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To my husband…

Today is my husband’s birthday. The most used sentence or thought that runs along the lines of, “I don’t know what I would do without you…” couldn’t be truer in our relationship. I honestly don’t know what I would do without him. He has gotten me through some tough moments in my life.

There are times when I think that he saved me from a bad situation when I was coping with a toxic family. He was the only one that took the time to understand me and genuinely cared about what I was going through. I have never met anyone else like that. Someone that is so kind and patient. He gave himself completely to me on the nights where I was curled up in ball on the bathroom floor contemplating suicide. He helped me out of that dark hole with his love and kindness. I will always be thankful for that.

So today is for him. Life can get in the way sometimes and it’s hard to stop and remember that we have loving people in our lives. It’s important to take the time to remember that. I have a loving husband and friend by my side for the rest of my life which is pretty amazing.

So, Happy Birthday my love. May this coming year bring you joy, growth and success, for you deserve it. Love always, your kitten.

Lemon Poppy-Seed Cake

By. Lady and Pups

Photography by. Bernadette Mira

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Christmas Time is Here (Julia Child’s croissants with cranberry jam filling)

I will always remember that Christmas.

That time of year is back again and I can already feel the anxiety setting in. There are times when I can’t help but think about the past. Especially about the time I opened up to my adoptive father about being sexually abused as a child.

Christmas time when I was a younger was all that I waited for with every passing year. I remember decorating the house till every room was filled with some sort of tinsel or sparkling lights. I cherished every second of it. You couldn’t stop me from dancing to the Grinch soundtrack with The Who’s singing “Trim up the tree with Christmas fluff…” That time of year was magical for me. Over the years it unfortunately lost its sense of innocence. That Christmas when I told my father about being abused left me raw and alone. I will always remember that Christmas.

The week before Christmas I had to say goodbye to my husband. We were both celebrating the holiday with our families, me in Virginia and him in Florida. He was my boyfriend at the time, but I still found it difficult to leave him. Maybe it was because I knew that I could confined in him about being abused. As soon as I made it back to VA with my adoptive parents I felt this sense of gloom over the house. Before entering the house that I grew up in, I looked up at it and all the memories of being abused flooded in. How I stayed in that house for years, I still don’t know how.

When Christmas Day came along I kept on contemplating if I was going to tell my father or not. My mother who already knew and saw me get abused said, “It’s up to you Bernadette.” I had to build up my courage throughout the day until by 8 pm or so I sat my father down and told him.

The moment went by so quickly. All I remember is him saying a joke afterwards about me being abused and him getting me a wet wash cloth to wash away my tears. That’s how it was with them. They think by washing away the problems that they will magically disappear. That method never works.

Now, that I am estranged from them, I can’t help but feel that Christmas has to be perfect. It’s not healthy to think that way and I’m slowly working on it. Even though this year has been tough in so many ways politically, socially and personally,  I have a loving husband. I have a silly dog and a new family in my husband’s family. I have met new people who I can consider real friends. I know that 2018 will be better. I know this because I will keep on trying to live for me and not for the family I grew up with.

Julia Child’s Croissants

Volume Two of Mastering the Art of French Cooking 

By Julia Child and Simone Beck 

Makes 12

Ingredients

1 1/4 tsp. of yeast

3 tbsp. of warm water (100 degrees)

1 tsp. of sugar

Second half of recipe

1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour

2 tsp. of sugar

1 1/2 tsp. of salt

2/3 cup of warm milk

2 tbsp. of canola oil

1 3/4 sticks of chilled unsalted butter 

Cranberry Jam

Makes 3/4 cup

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of fresh cranberries

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. of nutmeg

Pinch of pepper and salt

1/2 tsp. of cinnamon

1/3 cup of fresh orange juice

1/2 cup of water

 

Croissant Recipe: Equivalent version of croissant recipe. Here is a video of the master herself making some croissants on the show the French Chef.

Directions for Cranberry Jam:

  1. Throughly wash the cranberries, then pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. In a medium size sauce pan, add all the ingredients and stir on medium to high heat until it starts to simmer.
  3. Once it comes to a simmer, turn down the heat between low and medium. Stirring frequently for 15 minutes or until the jam comes to the wrinkle stage.
  4. Once the jam has come to the wrinkle stage, take off the heat and cool for five minutes.
  5. Pour the jam mixture through a fine mesh sieve with a glass bowl underneath to catch the jam. Do this with a spoon and patience. This should take about 10 minutes to get all the mixture through.
  6. Cool the jam in a glass jar and leave in fridge until ready to use. Keeps up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy!

Photography by. Bernadette Mira

Moroccan Eggs and Rolls

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Moroccan eggs, formally known as Shakshuka is probably one of my all time favorite dishes. It’s something so simple but utterly delicious. The combination of the spices with the sweet tomato sauce paired along with either sauté mushrooms or succulent chorizo is an experience that I always want to come back to. Well, possibly dive into depending on how hungry I am.

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 Even though this dish is simple, I wanted to pair it along with something maybe not so simple and adds a little bit more time in the kitchen. I promise you though, with a little more preparation ahead of time, it will be worth the wait. So let me introduce you to today’s dishes…

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Moroccan Egg Dish with Moroccan Rolls

Ingredients

Egg dish

Serves 2-4 

2 to 3 eggs

1 14.5 oz can of puree/crushed tomatoes

half of 1 large yellow onion finely diced

3-4 large garlic cloves minced

2 tbsp. of olive oil

1/2 pound of chopped chorizo (or 1/2 pound of chopped white button mushrooms)

1 tbsp. of honey 

2 tbsp. of tomato paste

1 tsp. of paprika 

1 tsp. of crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp. of thyme

1/2 tsp. of turmeric 

salt and pepper to taste 

fresh oregano to top (optional)

Moroccan Rolls

Makes 6 

Ingredients

1 2/3 cup of white bread flour

1 tsp. of yeast

6.5 ounces of warm water

1 tsp. of sea salt

1/4 tsp. of granulated sugar

 4 tbsp. of toasted sesame seeds

Spice mixture

2 tsp. of cinnamon

1 tsp. of nutmeg

1 tsp. of turmeric 

1/2 tsp. of cardamom 

1/4 tsp. of black pepper

1/4 tsp. of cloves 

(Prepare spices together in a mortar and pestle to combine-keep in glass container till use)

Directions for Moroccan Rolls:

(May make the day before)

1. Gently rub the yeast into the bread flour. Once incorporated add the water, salt and sugar.

2. With either a standing mixer or by hand, mix the ingredients together till it starts to form together. Should take about 4 minutes. The dough will be sticky. Don’t  worry though, the dough will come together in time.

3. I like using the technique where you stretch the dough and fold it back together. For an example, watch here (stretch and fold technique)* While doing this technique, it helps bring the dough together by slapping it onto the work surface then folding over. Continue this technique for 10-15 minutes until the dough starts to come together.  After ten minutes or so, you can start adding some flour to the work surface. While working the dough add the bread spices till incorporated. To form a ball, fold each edge of the bread into the center and pinch together so it holds it shape.

4. Once the dough has been shaped into a ball, in a lightly oiled bowl add the dough ball and cover with a lint free towel to rest for an hour in a warm area.

5. After an hour turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and divide the dough into two. With the palm of your hands create two log shapes. To create the log shapes, use the heel of your palm to flatten the two logs and gently fold one side into the center then continue to do the same with the other side. Pinch both sides together going all the way down the log, so they hold the shape.

6. Turn the logs over with the pinched seem facing downwards, and cut 3 equal slices from each log, creating 6 rolls. To create the rolls into small balls, use the same technique of folding the edges inward into the center then pinch the edges together. Then with the palm of your hand gently smooth the edges out by rolling the ball in a circular motion going counter-clockwise.

7. After forming the 6 balls, brush one side with a little water then dip the rolls into the bowl of toasted sesame seeds. Continue this process with all of them.

8. After brushing the dough, add the rolls to a *baking sheet* or pizza stone. Cover the rolls again to rest for 45 minutes in a warm area until they double in size.

9. While the rolls are resting preheat the oven to 475 F.

10. Once the rolls are done resting, mist the inside of your preheated oven with water, either gently by hand or preferably a spray bottle. Afterwards add the tray of rolls to the oven and bake for 11 minutes or till golden.

11. After baking, rest the rolls on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes.

Notes:* If you don’t have a pizza stone, I like to use a baking sheet to create the same type of surface by turning the baking sheet upside down. So, if you don’t have a pizza stone do this before adding the rolls to the sheet for the second proof. See in direction #8.

Directions for Egg dish (Shakshuka):

1. In a medium cast iron skillet, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil, diced onions and garlic and sauté on medium heat for 5-10 minutes until lightly brown.

2. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Gradually add the chopped chorizo or mushrooms and mix with the onions and garlic till brown on medium heat. Then add the tomato paste and mix in well.

3. Once the chorizo has browned add the honey and seasonings and mix well until fully combined.

4. Then add the can of tomatoes and cover the top of the meat or mushrooms by using the back of a wooden spoon so only the tomato sauce is showing.

5. On medium heat cook for about 5-10 minutes, while keeping an eye on the meat, onions and garlic underneath to prevent burning.

6. After some of the tomato juice has boiled off, create 2-3 separate holes for the eggs to be placed. By doing this, gently with a spoon create a small opening for the egg to cook, you should see the bottom of the cast iron skillet so it’s able to cook. Do this with all the eggs, by cracking the egg on a flat surface and gently adding it into the skillet.(Without getting shells inside.) Cook for 5-8 minutes or till the egg whites have cooked but the yolk is still runny. Once again, be mindful of the onions, meat and garlic underneath so they don’t burn.

7. Serve dish in cast iron skillet for easy dipping. Top with fresh oregano and Moroccan rolls on the side.

Enjoy and happy eating!

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Photography by. Bernadette Mira

Longing for kitten… (a blackberry fig jam recipe) 

             

Photography by. Bernadette Mira

I grew up with the sheer luck of having at least seven cats at different times through out my childhood. Living in the country these cats tended to roam around the house and in the outside world, which led to most of them ghosting away and never coming back. Yet, there was always another cat to take it’s spot. All of those cats weren’t officially mine and at times I longed for a cat to be only mine that I could take care of.

Yet, there was one exception. A cat we had named Cheeseball who belonged to my middle sister, seemed to grow fond of me over the years. Like my estranged family they ignored most of the pets we had around the house so I watched over Cheeseball like he was my own.

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I remember taking photo shoots of Cheeseball, like he was a dashing model posing for every shot. Surprisingly he was quiet patient when it came to me taking photos of him. There were many mornings that I would come out of the bathroom shower and have him greet me at my feet. But if I didn’t pay every bit attention to him he would bite at my legs until I gave him a pat or kiss.

After moving away to go to musical theatre school in New York when I was 20, Cheeseball ended up running off to the neighbor’s house, because my family didn’t take care of him. Every time I would come back home to visit I would long for him to come over to the house, yet he never would. There were many moments when he would just stare at me from afar. It was hard watching him from a distance and not being able to reach him. I miss him still. I’m sure he is off in cat land somewhere chasing the sun and eating to his heart’s content.

I still long for a cat though. A kitten to raise. Maybe it’s because I can’t have children…? I don’t know, but I hope that I can be a mother figure to a kitten one day and give it all the affection in the world. Taking care of something and watching it grow is the most joyful I have ever been.

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Blackberry Fig Jam

Makes one 16 oz. can

Ingredients

1 cup of blackberries

2/3 cup of finely diced figs (about 3 figs)

3 tbsp and 1/2 tsp. of granulated sugar 

1 cup of water 

1 tsp. of cinnamon

1/4 tsp. of nutmeg

1/4 tsp. of coriander 

1/2 tsp. of lemon zest

juice from half of a lemon

1/4 cup of cold water

2 tsp. of cornstarch 

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Directions:

  1. In a medium sauce pan, add the blackberries, figs, sugar and water and set on medium to high heat till it starts to simmer and the sugar dissolves. Stirring  frequently for about five minutes.
  2. Lower the temperature to low heat and add the spices and lemon zest.
  3. Stir for two minutes until the spices dissolve.
  4. Raise the temperature again to medium heat and add the lemon zest. Let the jam simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. After ten minutes, add 2 tsp. of cornstarch to the cup of cold water and stir completely until the starch dissolves. Then add the starch mixture to the jam.
  6. Stir the mixture into the jam. After a while the jam will start to thicken. Continue to stir for five minutes or so.
  7. After five minutes set the jam mixture off to the side to cool for ten minutes.
  8. After ten minutes, use the immersion blender and blend until the chunks of blackberries have liquified.
  9. Gently pour the jam into a heat safe container, such as a maison jar and close with a tight lid and set in the fridge to cool.

Enjoy this jam along side a creamy hunk of brie and toast.

 

030cheeseball and i

 

 

 

Curry Chickpea Pita Sandwich

pita girl

Photography by. Craig McDean(Left) and Bernadette Mira(Right)

Model: Gal Gadot

I never quite know how my weeks are ever going to be. When Sunday rolls around I try to set all these expectations. I’m going to wake up at 8:20 a.m. and make it to every 9:00 a.m. morning kickboxing class Monday through Friday then hit it hard on studying languages French and Japanese and make sure I get at least two recipes done this week for my blog! This past week didn’t go that way.

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I noticed myself falling. That deep, dark hole that I’m all to familiar with started to creep in the second I woke up on Monday morning. “Hello, my unwanted friend. Oh? What’s that you say? I’m not good enough? I will never accomplish anything or discover who I am as person?…Oh…that’s…great.” This conversation was never-ending till late this past Friday.

Ever since I realized that Musical Theatre was not the path for me, that it was more of a dream and desire of my adoptive parents, I realized that I was trying for years to please them and not myself. Going to theatre school, sitting out in the cold waiting for hours to MAYBE be seen for an audition, dealing with the numerous toxic people in the industry…it was exhausting and it definitely wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term. So, now that I’m off that path and separated from my adoptive family, I don’t know who I am. I have to start over completely.

Maybe I’m just complaining and maybe nothing is truly wrong with not knowing what you want to do with your life, but it honestly bothers me. I THINK I like cooking and I THINK I enjoy taking photos, but am I actually doing it for myself or for others again?

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Curry Chickpea Pita Sandwich

Serves 2-3

Ingredients 

1 can of drained chickpeas (or dried that have been cooked)

Half of a yellow onion finely diced

Sea Salt 

Black Pepper

1/2 tsp. of ground garlic

1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika 

1/2 tsp. of curry powder

1/4 tsp. of turmeric 

1 tsp. of Tahini 

Yogurt sauce:

1/4 cup of plain yogurt 

4 big garlic cloves minced

Half of a cucumber finely diced 

1 Squeeze of half of a lemon juice (about a 1 tsp)

Toppings and Extras:

2-3 Toasted pita pockets

1/8 cup of chopped cashews 

1 small handful of diced grape tomatoes 

1 small handful of arugula 

2 hard-boiled eggs (make the night before)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. While the oven is preheating, make your yogurt sauce. Add the yogurt, minced garlic and cucumber and mix well together. Then add the squeeze of lemon juice. Be sure to only add a squeeze or two, about 1 tsp. (You don’t want the mixture to be too runny.) Then once the mixture is mixed well together set it in the fridge to rest.
  3. Then chop and prepare the toppings. Cashews, grape tomatoes, and washed arugula then set aside.
  4. By this time the oven should be done preheating and if not, continue to chop the half of the yellow onion for the chickpea mixture.
  5. Once the oven is heated add the pita pockets and toast them until warm.
  6. Then in a large pan on medium heat add 1 tsp. of olive oil. Once heated add the chickpeas, onions and spices and mix well together. Once the mixture is combined turn off the heat and then add 1 tsp. of tahini and mix again till combined. Move the pan off the heat and start serving.

I serve my pita pockets by cutting them with a scissors. I cut half of the top off the pita so it creates easy access to fill it in with the chickpeas and toppings. I did mine as followed, chickpeas, arugula, tomatoes, cashews, more chickpeas then yogurt sauce. Then I had the hard-boiled eggs on the side. Feel free to add the eggs into the pita pocket. Enjoy and happy eating!

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Photos by. Bernadette Mira

Purple and Sweet Potato Egg Hash

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Photography by. Unknown(Left) and Bernadette Mira(Right)

Model: Daphne Selfe

This particular image kept on coming back to me for some reason. It struck me, because (obviously) the woman who is modeling in the picture looked significantly older (NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT ALL) than the pictures I normally post on here. I thought to myself, “Damn! This woman is rocking this suit!” I was curious and I wanted to find out more about this power house of a woman.

‘Daphne Selfe’ immediately popped up as soon as I copied the image into the Google search bar. I’d never heard of her before, but I continued to see words appear like ‘Oldest’, ‘Professional’, ‘Beautiful’, the list went on and on.  She has been modeling since 1949, which if I do the math correctly is 68 years…is that right?! That’s insane! Which, honestly, makes sense since she is the World’s Oldest Professional Model.

Her resume of work impressed me. I’m not going to sit here and write everything down about her and her accomplishments, but take a moment and just sit with yourself for a while. Women are amazing right?! I feel like it’s easy for women to forget how impressive and how impactful we have been to this place we call Earth. Even if we feel like we have zero importance in this world, we certainly do and we can certainly accomplish ANYTHING that we want to.

So, ladies and gents, take a moment and realize how special we’re as humans. I know this is turning into some type of ramble, but I think it’s important that we take those moments when we have time to and give ourselves a pat on our backs. We can do anything we set our minds to. If someone can work their butt off till their 87, then anyone can!

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Purple and Sweet Potato Egg Hash

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

1-2 small purple potatoes

1 small sweet potato

1-2 eggs

2 tbsp. of olive oil 

sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper

1 tsp. of garlic powder

1/2 tsp. of white pepper 

Extra:

Cast Iron Skillet

Spatula 

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Directions:

  1. Cut the potatoes in small cubes and toss in the cast iron skillet on medium heat with olive oil.
  2. Then add the following seasonings. Sea salt, black pepper, garlic, and white pepper.
  3. Sautee the potatoes for 6 minutes. Then crack the eggs and add them to the cast iron skillet with the potatoes creating a circle around them. Season the eggs with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook/Sautee for another 3-4 minutes. Once the sides of the eggs start to turn a crispy brown, take the cast iron off the heat and serve at once.
  5. Enjoy for breakfast or a snack!

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Photos by. Bernadette Mira

Bathroom Pizza…

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Photography by. CHANEL(Left) and Bernadette Mira(Right)

Don’t be alarmed by the title, there is more to this story I promise…

My husband and I had a period of when we were away from each other. At the time we were boyfriend and girlfriend and during that period, I was unfortunately overwhelmed with a toxic family while living with them. My loving husband was up in Jersey City finding us a home. I was devastated that I couldn’t be with him and experience finding our first place together. Fortunately, his mother (my now mom) was able to help him.

We spent most of our days apart chatting on the phone and Skyping. Now skyping can be one of the most frustrating forms of communication. I was living literally in the middle of nowhere and the reception was at best okay during the early morning, not sure why that was. So, it was always in and out while we spoke with each other. Yet, I cherished those conversations.

One of the most memorable ones was when my husband found a place for us and it was his first night alone in the apartment. He described the place as being gross and dusty and needing a very good clean. He said that he was feeling lonely too and wish there was something to cheer him up. I can’t remember if it was his idea or mine or the both us, but he ended up spending his evening talking to me on Skype while bathing in a bathtub and eating a box of pizza. It was one of the most hilarious moments that I got to experience with him. He seemed content at that point even though we weren’t together and  knowing that made me happy.

A couple of years later, we decided to recreate that moment together. The idea of having pizza while eating in a tub and watching anime was extremely tempting. So, we spent the evening making a homemade pizza that was topped with delicious, oily, salty meat.(My husband’s favorite) After making the pizza we got the tub ready and the Ipad set up with one of our favorite anime shows. Unfortunately, after a while the temperature of the water and the heat from the pizza was too much for me to handle and the bathtub experience only lasted for maybe five minutes. We still laugh about it, because it really shows what type of relationship we have. That we’re able to be flexible even when things don’t work out exactly the way we want them to. So, if you ever get a chance, enjoy the silly moments of life and cherish them.

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Bathroom Pizza (Pesto and Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Ingredients 

Serves 6-8

Pesto sauce:

One can of pesto 3.5 oz or half of can

3 big garlic cloves 
 2 tbsp of crumbled goat cheese and mix

5-6 white mushrooms thinly sliced

Tomato sauce:

4 big garlic cloves minced
One 6 oz can of tomato paste
 1 tbsp of honey
Sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp of olive oil
2 tsp of red pepper flakes
Pinch of white pepper
2 tbsp of oregano
1 tsp of basil
8 to 10 tbsp of water
1 tbsp of minced fresh tarragon

Toppings:

 1 small purple onion diced in circles  

half of a small red pepper chopped in strips
2 andouille sausage chopped in circles
8 oz of grated mozzarella 

Extra:

Olive oil

Yeast

Sugar

Flour

Corn Flour

Pizza Stone

Medium size bowl 

Damp dish towel

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Directions:

  1. Firstly make the pizza dough. I used this wonderful  pizza dough recipe from Sarah’s Cucina Bella website. Follow as instructed. While the dough is rising, continue to the following steps bellow for the sauces.
  2. In a small to medium size bowl, add the can of pesto, two big minced garlic cloves and goat cheese. Combine together. Then set aside.
  3. Then slice the other big garlic clove (3rd one) in long slices. Once finished wrap in plastic wrap and set in fridge.
  4. Then thinly slice the white mushrooms and set aside in fridge also. Preheat the oven at this point to 450 F.
  5. For the Tomato sauce, add all ingredients to a medium size bowl and combine. Set aside in the fridge with plastic wrap on top till ready to use.
  6. Prepare the toppings for the pizza. Grate the mozzarella and set aside till use. In a medium sauce pan sautee half of the purple onion and some of the red pepper with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Sautee on low to medium heat until slightly brown. Set aside when finished.
  7. In the same pan or cast iron skillet, add the sliced sausage with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Sautee until slightly brown or slightly crispy. Then set aside until ready to use.
  8. Once the pizza dough is done, lightly flour the work surface and roll out the dough into a circle. (It doesn’t have to be perfect.)
  9. Then, create a uniform layer of corn flour onto the pizza stone so the dough doesn’t stick. Then carefully transfer the pizza dough to the pizza stone.
  10. Then its time to add the sauces, cheese and toppings. Start with adding the pesto sauce to half of the dough. Then add the tomato sauce to the other half. Once the sauces are on the pizza add the toppings accordingly.
  11. Pesto side- sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, garlic
  12. Tomato side- sauce, mozzarella cheese, sautéed onions and pepper.
  13. Once finished add the pizza to the oven. Bake for 6 minutes. Once the 6 minutes are up add the sausage and the remaining onions and peppers to the tomato sauce side. Then bake again for 15-20 minutes or until the sides are crispy brown.
  14. Enjoy!!!

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Photos by. Bernadette Mira