the cakes to cool completely so I will get that visibly fluffy layer of frosting in between my cake layers. Otherwise this came out perfect. The cake and frosting were both perfect. This poor cake didn’t stand a chance in our house. It was gone and we were all a little sad that it went so fast.
Next up on our Cake Cake Cake week were the cupcakes that I made for the kids and their friends.
The recipe I found for my vanilla cupcakes is courtesy of LiveWellBakeOften.com . I found this recipe to be simple too although I thought the full fat sour cream was random. Lucky for me I actually had some in the refrigerator so I was able to stay on task and whip these up pretty quickly. These tasty treats whip up with only 8 ingredients for the batter. The vanilla frosting is as simple with half the ingredients. The consistency of both the batter and frosting were good. The batter was kind of thick so it scooped well in the ice cream scooper. If I had to change anything I might use milk instead of the sour cream or add some in addition to the sour cream. These cupcakes weren’t dry but they were definitely on the verge of being dry and it only took them about 17 minutes to bake up. Once my frosting was ready I decided to use the piping bag to decorate them. That has never been my forte’ and I wanted them to be cutesy since the kids would be sharing them with their friends at the playground. I did alright if I must say so myself. I went a little farther and added crumbled Oreo’s and gummy worms to the tops of most of them. The kids loved them. Okay, the adults loved them too. They were sweet but not overly sweet and they were the perfect size bite of cake.
The same day, yes I said, same day I also made my first pound cake from scratch too. That recipe came compliments of TheStayatHomeChef.com . It’s appropriately titled “Classic Pound Cake” and it is most definitely classic. Here’s a little knowledge in case you didn’t know but it’s called a pound cake because it is made with a pound of all the ingredients. Yep 1 pound of butter, 1 pound of sugar, 1 pound of eggs and 1 pound of flour is all you need for a piece of classic nostalgic pound cake like some good old lady you know makes. It was a ton of batter and it was heavy. It took me a little while to get it all blended and mixed well. The recipe notes also include variations for Vanilla, Almond, Sour Cream, Cream Cheese, Rum, Lemon and Cornmeal pound cake. I’m a vanilla fanatic so I went in that direction. In addition to the 4 pounds of ingredients I also added 2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract to the batter. I popped it in the oven and then I had to leave to go to PTA so I left my husband in charge of seeing it through and taking it out. After fulfilling my PTA duties I was back at home to finish dinner (Gumbo – yes that too was homemade) and see how my lovely pound cake turned out. First let me warn you, you need a back brace to pick it up. The cake released easily from the bundt pan onto the cooling rack. I was impressed because it looked official. I knew that somebody’s momma would be proud of this and then I remembered that I am somebody’s momma and I was proud. If it tasted as good as it looked, I was winning.
The recipe notes also provided a quick vanilla glaze to cover the pound cake. It took literally two minutes to whip up the glaze with powdered sugar, water, and vanilla extract. I did decide to incorporate some heavy cream when I thought it needed more liquid. The cake absorbed the glaze while the remaining pooled and cooled on the bottom of the cake dish. This pound cake was a WINNER! Hands down I am probably the most pleased with the pound cake. All 3 of these baked goods were delicious and exceeded my expectation. I think my Granny would be the most impressed with the pound cake – like this pound cake was better than some of these so-called professional bakers I know pound cake. I gave myself a pat on the back for my effort and my family sang my praises too.
If you must know I’m still baking away too, just a few hours ago I baked up two apple pies! But you’ll have to wait for the next blog post to hear about that! Thanks for stopping through, I hope I inspired you to bake up something tasty too!
Oh and here’s a picture of the gumbo that I also made that night. That’s another blog post in the making too.
Glad I was graced with time, opportunity and inspiration for this blog post. I had started a post on Work/Life balance a week ago and I’m assuming it’s on my phone because it was not available on my desktop when I sat down to work. It’s probably better that I didn’t find it, it was the hum drum, run of the mill type of stuff that I didn’t want to post and I think this one is a lot better. The last post thoughts were forced because I was pressuring myself to get it done for timing reasons. Taking my time with this process has allowed me to come full circle in my thought process. I am better now than I was then and hence I believe this is the blog post and meal that I was meant to serve up.
A classic hamburger and peach pie, it was Thursday night’s planned dinner as we awaited Hurricane Florence’s potential arrival. Honestly I had foreseen that we wouldn’t be as affected as the forecasters had predicted but that still didn’t stop me from running out and buying an obscene amount of bottled water that cost $1.30 more per case than I would normally pay. Not to mention the two cases of water that I picked up for my hairstylist who has still not mentioned wanting these waters anymore, lol. It’s all good though we will drink every last bottle of the Nestle Pure Life waters one bottle at a time. So my daughter kept asking for a cheeseburger and I kept forgetting to get her one when I was out and then let’s not forget the request made by my husband for hamburgers but no store prepared patties. He wanted the homemade kind that you had to mix and shape yourself by hand. So it’s safe to say that it was going to be a Cheeseburger Night at my house. Almost everyone eats hamburgers except for Cassius. He’s not big on meats and meaty meals. Still I forged on with my idea because I knew the general consensus would be happy. Can’t please everybody all the time, us Moms know that best.
I was in pursuit of the perfect all American Cheeseburger and Peach Pie! After perusing several websites and reviews I was most inspired by the “All American Burger Recipe” via Deepsouthdish.com I braved the stores to gather the necessities that I didn’t have on hand to complete this task. I didn’t have ground chuck and fresh hamburger buns. For my hamburgers I used 2.25 lbs of ground chuck, 1 pack of Beefy Onion soup mix, Worcestershire sauce and salt. That’s it. Pretty simple right?
When I was in Wal-Mart the other day getting storm supplies I spied the mountain of peaches on display. I was on the phone with my husband at the time so I threw out there that they had peaches and I should make him a pie. Of course he was in full agreement, “peach pie was exactly what we needed to help ride this storm out”. So I grabbed my share and proceeded to get through the storm chaos as quickly as possible. In addition to the peaches I picked up two frozen traditional pie shells, a box of pre-made pie dough sheets and PET Homemade Peach Ice Cream. Even though I was planning to make my dough, please know that I am a tried and true vet to these things…sometimes things go wrong – so it’s always good to be ready for anything. I had confidence in my dough making abilities but I wanted to be able to deliver a finished product no matter what obstacles may have arisen. Always a Girl Scout, “be prepared” had been imbedded in my DNA. In the fall and winter months, you can never have enough pre-made pie crusts on hand. Nevertheless I was ready. Back at home I printed out the recipe and was ready to tackle the peach pie head on. There are 8 steps in total to achieve Peach Pie heaven. I decided to employ the use of my mixer to help me achieve the dough consistency I was looking for. Step 1 has you cutting butter into small cubes and chilling for 15 minutes.
While you wait on the chilled butter, you are to mix together the flour and salt. Your chilled butter cubes are then introduced into the mixer slowly until your mixture is crumbly in texture. Increments of ice water are poured into the mixture to moisten the dry ingredients. Ice water is continuously added to help form the dough.
The dough will begin to take shape and come together as it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Once to your liking, the dough is shaped into disks and wrapped in plastic wrap. The dough must chill for at least 30 minutes and can be chilled up to 24 hours.
With the dough doing its thing in the fridge I decided to work on the pie filling. It was time to peel the peaches. Step 2 instructs you to pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and roll out your dough. I skipped ahead to Step 4 while I waited the dough out.
I wasn’t looking forward to peeling these peaches but my trusty peeler would be put to the ultimate test. Could it peel peaches as good as its peeled potatoes and what not? I found out quickly that a good utensil makes the most tedious jobs simple and seamless. I had those peaches peeled, quartered and then sliced in no time. In a separate bowl I mixed the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt before coating the peaches with the mixture. (Side bar – I also added a little Pure Vanilla extract to my peach slices before I coated them in the sugar mixture. I love vanilla extract and hoped that it wouldn’t hurt.) Here’s where I appreciate my thought process! Thank God I bought those pre-made pie shells. I threw away the last pie plate I had months ago. I had nothing to put my pie in other than cake pans or molds. So I used the store-bought shell for the bottom and was able roll out a beautiful pie crust for the top that I had made. The pie filling is spooned into the pie plate and then it’s covered with the sheet of pie dough.
I trimmed the excess dough from around the pie plate and pressed the crusts together before crimping the edges with a fork. The left over dough allowed me to fashion together leaves with a knife that I arranged on top of the pie crust. An egg is beaten and then brushed all over the pie before being sprinkled with granulated sugar. Don’t forget to cut your 4-5 slits into the top of your pie. I did and I haven’t eaten that pie yet so I can’t tell you what went wrong. Just don’t skip this step. That’s what I get for jumping all over the page. I ended up with enough filling and pie crusts for two pies. The other pie dough was rolled out just like the first but I cut it into strips with my knife (no fluted pastry wheel on hand) and arranged it into a lattice pattern on top of the second pie. It too was brushed with a beaten egg and then sprinkled with granulated sugar. The recipe then advises to freeze the pie for 15 minutes before popping it into the 425 degree oven for the first 15 minutes. The heat is then lowered to 375 and cooked for another 40 minutes. Finally the pie is loosely covered with aluminum foil and baked for the last 25 minutes. It is suggested to allow the pies at least 2 hours to cool prior to serving. This was the biggest test. Everyone kept coming into the kitchen to inquire when the pies would be ready for slicing. My daughter even suggested slicing it up Fruit Ninja style which I declined for logical reasons. They were going to have to wait until after dinner to try these Peach beauties.
With the pies done, I took a tv break with the hubs for an hour and caught up on the latest episode of Snowfall before I got right back into action in the kitchen making the all American Hamburger. By the end of Snowfall I was getting hungry and ready to finish up in the kitchen.
A quick mix of the ground chuck, onion soup mix and Worcestershire sauce with a spoon was needed before the hamburger patties were rolled into balls first and then formed into hamburger patties. Per Deepsouthdish.com our burgers were also going to be getting a coating of melted butter brushed on each side during cooking. A sprinkling of salt also accompanied each side of the burger as they cooked. Now before I go further I should warn you that there was a bit of pre-work done before I actually was ready to cook the burgers. Hence the bacon had to be cooked, the onions were sliced and grilled, the tomatoes were sliced and we cannot forget the eggs were fried! Once all of that was done then I was ready to cook the all american hamburger because it could be eaten immediately with all of its accessories ready. Deepsouthdish.com suggests allowing the burgers to cook without too much flipping or pressing down of the burgers. Once the burgers were to my liking they were pulled and ready to be fully dressed.
The hamburger buns also received the butter treatment and were brushed with melted butter and toasted. Then the assembly of the all American Hamburger could begin. American cheese went atop the burger to melt while both sides of the buns were lathered with mayo. The burger was then placed atop the bottom bun and covered with a fried egg and grilled onion patty. The top of the burger was covered in bacon and tomatoes. A small dab of yellow mustard and lots of ketchup went atop the bottom half of the burger before the two halves were joined together in burger matrimony.
Now I know some of you are thinking, that looks delicious but what did Cassius eat? He doesn’t eat hamburgers right? Well that’s exactly what happened to me when I was about ready to eat my burger and then I remembered the Cheez It Chicken Bites I had picked up in some store that week.
I made a pan of these that also went great with the regular and waffle fries that I had deep-fried to accompany the burgers. They were popped in the oven at 450 degrees for about 25 minutes and voila, Cassius was taken care of. The best part of it, he loved it! And we loved our burgers! There were huge to start off with, but they also boasted tons of flavor and they were juicy. I think everybody rushed through their food just so they could get to the Peach Pie. This was one of those desserts that everyone was anticipating.
A slice of pie and a dollop of ice cream was all it took to quiet the normally talkative bunch. This pie was declared an official winner by my husband who requested his second piece of pie not long after his first. It was good. It was sweet but not too sweet. The peaches were dead on, they weren’t mushy. They tasted like peaches! The brown sugar and cinnamon elevated this to new heights. This was classic goodness!
Again I was pleased with the end result for both the hamburgers and the peach pie and so was my family. I always get a kick out of something I personally enjoy but it always pleases my heart and soul when I can make my family happy. Sometimes it’s these little things that make a big impact on us and cooking for my family has been one of those things that have shaped the woman, wife and mother that I am. Figuring out this meal and blog post also reminded me that just like the perfect burger I was pursuing, I’m also pursuing like so many others, the “American dream”. When googled, the “American Dream” is expressed as “a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success…”
Aren’t we all working towards our own versions of what the “American Dream” looks like or feels like to us? One of the best things about being an American is the ability to dream freely and then pursue those dreams. That’s why so many people come to our country every day…the hope of better. So many of us awake each day with a dream in our hearts to do something, to create something or to be something. I’ve been dreaming all my life of being this or that, doing this or that and there are some dreams that I’ve long fulfilled and there are others that I am still working my way towards. It was a realization just the other day that I might have been circling back into old habits that were not going to get me closer to my dream. If you’ve been following me you know that I am back in the wonderful world of the workforce again. It was something that I’ve been longing to do for the last few years but the job that I am doing has long hours, is physically demanding and lacks organization to help efficiency. Too many shifts already have me getting home after 9:30pm, after my children are already in bed. There are a lot of sacrifices that I can handle when it comes to the benefit and well-being of my family but one of them is not sacrificing seeing them or spending time with them. I love my family. They pluck my nerves like nobody else in the world but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. It’s my dream to give my family a wonderful life that includes accomplishing my dream of being a best-selling author, a screenwriter, a restaurateur, a farmer and so much more. I don’t want to be unhappy and unfulfilled working tirelessly for someone else who doesn’t value who I am or what I’m working towards for my family. Hence the feeling like this latest job was killing me physically and emotionally; not to mention spiritually. I was circling back into old chains that I had previously broken free of. Being a stay at home Mom had given me the freedom of pursuing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Now I was chained to this job and it was more than I was prepared to deal with. I was beating myself up mentally every day as a result.
Nothing being by chance, I had to reach out to my friend Nichole for a favor as the new school year broached. I needed a hairstylist for my daughter and there was only one person that I knew I could call and count on to help me out, my good pal Nichole that I met when I worked at SunTrust Mortgage many years ago. Nichole and I became buddies fast when I was pregnant with my son Cassius. A simple compliment from Nichole about my maternity gear has forged an unexpected but genuine friendship amongst us. Doing hair is one of Nichole’s many side-hustles. It was one of the things that I respected and loved about her the most next to her kind and giving heart. She has always been a go-getter and she is another Jill of All Trades like me but she can SANG! And I do mean, she can SANG!! She tore down Adele’s, “Rolling in the Deep” at my Lady’s Power Showcase in 2011. She can COOK! And I do mean, she can cook. She can sew! She’s hella smart! She was always a top performer and producer at work. She’s a leader and a motivator, and always a team player. I was glad to reconnect with her after life had kept us both busy in our own parts of the world. After rehashing the things we had missed in each other’s life I was delighted to find out that she had started her own Catering Company, Kenny’s Kitchen, named after her son that was keeping her busy. She is doing weddings and other events, and even meal prep options for individuals and families. I’m so proud of her! She has clung to her dreams and her pursuit of them despite numerous obstacles that she has faced personally and professionally. She is all American in her pursuit of whatever accolades and success she is seeking for her own life and family and I am proud to call her my friend. Please check out her if you’re in need of Catering Services via Kenny’s Kitchen . Talking to her reminded me that we must be fearless in our pursuit of what we want and that we can’t let our circumstances keep us from living the life we desire. The drive and motivation to be successful is as All American as Hamburgers and Peach Pie and I’m proud to be an American in full pursuit of my dream.
Thank you all for stopping by, I can’t wait to whip up something tasty and delicious to share with you all next time!