Thursday, February 26, 2015

Slow Cooker Chinese BBQ Pork

Oh my!  This recipe was a huge hit!  Jenan declared it the best pork she has eaten made by me.  I have a ton of good pork recipe.  I do have to agree with her though.  We only have one serving left, and Patrick got to take for lunch. Lucky Duck!  Or should I say “Lucky Porker”

The recipe used two new ingredients or new to me – Chinese 5-Spice Powder and Fish Oil. I am not a fan of fish.  While you read my blogs you will notice that I don’t post fish recipes. I like shrimp and scallops but that is it.  But meals with shrimp or scallops, I order from restaurants, because I haven’t mastered cooking them without them being tough.  The 5 Spice smells so fragrant and reminded me of cookie baking, since it is blend of anise, cinnamon, ginger, star anise and cloves.  I was nervous about the Fish Oil, but I couldn’t taste in the pork.  Both items I would use again. Not so scary any more.

The only change I would do next time is shred the pork like the recipe says, and let it cook one hour more. That way the pork can soak up the sauce!  I also might try the recipe substituting chicken boneless, skinless breasts and thighs.  We eat a lot of chicken!

Here is the delicious recipe:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I am a planner - my life, our goals and weekly meals. Sometimes when I feel super industrious I plan our meals for a month.  That takes 2 days to plan and another 2 days to shop. I will explain how I do a monthly planning in another posting.  If I don't plan the week is seriously messed up, and/or we go out to eat. Horrors! We love going out to eat, but the food jar empties very quickly.

After having a horrible month with the crud and bronchitis ripping through my family, we are finally getting back to our schedule including Jui Jutsu at night. On Saturday I planned our meals for this week, and shopped at Walmart and Ralph's on Sunday.  To keep me honest, I will post our weekly meals every Sunday. Sorry this post will be two days late. I am copying so many other blogs that post the weekly meals. It probably keeps them honest too. Sooner or later I will learn how to highlight the meals and you can click the recipe that sounds good and get it.  I will also tell you where I got the recipe because create all of them. I am better at tweaking a recipe I found some place to my family's taste.

Monday's and Wednesdays are a little bit crazy because I tutor in Desert Hot Springs in the evening. I usually take Shane and Jenam to Jui Jutsu; stay for a little bit; go to tutor; and return to Jui Jutsu to get the kids; and go home to eat. Craziness!  

Here we are . . . The weekly meal plan

Sunday - Beef and Barley Soup. The recipe came from Taste of Home
Monday - Slow Cooker Chinese BBQ Pork with rice. The recipe came from The Stay at Home Chef.
Tuesday - Leftovers from Sunday
Wednesday - Slow Cooker Tortellini Spinach Soup. The recipe came from Gracie Road.
Thursday - Grilled Meatballs with Rice and cauliflower
Friday - Shrimp Stir Fry with Vegetables and Fried Brown Rice
Saturday - Swiss Mushroom Chicken with Broccoli Cheese Rice

Reading the menu I see that we eat a ton of rice.  I prefer flavored rice but my family likes to eat i plain.  Boring!  Give me some flavor like yellow or fried. Much better!

By the way Monday’s pork was “Da Bomb” definitely a keeper.  Jenan declared it the best pork recipe that I made.  That is saying something because I have a ton of yummy pork recipe. I will post the recipe later this week.

I need to sign off now, but I have lost part of this post three times, and I don’t want a fourth!  Have a great day!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Plans for the Future

We decided to move when the kids get out of High School.  So we have another 7 and half years here in the desert. I know I said we plan on moving soon within 1 or 2 and a half years when now, but those plans have changed. Like when you make a big life altering plan, God laughed at it and throws a thunderbolt at your plans. Patrick and I have experienced that, but that is a whole other story or book.

Last week we were at a Mountain Gate, our housing complex, sponsored Wine and Cheese and we talked to Peggy about moving soon. What she said made us change our mind, or put off our moving plans.  She suggested not moving after Jenan is Freshman. Peggy’s family moved when her sister was a Senior in High School.  Her sister hated it. I believe she has a rough time adjusting.  

Three years when we left St. Theresa’s to Katherine Finchy, Jenan adjusted pretty well. Within a week she had friends who had similar interests like reading long books and less sport minded.  Shane didn't. It took him a good six months to be happy at Finchy. Thankfully in Third Grade he was placed in the GATE class and he excelled. He is happy now, but those six months it was heart-wrenching until he adjusted to the new school.

Patrick and I have been working our kids not hating us like we did our parents.  We listen, and enjoyed their thoughts and reasons for doing something. Our parents wanted us quiet and submissive, which we strive to not be like. That is why we decided to wait.

Also, that gives us more time to explore where we are moving to.  7.5 years to pay off the debt; explore states and maybe countries; and save to buy a house with land.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Italian Meatball Soup

Happy Tuesday!

I have challenged myself to write more.  My family wants me to write about having Moya Moya Syndrome and how I deal with it now and my experiences in the past. Patrick and I will have to work on that together. They are some things I don't remember that much, like my 10 days in UCLA's ICU. I recall watching the finale of Friends.  How random! That will be a work in process.  Also, I would like to record his feelings and concerns even Jenan's thoughts. Shane was an infant so he recalls nothing of that time period. That will be a different post or many postings. 

Well . . . I love cooking and trying out new recipes or ones that I have changed.  This soup recipe I improved on, because it sounded good but could be much better. The problem I had with it, it used too much plain water. Why have plain water when you can add broth or bouillon cubes to the water? And more veggies? These is a cooking tip after the recipe, so read until the end!

Here is my Italian Meatball Recipe. It is definitely a "Keeper". 

Slow-Cooker Italian Meatball Soup
By Paula Cameranesi
(Adapted from a Pillsbury Recipe)

1 bag (16 oz) frozen cooked Italian meatballs, slightly thawed
2-3/4 beef flavored broth. I used hot water with bouillon
½ cup of frozen spinach
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, undrained
1 can (19 oz) cannellini (white) beans, drained
1/3 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese

·         Use 3 to 4 quart slow cooker.
·         Mix all ingredients except the cheese in the cooker.
·         Cover; cook on low heat setting 8 to 10 hours

·         Garnish individual servings with cheese.

**I always have bouillon cubes or granules in my cupboard.  It is much cheaper than having broth cans or containers. For one cup of broth, you used 1 cup of hot water with one cube or 1 teaspoon of granules  Voila!  You have broth. Easy, peasy! Lemon, queasy!As my tutoring kids say**

Talk to you soon

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Pat and I have itchy feet. When we are like to this, we either go on a trip (France) or move (El Salvador and Bahrain).  Move is the answer now.  It all comes down to not wanting to live in the desert any more.  Today is supposed to be 82 degrees and that is the forecast for the week. Really? It is February, and I had to turn on the A/C yesterday.  I hate that bill.  I do love the 60’s and 70’s with the windows and doors open.My brain works the best at those temperatures.  I can tell when the temperature in the house is 79 and higher – super sensitive! So why do we live here? Good question! Living here has been good, but we need to move on. 

We are planning on moving in a year and half, or two and half, to who knows where.  Eastern Oregon and Washington, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming are looking good.  It all depends where Pat can get a job.   My kids and I will get our pension no mater where we live, which is nice. I still want New Zealand, but if something happens globally we think we need to be in the States. I am determined to revisit New Zealand and Australia in my lifetime.

What do I want?  Good question and it is has been rattling around my brain and in my thoughts lately.  Here is my list:
  • ·         Land and a House
  • ·         Garden
  • ·         Chickens and a Goat – eggs and goat cheese. Yum!
  • ·         Pretty
  • ·         Four Seasons – what a thought!?!  Not nice, straight to hot, hotter and hottest
  • ·         NO DESERT – I am done with this heat.  We have been living in heat for 18 years between here (beastly hot); Bahrain beastly hot and HIGH humidity with no rain; and El Salvador hot and humid with rain.  Give me a little snow and rain – blessed rain!
  • ·         Ability to travel – again I want to return to New Zealand and Australia
  • ·         Lower Cost of Living
  • ·         Family Oriented
  • ·         Trees
  • ·         Rain and Snow
  • ·         Safe
  • ·         Basement and a Porch
  • ·         Fireplace with is wood burning
  • ·         Nature for hiking and camping with a cot for me to sleep

My wants are not too much.  I would love to have a lower cost of living.  That would mean paying off our credit card quickly and save for travel again.
We do have plans for a road trip this summer to visit Oregon, Washington, Idaho and probably Utah.  The dogs will be at Heather and Billy’s house so we don’t have to worry about them.  Thank God for awesome friends and neighbors to watch the house. 
I think am done ranting for today.   I still need to finish my Valentine cards – I know late!

Friday, January 2, 2015



That is our word for the year – Healthy!  Healthy weight, life, cooking, bank account and the list goes on.  Today marks a good day – we paid off our personal loan.  Yeah!  Now we start on the credit card and save for a house and/or a trip.  Hopefully both.  We also want to look for another place to live. I mean out of Palm Springs.  Right now we don’t know where, but we want seasons and land. Pat wants Oregon, Idaho, and Montana or somewhere in that region. I want New Zealand or Australia.  I just want what is best for us and the family.

I am making changes in my life that will help center me on my focus.  Again it is Healthy, so I want to start walking, drinking water and eating better: more veggies and fruits, and less cheese. I also stop selling Close to My Heart.  My heart is not into it any more. I will continue being crafty, but more selfish.  I want to focus on my family’s scrapbook and cards to the rest of my family. We have been to so many marvelous places and met great people, but it is not in a book.  I am making it so. I will continue tutoring though, but only take the clients I like.  I am getting selective now. 

I am now focusing on photography – taking great pictures.  I started taking a photo a day through an app called Little Moments by Fat Mum Slim.  They give me a prompt a day and I upload the picture every day to the site and FB, and now to my blog. Here is my picture today. It is to be “something yellow”, and I chose the lemons on our tree outside.