24.6.16

Chocolate Covered FlufferNutter Banana Bites

These Fluffernutter banana bites dipped in dark chocolate are going to be your new favorite dessert. I promise. Growing up one of my favorite sandwiches was a fluffernutter. Ok, who exactly am I kidding, besides a grilled cheese, it was the only sandwich I would eat. That's all beside the point, though. The important thing is I love them.  I then married a guy from Boston and discovered the fluffernutter is their state sandwich... But for real. This is all fine by me. Minus the part abut there being "rules" for what qualifies as a 'proper' fluffernutter.  Little did I know. (also, I spelled it fluffer nutter yesterday and was quickly corrected by a friend. My bad



When my husband first moved down to NC, I attempted to woo him by making a good ole fashioned FlufferNutter, knowing how much we both adored them. I set out to the market and, upon my return home, pulled out the marshmallow creme and peanut butter for our sandwiches, this is when I heard an audible gasp.  Followed by "What in the hell is that stuff?" Kind of bewildered, I haughtily retorted "Ummmm, marshmallow creme to make the fluffernutters" I didn't say duh, but that was implied. 




Lawd have mercy for all things good and holy and oh, my gracious. Do not ever, and I mean ever never, make the mistake of confusing marshmallow creme and THE Marshmallow Fluff from New England. It is basically akin to someone confusing Sweet Tea for Iced Tea down South, it just is. not. done.  He came over sputtering and barely able to finish the sentence in all his horror. 



"This. stuff. is. not. fluff."  as he visibly shuddered.  Fluff is fluff.

And this, my friends, is how I learned about actual, real life legitimate fluff. And rest assured, all my New Englanders, this recipe only has the real deal fluff. I care about y'all too much to ever mess around with such a prize. 




Anyways, this recipe is a twist off of those gooey and delectable treats. These have been a big hit for parties or, if you are like me and want a somewhat healthy snack, they are perfect to make for the week ahead and just nosh on a few when you are craving something sweet.   



Ingredients

2 to 4 bananas
1/2 cup pb
1/2 fluff
12 oz dark chocolate


Slice the bananas so that you get 10-12 pieces per banana. lay them out next to each other in pairs. On one slice, spread the fluff and on the other, the pb. Marry those suckers together and pop them in the freezer for about an hour. About 15 minutes before you are ready to begin, melt your chocolate wafers. I used Ghirardelli dark chocolate melting wafer, but you can use whatever you would like. Just make sure to use about 12-16 oz and be sure to just melt it and do not burn the chocolate!!! Once you are ready, using either a toothpick or a fork, dip the bites in the chocolate and then place them on foil or wax paper. 





You can now let them set up or, my favorite is putting them in an airtight container and popping them in the freezer. I hate bananas and this way they taste less banana'ey' and more like a mini ice cream sandwich.



If this is your first time melting chocolate, you may want an extra bag. it sometimes tends to be a bit messy and the more you use them, the better you get at it. 



and just so you know, Nutella and strawberry fluff banana bites are even better. Yes, you read that correctly...NUTELLA and STRAWBERRY FLUFF. People, stop crying tears of joy and make you some.

8.6.16

When It's You Next To The Dumpster

 before I begin, usually I will edit for perfection, swap out words that give added oomph to my posts. Today I will ask that you excuse me for this was simply what poured out. I normally would scour for any grammar errors or possible misspelling but this time, imperfection is perfect because it is genuine. 

I am sure by now most of you are familiar with the name of Brock Turner, the rapist from Stanford. Over the past week I have read more than my fair share of articles and information regarding this incident and, each time, under the surface of my skin, a rage has begun to bubble up...fiery and ready to erupt. The disgust at his sentence, the letter from his father leaving me utterly nauseated and full of contempt.  I have felt myself begin to obsess, devouring each word. Often times trembling when the feelings became overwhelming. 

Yesterday I had to step back and away from the articles. It was only two short years ago that I was entrenched in an intensive therapy for PTSD stemming from childhood molestation and a brutal rape as a teenager. While in therapy, I would find myself immersed in any story regarding instances of rape and the seemingly never ending injustice for sexual assault victims. Penn State was like a drug I couldn't quit.  This would only encourage nightmares to invade my sleep and begin to swallow me back into the grisly mouth of the black hole of despair. Eventually, my therapist and husband "banned" me from reading about rape of sexual assault as I finished my therapy.


It has been almost fifteen months since the monsters plagued my mind during slumber.  Monday night, the ugly showed back up, paying no mind to not being the little bit welcome. And in my nightmares, I was once again been transported to the scariest place I know... the inside of a dumpster corral. I know that this has become a media sensation for the simple strength of the survvor and for the miscarriage of justice, but for me, the dumpster detail has packed a powerful punch. 


 One part of my PTSD encompassed having to vocalize one of my instances of abuse; sometimes it was the childhood abuse and other times the rape. Usually we would hone in on one particualr moment of abuse that occured in a dumpster corral while it was raining. As part of my therapy I would rehash the abuse verbally, spelling out the intimate details of the most horrific moments of my life as a three year old little girl.  The sessions would be recorded and I would tell the story over and over until my hour was up. My therapist and I would discuss how detached I was, what I was feeling, etc.  Then every day, twice a day, I would listen to the hour long recordings of my assault.  Each session I was given homework and often times it included walking to the place I feared most, the dumpster corral. I would have to stand in there with the door locked for a few minutes at a time until I was able to do it without panicking or any major reaction.


To get to the simple place that I was even able to stay in there for more than 30 seconds took me almost a year.  Twelve full months of walking towards what I feared the most,  the sweet and pungent smell of the garbage feasting upon my nostrils,  and I would once again be transported to a tiny blonde hair blue eyed toddler crying on asphalt through the pain asking my babysitters son when I could see my momma.  It took almost eighteen agonizing months to be able to actually place garbage where it belonged and not run like hell back to my house to take a shower to wash the stench of the memories off of me. It took forever and a day but I came upon the realization there is no soap strong enough for a feat of that magnitude. The love of Jesus is the only thing that has come close for me and even still, it lingers. 


That is what less than fifteen minutes of action led to in my life. The rape that occurred when I was just 14 years old lasted even less than "15 minutes of action." I am not even sure it lasted a full ten minutes. My memory of it seemed as if he was pawing at my body, sweating over me and grunting for an eternity, but with his hand over my mouth and whispered threats of having to hurt me if I didn't stop fighting what "I knew I wanted"...the entirety of how long it lasted is suspect. 


 However long it lasted is a trivial detail of the event, because the mere second it started, I was handed a life sentence. He may not have physically killed me, but he murdered my spirit just as certainly as if my body had been lowered into the ground three days later.  I had never even kissed a boy before that night. I was giddy with excitement and slightly timid.  Instead, the remaining innocence I had left was violently stolen from me that night and the ability to truly understand intimacy and all it entailed was ripped away.


I lost all sense of self worth and deemed myself tainted and ruined. I was broken and shattered, the pieces of me to fragmented to even try to put back together.  I cared little for my body, it was no longer a temple to respect but a toy for whoever was in the mood to play. Then,  mere eight months later, death beckoned and I answered the call. I took hundreds of pills and suffered cardiac arrest. My parents were given a 50 percent chance of my survival. I did survive (obviously;) with frontal lobe brain damage that causes seizures and ten days later I was released from ICU and the real journey began.


I was admitted for my first psychiatric stay, of what would become many. I would develop eating disorders. First anorexia, then bulimia, the second led to a ruptured esophagus and more heart problems.   I would beg to die many more times before my 19th birthday. I was hospitalized 13 separate times, all over the east coast and before I could legally vote. I would be diagnosed and un diagnosed to many times to keep count. I would become involved in very abuse relationships, one that only ended when he put a cigarette out on my arm because I fetched him the wrong beverage.


Eventually I stopped treatment and pulled off the facade of "normalcy" for awhile. I got married and my ability to pretend I was fine ended when I struggled with prolonged infertility and miscarriages.  This is when everything I thought I had put to bed came crashing back.  I was at a place where I could no longer function without intervention. I was once again hospitalized and, in addition to my other diagnosis, I was given one of PTSD.  Shortly after my release, I  began therapy for two to three days a week for a little over two years.  It ultimately saved, not only my life, but my marriage and multiple facets of my life. 


I have always wondered who I might have been had two separate assailants not altered my story. What might my life look like. I will never know because the me that was ceased to exist in those "minutes of action" 


This is a small snippet of my story, but my pages are still being written and right now I am in control of them. My path is one I am proud to not only walk down, but sometimes trot. I was blessed enough to always be believed by my family, to have friends who have showered me with love, to have a husband with more grace than most could ever muster and most importantly, I was privileged enough to have fantastic insurance that provided me with the treatment to get well. It is a privilege I do not take for granted ( that is another blog post;) 


  I want you to know that if this has happened to you that you are not alone. That no matter how steep the mountain may seem to you to have to overcome, it is possible. It will not be easy and at times it will feel almost unbearable, but the other side has the fresh air you so desperately seek. 


To the anonymous strong woman in this case...your words have rocked me to my core. your strength has taken away my breath, may you be surrounded by love.  You have my prayers as you struggle in this time. I cannot imagine the added dimension of the intimate details of my assaults being plastered everywhere for people to comment on and dissect. All my heart to you. 


I know that many articles have shown pictures of Brock, but I have seen enough of his face, and so I want to share the face of one of what a badass survivor looks like...Mine. 


and in the meantime, let's call it what it is #rapenotaction


if you want to know more of my story, click here


Friends, if you wonder why I often talk about my past. If you think I focus on it to much, that I should let it go, the justice in this case is why my story and any one else's matters and must never be silenced. 





11.5.16

cheddar and broccoli macaroni with pancetta

Yay, this month's recipe challenge was pasta and I decided to go with my roots and do a mac and cheese (please) recipe for you guys today! Be sure to check out all the amazing recipes everyone has for you today, including my other macaroni recipe for you on my other blog...beer cheese macaroni with crushed pretzels!!

I am kind of a macaroni junkie. and of the homemade variety, keep that blue box to yourself. (unless it is 2 am and I am starving, in which case: delicious) I grew up with it being a staple my grandma made at pretty much every meal, you could count on that and biscuits. Hers is a simple elbow pasta, sharp cheese, and whole milk thrown together and baked and it is divine. I can't even try to replicate the goodness and therefore...I don't. My versions are gooey masses of different cheeses and cream. and pretty delicious in their own right. 


Today's macaroni dish is a simple, yet tantalizing version that was born from a twist on a classic soup I made last fall: my broccoli and cheddar soup with pancetta. The recipe is basically the same except I left out the broth and added in pasta. It is creamy and cheesy heaven with bites of crispy pancetta to round out the bite. 


I like a really gooey sauce and this recipe will show that. You can probably use less cream and cheese and it would still be quite tasty but you will pry those from me when I am dead;) I also only used about 3/4 of the lb of the pasta, you could probably use more or less. Again, this is suited to your taste. If you want a thicker sauce, add more cheese and if you want it slightly creamier, add more cream. You really can't go wrong. 

Also, I will say that I have used half and half for this recipe and it was more than fine. I wasn't the greatest fan of making it with milk, but you certainly can!

1 lb pasta cooked and drained

2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup shredded colby jack
1 to 1 1/2 cup steamed broccoli (finely chopped, remove stems)
1/2 cup diced pancetta
 3/4 to 1 cup cream or half and half
salt/pepper to taste

in a sauce pan pour in the cream and add in the cheese, whisk on low to medium heat until completely melted. Once it has begun to thicken up, stir in the cooked and chopped broccoli, add in your salt/pepper.  In a saute pan, crisp up the pancetta on low heat. Toss the pasta with the broccoli cheddar sauce and pour into a serving dish. Top with the pancetta and serve.  You could also skip crisping the pancetta and place pasta into baking dish, add a little extra cheese, top with the pancetta and broil for about 5 minutes before serving. 


I do not add flour to this because it thickens up really nicely on its own, but you certainly can do that. I have also added red pepper flakes and garic salt. You really can't go wrong and can add any spices you would like. I also keep a little extra cream/cheese on hand in case my sauce needs a little more of each, I always just do a taste test before I add in the broccoli. 




I hope you enjoy this delicious version of macaroni that has the addition of broccoli...because it is totally a healthy dish;)

13.4.16

Whimsy Travel: Berry Hill Resort: South Boston, VA

We were able to make the trek to Berry Hill for my birthday. The mister ended up surprising me and it was funny once I figured out where we were headed. I grew up about half an hour from South Boston and if you would have told me ten years ago I would be going for a weekend away there, I probably would have laughed in your face and...the joke would have been on me. 

I drive through South Boston and Halifax on the way to visit my parents at least once every six weeks. I have loved seeing the changes over the past few years and the best part is that the town hasn't lost it's small town character. I can't even rmember the amount of times I spent there growing up. There are quite a few delicious and I mean really excellent high quality restaurants and the resort itself gave us no real reason to even leave if we didn't want to. 

Driving up the tree lined road and seeing the house just put my mind in relaxation mode and taking time to test out the rocking chairs on the grande porch was one of my favorite moments of the weekend. 

They have the main restaurant which we devoured our brunch, still drooling over my banana brulee french toast!  They also have a more casual tavern. Admittedly, I prefered the tavern. It just screams 'history' and the wings were so divine! They had really good drink specials going on as well. 

Our room was really spacious and had a great balcony with a nice view where we enjoyed chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. Then, my husband treated me to a spa service that was severely needed and what a treat it was! I loved the atmosphere and they offered an abundance of services on short notice! Afterwards we took a dip in the heated pool and spent some time in the sauna. 

If you are looking for a weekend away, I definitely recommend the Berry Hill Resort. It's about an hour from Lynchburg and an hour or so from Raleigh/Durham.












30.3.16

Warm Goat Cheese & Salsa Dip

I have a super easy but very tasty appetizer for you all today as part of the Fiesta blog hop!  More and more lately I have found myself on the hunt for simple recipes. I have tendencies to go all out for gatherings to serve really creative and festive dishes for my friends. I still love doing those things, I have just come to a happy medium. I was becoming so flustered and spending a lot of money and only recently have I leaned more towards simple dishes but ones that still packed a powerful punch in the taste department. I think today's appetizer fulfills those standards. 


I am really pumped to be a part of today's blog hop that is all about Mexican food. Yum, my mouth is already watering imagining what the other bloggers have prepared for us as well! When we did the Italian hop last month, I added quite a few new dishes to our repertoire! The idea for my dish today came from one of my favorite local restaurants, Tazza Kitchen. My go to appetizer there is the  warm goat cheese and marinara dip they serve. It is a hit with everyone and I think this version is pretty delish in its own right!

I just used a plain goat cheese this time, but a flavored one would probably work just as well. Our local grocer had an onion and garlic version, YUM! I used a homemade taco seasoning but you could easily use store bought or any spices that you like. I used a homemade salsa verde and some shredded Mexican blend cheeses. 

The best part about this is that from start to finish takes less than 20 minutes with only about 5 minutes of prep time!


Ingredients

4 oz goat cheese log
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup shredded cheese


preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Pour taco seasonings onto a plate, roll goat cheese in seasonings until completely covered. Place log in a small baking dish and, using your fingers, press down to flatten goat cheese. Pour the salsa over the goat cheese and top with the shredded cheese. 

Bake about 10-15 minutes or until shredded cheese has begun to melt. 

Serve with tortilla chips. And probably a margarita or even a Paloma.

You can mix this up to suit your taste in quite a few ways. Maybe mix the goat cheese and some queso. I think I would like it with a more spicy and robust red salsa next time. and I want to try it with shredded queso vs the Mexican blend. You really can't go wrong!