Wife Life: Savory Sausage Scramble recipe

I am making a lifestyle change and part of it is seriously limiting starchy carbs and junk food. You know how most diets have cheat days? Well I’ve had a cheat LIFE, and it’s time to hunker down. But I love breakfast and everyone knows the best part of breakfast is carbs. I usually have a big breakfast on the weekend which typically includes a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit, or some Eggo waffles and bacon. I’ve already been incorporating a green smoothie several times a week, so making that my Monday-Friday mainstay isn’t a big deal. And I do love oatmeal topped with fresh berries & a splash of cream, or sliced banana, shredded coconut, and honey. But what about when I want something savory instead of sweet?

This recipe is actually adapted from my brother in law. He made it the last couple times I came to visit my sister and it’s not only delicious, but satisfying. I prefer chicken sausage and included my favorite brand, but of course you can sub out turkey sausage or even a meat substitute. Same with the cheese. You can also change this to make it an omelette. Have fun with it!

SAVORY SAUSAGE SCRAMBLE
Serves: 1 
Ingredients:

2 eggs
2 links Applegate Farms chicken & apple sausage
2 mini sweet bell peppers
1-2 tsp shredded Mexican cheese blend
Salt
Pepper
Butter

1. Cut of stems from peppers, remove inner seeds, and chop to your preference. Cut the sausage into bite size pieces. 
2. Crack the eggs into a bowl and add pepper to taste. Whisk until well mixed.
3. Melt some butter in a small pan over low heat (you only need about a teaspoon).
4. Pour in the eggs, sausage, and peppers. I don’t like my cheese to stick to the pan so I sprinkle it on in the last few seconds, but you can add it at this step. 
5. I like a soft scramble so I keep the heat really low and the eggs are on for a minute or two. If you like more solid eggs, 30-60 seconds on low-medium heat will do.
6. Plate and enjoy! 

I love this recipe because it tastes similar to the egg skillets I sometimes order at brunch, but without the potatoes or too much cheese. If I don’t have the peppers, I’ll do just the eggs and cheese but add a sprinkle of Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning. I don’t like Mexican for breakfast (weird, I just have a mental block) but you could also do this southwestern-style and add avocado & salsa.

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Wife Life: Southern Vegetable Soup recipe

While you’re planning your Thanksgiving menu, don’t forget to think about the weekend! You don’t want to be fighting the shopping crowd at the drive through, and the leftovers always go quicker than you think. During my cleanse at the start of the month, soup was my dinner for the day. I hate soup normally because it’s not hearty enough. Especially vegetable soup–the canned version tastes like baby food! So I had to adapt this to be hearty and satisfying. It’s perfect as is for the day after Thanksgiving when you’re emerging from a turkey coma and want something a bit lighter. I plan to make this ahead of time so I have a few quick and easy meals ready for after Turkey Day.

Roll that beautiful bean footage! Actually, the soup does not photograph well but it’s delish.

SOUTHERN VEGETABLE SOUP
Makes 6-8 generous servings

Ingredients:
1/2 lb fresh green beans
1/2 lb okra
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch collard greens
1 bunch scallions
28-oz can diced tomatoes, low sodium
32 oz chicken stock 
1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
Pepper
Italian seasoning

Note:  Frozen veggies will do if you don’t have fresh, but I encourage you to buy fresh if you can. If you have leftovers, the fresh veggies won’t get mushy as quickly. 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Wash and chop all your veggies, as small as you want. I like larger pieces so I have something to chew. The collard greens will be a bit unwieldy, just make sure you run the water over both sides of each leaf (perfect time to use the hose attachment on your sink) and wipe down the leaves to dry them. This will take care of any dirt that is hiding in the nooks and crannies. If you like, you can save all the spare veggie bits to make vegetable stock (I’ve never done this but I saw this tip on Facebook).

2. Heat up a tablespoon of your preferred oil and toss in the minced garlic and scallion whites. This will caramelize them a bit and give the broth a richer, more roasty flavor.

3. Once the garlic and scallions are fragrant, add in chicken stock, tomatoes, and all your chopped vegetables. Season with a generous amount of pepper and Italian seasoning. I use Italian because it’s a nice mix of several herbs like parsley, rosemary and thyme so I don’t have to buy individuals of those.  With the chicken stock, you really don’t need any salt.

4. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes.

5. Serve and enjoy!

VARIATIONS

This is just a base but you can make any soup with a combination of chicken, beef or veggie stock and your favorite vegetables. You can add shrimp and link sausage to this one for a sort of jambalaya stew. You could do a crab boil soup. You could sub out the okra for zucchini and add some meatballs for an Italian stew. The possibilities are endless!

 

Wife Life: Pesto Parmesan Salmon Recipe

Since fall hit I’ve been a real domestic, cozy mood. I had so much energy  this week from that hour of extra sleep that I tried something new. Salmon is one of my favorite foods but I usually make it one of three ways–sauteed with salt & pepper, with a honey ginger soy sauce, or crumbled up in fried salmon croquettes (one of my favorite childhood recipes from my mom). I was coming off a 3 day vegetarian cleanse so I just wanted a different taste. Pesto sauce is one of my kitchen MVPS and it didn’t disappoint. I served this with a lemon orzo and roasted brussels sprouts. Very Italian, but no bread in sight! Best of all, G-Dub even liked it. Salmon is his least favorite fish (unless I make the croquettes) because “it always tastes like salmon” but the strong flavors in this dish made it more palatable for him. It’s a win win! 


PESTO PARMESAN SALMON WITH LEMON ORZO

Gorgeous crust on that salmon, nice char on the brussels sprouts and you can see the seasoning on the orzo. Yummy! (P.S. Don’t come for me and my paper plate. I recycle!)


Servings: 2 
Prep Time: 2 minutes    Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients
2, 4oz salmon filets 
1 cup orzo
2 tbsp panko crumbs
2 tsp basil pesto sauce
2 tsp parmesan cheese
2 tsp butter
1 tsp lemon juice
Olive oil (spray or bottled, either is fine)
Italian seasoning
Pepper
Salt
(Note: I don’t measure spices because I just sprinkle until it looks seasoned)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a small pan or oven safe dish with just enough olive oil to coat it. You don’t need more than 1 teaspoon of oil if you’re pouring from a bottle.
  2. Put on a pot of water (about 2 cups). Lightly salt the water and put on medium high heat to bring to a boil.
  3. While the water is on, mix together the panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a bowl. Add a dash of salt and pepper.
  4. Season the salmon to taste with the Italian seasoning. Place the salmon in the pan skin side down (if your salmon has skin, otherwise don’t worry about it). 
  5. Spoon the pesto over each piece of fish in a thin layer. Top with breadcrumb mixture and sprinkle any leftovers into the pan then put in the oven.
  6. Set your timer for 20 minutes if you like your fish well done, 10 minutes if you like it medium and 15 for medium well.
  7. When your water starts to boil, add the orzo and then lower heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally. Pasta should be done in about 10 minutes.
  8. When the orzo is cooked, drain the water off like you would spaghetti. Return to the pot and add lemon juice, butter, and Italian seasoning to taste. 
  9. Serve pasta alongside orzo and your vegetable of choice. Top the orzo with the breadcrumbs from the pan. Mangia!

As you can see, we had our dish with roasted brussels sprouts. I didn’t include them in the recipe because it’s literally throwing them on a sheet pan, sprinkling on some salt and pepper and a couple sprays of olive oil PAM. They’ll cook in 20 minutes along with the salmon. Super easy, super quick and super tasty!

Bits and bobs

  1. Life update: Things have been pretty busy lately. August I was deep into my introvert bag and trying to unplug. September was back to business at work, and it’s going to be a busy fall for me. I have four lawsuits to file before Christmas (a divorce, a bankruptcy, and two actions for quiet title) and this week at work we’re being audited. So everything is weird and kind of tense because even though the auditors gave us a list of people they’d be interviewing and cases they’d be reviewing, they’re still lurking around the hallways so people are spooked. 

    2. This month my brother, Sunny and Maya all came to visit so it has snowballed into a social month for me. There’s an end of audit work happy hour on Friday (ugh, I haven’t RSVP’d yet); I met Diana for brunch last weekend and we’re doing pedicures this weekend, and I’ve caught up with Jaleesa and Maxine on the phone. It’s been good to touch base with everybody, I have some pretty cool friends. 

    3. I’m making progress on the wellness front too. I haven’t met all my goals (which is more a function of me making unrealistic goals than actual failure) but I am set to exit age 30 better than I entered it. Yesterday I slid into a pair of work pants that I could barely button up six months ago. My strength and stamina are consistently improving. I have a three month streak of working out at least 3 times a week. I’m finally starting to feel like having a healthy lifestyle is something that is attainable for me. I’m contemplating doing some kind of clean eating boot camp going up to Thanksgiving to kind of kick start things before we go into the season of sweets and starches. ( I started to say Whole 30 but if you can’t eat bread, grains, beans, sugar, or dairy, life is just not worth living).

    4. Michael Kors bought Versace (did you know he bought Jimmy Choo last year?) and I’m ready for a VERSACE Versace diffusion line
    at Macy’s (see also: MICHAEL Michael Kors, RACHEL Rachel Roy, and LAUREN Ralph Lauren). I will be the first in line to buy a tacky blouse. And yes, it will be for the sole purpose of a IG picture of me wearing said blouse in front of the gate at my house captioned “Versace, Versace, Medusa head on me like I’m ‘luminati/This is a gated community, please get the f*ck off the property (GATE!)”

5. My husband and I have been trying to save money to pay off debt, buy a house, and other adult things so we’ve been bringing lunch from home at least once a week and cooking dinner one more night a week (4 meals instead of 3). We have saved so much money that I’m ashamed to say how much! I honestly cringe when I think about how much we could have saved have we started earlier, but c’est la vie. The reduction in fast food and Chinese takeout didn’t hurt my waistline either. The “we got food at home” budget will change your life, even with a seemingly minimal change so I highly recommend it. 

6. Went to the movies two weekends in a row. “A Simple Favor” was better than expected! It had “Gone Girl” vibes, but a little more comedy. I was a little reluctant to see “Venom” because the trailers had such a horror movie feel and jump cuts make me jump out of my skin. But it was a weird sort of romantic comedy and somehow, it worked. I wouldn’t even be mad at a sequel. 

The Book That Changed My Life

 

My battered copies of the books, purchased with my own allowance money from a used bookstore, once upon a time.

A Wrinkle In Time is  a strong contender for my favorite book ever. It was so influential in ways that I really did not realize until reflecting upon it. I don’t know that I’ve ever read any other book as many times. I loved the whole series so much as a kid. There are four other companion books, but A Wrinkle In Time stands out for many reasons. (Spoilers ahead)

The Murry family has many adventures, but this one is Meg’s. And Meg Murry was the first time I remember seeing myself in literature. As a weird (not quirky, weird) black girl growing up in the suburbs in the late 90s, I didn’t have a lot of role models. I came of age in the girl power era, but I was no Scary Spice. I was too young to model myself after Aaliyah, En Vogue, or any other R&B songstress. I couldn’t wear makeup, much less a midriff top! I wasn’t sassy like the black friends on various Disney and Nickelodeon shows. But Meg was me. She has her good qualities–super intelligent, compassionate, fiercely loyal to her family. But she was also stubborn, sarcastic, didn’t trust easily and grappled with moments of crippling self-doubt. Intellectually, she knows she is competent and has potential. Emotionally, she is unsure of her place in the world and her unpopularity matters more to her than she’ll ever admit. Whenever I was feeling down, her story would remind me that all the things people mocked me for were part of what made me strong.

Meg’s journey to self acceptance is why I always turned to this book whenever I needed comfort. Grade school was a bit hellish for me, and the book gave me reassurance that one day I’d leave behind the hell that was grade school, and make a meaningful life for myself.  I especially love that Meg gets a happy ending, not just here but in future books. She becomes a physicist and marries Calvin, and has kids of her own. And even though she’s happy, she’s still the same prickly old Meg.

The philosophy of this book is another reason why I love it. It seamlessly blends religious notions of good and evil with the reality of science and technology. The two coexist as a matter of fact. Whether they do so harmoniously is a function of how humanity uses them. This book was a turning point for me in my faith. I read it around the same time I got serious about church and decided to read the Bible all the way through for myself (and I did, except I copped out on Revelations because it was too scary). I was starting to ask questions about how the concepts I learned about in school–the Big Bang Theory, evolution, etc–should affect how I felt about Christian teachings. These books planted the idea that my faith and my belief in science were not contradictory or mutually exclusive. The message that science could take us to the ends of the universe but love remains the most powerful force was revolutionary to me, and also made perfect sense. Something about that just felt right in my spirit, and that has guided my spirituality ever since.

There is also a political message here. Evil perpetrates itself in a million different mundane ways. The cruelty of schoolchildren; the petty tyranny of an authority figure; an abusive parent; the idea that conformity is the same thing as equality. The second book in the series addresses the idea of wholeness within oneself, and establishing harmony within the universe that is your own body and cellular makeup. It’s really heady stuff, especially for  young people, but the beauty of these books is that they don’t talk down to you. They challenge you.

Is it a perfect book? Not by any means. But it spoke to me, and resonated with me, and the heart of this outweighed any criticisms I might make about style or technique. It was a life changer, and I can’t ask for anything more.

I just saw the Wrinkle In TIme movie, which inspired this whole post. As much as I love the book, I think it’s important to evaluate the movie on its own merits. I think it succeeds on all counts. It’s amazing by itself, and also a worthy successor to the book. Seeing a black girl play Meg onscreen was just wonderful. I felt some of the same magic that I felt during Black Panther because representation matters. Aside from that, Ava DuVernay really captured the magic and the spirit of the books. There were some omissions and changes compared to the book but nothing that affected the core plot. I laughed, I cried, I remembered the child I used to be. It’s been more than 10 years since I last read the books and I felt that same sense of wonder that I did on my very first reading. It was no small feat but Miss Ava knocked it out of the park! (Spoilers ahead, again)

However, I went into this movie with a little trepidation because the reviews were so mixed. A lot of people seem to think that this just doesn’t live up to the hype. I think a big part of it is that we are so used to big, splashy, apocaplyptic blockbusters. The stakes were much lower here. The real obstacle here is internal: Meg’s inability to love herself. Saving the world is just a side effect. In fact, if Meg fails, the world won’t end immediately. It’s just that evil will keep getting stronger on Earth until it takes over entirely. Ultimately, her win doesn’t even defeat Camazotz entirely. But it pushes him back and gives them time to fight another day.

Another part of the criticism is that Meg, as a character, is too flat and unexpressive. She’s a skeptic and a complainer. In short, she’s a problem child. But that’s the whole point! And it’s what I have always loved about her. Meg is a grouch but she saves the day anyway. Pretty much every other story insists that heroes be nice, damn near to the point of  sainthood. In some sense, you have to be the right kind of person who deserves to have a magical adventure. You can be an outcast, but you must always turn the other cheek (and never throw a basketball in someone’s face). If you’re awkward, it’s all in your head because actually you’re beautiful. I reject that. Sometimes you really are awkward and rude and ungrateful. But being imperfect doesn’t mean you’re undeserving of anything good.

In both the book and the movie, I appreciated that Meg was regular and had an attitude problem and hair that didn’t do what she wanted. I loved that even though she missed her father dearly, and knows she should be above high school drama, it still bothers her that she has no friends. She is a real person, and in the end she succeeds by embracing her flaws, not by becoming someone else. That’s a powerful message for kids everywhere, at any time.

If you haven’t gotten in on the goodness that is A Wrinkle In Time, what are you waiting for? Get on it!

 

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop

You remember that old saying? As I’ve grown up, I see it’s true. When you’re living right, you literally don’t have the time to be up to no good. I honestly  wish I had the time to be in somebody else’s business. This is my typical weekday:

  • 7:00a: Wake up, get dressed
  • 7:45am- Drive to work. Listen to music or a podcast.
  • 8:30am-5:30pm Work. I always take a lunch break because there’s no way I’d survive an open office set up without it. But I actually do work at work. It’s not crazy hectic like it was at my old firm, but I keep busy.
  • 5:30pm- Drive home in traffic. More music/podcasts.
  • 6:30-8pm: Assuming I meal prepped over the weekend like I was supposed to, this is my time to myself since DH usually gets home a little later. I do a work out, browse the internet, etc.
  • 8-10pm: Eat dinner, watch tv with hubs, read a few chapters.
  • 10-11pm: I shower and do my nighttime beauty routine, and read a few chapters to wind down before bed.

Now look at this schedule and please tell me, where in the world do I have time to worry about anybody that’s not me or mine? Some of y’all out here can’t be living right. It takes a LOT of time to strive at a career, maintain a relationship, cook healthy meals, stay in shape, and de-stress so you don’t go crazy. And yes, I’d have more free time if I was single but not that much more free time because I have hobbies. I’d read, write in my journal, probably work out more, go to the movies, hang with my girlfriends, travel and find other ways to fill up that time real quick.

I guess some folks really don’t have anything better to do.