Kung Pao Carmela

WP_003924I finished a small jar of roasted red peppers, left over from the Eggplant Parm, that I ate on a rice cake. I just loved roasted reds! I have to get another jar! With this pepper idea in my head, I grabbed a baggie of sliced bell peppers from the fridge, threw them in a pan with garlic and ate them with salsa. The smell woke Frank up. “Are you cooking steak?” No, peppers!

Veggies are fantastic! Its hard to feel guilty about eating tons of veggies, yet somehow I manage to do it….

I avoided the cake at work, worked my but off, and heck, I love peppers! Plus, I’m held over until my next meal which won’t be for at least 12 hours.

Today, I woke up early after a late night, for an 0845 appointment and then it was off to Reading! Barry was back from drill ( I haven’t seen him in a few days) and we decided to take today to visit his grandmother. She is such a sweetheart! We made some travel mugs full of coffee, and inspired by Dunkin, used our new White Chocolate and Pumpkin Pie Spice SF syrups.

The weather was a bit off today… sort of overcast, kind of sunny, definitely breezy, and some rain in the occasional spots. I really don’t think mother nature knew what she was feeling, today.

WP_003925On our way up, we stopped at a light and I had to take a picture of this road sign. Ummmm… Gesundheit?!? It was like some one sneezed when they tried to name this road. I just thought it was humorous!

After visiting with his grandmother, we headed back to Delaware. We were both tired. Not even our coffees were doing the trick. By the time we arrived home, neither one of us had eaten anything. It was 3pm and I was unsure if I should eat of wait until dinner. I need to eat, it was my stomach was telling me. Just wait is what the rest of me was saying. I listened to my stomach. Since I planned on cooking Chinese food to dinner, V__6C11Barry and I hit our local take out. I ordered a pint of hot and sour soup and an order of steamed dumplings. The hot and sour soup is a favorite, as you know, and Frank loves the dumplings. As much as I love dumplings, I love the dipping sauce even more! I had a cup of soup and two dumplings, and I was stuffed! I was pretty shocked by how full I was, actually, so I was glad that dad didn’t arrive for dinner until about 530. Barry must have been starving as he downed his order of sweet and sour chicken.

Time to get a little serious…

Today is the 5 year anniversary of my Nonna passing away. I can’t believe its been 5 years already. I remember the entire day so clearly. I just can’t believe its been 5 years. In honor of mommom, I made her favorite Chinese food. On the rare occasion that she would order out, she would only get one 1 dish: “The one with the peanuts.” As much as I love Chinese food, I have never had Kung Pao Chicken, so seasoning this was a bit tricky for me, but it turned out great! It is definitely one I will make again. I whipped up a side of brown ginger rice, that I seasoned with garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil. I had found a 2lb bag of green beans on the produce discount rack for 86 cents!!! Sweet! I cut a bunch of those up and threw them in the rice.

While I was cooking, dad and I were reminiscing about mommom. Every holiday that we have family gatherings, we watch two videos. The first is when she was attempting to speak Italian. We had been trying for so long to nail a take. Each time, she would forget what she was supposed to say, or mess something up, but this time was a beaut! She just stopped and we all started cracking up! Its hard to hear the voice, but just turn the sound up. I love hearing her laugh at the end of the video because its so damn hearty! It was so genuine! Dad cracks up every time we watch it. He turns into a little kid, rocking back and forth with laughter, breathing just enough to squeeze out the words, “Play it  again!”

WP_003927I call it Kung Pao Carmela because Carmela is my Nonna’s name. I based my recipe very closely to Hungry-girl’s recipe. I must say that my dish looked much more appetizing than hers.  Follow the Hungry-girl recipe except for the following alterations, and you have

Kung Pao Carmela:

  • substitute 1 tsp. red chili sauce with 1 Tbsp Spicy Hot Kung Pao sauce, and add 1/2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce.
  • add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes to the stir fry
  • substitute equal parts of sliced bamboo shoots for the water chestnuts

I served the meal in some left over take- out containers for some authenticity, along with the steamed dumplings.

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We spent the next hour talking about mommom with my mom and snacking on the bag of discount green beans. I think between the two of us, we had to have finished off 3/4 of  lb. They were so crisp and fresh. I was so full but just couldn’t stop crunching away. I didn’t really mind though, since I hadn’t eaten all day. We showed mom a video of mommom from her last Christmas. We had gotten my little cousin some guitar game and she was having so much fun fooling around with this thing! My uncle’s commentary is hilarious and I love hearing her laughing, seeing her smile and having a good time, and hearing her voice. My favorite parts of all is when you hear her talk. At one point, she says, “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m doing it!” And I love the end when she says, “I can play!”

Thanks for letting me share my memories with you! I miss you and love you, mommom!

Fitness Goals

“50 push ups.”

Thats what I woke up to this morning. The great thing about having a boyfriend in the military, is that you both want to stay in shape. He has two personal fitness goals: work on his pushups and run 2 mile in under 14 minutes.

While my personal fitness goals are no where near as as Barry’s, my fitness goals are to tone and to run a 5K. I am really happy that I have someone to help me achieve my goals, while I can help him achieve his.

What are your personal fitness goals?

We were supposed to be on the road rather early this morning so we decided on protein shakes. Hes a chocolate peanut butter affinity, like I do, so I made him a super chocolatey PB cup shake, with a banana thrown in. The same went for myself, although spinach was in mine, as well. After our cups of coffee, we headed to dads work to drop off the left over blueberry pancakes from yesterday. He was very appreciative.

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WP_002745After some time in the car, Barrys inner man set in, and we made a pit stop to Burger King. We continued our drive for another hour or so, as I stared out my window, watching farmers, and animals, and beautiful scenes, almost from a picture. After a final pit stop, we finally arrived at a hidden little house, with cats, chickens, and deer in the front yard. We arrived in Reading, where I was introduced to Barry’s grandmother. She was so welcoming. It may have helped that we came bearing sweets from a local shop called Sweet Street.

Barry mentioned this place last night, and after checking out their website, I needed to check this place out! We were greeted with three boxes, each containing a free sample. I immediately went for the cube of blondie, followed by the big apple pie. We picked up a slice of blueberry cheesecake for the boyfriend, a slice a snickers pie for his Pops (grandfather), a slice of triple chocolate cheesecake (which almost put Barry into a sugar coma), and a slice of the caramel apple pie (which was spectacular.)

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Barry’s grandmother was so funny, as she sat down with a fork and took a bite out of each one! Thats my kind of taste testing!

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She insisted Barry and his mom show me around, so I went out back with two bananas and fed the deer. Yes, I fed deer! It was so cool! I never thought I’d be able to do that! They even licked my hands~ Deer Kisses!

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We spent some time socializing before we heard some thunder, and decided to skidaddle before the storm hit.

We finally arrived home, with a growling stomach, I might add. Since dad wasn’t too keen on trying my Kashi Mediteranean pizza. Check this out: “spinach, fire-roasted red onions and sweet red peppers, four signature cheeses including feta and a zesty roasted red pepper sauce on our wood-fired crust made with whole grains…Made with our signature blend of 7 Whole Grains & Sesame with flaxseed.”

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Flaxseed crust? Feta? Spinach? Peppers, onions, and tomatoes? Sound delicious right? WRONG! I was so disappointed! I added some extra spinach when I realized how little there actually was. After the first bite, Barry and I tried to season up this circle of cardboard with garlic, red pepper flakes, even BBQ sauce! Nothing helped! I really hate to give bad reviews and I am always a fan of Kashi, but this was just no good.