‘Sam Likes Jam’ Updates

Hi all!

It’s been a whirlwind since I’ve published ‘Sam Likes Jam’ earlier this month. The support from family, friends, & friend’s of friends has been overwhelming. My heart explodes each time I see a picture of a little one holding my book. So, THANK YOU  and please keep those pictures coming!

I just wanted everyone to know that I’ve expanded distribution a bit, and the book is available in more formats. As of yesterday, the book is now available on Kindle. If you purchase the paperback version of the book, you can also purchase it on Kindle version for only $.99 extra.

In addition, I’ve also made the book available in printable format (for purchase) on Teacherspayteachers.com. The free coloring page is included, and a sequencing worksheet as available for an additional $.99.

In other exciting news, The Station coffee house in Merchantville, NJ is also now carrying my book! They will be hosting a children’s story hour in the near future and yours truly will be reading ‘Sam Likes Jam’ to a group of little ones! I am beyond excited and will be keeping you informed of all the details.

Below are the links to all of the places to buy. Until next time!

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The BIG announcement!

If you’ve been following my blog/Instagram/Facebook you’ll remember that I said that I had a BIG announcement. Announcement day is finally here! After a long year hard work, I finally did it.  I achieved a long-held goal of mine and I could not be more excited to share with everyone! I’ve been keeping this secret from my friends and family for a YEAR!!! If you know me, you know how hard that is.

Anyway, back to the announcement…

As you know, I want to try to make each day special and out of the ‘bordinary.’ Now that I have two boys, I strive even harder to attain that goal. When you get caught up in the boring routines of daily life two things happen 1. Life goes by way too quickly. & 2. You don’t make as many memories as you can be.  I am not talking about anything grand here. Something as simple as setting aside a bit of time to either cook or read with your child can create memories that last a lifetime. One of my fondest childhood memories was standing on a chair next to my grandmother making meatballs, or baking Christmas cookies each year as a family. So I try to continue that tradition with my boys.

One day last year, I was picking up the playroom for the millionth time that day and I allowed myself to drift off into thought. I started thinking about jam. I don’t know why. Maybe I was wiping jam off of something. That isn’t really a rare occurrence in our house. Anyway, I started thinking about jam, and my boys and a little story started forming in my head. I started to imagine that story with images, and once it was in there I needed to get it out. I raced to my computer, typed out the story, and little by little started making plans. Those plans turned into pages, and those pages finally became a book.

That’s right. I wrote a children’s picture book. Not only did I write a children’s picture book, I co-illustrated and PUBLISHED the book all on my own. That book is available for purchase TODAY on amazon.com. It also features a recipe for strawberry jam from oldworldgardenfarms.com that you can easily make with your little ones.

I am so extremely excited to share this news with you.

You can buy the book here: ‘Sam Likes Jam’

You can learn more about my upcoming titles here: NikiMorris.com

 

Til next time! ❤

Oh hey there…

There is a pattern emerging here… I know. I am committing the two mortal sins of blogging: 1. crappy pictures, and 2. I am inconsistent. I am trying to do better. I keep getting distracted. I’m sorry!

This brings me to a few things I would like to discuss… first and foremost, I am still cooking, experimenting and learning. I am not writing about it, but I am posting about it. Please take the time to follow alifelessbordinary on Facebook and Instagram. I post there often.

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Secondly, I freaking made maple syrup! I tapped a tree, boiled the sap, and as my 4 year old would say, “bing bang boom” I had maple syrup. I plan to get more in depth about this at another time. I will say for now that it’s not scary, it’s not hard, and it’s also not all that rewarding unless you have A LOT of sap. It is rewarding in the sense of feeling accomplished. I highly recommend trying it.

Third, I have a secret… one of the reasons why I haven’t posted in a while is because I have been working on something else. I will hopefully be able to announce what my secret is later this week.

Stay tuned by following me on social media! I am super excited!

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Slap Your Mama Sweet Potato Salad! Just kidding…don’t slap her. Just feed her this…

Well here we are folks! It’s finally Memorial Day weekend, and the official kickoff to summer. People everywhere are opening their pools, buying beach badges, and dusting off the ole grill for the first cook out of the season. I am attending a BBQ this Sunday and was asked to bring the potato salad. I typically make a German Potato salad based on my best friend’s recipe. This stuff is amazing. She is famous for it. She even makes it for her dad yearly for Father’s day. You know how there is usually tons of potato salad leftover after a party? Not so with her recipe.

However, that is not the recipe I am going to share with you today. While it’s amazing, it’s been done before. Instead, I am going to share a recipe I created last week, that made my husband, an outspoken sweet potato hater, into a lover, a believer, and an eater. He had three helpings. THREE!

I researched tons of recipes online and basically took what I liked from each. My recipe calls for chickpeas. The reason for this is that unlike a white or red potato, the sweet potato tends to get really mushy when cooked. The chickpea adds some substance so that the salad isn’t one big pile of mush. You can omit the chickpeas, and use 4 small white or red taters in their place.

On another note, while I know everyone is excited to throw back a few beers, and grill some burgers this weekend. Please take a moment to remember what Memorial Day is all about, and remember those who have fallen.

 

Sweet Potato Salad

3 Large Sweet potatoes

15 ounce can of chickpeas (also known as Garbanzo beans)

¼ cup dried currants

1 bunch (¾ cup) chopped scallions

¼ cup honey mustard

¼ cup mayonnaise

6 slices of bacon (chopped and cooked to a crisp)

1 Tbl cumin

1 Tbl chili powder

2 Tbl coconut oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Peel and cube the sweet potatoes. Boil until tender. Drain, and set aside to cool.
  2. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a mixing bowl add the chickpeas, cumin and coconut oil and stir until the chickpeas are covered.
  4. Pour the seasoned chickpeas onto the baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. You don’t want them to be totally crispy, but slightly roasted and still tender.
  5. In another mixing bowl, add honey mustard, currants, and scallions mix until well incorporated. (reserve some bacon and scallions to top the salad with before serving).
  6. When chickpeas are done, add them to the dressing along with the sweet potatoes and bacon. Mix with a spoon until blended, making sure not to mash the sweet potatoes too much. Refrigerate until you serve.

Enjoy!!

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Look at the pretty pretty chickpeas…

Taste the Rainbow

I am going to keep this short and sweet. I am on social media fairly often and I am seeing these rainbow food crazes. People waiting hours in line to eat chemical-laden rainbow bagels. In fact, the small bakery got so popular that it shut down indefinitely. I don’t consider myself to be a judgemental person, but I judge this rainbow craze. I’m judging it hard. Yesterday, some foodie pages that I highly respect shared the rainbow grilled cheese! RAINBOW.GRILLED.CHEESE. Stop the madness people. Food dye tastes gross. You know it and I know it. Also, what is the BFD? Why are people going crazy? I reeeeeeeeaaaallllly don’t get it. Give me innovative flavor profiles using real ingredients that taste good. Give me whole foods and vegetables. Give me ingredients that I can pronounce. Those are things I can get excited over. I was inspired by the rainbow madness and created this salad for my family. I got my 3-year-old to eat vegetables last night using the rainbow idea. I call that a win. I don’t want to sound snobbish to you. I mean, I eat junk and processed food every now and again. What I am against is the glorification of, and the craze over the processed junk. I shared the picture below on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram and it barely got a response. I didn’t even get my typical 40 or 50 likes.The grilled cheese story has thousands of likes and shares. To me, that is a big problem. So once again all twenty readers, I implore you. Please help me to stop the madness.

Until next time!

 

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Taste the Rainbow

 

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Mistakes, I’ve made a few…

So, this blog is supposed to be about my cooking journey right? I’ve noticed that I haven’t really given you any insight into my cooking errors (yet another error on my part). Anyway, yesterday was stock day. I took a tip from Bon Appetit online, and roasted my bones first. I was so dang excited for this batch. I let is slow simmer overnight, and my kitchen smelled glorious the next morning. The broth looked rich and dark and as I lifted my spoon for a taste,  it hit me. BITTER. My flippin stock was bitter! Why you ask? I added a full lemon to the stock and it bittered the shit up. I thought about this as I added the lemon, but I tossed it in anyway. I do that a lot. I foresee the cooking error before I do it, and I do it anyway. Why? WHY DO I DO THIS? It’s actually been the culprit to many a kitchen mishap. Do any of you do this too?

Anyway, in the spirit of embracing my authentic self and trying to be better, here is a list of lessons I’ve learned from kitchen mishaps:

  1. Don’t add a whole lemon to your stock and let it cook overnight. Maybe add just the juice at the end, or the whole lemon the last half hour, but don’t keep it in there 18+ hours.
  2. To get a good sear on meat, really take the time to make sure your pan is the right temp (not too hot not too cool) and really just leave it there for a few. I often get impatient and prematurely flip the meat, or put it on before the pan is got enough.
  3. For the love of all that is delicious don’t add food to a pan that you know is too hot. YOU.WILL.RUIN.YOUR.FOOD. I did this the other night with risotto.
  4. Keep your knife cuts consistent. Otherwise you will end up with overcooked and undercooked pieces in the same batch of whatever you are cooking.
  5. Don’t have too much going on at once. YOU WILL BURN SOMETHING. Read your recipe and plan ahead. If you are making a particularly intensive dish, take care of all of your prepping before you turn on the oven or stove. This is what the French call Mise en Place.
  6. Know what your ingredients taste like before you cook with them.
  7. When you know something is ruined, start over. I once accidentally added sweetened canned pumpkin to a batch of my pumpkin soup AND THEN SERVED IT TO GUESTS! It was terrible. I just felt bad wasting the food. In hindsight, I should have just ordered pizza instead.
  8. Forgive yourself. We all have our off nights/days. My cooking mishaps have made for some great laughs between my husband and I throughout the years. Ask him about my ‘Beef Stroganoff’.

I am going to certainly add to this list as time goes on. Trust me.

Want a laugh? Here are the pictures of what we call the ‘doomed Valentine’s day breakfast of 2014’. This was a clear example of having too much going on at once.

I’ve got something brewing besides my broth. I’ve been testing meal kits from various sources, and I will report my results in the next week or so. Until then happy cooking.

Dark chocolate wishes and dairy free dreams…

There is this ice cream place in our town that sells artisanal ice cream. The shop boasts flavors such as lavender mascarpone, blood orange sorbet, and DARK chocolate ice cream. Their ice cream is one of my guilty pleasures. I say guilty pleasure because, 1. it’s so dang expensive (but worth every penny) and 2. it’s so very rich. I usually order the dark chocolate ice cream, but my friend turned me on to their dark chocolate sorbet. I gotta tell you, I wasn’t sure at first, but one taste made me a believer! Would you believe that sorbet could be creamy? It IS!

I have been craving the stuff big time, but time, weather, money, and the fact that it’s freaking February have all prevented me from stopping in to get some
. The craving got so bad that I decided to dust off the ole ice cream maker, and take her for a spin!

The following recipe isn’t quite sorbet. It’s actually ice cream.. kinda.. I had some coconut creamer that I wanted to use up so I substituted water with coconut milk.

This recipe was adapted from David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Sorbet on Food52.com.

2 1/4 cups Coconut milk

¼ cup  dark agave

3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Hershey Special Dark)

6 oz semisweet chocolate chips (make sure package says dairy free)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1.In a saucepan on medium, heat half of the coconut milk, coco powder and agave whisking constantly.

  1. Once the mixture reaches a slow boil, remove from heat and add the vanilla bean paste, chocolate chips, and stir until chocolate has melted.
  2. Incorporate the remaining coconut milk and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  3. Once the mixture is completely chilled, use an immersion blender to make sure all lumps are smoothed out. Then make the ice cream according to your machine’s instructions.

I keep meaning to take a picture of the finished product, but I keep eating it. ***edit: I was finally able to control myself enough to nab a picture this morning! ***
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Here is the mixture in the sauce pan.
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And here is the mixture once it’s done chilling:
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Until next week!