Tomato-Basil Pizza

I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, so I figured I should share my most recent one. Y’all, it was so much better than I anticipated. I’ve been trying to find recipes for my favorite “cheat” meals so I can make them myself rather than eating out. I’m still transitioning into what I’ll have to expect in Africa, but man, I love me some pizza. It can be pretty cheap, but saving $10 is helping me manage my money as I raise funding and prepare to leave!

So this recipe was given to me by my friend, Patti. She has always blown my mind with her love for cooking and the talent that goes along with it. I changed some things in the recipe, so I’ll post mine and if you’re interested in the original, leave a comment!

1 Package (10 ounces) refrigerated pizza crust

1/2 lb ground turkey (SEASONED)

2 Cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese broken up

1/4 Cup Parmesan cheese

 4 FRESH basil leaves or 2 teaspoons of dried basil leaves (but honestly, fresh is the way to go)

2/3 cups of Plain Greek Yogurt (I added a little more, I like the consistency that way)

1 garlic clove pressed (I used 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, because I was too lazy to chop the clove)

4 thinly sliced roma tomatoes 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Using lightly floured dough and a pizza roller, roll the crust on a 12×15″ rectangular baking pan. I based the pan with a bit of olive olive before, you don’t have to. Sprinkle the crust with 1 cup of Mozzarella cheese. Snip your basil into the size that you prefer. I left mine a little thick, because I really wanted the basil flavor to stand out on each slice.

In a 1 Qt. bowl combine the remaining mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, basil, and the yogurt. Mix well. Add the garlic and blend it in.

Here’s where I took the recipe and did what I wanted, lol. I took about 1/2 lb of ground turkey, seasoned it, and cooked it down until it was almost crispy. I put that to the side to somewhat cool down before adding it to the pizza.

Cut the tomatoes into super thin slices and place them all over. Take the topping mix that’s in your bowl and using a small ice cream scoop, or in my case, a SPOON, dollop it onto the pizza and spread it evenly across its entirety. Sprinkle the turkey all over, and pop that sucker in the over for 15-20 mins or until golden brown. Cut and Serve.

Yield: 20 servings or 10, depending on how many Shakiylas you have joining you. Seriously, I could’ve eaten the whole thing…

The recipe said it was approximately 130 calories and 9 grams of fat per slice, BUT, my recipe replaced mayonnaise with yogurt, and regular mozzarella with low fat. I also added ground turkey. I’m not sure of the differences those make, but I felt better about eating it that way. Y’all know my rule in cooking is make it work for YOU. Recipes are fun, but they don’t always have to remain as it. Play around!

Please please please let me know if you try it. Post pictures and leave comments. It’s the summer, and before I head out to training, I’m taking some time to bask in silence. Cooking does that. It gives me a space to think and reflect, maybe that’s cheesy, but I needed it today.

Thank you for reading.

As always, I love you.

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Going, going, GONE.

February 2018

The week has started, and I’m pretty anxious about my upcoming trips. I decided that with all of the traveling I did last year, I wanted to keep up the momentum. Today is February 5, 2018 and I’m taking my first couple of trips starting this Friday. The goal has been for me to leave Louisiana at least once a month, and visit somewhere new, with or without a travel buddy. I’ve been hungry to experience new things, new places, and new people.

So, the first part of my trip will be in Florida. I’ve actually been to Florida once before, but never by myself, or at my own pace. I will be staying in Eustis, a small city in Lake County FL. I don’t know much about the place, or what it has to offer, but I’m eager to find out. I’m specifically going there for a job interview, and if all goes as planned, I’ll be sharing that with you all soon. If you have any suggestions or recommendations of places to see while I’m there, PLEASE drop a comment. I can easily Google it, but it’s just not the same as a personal recommendation.

My second stop will be Washington D.C. I’ve never been, so I’m super excited about all of the historical artifacts, museums, and food I plan to take in while I’m there. I haven’t gotten any suggestions on places to visit, and my priority is the National Museum of African American History. I will obviously be spending time other places, but my list is fairly short. I plan to visit the national monuments and The Ethiopic Restaurant, an African restaurant in the city.

I’ve set a personal goal to meet at least 5 new people and try 3 new foods- I’ll be sharing that with y’all as well. I haven’t made a decision on where to visit in March, so I’m attaching a poll that I’d love some feedback on! I will be posting my “Top 10 Tips for Solo-Female Travers” soon, and hopefully that’ll encourage you to take the world, country, or even your state by storm!

VOTE HERE

Thank you for continuing with me on my journey. There is so much more to come.

I love you.

Santa Fe Quinoa

For the past few months, I’ve been pretty particular about what foods I eat. I didn’t want to go on a diet, because I didn’t think it’d last, so I just changed everything. What I eat, what I drink, how often I sleep, physical activity, hair products, body products, everything. I’ve completely changed the way I take care of myself, and meal prepping is a small piece of that change. Now, to the recipe.

Quinoa is not for the faint at heart. The texture is something much different than what I’m used to, and it took some getting used to, but I can honestly say I enjoy playing around with recipes. I’ve been craving tacos lately, I don’t know why, but I had to do something about it.

First, the quinoa needs to be washed. It has a soap-like residue called saponin, which can cause a pretty bitter taste. The easiest way to do so, is to put it in a large bowl, whisk, and rinse. That is of course unless you have a small enough strainer. Either is fine! I generally do this the day before cooking, and allow the seeds to dry overnight in the fridge. It isn’t necessary, though. You can get right to it.

Ingredients

1 C quinoa

1 C black beans (mine were dry and cooked earlier in the week, canned is fine)

3 C Shrimp (peeled and deveined)

1 C diced tomatoes (these were fresh, 1 can should do the trick)

1/2 chopped onion

1/2 chopped green bell pepper

salt, pepper, cayenne, parsley, taco seasoning, and garlic powder

Instructions

Cook the quinoa stovetop. No oil. No water. No nothin’. Just allow it to cook to a crunch that you deem satisfying. It will start popping like popcorn, keep an eye on it. I cooked mine for about 5 minutes on medium. Put these to the side.

In a pan mix seasonings, onion, bell pepper, black beans, and tomatoes. Add about a cup of water, and allow it to simmer for 8-10mins. In the picture attached, I put them on the plate separately for a visual, it is fine to cook them together. DO NOT overcook the beans. They’ll get mushy.

In a separate skillet, add a tbsp of EVOO, a dash of black pepper, and your shrimp. Make sure they are fully cooked.

Mix EVERYTHING in a bowl, and top with a bit of lime juice. This can be eaten in the bowl as is, or spooned onto a whole wheat tortilla. I had the bowl and was more than satisfied.

If this is your first time reading a recipe of mine, please don’t be frustrated with my lack of detail. I think it’s important not to take away the magic of cooking with meticulous recipes. HAVE FUN WITH IT. Mix it up. Enjoy. Please give feedback if you try this recipe and any recommendations are welcomed. If you have questions, please feel free to ask!

Thanks for reading.

I love you.

 

Whole Wheat Waffles.

Well, I got a waffle maker for Christmas..actually, it was my mom’s and I permanently borrowed it while visiting for the holidays.

I’ve been trying to think of tasty and convenient foods to have for breakfast on the way to, or at work. Well, this is not one of those breakfasts. Waffles are intended to be savored people, so these are a part of our Saturday morning ritual.

Aries, my dog, is fairly spoiled, so I generally try to find recipes that can become puppy-friendly. With all that being said, here’s the recipe:

Dry ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

Dash of salt, for my measurement obsessed (1/4 teaspoon)

1 tbs honey

1 tablespoon ground flax seed ( not necessary, simply preference)

Wet ingredients:

1 1/2 cup almond milk ( I’m lactose intolerant so this is pretty gentle on me, use the milk you’d prefer)

1 egg

2 egg whites

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Be sure to mix the dry and wet separately. I recommend beating the eggs for at LEAST 2 minutes. I’m obsessed with fluffy waffles and after a few failed attempts, that’s what got it done!

When combining, avoid mixing the batter too much. It will create a kind of density that will make the waffles TOUGH and defeat the purpose of working those biceps with egg beating.

Be sure to warm your waffle maker completely.

I usually chop up half of a banana, add a dollop of Greek yogurt, agave, and whatever toppings I want for the day!

I could be much more specific with this recipe, but I think my favorite part of cooking is making the recipe your OWN! Play with it! Please feel free to share your results!

P.s. If it’s for your canine kid, avoid adding flax! He loves bananas, so I cook those inside of his! I freeze them overnight, and he gets 1/4 as a treat no more than twice a day.

THEY ARE A PERFECT SUB FOR RAW HIDE AND CHEW BONES!

Until next time!

I love you.

Istanbul, Turkey.

 

My goal with the “Travel” page on my blog is to give you all an insight on the things I see and experience when I leave home. About two years ago I felt a yearning to see more of the world, but not just see it, experience it and impact it. This was my very first of what I hope will be many international trips. Throughout the blog, I have attached links that apply to pieces of the culture, CLICK AWAY.

My friend Sultan and I met my Junior year in college and it was love at first sight. She ignited a sort of joy that not many people have. She was so sweet and sincere with the woman she was; such a gentle spirit. After being friends for about 2 years, we wept at the thought of her returning home. I promised her that as soon as I was financially able, I would visit her. 4 years after she left, I graduated college, got into my career, and jumped on a plane to Istanbul.

Not only was this trip my first international one, but it was my first time flying. MY FIRST FLIGHT WAS 14R HOURS. Who does that? Apparently, I do. In addition to that, my plane was scheduled to leave the day after there was an outrageous terrorist attack on the Ataturk Airport that took the lives of 41 people. Good thing that wasn’t mine, right? WRONG. I was petrified. My mama was hell bent on me staying home. My friends threatened to steal my passport. Needless to say, it was not looking like I’d see my friend. After crying in my closet like a small toddler, I found myself talking to God about the power of fear. Everyone had decided on MY future, because of their own fear, and I’d slowly started to give in. I had one day. One day to decide whether or not I’d take this life altering trip to the other side of the world or let fear dictate my life decisions. After hours at the cross, I packed my bags, and left.

There were guards everywhere. I wasn’t able to walk through the airport without seeing at least ONE M16. I was terrified, and my phone was dying. I eventually met up with Su, and we were on our way.

I’ve attached images of my most impactful experiences at the bottom of this post, but they are nowhere near everything I saw and felt in the 1 week of visiting. I’ll try to be as concise as possible with my description of each, but if any of you are interested in an in depth explanation PLEASE feel free to comment. I never get tired of talking about it. The culture was so rich and my emotions were ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Before I begin, I feel the need to add that this molded my spiritual walk in ways that scared me to my knees. I had never been in a pl ace where my words held ZERO value. Nobody could understand me, I was unable to express myself, and I felt that my autonomy had been stripped away. For the first time in a long time- I was fully reliant on God, and it was a liberating and frustrating feeling. I had to submit my pride and STILL teach my friend about Christ because on many occasions, He commanded it. Those emotions instilled in me a passion for traveling and teaching, not only English, but God’s truth.

Well, let’s begin:

The Coffee: It took about 30mins to brew that small pot of coffee pictured. It was a delicacy to be prepared by the women of the house for the men as a part of Ramadan. I love cooking, so I was honored when they asked me to do it, but petrified when they told me if the men didn’t enjoy it, they would send it back. I was also taught that in Turkish culture, men could DIVORCE their wives if they were unable to prepare it to their liking…uh….BYE. I was stunned, but they were accustomed to it and Su’s father and Brother-in-law were there so clearly they’d been doing something right. I’m not sure if they really enjoyed it, or didn’t want to hurt my feelings, but they finished their cups and what was in the pot. There are MANY other Turkish traditions and old myths linked to their coffee. I’ve attached a link here.

The Corn: I know you’re probably like, “Why is this fool posting a picture of corn like it’s not in America?” Well, it was special, because I picked and husked it, LOL. So yes, it deserves its own feature. We sat on a blanket on the floor, separated it, and barbecued it outside. We, being the women.

 The Mall: After dinner, we all piled up in the car and went to an outlet mall nearby. The prices were to die for, lol. Mainly because the American dollar was worth three times more than their currency. I felt rich, to say the least. We also visited the Mall of Turkey (Sultan and I) Where I spent about $200, as 600 Turkish bills… it was wild.

The Ferry: I’m standing in front of the ferry that took us on a 30 minute ride to Heybaliada Island in Istanbul. It was absolutely beautiful. I sat next to a girl named Ann, and she shared her cookies because she could hear my stomach growling. I used Google translate to tell her I loved her LOL.

The Language: Sultan’s baby sister took it upon herself to teach me about 20 Turkish phrases to help me as we traveled. It was very seldom I left Su’s side, but in the event I did, I was a bit more confident while encountering natives. She was only 15, and we basically became bestfriends.

Turkish Engagement Party: When I posted this picture on Facebook, most people assumed it was a wedding. It was actually an engagement party. There was easily about 300 people there. We were in a 3-story complex with an outside area. The party consisted of celebrating the couple by watching them dance, then joining in. There was no meal or drinks, just dancing. It was precious. There is so much that goes into Turkish matrimony, so click the link to get a more in depth look!

The Blue Mosque: Last, but certainly not least, I’ve included a picture of us standing at a fountain in front of the Blue Mosque, or Sultan Ahmed Mosque. I didn’t have my Hijab on in the picture, but we both were pretty covered the evening we entered. There were THOUSANDS of people there for worship and celebration of Ramadan. It was breathtaking. We sat in the grass and ate a light supper before entering and there was life ALL around us.

I think I covered each of the pictures, and I hope I gave you just a small glance of what Istanbul did to my heart. I recommend visiting, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it alone. There are programs that offer Turkish tours for prices from $300-$1,000 depending on preference and desire. Thankfully, I have a sister who is a native, but I think that’d be a pretty legit vacation spot.

Until next time!

I love you.

 

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Strawberry Schmear.

Good morning you guys! Okay, so I generally don’t blog about food or anything pertaining to food, mainly because I don’t think you care what I eat but this recipe made my morning. Beside the fact that it’s my first off day in forever, I woke up at 7am……..7……AM……. Instead of going into a Hulk-like rage, I played with my unbearable transitioning hair and tried side-dish recipes.

Strawberry shmear is what I’ll call it. So, since I’ve been losing weight I’ve really tried to kick my bad eating habits in the face but I have 3 vices: 1. Pizza 2. Ice cream 3. Bagels , they’re literally my favorites in life but instead of completely doing away with them, I’ve been experimenting healthy ways to indulge. I’m rambling. Sorry. Okay, to the point. I had a whole wheat-cinnamon bagel for breakfast and instead of butter, cream cheese, or even honey, I did the following:

Blend together (I used a bullet)

-3 medium sized strawberries

-2 tsp of honey

-1 tsp of brown sugar

-1 tbs of skim or low-fat milk

SIMPLE RIGHT?!

Let it get pretty smooth, you want it to at least be thick enough to smear. This should be enough for one whole bagel, because I only ate half of mine, I just placed the rest in the fridge and plan to use it tomorrow for breakfast. Now, any health guru would probably tell you to steer away from bagels but like I said, I love them, so I’d rather work it until I feel like I’m strong enough to say good-bye. Oh bagels.

Hope you liked it. This blog is a lot different from my usual ones but food is good so I like to talk about it sometimes.