Archive | February 2014

Thyroid

This blog has been my open journal for several years now. Writing has always been an outlet for me.

I’ve shared my recipes, my thoughts, my reflections, and what’s going on in my life. Except for one part. It’s something I have not shared here, because quite honestly it’s something I haven’t shared with most people in my life. Yes, a select few have known.

So why hide it, you ask? Quite honestly, I just didn’t want to deal with people’s reactions/questions/concerns. No matter how good some people’s intentions may be, it’s just not worth it when you look at the big picture.

Who knew that such a small part of the human body could wreak so much havoc? Or have an effect on so many other parts of the body? I certainly didn’t know to the full extent until about two and a half years ago when my thyroid went, well, crazy.

February 2014 marks two years since I found out I had hyperthyroidism after six months of keeping the doctors guessing. And you know what apparently may have causes/triggered it? A flu or a flu-like virus (like the one that hit me like a brick in September 2011).

While the opposite hypothyroidism is much more common than my hyperthyroidism, for both ends of spectrum I can honestly say: you don’t know what it feels like or what it does to you until you experience it. One of the best and worst things, all at the same time, about thyroid issues is that it’s hard for the outside world to know/realize for the most part. Besides the obvious weight loss, of course.

The constant fatigue? The lack of sleep? The effect on your gastro system? Appetite? Muscles? Constant body aches? Sadly, by the two year mark you become used to the fact that this the new “normal”. I kid you not, at one point or another: it has effected every part of me.

For over two years, I dealt with this thyroid issue. But that’s not exactly what this post is about: it’s about a thyroid nodule that is of concern- a totally unrelated matter [to my hyperthyroidism] in my case. Tomorrow morning, I go in for a thyroid lobectomy (or a total thyroidectomy) [depending on what is found during the surgery].

It’s my first surgery ever, and to say I am terrified and apprehensive would be the biggest understatement. It wasn’t too long ago, afterall, that I would get all uptight about blood draws and injections. But I know He, above, is the best of planners. Everything happens for a reason. This, too, shall pass.

Please keep me in your duas [prayers] and/or thoughts.

An Evening with Cory Booker [at Rutgers]

I was at the event when Bill Clinton came to Rutgers at the height of Barack Obama’s election campaign [when I was still a Rutgers student]. I met/shook hands with Barack Obama when he came to FDU. Not to mention I met Nelson Mandela as an elementary school student in Canada when he visited Toronto, Ontario. Rutgers has hosted others that I attended as well including Rachel Maddow and Nicole Wallace.

a blurry picture, but whatever.

Last night, Rutgers hosted Cory Booker (newly elected to the US Senate). Not only did I get to hear him speak in person [like with the others], but this time there was an added benefit: I got to interact directly with him. An amazing opportunity for someone like me who is so into politics.

It started off as a simple tweet expressing my disappointment that questions would supposedly be limited to students from a certain American government class at Rutgers. Booker addressed it on twitter, asked about/for me [by name] right when he walked in to the room and later addressed the question. Which I appreciated very much so.

It’s just something else when you get the opportunity to interact with someone in public office that genuinely wants to make a difference in the community. And let me tell you: his personality shines even more in person. If you follow him on Twitter or follow the news, you already have an idea of how “hands-on” involved he is in his community. How many politicians actually do that? Not many. And when they do, they need to be recognized, appreciated, and used as examples as for what the constituents deserve.

For all that he has done for Newark, I look forward to him extending that and applying it to New Jersey as a whole. It’s not just Newark he represents now, but like he said himself several times last night: he now “represents the entire state” of New Jersey.

What’s for Dinner: Braided Pizza Bread

It’s a cold and snowy day [again]. We seem to be having a lot of these lately. Another foot of snow, making the total for the winter season thus far unreasonably high.
 

As a mid afternoon snack, I made this braided pizza bread using a refrigerated pizza dough I had handy. I lay the rectangular dough out on foil [for easy cleanup] on top of a baking sheet. cut the top and bottom parts of the dough to create strips.Down the center, pour marinara sauce, shredded mozarella cheese, parmesan cheese, oregano flakes, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Next time, I’d add strips of bell peppers and chicken too.Fold the strips on top to create a braided look. Brush the top gently with oil oil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and oregano.

Bake in your preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:


P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

What’s for Dinner: Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake

Cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies are pretty high on the list of “my favorite desserts”. Here are a few other variations I have done as well: my chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake and chocolate chip cheesecake.

What I did today, instead, was use cookie as the base of the cheesecake [crust], and put chocolate chips in the filling portion along with the little leftover cookie dough batter. Just mix it right in. 

It was pretty much a chocolate chip cookie cheesecake…yum!

What you need:

  • Your favorite cookie dough recipe or store-bought cookie dough.
  • 2 [8-ounce] packages of cream cheese, softened/room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • [about] 2/3 cup of milk chocolate chips

What I did was:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Spray your springform pan with non-stick cooking spray as an extra precaution.
  2. Make your cookie dough using your favorite recipe or use a pre-made dough/log [let it come to room temperature]. Press the chocolate chip cookie dough down into the base of your springform pan.
  3. To make the filling, in a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add a cup of milk chocolate chips [and any left over cookie dough batter you have] and mix. Tip: to keep your chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom, toss them with about a teaspoon of flour.
  5. Transfer your filling to the spring-form pan on top of the cookie dough base.
  6. Bake in your preheated oven for about an hour.
  7. Optional: for presentation purposes, if I was serving this to guests, I’d melted milk chocolate chips and drizzled that on top of the cheesecake before serving it.

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:


P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

What’s for Dinner: Pizza Pinwheels

This was a quick snack I put together this past Friday night… another spin on pizzas.

I took [rectangular] pizza dough [store bought or homemade] and topped it with marinara sauce. On top of that I added: garlic powder, red pepper flakes, oregana, shredded mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan cheese.

Roll it into a log [as neatly as you possibly can]. And using a sharp knife, cut them into even pieces. Lay them on a baking tray.

I baked it in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes and it was delicious!

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:


P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

What’s for Dinner: Shrimp Pasta

For dinner today, I made shrimp with pasta [in a marinara sauce]. Alongside, I made my cheddar bay biscuits.

For the pasta:

I seasoned my shrimp with cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, basil, parsley, and lemon juice. I prefer making my shrimp in the oven, so I baked mine in the oven for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Cook your pasta [as the box says]. I used capellini today because that’s what I had at home. When the pasta is cooked, add in the marinara sauce and mix. It’ll warm up from the heat of the pasta. Mix in some Parmesan cheese. Lastly, toss in the shrimp.

When serving, sprinkle some parmesan cheese, basil, and  parsley on top… and dinner’s ready!

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

What’s for Dinner: Mini Chicken Pot Pie [Biscuits]

Yesterday was a cold and snowy day [the complete opposite of the day before] and I wanted something warm. I had this idea saved in my “must try sometime” pile for a long time, and decided to try it out yesterday.

I didn’t want to make a pie dough, and didn’t have a pre-made one on hand… so I used something I almost ALWAYS have in my fridge. Refrigerated biscuits. I use it in so many different ways, yet almost never just bake them as is for simple biscuits. You can find my biscuit recipe by clicking here.

For the “pot pie” filling, I used:

  • Boneless Chicken, cut into tiny pieces.
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Paprika, to taste
  • Onion powder, to taste
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Chili powder, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Thyme, to taste
  • Parsley, to taste
  • 2 cup of chicken broth/stock
  • 1 cup of 1% milk
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 3 cups of frozen mixed vegetables [mine had peas, corn, carrots, and beans]

Next time, I’d cut the chicken broth and milk in half because I was left over with some “filling” after 16 biscuits.

What I did was:

  1. Starting with the chicken: I seasoned mine with black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, red pepper flakes, thyme, and parsley. Spray your pan [so the chicken doesn’t stick] with non-stick cooking spray. Cook over low heat, until the chicken is cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile combineyour chicken broth/stock with milk over low heat. Season with black pepper, garlic powder and paprika.
  3. Combine about two tablespoons of cornstarch with a little water [just enough to dissolve the cornstarch]. Add this mixture to your milk/broth mixture and whisk over medium-high speed for a few minutes! This part helps gives that nice creamy milk color and texture we all love so much in chicken pot pie… without the fatness/heaviness of cream, half and half, etc. Tip: Make sure you continuously whisk to avoid lumps.
  4. Once your sauce/filling has thickened, add in your frozen vegetables [they will soften in the sauce and even more so in the oven] and your cooked chicken. Mix everything together.

To put together the mini pot pies:

  1. When I was almost ready to form the mini pot pies, I took the biscuits and rolled them each out so they were thinner and about twice the size they originally were.
  2. Spray your muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray so they come easily once baked.
  3. Line with one of the biscuit dough, pressing it in so it fits nicely and there is enough excess dough on top to “seal” them.
  4. Fill the biscuits with your filling, and seal them with your fingers.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

You can see my Pot Pie recipe from last year’s Pi day by clicking here. On that link, you will also find how I make my chicken broth.

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:


P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

What’s for Dinner: Chocolate [Football] Cake

I wasn’t planning on making anything for the Super Bowl party my brother’s were having last night… but the night before I just couldn’t help myself and started brainstorming ideas.

Since my brother’s were ordering food, I narrowed it downto desserts and finally decided to make a cake. It had to be a football-related cake [it was the Super Bowl afterall] but I didn’t have a football-shaped baking pan.

So what I ended up doing yesterday afternoon was: making the football shape on my own using my round spring-form baking pan.

I used my homemade vanilla cake recipe and added 1/4th cup of cocoa powder to the batter to make it a chocolate cake. I baked it in a preheated 350 degree oven for about thirty minutes. There was just enough batter left to make five cupcakes that I baked for about 15 minutes.

Tip: After letting the cake cool, what I did to make the football shape out a circle cake was: cut a two inch strip of the cake out down the center of the cake [cut less if you are using a smaller pan]. Move the two semi-circles to whatever you will use to serve the cake on. When you connect the two semi-circles, it is now in the shape of a football!

I used store-bought milk chocolate frosting to frost my homemade cake. I have vowed to never make homemade frosting until I can get a Kitchen-Aid stand-mixer.

Tip: whenever I frost cakes, I line the bottom of the cake with small pieces of parchment paper [easier to remove than one large sheet] so the bottom and edges look clean at the end and avoid a big mess.

After frosting it, all that is left is to decorate the top of the cake with the details of a football.

Another tip: I took coconut flakes and dyed them green to make “grass” to put around the football cake.

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:


P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.