I think that we're all drawn to super positive people. The kind of people who always have a smile on their face. People who remain calm and cheerful even when it seems like the world is ending. I'm not sure where this magical power of positivity comes from but I totally admire the glass half full attitude. I wish that I could remain optimistic in the face of adversity but if I'm being totally honest, I struggle to remain grounded and happy when my world starts to collapse around me.
The more time that I spend around positive people, the more that I realize that positivity may be less of a genetic trait and more of a learned behavior. Positive people, in my opinion, are more grateful than people who have negative attitudes. They appreciate the big and the small things in life. They seem to live with the attitude that they may not have it all - but they have always have enough. You rarely see them going after the bigger and better things in life. They are content and grateful for everything they have.
I feel like it was so much easier to be positive and grateful when we were young. There were no bills to pay, errands to run or chores to be done, just friends to meet and sledding hills to be conquered. It's easy to be grateful for a day spend riding bikes with friends or exploring in the woods. I should be equally grateful for a day spent running from the post office to the grocery, cooking meals or weeding the garden. I have to remind myself what a blessing and a privilege it is to be healthy enough to be able to accomplish everything on my to-do list for the day.
So, I'm learning to be consciously grateful for everything that I have in my attempt to be a more positive person. I know that there are days when I will get upset, disheartened or frustrated but I'm still going to try and count my blessings even on those days. To be honest, most of my anxiety and negative attitude comes from the "what-ifs". Like a lot of you, a lot of my anxiety comes from worrying about what could potentially happen in the future. When I redirect my thoughts to the here and now, I tend to be more grateful for the things that I have right now.
I'm also my own worst critic. I find it hard to say positive things to myself. It's much easier to speak encouragement and gratefulness to a friend than it is to tell myself those same positive things. Speaking positive words to myself is totally unnatural and awkward but I feel like the "look on the bright side" attitude is worth striving for.
I've heard that if you smile while you're talking on the phone, it will make you seem happier and more positive to the person on the other end. Maybe there's something to that. The fake it till you make it strategy.
Eat all your vegetables. There are children in China who are starving and would be grateful for this food that you're wasting. I heard this from my parents and I told it to my kids. OK, so maybe it was a little dramatic but the fact is that there ARE starving children - all over the world and we do need to grateful for the food that we have. My goal was to get my kids to eat their veggies and to be grateful for them. My strategy didn't always get them to consume more vegetables but maybe it made them stop and think about gratefulness for just a moment. Don't worry, it won't take any extra convincing to get your kids to eat these broccoli fritters.
Drain on paper towels
Not sure I'll be able to smile through my next "woe is me" slump but I'll certainly try and count my blessings and be grateful even on the hard days.
Is it just me or did anyone else out there think that Chicago Style pizza was always a deep dish pizza? When I hear Chicago Style Pizza I have a vision of a thick bubbly crust baked in a deep cast iron pan with spicy sauce and a blanketing layer of cheese. It never even occurred to me that there might be a thin crust version of the classic Chicago Style Pizza. And to be honest with you - I'm not sure what characteristics classify this particular recipe as a Chicago Style pizza and distinguish it from other thin crust pizzas but I'm sooo not complaining.
I'm not here to question the authenticity of this recipe - I'm really only interested in taste testing it. And I can tell you that it passed the test with flying colors. This was a really yummy, thin crust pizza.
We love, love, loved the sausage topping on this pizza pie but since the recipe makes 2 pizzas, you could always switch up the second pizza with another topping. I cooked mine on the Big Green Egg and it took less than 15 minutes to get the cheese nicely browned and bubbly. The crust didn't really brown very much but I think that was more related to the pizza stone that I used and not necessarily recipe related.
Chicago Thin Crust Pizza
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons cold water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces sweet Italian sausage, cooked
3 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
Cool pizza 5 minutes before slicing.
What's more fun that homemade pizza night? Making pizza together is such a fun family activity - even if we ARE running into each other in the kitchen.
I'm not one to toot my own horn but I must say that I feel like I have some of the most delicious brownie and blondie recipes. My tried and true brownie and blondie recipes really are some of my favorite go-to desserts and I make over and over again. I certainly never felt deprived or like I was in NEED of a new brownie or blondie recipe but when Cook's Illustrated publishes a new recipe for Browned Butter Blondies, none of that matters. It doesn't matter how many other blondie recipes I already have in my index, Cook's Illustrated dessert recipes are too good to pass up.
This browned butter blondie recipe certainly did not disappoint. It lived up to every mouth watering expectation that I had. I love the simplicity of one pan desserts and this one is surprisingly simple for a Cook's Illustrated recipe. (Those of you who regularly subscribe to the magazine know exactly what I'm talking about.)
Browned Butter Blondies
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
12 Tablespoons butter
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 Tablespoons vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon flake sea salt
Let blondies cool in pan for 2 hours. Remove from pan using foil sling and cut into 24 bars.
I've made this recipe several times already and I've made them both with and without chocolate chips. I like them both ways but I'm partial to anything with chocolate so that is my favorite.
A couple of years ago, I self diagnosed myself with misophonia. For those of you who are lucky enough to be unaware, Misophonia, literally means "hatred of sound" It was proposed in 2000 as a condition in which negative emotions, thoughts, and physical reactions are triggered by specific sounds.
This is not something that I'm particularly proud of and trust me when I tell you that my life would be whole lot easier if I didn't have to deal with misophonia. I really have no tolerance for any type of chewing noises, slurping, spoon clinking or swallowing sounds - just to name a few. If you really want to see my misophonia kick in, sit next to me while eating a bowl of cereal. Depending on how well I know you, my response will be anything from a severe stare to an overly critical evaluation of your eating habits to exiting the room with a dramatic door slam until said cereal has been consumed out of earshot.
I am sure that my family is rolling on the ground in laughter right now because they witness my irrational behavior as a result of sounds, on a regular basis. Believe it or not, I've even been known to criticize them for breathing too loudly in especially quiet situations. It's a good thing that my family can laugh at the ridiculousness of my misophonia because they have to deal with it A LOT.
Before we sit down for a meal that contains something potentially crunchy (like lettuce) I play music on the speaker right behind my chair to try and drown out some of the noise. My technique works for an average of 15 minutes, then I typically remove the food from the table in a hasty, abrupt fashion. My kids have just come to expect my crazy reaction.
The funniest thing about the whole situation is that I can annoy MYSELF by making the same noises that I accuse everyone else of making. Some days, noises are more tolerable than other days. There really is no rhyme or reason to what makes me more sensitive to noises on some days. I just try and embrace it and eat all my favorite crunchy food on the days when I I feel like I'm not going to annoy myself quite as much when I eat the chips I've been craving. These Smoky Roasted Chickpeas are so good that I eat them even despite the fact that the extreme crunch annoys me.
Smoky Roasted Chickpeas
15 ounce can chickpeas
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Return to oven and bake another 15-20 minutes.
You know that crunchy foods are exceptional if they outweigh the displeasing sounds that are an inevitable consequence. These chick peas are delicious on salads, on tacos and just as an afternoon snack. They really are amazing - even though they're crunchy.
Do you know what I love about travelling? The food. OK, so it may not be the ONLY thing that I like about travelling but it's right there at the top of my list of favorites. Before I even book a hotel or rent a car, I spend a ridiculous amount of time researching and investigating where to find the best food before I travel to any new city or town. Admittedly, my priorities are out of whack but I there's no question that I love sampling local food in new places.
Believe it or not, I've even booked vacations based on the food. At the top of my bucket list right now - New Orleans. I want to sample the beignets at Cafe Du Monde, devour a plate of barbecued shrimp at Nola and indulge in a big bowl of seafood gumbo at the Gumbo Shop. Of course there are other things that I want to see and do on my trip to New Orleans but sampling the local fare is at the top of my list.
I also live vicariously through friends who travel. When I hear them describe a new and interesting goody that they discovered on a trip, I like to try and recreate them. My friend from New Zealand has been telling me about these delightful little treats called Lamingtons, for years now. I don't know if it was her description of the coconut covered confection in her lovely New Zealand accent or the idea of a mid afternoon tea cake that was more appealing but I couldn't resist the temptation any longer.
Since a lamington is not something that is readily available in my neck of the woods, I had to do a little research to try and figure out how to make them for myself. And my Kiwi friend's birthday gave me the perfect excuse to whip up a batch of Georgia Lamingtons. With the assistance of the very helpful sister of said friend, I landed on this Lamington recipe from Jamie Oliver. If you've never experienced a Lamington - and you are not travelling to Australia or New Zealand anytime soon - this is your opportunity. These little tea cakes are just as delightful as I imagined them.
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
4 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
6 cups desiccated coconut
Adding a new place to my travel bucket list - New Zealand - I'm comin for ya.
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