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A Healthy Snack and Healthy Laughter

Whether I’m writing or substitute teaching, I like to eat healthy snacks throughout the day. This one is super easy to make and delicious.

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I found the
recipe on: A Spicy Perspective. Yum!

Laughing is just as important as eating healthy! Here’s one of my favorite comedians. Gabriel Iglesias! Fluffy!

 

Valentine’s Day Cookie Pies

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Oh, how I love Valentine’s Day! Forget the daily spinach salad and healthy snacks, I’ll be eating chocolate all day long. Since my beautiful daughter is away at college studying, practicing with her team and writing for NPR (so cool!) I asked some friends to bake a Valentine treat with me this year. I ended up with a house full of children. Luckily, they knew what they were doing and stopped me from putting my plastic pie press in the oven. “Wait! That will melt…won’t it?” I pretended like I was just testing them. “Very good! Never put plastic in a four hundred degree oven.” I blame my lapse of judgment on my four and five am. mornings. That’s my answer and I’m sticking to it.

The kids took turns running around my house, tweeting, playing the piano, searching for cartoons and putting together a heart-shaped cookie pie. They did all the work. This was an easy recipe that all the kids loved.  I found it on Living Locurto. Silly me, I thought a single cookie pie was too much for just one person. They proved me wrong. Valentine Treats 2014 006 copy Can I just say one more time how proud I am of my girl. She amazes me! Just in case the link above was too small–check out this awesome blog about 8 runners preparing for the Boston Marathon.

NPR Running Toward Boylston

Jamie Ayres and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

The talented Jamie Ayres is my guest blogger today. We have a lot in common. We love to write, enjoy teaching and we both live in paradise. Here is a brief description of her book, a tasty recipe and an excerpt. I hope you enjoy it.

Book Summary

18Truths

With the lessons the 18 Things life list taught her engraved on her heart, Olga embarks on a new adventure as a spirit guide, but nothing prepares her for the chilling truths she’s learning along the way.

Lying is unbearable, betrayal is inevitable, and choosing which path to take is impossible.

Olga Gay Worontzoff ended her senior year as an eighteen-year-old girl totally in love with Nate, enjoying their new romance and about to attend the university of her dreams. Now she’s spending her summer in the weird subculture of the Underworld, with charmingly witty and powerful angels, and problematic demons, trying to rescue Connor, the best friend and secret crush she was unable to save during a freak accident.

But Nate has other things on his mind, mainly Grace. She’s their first assignment as joint spirit guides, and Olga’s feeling hurt and jealous. His mysterious behavior has Olga questioning everything she believed about him and now she must decide whether to stick to their plan, or follow her heart.

Unfortunately, a series of mistakes threatens everyone around her and plants Olga in the center of cosmic events much larger than she ever imagined.

Only one thing is certain: the chilling truths uncovered during her journey will leave no one untouched.

18 Truths Book Trailer

Website: www.jamieayres.com

Add 18 Truths to your Goodreads

Amazon Barnes and Noble Jaime Ayers Jamie Ayres writes young adult paranormal love stories by night and teaches young adults as a Language Arts middle school teacher by day. When not at home on her laptop or at school, she can often be found at a local book store grabbing random children and reading to them. So far, she has not been arrested for this. Although she spent her youthful summers around Lake Michigan, she now lives in Florida with her prince charming, two children (sometimes three based on how Mr. Ayres is acting), and a basset hound. She really does have grandmothers named Olga and Gay but unlike her heroine, she’s thankfully not named after either one of them. She loves lazy pajama days, the first page of a good book, stupid funny movies, and sharing stories with fantastic people like you. Her books include the first two installments of her trilogy, 18 Things and 18 Truths. Visit her online via Twitter, Facebook, or at www.jamieayres.com.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Cupcake

Ingredients:
1 package of Chocolate Cake Mix
1 container of Creamy Vanilla Frosting
½ cup of creamy peanut butter
15 miniature peanut butter cup candies, wrappers removed, cut in half vertically

Directions:
•Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper lines in 30 muffin cups.
•Prepare, bake, and cool cupcakes following package directions for basic recipe.
•Combine Vanilla frosting with peanut butter in medium bowl. Stir until smooth. Front one cupcake. Decorate with peanut butter cup candy, cut side down. Repeat with remaining cupcakes, frosting, and candies. Makes 30 cupcakes. Served best with coffee or chocolate milk!

And now, a sneak peek from Chapter 6 of 18 Truths, where Nate & Olga have just met their first spirit guide assignment & decided getting cupcakes is the best way to get to know her!

Grace backed up a step. “I never said I needed a friend. I said I needed cake.”

“You know, I saw a shop called Hey Hey Cupcake on the way to school. We should go there and get you a red velvet cupcake.” Even I could hear the desperation in my voice, but I crossed my fingers, hoping she’d say yes.

She smiled. “They do have really good cupcakes.” Finally, she found her car keys in one of the front pockets of her purse. “But I’m driving. Dad would kill me if he knew I got into a stranger’s car. Besides, you scare me.”

I nodded. Technically, the license I’d obtained a few months ago didn’t count since the test happened during my Limbo timeline, and Nate had never gotten his back after the accident either. And I didn’t blame her for being scared of me. Truth was, I think I would’ve bolted by now. Grace had no reason to trust us. Not yet anyway.

We headed to the parking lot together. No campus security stopped us from leaving, not that I was surprised. None of this was real.

As she drove down the highway, All Apologies by Nirvana blared from her stereo.

“Wow, George Lucas called. He wants his sound system back.”

“Excuse me?”

“Olga is a huge Star Wars geek,” Nate informed her from the back seat. “I’ll apologize now for all her references.”

I turned around and stuck my tongue out at him like a good sister would. “I just meant you have a really nice stereo for an older car.”

“The stereo is a recent upgrade, a birthday present from my dad. Music is the only thing I care about these days.”

“Well, here’s a fun twist for your viewing pleasure.” Nate leaned forward, resting a forearm on each of our headrests. “I was the lead vocalist and guitarist for an indie rock band when we lived in Michigan.”

Grace raised an eyebrow. “You don’t say? What was the name of your band?”

“Cantankerous Monkey Squad.”

She snorted. “That’s a pretty ridiculous name.”

“That was Conner for ya.” My stomach clenched painfully at my unexpected use of his name. I tried to hide my pain, but Grace didn’t seem to miss much.

“Ex-boyfriend?”

I nodded in agreement because she was a stranger who didn’t know any better and because the idea of Conner as my boyfriend made the pain go away a little bit. Then, I remembered Nate. He had slumped back down in his seat.

After a few seconds of silence, except for Kurt Cobain’s lyrics about screwing everything up, I couldn’t take the heavy anymore. “This song is kind of depressing. Do you mind changing it?”

Grace rolled her eyes. “Fine. Here, take the wheel.”

“What? I can’t take the wheel! That’s the first rule Mom told me when she taught me how to drive. The driver always keeps both hands on the wheel. Two and ten o’clock.”

“Well, my mom wasn’t around to teach me how to drive. Taking my hands off the wheel now.”

I shrieked as she let go and then opened her center console. “I know I have the new Coldplay CD in here somewhere. Is that upbeat enough for our seven minute drive?”

Trying to keep my hand steady, I gave a tight nod.

“You look terrified. Are you always this high-strung?”

Was Grace teasing me already? Maybe this was a good sign. Friends tease each other.

“You know, the rule isn’t two and ten o’clock anymore.” Nate’s voice was carefree again, apparently over my Conner comment.

“What?”

“My Driver’s Ed instructor told me they changed the hands thing to nine and three o’clock after the invention of the air bag.”

“Good job, Mr. Know-It-All. You want a prize?”

“Hey, I just didn’t want you giving our own kids the wrong information one day.”

Grace, having already loaded the Coldplay disc, took the wheel back, but abruptly jerked it to the side at Nate’s comment. “I thought you guys were brother and sister?”

I gave Nate an incredulous stare.

“Um, we are. I didn’t mean kids we’d have together . . . just the kids we’ll have one day with our spouses.”

Grace nodded, seeming to buy the cover up. “Right. I’m never having kids.”

“Why not?” I asked, although I already felt certain of her answer.

“Well, first of all, every child deserves a grandma to spoil them, and mine won’t have one. You know what? Bump all of that, every child deserves a mother to love them. I can’t even love myself.”

I tried to search for some wisdom I’d read in my eighteen years of life to help her, but I came up empty.

“It’s not who you are that holds you back.” Nate’s words startled me out of my thoughts, making me jump a little. “It’s who you think you are not.”

Grace laughed as she pulled up to the cupcake shop and parked. “Who are you? Some modern-day Confucius or something?”

Now I laughed. “You have no idea.”

“It’s from the last book I read, Seeds of Greatness by Denis Waitley. I can loan it to you if you want. The book is full of good stuff, if you don’t mind all my highlights and notes in the margins. I’ve probably read the book forty times by now.”

This roused a low chuckle from Grace. “Okay, sure.” She turned her attention toward me as we strode through the front doors while two blonde haired ladies greeted us from behind the counter. “Do you like cupcakes?”
“Are you kidding?” Nate gasped. “Olga lives on sugar. She tried to convince her boss at the bookstore where she worked in Grand Haven to pay her in candy instead of cash.”

I shoved him sideways. “I did not! Although, that’s actually not a bad idea.”

“What can I get for you?” the lady asked, peering at us over the bakery case. 

Valentine’s Day Treats

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It’s almost my favorite holiday! Valentine’s Day! Why is it my favorite? Not because I want roses or chocolate, although Mr. Rausin, feel free to surprise me. It’s my favorite holiday because we celebrate love. Valentine’s Day is about letting the people in our lives know we love them.

Here are some great Valentine’s Day ideas that don’t break the bank and show those we love how much they mean to us.

Heart WreathWebsite: No Time For Flash Cards

Teacher Valentine’s Day Gift. Drink Tumbler. Website: Mama Cheaps

Book Bucks! Website: Imagination Soup

Easy Valentine’s Day cookies. Website: Family fresh meals Valentine Snickerdoodles Valentine Pupcakes Valentine Cupcakes with a candy heart inside Valentine Popcorn cake Valentine Pretzles
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VEGAN CHICK’N POTPIE

A few weeks ago I wrote about a great new cookbook I found – VEGAN COOKING FOR CARNIVORES, by Roberto Martin

Arielle came home from college for a month and Eric decided it was time we learned how to cook. Not really. Arielle and I have always loved cooking recipes for this blog. It’s what we do. Since she’s training hard at school for her marathons we thought we better find some healthier recipes. We started with wild mushroom tomato sauce. It was delicious! However, I got in a bit of trouble because I posted the pictures of our delicious dinner without posting the recipe. Sorry! I wanted everyone to go buy the book. Authors have to help each other out. Anyway, my social media specialists (Arielle and Kai) told me to ask Roberto Martin if I could post one of his recipes. I was nervous but I did. And guess what? He said yes!

We made Chick’n Potpie! Yum!

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Here’s the recipe:

VEGAN CHICK’N POTPIE

Serves 6-8
Prep time 1 hour
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 20 minutes
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish
From book Vegan Cooking for Carnivores

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Safflower Oil (high-heat oil)
  • 1 Large white onion (diced)
  • 5 -6 inch celery stalks diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 6 tablespoons organic, unbleached all-purpose flour (Plus extra for dusting)
  • 3 cups broth made from Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base
  • 1 10-12- ounce bag of organic frozen peas and carrots chopped
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen Gardein Chick'n Scallopini
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 package vegan pie crust ((2 crusts per pack))
  • 6-8 Ramekins or potpie dishes
  • Melted vegan butter

Directions

Step 1
Heat a large soup pot over high heat, add the oil, and wait for it to shimmer. Add the onion and celery and cook until they're translucent.
Step 2
Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it's incorporated. Add the broth a little at a time. Simmer until it thickens.
Step 3
Stir in the peas, carrots and Chick'n Scallopini. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
Step 4
Take out 6-8 ramekins or potpie dishes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie dough and cut it 1/2 inch larger than the ramekins. Rub the top of the dough with melted vegan butter.
Step 5
Spoon the filling into the ramekins leaving 1/4 inch at the top. Cover the ramekins with the dough, butter side up, and pinch the edges with your fingers.
Step 6
Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Look what I found… after I typed out the recipe! Bonus for you! I’m sure you’ll all need to print the recipe anyway. Right? Tell me yes and make me feel better.
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Now, are you ready for this…
Vegan Chocolate Chip Magic Bars! I was skeptical. I wondered how in the world substituting almond milk for condensed milk would keep the delicious taste of this treat. They. Are. Awesome! Check out Roberto Martin’s book for the recipe.
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Wild Mushroom Tomato Sauce

I bought a new cookbook. Couldn’t resist it had such a catchy title. VEGAN COOKING FOR CARNIVORES by Roberto Martin

Arielle had the honor of choosing the first meal. Wild mushroom tomato sauce over pasta. Luckily, Eric decided to help us. I believe Arielle’s words were, “Let’s just face it. We can’t cook.”

We began with Eric insisting I read through the entire recipe. I have a habit of jumping right in and then realizing I’m missing some ingredients. Not good.

Eric started chopping, Arielle stirred, and guess what I did?
Took pictures! It’s my favorite part of cooking.

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Oh, I also grew these basil plants. People laughed at me when I first bought them. They thought they were dead. I said, “Just watch. They’ll grow.” So, while my cooking skills are often questioned my mad gardening skills are not. Yay me! I have to make myself feel better somehow. Vegan mushroom sauce and last pictures of Buddy Jan 4 2014 007
Wild Mushroom Tomato Sauce! Yum!
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The food was delicious and cooking with my loves made for a wonderful evening together. Next on the dinner agenda is vegan chicken pot pie and chocolate chip magic bars for dessert. We do have all the ingredients thanks to Patrick from Publix who relentlessly searched for all our vegan items and then laughed when Eric asked him to find Snipe.