Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lissa's Holy Guacamole

Avocados, sometimes called the alligator pear, are one of my favorite foods.  Not only are avocados highly nutritious, they also have more potassium than bananas.  I know, hard to believe?  Potassium helps lower cholesterol and regulate your heart.  Although avocados are a high fat food, they are actually still good for your heart.  Avocados are loaded with fiber and are known to help prevent arthritis and cancer.  Fiber helps you feel fuller so eating avocados might help with weight loss. Avocados are so good for you, and so flavorful.  This recipe is simple to make and definitely kid approved.

Lissa's Holy Guacamole

3-4 Ripe Avocados (the shells should be black in color)
1/4 cup finely diced Roma Tomato
1/4 cup finely diced Red Onion
2 Tbsp McCormick Guacamole Mix

The ingredients are very basic, but the flavor is fresh and mild.  Even with the acidity of the tomatoes and the red onion, I think you will see that this recipe can easily be made in 10 to 15 minutes.  So if you're in a rush and have company coming over, this is something that you would make fresh right before guests arrive.  When I bought the avocados, they were still green in color.  I had to wait several days for the avocados to ripen and turn black.  These avocados were the perfect level of ripe. When I cut them open, you will see how important timing is when making guacamole.

This is my video demo of how to remove seeds from an avocado.  At first I tried to press my thumb under the seed.  As you can see, that didn't work, and worse, as my thumb dug into the avocado, it started to mash.  In order to pull the avocado seed out without hurting the texture of the avocado, cut into the seed with the blade of the knife, and then wedge the seed out of the avocado with the knife. Watch my demo and you will see removing the avocado seed with the knife is the ideal cooking technique.

I'm going to show you how perfectly ripe this avocado is.  This is the first avocado I used so it wasn't just for the camera.  As long as the avocado is the right ripeness and not bruised, I can use my hands and peel away the black avocado peel.

Nice and easy does it.  This avocado peeled away immaculately. 

To make the guacamole mild, I use another trick.  With the red onion, you can see in the center there is a white part.  This part of the onion has the most heat.  It adds the most spice.  To make this guacamole more mild, I am going to remove the center of the red onion.

The same red onion has had the center removed.  So after the center of the onion is gone, I'm going to remove the peel and slice off the end.  I'm going to start finely dicing this red onion.

Avocados and tomatoes

Avocados, Roma Tomatoes and Red Onions

                          Avocados, Roma Tomatoes, Red Onions, and Guacamole Mix

After all of the ingredients are in the bowl, here comes the fun part, we get to smash the avocados.  I used a fork to do this.  Some people would say, "No, stop... Don't do it that way... You're going to mash the tomatoes too!" That's the point though.  The tomatoes give the guacamole wonderful flavor. The red onions seem to have about the same shape before and after being mashed. The guacamole seasoning packet gets turned in with all the rest of it.  When I make guacamole, I usually don't mash it all.  You don't want to puree it or make it like baby food.  I leave a few nice sized avocado chunks. The chunks of fresh avocado are great for loading onto chips.

So here is a nerdy picture of me. I'm not really the popular girl type. I was too shy and never could make the cheer team. I believe I was too anti-social to ever fit the "in" crowd. I like study hard and was top of the class in college. I like books, love to read and I type 60 wpm. I like to talk on the phone, and keep track of the details. For the most part, I deal with chaos well, and do my best to keep things organized. Everything with me is logical and methodical. My favorite method to pursue my goals is simple and step by step. I wear glasses and hardly ever wear make up. Usually, what I wear varies from day to day. I don't really care that much about clothing. If you were wondering, yes, I am a huge Star Wars fan and I own a brief case if that further seals the deal. I usually don't post very many pictures of me. I'm a little bit modest and not sure if I should share or not. Just so you know who you're working with, I will share this recent picture.

I stirred up the guacamole and put it on a plate with our favorite Sweet and Spicy Doritos. Guacamole makes an excellent side for anything.  This guacamole turned out really well.  I used to have a friend who had this "secret" ingredient to her guacamole.  Her secret ingredient turned out to be store bought salsa.  Store bought salsa can be a quicker way to make salsa because it cuts the prep time, but I personally like to keep ingredients as fresh as possible. I don't use anything like that.  I try to make recipes that are raw vegan.

The guacamole did not last long.  I generally like to make guacamole in smaller batches because then the guacamole is always  made ready to eat and fresh.  An optional squeeze of lime juice would help keep guacamole fresh too. We didn't use lime juice because we planned to eat the guacamole right away.  Well, that's all for now.  Keep reading and subscribe.  Pin this to Pinterest.  Add me on Google. Share on Facebook and twitter, and have a great day.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Splashing Around at the Pool

One of the best ideas of the summer is to have a good time at the swimming pool.  Nicole and Presley had it all planned.  We weren't originally going to go until 5:00 p.m. but the girls were getting antsy to go so we went about 2:30 p.m.  Last year we bought an over-sized turtle.  Nicole huffed and puffed to blow up the inflatable all by herself.  It's unbelievable that she has gone from having me do everything for her last year to becoming more and more independent this year.  I was a little worried that the inflatable turtle would get popped, that somehow it would break from kids jumping on it, but it was durable. The worse problem about the turtle was that it often capsized and flipped over in the pool.  That just made the turtle that much more fun.  The other floating device we had was the pink flotation device. The pink floaty didn't flip much.  The pink flotation did not require any blowing up.  It was very sturdy, and even with both girls leaning and jumping on it, it never sank.  The pink flotation was probably the better device.

Roughing it at the swimming pool 

Nicole teaching Presley how to back float. 

The water was too deep for Presley so Nicole carried her.

Smiles are always better with missing teeth.

Peace out ☮

Nicole is having a great time.

These girls are soaking up the sun. What a great day!

I remember when I was a little girl.  We swam at my Grandmother's pool on Coronado Island.  I used to play with the lifesaver flotation.  It was supposed to be used if someone was drowning, but since I was too short to touch the bottom of the pool, that's what I used.  I think watching these girls play, it was a great time.  The water was warm, and the sunshine was bright. Yesterday rained, and so I was praying for the sunshine.  It was so nice to sit and relax on the lounge chairs.  All I could hear was the laughter.  They were splashing and making great big waves.  Overall, the swimming pool made this day a great day.  I hope the summer holds many more days like these. Thank you for reading. 


Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Fund Raiser Benefit for Lori Blackner-Myers

Lori Blackner-Myers, single mother of four boys, was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2013.  Since Blackner-Meyer's diagnosis of breast cancer, doctors noticed that the cancer had metastasized to her bones.  Blackner-Meyers has had full hip replacement, several neck and spinal surgeries and three rounds of chemotherapy.  We attended the Memorial Day fundraiser event, and it was a fun day.  There were several bouncy houses, free snow cones, free hotdogs and free cotton candy.  It was a fun family event, but in a sad way.  We each made a card for Lori Blackner-Meyers to help keep her spirits up and donated a little money.  If you would like to help with expenses to help this family, you can donate to State Bank of Southern Utah "Colleen and Kay Scott Memorial Foundation."

Lori Blackner Meyers and her four sons  c/o Colleen and Kay Scott Fundraiser

I brought Nicole and her friend, Presley, to the park to enjoy the day.  We got there and there was a moderate sized crowd and blue skies.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  The bouncy houses were set in the center of tall shade trees.  We arrived there to see kids jumping and playing on the bouncy houses. The girls immediately took off their shoes so that they could join in the fun.  The Cliff Hanger was the first bouncy house they went on.

This bouncy house in the picture below had a ladder to climb.  It was Presley's favorite bouncy house. She jumped on this house several times.

Here comes Nicole sliding down the bouncy house.

After sliding down the bouncy houses, the girls decided that they wanted snow cones.  There were only two flavors to choose from Blue Raspberry and Tiger's Blood.  The girls both wanted Blue Raspberry.  Once they started to have snow cones, their lips started to turn blue.

Presley's lips were totally blue.  She was freezing so we had to move out of the shade and find a sunny spot so that she would stay warm.

Nicole's lips also turned blue.  

This is what eating Blue Raspberry snow cones does to kids.  It turns them into monsters.

Overall, it was just a wonderful day in the sun.  We all had a great time running, jumping and playing.  The Memorial Day Fund Raiser Benefit for Lori Blackner-Myers was successful. There was a great turn out, lots of families showed up to support their cause. I couldn't imagine what it would be like emotionally and physically to have breast cancer. Lori Blackner-Meyers did not show up to the benefit. I can't imagine that she would feel up to it. I relate as a mother, I think with an illness like that, knowing that she has young children that need her, Lori Blackner-Meyers must be struggling very hard to survive. I guess that's every mother's fear -- how will their children ever survive without them?  That's why I find this so tragic.  My father passed away in 2008, and it was a tragic loss for our family.  I cannot imagine the emotional and physical suffering and pain that she and her family have been going through and are currently experiencing.  I'm grateful for this lovely sunny day to be able to listen to the birds and sit under the shade tree with my family.  I think people don't realize how fortunate they are to have good health.  I realize how lucky I have been to have my health, and how thankful I should be for every day of life.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Life is a Bowl of Red Cherries

One of my favorite foods in the whole wide world are cherries.  Usually cherries are so expensive to buy, but so worth it.  Right now the cherries are ripe and full.  They looked so juicy and red. I tried to walk by the cherry isle at the supermarket, but I couldn't.

California Red Cherries

Why eat cherries?  Cherries are so good for you.  They are said to help relieve the pain of arthritis and gout.  They are full of antioxidants and help contain the spread of cancer.  The antioxidants also help prevent premature aging.  Oxidative stress causes aging.  The antioxidants in cherries prevent oxidative stress.  Eat them to stay youthful.  Cherries have melatonin in them and help a person to get a good night's rest.  Cherries are so good for you that they help balance sodium and potassium to moderate a person's blood pressure.  Cherries are full of B vitamins and fiber that are great for weight loss.  Eat cherries to lose weight  So go ahead and indulge yourself.

Eat until your stomach is full.  Have raw cherries with a glass of your favorite Chardonnay.  Even if you follow a strict vegan diet, there are no dietary rules broken indulging in cherries.  The only problem with cherries is that you can never get enough of them.  Cherries spoil quickly so it's important to eat them as soon as possible.

What should we do with these cherries?  Cherries make the best desserts.  They make excellent cherry tarts,  cherry cobblers, cherry pies, cherry cheesecakes, cherry clafoutis and chocolate cherry ice cream.  I recently saw a recipe where cherries were used for a homemade cherry barbeque sauce.  The cherry barbeque sauce was used as a marinade for grilled skewers.  To preserve the cherries you can dry them. Dry cherries can be sealed away and saved for a snack for later.  Another possibility with cherries is canning them.  Canned  cherries will be still maintain their freshness for up to a year.  So if you can't decide what to do with your cherries right now, can them and then when the time comes, you have a stored supply of cherries.

I know what I'm going to do with these cherries.  I'm going to eat them.  I'm not sharing either.  Nicole will have to fight me to get these.  They are really good.  So if you are feeling like you need a good snack, buy some cherries.  It will make your whole day much brighter.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Spring Disco Red Marigolds

Last year, my neighbor gave me a few packages of standard orange marigolds for Mother's Day. It was such a nice surprise. I guess the neighbors know how much I love gardening. I potted the marigolds on my back porch and they grew all summer long with beautiful orange petal blooms. This year she was able to get another pack of marigolds from the local nursery and so she brought them over for me to plant again. It's been a little weathered. There's been some wind and light rain during the daytime and some cold chills at night. Conditions have not been ideal to grow anything right now. Lately, I've been setting my plants out in the daytime, weather permitting, and then when it's night, I take the plants back into the house where it's warm.

When I got the marigolds, they were bone dry. I felt down into the planter, and there was little to no moisture. The plants were starting to slump over with loss of turgor pressure. The neighbor lady is pretty good at growing her own garden. Last year she had quite a collection of garden grown fresh tomatoes and peppers. This year she confessed to me that she would not be growing a garden, that they had other plans for the summer. Instead of storing all of their seeds for another year, they gave me quite a few packs of organic basil, organic cilantro, and organic tomatoes. She also gave me a few starters for her spearmint. There's nothing better in the summer than walking out to a deck and smelling the fragrance of fresh mint. I will grow all of those, but I think I will wait for the weather to get better before I start any kind of major gardening.


Marigolds, however, are very resilient. They can take all kinds of weathering so I will plant them now. They have a short life cycle of blooming and seeding. Last year I re-planted marigold seeds two and three times in the summer. As the flowers on the marigold bloom and dry out and die, they leave seeds in their center that can be planted and regrown. Now I'm going to demonstrate my potting skills.

Squeeze the bottom of the carton and sides to loosen the roots from the container walls.

Each marigold plant will slide out.  As you can see these plants have roots that have been heavily embedded against the plastic wall of the container.  The soil contains pearl lite in it and has been compressed down.  The soil flaked apart because it was dry.  This actually made it ideal for transplanting into a new pot.

I previously had a little gardenia tree in this light green pot.  The gardenia I had was shipped in from the Northwest from Northern California, and it died.  I know for a fact that gardenias can live in the Southwest, but certain strains of gardenias are highly particular about the alkaline composure of the water.  The more I watered this particular gardenia, the faster it died.  It's incredible how sensitive plants can be to the chemical composure of water.  I've heard that you can put Epsom salt into the water and then it will help balance out the water composure for a gardenia.  I did not try it.  The gardenia was already on it's way out.  I let it go.  Sadly, the gardenia died.  I kept the pot from last year, but I had no idea what I would plant in it until today.  That's why this pot, for the most part was ready to go.

I dug a hole into the center of the pot to make room for the marigolds.  I placed each marigold plant into the center, pushing and breaking apart the soil so that each plant would be integrated into the new potting soil.  I pushed all of the plants together into one space.  I added more fresh potting soil and packed the marigolds down.  Eventually these plants will spread apart.  My main concern with them being repotted is that the marigolds might go into shock and die.  Most of the times this never happens.  Marigolds can handle all kinds of hardships.  Still it's important to be gentle with them when repotting.

After I planted the marigolds, I watered them generously.  I think they were very thirsty because the next morning, I felt the soil, and it was dry again.  For some reason these roots must have needed a good watering.  Another day or so they might have dried out and died.  I know what I'm doing though.  I've grown marigolds before.  Last year my flower petals were orange, but these crimson colored flowers are much more bright red and beautiful.  I will treasure them because this summer there will be more and more blooms of marigolds as they seed out and grow again and again.  I'm happy to see these lovely pots growing on my back porch.

Thank you taking time out of your busy schedule to read.  Follow me on twitter and add me on Facebook.  Enter your email and subscribe in the upper right corner so that you never miss a post.  I now have bloglovin so if you are on bloglovin too, give my blog some love.  Thanks again for reading and have a great day.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

3-Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Instead of spending all kinds of money on store bought Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies, why not make them at home?  If you make Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies at home, you know they are freshly made. You can serve your cookies warm out of the oven. Once you see how easy it is to make at home, I think you will agree with me that this is one of the quickest, most fail proof recipes around.  I'm going to teach you how to do it step by step.

3-Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies


1lb 0.5oz Duncan Hines Signature Spice Cake box mix (Moist) USE ALL
1lb 13oz Pure Pumpkin 100% USE HALF THE CAN
11.5oz bag Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Chips Milk Chocolate USE HALF THE BAG

(To make a double batch, just buy an extra box mix of Spice Cake and mix all of the ingredients.)
I opened the Spice Cake mix and poured it into a bowl.

I added half of the can of 100% Pure Pumpkin.


If you would like to buy a smaller can of pumpkin, it would need to be half the size of this so probably about 18.5 oz. can of 100% Pure Pumpkin.

I used half a bag of Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Chips (Milk Chocolate).

Our three ingredients are in the mixing bowl, and it's time to stir it up.

The cookie batter still has a lot of lumps of cake mix.  It's okay if it is lumpy, just keep stirring with the spoon and the cookie batter will even out.


This is about the right consistency.  The cookie batter should be a little thick and creamy.  The chocolate chips should be evenly dispersed, not too much on one side.
I spooned the cookie batter onto the cookie sheet.  The cookie sheet doesn't need to be greased.  No cooking spray is needed.  Just place the cookies onto a bare cookie sheet.  To make sure that each cookie has good form, spoon each cookie is round in shape, about the same proportion.  Bake on 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  My cookies took exactly 20 minutes.

After we pulled these out of the oven, we immediately took them off the baking sheet and placed them onto a plate.  3-Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies turn out light and fluffy.  Except for the chocolate chips, the cookies are not very sweet.  I think without the chocolate chips, regular pumpkin cookies would be plain.  I like plain, don't get me wrong, but I have to get kids to like the cookies.  I think that the chocolate chips are vital to getting the thumbs up from the kids, and to win a kid approval. 
3-Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies only have three ingredients.  How hard is that to remember when you go to pick up groceries? Easy...  All of the ingredients are packaged and store well.  If you have these on hand in your cupboards, you can always make cookies. With only twenty minute cook time, I'm sure 3-Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies could be made in under 30 minutes. I think bakers will find this recipe to be very convenient.  Keep reading. Subscribe.  Like us on Facebook and add us on Twitter

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Lissa's Vegan Banana Julius

We bought bananas at the store, but had no idea what to do with them.  Bananas are full of potassium and great for the digestive system.  They are loaded with carbs and are great for weight loss.  Bananas make you feel fuller, and if put together right, bananas taste so good.  We decided in the morning that we wanted to make a shake with our bananas.  Some people really do not like bananas.  This recipe is for the disbelievers, the banana haters, the ones that find bananas repulsive will change their mind.  I think that people that dislike bananas are the ones that live in dryer climates, where bananas quickly go bad.  The way to keep bananas fresh is to chill them.  If that means freezing or blending with ice, it keeps the bananas ripe.  The other thing I think that banana haters don't like about bananas is the flavor.  If bananas can be kept fresh and subtle, they become more appealing.

 Lissa's Vegan Banana Julius


2 Bananas
2 cups Ice
3/4 cup Unsweetened Coconut Almond Milk
3/4 cup Orange Juice
1/2 cup C&H Sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
Cinnamon sprinkled on top to taste (optional)
Alcoholic version for adults (optional): 3-4 shots of Rum

Peel the bananas and remove the brown spots.  Only put the ripe parts into the blender.  Place the following ingredients into a blender: bananas, ice, coconut almond milk, orange juice, sugar (optional), vanilla, and rum (optional).

Bananas and Ice

Add the Unsweetened Coconut Almond Milk.

Add the Orange Juice and Vanilla.
Optional add the sugar and rum.

Pour the Vegan Banana Julius into a martini glass.

Add Cinnamon to the top of the Vegan Banana Julius if you prefer.

The first time I made this Banana Julius, it was too sweet.  In this recipe, I made the sugar optional.  I know some people do not prefer sugar in their food.  The orange juice is naturally sweet, and so the sugar to this recipe can definitely be reduced, and in some cases omitted.  I think a little sugar is needed for flavor so I have listed it as an ingredient.  The level of sweetness is totally up to the cook.

I got a thumbs up from Nicole so this recipe is kid approved.  When I tasted it, I think the orange juice over powered the banana flavor.  I could not taste any banana.  If there is any banana flavor, it's very mild.  The cinnamon I added on top had the most flavor.  Cinnamon is great for weight loss, lowering blood pressure, and is said to prevent arthritis and type 2 diabetes.  So add the cinnamon on top, stay healthy and drink up.  This recipe tastes great and is good for you.  Cheers everyone!