Friday, February 25, 2011

Visits from Heaven

I woke up this morning thinking about my dad... It's been a while since he's visited me (over two years- I was pregnant with IZ) and I can't help but wonder. How is he doing? Does he come around often? Has he seen my kids? What does he think of the life I lead? What would our relationship be like now? Would he have gotten the proper help he needed to fully recover... with the support of his now adult children?

The first time he visited me in a dream, it had been less than a year since he'd been gone. I was living in my apartment with my roommates Brian and Stephanie. I remember specific things about the dream. The setting was my 5th Birthday party on Stanridge in Lancaster. We were in the house and everyone was sitting on the calico colored carpet, playing a party game. The walls were very white and plain around us. I knew others were there but did not see them directly. My dad was sitting straight across from me. We made eye contact, and in my mind, I couldn't understand why I was seeing him. I kept telling myself he was gone... how is it possible for him to be here?? Thats when I knew it wasn't just a dream! It felt so real! I believe it to be a real meeting, straight from heaven. I didn't touch or smell him, but we met eyes, and I knew it was really him! He was stopping by to console my pain of his passing. Waking up that morning, I was in full blown hysterics. I wanted him to hold me, but knew that wasn't possible. Even though I was so upset, I knew he was with me and seeing his face was the beginning of my healing. The days and months to follow, I longed for another visit. I can't remember how much time had passed, but I did in fact SEE HIM AGAIN...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MNO #2 Feb 19th 2011

First I must say, I have met an amazing group of women! Joining the mom's group was one of the best things I could have done! It's been great for my children, and I'm thankful for the friends I have made for myself! We share similar stories dealing with parenting, marriage, and sometimes recipes, just to name a few! We get together about two times a week for playdates. Some playdates have been at a number of local parks, and often, one of the mommies opens their home, for all of us to play. Coffee and snacks are always provided, including gluten-free stuff for Isabelle!!! The mommies have been super cautious when buying snacks that all the kids can enjoy, which means a lot to me! During the playdates, We take turns running after the kids while the rest of us enjoy a little adult conversation. Everyone I have met has been soooo nice, and I look forward to meeting many more!

One of the monthly activities of the group is a MNO (Mom's Night Out). How important is that!!! Sooooo important! Mommies need their time away from the kids, and getting together with the other women is always a blast! I have only been to two MNO so far but look forward to many, many more!

This month we decided to go to Cafe Firenze located here in Moorpark. For those of you who don't know,  Cafe Firenze is owned by the Top Chef Fabio Viviani. He was the Top Chef Season 5 fan favorite. Very yummy eye candy, and his voice and accent could melt any woman. Ok, ok, back to the night and enough about Fabio lol.... They have a happy hour from 5pm-7pm which happened to work out perfect for all of us! I was a little disappointed there wasn't any food on the happy hour menu, but you can't beat their $4 martini's! Happy hour is usually only honored at the bar, but the manager was nice enough to let our group of 10 move to the bar tables, with the $4 special. I personally had the pomegranate martini. It was dangerously delicious! We all shared the Calamari E Zucchini, and a vegetable platter. Everyone then ordered dinner. I wasn't super hungry so I decided to order another appetizer. I chose Crostini Di Pancetta. It was delicious and more than enough for one person! I love their food and can't wait to try something new from the menu!

After all of us finished eating, which means it was coming time to return to our families. The company of the other women was more than enjoyable, and I even had the pleasure of meeting a few new members. I can't wait until the next Mom's Night Out!! We will be at a different location next month. I hope the turn out is as great as this evening was! What more could a mom ask for?? Great food, yummy drinks, a little eye candy, and a wonderful group of women to spend some time with!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Melting Pot- Valentine's Day with My hubby

Valentine's Day is a day for LOVE and ROMANCE... What better place to celebrate one another than The Melting Pot (in Thousand Oaks). I've tried for MONTHS to convince my husband to take me there! Growing up, we loved doing fondue as a family! It's not your usual meal. You can choose from a variety of items to cook, sauces to dip, and between sweet or savory. It makes for great conversation and can be an exciting social event! My husband had some weird idea about Fondue. After our date at The Melting Pot, he told me he thought it was something to do with tofu lol. Needless to say, he had a great time and looks forward to going again, YAY!

So on our date, We were seated quickly, and were actually given a semi-private booth which I heard is hard to come by at The Melting Pot. Our server was a little slow at approaching our table, but we were enjoying one another's company, so I didn't mind too much. Our server was great overall! He explained the whole menu to us and how the whole fondue process works. He made great suggestions, and seemed to give his genuine opinion. There was a special Valentine menu, but we decided to go with "The Big Night Out- France," which is a four course meal. It starts with a French style cheese fondue. The cheese fondue is then followed by a salad. We went with the ceasar salad, recommended by our server because of the Parmesan-encrusted pine nuts. The pine nuts were awesome, but I found the salad to be a usual cearar salad. For our main course, we decided to go with the Fondue Fusion which consisted of lobster tail, filet mignon, marinated sirloin, garlic and herb chicken, duck, shrimp, and a variety of vegetables. We substituted the duck for more sirloin. Of course they wouldn't let us have more filet mignon. It was all great!!! There were several sauces available for dipping, two different batters, and we chose to cook our items in oil. We were so full by the end of our main course, we didn't have room for the star... chocolate fondue! Thankfully, they gave us a rain check for a chocolate fondue, so I'm sure we will go again in the near future! 






It couldn't have been a better night out. The grandparents were babysitting, and we got all dressed up! I had never been to The Melting Pot, but I've had fondue several times. Can't wait to go back! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Broccoli and Split Pea Soup

I LOVE making soup!! It's super easy to make, and ALWAYS comes out great! Soup to me is comforting on all occasions, and one of it's greatest qualities is the nutritional value! I usually look up soup recipes from some of my favorite Chefs, and then adapt them into my own. When I first started making split pea soup, I followed the Anderson Split Pea recipe which can be found at this link: http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/232/AndersonsSplitPeaSoup63578.shtml

Over time, I add new ingredients, and try new flavors. This version includes broccoli, which I LOVE! Broccoli has great nutritional value along with it's great taste! Broccoli is high in Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Fiber, Potassium, Folate, and Lutein. Vitamin K is essential for the coagulation of blood which is important for the healing of wounds. If you suffer from a clotting disorder and/or take blood thinners, it's not recommended to eat a lot of broccoli.Vitamin A helps with vision and is required for the immune system, and the production of red blood cells. Broccoli is also high in Vitamin C which contributes to the attack of free radicals one might be exposed to in the environment. Fiber promotes digestive health and can also help lower cholesterol. I hope you enjoy this recipe for it's comforting taste, and it's nutritional value! The Broccoli is only one component I focused on, but many of the ingredients offer vital vitamins and minerals required to maintain a healthy diet! I believe it's important to nourish our body and souls with yummy healthy food! ENJOY!!!

8 cups of low sodium chicken broth
2 cups dried split peas
3 celery stalks chopped
1 medium onion chopped
3 cups broccoli finely chopped
1 ham steak chopped into bite size pieces
6 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon Tabasco Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a stock pot, heat oil on medium heat. Add celery, onion, broccoli, and the ham into the warm oil. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and then the Tabasco Sauce. Stir in the sprigs of fresh thyme. Pour in the split peas to combine with other ingredients. Cover with the chicken broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Sometimes I add a couple cups of water as it's cooking if the soup seems too thick. The starches from the split peas thicken the soup as it cooks. It's a personal preference how thick you want it. Remove whats left of the sprigs of thyme and ENJOY!

For an added bonus, pour some soup over a scoop of brown rice.

Most of the information on broccoli was found at:  http://www.mealsmatter.org/EatingForHealth/FunctionalFoods/Health-Benefits-of-Broccoli/