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Showing posts from January, 2019

Box of Chocolate Cake

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Recipe Courtesy of The Kitchen
Level: Intermediate
Total: 2 hr 30 min(includes cooling and setting times)
Active: 50 min
Yield: 1 large cake plus 24 mini cupcakes

Ingredients
Nonstick cooking spray, for the pan
Two 15.25-ounce boxes chocolate cake mix (plus required ingredients)
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped, plus 2 teaspoons white chocolate shavings
1 batch warm Chocolate Ganache, recipe follows
9 chocolate-covered espresso beans
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
3 small red heart-shaped sprinkles or candies
4 small pink heart-shaped sprinkles or candies
2 teaspoons chopped pistachios
One 15.6-ounce container vibrant red vanilla frosting, such as Pillsbury Funfetti

Radiant Red Vanilla Frosting
1 package red icing or frosting sheets, such as Wilton Sugar Sheets

Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon corn syrup

Directions
Special equipment:
a 12-by-2-inch heart-shaped cake pan; one 24-count or two 12-count mini muffin tins; 24 brown or black mini cupcake liners; one 16-…

Life is Full of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Quote of the Day

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Quote of the Day

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Super Nachos

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Recipe Courtesy of Rachael Ray
Level: Easy
Total: 30 min
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 15 min
Yield: 4 entree servings

Ingredients
2 bags corn tortilla chips in 2 colors or different flavors, such as blue corn, red corn, yellow corn, lime flavored, chili flavored or black bean chips -- pick 2 favorites

Pico de Gallo Salsa:
4 vine ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped, for medium to hot heat level
1 small white onion, chopped
1/4 cup, 2 handfuls, cilantro leaves, finely chopped -- substitute parsley if cilantro is not to your liking
Salt

Beef and Beans Topping:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground sirloin
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dark chili powder
1 1/2 ground cumin, half a palmful
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce, giving you medium to hot heat level
1 can black beans, 15 ounces, drained

Cheese Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups mi…

Close Heart-Friends In The Making...

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“We live in a supersaturated solution. If you want close heart-friends: first, become yourself and then allow yourself to be suspended in waiting until you start to find people cohering with you.”
Martha Beck

Listening to author Martha Beck talk about building close-heart-friendships is as good as looking to one of my favorite songs, they both make me want to dance and sing along as loudly and heartfelt as possible. The topic of authentic friendships is the broken record on my life playlist because every stage of life brings different bonds, and sometimes it's hard to keep every relationship cohering with you, which then brings disharmony, heartache, and loneliness. I’ve had stages in my life when I haven’t had more than two close friendships, and for a social butterfly as myself, that’s a real downer. The bright side to the rollercoaster ride of going from having a cartful of friends that ride through the dips and freefalls--is the fractaling process! Wait, what? Martha Beck descr…

Life is Full of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Quote of The Day

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Quote of the Day

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Quote of the Day

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Cheese Tortellini in Light Broth

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Recipe Courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis
Level: Easy
Total: 30 min
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 20 min
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients
8 cups low-salt chicken broth
Freshly ground black pepper
Two 9-ounce packages refrigerated cheese tortellini
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Parmesan Crisps, recipe follows
Parmesan Crisps:
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Directions
Pour the broth into a heavy large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Season the broth with pepper, to taste. Add the tortellini. Simmer over medium heat until al dente, about 7 minutes.

Ladle the broth and tortellini into soup bowls. Top with parsley and Parmesan Crisps and serve.

Parmesan Crisps:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Pour a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan onto a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet and lightly pat down. A silicone baking sheet is highly recommended. Repeat with the remaining cheese, spacing the spoonfuls about a 1/2 inch apart.

Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool.

For more recip…

The Delight Of A Single Moment...

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I remember starting my teenage years with extreme uncertainty, distrust in my ability to make good decisions, constant blame, and dissatisfaction with my looks. I spent so much time hyper-focusing on everything I did wrong or had gone wrong in my life--it was hard to feel accomplished. Every decade welcomed a better era of understanding the dissatisfaction I felt, and when I hit my 40’s, the veil started to lift, I attributed it to maturity, but there was something else—I started learning to have self-compassion! I recently read an article by Amy L. Eva, about helping teens develop a sense of self-worth. In the article, Amy said, “Focus on self-compassion (not self-esteem). Because self-esteem is a global evaluation of your overall worth, it has its dangers. What am I achieving? Am I good enough? How do I compare with my peers? What would happen if we could stop judging ourselves? Researcher Kristen Neff claims that self-compassion—treating yourself with kindness, openness, and accept…

Life is Full of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Quote of the Day

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Quote of the Day

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Don’t Hang On, Hang Loose

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Don’t hang on, hang loose.” –Martha Beck

I was listening to a webinar with Martha Beck about surfing the waves of change. She mentioned that some of smartest people in the world relax into not knowing—they let others know that they don’t know, but also ask for help and feedback with humility. They create a community around their challenges. Martha said that the most stable stand you can take in life is a fluid one. The conversation reminded me ofDr. Wayne Dyer who wrote, “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life,” a book with essays written about Lao-tzu’s, the Tao Te Ching. He writes, “having lived by the ocean for many years, I’ve observed the strength and beauty of the tall palm trees that grow at the water’s edge. These stately giants are able to withstand the hurricane-force winds that uproot and destroy many larger, older, and more majestic trees. What is the palm trees’ secret to staying in one piece through huge, devastating storms? They bend almost down to the ground at times, …

Whole30 Sesame Chicken and Broccoli Rice

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Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Kitchen

This protein-packed chicken and broccoli dish passes the Whole30 Program test (a nutrition plan that encourages you to choose whole food over processed, and eschews sugar, grains, dairy and legumes). Every part of the green cruciferous vegetable -- from stem to florets -- gets used. Stems become a no-carb rice, and florets are gently steamed.

Level: Easy
Total: 30 min
Active: 30 min
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
4 heads broccoli (about 1 1/2 pounds), stalks roughly chopped and separated from florets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup coconut liquid aminos, such as Big Tree or Coconut Secret (see Cook's Note)
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons arrowroot starch/flour
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
4 sc…

Parmesan French Toast with Pancetta and Eggs

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Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Kitchen
Level: Easy
Total: 35 min
Active: 35 min
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
8 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta (8 to 12 slices)
8 3/4-inch-thick slices country white bread
6 cups baby arugula
1 to 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze

Directions
Put a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 250 degrees F. Whisk 4 eggs, the milk, 1/4 cup cheese, the parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a baking dish; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, flipping, until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels; reserve the drippings in the skillet.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in another large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the bread to the egg mixture and let soak, turning once, about 1 minu…

Life is Full of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Quote of the Day

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Quote of the Day

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Crab and Avocado Salad

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Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen
Total Time: 30 min
Prep: 25 min
Cook: 5 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy

Ingredients
Kosher salt
1/2 pound haricots verts or green beans, halved
2/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound lump or claw crabmeat
1 Hass avocado, halved, pitted and diced
3 romaine hearts, chopped
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat croutons
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions
Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the haricots verts and cook until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Puree the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, basil and anchovies in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the crabmeat, half of the avocado and about 1 tablespoon of the yogurt dressing in a small bowl. Toss the romaine, croutons, haricots verts and the remaining avoca…

No More New Year's Resolutions...

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It’s taken almost two decades to stop making New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, exercise and eat healthier! Every year, I’d buy exercise equipment, and tons of healthy ingredients to cook healthier meals--it took a few days, maybe a few weeks for the plans to come crashing down. It was overwhelming to change my lifestyle so quickly. I'd overspend and underused all of my purchases. The failed attempts would send me into a nosedive toward a fiery ball of shame, and I'd start overeating to soothe myself. It was a rollercoaster ride of emotions that had me puking with disgust by the second week of January.

This past year, I was determined to break the cycle of failed attempts to a lifestyle change. I had several changes in mind during the year that I wanted to make, so I started doing them little by little each month. When I got to December, I had made some successful changes in my diet, I had a regular workout routine and a better outlook on my health. It took twelve months t…

Apple-Honey Drumsticks

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Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen
Level: Easy
Total: 1 hr
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 40 min
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients
12 skin-on chicken drumsticks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups apple juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Put the drumsticks on the rack and season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Bake 30 minutes; flip the drumsticks and continue baking until golden and crisp, about 30 more minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Bring the apple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt to a high simmer in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the sauce is syrupy and coats the back of a spoon, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside until the chicken is done.

Stir the sesame seeds into the…

Quote of the Day

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