Just A Little Sweet

27 November 2013

Oh my goodness it's the Eve of my favorite Holiday and I am beyond thrilled. I had to forgo our usual early recipe because I didn't want to make these little beauties twice. Last week I shared a Sweet Potato Cheesecake with you all, but this recipe is more dear to my heart - it's my family's sweet potato pie recipe. This recipe is really for several pies but I broke it down to make just these minis or one regular pie. Like I said before traditionally when growing up I only ate sweet potatoes in pies or candied yams. Now as an adult I love them because they are really tasty in other things too. However nothing gets me salivating like my mom or grandma's sweet potato pie.


If you need any last minute dessert idea I dare you to try this. I am sure you probably have most of the ingredients on hand otherwise you can brave the stores so that this delightful sweet can sit at your Thanksgiving table.


Sweet Potato Pie

INGREDIENTS

Filling
2 cups of Pureed Sweet Potatoes
3/4 cup sugar
4 oz milk*
4 oz butter, softened*
2 eggs*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Crust
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening*
2 tbsp cold water

DIRECTIONS

For the crust: In a medium bowl combine salt and flour. Cut in your shortening with knives or a pastry blender. Do this until your mixture is crumbly. Add water and combine until mixture holds together - be sure to use really cold water.

If for some reason your mixture is too dry you may add an additional tablespoon of cold water.

Roll dough into a ball and then on a lightly floured surface roll dough out. Ideal pie crust should be rolled about 1/8 of an inch thick, but who is measuring? Pinch and turn edge of pie crust as desired in your favorite pie dish.

For the filling: Boil 3-4 medium sized sweet potatoes until soften. Peel back skin and puree flesh with potato masher or paddle in stand mixer. 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In another bowl combine sugar, eggs*, milk*, and softened butter and mix together until thoroughly combined. Next add in your pureed potato and spices continue mix until texture is creamy and smooth. At the very end mix in your vanilla and lemon extract.

Fill your pie crust evenly and bake for 45-60 minutes. Watch your pie carefully when it is golden brown and firm it will be done baking.

Enjoy.
*All ingredients used in this recipe are vegan. Eggs are made from egg re-placer  Butter and shortening is earth balance. Milk is Blue Diamond almond milk. Traditionally this recipe is not vegan feel free to use the same measurements for non vegan ingredients..

As I type this our apartment smells like sweet cinnamony goodness. I am preparing to cook a pot roast for my husbands main course, and I have a large pie cooling on the stove. Besides a time of delicious food I am oh so thankful for a day to be with the man that I love. More than anything I am thankful for a wonderful God who allowed me to be here another year. It's my prayer today that you all to have a fantastic Holiday holding tightly to your faith and the people in your lives. Have a Happy Thanksgiving my friends.


I am not the best pie crust shaper but forget how they looked. These little pies were amazing and a perfect serving for one.

Your Turn: What's your favorite flavor pie tell me below and link me to a recipe if you have one.

The Accident

26 November 2013

A few days ago when my husband was coming home he witnessed a horrific accident. It's really his story to tell but since he doesn't blog and I do I want to share it with you all and of course how it touched me.

As my husband entered the freeway to head home from work two cars were drag racing on the freeway. The car that was immediately behind my husband swerved to avoid hitting him and as he passed my husband the car rolled over five plus times. Their car came to a stop by crashing into a big box store that was near the freeway. The female passenger was ejected through the windshield, but praises to God was walking around after getting off the ground between the car and the store. She was a bloody mess but said that she felt fine and was worried about her boyfriend, he was the driver of the car and was unconscious but breathing - they were teenagers. My husband tried to keep her calm by reassuring her that help was on the way. He asked her what happened and she said that they were racing and couldn't break fast enough to avoid hitting a black car (my husband's vehicle) so they went around and that's when the car flipped. According to the girl, the car that was racing with them kept going.


Her boyfriend was severely injured and my husband stayed at the scene until help arrived trying to talk him into consciousness. He called me after the ambulance had arrived to let me know he would be late. I felt panicked wondering if he was truly okay after he assured me that he was I prayed with him and when we got off the phone I prayed again for him.

Accidents like this remind me that we can be here one day but gone the next. More than anything this accident reminded me that God answers my prayers every single day that my husband returns home to me. God is sovereign, he protects us, provides for us, and loves us so deeply. As I was replaying my husbands words in my head I can't help but think of how close he came to be more than a witness to the accident. I can't help but praise God for sparing his life. I can only sing praises of how good God truly is. In this month of working on praying with my husband more we have been through so many small feats but this accident was a testament to how far we have come - before I could think to call anyone to share the news I first talked to God. While my husband was on the accident scene I prayed and praised God for his life, I prayed for the teenagers that were involved, and I prayed for a safe return home. The power of prayer calmed my soul and I felt the worry wash away. Honestly there was absolutely no point to worry because there was nothing I could do, my hands were tied and I could only believe wholeheartedly that my God would care for him.

When he came home a hour and a half later I also just looked into his eyes and realized that he is a manifestation of my prayers. I am so grateful to God for this prayer journey I have been on, most of all I am grateful that he showed me how many times he's answered prayers for me. Often times we get so caught up on the big prayers that we forget to thank Him for the small ones. Prayer thrust us into the presence of God, and for this event I am sure that is true. Even with all the human error that occurred God worked in the midst of it. My husband talked to a detective today and was told that the guy was critical but alive and that the girl was being treated for her injuries. Even with the girl being ejected out of a car and with the boyfriend having to be pried out of the car with the jaws of life, no one died - isn't God good?

Overall I am just so thrilled at how prayer is working on us both collectively and individually. I am glad to feel connect to God and my husband all at the same time. I am thankful through prayer God has reminded me that I have so much more to be thankful for.

Your Turn: Are you taking any small prayers for granted?

I Lost It Now What?!

25 November 2013

It's been a month since I reached my midterm weight goal and a little over a month since I revealed my weight loss journey on the blog. I am thrilled with the progress to say the least but there have been highs and lows on this journey and I realized there are so many things people never tell you about when you are losing weight. So here is a list of things that I wish I had known before I got started.

The GOOD

Slow and steady wins the race. Crash diets will get you immediate results but most of them do not last forever. Real weight loss does not come without sacrifice of time and food. With slowly losing the weight my metabolism has been able to catch up with my slimmer body.

Pounds may drop faster than you think. With dedication and hard work you may shrink before your own eyes. Within the first few weeks of my new eating habits I saw drastic weight loss between 5-8 lbs a week. I later realized much of this was water but it made me happy still.

Take your measurements.You will notice the changes in your body even when the scale does not go down. Some weeks when the scale did not move but I saw change in my face, waistline, and thighs long before the scale agreed. Often times inches can be a better tell of your weight loss success than the scale.

You will feel like a million bucks. Honestly when I started to hit the double digits in my weight loss things just felt easier. Taking a hike up the stairs or running for the subway train wind me, I wasn't as tired, and I got better sleep at night. I don't know how these things correlate but they did for me.

You can eat it. Most times when we decide to live a healthier lifestyle people will lead you to believe that they never eat anything tasty. I have found tons of healthy recipes that also taste good - but I have not given up on my feel good foods. In effort to continue eating tasty things I have tried to modify really unhealthy recipes to healthier versions. I haven't been unable to modify a few recipes but that does not mean I have given up on those foods. Contrary to popular belief depriving yourself from foods you love is not conducive to long term weight loss. If you like chocolate don't quit on it forever because the minute you have a bad day you will be on a full out chocolate binge. Eat it in moderation or have it as a treat when you are out of the house.

It's all in your head. You probably think that losing weight is all about the physical but I assure you its not. In order to successfully lose weight your mind has to be in the right place. Find your motivation for losing weight and stick with it. I was forced into losing weight several times and although I managed to shed the pounds it was not permanent until I was truly fed up. This time around I didn't lose the weight for a baby, treatments, a wedding, or from family pressure - I did it for me.

I'll wait until the 1st. Even though it sounds great to start a month off fresh with weight loss goals where is it written that you have to wait? Don't buy into the excuses, you can start your journey in the middle of the day, week, month or year - just do it.

Fat is good for you! You may not want it on your body but your body needs fats. So much of the foods today are low fat or no fat - not all fats are bad. Fats help you to think. Fats can help you lose weight. Fats help to break down vitamins for better absorption. Fats give your body energy. Fats are insulation and keep you warm. Fats are cushion they keep your bones from hurting your skin.

The BAD

Clothes won't automatically fit you. You may find yourself in the limbo stage where clothes are both too big and too small. Depending on the amount of weight you loose you may be in for buying a whole new wardrobe before you reach your goal weight. In my case I went from a size 16 to a size 4 pants - I was trying to hold off on buying clothes but there was no way out of it. Side note: Buy pieces that you can switch around to make your wardrobe seem full - for example three pairs of jeans and five shirts. Then you can rotate them. Here is a wonderful post about putting together a basic wardrobe. Also shop bargain stores Ross, TJMaxx, and Marshalls.

Who's that person looking back at me? When you have tons of weight to lose even when you get halfway you often forget how much you have lost. I notice that it took my inside a while to catch up with my outside. There have been a few times that I walk past the mirror and startled myself. I love the way I look it just took some getting used to.

Pounds may go or plateau. Above I mentioned that in the beginning pounds may fall off fairly easy and quickly but a some point everyone reaches a plateau. A plateau is when no matter how hard you are working out or how clean you are eating the scale just doesn't budge. If you know you have been disciplined it's not anything that you have done wrong - sometimes bodies are just stubborn. With time most plateaus work themselves out other times it helps to change up your diet and or workout routine. I have had great success breaking my plateau by taking a break from working out - keep in mind that bodies can be overworked.

There is no I in Team but there is a ME. We all want to have an exercise buddy, someone to keep us encouraged and accountable along the way. I always had a fitness buddy when I was in Florida but when I moved I found myself lacking that connection. When that crutch was ripped from under me I realized that I had to be accountable to myself for the weight loss. Receiving encouragement while on this journey is truly helpful but don't let it become a crutch.

Negative Nellies or Nelsons. It has to be said when you are on a journey to be a healthier version of you some people won't understand. You may even find yourself with a few haters. Yeah I said it and I don't use that word everyday. When I was in the throes of my weight loss journey I received so much criticism. Some people believed their words were encouraging but nevertheless they didn't stop me from continuing on. When you want to be healthy some people will say you look great when you don't feel it. Others may try and force food on you - just take one day at a time and move forward.

I ate some cake now what?! It's inevitable, everyone cheats on their salad with a sweet treat at least once. A cheat won't hurt you but don't make it a habit. There were a few times that I could not resist a cookie and gave in, I felt terrible sometimes both mentally and physically but that served as a reminder of how far I had come.

Sugar is addicting and your body will fight for it. Many people quit in the first few weeks of their diet changes because they aren't told that they will feel horrible. Yes even though within a few weeks you start feeling great the first few weeks of clean eating can be rough. I experienced headaches, a little nausea, and fatigue - in short it's called detoxing. Detoxing is not always pleasant but it will be worth it. After making it through detox I felt like super woman. During the first few weeks of diet changes I recommend that you drink tons of water and get plenty rest. You will make it through. 

It Costs. Eating healthy cost, you may find that buying healthier options like produce whether organic or not cost you a bit more. I complain all the time when I go to Chipotle that my vegetarian bowl cost the same price as my husband's chicken bowl - was that chicken's life worth nothing, haha! Fresh foods will cost you more than boxed items because they perish at a faster rate and take more work to produce. Eating better foods will cost you but medical bills cost more.

Up and Down. When you lose weight don't get so caught up on the number. As women our weight fluctuates depending on what part of our menstrual cycle we are in. When my cycle day one is on its way I can hold between 3-5 lbs of water weight, but after it's passed my weight is right back where I want it to be. To avoid bloating: Avoid salty foods, gassy foods, carbonated beverages, alcoholic drinks, stay hydrated, and don't over indulge in those menstrual cycle cravings.


Trash to Treasure...

24 November 2013

Surprise, yes its Sunday and yes I am blogging! I just wanted to share with you all some last minute Thanksgiving preparation tips. If you have been following this blog long enough you know that I have no problem making one man/woman's trash my treasure. I talk about how I shop second hand in great detail here and here. Last Monday I told you all that I needed a dutch oven but what I didn't say was that I have expensive taste especially when it comes to products that I know I will use very often. I also do tons of research when I know I am about to make a big purchase - I did it with my stand-mixer and my blender. So when I knew I needed a dutch oven I had my eye on the Le Creuset brand. The most disappointing thing about this brand was the price - their smaller ovens start at $275! I knew that at this rate if I was going to purchase one I had to be sure that I wanted it and sure that I had great need for it. I have been mulling over this purchase for more than a year now and finally reach the point where not having a dutch oven was more annoying that paying that ginormous price to get one.

I am a pretty simple girl and I own very few appliances, I made the conscious choice to choose between this and a crock pot. The crock pot loss because I hate having a crowded counter top with too many things to plug in. So as I searched for ovens I saw that no other ovens had a rapport like Le Creuset with its customers. As Thanksgiving approached my mind was slowly going back and forth on if I wanted to spend that type of money. On Tuesday I decided that I needed it and that I would just head over to Williams Sonoma or Sur Le Table and pick it up before I thought any harder. While I was browsing colors on the Williams Sonoma site an idea came up, I thought that I should check Craigslist. I would have only purchased a brand new one there anyhow, not because I think its icky to share pots and pans but because I wanted to be the only one using it to insure it was used properly.


To my surprise I found an ad that had exactly what I was looking for and the bonus - it had not one but two Le Creuset ovens and they wanted $350 dollars. I immediately contacted the seller letting her know I was a serious buyer and would come to pick it up ASAP. She contacted me back within minutes of sending my number, the ovens were still available and she accepted my offer of $300 dollars for both ovens.


I am very happy to say I am now the proud owner of two Le Creuset French Ovens. The ovens were brand new in box with receipt so I was able to exchange them for a color that really suited my kitchen. I have two sizes and my final price was $300 dollar for both ovens. One oven is priced at $275 and the other sells for $325. That would have been a total of $600 dollars for both of these ovens without the tax, I basically bought one and got the other free and I am thrilled!


The moral of this story is to try Craigslist. You might just find the deal of your life waiting there, I know I did. I was able to save that money to put towards buying my own Thanksgiving dinner and dinner for a few needy families as well. If you are in need of anything particular before Thanksgiving search for it now don't waste another minute.


Your Turn: Do you buy second hand? What is your favorite trash to treasure item?

Faithful Friday: Friendship

22 November 2013

There are so many verses in the bible that talk about friendship but even as Christians we can have a hard time keeping friendships going. Friendship is the basis of all relationship - I for one can attest that my mother was my first friend, and part of the struggle in getting to know my father is building a friendship with him. Friendship is so important that even Jesus proclaimed himself as our friend (John 15:5). But as fun as friendship can be it is hard work too - friendships thrive on honesty, trust, and loyalty. Without those components a friendship is sure to fizzle out and I know that from first hand experience.



Let me take you back a bit, I started school when I was 3 years old. From that very moment I embarked on a search for friends. As far as I can remember which is really far, I did not have many friends at that age. It took about 3 more years before I actually made a friend, his name was Barry. As I recall I was not very nice to him and I could not understand for the life of me why he wanted to be my friend. He would sit by me at lunch, share his crayons, and even give me money. One time he came to school and gave me twenty dollars - might not seem like a lot now but for 6 year olds, 20 years ago that was a lot of money. There was also a time that Barry came to a birthday party that I was sharing with my mom's friend's daughter and son. Like I said Barry was the only friend that I had at the time so it meant a lot to me that he was there. Well the party was going great until the other kids' Dad got drunk and started being belligerent. He kicked Barry out of the bounce house because it was supposedly only time for the girls to jump but I didn't know anyone else so I got upset and I didn't like seeing Barry cry. At that very moment I realized how much I cared about him. I did not fully understand the bond that we created, we were friends. Fate does work too well on the side of 6 year olds so the next year for second grade Barry and I were in separate classes - as time went on I saw less and less of him. Eventually it seems as if Barry disappeared.



Over the years making friends was harder and harder for me as I grew and became different from what people would consider the norm. Kids told me that I talked like a "white girl" and that I listened to funny music. I felt alienated and did not know where to fit in. So I began a search for "good friends". People that would not call me cracker or oreo, people that would be nice to me like Barry was, someone to invite to my parties, share my secrets, and to eat lunch with. I needed "good friends". Eventually as I was introduced to extracurricular activities like dance, drama, and art I made tons of friends. Some of my most important friendships happened in high school and I still think about many of my old friends daily - I even dream about them every now and again. After a rocky time making friends in elementary and middle school I became a social butterfly in high school. At this magnet school so many of the kids were like me and didn't find me weird at all. Those high school friendships lasted 4-5 glorious years and then they came to a screeching halt.

Granted it's normal to grow apart and of course the dynamic of our friendships would change because I got married and went to college life was different. But I caused the friendships to fizzle by my lack of being honest. Not only was I dishonest with them but I was also dishonest with myself. Instead of facing the music I ran off like a coward to avoid giving them answers. When approached later about the things I had done I coldly changed subject and never took responsibility for the things I had done or the people I hurt. I told lies to my friends, many of these could have easily been forgiven but I never gave them the chance to forgive me. I was so worried about what people would think of me that I wanted them to see me as better than I felt I was. I didn't want my "good friends" to think I was flawed. I spent so much time seeking "good friends" that I forgot to be one. This was all more than 8 years ago and I could easily blame it being young, but instead of going that route I will say that I was ignorant instead. Ignorant about how friendships were supposed to work. Friendships thrive on honesty, loyalty, caring, and sharing in good times and bad.
There are “friends” who destroy each other,but a real friend sticks closer than a brother ~ Proverbs 18:24 (NLT)
I should have been closer to my friends and not let lies destroy the friendships we'd made. I should have sought forgiveness before the relationship were irreparably damaged. I should have been a "good friend". My days of making friends are surely not over, I have reconciled with all of my friends from high school. Though our friendships are not what they once were its because we are at different stages in our lives. In my current friendships I strive more to be an attentive, loyal, honest, and trustworthy friend. I pray for my friends and encourage them - I share the good and bad parts of my life with them. I am open and honest with them because genuine friendships cannot be based on lies. I've committed  to not being a fair weather friend by being a true friend during good and bad times. Ten years from now I want to look back on my friendships like I did today and I want to see friendships like David and Jonathan (1 Samuel) with me closely resembling Jonathan. Not only am I preparing to be a better friend to people I also seek to be a friend to Jesus. To allow him to take part in my life, to seek his opinions, to share with him, to be honest with him, and to seek his forgiveness. I am now focused on giving the gift of true friendship, I am now seeking to be a good friend.

What kind of friend are you? Is there anything you can do to be a better friend? Is there a person you know that needs your friendship? Tell me in the comments below.

My Side Chicks

21 November 2013


Hey Loves! I want to introduce you all the lovely ladies that have been on our sidebar this month. One thing I love about each of these ladies is that they have hearts to serve our precious God. They are all in different seasons of life but it's so good to have Jesus be our common place. Since I have been celebrating a month of being thankful I have asked them all to tell us what they are thankful for. Please show them some love and hop on over to their blogs to say HEY!!

Suzanne from Just Another Girl 

I am most thankful for my family.  I know that it's a bit of a cliché answer, but it's very true.  I really do appreciate them and the huge roles that each and every family member plays in my life.  I am most thankful for my husband especially.  How someone as great as he is came to play such an important role in my life I'm not sure, but for some reason God saw it best to bless me with him and with all my family.  I am truly thankful! 

You can find Suzanne Here:Blog|Twitter|Email|Pinterest|Bloglovin

Bailey from Becoming Bailey

This year, I'm most thankful for graduating college in December. Although my college career has been so difficult, I'm really thankful for the opportunity to further my education. So many people throughout the world don't have the opportunity to finish high school, let alone attend college. I'm so thankful for the friends I've made and wonderful experiences I've had throughout my college career.

You can find Bailey Here: Blog|Twitter|Facebook|Pinterest

Aimee from Dear Harper Blog

I am thankful for my family, who brings me immeasurable joy daily.  Knowing that I have group of people who will love and support me unconditionally is an amazing feeling.  I am also thankful for a God who bestows His grace upon me daily and makes me new each day.  

You can find Aimee Here: Blog|Twitter|Instagram

Britney from The Quiet Place

I am most thankful for being able to spend thanksgiving with family and friends. I am also thankful for starting Grad school in January and for my  friends who encourage me to be the godly women that he calls me to be.
You can find Britney Here: Blog|Facebook|Twitter|Blog Lovin'|Pinterest|Instagram

Jessica from The Artsy Cajun
This is a tough question to just choose one thing that I am thankful for! Charity really knows how to get our brains working! I guess I am most thankful for my faith. I could go into every little detail of what I’m thankful for that my God provides, but it all boils down to me trusting and relying in my faith. It’s an amazing feeling to know that something that I can not physically touch, hear, or see can bring me so much comfort and security. That’s how great our God is! Without faith, it would be a hard life, and that is why I’m most thankful for my faith!

You can find Jessica Here: Blog|Twitter|Instagram

Your Turn: Tell us what you are thankful for. We'd like to know.

Your Such A Sweet Potato

20 November 2013

Although I love pumpkin there is another orange veggie that steals my heart - sweet potatoes. These yummy veggies are finally get the spotlight in the way of french fries, pancakes, and by being served on the side of a steak. For all of my life we have only eaten sweet potatoes two ways. One way was to candy them for making candied yams, the other way was pureeing them for warm sweet potato pie.

Even though my beloved sweet potato hasn't become popular enough for it's own latte at Starbucks I have given it a starring role in this cheesecake. That's right, Sweet Potato Cheesecake is on the menu in our home this week. Sweet roasted potatoes with just the right amount of cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg have made the perfect delicious recipe.

There is a bit of work in making this cheesecake but I assure you that it is worth every bit of effort. The recipe will serve 12 people but can easily serve 24 if each person only gets a sliver of this goodness. I hope you try it, if not I hope it totally makes you swoon or drool until you do.



Sweet Potato Cheesecake


INGREDIENTS:
For the Crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted*
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

For the Cheesecake
32 oz cream cheese, softened*
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs*
16 oz of  sweet potato, puree
1/3 cup heavy cream*
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch spring-form pan with foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl mix together crumbed graham crackers, butter*, granulated sugar and spices. Press  into bottom and 1 inch up the side of spring-form pan. Bake for 7 minutes. Cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes.

3. In a bowl use the paddle attachment of your mixer to beat the cream cheese, granulated and brown sugar for 3 minutes on medium speed. Add in egg replacer, sweet potato and heavy cream, mix until thoroughly combined scraping down the bowl as needed. Then add in cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and lemon extract until well mixed.

4. Pour mixture into cooled crust and spread evenly.

5. Bake for 60 minutes, the outer portion will appear to be set, but the center will still have some wiggle to it. Once this happens turn off the oven close the door and let cheesecake rest in oven for an additional 60 minutes. When the time has elapsed allow the cheesecake to cool in refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

6. Enjoy!

*All ingredients used in this recipe are vegan. Eggs are made from egg re-placer  Butter is Earth Balance, and Cream Cheese is Tofutti. * Vegan Heavy Cream = 1 cup Vegan Cream Cheese + 2 1/2 tbsp almond/soy milk + 1 tsp of lemon Juice




Your Turn: If you could only choose one which would it be? Pumpkin or Sweet Potato?
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