Serve If You Must

This is my personal call to action to people in positions of service – Serve, if you must. I love helping. I love seeing people happy or laughing, with smiles on their faces. So if I’m placed in a position where I must provide you with a service of some sort, you can better believe that I’m doing so with a smile, and I’m doing it with love in my heart. I hate conflict so I do my part to minimize it as much as possible.

Today I was reminded how important it is that we all take our respective jobs and positions seriously. I’m so tired of this don’t give a phuck type of attitude that I get from people when I’m out in the world trying to handle my business. On Sunday I was scared to death when my son King’s Croup resurfaced sending us speeding to Memorial Regional Medical’s ER. Luckily this wasn’t our first rodeo so we knew what to do including my son King. Thank God we made it to the hospital in great time to get the necessary treatment to help my son begin to feel better. During our experience with Memorial Regional we had bad service and then we had great service. Initially we were re-routed to Registration when we arrived on the wrong side of the ER – the ambulance entrance. We were agitated, my son was struggling to breathe and my husband had to carry my son around the building to the other side to enter and be registered. Needless to say this was the start of a bad experience but we needed them to help our son, so our frustration and anger took a back seat to allow the medical professionals to do their job. Essentially my son walked out the ER feeling much better and we were hopefully headed toward continued recovery for my son. At the urgency of the ER doctor, my son needed to be seen by his primary doctor the next day for follow-up. Of course as things do happen – an outstanding balance that hadn’t been satisfied by another child’s insurance claim stopped my sons primary doctor from seeing him. Undeterred I decided to switch doctor’s. This wasn’t my first issue with them and I wanted a new practice that would be more conveniently located if possible.

I don’t know why I chose East End Pediatrics, I was familiar with the business as they have an existing commercial and I’m sure someone I know also may have mentioned Dr Briggs as well. To make an otherwise long story short I had the worst experience with a doctor on yesterday trying to get follow-up care for my son. She was rude, condescending and she even discredited the previous medical professionals who have seen and cared for my children for years. This lady had no professionalism as she questioned whether I had done my own research on my children’s conditions and then she denied my request for an anti-biotic prescription refill for my son’s skin condition. She was horrible, and on top of that she didn’t care at all that her professionalism lapsed in front of my children while one of their condition got worse throughout the debacle. I was so disappointed and frustrated at the amount of time invested and wasted in taking my kids to this provider to only be disrespected and again, denied help for my children. She diagnosed my son King with the flu and provided no prescriptions to help with his respiratory issues and the symptoms. So I will spend the rest of my week visiting doctor’s offices to secure a new pediatrician for my children. As frustrated as I am that my son feels worse than what he did when he went to her office, my other son did not get the oral antibiotic he needs to continue treatment of his pre-existing skin condition and I still have to find a new doctor; I know that God is going to work it all out in our favor. See I had this same issue many years ago but with my children’s dental practice. These particular practices require that your children be restrained during service and parents be outside of the service area watching from a little bubble window. I didn’t like that, so I decided to find a Dental Clinic that operated within my comfort level. Thank God I found the Dental Clinic at the Children’s Hospital.

My children have been gong to the Dental Clinic inside the Children’s Hospital for years now and they’ve become extended family to us. When we show up we catch up with what’s going on with each other’s families and updates, it’s truly like a mini family reunion. It’s because of them that I have hope that my journey is going to take me to the right pediatrician practice for my family. It also reminds me to be grateful when I receive great service and then to continue to #ShareandSpreadLove.

Continuing in the spirit of love this month, I will be taking my favorite Dental Clinic staff prayer bracelets to let thank them for their many years of great service and support! I hope they like them!

In the face of adversity, I’m going to continue to share and spread love as much as I can and I hope you will too! A great big shout out to my friends at the Dental Clinic at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond!

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Peace and Blessings,

Tameka

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#ShareandSpreadLove Officially Began

Sharing and spreading love was the agenda for Valentine’s Day and the perfect start to my #ShareandSpreadLove project. My family is going through coping with a loss right now so it’s definitely a good time to focus on positive things. With so much going on interpersonally the last week or so I did have to scale back my initial plan due to the time constraints. Still I was determined to push through and do something, no matter how small, small beginnings are still a start.

Already tired I still decided to make my family Valentine’s Day mailboxes although it was down to the wire. Lucky for me I had a little quiet time I was able to capitalize on when my husband took my sons to the barber shop. I worked quietly at my dining room table cutting and covering various cereal and treat boxes that I had rescued from my recycling bin while my daughter played downstairs. I didn’t want her to see what I was doing so each time I’d complete a box I’d run it upstairs quietly and stick it in the closet. I did this five times and was pleased that I manage to finish before the boys got back without her spoiling the surprise.

Initially I wanted to crochet over a hundred bracelets to share with my children’s entire school but that requires you to be able to focus on one thing for a long period of time and that never happened. So instead I opted to share the bracelets included inside gift bags that I made for my children’s teachers, principal and front office staff. We included some sweet treats, a novelty pen, the bracelets and a nomination written by me for the Heart of Henrico contest that recognizes Henrico County Public School employees “who possess an uncommon passion for what they do being the Heart of Henrico County”. The gift bags were really cute and the kids had a great time assembling them.

While the kids slept I put together a little “Valentine’s Day Mail Center” in my den of the mailboxes and gift bags. It was well after 2am when I put the final finishing touches with the help of my husband who agreed it came out nice. Initially I wanted to really decorate and personalize each mailbox but y’all already know I was so tired I was glad I had gotten them done and didn’t scrap the idea. In the end I kept it simple, Happy Valentine’s Day followed by their name. There is always some sort of fresh flowers in the house because I love them and that’s one of the things my husband does weekly to express his love. So with beautiful roses already on hand, I borrowed the largest arrangement for the Mail center and left the mini one at my desk. I tossed in some crumpled tissue paper, construction paper hearts and red streamer to jazz it up. All things I usually have on hand, so it was super convenient and affordable. Check out the picture below. Not bad right. I should probably tell you that I stayed up way too late working on this stuff when the next day I was responsible for being a Chaperone for King’s field trip to the Science Museum of Virginia.

 

Still I was pleased with the outcome. When the kids awoke that morning they were blown away and excited. I only gave them their prayer bracelets out of their mailbox as they were going to be able to see the entire contents after school. Everybody looked great in matching red shirts and were amped to get to school to Share and Spread love. With almost two hours of sleep to my name I was only about 7 minutes late arriving to King’s class. We had such a great time at the museum! I was pleasantly surprised that the museum was completely different since the last time I had gone with my oldest son, Fredo on a field trip. The exhibits were interesting and interactive. My group was full of excitement and energy.  We walked, we ran, we rode the elevators, we took the steps, we window shopped and then gift shopped…it was a truly great day with a great group of kids. My sons’ classmates were sweet, respectful and well-behaved. I even Shared and Spread love with them when I bought pencils for each of them to thank them for being such a great group. By the time I was done at school I was almost literally done.

My husband popped up with a dinner proposal that I was too pooped to take him up on and believe me, I love going on dinner dates with my husband. We haven’t had one in ages but I was worn all the way out. Being the sweetie he is he decided to bring the Chinese Buffet home to me. After I passed out on the couch surrounded by children and Valentine’s Day swag and candy he showed back up with grocery bags of General Tso Chicken, Black Pepper Chicken, Shrimp and Broccoli, Beef Peppersteak, Shrimp Egg Foo Young, White Rice, Fried Rice, Lo Mein Noodles, Crab Rangoons and yes he even  got them their beloved sugar-coated Chinese Donuts. It was a masterpiece of proportions on the plate he served me. I could only eat half of the plate.

My romantic dinner for two had turned into a feast of epic proportions for the whole family. How sweet? Even my husband was sharing and spreading love! I hope you’re on board with our #ShareandSpreadLove project. I think I even figured out my next recipients to keep the love movement going.

I pray your Valentine’s Day and every day is filled with all the love you can handle and then some! I’m searching for that next great recipe to try, or maybe I’ll jazz up this blogsite with something totally new.

What I would like to ask you to do is take a moment to pray for someone today, be a friend, lend a hand, console with a hug and always walk in love. I’ll be praying for us all today including the entire Parkland Florida, community and our nation.

God Bless us All,

Tameka

#ShareandSpreadLove

#ValentinesDay

#HeartofHenrico

#HCPS

#PrayforParkland

Debunking the Recipe: Blue Drip Cake

     Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Though the past week has been majorly chaotic and almost overwhelming at times there was a silver lining in our clouds, all of our children have been doing great in school! Through the chaos I still wanted to celebrate their successes collectively as a family and individually. Specifically I wanted to do something special for my youngest son Cassius who has made literal leaps and bounds when he jumped from reading Level E to N! Cassius is a picky eater but just so happens to have a sweet tooth like his mom so I knew he would love a sweet treat of some sort. While we don’t let them overindulged in junk foods they are allowed to have desserts daily after dinner provided they met all of the pre-qualifications (yes, they must pre-qualify or be eligible for dessert; which still does not guarantee receiving it). So I set out to find the perfect delectable treat for my Eager Reader. Chance and fate were working together when I found the video for the Blue Drip Cake JulieKlink via Tasty BuzzFeed. This cake was perfect because it was a mountain of a cake at 3 layers. This Blue Drip cake was a first for me for many reasons – 1. My first time making a 3 layer cake. 2. This would also be my first time making ganache – blue colored white chocolate ganache.

Sounds fancy right? I thought so too. It also sounded complicated. Once I googled what ganache was I was pleasantly surprised with its simplicity. Ganache is chocolate and heated cream melted into a glaze, sauce, or icing. I was also interested in the end result as this recipe called for boxed white cake mix – approximately 2 of them. I love an easy recipe. I also love complicated recipes that require you prepare the dish from scratch. Life is all about balance. This recipe is to the point when it instructs you to prepare your 2 cake mixes according to the instructions on the box. Easy enough. I opted for Kroger white cake mix as it was $1.00 per box. What I thought was interesting was that Kroger’s brand cake mix is made with egg whites.

 

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3 Cooling Cakes

Once the cake mixes were prepared I jump back on the recipe and divided my batter into 3 bowls. Next I added the food coloring being sure to achieve 3 different levels of blue with the batter. I continued with the instructions and prepared the pans with Kroger brand baking spray and parchment paper in the bottom. I baked the blue cakes till they were done by inserting a toothpick in the center of each pan. The cakes were cooled on racks and then almost ready to be frosted. Next time I would chill the cakes before I frost it to ensure it was completely cool and somewhat firm. Due to the time of evening it was I frosted my cake too soon. I wanted the kids to be able to try it before they went to bed so I had to speed the process up somewhat. As a result the cake crumbled slightly into the white vanilla frosting. As a side tip I whipped my frosting right inside of the store packaging by using one of my mixing attachments on my hand mixer.

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The frosted cake.

I may have already mentioned that baking is not my forte’, I like to bake but I’m still learning to be a better baker. It definitely does not come naturally and requires me to challenge myself with certain recipes, namely this one. With that disclaimer out the way, my cakes looked great, they even tasted great as I cut the rounded tops off the cake. Once assembled and completely frosted my cake looked a little lopsided. Oh well, it still tasted delicious but it was very soft so I knew I would have to refrigerate it for a little while to help with the ganache. I also wanted to smooth out some spots on the cake and I figured it would be easy once the icing and the cake were both cooled. I gave it a good 30 minutes in my refrigerator on the coldest setting. I then gathered my white chocolate chips and heavy cream to make the ganache.

Even with a slightly uneven cake I was still feeling good, my confidence would take a nosedive when I couldn’t get all of the white chocolate melted in my ganache – the result, visible specks of white chocolate in what should be a smooth glaze. But then I was reminded those specks weren’t flour or cornstarch – it was chocolate…white chocolate more specifically. No harm done technically though I know it was probably a fail. It tasted great and the blue food coloring made it more appealing. The recipe instructs to again divide the ganache into 3 bowls and repeat the same effect as done on the batter. Again for the sake of time and the amount of dirty dishes, I opted for two and I ended up just pouring it all over the cake causing it to drip down the sides and create a cake island surrounded by ganache water. It was definitely a sight to behold!

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Finished Blue Drip Cake featuring White Chocolate Specks

Finally we could devour cake and it was delicious! The white chocolate ganache over the vanilla frosting and cake was a really sweet decadent treat. Cassius loved his surprise cake and we all agreed that this recipe was a hit! I would encourage anyone to try this cake as this is doable for a beginner baker like me. Have fun with it and I’m sure you will love the result as we did! I’m keeping my eyes open for my next Debunker – I have absolutely no idea what I’m in store for next but I hope it will be delicious!

Till next time…

Peace and Blessings,

Future Baker Tameka

#BlueDripCake

#Pinterest

#Debunkingtherecipe

#SheTriedIt

#cakecakecake

The Aha Moment

I had an “aha” moment the other day when I figured out multiple things in one day that totally gave me life in a whole new way. So I want to say it might have been Thursday when I was reading the Quincy Jones article on Vulture.com and I was definitely amused and entertained by the music mogul’s candor and brilliance. I figured out a few different things from reading this article.

  1. He is 100% right about modern pop music being loops, beats and hooks. I do think that a lot of pop artists lack a true musical background because of the new information and technology age that will allow you to skip certain steps to get an end result. There is still knowledge, experience and creativity that should be the foundation for any artist working in any medium including music.
  2. Quincy Jones reported that he has never made music for money. “Not even Thriller” one of the biggest records in the world. “No way, God walks out of the room when you’re thinking about money.” Initially I thought that this is some profound stuff right here. Quincy is dropping jewels. I was all ready to post my tweet in support of this bold statement, hashtags and all. Then I sat back and I reflected on what he said and what I’ve learned. I think he was very correct when he said that you should not be driven by money. I disagreed when he said that God walks out the room. I was taught to know that God is always with me – that I have a certain amount of free will as a child of God to make my choice – whether it is good or bad, right or wrong. If God was not with me during some of my darkest times I am almost certain I would not be here.

I needed to be reminded of that as I walk this journey trying to build this Very Pleasant Life Community. It’s so hard trying to stay grounded in this world when everywhere around us – the pursuit of or necessity of money is being promoted. Or it’s the things that cost that require money that is being thrown in our faces in every way imaginable all the time. We see commercials or advertisements everywhere right? It’s no secret I do want to make money. I also want to serve God and help people. You’ve heard the success stories from all of your favorite celebrities – do it because you love it and the money will follow. So even though I know I need to be business minded and always on top of my game – I can just enjoy doing what I love the most, work hard and stay prayed up. I’m bound to get where I’m supposed to go.

I also managed to figure out a piece of the #ShareandSpreadlove movement. So I missed my crochet class last week but I had already purchased my first spool of yarn and crochet needles. I didn’t want to wait a month for the next class so I managed to find a few great instructional videos on YouTube. Hey, I can crochet now! It’s not the hardest thing to do but I was still proud of myself for being self-taught and wanted to get as much practice. I perused Pinterest for I know hours pinning Crochet patterns and projects I was eager to take on once I skill level improved. Lo and behold, I stumbled across a Pin courtesy of Rescued Paw Designs of a really easy chained feather crochet bracelet. I remembered the prayer bracelet that Loni Love received from Tamera Mowry’s mother and how special that gift was to her. Her grandmother started a tradition of buying red yarn and praying over it before passing it along to given recipient. How beautiful I thought? I set out on a hunt to find a prayer bracelet and was given the idea to make my own. Hence the timing of this Pin was incredible.

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The first 35 bracelets for our #ShareandSpreadlove movement.

As one of our #ShareandSpreadlove projects I have decided to make a ridiculous amount of bracelets for my immediate and extended family. The ones that I have created for my immediate family and my children’s teachers are adorned with the feather charms. As we shopped for charms in Michael’s I decided to stick with the feather because I thought this was a good representation of being the wind beneath one’s wings’ as we all are the wind beneath each other’s wings. As parents, family, friends and even teachers – we all play a part in helping our family soar to new heights. Each day after I drop my children off at school I say a prayer for them, their teachers and their entire school community. The bracelet is a representation of my prayers each day for them and our community.

I opted to do bracelets in multiple colors including red, off white and then multi-colored yarn. There are 16 bracelets with charms and the rest don’t have them. I haven’t decided how many bracelets I intend to make so I’m going to crochet until my fingers fall off. I’m hoping to have enough bracelets to share and spread love to the rest of the teachers, administration and staff at my children’s school on Valentine’s Day along with a tasty inexpensive treat (suggestions welcome). This is a small token of my husband and my appreciation for all the love, time, work and support they invest in our children. I’m so blessed and honored that my children are able to attend a fantastic accredited public school! Every day my kids are eager to go to school and want to learn and that’s because of the environment that the great folk at Harvie Elementary are fostering. Every day I feel at ease knowing my children are in their care and if there was more that I could do to show my gratitude I would. I hope this gesture is received well with all of the love, protection and blessing that I intend it to bring.

I also hope that this inspires others to share and spread love with the people they love and appreciate the most, or even people they don’t know. I’m so excited for Valentine’s Day because I truly hope they all like what we’ve come up with and truly feel the measure of our hearts and gratitude.

Check back later this week for a full write-up and hopefully pictures of how it all pieced together. I’ve got to get back to crocheting, cooking and I can’t forget loving… I’ve got a new “Debunking the Recipe” post coming soon. Today I’m planning to make a 3 layer blue drip cake in honor of my son Cassius who favorite color is blue. His teacher blessed me with the best news this week when she informed me that my son had progressed from reading level E to N very quickly. He has been a reading beaver and he loves cake and the color blue, so I’m praying that my baking game is on point today because I can’t wait to see the look on his face when it’s done. I’m also cooking up a Beef Chuck pot roast and some vegetables too. Have a blessed Sunday and week!

And don’t forget to check back because there are definitely great things in store for the Very Pleasant Life crew. In case you didn’t know, it’s 3 days till Valentine’s Day, there’s still plenty of time to shop or craft your loved ones tokens of your love. My babies had a great time working in the “Love Lab” preparing the Valentines for their loved ones.  I even let them eat some of the extra candy!! Does your family have Valentine’s Day traditions or plans? Let me know and give me some ideas in the comments. If you’re lacking ideas head on over to Pinterest now! Of course my completed projects are under my She Tried It board.  Thanks for stopping by!

Be Blessed,

A Very Pleasant Mom of 4

Quincy Jones Interview on Vulture.com

YouTube – You Can Find a Video to Teach You Anything

Michael’s Stores – Check for Coupons 1st or Download the AppTamera Mowry Explains The Significance of the Red Bracelet

Pinterest – It’s More Than an App

And let us not forget…love

So the other night I was sharing with my husband my small victories that I have been experiencing since the unofficial relaunching of my blog this year and he was under the impression that my blog was solely about food. He was right though, that’s the impression I probably even have been giving you all that have been swinging by to check something out. The truth is that yes this blog is heavily influenced by food and cooking as that is a major part of my life, but if you look at my title it clearly says – averypleasantlife – Pleasants being my last name, there was a time when people would compliment me that I was my last name. That meant a lot to me because I feel that reflected where I was in my walk with the Lord and how I was feeling on a day-to-day basis. It was that “pleasant”  attitude and demeanor that I have seen take me through various triumphs and tragedies in my life.

I am an artist by gift but I am an analyst by trade. Since working in corporate I have adopted an analytical side that I apply to life every day. I encounter so many issues and challenges on a daily basis that it gets easy to get overwhelmed by it all. I know because I’ve been there too many times. Once I was able to shed whatever apprehension or dismay I was feeling I was able to kick into gear by looking at the problem or challenge for what it was. Then I’d try to figure out what’s the solution. Often times there is the best solution, and then the highly thought out alternatives. I always try to keep a Plan B thru Plan T in the holster. Some things may take that many times to correct, resolve or even master. Once a solution has been outlined, then it’s time to execute and facilitate the plan. This is a small look into my thought process these days when problems rear their ugly heads. I never thought about it until now but my last position at SunTrust Mortgage was actually role titled a Solution Specialist and that is actually what I still am. As an Entrepreneur, Mother, Wife and now Blogger I specialize in coming up with solutions for my family and hopefully yours too.

A Very Pleasant Life is more than a lifestyle blog, it’s the future community of like-minded people who loves, supports, takes care of, cooks for, combs hair of, works for a living, runs their own business, has goals, has family dinners, dreams, runs into obstacles, has questions, or is just looking to expose themself to something slightly different from a lot of what is out right now. I love helping people. Then there are the times that I need help or guidance too. I love sharing information and connecting people to good – positive information. Pleasant for me means positive. Though I have a lot of sarcasm and even vulgarity at times, I  also know class, professionalism and integrity. I’m not all of one thing but a whole lot of everything and with that being said, there’s not enough positivity being promoted in the world daily so, A Very Pleasant Life is a small contribution to the general good for mankind. I have four children that I love and because I love them, I love you all and your children as well. It’s important to me that the message of love is spread by me and my family as often as possible.  (Disclaimer: I am not perfect!) Plus it just makes me feel better about myself and the future if I know I’m putting out positivity as much as I can versus the alternative.

So yes – there you have it! A Very Pleasant Life is a lifestyle community for us all right? I love taking care of my family – that means there will be more family oriented posts  and updates coming. I love crafting with my children – that means there will be more craft related posts and updates. I love planning events and doing things with my family – that means there are going to be opportunities to engage and fellowship offline in our local communities. I love eating and cooking – that means there will continue to be food and cooking related posts and updates. I love sharing information and helping people stay informed – that means that there will be more opportunities to exchange and promote the things that are important to each one of us. I love talking – that means there will be open dialogue for people to truly connect and grow.

I feel like I’m finally truly learning what to do and how to do it, I hope that you will be informed, enlightened or excited by the things being published on this blog and look forward to having you feel connected to our community – A Very Pleasant Life.

IMG_20180201_082249.jpgP.S. Earlier this month I posted a #ShareandSpreadLove challenge that my family are personally spearheading. We have started making greeting cards to send to children in Pediatric Hospitals. I’ve been trying to expand on that idea and have decided to make some cool crafts and delicious cakes to surprise some of our Seniors with. I haven’t figured out quite where to go but if you know a group or organization, or even a loved one that you think could use a special display of love this month? Drop me a line in the comments and I’d love to see what we can do!

 

#shareandspreadlove

#averypleasantlife

#thegreatestofthemallislove

 

Peace and Blessings,

A Very Pleasant Mom of 4

Super Bowl LII: A Truly Super Win

It’s estimated that over 100 million people tuned in to watch Super Bowl 52 on Sunday, February 5th including my family. While none of our teams were actually playing (Dad’s team is Buffalo Bills, mine is undecided till next season, Fred 5’s somehow became the Patriots after dropping the Redskins/”Deadskins”, Cassius rocks with Dad, King rocks with me and well Praise is not interested in football) we are still a football house who cherishes the Super Bowl and the fun and excitement it can bring no matter the teams playing.

I can’t forget that the Super Bowl is special for me and my husband for our own reason too. Many a Super Bowl ago (at least 13 bowls ago) I made the best darn burritos ever because that day my then boyfriend proposed to me. Initially I didn’t take him seriously but yes the burritos were that delicious and he was serious. Eventually we did marry and ever since we have been using Super Bowl Sunday to celebrate the undying love that we have for each other. So it’s important to me that he can relax and enjoy the big game comfortably with all the fixings and the greatest of them all, love.

I thought that inspiration would be lacking when it came to my Super Bowl planning considering neither of the teams were ours. I was pleasantly surprised to find many great meal ideas that made the cut for our Super Bowl Party on my favorite app in the world right now Pinterest.

My final Super Bowl menu was :

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New England Lobster Rolls vs. Philadelphia Cheesesteaks

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New England Lobster Rolls vs Philadelphia Cheesesteak

Pizza Pull Apart Bread & Meatball Sliders                                                                            photogrid_1517943387070-1900424510.jpg

Chicken Nuggets & Tater Tots

Fiesta Chorizo Queso & Tortilla, Doritos and Plain Lays Chips

Epic Dry Rubbed Wings & Vegetable Tray

Candied Grapes & Strawberries                photogrid_1517943638048363673090.jpg

Peach Cobbler with Cream Cheese

Store Brought Cupcakes

With the menu laid out I set out Sunday morning to acquire the ingredients I didn’t have on hand and to pick up my Infladium. Even though I lay everything out nicely I still try to do so on a budget and we’re never sure whether we’re celebrating with company or alone. Just the household alone is still 7 people so I always try to make sure that it’s enough food for us and that it may be enough leftover for lunch or dinner the following day. Before I could get the food I had to make it to Party City by 10am to attempt to obtain one of the 2 Infladiums Party City’s website reported to still have in stock not so close to my home. Because I wasn’t sure how big I was going this year I waited too late and was disappointed that there were no more Infladiums in stock even though I was the second customer in the store when it opened. The fact of the matter is that they barely had anything left Super Bowl related. Luckily the remaining items were marked down 50% but the pickings were slim. So I grabbed a fitted football field table cover for my table and 2 Snack Stadiums and some football and flag party picks. I had also picked up a few things from Dollar Tree to add to my decorations nicely. Satisfied with those things and some items I knew I had at home I could finally start food shopping.

The Lord was working in my favor because when I walked into Kroger it was so busy they didn’t even have any shopping carts available but I had a calmness in my soul that took me straight to the Seafood Counter where there was surprisingly no one in line. My God he really loved me – the lobster tails that I needed were on sale for $5 a pop. Thank you Jesus I smiled as I ordered my six. As soon as he began bagging them the line began to form behind me rapidly. Still with no cart in hand I decided to at least try to find the ribeye steaks that I needed for the cheesesteaks. My menu didn’t exist without these two items and so far I was doing pretty good. Again I was pleasantly surprised to find the ribeye steaks that I needed marked down. The items that sold out completely were the regular Philadelphia cream cheese but I was feeling so good I had already grabbed a shopping cart and decided to use 1/3 less fat Philadelphia Cream cheese, it still had to taste better than generic cream cheese which could be awful.

I did have to obtain a few more items from Wal-Mart that I either forgot or Kroger didn’t have but I was cooking by 2ish and feeling good about how everything was coming together. Even though the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, the New England Lobster Roll won in my house. They were absolutely delicious and now my husband’s favorite meal. The rolls were toasty and buttery filled with the lobster salad. I used the recommendation of fellow Pinners and added Old Bay seasoning to the mixture of mayo, lemon and what not. I didn’t have any sriracha as the recipe called for so I opted to swap it for Louisiana hot sauce. It was good! (Disclaimer – it was still good the next day after re-heating). Even though the Lobster Roll was the clear winner for us both, the cheesesteak was still very tasty in its own right. For that I went the old school route and used finely cut ribeye, sliced baby bella mushrooms, onions and green peppers. I used season salt and black pepper liberally to flavor it all. No cheese whiz for us, I found a nice smoked provolone thinly sliced. I also decided against melting the cheese in the pan over the meat and placed the cheese on the inside of the hoagie roll. I did keep with the recipe’s instructions and roll the sandwiches tightly in foil and put them in the oven for 10 minutes on a low setting. The steak was tender and flavorful – it was a great steak and cheese.

The next winner of the night was definitely unexpected – the Candied Grapes were a huge hit with everyone. Who knew that covering grapes in jello would give them a great texture and taste? I grabbed the Jolly Rancher Watermelon flavor and was delighted with the results. Those were gobbled up quickly. It also inspired me to cover other fruits in jello too in the future. The queso dip is always a hit, I make a version similar to the Fiesta Chorizo Queso with ground sausage or breakfast sausage.

The losers of the night in my eyes were the Pizza Pull Apart Bread and the Epic Dry Rubbed Wings. I had done my research and read the comments on both recipes and tried to modify them to prevent certain aforementioned issues. I added pizza sauce to the blend of dough, mozzarella, olive oil and pepperoni to give it more flavor and moisture or so I thought. 2 of 4 kids loved the pizza bread, me not so much. The chicken wings which are a favorite of ours were a little lackluster. The recipe directed to only use 1/3 of the dry rub to coat the wings to get full flavor but I used more than half and they were still lacking the color the wings in the picture boasted but they also lacked flavor. I even sprinkled the dry rub over the wings post cooking to add more seasonings to it and they still were light in the flavor department. The hidden jewel of the game was the Peach Cobbler. This cobbler came as no easy feat because once again I failed to read the instructions completely so I goofed right at the beginning  of the process when I forgot to add in softened butter to the yellow cake mix and egg. So I added another egg when the cake mix didn’t get crumbly – the additional egg made it goopy and by the time I added the forgotten butter it was like cookie dough. Still I forged ahead and pressed the cake dough in the bottom of the sprayed baking dish and baked it for 15 minutes. Now I had a new problem – half of the remaining cake crumble mix was supposed to go on top of the peaches and I didn’t reserve it to the side as it all got gooey. Now I had to make a cobbler batter to pour over the canned peaches that I had tossed in cinnamon and the cream cheese and sugar mixture that covered the peaches. Pinterest to the rescue, I found a different peach cobbler recipe that employed all the ingredients I had on hand. I poured the cobbler batter over the pan and returned it to the oven for 40 more minutes.

There was so much food that I had absolutely no more space to even try the peach cobbler on Super Bowl Sunday. This was the hidden gem because when I tasted it the next day it was refreshingly delicious. My husband had said it was good but it was a real understated good. When I tasted it my taste buds were awakened with flavor and delight. Even the gooey cake crust had held up well and was actually cake-like crust rather than a pie crust. I could have pulled it probably 5 – 7 minutes sooner as the bottom was brown but not burnt.  When I approached my husband the day I tasted it and told him that I thought it was great he just looked at me like I was crazy and reminded me that he too had said the same thing the previous night. I reminded him that he didn’t really say that much about the cobbler but then again he reminded me that he was so flavor rocked from all the delicious foods that it just didn’t stand out amongst all the praise. Point made.

Everything about Super Bowl 52 was great. Even with the small snafus that arose everything was absolutely incredible. I didn’t get my Infladium but I only had space to use 1 of the 2 Snack Stadiums I purchased from Party City. Even the little touches like the field goals that we made out of yellow popsicle sticks and styrofoam cups were cute. The kids even made their own paper footballs. Normally the kids do their own thing while my husband and I watch the game together, this year I required all of our kids to watch the game together with us, even little Miss Praise. There aren’t a lot of times where we can all sit down together at one time and do anything, Super Bowl Sunday 52 did that for us and allowed us to watch a great victory on behalf of the Eagles and a valiant attempt to the very end for the Patriots. The food was delicious – the company was great. It was certainly a Pleasant night and one that we will remember for many years to come. We continued one of many family traditions and were blessed in so many ways as a result. I can’t even imagine what we’ll be eating and who we will be watching for next year Super Bowl? Or better yet where? Maybe at the Super Bowl? You never know. That’s the pleasant thing about life. If you stay in the game, you never know what the outcome will be and how it will change your life – win or lose.

Thanks for stopping by. If you’d like to try out the recipes I used for my Super Bowl Party check me out on Pinterest – Pleasants Personal & Professional Solutions, LLC. My “She Tried It” Board are all the recent pins that I’ve tried. I try to include good descriptions and photos. Did your family watch the Super Bowl this year? What traditions did you all have? Feel free to share your ideas with me as we all wait patiently together for the 2018 NFL Football season.

Peace and Blessings,

Future Chef Mek

Infladium and Snack Stadium available at Party City

My Favorite App Right Now – Pinterest

Place I Spend Way Too Much Time at – Kroger

Second Place I Spend Too Much Time At – Wal-Mart

#SuperBowlLII

#flyeaglesfly

#newenglandlobsterroll

#averypleasantlife

 

 

 

Debunking the Recipe: Magic Custard Cake

photogrid_15176351402271643825378.jpg     I was feeling good about my last post on “Debunking” the Hasselback Puff Fried Chicken recipe even though the results went in another direction. I was definitely disappointed that I wasn’t able to achieve the blossom effect of the chicken but I shall attempt the chicken tender blossom again one day. Yet it was time to move on to the next recipe and I was looking for a good follow-up recipe to debunk.

Mind you this whole debunking idea fell out of the sky into my lap. How many times have you tried a recipe to have it go horribly wrong? That’s happened to me more than I care to admit costing me a lot of frustrations, wasted money and food. If it’s one thing I hate…it’s waste. I don’t like seeing anything get wasted much less time, food or money  – all very precious commodities needed to rear a growing family. So I thought how awesome would it be to have someone available (namely me) who could try out these questionable recipes and confirm whether it’s the recipe, ingredients or user error? There are times when these recipes are misleading or just flat-out wrong in their attempt to instruct us. My goal is to offer valuable information or tips to help the recipe come together or salvage a potential disaster by improvising confidently in the kitchen.

Imagine my surprise when I was doing one of my favorite pastimes…you already know I was on Pinterest…when I found the Magic Custard Cake recipe. When do I have all of this time to browse Pinterest? It’s called multi-tasking. I found this recipe while I was chilling on the couch with my oldest son and my hubby while they were playing against each other on NBA 2018. The other 3 bambinos were fast asleep as it was past their bedtime. So again I was multi-tasking and initially when I looked at the recipe I wasn’t sold on it. I moved on still looking for the perfect follow – up to the hasselback puff fried chicken and somehow I doubled back the the recipe coments. There were a lot of mixed results in the comments. Some people reported having a good final result that was similar to the picture. Others flat out failed at the attempt. There were lots of commenters who also thought the cake lacked general flavor. I was intrigued. Upon review of the ingredients – all items I normally have on stock I decided it might be worth the try. What grabbed me was the fact that this recipe required separating eggs and whipping egg whites into peaks – all that seemed possibly challenging. Separating eggs is not that complicated but it does require a certain amount of patience if you’re not very comfortable handling raw eggs. Thankfully they sell gadgets that will make separating eggs easy if you want to make your life super simple. The whipping of the eggs was something that I didn’t do often in the kitchen. I’ve never made a meringue of any sort. We don’t eat a lot of casseroles or souffles for that matter. So as I ramp up my skills and experience I wanted to master whipping egg whites.

I’m a much more confident and comfortable cook and future chef these days. I live in the kitchen and I love to cook. I wasn’t always confident or comfortable enough to try new foods and new techniques. All I want to do is learn more and grow. The dream is to get to culinary school and I’ll be back on track with that soon. In the meantime I’ve enjoyed learning through the many videos, recipes and books that I’ve read. Let’s not forget the countless episodes of “Chopped”, cooking shows on the Food Network, “Top Chef”…I could go on and on. Still I’m proud of the transition that I have made in my skill level and drive and passion for food and cooking. Always trying to help out when I can, this “Debunking the Recipe” series is homage to the old Tameka who struggled to find confidence in cooking and needed a little help or guidance a long the way and all of the gracious and patient cooks who served me some grace with their tips, suggestions or guidance. One of those people was my grandmother, Viola who would always be willing to share what she knew to help me. I can’t remember how many times I asked her about a cooking flop I was experiencing and she would always tell me what to do differently to get the result I was looking for. She would love this series. (RIP Granny)

I’m happy to report that this recipe went very well. I did have to make a trip to the store for unsalted butter since I unknowingly had run out of it. I had margarine but I couldn’t deviate from the recipe – the result could definitely be skewed. Since I had to make a trip for the unsalted butter I decided to purchase a disposable pan – one less dish to make. The recipe called for an 8 x 8 pan but I opted for the 7 x 7 square aluminum pan because all the other pans were too large. (In hindsight – this recipe makes enough for a 9 x 13 because I ended up with 2 of the 7 x 7) Once I had all the items necessary I returned to my kitchen/lab to debunk how magical this custard cake is. I prepped for this by allowing the unsalted butter to melt in a glass measuring cup atop the oven while it was pre-heating. I also measured the milk and allowed that to warm atop the oven. A good tip I’ve since read about whipping eggs would have you use room temperature eggs as it is a better temperature for whipping.

Next I sprayed my aluminum pan with baking spray and began to separate my eggs. By this time I had gotten the attention of Cassius my youngest son who wanted to help with the Magic Custard Cake. He questioned what custard was but decided that it looked interesting enough. After separating my eggs I used my electric mixer to whip the egg whites on a medium speed. It took roughly 12 minutes to get the stiff peak the recipe called for. During the 12 minute whip window we moved on to Step 4 that involves beating the egg yolks and powdered sugar together. I opted to hand whip this since my electric mixer was in use and I really hate using tons of dishes so I didn’t bother pulling out the hand mixer. Whisk in hand I took on the egg yolks and powdered sugar that crumbled and clumped together in my whisk wires. It looked dry. During the egg separating some of the yolk may have been lost in process so I cracked another egg, separated it and add the yolk. I removed the contents from the wires and started to whisk again this time creating a smooth like paste almost batter. Things continued to go well through Steps 5-7 when you’re incorporating the melted butter, water, flour, milk and vanilla extract. It was at Step 8 that I flubbed my good streak and dumped more than 1/3 of the egg whites into the flour mixture. After I realized I poured too much I began using my spatula to fold in the egg whites quickly. The batter now had a bubbly airy look to it. I folded in the last of the egg whites in halves and was satisfied with the shiny batter that reflected in the bowl. I then poured the batter into the pan, realized I had too much batter and sprayed another pan quickly to bake the remainder. I put the cake pan in the oven directly on the rack – no tray required and set the time for 40 minutes. I then threatened children with bodily harm if they even dreamed about running anywhere in the house till my cake finished. Time went by kind of fast because before I knew it I was breaking my own rule and running down the steps to save it from the oven.

Eager eyes awaited as I sat the hot cake on the counter top and placed the second cake in the oven. It was just their luck that this cake needed to be completely cooled before it was dusted with powdered sugar. I went back to what I was doing and almost forgot about the cake until the timer for the second cake went off. It still needed more time so I had convinced the helpers that they may have to wait till the next day to try it. About an hour after that I remembered some gummy bears in my cabinet and went to retrieve them and was reminded of the cooled cake. I grabbed my powdered sugar and sifter and began sifting powdered sugar atop the cake covering it completely. I then cut it into 9 cute squares. I removed it from the pan and it looked good. I thought I achieved the custard and cake layers superbly. I tasted it and it was okay. The custard consistency was dead on. I could taste the vanilla. The top layer had a small bite to it underneath the powdered sugar but it was a very underwhelming dessert overall. My husband liked it. He usually hates stuff like that but he thought it was refreshingly light. He was drawn to the bread pudding like effect it gave him. He suggested adding raisins on top in the future. Duly noted. In an instant my middle son King had appeared from out of nowhere with a smile on his face the size of Texas. He got his slice which he devoured and claimed to like. The real test will be when I offer him a piece the next day. He will either accept it quickly or he will reluctantly accept it – the latter meaning he didn’t like it last night.

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Next on deck to try the Magic Custard Cake was my oldest son, Fredo – on first taste – the face he made said it all. He got the disclaimer, “you can throw it away”. And he did. He still said it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t his thing. Thirteen year olds right? I know. My helpers didn’t outlast the cooling of the cakes and had fell asleep watching television on the couch. I gave them their respective slices today once they realized they had missed out on the late night cake tasting. Cassius was not a fan and would only taste a corner of what was on his fork. Praise took two bites and resorted to saving the rest for later. Me, I’m about to try another piece that has completely chilled and set. It’s good. It’s very light. It has a delicate vanilla flavor. I could taste the textures of the three distinctive layers with this cake. The bottom is more of a skin like crust – the middle is the custard – and the top is the cake layer. In my mind this recipe would benefit from some white chocolate perhaps or maybe even raisins.

All in all I am delighted with the results and even more delighted that I gave this a second taste today. I think the recipe was easy to read and follow – and it garnered a great result based on the picture and instructions. Cooks that attempt this recipe should ensure eggs are whipped long enough to achieve the same result. Also keep in mind environmental conditions like altitudes and things that could slightly skew results. Otherwise Pleasant Cooking!!!

#DebunkingtheRecipe

#Pinterest

#averypleasantlife

 

 

 

#ShareandSpreadLove

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What’s going to make the world a better place? How can I do my part to help society and the world? By doing everything in my power to raise and teach my children to become responsible humans. Being human transcends being black or white, a citizen or immigrant…it is merely a person who has a humane side. Too often I believe people are getting farther away from humanity and what it should represent.

This year the holidays caught up with us and as usual made it exciting to pull it all together despite the challenges we faced getting it done. Christmas is not end all be all in my house but I’d be lying if I said that my children aren’t spoiled to some degree. In the sense that we have been blessed to have had great Christmases filled with love, bounties of gifts, friends and family around to celebrate with. So they always have an expectation that it’s going to be great. Now mind you they can be unrealistic when lists are being made but it doesn’t matter what’s under the tree or not, they will be happy. Their happiness will be genuine, there we won’t be any bad attitudes or frustrations. That’s what I love about them.

Even still in recent years our support system of friends and extended family have diminished tremendously. There is a lot of dysfunction in my family that can’t be ignored. I’ve had family members pass on, and the extended family relationships that went along with it.

Remember I said, “Every day is a pleasant day”, I never said it was easy or always pretty. Nevertheless I love my family and having my children be thoughtful, caring people is still a value worth possessing. Now mind you they will also be taught to not be a fool and so forth and so on. Yet I notice more that because of our lack of familial ties my kids can sometimes lack the general thoughtfulness and consideration towards others outside of our small circle of trust.

We used to make cards and crafts for family and friends. It was one of the things they loved doing the most. Then our loved ones would have some keepsake or memento crafted by a Pleasants’ child. I miss this! We used to do a lot, and unfortunately as some relationships died off, so did a small piece of our hearts.

So as I relaunch this blog again, February 2018, a month known for the celebration of love; how appropriate to “Share and Spread Love” all month and who knows maybe the Pleasants will keep it going all year! It’s never too late to start living with purpose and love in our hearts! I hope to teach my kids to be the best they can be, a light in this sometimes dark world.

What values are you all teaching your kids? What challenges are you facing or could use improvement? I’ll keep you posted with the many projects I have planned this month for my family and how you can get involved too!

Peace and Blessings,

Tameka

#ShareandSpreadLove

Debunking the Recipe: Hasselback Cheese Puff Fried Chicken

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You already know I love Pinterest right? I can admit that when I gave up Facebook I rebounded hard straight into Pinterest. Who knew that I would get so much enjoyment from my Pinterest app? I didn’t but I’m all the better and consider myself an expert of sorts when it comes to Pinterest and cooking, home life – running  and managing my household and family. Okay I was all of those things prior to Pinterest but needless to say it’s a ton of great information on Pinterest that is always super helpful and easy to find.

I personally love trying new recipes or getting inspiration for crafts or projects. In dedication to my love of all things Pinterest I created a board titled “She Tried It” on my Pinterest channel. These are all of the pins that I have personally completed. Most of my comments include photos and as much helpful information as possible. Feel free to mosey on over to Pinterest and follow my boards if you dare, there are some great recipes and ideas that might be worth checking out which brings me to my first “Debunking the Recipe” review of Hasselback Cheese Puff Fried Chicken.

First I like Cheetos but I don’t have a love of Cheetos. My children like Cheetos but they don’t love them. They are not the cleanest snack to eat and my kids uniforms would suffer tremendously so let’s just say that if it’s in the variety box of Fritos Lays they will eat it, otherwise they aren’t begging for Cheetos. So the fact that this recipe required 10 cups of Cheetos cheese puffs is highly questionable but I love a good challenge and I figured at the very worst case scenario 2 out of 4 kids would like it and my husband would minimally try it, though I was not sold he would like it.

Next let’s address the name of the recipe “Hasselback Cheese Puff Fried Chicken”. The recipe uses the hasselback technique to slice the chicken but then it is fastened together into a blossom with toothpicks before it is deep-fried. Shouldn’t this really be called “Cheetos Chicken Blossom”, okay, let’s say for copyright infringement purposes we could still safely call it, “Cheese Puff Fried Chicken Blossom”? Either way the name is slightly misleading but it teaches us something new that I didn’t know before which is the hasselback method of slicing vegetables, fruits and even meats.

Yet I set out on my mission to make these so-called Cheese Puff Fried Chicken blossoms. The next thing that I needed that I didn’t have on hand was buttermilk. I don’t use buttermilk often so it’s not a staple that I keep in my fridge. I settled on a quart since I knew I would be using it all to marinade the chicken breasts. You also are doing yourself a huge justice by using a food processor to grind up your cheese puffs. My last food processor was broken and though I could have replaced it to accomodate this recipe my gut and wallet told me not to. I opted to use my blender and it did not go well. I was able to grind up the cheese puffs in small batches at a time. You also need a sharp knife to slice your chicken effortlessly.

This “Tasty” video is 1:31 seconds and while I think it gives you a great outline to follow for the end result when I completed the steps per the video my result was shrunken chicken chunk with toothpicks  surrounded by floating cheese. The coating completely came off leaving my chicken naked as a jaybird. In the meantime my husband had caught wind of what was going on and offered some supportive words and ideas to salvage the recipe. He was now sold on these cheesy chicken tenders! So I ground up more cheese puffs but I mixed some all-purpose flour into the cheese dusting. Then I beat 2 eggs in a bowl to dip the marinated chicken breasts into before covering with the cheese puff and flour mixture. I also denounced the idea of the blossom as I fumbled with the buttermilk ranch covered chicken breasts and toothpicks. It seemed so overrated when it didn’t go immediately right and I had already spent enough time grinding cheese puffs and test frying the first batch. In an instant they were chicken tenders and frying beautifully in the pot of vegetable oil.

My prediction was right, 2 out of 4 kids liked it though I am surprised which two. I knew King would like it because he loves Hot Cheetos or Hot Anything for that matters, so in laymen terms this means if it is bright orange-red colored and spicy as all hell – he will devour it. It came as a total surprise when Cassius asked for his second round of “chicken nuggets” as he called it…the nerve of kids. My oldest didn’t hate it but he wasn’t in love with them. I was pleasantly surprised that my husband not only liked them – he enjoyed it.

So this recipe has officially been debunked. Maybe the creator of the video was short on time and left out a couple of steps or maybe the mysterious magic of cooking yielded them a completely different product. This was still a fun attempt and it has given my creativity off the leash when it comes to experimenting with flavors and textures.

What recipe will I debunk next? I have no clue, do you have a recipe you’d like me to debunk? Drop me a line in the comments and maybe I’ll check it out for ya!

Peace and Blessings,

Tameka

#Hasselbackhassel

#Hasselbackcheesepufffriedchicken

#debunkingtherecipe

#averypleasantlife

#iheartPinterest

 

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