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Happy Easter everyone! I have a brand new recipe for you! Not only is this Strawberry Cake an Easter treat, but it can be used for any occasion! This sweet treat will leave you jumping for more.
2 cups of white sugar
1 three ounce packet of strawberry flavored Jell-O
1 cup of butter, softened
2 3/4 cups of sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup of whole milk (room temp)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 a cup of strawberry puree from frozen sweetened strawberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and dry strawberry gelatin mix, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir into the batter alternately with the milk. Blend in vanilla and strawberry puree. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.
Bake for 25-30 minutes in oven, or until a small knife inserted to the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in their pans over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before tapping out to cool completely.
This recipe is so easy, and scrum-diddly-umptious! I hope you can enjoy this treat with close family, or friends! I hope you have an egg-cellent Easter!
Kid’s Corner By: Kaila, 12
Posted in Food | March 27 th , 2016 | 0 Comments
Easter Bunny Bread
This golden brown, soft Easter Bunny Bread filled with dip is irresistible. Be sure to position yourself closest to the ears so you can nab one when you give the go-ahead! My kids LOVE to help make this bunny every Easter! It has been a tradition in our family since 2005. I love to keep the magic alive!
EASTER BUNNY BREAD
Approximately 2 pounds homemade bread dough [or 2 loaves (1 pound each) frozen bread dough, thawed]
2 pieces of dried fruit (raisins, currants, cherries, blueberries, etc…)
1 egg, beaten
Your favorite dip
Vegetable sticks or florets (carrots, celery, cucumbers, pea pods, cauliflower, broccoli, etc…)
Cut your ball of dough into two pieces that are approximately 1 pound each.
Set one piece aside.
Cut about ¼ off of the remaining hunk of dough.
Roll the piece into a ball and then flatten slightly on a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet to form the bunny’s head.
Roll the other ¾ of the dough piece into a ball and flatten into a large oval that is about 6-inches across. This will be the bunny’s body.
Place the body directly below (and in contact with) the head on the cookie sheet.
Cut the second dough ball into four equally sized pieces and roll into balls.
Roll two of the pieces into long, snaky ropes (about 15 or so inches long) and then fold the ropes in half.
Place on either side of the head as ears and tuck the ends slightly under the head.
Take a third dough ball, split into two equally sized pieces and roll into balls.
Position one ball on either side of the base of the bunny’s body like back paws.
Use a bench knife or butter knife to cut two slits at the outside edges of the back paws to form bunny toes. What? They have toes.
Divide the last remaining portion of bread into 3 equally sized pieces.
Roll two of the pieces into balls and place against either side of the upper third of the bunny’s body to serve as front paws.
Take the remaining dough and cut off ¼ of the dough.
Roll the tiny piece into a ball and position on the bunny’s head to serve as the nose.
Cut the final piece of dough into two equal pieces.
Roll those pieces into balls and position under the nose for the bunny’s cheeks.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy and almost doubled in bulk (about an hour in a warm room.)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Remove plastic wrap, brush lightly with beaten egg and push the two pieces of dried fruit into the bunny’s head for it’s eyes.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the bunny is golden brown.
Let rest on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Transfer the cooled bunny bread to a serving platter.
Cut a hole equal to the size of the bowl you will use for your dip from the belly of the bunny.
Set the bowl of dip down into the bunny bread.
Arrange vegetable sticks and crudités around the bunny and serve!
You can, alternatively, line the hole in the bunny’s belly with lettuce leaves, or a hollowed out bell pepper and put the dip directly into it. I like to put the dip into a bowl and then place it in the bunny belly; you can better salvage any leftover dip after the bread is devoured! This would also be preferable if you think you may have leftover bread.
Posted in Food | March 25 th , 2016 | 0 Comments
Tolerance vs Empathy
After writing the post from Tuesday, I found myself pondering over another question; tolerance vs empathy. Is there a difference? Are they the same thing? Do they work together? To some, tolerance vs empathy can be confusing or challenging. I have tried to answer my question, but I do not feel like a definite answer can be found. Let me explain.
The definition of tolerance at Merriam-Webster Online states:
1: capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina
2 a: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own b: the act of allowing something : toleration
3: the allowable deviation from a standard; especially : the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece
4 a (1): the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure tolerance to painkillers>; also : the immunological state marked by unresponsiveness to a specific antigen (2): relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor b: the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that may lawfully remain on or in food
The definition of empathy on Merriam-Webster Online states:
1: the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it
2: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this
I think there is a moral obligation, to allow mutual respect and consideration between people; tolerance. Tolerance has to exist in order for conflicting beliefs, values and ideas to coexist, of course as long as they fit within acceptable moral values. This is where I see empathy and tolerance working together. In order to have tolerance for someone else, I think you have to put yourself in his or her shoes. How would you feel if you were being judged for the color of your skin for example? Another example; due to empathy, we as a society are intolerant of child abuse.
Carl Jung once said “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
I think that empathy reduces conflict. When we spend our time trying to understand how someone is feeling, we are less in our head or thinking. It provides an opportunity to get in touch with our emotions and come from the heart. Anytime we can come from the heart in our relationships we reduce conflict and deepen connections, even when we have to tolerate another’s beliefs, values or ideas. Empathetic tolerance is what I see it as. Not sure that is a clinical term, or if many will think of it as conflicting, but I think that they have to work together to make relationships stronger.
Posted in Health & Wellness | March 24 th , 2016 | 0 Comments
What is empathy?
As a parent, one of the most important traits that should be instilled in children is empathy. So what is empathy? According to psychologytoday.com, “Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. Empathy is known to increase prosocial (helping) behaviors. While American culture might be socializing people into becoming more individualistic rather than empathic, research has uncovered the existence of “mirror neurons,” which react to emotions expressed by others and then reproduce them.” Now lets explore more deeply into empathy.
There are three types of empathy. The first is a form of empathy that allows one to take the perspective of another. This is being able to see things from another’s point of view. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It is important to better understand where someone is coming from, but it’s not what we typically think of as empathy. My favorite way to explain this to the kids is to treat others the way you want to be treated, The Golden Rule. This principle is widely accepted or practiced in many cultures or faiths across the world. It can be used to manage conflicts quite well.
A second type of empathy, is one that is represented by personal distress, literally. Personal distress is literally feeling another’s emotions. When you are watching a scary movie, and you start to feel afraid with a character, that is personal distress in action. You are actually feeling the other person’s emotion through a process called “emotional contagion.” The actor, or another person, is actually “infecting” you with their emotion. We all experience personal distress, but too much of it may not be a good thing. Some people are so prone to feeling other’s emotional states, that they are ‘distressed’ by it.
The third type of empathy is known as empathic concern. This type is what we most often think about when we hear the term “empathy.” It is the ability to recognize another’s emotional state, feel in tune with that emotional state, and if it is a negative/distressful emotion, feel and show appropriate concern. I see it as validating and recognizing how someone is feeling. For instance, when my son doesn’t want to go to bed, and starts to throw a tantrum, I can empathize with him. I can respond by telling him that I know ‘it’s really hard to stop playing, and put your toys away, and you wish you had more time, but getting a good nights sleep is important.’ He responds to that much better than being demanded to go to bed. I recognize that he is tired, but that he is trying to use every ounce of energy left to play as long as possible, and wants to control his bed or play time!
Whenever I succeed at showing empathy something else happens. It not only shows my children that I love them, it also teaches me something about loving them. It allows me a chance to step into their shoes and realize that a lost toy is a huge deal in their world and mind. Without empathy, we communicate to our children that their feelings and emotions don’t matter. That is the last lesson I want to be teaching any one.
Posted in Health & Wellness | March 22 nd , 2016 | 0 Comments
Gluten Free Crispy Fish Fillets
Gluten Free Crispy Fish Fillets with Lemon-Dill Aioli
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (my favorites are Glutino or 4C brand)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 (6-ounce) skinless cod (halibut and tilapia are an option too) fillets
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola mayonnaise (such as Hellmann’s)
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Preheat broiler to high.
Place egg whites in a shallow dish. Combine gluten free breadcrumbs, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder in a shallow dish. On a side note, I occasionally add a little dried dill to this breadcrumb mixture. I’m a big dill fan. Sprinkle fish evenly with pepper and salt. Dip each fillet in egg white, then dredge in gluten free breadcrumb mixture; place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.
Combine mayonnaise, pickle, lemon juice, garlic powder, and dill. Serve with fish fillets, lemon wedges and your favorite steamed vegetable. This is such a yummy dish! Enjoy!
Posted in Food | March 20 th , 2016 | 0 Comments
When I came across this article on MindBodyGreen.com, I was shocked to read the headline and actually had to read it a few times! It was an avocado surprise to me! I had never, ever, considered the fact that you can eat the avocado pit or seed! Yes, I said the seed!! The following is a direct excerpt from the article on MindBodyGreen.com, and I will be trying the avocado pit smoothie for sure! The curiosity is killing me! Mind blown.
It comes as no surprise that avocados are incredibly healthy, but did you know that the pit houses most of its antioxidants? That’s right — the part that you have been throwing away! By consuming it, you will reap the following benefits:
- It acts as a digestive aid. Because the pit is high in soluble fiber, your GI tract will love it.
- The fiber will alsokeep you feeling full, thereby diminishing cravings.
- Considering the pit is full of antioxidants, it willkeep your skin glowing. In fact, it can even repair cell damage caused by free radicals and rebuild collagen.
- A phytochemical known as flavonol is found in the seed, which mayreduce tumor growth.
- A study conducted by Pennsylvania State University found that the avocado seeds may improve high cholesterol and even help in the treatment of hypertension and diabetes.
- It contains several nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
In order to utilize these nutritious powerhouses, you can either blend them up in your smoothies or grate them and then sprinkle them on top of your salads or other food. If you do not have a high-powered blender, you can grind the pit into a fine powder using a food processor. Because the seed tastes bitter, it is best to pair it with strong flavors. You may want to just utilize half of the pit at a time for a single-serve smoothie.
Delicious Avocado Pit Smoothie
- 2 cups almond milk
- 1 cup frozen blueberries
- 1½ medium banana
- 1 avocado pit or avocado pit powder
- 1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder of choice
- 5 drops essential orange oil (optional)
In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend on a medium-high setting for a minute. Enjoy!
Posted in Food | March 19 th , 2016 | 0 Comments
I love inspirational quotes! I am sure it is obvious by some of my posts. Today, I came across one that gave me some weekend inspiration! After two week of illness in the house, I’m feeling better, and ready to tackle things I have fallen behind on. The quote also sparked thoughts inside about the future and where I want to go, and where I want to be. There is a list of things in life that I am ready to achieve. Getting my goals set, making a strategy to reach them, and giving myself reminders, I feel I can achieve those goals. I guess that is why I love these quotes so much. The wisdom others share, can spark a fire in another. That is powerful! Seeing someone else achieve the things in life they want, or even if they don’t, but continue trying, is inspirational to me. The attitude you carry through all your trials, good or bad, define you as a person. You can either choose to let things get you down, or you can see the lesson and move forward. That’s not to say that you cannot feel defeated every once in a while, but it’s whether or not that defeat keeps you down, or lifts you up to put that drive inside you into full gear! Let’s choose the later! I hope that this Nora Roberts quote will give you some inspiration of your own. You control your destiny.
IF YOU DON’T GO AFTER
WHAT YOU WANT, YOU’LL
NEVER HAVE IT. IF YOU
DON’T ASK, THE ANSWER
IS ALWAYS NO. IF YOU
DON’T STEP FORWARD
YOU’RE ALWAYS IN THE
Posted in Health & Wellness | March 18 th , 2016 | 0 Comments
Happy St Patrick’s Day
Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone! I decided to look up the history of St Patrick’sDay and to my surprise, learned some things I was not aware of! According to history.com “Every year on March 17, the Irish and the Irish-at-heart across the globe observe St. Patrick’s Day. What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green.
The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade was held not in Ireland but in New York City in 1762, and with the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread.” I would never have imagined the St Patrick’s Day parades began in New York! Makes a lot more sense to me now why, when I was in New York in 2006, the St Patrick’s Day parade was huge and crowded! A very fun celebration in deed!
In celebration of everything green, I am posting a favorite green drink to honor your health! To help keep you on track, or get you started, on a healthy life style, try this delicious green smoothie. Clean, green and full of fiber, potassium, vitamin C and folate, this smoothie is high in electrolytes and cleanses the skin, kidneys and liver! The apples contain pectin, which is a great form of fiber that may reduce cholesterol levels too. Make sure you use organic produce to reduce your exposure to the harmful pesticides! It will defeat the health benefits, in my opinion, if you do not use fresh organic produce! ENJOY!
3 celery sticks
Juice of one lemon
Small handful parsley
1 C coconut water
1/4 C mint leaves
handful of kale or spinach
Wash all produce well. Chop ingredients and blend in a high powered blender until smooth. Serve, enjoy and Happy St Patrick’s Day!
Posted in Food | March 17 th , 2016 | 0 Comments
Walking meditation can be just as profound and enlightening as sitting meditation. It helps bring strong awareness to the body and to physical sensations around you. We are not talking about a difficult walk or hike, but simply a walking space that gives you peace and quiet to be mindful and meditate. As has been discussed a few ties now, there are different methods or techniques to meditate. Choosing the one or maybe more methods, that keep you consistently practicing is key. Here is what I mean by walking meditation:
Choose a small, flat path on which to walk back and forth, preferably no more than 10 paces in each direction. I prefer to be outside, as you get the physical sensations from the sun, the wind, the sounds of nature. But if indoors is all you can find, it is just fine.
Before you start moving, stand still for a few moments and consciously bring your attention into your body. Breathe. Notice the sensations of your feet on the ground, the clothes on your body, and the sun and the wind on your skin.
Now, begin walking as slowly as you can while still feeling natural. Keep your attention within the body. When the attention drifts to outside sights or thoughts, which it will, gently bring it back to the movement in the lower half of your body – the soles of your feet on the ground, the bending and extending of the knee and the curl of your toes. For me I add the rhythm of my steps, rhythm of my pace with my breathing.
The simple act or exercise of stepping from foot to foot naturally creates a meditative state. I find a rhythm in my walk, which helps bring that calming state sooner. This state calms the mind and cultivates sharper awareness. Walking meditation can be a fantastic way to bring mindful attention to every part of the day. As I have previously discussed, you can meditate and be mindful in all that you do – from walking, to work, to cooking, or doing the dishes.
Posted in Meditation | March 16 th , 2016 | 0 Comments
Five Meditation Techniques
Here are five meditation techniques for a beginner or in regular experienced practice:
- Sit or lie in a relaxed position
- Breathe regularly. You breathe in deep enough to get enough oxygen, this will relax you. When you breathe out, you relax your muscles so that your lungs are well emptied, but do not strain to release the air.
- Stop thinking about everyday problems or matters. Clear your mind.
- Concentrate your thoughts on something like a sound, a repetitive word or mantra, or a feeling or concept that you are experiencing or longing for. All of your attention needs to be placed on the object that you have chosen.
- While in that state of concentration, if foreign thoughts try to creep in, you need to stop the thought, and go back to focusing on the object of your meditation.
Those five meditation techniques are the basics of meditation. There are varying techniques based on the degree of concentration and how you handle those foreign thoughts. Some suggest the practice should be to meditate so intensely that no foreign thoughts are allowed to enter at all. Another practice is to allow the concentration is more relaxed so that foreign thoughts enter your session more easily. When you discover or realize the foreign thought has entered, you simply stop, and go back to the intended or pure meditation in a relaxed manner. It helps you refocus and be aware in your meditation.
Posted in Meditation | March 13 th , 2016 | 0 Comments