Friday, February 28, 2014

Wing It Spicy Pasta

Like many cooks, I have a tendency to wing it and not really measure the ingredients when I'm cooking. I just let my instincts take over and I create dishes according to my taste buds. I've thought about sharing my recipes like this before, but I hesitated because I wasn't able to give precise measurements. However, I realized that it's okay if I don't have precise measurements because part of cooking is creativity and what's more creative than making up a dish as you go along  ;-)

So here's my recipe:

Ingredients (to your own taste):
•roughly a tablespoon of Cajun seasoning
•roughly a tablespoon of oregano
•2 vegetable stock cubes
•roughly a half teaspoon of flat leaf parsley
•roughly a teaspoon of smoked paprika
•a splash of Worcestershire sauce
•a splash of balsamic vinegar
•1 large onion (chopped)
•about 8 medium sized mushrooms (chopped)
•roughly 4 ounces of water
•teaspoon of olive oil
•half teaspoon of butter
•spaghetti (amount depending upon how many you're serving)
Cooking time: about 25 minutes
Prep time: Just enough time to chop your mushrooms and onions

 Add your olive oil and butter to your frying pan, letting the butter melt down. Next add your chopped onions and let them cook down until they're close to being translucent and then add your chopped mushrooms. Let the onions and mushrooms mingle together for a bit.

Then crumble up your vegetable stock cubes and add them both to your onion and mushroom mixture. Stir it all together. Next add your water, because this helps to bring  a little moisture to things and it helps with incorporating the dry stock cubes into the mixture.

At this point you can add all of your other ingredients to the pan except for the spaghetti. Stir all of the ingredients together well, making sure that everything is incorporated into the mixture.

Depending on your preference you can boil the spaghetti before, during, or after you make the spicy mixture. I usually start it halfway through preparing the mixture so that the noodles don't become too mushy. But I leave this to your individual preference.

I really love making this dish and it's very tasty! I hope that you'll try my Wing It Spicy Pasta! :-)

This recipe post was previously published on my other blog Labyrinthus XXI .

Monday, February 24, 2014


Just wanted to spread some love today!
Happy Monday!  :-))

Hotel Stays in London

One of the things that I really enjoy is getting the chance to take trips to London. I live in the countryside, several miles west of London and I love living out here very much. However, when the opportunity to visit London comes up, I'm always excited for the change of pace. Often when my other half  and I take trips there, we'll stay overnight for a day or two in order to soak up the full experience of whatever has brought us to the city.

After booking whatever tickets that we need for an event, our next task is to find ourselves one of the affordable hotels in London. We've often found great deals on some really good places to stay which are convenient to our event or which have great access to the tube. Often we stay in hotels which are kinder to the budget, but quite a few times we've stayed in more luxurious hotels because we shopped around and found a good deal. It's definitely possible to stay in a nice hotel in London without  breaking the bank.

We're planning to go into London this summer for one of the outdoor music festivals, so we will be staying a couple of days and I can't wait. We'll get out and have a great time at the festival and then we'll come back to our hotel room totally exhausted, but happy. It will be wonderful to have a nice, comfortable place to lay our heads once we come back from a day of music and fun! I'm looking forward to it so much!

It's always a treat to be in London, especially when we stay overnight, because it gives us the opportunity to get to things as early as possible or stay as late as we please because we are right there. It makes the experience that much richer because we get to experience the pulse of the city from sun up to sundown. When it's time to go home, we take a piece of the city with us through our experiences and we look forward so much to the next time when we are there.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton As Himself

Above: George Plimpton - Photo: Alen MacWeeney/Corbis

George Plimpton was a writer, editor, amateur sportsman, and many other things throughout his life. He was a man who had a great curiosity about life and was a collector of experiences. He was known for what is called participatory journalism and boy did he participate. He was the universal amateur and immersed himself in every experience in order to write about them with a knowing that only comes from experiencing things first-hand.

On Sunday, February 16 at 8pm, PBS America will premiere Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton As Himself , a wonderful film about his life and various experiences. He was a larger-than-life character and the film paints a picture of a man who fully used up every moment of his life to the fullest.

Happy Valentine's Day


I know that we shouldn't just love on one day, and we don't, but I still think it's nice to say it whenever we can and today seemed like one of many good days to do that  ;-)


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Remembering Shirley Temple Black

Like many of you, I woke up this morning to the news that Shirley Temple has passed away at the age of 85. Her name was actually Shirley Temple Black as an adult, but the sweet name from her childhood sticks in my mind so much because I LOVED her movies when I was a child.
When I was a little girl I'd get up on weekend mornings and ask my mom if there were any Shirley Temple movies scheduled to be shown. My activities for the day often hinged upon whether or not one of her movies was going to be on that day :-)  That was a sweet and wonderful memory that crossed my mind this morning when I heard the news.
I have a lot of wonderful memories of singing and dancing along with Shirley Temple movies throughout my childhood. I didn't know it then, but those fun performances alongside the television shaped a lot of my love for all things creative. They helped me to dream and to express myself and that is why I remember Shirley and her films so fondly now as an adult. They fired my imagination so very much and for that I am grateful.
Farewell Shirley Temple and thank you....

Monday, February 10, 2014

Introducing Labyrinthus XXI

Hello there :)

Today I would like to share a post that has appeared on my new collaborative blog that I'm writing with my friend Val. The blog is called Labyrinthus XXI and we've been working on it for a few weeks now and we are finally getting into a groove. So I thought that now is the time to introduce it to you here and I hope that you will visit us there!

The idea behind the name of the blog is as follows. Labyrinthus is 'labyrinth' in Latin and XXI is the Roman numeral for 21. Therefore, our site celebrates the journey through the labyrinth of life in the 21st Century. We cover a variety of topics and as we grow we will provide more facets of everyday life.

Here is a recent post that appeared on the blog and I hope you enjoy it!

Food: Tex-Mex Food (from Labyrinthus XXI)
Recently I celebrated my birthday and I went out to dinner on that evening and it was a glorious time! There's nothing like breaking bread with those you love and it's especially wonderful when it's in celebration of something that is happening in your life.
I love going out to dinner on occasion and on my birthday we went to one of my favorite places to eat. It's a place called Chiquito which specializes in Tex-Mex food which is a hybrid of American and Mexican tastes. I'm a big fan of this type of food, so when I discovered this restaurant it was like getting a taste of back home. So when I was asked where I wanted to go for my birthday there was no question of where I wanted to go :-)
It was so very hard to decide what I wanted to eat because EVERYTHING looked amazing on the menu! The smells coming from the kitchen were out of this world and it just made the decision even harder. They have an opening to the kitchen where they pass out the dishes to the waiters and all of that delicious aroma just wafts out into the dining area. I'm sure this is by design. It's a great idea because it gives you a full sensory experience.
I finally decided on having the nachos as a starter. Here's a pic.

The nachos were slightly toasted and were served with dollops of salsa, sour cream, and guacamole with a sprinkling of cheese. It was perfect!

For my main course I had the barbecue chicken fajitas. They were delicious too! The strips of barbecue chicken are brought to the table resting on a bed of onions and peppers and it's served on a griddle pan which is piping hot and still smoking when it gets to the table. Then you are served tortillas and toppings to add as you build your own fajitas.

Here's a pic of the barbecue chicken when it's served on the griddle pan.

This was the best dinner that I've had in a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The whole experience made a wonderful birthday even better. I can't wait to go there again, but in the meantime I might try to make my own version of the fajitas. If I do give it a go, I'll share my result here in one of my future food/recipe posts.
Do you like to replicate restaurant foods at home? What have you made and what was the result? Please share your experiences in the comment section. We'd love to hear from you!  

Review: TAJ Foods Aloe Vera Drink

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know that I like cooking and I like discovering new food and drinks whenever I can. Recently I was given the opportunity to try out a line of drinks from a company called TAJ Foods. They sent samples of the original and strawberry flavors of their aloe vera drinks. TAJ Foods is the UK and Europe's leading ethnic food brand within the branded FMCG food market (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) and has been established for over 30 years.

The packaging states that the drinks are low in sugar, aid in detox, and are energizing. Also, the makeup of the drink contains 30% aloe vera juice and 16% pulp. I found both flavors to be quite refreshing and tasty. The pulp is quite noticeable as you drink the product, so you get a nice taste of it throughout. I liked both flavors, but I preferred the original flavor the most. I think that both drinks would be so refreshing to drink on a hot summer day. I thoroughly enjoyed these delicious drinks.

I didn't get to taste them all, but the TAJ aloe vera drink also comes in other flavors, such as: lychee, mango, passion fruit, and pomegranate & cranberry.

I will definitely be trying the other  flavors that are available. These drinks seem like a tasty  and refreshing way to keep hydrated. I can't wait to try them all.

If you'd like to learn more about all of the products available from TAJ Foods, you can find them on Twitter and on Facebook.


*Disclaimer: I was sent samples of the drink for review and I was not paid. I am not endorsing any health claims, but simply conveying what is on the packaging. All opinions are my own.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Review - The Amish: Shunned

I love documentaries as I've stated here before and I was recently given the opportunity to view an interesting film called The Amish: Shunned.  It's a film that's beautifully done and is visually pleasing to look at as well as being very compelling. I was drawn into the film almost immediately.

This film by Callie T. Wiser, follows seven former Amish members as they reflect upon their decision to leave their communities. Each former member has their own reasons for leaving the Amish community and it's intriguing to follow their stories. The Amish don't allow on-camera interviews and for current members the viewer is only able to hear their voices. However, those who have left the community are free to talk on camera and are quite candid about their own personal stories.

When the Amish choose to leave their communities they are shunned. This is a practice that involves them being put out of the church and being blocked from having social or familial contact once they leave. Those that leave are told that they will not get into heaven if they leave the church. Often it is the young people who decide to leave in order to experience a different way of life in the outside world. The Amish have very tight-knit communities and drive horse-drawn carriages instead of driving cars. They are not interested in the modern way of doing things and appreciate a simpler life. I must admit that even though some things in their lifestyle look restrictive there was a strong sense of family and community it seemed.

Some of the Amish who leave the community go on and have good lives in the outside world although there is the strain of detachment from their families. And then there are others who find the transition to the modern outside world to be daunting and struggle with the pace of life outside of their communities. As I watched the film, I more than once thought of how quiet their world is in comparison to the outside world.

This is a fascinating documentary and I would definitely recommend it because it gives a glimpse into a world that most of us do not know. Before viewing this film I only knew small amounts about the Amish but this film proved to be very helpful in presenting a fair view of this community.

The Amish: Shunned will be premiere on PBS America on Sky channel 534 and Virgin Media channel 243 at 8pm on Sunday, February 9th. It will be shown again on February 14th at 9pm.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this documentary for review purposes only. I was not paid. All opinions are my own.