Tag Archives: food

Pesto Zucchini Lasagna with Goat Cheese

Hello Monday! We celebrate Monday’s over here with ruffle-butts. And coffee dates with sweet friends.

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This past week was packed- weddings, showers, my little sister’s prom, and Gabby’s first set of vaccines. Most of the activities were fun, the last one was not. But we made it through and somehow, the shots did not permanently scar my child. 🙂

Friday morning, I was begging K to come with me to Gabby’s appointment, but K had promised to help set up for a wedding so she couldn’t come. My next desperate attempt was to get my mom to come with me last minute, but she also couldn’t come. I started to spiral downward into tears as I drove my happy daughter to her appointment- but then my mom unexpectedly told me over the phone, “Monica, you need to BUCK UP. You need to be tough for your daughter, she doesn’t need to see you cry.”

Sniffle. Didn’t expect that response. (*slightly surprised*) I stopped crying and remembered how I give these shots to babies everyday at work, and was always impressed by the moms who kept it together and took a matter-of-fact approach to the vaccines. I noticed that with the kindergarten age kids, if the moms were firm and didn’t over-stress how scary and awful the shots were, the kids generally responded better to the shots.

So, I bucked up, finished my last few whimpery tears, and held Gabby tight during and after the shots. She screamed, but within 10 minutes she was back to her happy self. Later that afternoon she was a little feverish and her little legs were swollen, but thankfully that only lasted for a few hours. We’ll be back for more in two months!

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That same night I did my little sister’s hair and make-up for her Junior-Senior Banquet, and it was so fun to have some girl time. My mom cuddled Gabs and soothed her tender legs while I got my sister all prettied up.

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I can’t believe how stinkin’ pretty my sister is!

The next day Gabs and I woke up early to sneak a quick morning run in and some kettlebell workouts. Thankfully we squeezed that in early because the rest of the day was devoted to some happy brides! I got to meet my cousin-in-law’s sweet fiance at her bridal shower, and then went to a good friend’s wedding later that night with my handsome husband.

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It was an awesome weekend, but we were pooped by Sunday and had a relaxing afternoon at home to recoop. Relaxing to Joey and Gabs = naptime. Relaxing to me? Lasagna!

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I had seen a few recipes for zucchini noodle lasagna floating around Pinterest and wanted to try them out- I ended up combining a few different recipes into my own idea of a yummy meal and was beyond pleased with the results!

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Now that summer is about here, and pool-side lounging in bathing suits draws near, it’s nice to have a few low-carb options for a hearty meal. I used zucchini in place of noodles, and lean-ground turkey (or drained and rinsed ground beef) for a protein kick. I swapped goat cheese for the typical overload of mozzarella cheese, and the flavor boost is phenomenal!

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Won’t be hard to make this my new go-to lasagna recipe. And a good hearty lasagna soothed this momma’s heart after watching Gabs endure those shots!

~M

Pesto Zucchini Lasagna with Goat Cheese

lightly adapted from SkinnyTaste

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb 93% lean turkey (or beef) (I had browned and frozen my meat a while ago with bell peppers and onions for added taste)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 8 portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 TBSP dried basil
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8″ thick
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 4 oz. soft, unripened goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • splash of red wine

Directions

Brown the ground meat and season with salt. When cooked drain in colander to remove any fat. Add olive oil to the pan and saute garlic and onions about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, wine, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 30-40minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.

Meanwhile, slice zucchini into 1/8″ thick slices, add lightly salt and set aside or 10 minutes. Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.

On a gas grill or grill pan, grill zucchini on each side, until cooked, about 1-2 minutes per side. Place on paper towels to soak any excess moisture.

Preheat oven to 350°.

I like my lasagna with lots of layers, so I used a small baking dish- you can use an 8×8 or 6 1/2×8 1/2 size dish. Start the layering by spreading pesto on the bottom of the pan, then the zucchini, then the sauce/meat mixture, then parmesan & goat cheese, then zucchini, pesto, sauce & repeat. Top with remaining goat cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 for about 35-45 minutes, let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

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Filed under Family, Food Stuffs., Vegetables, Wedding

School’s Out!!!

BAM.

BAM.

This is what I’ve been making for dinner lately. I’m not knockin it, it’s delicious. And I’m not gonna lie, either- I almost always have one in my fridge at any given moment. But this past week especially.

M was supposed to let ya’ll know that I was gonna be absent for a bit during the last week of school for finals…….she just got distracted by all the yummy things she was making and fun stuff she was doing. Whilst I sat at the table and slaved over papers that were due (no, I did not have all semester to do them, I never procrastinate.) and studied for tests I was super excited about. Actually it wasn’t that bad, but you get my drift. Finals week, even if you are prepared, is a big, nasty, stressy stressball that is never fun to go through. And it’s finally over. Curtis took me and my friend Tim (or soon-to-be-cousin-in-law, whichever is easier for you to remember) out to the YardHouse for drinks, food, and celebration after our last final. They have hundreds of beers on tap and delicious food, so it was a great end to the semester.

Pepperoni and mushroom pizza- melts in your mouth.

Pepperoni and mushroom pizza- melts in your mouth.

Thanks M, for keeping this thing afloat while I was away!

Keepin this one short, I just wanted to say a quick hi before running off to our Girl’s Christmas. A group of our girlfriends gets together every year for a nice potluck style dinner, gift exchange, and time to catch up and wind down. It’s so much fun!!! There will be pictures later, I promise.

Hope everyone is able to relax a little before Christmas 🙂 Have a great Friday!

~K

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Filed under Family, Favorite Things, Fridays, Holiday

Holy Fried Green Tomatoes Batman!

I’d like to start off by thanking M PROFUSELY for my birthday poem (I can’t believe she wrote that!) and for the mile-high cheesecake! It looked beautiful, and I bet it tasted even better than it looked!

Oh, and clearly someone is going through old family photos. Wow. 😉

I’m sure you all saw the canvas photo transfer challenge I gave M a few weeks ago, and saw how fabulously it turned out! Not gonna lie, I was super impressed. Now it’s my turn. M told me that my challenge was going to involve a recipe and I immediately got a little nervous. Cooking doesn’t usually make me nervous but M is much braver than I am in the kitchen. She always tells me about peanut oil, peanut powder (?), and coconut milk and I’m like ‘Ummm, I’m happy if I get dinner on the table, I’m stickin to what I know.’ HOWEVER. When she said I had to make fried green tomatoes, I got suuuper excited. Have you all seen the movie? I love it. It’s a must-see. It’s right up there with Steel Magnolias. For those of you who’ve seen Fried Green Tomatoes, M and I have always been taken in by the crunch noise Ninny makes when she bites into a fried green tomato- it just sounds delicious. I totally replicated that noise when I tasted mine. It was life-changing.

The thing that’s wonderful about the recipe I followed was that I had most of the ingredients in the pantry already, so it is a relatively cheap dish! The one snag that I did hit that I hope doesn’t disappoint too greatly is that I could not find green tomatoes. I know, right? I was bummed, but I made do! I got very firm Heirloom tomatoes instead and carried on! (that phrase seems to be popular right now…Keep Calm and Buy Heirloom Tomatoes…haha) p.s. I didn’t even know what exactly green tomatoes were until my mom told me- just unripe red tomatoes. Sounds kind of self-explanatory, but I wasn’t sure if they were another type of tomato or what!

First I cut up the tomatoes in half inch slices…..

…..approximately lol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

just LOOK at those babies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sprinkled the tomatoes with salt and let them set while I mixed the dry goods….

Top left is the flour/Cajun seasoning mixture, top right is the milk/egg mixture, and bottom is the corn meal/breadcrumb mixture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, I got the vegetable oil heating in the frying pan on medium high, and started coating the tomatoes! (I only cooked three at a time, and I coated each tomato individually right before throwing it in the pan). First the flour mixture on both sides, then the milk mixture, then the bread crumbs.  **key point!! I ALWAYS get ahead of myself and throw food in a semi-hot frying pan. I held back, and listened to Chef Robert (from Restaurant Impossible, love him.). “Do not put food in a warm frying pan! It. Doesn’t. Work!’

Tossing these things in the pan made the most delicious hissssss….

Those bubbles made a yummy noise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….aaaaand FLIP!

LOOK at that COLOR!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….aaaaand take them out! I laid them on paper towel to absorb excess oil….and bit into it while it was still piping hot. It was so worth it. I did let it cool for a minute, but honestly, you want to eat it hot out of the pan. You get that crunch of the crust, then the hot, fresh tomato…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holy patootie, people. It tasted phenomenal.

I will be making this as a side dish quite often, I think. They took no more than 20 minutes and they are really really good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end.

THANKS M!!!!

-K

Fried Green Tomatoes

3 large green (or heirloom!) tomatoes

salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning (the recipe says it’s optional, but I really advise you use it!)

1/2 cup milk (or buttermilk)

1 egg

1/3 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup fine plain breadcrumbs (I only had Italian, and they tasted great!)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Cut the tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt. Let tomato slices stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place in separate shallow bowls: the flour and Cajun seasoning, buttermilk and egg, and bread crumbs and cornmeal.

Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. Dip tomato slices in the flour-seasoning mix, then buttermilk-egg mixture, then the cornmeal-bread crumb mix. In the skillet, fry half of the coated tomato slices at a time, for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown. Set the cooked tomatoes on paper towels to drain. EAT THEM ALL. Seriously. I did share, but there are no leftovers 🙂

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Filed under Family, Food Stuffs., Movie

4th of July Rhubarb Pie

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Its so good to be BACK!!!

Let me tell you, going to Israel was the trip of a lifetime. If you ever have the opportunity to go, seize it. I will tell you guys all about it very soon, but you’ll have to wait just a bit longer. Takes a while to go through all those notes and pictures! I was sooo close to doing a post on bacon cheeseburgers. With milk. And more cheese. (We could not have dairy and red meat together EVER in Israel, because it is not considered kosher.) Was I ever a die-hard cheeseburger fan? Did I always HAVE to have milk with dinner? No… but its one of those things where, once you aren’t allowed to have it, its all you can think about. It clouds your mind. You start to see visions of cheese dancing dangerously close to steak. Just kidding, it never went that far. But I did have a delicious cheeseburger on Sunday afternoon with milk.

Anyways, now that I got that out of my system, on to one of my favorite holidays!! I love everything about the 4th- bacon cheeseburgers with milk, the fireworks, BBQs, swimming, freedom, popsicles, family time, hot dogs, and PIE.

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Especially the rhubarb kind.

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I meant to share this recipe with you guys yesterday, to give you enough time to make it for wherever you are going for the 4th, but jet lag is really doing a number on me. Good news is, you can whip this baby up and have it in the oven within an hour. So, you still have time!

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You might ask, why make a rhubarb pie (isn’t that a vegetable!??!) when you can make a strawberry pie?? Or blueberry pie? That’s a valid question- because those are all delicious. However, there is something about this pie that reaches just a little further than the other ones… also, there’s streusel topping. And it makes your house smell sooooo good. And tastes even better than how it makes your house smell! And it’s basically healthy for you because it’s technically a vegetable. Just don’t ask questions.

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Your 4th of July peers will love you. And probably invite themselves over for more later.

My mom took the time to show Linds and I how to make her “never fail pie crust” too. Think buttery, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. If you don’t have time to make this crust, a storebought one will work fine. I would recommend the Pillsbury frozen crust, not a graham cracker one. That being said, the homemade pie crust really does made a big difference in the end product. You won’t regret making the extra trip to the store for lard. Yup, you heard me. LARD.

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Man, I’m doing a horrible job of convincing you to make this pie. Just please do it, this lard-y vegetable pie will knock you to your knees. Promise. It might even be better than dutch apple pie. If that doesn’t convince you, then I don’t know what will.

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What a little snooper.

Enjoy!

~M

P.S. Did I tell you guys how much I missed you?

Rhubarb Pie

serves 8

To prepare fresh rhubarb, wash it well, trim all the dry ends of the stalks, and slice. (Like celery)

Ingredients:

1 recipe Mom’s Never-Fail Pie Crust (see below)

1 recipe Crumb Topping (see below)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

4 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened sliced rhubarb

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Directions:

Prepare and roll out pastry crust. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the pastry (no need to grease the pan). Trim and crimp the edges as desired. Prepare crumb topping, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together granulated sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Add rhubarb. Gently toss to coat. (If using frozen rhubarb, let mixture stand for 15-30 minutes or until fruit is partially thawed, but still icy.)

Transfer rhubarb to the pastry-lined pie plate. Sprinkle crumb topping over the filling.

To prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of the pie with foil (We did not do this, and ours turned out fine). Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes with fresh fruit (50 minutes for frozen fruit). Remove foil. Bake for 20-25 more minutes for fresh fruit (20-30 more for frozen) or until topping is golden. Let cool completely.

Crumb Topping

In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup AP flour, and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in 3 Tbsp. butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Mom’s Never-Fail Pie Crust

makes 2-3 crusts

3 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup lard (can find this in refrigerated section at any grocery store)

10 Tbsp Crisco

1 egg

1 Tbsp vinegar

5 Tbsp ICE COLD water.

(Lard and Crisco should be refrigerated. Temperatures are very important!)

Combine flour and salt. Cut in lard and Crisco with pastry blender until crumbly. Slighty whip egg with a fork in a separate bowl, then mix in cold water and vinegar. Add liquid to crumbled mixture until ball is formed.

** When rolling out this crust, make sure you sprinkle ample amounts of flour on your work surface and rolling pin- otherwise the crust will tear and stick to the counter. This crust can handle a good amount of extra flour, so don’t be shy.

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Filed under Food Stuffs.

a nice surprise and green monster

I got called on Wednesday night and was told that the provider at the Escalon clinic was sick and therefore we could not open the clinic on Thursday. “Aw, what a bummer… I hope she feels better soon…” was what I said. And what I truly meant! But I was secretly SO excited to have the day off! What a nice surprise- I was starting to get a little nervous that I wouldn’t have time to shop for a fanny pack for my trip?!

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Yes, you heard me right. I was an avid lover of fanny packs in my younger days, and I still am. Pretty sure I always will be. It’s so much more convenient than lugging around a purse all day, and it can probably double as a belt. Just kidding, I don’t know about the belt part, but it sure is nice for hiking! Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. Just in case you are wondering, because I’m sure you guys all secretly want one too, they are only $5 at WalMart! Score.

On to more important things! My day off yesterday was just beautiful. Started out the day with a walk with my dogs and my favorite green monster smoothie. Man, all my recipes are green lately. Time for a new color!

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As I walked, I planned out my mental to-do list and thought about adding a wood-burning tool to my shopping list so I could make this. Did not buy one, because the first attempt at wood burning turned out like this. (I need a few more lessons from Master K before I invest) 20120615-094358.jpg

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Hardly very intricate detailing there, but you were warned that I am not crafty!

I got home, ran a few errands, and fit in a quick shopping trip to Old Navy for some comfy capris and last minute travel items. K, I really needed Lindsey with me for the whole ‘avoiding over shopping thing’. I haven’t packed yet for Israel, and it’s not a good idea to go shopping when you’re worried you don’t have the right kind of clothing for your trip. You end up buying things that you know you’ll never wear again. (Thank goodness for their bomb return policy!) Then got home and made a quick lunch of maple almond butter oatmeal. Have you guys tried this combo? Do it and thank me later 🙂

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1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup milk, water, spoonful of almond butter, 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup (and a pink lady apple!)

I grabbed a quick and low-key workout and then spent the rest of the day on the phone with K and cleaning the house like a mad woman- I love coming home to a clean house 🙂

Dinner was those meatballs that I made a while ago. I have not been cooking as much these past few days because we have been avoiding grocery shopping and trying to use up what we have in the fridge before we go. Joey’s brother came over for dinner after his first day of his internship and was starved, so we were glad that we had something that was ready to be popped in the oven and ready in a few minutes! That along with some roasted veggies and garlic bread made for a pretty filling meal. Instead of meatballs for me, I had a hankering for some of my mom’s homemade chili. She made me some months and months ago, and I had stuck in the freezer for instances such as this. I roasted some cubed sweet potato and mixed it in with the chili and wow, that was the best decision I’ve made all day! SO good! I will come back with a recipe for you guys, I promise. The chili and sweet potato mixture is incredible!

Finished up the day with the Heat vs Thunder game (c’mon Thunder!?) and a nice big bowl of brownies and ice cream. Sorry, I ate that way too fast so there’s no picture.

What a nice day off.

Happy Friday!

~M

Green Monster Smoothie

serves YOU!

2-3 big handfuls of fresh spinach

4 oz. plain Greek Yogurt

1Tbps PB2 (or regular peanut butter)

1 frozen banana

1 cup ice

water or milk to thin out

Directions

Blend it all together in a blender! I would recommend starting with the liquid at the bottom, then spinach, and then the heavier ingredients on top so that it pushes the spinach down, making it easier to blend. The more ice you use, the more smoothie-like it will be!

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P.S. sorry for the blurry picture- I freeze my ‘naners with the peel on, so it looks pretty gross there. Also, you will learn as you read my posts that I like to try new weird food products. (Don’t ask why I like some ingredients and are scared of others) PB2 is something I ordered from Amazon because I heard good things about it from  Jenna. Its basically peanut butter that has all of the oil pressed out of it- so it is in a powdered form. I have grown to adore this stuff! You can sprinkle it on apples for a snack, mix it in brownies, and countless other things.

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Filed under Food Stuffs., Vacation

Lemon Spinach Pesto


It’s finally summmmerrr!!! Ah, how I love summers! Even though technically summer starts on the 21st, who really waits for the official day? No one I know. Bring on the BBQ’s, arnold palmers by the pool, tan skin, summer salads,vacations, and cute little baby nieces in their frilly bathing suits. I love every minute of it! Also, did I tell you guys that Joey and I are going to be going on a Bible tour of Israel for the next two weeks?

We are so excited we can hardly stand it! We’ve been looking forward to this trip for over a year now, and it’s a little crazy to think that we leave on Sunday already. Please keep us in your prayers! I’m not sure what we’ll be eating in Israel, but as long as it involves lots of hummus or this, I’m pretty excited for it.

In the meantime, lets focus on American food. After all of the Oreo cake and pretzel m&m’s, we were pretty sugared out and ready for some protein. And it’s summer, so let’s make it brightly colored, shall we?

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I love anything lemon-y. It’s so light and flavorful, and citrus screams summertime! We eat a lot of chicken in our house- I’m getting better at learning how to cook beef in different ways (since we live on a dairy), but I’m much more familiar with chicken because my mom always cooked it for us. Chicken is great because it can stand up to so many different flavors, preparations, and sauces. So, even if you have chicken every.single.night, it can feel like a completely different meal if you change up the flavors! Sounds good to me.

 

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This particular recipe is one of my very favorites, and its so fast! I might even be able to beat out K’s 11 minute meal. Depends on how long it takes your chicken to cook… so cook it fast and I can call it the 10.5 minute meal! In all seriousness, the only time consuming part is cooking the chicken- I just pan-fried it on the stovetop with a little garlic salt and pepper and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil).

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The best part of the meal takes about 3 minutes, and can be done while the chicken is on the stove! Just dump some lemon zest & juice, parmesan, spinach, EVOO, and pine nuts in a food processor and let ‘er rip! This is what I love to make when I want a good, fast healthy meal, and with little time spent in a hot kitchen.

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Pretty much the greenest sauce you ever did see, huh? I know its scary, you’ve never had a sauce that green. Your kids might freak out a little bit (or your husband might request a more normal looking sauce with his chicken…ahem.) but rest assured, this is so refreshing and the flavors are all there! Its a slighty cheesy, creamy, fresh, and lemony accent to that chicken … and goes along perfectly with some crusty bread and steamed veggies.

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This sauce is so good, you’ll end up dipping your fingers everything on your plate in it. Not that I did that, or anything.

~M

Lemon Spinach Pesto

serves 4-5

2 cups fresh spinach

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

2 TBSP lemon juice

1-2 tsp lemon zest

1/3 cup + 2 tsp olive oil

salt & pepper

1/3 cup fresh parmesan, grated

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees- toast pine nuts for 5-10 minutes, watch closely. Cooking times may vary with your oven!

Add all ingredients to blender or food processor, and puree until smooth and creamy. Add more olive oil to get your desired consistency.

Refrigerate, and eat with your chicken! And vegetables… and bread….

Enjoy!

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11 Minute Meal

I have totally gotten out of the habit of cooking nightly for Curtis, my oh-so-understanding hubby. I go to work at 4:30 in the morning most mornings (I work at a certain popular coffeehouse) and then go to work at a drycleaners right after that, until about 5:30 in the evening. Thank goodness I work at a coffeehouse though, because Lord knows I couldn’t do it without caffeine. You’d think with two nurses in the family they could figure out a way to hook me up to an IV for a constant drip.

My iced Chai Tea Latte!

Needless to say by the time I get home, I am not in the mood to cook or do laundry. Mostly I’m in the mood to craft or read….or sleep. Anyways, I was not in the mood to cook, but Curtis was all ready to make mac and cheese (which I cannot stand) so I volunteered to make dinner quick before I had to leave for my yoga class. I like to call this a ‘pantry meal’. I happened to have some tilapia in the freezer- I prefer fresh fish, but it’s not always an option-, some corn, and a bag o’ salad in the fridge so I figured that’d be far better than Velveeta mac and cheese. No offense to half of my family 🙂

I set the oven to broil while I defrosted the tilapia and covered a baking dish with tin foil. Then I got the corn on the stove. While that got cooking, I drizzled a little olive oil on the tin foil and set the fish in the pan. Then I put garlic, dried basil, lemon juice, and pepper all over the fish.

I like garlic.

Curtis likes cheese on his fish, so I shredded a little mozzarella on there (cuz it’s all I had handy) and popped it in the oven til it was crispy which was about 7 minutes.

Makin me hungry all over again!

I love it when the cheese gets all toasty like that….Delicious. By this time, the corn was done and all I had to do was throw the salad on the plate with the best dressing ever:

It is always in my fridge!

Summer dinners!

That’s pretty much it! Home-cooked meal completed and still got to yoga on time. Although I did realize halfway through plank pose that there is a reason I usually eat dinner after yoga…

-K

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Filed under Coffee, Family, Food Stuffs., Work