A couple of weeks ago, I tweeted this article from the Huffington Post regarding parenting. In summary, it referenced the full picture of parenting, which includes highs and lows, happiness and frustration - the whole gamut. The author breaks things down into two definitions of time. For the happy times, it referenced the word - Kairos. This time is God's time, it's time when you really recognize how blessed you are to have your child in your life. I took these pictures in the mid-afternoon, after Naja needed a change of clothes and boy let me tell you - KAIROS.

That face; those sweet moments - they get me every time. Several hours later, after a nap - Chronos. Chronos is the time you normally experience, it's regular time. This may include a screaming baby who is teething or a baby who is squeezing your breasts like a stress ball (new nursing thing that Naja thinks is fun now) - the good stuff that we don't always highlight, because we like to focus on the positive. 

Yesterday evening, we had some real Chronos time as I think Naja has some more teeth coming in. It took some time, but she finally found something chewy enough to assuage her little gums.

Ah well - Chronos is totally worth it for all the Kairos moments. PS - The real article is 20 times better than my summary though, so check it out.

Spicy Tofu with Grilled Asparagus

This was my dinner this past weekend. It was enjoyed by all, including my meat-loving brother. I totally agree that if you say "I don't like tofu." It's because you have not had it prepared correctly. Preparation makes a huge difference. I pulled from two recipes to get this tofu, so it's something like an original creation, but not quite. I am trying to get on track to create my own original recipes, taking baby steps by getting creative in taking the guidance in preparation, and mixing and matching sauces and flavors as I think they would work! This one was a hit!

Spicy Tofu with Grilled Asparagus
Adapted from Food Network Magazine and comowater

1       package extra firm tofu
1       cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4    cup flour
3       tablespoons hoisin sauce
2       tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1       tablespoon Asian chile sauce (such as Sriracha)
2       teaspoons cornstarch

Slice tofu into 1/4 inch slices. Place 2-3 paper towels on a plate. Add one layer of tofu slices. Add another layer of paper towels, and repeat until all tofu is layered between paper towels. Place a kitchen towel over the final layer of paper towels and place a heavy pot or pan on top of the kitchen towel. Press tofu for at least an hour, which will create a firmer, heartier texture for the final dish.

Whisk together hoisin sauce, balsamic vinegar, Asian Chile Sauce and cornstarch. Combine breadcrumbs with flour in shallow dish (for dredging). Brush both sides of tofu with sauce mixture. Coat both sides of tofu slices with breadcrumb-flour mixture.

Heat oil over medium heat. Lay coated tofu in oil. Fry on one side until golden brown (approx. 3 minutes). Once the first side is golden brown, flip and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towel.

For asparagus, brush with olive oil, grill on a grill pan until cooked through (about 10-15 minutes total).

New Year, New Hair

I did it! *In my Dora the Explorer voice* I cut my hair. Well, Alexa at Modern Concepts Salon in Ashburn, Va cut my hair. I love it. It's cute, and easy to maintain.

A new hair blog I found said, "It's time to see your [hair] stylist when:
You have a mullet
You can't remember your last visit
Your hair reaches your bum
You have split ends
You're unhappy with your hair
Your hair is always in a ponytail"
 She's right - problem solved!

Answers to a few questions some folks may have:

Why did you do it?
Remember when I talked about my hair woes herehere and here? Well I realized that I'd rather have cute hair that was easy to maintain over cute LONG hair, that takes hours to maintain, and isn't always cute anyway.

Who did it?
Alexa Zagorites at Modern Concepts Salon in Ashburn, VA

How much did it cost?

What do you do to maintain it now?
Same wash routine as before, with a couple new cheaper products that are easily accessible, that I hope to review soon, and I don't make deliberate sections, but it's much quicker with half the amount of hair. I just let my hair air dry, and this is what I get.

I talk about the cut in a video below. So, what do you think?

2012 Resolutions

In the past, my New Years' resolutions were created with a short time frame of commitment, and thus, they were quickly forgotten. This year, I thought of New Years' resolutions with personal growth in mind - these are things that I can commit to past 2012 to help make me a better "me."

#1. Be content with delayed gratification

The year 2011 was a crazy year for me, with a lot of change. I had my first child, moved to a new city, blogged regularly, moved back home with my parents, got a new job, and became single again. PHEW! I don't regret any decision that I made, because I acknowledge that I had a choice for (most) of these changes. That being said, I struggled with a lot of the change because I had (have) a mindset of entitlement. I thought that by 25 I would be married/engaged, own a house, and be in a career that I love - all things I desire. I struggled with being happy about my situation because I felt entitled to have all of my desires fulfilled NOW.

However, it's just fine if that's not where I am NOW. Thus, this year, I am committing myself to being content with delayed gratification. While some of my dreams and desires are not yet reality, in 2012, I will work to be content with where I am in the present, with reassurance and faith to know that my desires will be fulfilled someday.

#2. Love (specifically when I don't want to)

Building on number one, I was not (initially) happy with some of the changes that came in 2011. I complained a lot. However, complaining did not make me feel better, and it annoyed the heck out of those around me! Therefore, I am committing myself to love when I don't want to. Specifically to love difficult situations and people. It's hard to see the good in every situation. However, I know right now I have been blessed in so many ways due to those 2011 changes, and I am committed to seeing where God takes me!


Last year, I committed myself to this blog in a new way, and I can't believe how much it has really blessed me. In blogging, I have connected with new people, and found a number of other creative outlets that I truly enjoy. Recently I've found myself struggling to balance all of them, as a result of the limited time I have to devote to these creative outlets. Thus, this year, I'm going to focus on one creative outlet, and I'm choosing: PHOTOGRAPHY! I still don't know how to use my camera. Me taking a good picture is really about luck of the 'click.' I love how photography can capture a moment in time, so I can't wait to sharpen this skill!

Those are my resolutions. The source of my growth has been a result of growing closer to God. There is no way I could have gotten through 2011 without Him, and the support of my church in Philly, and now in Leesburg. Here's to a 2012 full of growth, happiness and love!

I picked up all of these pictures from this blog - some inspiration for Resolution #3!

Creamy Polenta with Sausages and Roasted Grapes

I have made several dishes with sausage. This may be puzzling to non-vegetarians, but for me, I like sausage for the flavor: it's smoky, spicy, sweet, and delicious! I can honestly say that I love Field Roast Sausage as a stand alone sausage. It's vegan, and it's pretty delicious - no jokes. The flavor is just spot on. My brother, dad, and even my GRANDFATHER all were pleasantly surprised by how much their taste buds liked this sausage. I will now jump off my vegan sausage  rant since I know the majority of my followers eat meat. If you choose to make this, just use your favorite type of sweet sausage.

On to the dish, which simply put, had some of the most enjoyable blends of sweet, savory and creamy in one bite - yum! Also - let me mention that this was surprisingly quick and easy to make. I only had to chop a shallot, and cut the grapes into bunches. Minimal prep and exquisite flavor = winner!

Creamy Polenta with Sausages and Roasted Grapes
Serves 4
Adapted from bon appetit Magazine, January 2012 Issue

1/2 cup medium-grind polenta (not instant)
3 large sprigs thyme, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp (1/4 stick) unsalted butter SS: Use Earth Balance, and this is vegan
1 package Field Roast Smoke Apple Sage Vegan Sausage
1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 lb seedless red grapes, cut into bunches with stems attached
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/3 cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 450 F. Stir polenta and 2-1/2 cups water in a medium microwave-safe bowl; add 1 thyme sprig and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a plate. Microwave for 4 minutes. Carefully remove plate and whisk polenta. Cover and microwave for 4 minutes longer. Repeat until polenta is soft, adding more water by 1/4-cupfuls if too thick, 10-12 minutes total, depending on strength of microwave. Stir in butter. Season to taste wit salt and pepper; keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron or ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausages and fry until browned, turning occasionally about 5 minutes. Add broth, remaining 2 thyme sprigs, grapes, and shallots to skillet; transfer to oven. Roast, turning grapes and sausages halfway through cooking time, until grapes begin to caramelize and sausages are cooked through and begin to burst, 12-15 minutes.

Spoon polenta into wide, shallow bowls. Arrange sausages and grapes over. Add wine to skillet; stir over high heat, scraping up browned bits. Drizzle pan sauce over sausages.

Skillet Mac N Cheese

I love macaroni and cheese. One of my cousins always makes some for the holidays. I'm certain that it is filled with deliciousness which includes: cream cheese, heavy cream, loads of cheddar cheese, milk, and butter. My taste buds thank me, but my stomach does not. I only partake in this delicacy on the holidays due to this. You don't understand how ELATED I was to find this recipe. While it did not have the traditional extra cheesy-creamy flavor, the spices added some kick and pow to this mac and cheese. The cauliflower adds a subtle sweetness. I did not notice a difference with the whole wheat pasta either. I was very pleased. Now, I can have my beloved mac n cheese all year-round. I know some of you won't believe me - but I would argue that it's worth trying!

Skillet Mac n Cheese
Adapted from Comfort Food Fix by Elie Krieger
Serves 4

2 cups 1-inch-wide cauliflower
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat bread crumbs
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups soy milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
2 teaspoons mustard powder
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 ounces whole grain elbow macaroni, cooked for 3 minutes less than the package directions
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Place the cauliflower into a steamer basket fitted over the pot, cover, and steam until just tender about 5 minutes. Finely chop the steamed cauliflower.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and oil.

In a large saucepan whisk together the milk and flour until the flour is dissolved. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the mixture thickens slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cheddar, Gruyere, mustard powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Whisk until the cheeses are melted and the mixture is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chopped cauliflower and macaroni and stir until well coated.

Spray an overproof 10-inch skillet with cooking spray. Pour the mixture into the prepared skillet.Sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture, place on a baking sheet, and bake until the top is browned and the cheese is bubbly, 35 to 40 minutes.

Shitake Snow Pea Stir Fry

Food Network Magazine is the bom guys. Seriously, even though it is VERY MEAT HEAVY, I can always count on finding delicious, balanced meals that are quick and easy to make. That's exactly what this working momma needs on weeknights! This stir fry was another one that my brother and dad could not keep their hands out of. While it does involve some chopping, I find green onions to be one of the easiest veggies to slice, thus - this one definitely wins the 'Quick and Easy' label. For my friends that MUST have meat - no fret, I think you could easily substitute the tofu with shrimp, or chopped rotisserie/grilled chicken. Trust me when I say the sauce in this dish is THE BOMB!!! Sweet, savory, and full of flavor - wham!

Shitake Snow Pea Stir Fry
Adapted from Food Network Magazine, November 2011 Issue
Serves 4

1       cup white or jasmine rice
3       tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3       tablespoons hoisin sauce
2       tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1       tablespoon Asian chile sauce (such as Sriracha)
2       teaspoons cornstarch
2       tablespoons sesame oil
4       scallions, sliced (white and green parts separated)
2       cloves garlic, minced
1       1-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4       ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
4       ounces snow peas
1       14-ounce package soft tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes

1. Cook the rice as the label directs. Meanwhile, whisk the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, chile sauce, cornstarch and 1 cup water in a small bowl until smooth; set aside.
2. Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallion whites, garlic and ginger and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry until golden brown and tender, about 3 minutes. Add the snow peas and stir-fry 30 more seconds.
3. Whisk the reserved soy sauce mixture and add it to the wok. Bring to a simmer, then add the tofu. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the scallion greens.
4. Fluff the rice with a fork and divide among bowls. Top with the stir-fry and sauce.

Sorry that my food is not "staged" all that well. I had a good reason to rush the picture (crying baby). I hope to be back to regular posting!