Friday, September 18, 2020

Easy Apple Dump Cake

 


There really are nothing like fall desserts and while I like to save the pumpkin flavors for later, September is all about apples for me.  

I saw this recipe and since I like my baking as easy as possible, it went on my list to make.  It is a dessert, but for me, it sounded like the perfect breakfast as well.  I didn’t calculate the carbs (probably bad), but limited myself to a small serving and added a dollop of vanilla yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

So, think outside the box and have this cake for breakfast.  It has all the fall flavors you crave and with the yogurt, is a delicious treat to start any day off right.  Especially if sweet versus savory is your breakfast vibe.




Monday, September 14, 2020

Life Thoughts







Sometimes life comes at you hard.  And there are two ways to react to a sudden loss.  You might question your faith and rail against the unfairness of it all.  Or, you might choose to appreciate the good that you have and continue to rely on your faith for strength and comfort. 

My group of Michigan friends lost a great guy suddenly last week.  These are my people; the ones we have history with, the ones who know my daughters and my daughters consider them family.  My friend, the wife of the great guy, is understandably sad and broken, but we will all lift her and her four young adult children up the best we can.  It’s one of those situations where there are really no words, but just your presence can make a small difference.

I flew to Michigan for the funeral and am so glad I did.  It reminded me that there was a reason all those years ago, that we became friends and navigated the child raising years together in our close knit parish.  We will need each other even more as life’s most difficult moments come.  But, we will also find a way to celebrate the happy moments as well; weddings, grandchildren and retirements.  

I plan to get my friend to Florida as soon as she is ready.  She can sit with her face to the sun or experience the beauty of a sunset and maybe heal just a little bit.  And we will keep the faith.


Friday, September 4, 2020

Copycat Starbucks Frappuccino

 

I wish there was a Starbucks a bit closer to where I live, and I have high hopes there will be soon, when a new hospital a few miles away is completed.  In the mean time, a craving on a hot day for a frozen drink, led me to research and ultimately put together a copycat version that suited my tastes.  And, it’s pretty delicious.

To make:

In a blender or bullet, add 1 1/4 cup crushed ice, 3/4 cup chilled coffee (I used decaf), 1/2 cup half and half (or any milk substitute), 1 Truvia and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.  Blend until smooth.  Put in a tall glass and if you like, top with whipped cream and an additional drizzle of chocolate syrup.



Enjoy!

Monday, August 31, 2020

No Fall Here

 

If I had to pick a least favorite month in Florida, September would win far and away.  Tomorrow starts the month that is the peak of the hurricane season and we can look forward to watching those ever changing cones of uncertainty.  We are ready and prepared of course, but it’s still stressful.  September will forever be that month where we got to experience Irma, our first hurricane, in just our third month living here.  We had to learn about hurricanes on the fly and I hope to never experience such a big one again.  It would take a lot to convince me to evacuate after that adventure.

Also, it always seems to get just a bit hotter the first part of September. When summer is over for most of you and all the fall things are being celebrated, we are still right in the thick of the heat and humidity.  And at this point, a bit of coolness would be welcome.  

The best thing about September is that my favorite month; October, is getting close.  That is when we do start having beautiful, low humidity days and we can finally open the door wall for outdoor living at its best. Some of the best and most beautiful beach days are in October too.





So, enjoy your pumpkin everything.  I’ll still be in the pool most days, with another tropical drink, just trying to cool off.

Happy Monday!

Monday, August 24, 2020

Stormy

 

This is the time of year and especially as we head into prime hurricane season in September, that we ride the roller coaster of weather reports, hurricane tracking and the unknown.  I have learned to be prepared, but also go about your life, until it is pretty definite that something is coming.  And that might change too.

On Friday, when all this tropical storm/hurricane talk was starting, we had plans to drive south to Punta Gorda for lunch.  It looked threatening, but ended up being a pretty nice day for lunch on the waterfront.  The stormy weather held off until later and we had a great time exploring a new place.

On Saturday morning, it was still unclear where the storm was headed, so I stocked up a bit at the grocery store and had a relaxing day between the off and on storms.

By Sunday, it became clear we were not going to get much beyond a few storms from the outer bands.  One of my favorite things to do, when the gulf is volatile, is to head to the beach and see the waves.  They were rolling in with a bit of force and you could see something brewing way out in the gulf, but luckily, for this round, we were the fortunate ones.  On to the next.   






Happy Monday!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Life Lately

 

I have been feeling the need to get back into my routine - pre covid.  That means yoga in my clubhouse on Mondays, golf at least once a week and my regular volunteer gardening job on Thursday mornings.  I recently resigned from a big volunteer commitment with my HOA and took on something with less hours.  This gives me more time for beach walks, additional yoga on the beach and exploring the area with my husband.  There is a lot that is safe to do and I’m ready to get back to the Florida lifestyle I love.

This past Thursday, we entertained at home for the first time in a long time and it felt so good to cook some fun recipes and bring out my favorite platters and martini glasses.  Just two other neighborhood couples and we did appetizers and cocktails here and then walked a couple houses away for dinner and dessert.  I made Raspberry Lemon Drop Martinis and they were so good. (1 ounce each raspberry vodka, citrus vodka and triple sec, 2 ounces lemonade and 1/2 of a freshly squeezed lemon)

Also close to home, my neighborhood has been having Food Truck Tuesdays and so far, we have tried pizza and barbecue, with tacos and lobster rolls on the schedule.  Last night, there was a doggie treat truck and needless to say, my pup loved her banana, peanut butter frozen yogurt in a “woofle” bowl.

Finally, we are having our usual summer thunderstorms most days and Monday morning there was a beautiful rainbow.  Always the sign of a good week to come. 

Happy Wednesday!







Sunday, August 9, 2020

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies


This is a great recipe.  I am a diabetic with somewhat of a sweet tooth.  My trick is to not deprive myself, but practice portion control.  So, one cookie; not 3.  

Finding a cookie recipe that cuts the carbs, but still has authentic peanut butter cookie taste and texture is a game changer for me.  It was so quick and easy to put these together with just four ingredients and all four are pantry staples.  I used regular sugar this first time making the recipe, but want to try the Splenda for baking that I normally use to cut the carbs even more.  Hopefully the texture will remain the same.  About 5 grams of carbs per cookie with regular sugar.




I followed the recipe exactly, except in my oven the cookies were done in 10-11 minutes.  Make these today and you won’t be sorry.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Saying Goodbye to July




We are in the thick of our hot, hot summer weather and we are still thinking our pool was the best decision ever.  I try to a avoid the prime ultraviolet sun hours and have been enjoying the pool around five o’clock with a happy hour cocktail.  I have a squishy, noodle type chair that I float around on and it is perfection.  Also, the sunsets lately have been spectacular.

A tropical storm or weak hurricane is headed our way, but will most likely stay east and we will only get the outer rain bands.  It’s always a stressful time here in Florida as we enter the prime hurricane season.  I have found a weatherman that I trust and I only panic when he says to.  We did invest in a generator, so we are good to ride out anything, but a direct hit, category 5.  In fact, now that this is our 4th hurricane season, I am getting quite blasé about the whole thing.  I guess I am becoming a true Floridian.

My husband recently purchased a new toy, perfect for Florida exploring.  We have a scooter now and last week, went in the morning one day for beach walking and breakfast at one of my favorite spots in downtown Venice.  Lots of fun times ahead with the scooter and don’t worry - we stick to the less traveled routes and wear our helmets.

Have a wonderful weekend!






Friday, July 24, 2020

My Favorite Breakfast Smoothie




When you are a diabetic, you start every morning with the best intentions and for the most part I succeed.  My routine calls for testing my blood sugar first thing and since the downfall with my control is my morning fasting numbers, (too high because of how my pancreas processes glucose when I wake up) I try to wait a bit before I eat to let things even out with my meds.

This smoothie is just the thing after I have a cup of coffee and want something to get me through the morning.  It has limited carb servings (3-4), protein to balance the carbs, is adaptable for flavor variety and most important, quick and delicious.

I always have the ingredients in my pantry and fridge and keep a variety of frozen fruit on hand.  When I have a too ripe banana, I slice it into 2 servings, place in a baggie and freeze.  I use a Magic Bullet and all the parts can go in the dishwasher.  Today a Mango Smoothie - tomorrow I might change to to blueberry.  Sometimes I add spinach for added health benefits.

 Endless flavor possibilities.



Breakfast Smoothie

Place in this order in your bullet or blender

1/2 cup crushed ice
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
Splash of lowfat milk
Handful of frozen fruit
1/2 frozen banana
1 T peanut butter
1/4 cup oatmeal
Splash of lowfat milk

Blend until smooth and enjoy!


Friday, July 17, 2020

My Covid Air Travel Experience




First, let me say that I am currently keeping myself home for 2 weeks since I traveled.  It seems there are a lot of opinions out there, but I was very careful, do not live in a hot spot (my area of Florida is fine) and was not going to a hot spot.  I think people need to make their own decisions as long as guidelines are followed.

I flew from Ft. Myers to Pittsburgh and did everything I could to be as safe as possible.  I chose to fly Southwest Airlines because the middle seats are open through September.  I paid for early check in so I could make sure and get a window seat.  I carried on my bag, so less people would touch it.  I had wipes to clean surfaces and my hands when I touched anything.

The airports were quite empty and everyone was wearing a mask, no exceptions.  There was a constant reminder over the speaker that it was required in the terminal.  Because it was so empty, there was plenty of room to spread out and social distance.  Southwest boarded ten at a time, so there was no backup on the jetway.

My flights had fewer than fifty people, so again, plenty of room to spread out.  Masks were required at all times and everyone had a row to themselves.  Only water and a small snack were offered.

Overall I was very impressed with both Southwest Airlines and the airport terminals for the protocol they had in place.  People were respectful of social distancing.  It felt safer than Publix at times where I find many to be oblivious.  Obviously, traveling is not something we as a country are all going to run out and do on a whim, but it was important to me to see my daughters.  We stuck close to my daughter’s home and it all felt just fine.  I never thought I would have this to contend with when I moved away from family, so at some point, you figure out a way.  You can see from these smiles any travel angst was worth it.





Thursday, July 9, 2020

Currently







  • Sitting at an airport waiting to fly to see my daughters.  I am being extremely careful - mask, hand sanitizer, wipes, keeping away from people, window seat and will lay low at home when I return.  It seems everyone is out doing everything they want  and I’m not willing to go any longer without seeing my daughters.  Just because I am a rule follower.  They need to see their Mom and I need to see them.
  • Making a list of Florida friendly plants that I want to buy and plant soon.  I discovered a great plant nursery and have a few new types I want to try.  I’m learning in Florida that an area that gets full sun, really needs a plant that can stand the heat.  It doesn’t matter how much you try to water if it’s 90 plus degrees every day, with unrelenting sun.  Purslane and Mexican Petunias are my two new discoveries.
  • Reading book three of a fairly new detective series.  The Roxane Weary series by Kristen Lipionka is about a female PI in Columbus, Ohio and I enjoy the Midwestern setting, the feisty and flawed main character and her relationships with her family and friends. 
  • Watching Bloodline on Netflix.  I know I am late to the party on this one, but it’s set in beautiful Islamorada in the Florida Keys and it has an old Florida vibe I recognize as true to life.  Great story and family dynamics too.  Isn’t it funny that you can immediately tell a series is a few years old because of the phones (flip phones especially).
  • Looking forward to seeing my daughter and son in law’s new house that they closed on in March, right when all this covid nonsense changed everything.  When I can’t be with my daughters, it helps me to see the spaces they are living in.  Just a mom thing for sure. We like to know are children are safe and settled.  Same for Melissa when I can finally get to Michigan and see her new rental house as well.
  • Still getting a Hello Fresh delivery about once a month and still enjoying the meals.  Last night was Margarita Chicken - chicken with melted mozzarella and chopped tomatoes with basil and balsamic reduction over garlic butter spaghetti. Yum!
Happy Thursday!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Egg Roll in a Bowl



Want a simple, quick recipe that is also delicious (and low carb)?  This recipe for Egg Roll in a Bowl checks all the boxes.  What drew me to this particular version (there are a lot out there) is that it is made with ground chicken instead of ground pork.  I will eat ground pork, but I much prefer chicken.

The recipe goes together quick, in one pot and the only thing I had to buy, besides the chicken and coleslaw mix, was sesame oil.  After eating it, I would recommend one change.  There could have been a bit more sauce to coat the chicken, so next time I would add more soy sauce at that stage of the recipe.  I served this with coconut shrimp on the side and the combination was perfect.





I love Chinese food and all the flavors, but don’t always like what in does to my blood sugar numbers, so this is a healthy version that I will make again and again.

Happy 4th and God Bless America!

Friday, June 26, 2020

June (so far) In Photos




Yes, Florida covid numbers are up, but in my little Gulf Coast bubble, we are fine.  We are smart and mainly do things outside if we go out it the world.  Not a lot of words today, but a lot of pretty pictures showing I have been golfing, gardening, enjoying my beautiful surroundings and having a few cocktails on restaurant patios.

Just another month in paradise.










Friday, June 19, 2020

Easy Summer Cocktail for One




Recently, as a fun way to unite all the guests at our half virtual and half in person bridal shower, we sent everyone invited a cocktail recipe in advance.  I made it for my Zoom session that day and found it so delicious that I have been making it as my go to pool side cocktail all month.

I did make a few tweaks of the original recipe and will give you my quick version for a single cocktail.  The biggest substitution is to use sparkling water or club soda instead of Prosecco.  It’s not really practical to open a fresh bottle of expensive Prosecco every time you want to make a cocktail for one.  Also, I regularly substitute gin for vodka depending what I am in the mood for.  The frozen blackberries turn the drink a pretty shade of pink, but you could use frozen strawberries or raspberries if thats what you have.






Here’s how I make it:

Fill a glass with ice and then fill halfway with light lemonade.  Add 1 ounce vodka (or gin) and fill remainder of glass with sparkling water (or Prosecco).  Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Finish by adding a few frozen blackberries and a slice of lemon.

Enjoy!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Virtual Bridal Shower




So, when Covid happened, one of the things that was cancelled was my nephew’s fiancé’s bridal shower in April.  It was going to be at a wine restaurant in Michigan and at that point, no restaurants were open and gatherings were forbidden.  I couldn’t fly from Florida to Michigan and the bride to be had family and friends who couldn’t fly from Massachusetts.

Plan B had to happen, so we rearranged, got creative and pulled off a lovely, half virtual and half in person shower this past Saturday.  Luckily, the stay at home orders in Michigan were relaxed just in time and about 12 people were able to come and sit by my sister’s pool on a beautiful summer day.

We each shared a memory, the happy couple did a cute quiz about each other and they opened gifts that we had previously shipped there.  My sister served food, but those on Zoom shared in the fun by preparing the same cocktail that was served at the shower.

My daughters and I were in charge of the favors and we had planned a “bouquet bar” that the guests could visit on their way out and make a bouquet to take home.  That had to change, so we found the cutest herb infused lollipops with a stick that contained flower seeds - after enjoying the lollipop, the guests could plant the stick and “watch love bloom”. They were easy to mail to everyone too.



It may not have been what we all imagined, especially our sweet bride to be, but you do what you can to make things special.  Now, on to figuring out wedding plans in late July in Massachusetts.  We are still saving the date and hoping for the best.






Thursday, June 4, 2020

No Sunny Days




The world feels upside down at the moment.  Just a comment, not a political post.  We have law enforcement officers in our family, so it all just feels personal.

Tropical Storm Cristobal is causing rainy conditions that started yesterday and will continue through the weekend, as the outer bands reach Florida.  Sometimes in Florida it’s hard to lend credence to the turmoil happening in the world when the sun shines most days, the water is blue and the flowers bloom year around. Perhaps, these rainy days are appropriate.

In a way it feels like whiplash.  On top of losing both my parents within a few months, first Covid and now this. Is the lockdown over?  I will use these rainy days to hit the pause button.  The sun will shine again soon.




Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Weekend Snapshots




We started off the holiday weekend by indulging in one of our favorite things to do here on the gulf coast. There are tiki bars all long the Intercoastal Waterway and we hired a boat with a captain (we used her before for my husband’s surprise birthday weekend)  to cruise and bar hop for three hours, from Venice north to Sarasota.  The weather was hot and sunny, we enjoyed  introducing the fun to another couple and felt confident the gulf breezes and the heat would kill any nasty germs.  A few rum runners were enjoyed by all.

Otherwise, the holiday weekend was quiet.  We started our rainy season right on cue, with lots of rain and thunderstorms.  It was feeling very tropical with high heat and high humidity, which will be the norm the rest of the summer.  Here’s hoping the big hurricanes stay away.

Of course, we flew the flag all weekend, remembering those that sacrificed to make us free.  And somehow, the word freedom seems to mean a lot more right now.

Happy Tuesday!






Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Banana Bread in a Mug




There are many variations of this and other “in a mug” recipes that are cooked in your microwave.  I have tried brownies, chocolate cake and omelettes, to name a few.  This one looked good too, so since I had all the ingredients on hand, decided to give it a try on one of our rare rainy mornings.

It’s pretty much pantry staples, a quick stir and 3 minutes in the microwave, so what’s not to like.  I keep cut up ripe bananas in my freezer to use for smoothies, so that was easy too. This was a combination of a few recipes  and tweaked to how I prefer.  You can make changes easily, depending on what you like.  I don’t care for chocolate in the morning, so I didn’t use chocolate chips, but used sliced almonds instead.  Chopped pecans would be delicious too.  The banana provides sweetness, but if you want more, add about 1 or 2 teaspoons of brown sugar.





Banana Bread in a Mug

Mash 1 ripe banana with a fork in a large microwave safe mug.  Add 1 egg and mix well. Add 1 T milk, 1 tsp oil, 1 tsp cinnamon and 3 T flour.

At this point you customize with chocolate chips, nuts or chopped fruit.  I used sliced almonds and sprinkled them on top, but you could also mix your additions into other ingredients.

Cook in microwave for 3 minutes.

Enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2020

May So Far - In Photos




Now that we have a bit of freedom to enjoy life in Florida again, May seems to be moving along much faster than life in quarantine.  We have made up for lost time on the beach and have even gone out to dinner once using all the social distancing guidelines that are in place. We live in an oasis of calm, without a lot of tourists and I felt totally comfortable.  It was so exciting to order a cocktail and have it served to me.

I have been planting all kinds things in my neighborhood, for my HOA Landscape Chair position and I love having a huge space to be creative.  It was fun to go to the plant nursery and design the clubhouse flower bed.

Mother’s Day was without my daughters, but they sent beautiful tulips, we face timed (via Pittsburgh and metro Detroit) and my hubby picked up our favorite steak salad, seafood bisque (with a shot of sherry on the side) and key lime pie.

We took coffee and doughnuts to the beach one morning and spent quiet evenings marveling at the beautiful spot we have created, where the sunset is something to be celebrated every night.

Feeling normal feels good.  Have a great weekend.










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Michigan ➡️ Florida
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