Baking For Life

It is always a good feeling when you give back. One day I told myself that great things would come from this blog. Well, I guess you can say that it is already happening.

Our team!

My dear friend Lacey Smith, knowing of my blog, had recently approached me wondering if I would like to bake goods to sale and fund-raise for our local Relay For Life. Of course I could not say no, especially for such a great cause. It was such a good feeling to bring all of the work that I poured into this blog towards something that is so meaningful. I was first very touched and then honored to be involved in something as wonderful as the Relay For Life. Also, it is nice to know that my blogging is finding its way out into the community.

Of course, the big question was..what am I going to bake for the event?? I really wanted to bake some of my best goodies and sweets from Delightful Discoveries that would for sure sale. I needed sweet, tasty, colorful, & creative..so I settled on my:

  • Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes
  • Soda Can Cupcakes
  • Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

The sweets for sale!

Well, I ended up baking about 100 items total while borderline exhausted. Of course I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I was assisted by my wonderful gal pal Lacey, who was very helpful with the baking and frosting of cupcakes. She was the sprinkle master and container engineer behind the project! Let’s just say, we had to get creative! Anywho, everything sold great! As far as I know, everything that I had baked sold! The Oreo-stuffed cookies were sold-out right as they hit the table and the cupcakes were quick to follow! I even had to go home during the event and bake another batch! But, like I said, it was really no trouble when you’re working towards such a good cause! It was such a delightful experience!

Me!

Megan!

Lacey!

Lately, all I hear is how people love my blog! So wonderful! But, I can honestly say it has taken time to get noticed and still has a lonnnnnnng way to go! I am encouraged by all the support and still surprised that I am still going forward with this blogging project and I hope to continue! Also, I will for sure be baking and participating in the Relay For Life in the future..:)

Photos by Christopher James Sigman.

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My Week as a Vegetarian

Delightful Discoveries is Vegetarian Friendly!

A class project led to something I once believed would be the ultimate challenge – a vegetarian diet; let’s just say, it didn’t turn out to be much of a challenge at all. Coming from a former lover of meat – that juicy flavorful porterhouse or a zesty lemon pepper chicken – as I’ve grown, my desire of meat has depleted somewhat. As I grow older I notice my strong desire for fresh. I’m quite sure how to explain it; I desire fresh foods from fresh ingredients. Meat lately just seems to be lacking the ability to pack that special punch to my taste buds. Who knows, maybe I’m turned off by the unhealthy facts surfacing and surrounding red meat?

A vegetarian diet was never something I really considered. A past fear of mine always would resurface. . .could I really live without meat? As I’ve grown, of course my fear has decreased.

A class project led to the challenge of a vegetarian diet. I was assigned to either stop, start, or change something within my life for the course of 7 days. Food seems to be a primary factor within my life, why not try a vegetarian diet?? I did allow myself the exception of dairy because I cannot live without cheese and it as my main source of calcium.

Well I went forward with my challenge and guess what?! I was successful! I breezed through my week as a vegetarian, dodging any bothersome obstacles. I was able to really reflect on my diet and eating habits – some of my findings were pretty surprising! I really had no strong desire to consume meat products and I feel great!

While reflecting on my diet and eating habits over my week as a vegetarian, I was able to learn some fascinating facts about myself. Most significantly, the fact that I do not really consume that many meat products. The only meat I really consume is chicken breast; white meat is always better than red meat! For the most part, I was basically already living a semi-vegetarian lifestyle!

The question is now that I’ve experienced a vegetarian lifestyle, should I stick with it? Could I give up meat forever? This is a question that I do not yet have an answer for. When you’re a cooker and an eater like myself, giving up meat may end up with a lack of experiences. So, maybe I am not ready yet? After my week of change, I know that I no longer have a fear of lack of meat, and could possibly consider a vegetarian diet in the future!

Some Helpful Tips:

Either way, my week as a vegetarian was very beneficial. From someone who has experienced this type of diet to someone who may be considering it, here are a few tips I learned while eating a vegetarian diet, as well as some healthy alternatives to your everyday diet:

  • The importance of protein – The only issue I felt during my week as a vegetarian was my small problem of feeling full. Be sure to stock up on your beans and nuts. Protein is your friend. Trade in those burgers & try my delicious Veggie Black Bean Burgers. Also if you are looking for a fun chili, trade in the traditional for my delightful Veggie Black Bean Chili. Whatever it may be, remember to eat your beans!! Also, go to your local market and buy yourself a good large can of mixed nuts.
  • Overload on your Greens – Veggies, Veggies, Veggies! If you’re looking for that fresh that I love, go to your produce section at the market and load up on those greens! Pick yourself up a head of broccoli, bag of carrots, several green bell peppers, cucumbers, etc. A great tip is to substitute your chips for chopped cucumber with a side of ranch.
  • Trade your sweets for fruit – Fruit is your friend kids. It truly is. Nature’s candy is truly much better than mans. Try cutting up your apples and sprinkling them with a dash of brown sugar and cinnamon. Whenever you feel your sweet tooth going nuts, go cut yourself up some fruit. My best tip here is to go to your local market and buy whatever is in season. If you absolutely cannot live without the sweets, add a few semi-sweet chocolate chips to your bowl of apples or other cut of fruit.
  • A Vegetarian Diet can be inexpensive – Coming from a college student on a budget – this diet can be done without breaking the bank! Many people shy away from healthy foods because of high prices, they do not realize that some healthy foods are really cheap! Like I said before, buy your produce that is on sale! Also, many name brand products are available generic for much cheaper with the same great taste.

I had a great experience eating a vegetarian diet and applaud anyone who lives this lifestyle. I have posted several tasty vegetarian recipes on Delightful Discoveries and trust me, you can expect to see many more! I also plan to add a vegetarian category to my recipe selection so those dishes can be easily accessible.

If you are looking for some tasty Vegetarian dishes check out these recipes on my page:

  • Broccoli & Cheddar Soup with Macaroni
  • Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
  • Black Bean Veggie Burgers
  • Randy’s Veggie Pizza
  • Black Bean Soup
  • & Many many more 🙂

Broccoli & Cheddar Soup with Macaroni

A recipe inspired by rainy days while wandering the market – Broccoli & Cheddar Soup with Macaroni will be the perfect remedy to your rainy day. While this has always been my favorite soup, the added ingredient of macaroni really does something wonderful to this dish. The cheesy goodness mixed with the flavorful broccoli & other ingredients will not only satisfy your taste buds, but warm you up on those cold & rainy days. Also, an added bonus of this recipe is the health benefits; it is very low in fat and calories and is also vegetarian friendly!

Broccoli & Cheddar Soup with Macaroni:

Ingredients:

  • 8 Oz – Dry Elbow Macaroni
  • 1 1/2 Cups – Onion (Chopped)
  • 2 – Carrots (Chopped)
  • 1 – Celery Stalk (Chopped)
  • 3 Cloves – Garlic (Chopped)
  • 1 Tbs – Butter (Melted)
  • 2 Tbs – Flour
  • 3 Cups – Vegetable Broth (You can also use Chicken Broth)
  • 1 Cup – Milk
  • 2 1/2 Cups – Broccoli Florets (Chopped)
  • 2 Cups – Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 Tbs – Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

Instructions:

  • In a large pot, begin melting your butter.
  • Begin chopping up your celery, carrots, onion, & garlic.
  • Begin sauteing in pot over medium low heat for 5 minutes or until soft.
  • Boil your macaroni in salted water until tender; Drain, set aside.

  • Add in flour & pepper and stir until smooth.
  • Slowly add in your broth & milk while whisking constantly.
  • Set to medium-high heat until it comes to a boil then cover and cook on low for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add in broccoli and parmesan cheese; stir well. Cook uncovered until broccoli is cooked & soft.

  • Add Cheddar mixing well until cheese melts, then immediately remove from heat.
  • Add in cooked macaroni and add salt & pepper.

Garnish with cheese & a side of cheese bread! Enjoy!

Together

By: Randy Sorensen

Together:

This storm we have long weathered,
Hand in hand we remain together.
Running through smoky mountain trails,
Headed for the hills, to the sea we shall sail.

I can hear the splash of the rain drops,
The shock of your touch, as my heart stops.
The dancing shadows of candle light,
Together we listen to the melody of the night.

How we weave through these Appalachian dreams,
My wedding gown torn at the seams.
If we could just stop and take a breath,
It is only you; you are all I have left.

The lightning flashes deep in the night,
To long we have fought this fight.
I curl my body to the warmth of your soul,
Your eyes black as midnight, mirrored of coal.

I can hear the piano out in the wild,
A lullaby I run to like a child.
A waltz we dance to the violin,
In the forest with your touch of sin.

Father’s warning of forbidden love,
Your arms around me; you fit like a glove.
The wind that sparks their wildfires,
You have awakened my deepest desires.

Together we shall run; together we shall remain,
Hide me away, take away the pain.
Hold me close, as you keep me warm,
Together we remain to weather the storm.

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

Now, I am not a vegetarian but I do cook a lot of vegan friendly recipes. I always find them as tasty and healthy alternatives. I also love me some black beans, so that is why you are seeing yet another post containing black beans. This Black Bean Chili recipe could not be more perfect and it’s a simple & healthy alternative to a regular chili recipe. It is simple, fast, healthy, cheap, & oh so tasty. It will only take you about 30 minutes total to make, but will have amazing flavor like you have slow-cooked this meal for hours. Literally, the flavors are explosive, mouthwatering, and delicious! Take my word for it! This recipe also includes easy ingredients you will commonly find are already inside your pantry. It is also perfect as a quick meal for those super busy days when you do not feel like cooking. Either way, I highly recommend it!

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup – Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 – Onion (Chopped)
  • 1 – Red Bell Pepper (Chopped)
  • 5 – Garlic Cloves (Chopped)
  • 2 Tbs – Chili Powder
  • 2 Tsp – Dried Oregano
  • 1 1/2 Tsp – Cumin
  • 1 – Bay Leave
  • 2 Tsp – Hot Sauce (Or you can use 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper)
  • 3 Cans – Black Beans (Reserve 1/2 cup liquid)
  • 1 16 oz Can – Tomato Sauce

Instructions:

  • Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions, bell pepper, & garlic then saute for about 10 minutes (or until tender).
  • Mix in Cumin, Oregano, Chili Powder, Bay Leave, & Hot Sauce (or Cayenne Pepper). Stir for 2 minutes.

  • Add in beans, reserved liquid, & tomato sauce.
  • Bring Chili to boil while stirring occasionally. (This is all going to smell so good!!)
  • Reduce heat to medium low to simmer and to allow flavors to mix for about 15 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt & pepper. Top with cheese and other toppings of your choice!

Wish Avenue.

This poem is based on a true place just a few blocked from where I live. I discovered it while going for a walk and my imagination went away with it. Hope you like 😉

Wish Avenue:

The last bright light in a city of blues,
Wish Avenue always brings me back to you.
Lost in the valley of the broken-hearted,
The last lingering love of the dearly departed.

The fragrant flowers and shady trees,
The lane is full of old memories.
The warm breeze so light and airy,
Somehow late February is a little less scary.

My hair is now silver,
My heart has aged.
These flowers pressed from my bouquet,
Of Midnight Jasmine and Winter Sage.

Alone I stand where you proposed,
On a warm late February long ago.
You walked me down Wish Avenue,
The day you made my dreams come true.

In the heat of summer, I am now chilled to the bone,
Ever since you left me alone.
The city is now a somber place,
Now that I am without your warm embrace.

I now walk this street in reverie,
Lost in a distant memory.
Your brown hair and golden eyes,
As you walked me under the deep blue sky.

As I walk alone down Wish Avenue,
I long for the days back with you.
With all my heart I make a wish,
Just for one more last kiss.

The Importance of Patience.

Patience. I’m learning everyday the importance of patience. It is a quality that I wish I utilized more often. I constantly think of the word patience when I reflect on my surroundings. I live in Los Angeles; one of the largest cities in the entire world. While this city can be wonderful at times, the extensive number of people constantly around me can be overwhelming at times. If you have ever driven in this city, gone out to a social event, etc. you understand the importance of having patience

I’m learning that a life without patience can be suffocating. Sometimes I have to tell myself sit back and just breathe. As I learn more about the importance of patience, I will utilize it more often within my life.

I can bring the importance of patience to my blog. As time goes by and with every post, I’m learning that in order to have a sufficient, meaningful, and fulfilling work to post on Delightful Discoveries, it must be something that comes from within. It must come from some artistic inspiration or desire to express myself or also from a certain experience. Sometimes I get the feeling that I must rush and post a recipe or poem, because if I do not I will disappoint or lose my audience. I’m learning that in order to properly express myself, I need to exercise patience.

With every recipe, craft, or poem I need to remember not to rush inspiration, but let it come to me. As I discover more about myself, I now recognize the importance of patience.

So now I ask you, my wonderful readers to have patience when you stumble upon my blog, Delightful Discoveries. Also remember, great things come to those who wait.

xoxo..