Changes in Life

Life Changes.   None of us want them because I think we all hate change.  If it’s a good life change, we’ll take it begrudgingly, but if it’s something that’s scary or undesirable, we avoid it like the plague.  Perhaps that is why so many of us cling to what we know and what is comfortable.

I am one of those people.  I get comfortable and want to stay with what I know.  Even if it makes me unhappy.  I sit and think how different life could be if I would just try something new, but it’s scary so I stay where I am.  Sometimes, however, you get a kick in the butt that forces you to make that change and you go with your heels dug in…. and then you realize that it was something you should have done so much sooner.   Yes, that’s me.  Kicking and fighting and holding on to the door jam until my knuckles turn blue.  And that is where the story begins.

To start with, I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything.  It’s only been a couple of months but when you stop doing what you love, it can seem like forever.  I stopped for several reasons.  It was a time of drudgery and unhappiness and I couldn’t wrap my mind around anything that gave me pleasure.  I was trying to figure out life’s destiny due in part to the untimely death of my brother, due in part to the fact I didn’t want to get up and do what I had done for the last sixteen years….mortgages.  Life wasn’t fun anymore.

My bosses talked to me…they were worried.  My friends and family talked to me.  I talked to myself.  I decided after several conversations and long bouts of thinking that I was going to make a HUGE change and leave my “I knew where I was going everyday” job.  I was going to concentrate on my blog and so the next change was to redo everything to make it more exciting and fun to look at. I went to a food writing seminar and hung out with chefs and other foodie writers and thought I was super cool.  But then I added in food safety courses and menus and decided to take on the catering business.  At this point I am sure my husband thought I had lost my mind and for the first few days I was almost in agreement with him.  But as time wore on and I was doing what I loved and I didn’t have the stress of my job any longer…I realized this was a dream come true and yes, why hadn’t I done this years ago?

But just as you think everything is going right with the world,  along comes another change that slaps you upside the head and wakes you up.  Out of state and only one day into our mini vacation, my husband has a heart attack.  Luckily for both of us, with fortuitous timing and excellent care, everything turned out well with no damage to the heart.  But what a wake up call for both of us!

We had to take a look at our lifestyle, our way of eating and what we were eating.  It was time for another change.  We realized how lucky we were to receive this “second chance” and made the choice to eat smaller portions, heart healthy meals, exercise and even cut down on the wine that we love to enjoy.  Some of it has been easy, and some of it has been a kicking and screaming change.

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One of the fun things is discovering foods that are good for you and still amazingly good to eat.  The day of the heart attack we had eaten that morning at the bed and breakfast we were staying at and they had been so nice to share their granola recipe with me that I had enjoyed with my yogurt.  It was one of the first things I made for my husband to make a change to his breakfast.

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Sometimes changes are good and sometimes not so good.  But it’s all about how we deal with them and how we embrace that change.  I for one am loving life right now and hope that it keeps being as exciting as it’s been the last couple of months.  And I hope you stick with me…together we’ll embrace the storm.

 

Almond Coconut Granola

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 bag (6 ounces) frozen coconut
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 6 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup mixed dried fruits I used dried cherries, blueberries, apricots and banana chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

  2. Stir together oats, almonds, coconut, flaxseed, and salt.

  3. Melt butter, oil and honey and cinnamon over low heat.

  4. Pour liquid mixture over oat mixture until well combined.

  5. Spread granola evenly in a large rimmed baking sheet.

  6. Bake at 325 degrees F for 15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring halfway through the baking process.

  7. Cool granola in pan on wire rack and stir in dried fruits.

Blueberry Pie Parfaits with White Chocolate Cream

Do you remember when you were younger and you would go blueberry picking?  I do.  Half the blueberries would be in the bucket and the other half in my mouth.  My shirt and fingers would be blue with the juice, but it was something I looked forward to every summer when they were ripe.  Now I just go to my back yard where I have two little starter bushes.  My only problem is I have to race the dog to see who gets there first!

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With blueberry season its natural to want to make blueberry pies.  I love a good pie but it is a little basic at times.  Imagine how pleased I was when I looked through a “Fine Cooking” magazine and discovered this blueberry pie parfait!  I had to give it a try…and taste!

This recipe had a white chocolate whipped cream and it was a welcome addition.  It lightened up the dessert without taking away from the blueberry pie flavor I expected and the white chocolate added a rich undertone.  The buttery almond-thyme streusel added more of a textural crunch than would a standard pie crust, which I really loved.  For me, this dessert was a huge winner on the flavor thermometer.

What I also liked about this is that if you’re tasting as you go along with the recipe, you can change it up to make it more to your personal liking.  A little more white chocolate in the whipped cream,  an extra squeeze of lemon into the blueberry or another shake of cinnamon into the streusel.

I’ve made these several times since my discovery of the recipe and it always gets rave reviews.  A few nights ago, we had been invited over to a friend’s home for dinner and I wanted to bring this but wasn’t sure about the trip.   It was easily solved when I used jelly canning jars, topped them with a lid and no spill! And I got extra points for presentation.

So enjoy your summer and bring some tasty fun to your family and friends.  They will love you for it!

Blueberry Pie Parfaits with White Chocolate Cream

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

FOR THE STREUSEL:

  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup scant slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

FOR THE CREAM:

  • 4 1/2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon grated and finely chopped lemon zest plus 1/2 teaspoon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
  • Pinch kosher salt

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

MAKE THE STREUSEL:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.

  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, oats, butter, almonds, sugars, thyme, and salt on medium speed until the ingredients are evenly dispersed and some of the pieces of streusel are the size of hazelnuts. Transfer the streusel to a large rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring every 5 minutes to 6 minutes, until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let the streusel cool completely before using.

MAKE THE CREAM:

  1. Put 3 ounces of the white chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of the cream and the lemon zest to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and salt, cover the bowl tightly, and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

  2. Add the remaining 1/2 cup cream to the chilled mixture and beat with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.

MAKE THE FILLING:

  1. Put the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt in a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium heat. Using a potato masher or a silicone spatula, break up some of the blueberries to release their juice and cook, stirring often, until the mixture begins to boil, about 5 minutes. Once the mixture comes to a boil, stir constantly, reducing the heat to maintain a steady simmer, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice until melted. Let the filling cool until warm.

ASSEMBLE THE PARFAITS:

  1. Put 1 tablespoon of the streusel in the bottom of each of six 10 ounce parfait glasses. Divide the warm filling among them and scatter each with about 2 tablespoons streusel. Divide the remaining filling among the glasses and top with the remaining streusel. Dollop each with the white chocolate cream, sprinkle with the remaining chopped white chocolate and serve.

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