365 days of inspiration, gratitude and joy

Lately, one of the first things that I’ve asked a co-worker, friend or family member is, “Have you seen the movie War Room”? I get excited when they have because we get to discuss one of the most POWERFUL movies to hit the big screen in a while. If they haven’t seen it then I highly encourage them to go see it. Most of the time they have gone after I recommended the movie and were so happy I recommended it. So I want to ask you, have you seen the movie “War Room”? If not drop everything you’re doing and GO SEE WAR ROOM!

Currently with everything going on in the world we need this movie. The world needs healing because we are so broken. Once you go see it you’ll understand why it spend a few weeks at #1 at the box office. Upon leaving the movie theater I went straight to the Christian bookstore and picked up a daily devotion book and a journal. Most of my post are about health and wellness but spiritual and mental health are just as important as physical health.

Honestly that is one area that I haven’t been focusing on lately and it probably is the most important area I need to work on. I’ve been reading my daily devotion and writing in my journal daily and making sure I focus on what I’m grateful for. So, when I saw that one of the books available on Blogging for Books was, Instant Happy Journal by Karen Salmansohn, I knew I had to choose it. It goes right along with the current chapter I’m in, in my life. If you are on social media then I’m sure you’ve run across some of Karen Salmanohn’s quotes and amazing accompanying artwork.

Instant Happy Journal by Karen Salmansohn is a small, colorful journal with a happiness prompter for all 365 days. So what are “happiness prompters”,  they are a range of motivational quotes, thought-provoking questions, scientific research studies, and soul-stirring philosophical thoughts. The thing I like about the happiness prompter is that it allows you to focus on the good in your day, as well as give you something to think and journal about. It has 365 different happiness prompters which I think will help with never not knowing what to write about. You fill in the date so if you skip a day, no worries, you are going at your own pace.

I’m excited to start using this new journal along with my daily devotion and would have bought this journal even if it wasn’t sent to me. I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the pages I turned to; “Life is about doing things that don’t suck with people who don’t suck.” – John Green. For that day is also says, List some unsucky people you love-and why!



FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”

5 IN 5

5 In 5 For Every Season by Michael Symon

A few things that I look for when deciding to purchase a cookbook is whether their are plenty of pictures and if the recipes have minimal ingredients. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE to cook but I don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. I have a 8 year old who keeps me on the go so I chose Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 for Every Season by Michael Symon, cohost of The Chew, with Douglas Trattner as my next book to review. Who doesn’t like quick recipes, right?

The recipes are organized by season so if you’re trying to save money and shop based on what’s in season then he has laid it out for you. He has also included a holiday recipe section to help your dinner parties go a little smoother. He has gathered 165 recipes, each has 5 fresh ingredients with about 5 minutes of heat time. The 5 fresh ingredients do not include the oil or seasonings that are not considered fresh so most of the recipes have more than 5 ingredients.

While I haven’t tried any of the recipes, I have to be honest, I’m not sure if I will. It’s just a lot of recipes that don’t appeal to me. Anchovy doesn’t seem appetizing to me and I don’t eat pork, well with the exception of bacon, so I can do without those recipes. I’m wondering if their are more pork recipes included because it doesn’t take as long to cook pork. Another letdown is the lack of pictures. Not every recipe has to have one but yes I do want the majority of the recipes to have a picture included. The 2 recipes that I probably will try have pictures included which are the Thai-Style Shrimp Salad and the Autumn Panzanella. Don’t they say you eat with your eyes first, well these 2 recipes look delicious!

Well if I haven’t deterred you from purchasing this book, yet piqued your interest you’ll have to wait a little longer because it’s not available to purchased until September 22, 2015. If you do purchase it please let me know your thoughts.


FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”


Martha Stewart's Appetizers

It’s PARTY TIME! Summer will soon be coming to an end and next thing you know we’ll be knocking people over at Wal-Mart to get our 9th $2.99 chopper. No matter how many we have, we just can’t say no to a Black Friday deal. When Fall comes around I look forward to all the food.

I received a copy of Martha Stewart’s Appetizers by Martha Stewart to review. So far this is my FAVORITE book that I’ve received and I haven’t tried 1 recipe YET. This book is packed with so many appetizers to make for a great dinner party. Flipping through the pages makes me want to plan a dinner party just to try out the many recipes.

The first thing that stands out about Martha Stewart’s Appetizers book is that EVERY recipe is accompanied with a picture. Don’t quote me on that but I’m pretty sure that a picture is included with every recipe. That’s a make or break for me when I’m looking through a cookbook to determine if I want to purchase it or not so 2 thumbs up for that.

In addition to the mouthwatering recipes, there are party planning tips and strategies included to help you throw a successful party. Some of the tips include are, settling on a menu, establishing a timeline, strategizing your shopping, serving essentials and more.

You can’t have a party without a few cocktails so no worries there are recipes for signature cocktails that are sure to be a hit at your party. Again I can’t say enough about how impressed I am with the layout of this book. Martha Stewart’s first book was published in 1982, so clearly she knows how to put together a great cookbook. While there are tips included, the focus of the 254 page book is on the recipes. 

Martha Stewart’s Appetizers by Martha Stewart will hit the bookshelves September 8th which is plenty of time to test out a few recipes before the holidays. I’ll definitely share what I try and I hope you do the same. CHEERS!


FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”


The blender girl smoothies

You can never have too many smoothie recipes and I’m always looking for new smoothies to at to my library. I was sent The Blender Girl Smoothies by Tess Masters from blogging for books. The smoothie recipes are broken down by category; light and fruity, clean and green, an exotic ride and desserts. The recipes contain the nutritional facts and its great to actually see this information for smoothies. It’s eye opening because some of these recipes contain a BUNCH of sugar. It’s really going to make me more aware of the amount of sugar I add to my smoothies.

The beginning of the book contains a section on how to build your own smoothie. You start with the liquids, base(fruits or vegetables), cream, greens, boosters(oil, superfoods, powders, etc.), and magic(spices, herbs, sweeteners, etc.). The recipes included icons to show whether they fit in the following categories; detox, weight loss, immunity, energizing, protein rich, alkaline, inflammation, contains nuts, or unsweetened. So if you need to improve your health in a certain area then you can build your smoothies to target those areas.

The smoothie pantry at the end of the book goes into greater detail of what ingredients can be used in each category of building your own smoothie. Different liquids, greens, herbs, spices, coconuts, superfoods, flavor enhancers and sweeteners. I’m looking forward to trying the dessert smoothies, like the Apple Pie in a Glass, Brownie Batter, Strawberry Shortcake, Peach Crumble and Carrot Cake.

Smoothies are a great way to add more greens to your daily nutrition. Seeing the nutritional has made me realize the two smoothies a day is not the best for me. Even though fruit is a natural sugar it’s still sugar. My normal smoothie consist of water, spinach, ground flaxseed, Vega Sport protein powder, frozen banana, strawberry and pineapples so it’s time to switch it up.


 FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”


EINKORN Recipes for Nature's Original Wheat

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with gluten intolerance and seen plenty of gluten free labeling on food packaging. While some people have to give up wheat due to celiac or similar diseases, others have made a personal choice to give up gluten. Although I haven’t personally given up wheat, I have read that over the years wheat has been altered and not in a good way. When I heard about the book Einkorn by Carla Bartolucci, I wanted to find out more about “nature’s original wheat”.

First, what is Einkorn? What I learn from the new book Einkorn by Carla Bartolucci is that, Einkorn is similar to emmer, spelt, durum, and soft wheat. All wheat is a descendant of wild einkorn, and yet einkorn remains as the original diplod wheat, with only two sets of chromosomes, and the only one never to be hybridized. Hybridization is the crossing of distinctly different different species of plants to form a new variety with a new genetic makeup.

The book goes into more detail about the history of einkorn and how Carla and her family discovered and began using it. The majority of the book is full of recipes, which I like. Some recipes use einkorn all-purpose flour and other recipes use whole grain einkorn flour. Locally I was only able to find the einkorn all-purpose flour and will have to order the whole grain flour. In the beginning section of the book Carla explains how to work with einkorn flour and it’s very helpful. Definitely do not overlook this information and skip to the recipe section. I must admit that I usually don’t read the beginning of cookbooks but since I wanted to learn all about einkorn I read it.

One thing I learned about is einkorn sourdough starter need to make the bread recipes. This process takes about 6 to 10 days to get the starter strong enough to bake great bread. I wanted to make bread but after reading the process to make sourdough starter, I decided to start with something that wasn’t as complicated…COOKIES! Can’t go wrong with satisfying my sweet tooth. These cookies were GREAT! The first batch I baked for 14 minutes and they were very cook well through. The second batch I baked for 11 minutes and they turned out much softer and even more delicious. It may depend on your oven, how long you need to bake the cookies. These were a hit with the family so I’ll definitely make these again.



Chocolate Chip Cookies - Einkorn Flour

2 Cups (240 g) all-purpose einkorn flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
10 tablespoons (138 g) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (110 g) (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, one separated
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (210 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars for 2 minutes, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides. Add 1 egg, the separated egg yolk, and vanilla and beat on a medium-low speed for 1 to 2 minutes until thoroughly combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed just until the flour is incorporated.

Add the chocolate chips and continue beating until the dough is evenly mixed. Do not overmix, or the dough will get too warm. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

4. Roll 2-tablespoon (35 g) scoops of cookie dough in your hands into balls and place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches around each cookie. Bake the cookies in batches for 14 minutes until the edges are golden and the center is soft but cooked through, Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Einkorn Flour



 FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”



A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones is the latest book that I chose from Blogging for Books. It’s packed with over 200 vegetarian recipes. Just in case you are wondering, no I am not converting to a vegetarian. I chose this book because even though I eat meat it’s great to have a different variety of vegetables to go along with my meals. Roasted broccoli, asparagus and okra can get old after a while. A Modern Way to Eat is a very impressive cookbook. It’s over 350 pages and you can tell that the author took some time with putting this cookbook together.

Included are options for breakfast, salads, soups, easy lunches, hearty dinners, drinks, sweet treats and more. No worries, the cookbook actually has delicious sweet desserts and not broccoli on a stick. Of course, I wanted to go for a dessert but since I made cupcakes for my last review, I decided to go with a breakfast option. I made the Lemon Maple Granola and it was one of the easier recipes. Their are several recipes throughout the book and included in different sections are guides of how she puts together a recipe. The recipe guide is great because if you want to choose a different vegetable, herb, spice, etc, she list several options to choose from.

In addition to the recipes their are other guides included in the book, such as information on the different types of grains and how to cook the grains, the different types of flours, a guide to when the different vegetables, fruits and herbs are in season and lots more other guides. On the downside, a lot of the recipes call for more ingredients then I would like. Overall, this is one of the most detailed cookbooks that I have owned. Their isn’t a picture to go with each recipe but it is a great balance. The next recipe that I will share from this cookbook is the Kale and Black Sesame Sushi Bowl so make sure you check back for that.


FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”


a modern way to eat - 200+ satisfying vegetarian recipes (that will make you feel amazing)

Who doesn’t like a little granola along with your yogurt? Its been a long time since I’ve made my own granola and if I would have remembered how easy it was to make, then I would have made it sooner. This recipe comes from one of the books that I received from Blogging for Books, A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones. Instead of using all oats, the recipe calls for half oats and half quinoa flakes. This was the first time I’ve tried or heard of quinoa flakes. You’ll find it in the healthy food section near the cereal. I purchased it from Kroger.

 If you can’t find the quinoa flakes or don’t want to spend $8-$9 for it then you can use 3 cups of oats instead. The great thing about the Quinoa flakes is that it’s a complete source of protein so it’s a great source for adding additional protein to your “diet.” Try the recipe below and it literally took 10 minutes to prep so you can have a container full of granola in no time.

a modern way to eat - 200+ satisfying vegetarian recipes (that will make you feel amazing)


1/2 cup/170 g maple syrup or runny honey

2 large handfuls (1 1/2 cups/150 g) rolled oats

2 handfuls (1 3/4 cups/150 g) quinoa flakes

2 handfuls (1/2 cup/80 g) seeds
(I use sunflower and pumpkin)

2 handfuls (1 cup/150 g) nuts
(I use skin-on almonds and pecans), chopped

a handful (1/4 cup/30 g)
unsweetened dried coconut

grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons

a handful (3/4 cup/100g) raisins

2 handfuls (3/4 cup/100g) any
other dried fruit, roughly chopped
(I used dates and dried apricots)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C.

Mix the oats, quinoa flakes, seeds, chopped nuts, coconut, and lemon zest in a large bowl, then scatter over two large, lightly oiled baking trays.

Pour over the maple syrup or honey and mix well with your hands to coat everything. bake for 20 minutes. Remember to give it a good stir every 5 minutes or so.

After 20 minutes, add all the fried fruits and put back into the oven for another 10 minutes to get that slightly chewy, caramelized fruit texture. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool. Store in airtight jars or containers for up to 1 month.


Adapted from: A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones


The Sweetapolita Bakebook

The latest book that I’ve requested from Blogging For Books has arrived and it’s a sweet treat! The majority of my post are healthy food recipes but I’m a foodie and I love all types of foods including sweets. The Sweetapolita Bakebook caught my eye because it not only includes mouth watering recipes, it also includes tips and techniques on baking. You can tell from the cover that it’s going to be a great book.

The book starts with a Guide to Sprinkles. There is even a recipe on making sprinkles. Who would have ever thought to make your own sprinkles. In addition to a section highlighting sprinkles, there’s also a chapter on layered cakes, fanciful cakes, cookies, frosting and fillings, baking and decorating techniques and more. 

The bakebook includes some fancy cakes and cookies. I chose to make one of the simplest cake recipes and chose the cupcake variation, the Super White Cake. I also paired it with the Vanilla Bakery Frosting. The great thing about this recipe was that it was easy to make and wasn’t overly sweet. You can read more about changes I would make the next time I make it.

Next, I plan to try the Vanilla Sugar Cutout Cookies and the Royal Icing. I’ve tried to make my own royal icing and it didn’t turn out so great. It was very runny so I’m going to give this recipe a try along with the sugar cookies. Hopefully they’ll turn out better then my other attempt because they ended up in the trash…

If you are looking to take your baking up a notch and learn to create fancier cakes and cookies then this cookbook if for you. I don’t know that I would recommend this book for someone who is starting out to bake because I think the majority of the recipes are elaborate. There are some great tips and baking techniques that will be helpful to anyone at any level.

Sweetapolita, super white cake with vanilla bakery frosting

FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”



Please look away if you’re on a “diet” or just skip to another post. Its been a while since I’ve baked a dessert but every now and then I like to whip up a sweet treat. I’ve learned that I can’t keep sweets in the house because I’ll eat them all. Amiyah doesn’t have a sweet tooth and of course food can’t go to waste so I end up eating it, NOT GOOD! I’m learning to indulge but not over do it. With this recipe I made regular cupcakes as well as mini cupcakes and I ate about 4 of the mini’s and gave away the other 2 dozen cupcakes so I was proud of myself.

This recipe comes from The Sweetapolita Bakebook by Rosie Alyea. This is the lastest book from Blogging for Books that I requested. I chose to test out the Super White Cake recipe. Instead of making a cake a chose to make cupcakes. The flavor of the cupcakes and the icing were very delicious. The icing wasn’t overly sweet but my cupcakes turned out dense. I’ve mentioned before that my dad is a pastry chef and he said that I whipped the batter too long. If I had time to make another batch I would have tried it again but I will in the future and let you know how it goes. I’m very critical of myself but my coworkers did enjoy the cupcakes. They could have just been being nice but either way they were all gone by lunch time and I didn’t see any in the trash. :)

As I mentioned before they only thing that I will do differently would be to mix the batter for a shorter period of time. For the cupcakes I ordered the Princess Bakery Emulsion and used that in place of the pure vanilla extract. My dad agreed that it gave it a nice flavor. It’s different in that it’s thicker compared to pure vanilla extract. Overall this was an easy recipe and it’s worth making, just don’t whip the batter too long.

Ingredients for the Super White Cake layers:
  • 3 1/4 cups (375 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups (450 g) superfine sugar
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) milk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons Princess Cake & Cookie Bakery Emulsion or pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 7 large egg whites, room temperature

 Sweetapolita, super white cake with vanilla bakery frosting


For the Super White Cake layers:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease the bottoms of three 8 x 2-inchround cake pans and line with parchment. Line two oven-safe ramekins with cupcake liners.
  • Into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the sugar. With the mixer running on low speed, add the cold butter one piece at a time. Beat until all of the butter is incorporated, about 3 minutes. The mixture should have a fine crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.
  • In a medium measuring cup with a spout, combine half the milk, the emulsion and lemon juice. In a separate measuring cup, gently whisk the egg whites and remaining milk.
  • Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually add the emulsion mixture and beat for 5 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the egg white mixture. Beat for 2 minutes, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Fold the batter once or twice to ensure everything has been incorporated. Fill each of the prepared ramekins two-thirds full with batter, and tint one bright pink and one bright turquoise. Divide the remaining batter evenly amount the prepared pans.
  • Baker the first two layers in the center of the oven until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs, 20 to 22 minutes. Repeat with the final layer (bake the ramekins along with this layer for 20 minutes). Remove the cupcakes from the pan immediately and let cool on wire rack. Let the cake layers cool in their pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the sides of the cakes and carefully turn them out onto wire racks. Peel off the paper liners and let cool completely.
  • The cake layers will keep wrapped tightly in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 days.

A Note About Baking Pans:

  • Two 9-inch round cake pans, for 28 to 30 minutes
  • Three 7-inch round cake pans, for 22 to 26 minutes
  • One baker’s half-sheet pan (18 x 13 x 1 inch), for 18 to 22 minutes
  • One 9 X 13-inch pan, for 30 to 35 minutes
  • 2 to 3 dozen cupcake liners, for 17 to 20 minutes
  • 12 jumbo cupcake liners, for 22 to 15 minutes

 Sweetapolita, super white cake with vanilla bakery frosting


Ingredients for the Vanilla Bakery Frosting:
  • 1 cups (225 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) high-ratio shortening
  • Pinch of salt
  • 31/4 cups (410 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
Directions for the Vanilla Bakery Frosting:
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, shortening, and salt on medium speed until very pale and creamy, 8 minutes. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, and almond extract.
  • Reduce the speed to the lowest setting and beat for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until very light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
  • The frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring chilled frosting to room temperature and beat on low speed to soften. If necessary, you can warm the frosting in a heatproof container in the microwave in 10-second intervals, stirring after each one, until smooth and spreadable.


Summer Herbed Grilled Shrimp

Summer time grilling is underway and I’m sharing a recipe that can be cook year-round. This simple recipe didn’t lack any flavor even though I didn’t use an outdoor grill. As I’ve stated before I LOVE my griddle and cook just about everything on there. So rather than pull out the charcoal grill, I used my griddle and cooked this in my air conditioned kitchen…lol.

Saturday I spent in the heat because I had a garage sale. I’m in the process of de-cluttering and turning my garage into a workout space. Saturday was HOT but I made a lot of progress with my garage. Not only did I make about $250 but I delivered 3 truck loads of clothes, household goods and toys to Goodwill after the yard sale. I was determined not to pull that stuff back in my garage and I didn’t. It’s such a relief to go in there and it’s almost empty. There are a few things left in there that I plan to keep and some other things that I will get rid of at the end of the month. My neighborhood is having a community sweep so any old tires or other items that you need for them to pick up they will at the end of the month. It’s perfect timing! What wasn’t perfect timing was my washing machine not starting but that’s a different story.

After all that moving and cleaning yesterday I hit over 20,000 steps…21,845 to be exact. That was the most steps that I’ve gotten in one day and Sunday morning when I woke up my body felt every step. Because I have a love for food but I still was able muster up enough strength and whip of this recipe and a few others today. This is definitely one to bookmark and keep in rotation. Enjoy and let me know what you think!


1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Cooking spray
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl.

3. Combine shrimp, 1 table­spoon oil, honey, pepper, and salt in a large bowl; toss gently to coat.

4. Arrange shrimp on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove shrimp from grill.

5. Stir remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and vinegar into herb mixture. Top shrimp with herb mixture, or toss all together.

Calories 114, Fat 5.3 g, Satfat 0.7 g, Monofat 3.4 g, Polyfat 0.5 g, Protein 12 g, Carbohydrate 4 g, Fiber 0.0 g, Cholesterol 107 mg, Iron 0.0 mg, Sodium 188 mg, Calcium 55 mg

Adapted from: July 2015 Cooking Light issue