Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Storms Bring in the Prettiest Shells

I have walked the beach on this island for years. More years than I'd like to admit. And you know what? It never gets old. Up to the left, past Resident's Beach and the Marriott. To the right all the way to the tip of Tigertail Beach. The sand that once was shells crunching beneath my bare feet, the morning sun warming my arms, the gulf breeze sighing gently with me. The sheer beauty. The peace. Nature's wonder on display as I search for the most colorful shells or that rare find, a whole sand dollar.  

Shells collected on Marco Island | www.BakingInATornado.com | #nature #beach #shells

I talk all the time about how I bake to relieve stress. And lets face it, there's been a lot of it lately. The best way I can generally find to just take a break from it all is to grab some chocolate and hit the kitchen. Baking not only requires concentration and therefore the respite my mind needs, but it invariably culminates in sweet results and the appreciation of friends and family.

Mocha Toffee Bars, chocolate, coffee and toffee flavors in this dessert treat. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATorando.com | #recipe #chocolate #dessert

Mocha Toffee Bars
Mocha Toffee Bars, chocolate, coffee and toffee flavors in this dessert treat. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATorando.com | #recipe #chocolate #dessert

But there has never been, in my life anyway, anything that clears my mind and nourishes my soul like walking the beach. No, it never gets old.

The beach on Marco Island | www.BakingInATornado.com | #nature #beach #shells

It does get new though. Just after a storm.

I don't want to get all warm-and-fuzzy and feel-goody here. A storm is by no means a cleansing. It is undoubtedly the result of an ugly, harmful, churning, upheaval. A disruption of the peace that had become the daily norm. There is fall out, even some destruction in it's wake. But we do not have to look below the surface to find what is there in the aftermath. 

We just have to let go of our anger at the storm itself. At its disturbance of our stagnant complacency.

Shells collected on Marco Island | www.BakingInATornado.com | #nature #beach #shells

Shells collected on Marco Island | www.BakingInATornado.com | #nature #beach #shells

We have, many of us, railed against the whipping winds that signaled the incoming storm. We have convinced ourselves that it would diminish, not make landfall. We shook our collective fists at the heavens as the sky opened up and dumped on us.

It is now the day after. We can no longer deny that the storm has hit. It does us no good to continue to shake our fists. The time has come to walk the beach. Not with an air of naivete though, be vigilant about where you step. There will be an occasional man-of-war. 

But there is also beauty. Not hiding, right there in plain sight. All we really need to do is stop seeking and start seeing. 

Because storms bring in the prettiest shells.

Shells collected on Marco Island | www.BakingInATornado.com | #nature #beach #shells

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Mocha Toffee Bars         
Printable Recipe
1 stick margarine
1 stick butter, divided
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules, divided
1 cup brown sugar, divided
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup toffee chips

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 baking pan with nonstick spray.
*Melt margarine and 1/2 stick of the butter. Mix in 1 tsp of the coffee granules. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool a bit.
*Beat in 3/4 cup of the brown sugar, then the egg. Carefully beat in the flour, baking cocoa and salt. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes.
*In a microwave safe bowl, heat the corn syrup, remaining 1/2 stick butter, heavy cream, vanilla and 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/2 tsp coffee granules and microwave 2 more minutes.
*Mix and pour over the crust. Return to oven for 25 minutes.
*Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/4 dark chocolate chips over the top of your bars and return to the oven for 1 minute. 
*Spread the melted chocolate over the top of the bars, sprinkle with the toffee chips and allow to cool completely before cutting.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Hello From the Land of the Orange: Use Your Words

Today’s post is a monthly writing challenge. If you’re new here, this is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once. All of the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the recipient will take them. Until now.

Use Your Words, a multi-blogger writing challenge | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.
I’m using: orange ~ soup ~ sneakers ~ heirloom ~ group 
They were submitted by Minette of Southern Belle Charm.

Hello from the land of milk and honey. Make that the land of the orange.

Crockpot Orange Teriyaki Turkey, a quick and simple slow cooker dinner. Turkey tenderloin infused with citrus and teriyaki flavors | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #crockpot #dinner #turkey

Crockpot Orange Teriyaki Turkey Tenderloins

Although I'm thoroughly enjoying gorging myself on oranges and grapefruits, I have to admit that I'm not eating dinners made in crockpots. No hearty soups and stews and heavy pasta meals for me. I'm visiting my mom. Reveling in lots of fresh fish, mostly grouper, giant prawns and snow crab. Biting into warm fresh heirloom tomatoes like apples right off the table at the farmer's market.

I'm wearing flip flops and sneakers. Going barefoot and relishing the feel of the sand between my toes, the salty gulf washing up my calves as the tide comes in. I'm walking the beach in the mornings smiling whenever a pod of dolphins swim by. I'm sitting out on the back deck watching the sun gently sink into the gulf with a glass of wine in my hand with my mom and my two boys by my side. Inhaling the scent of the gardenias each time I walk in and out the front door. Waking up each morning to the sound of the surf.

It was not easy getting my little group all to the island at the same time. It was logistical nightmare in fact. Well, Mom's already here, of course. But for us? I had to work around spring break so the travel days were not flexible. I was desperately trying to get the boys and I both to arrive and to leave not only on the same day but at the same approximate time. PurDude had an hour and a half drive to where he parks his car to take a shuttle to the airport so we couldn't leave too early in the morning. In order to work out the schedule I had to have 2 windows open on my laptop to compare the flight availability for him and the one for College Boy and I. 

It was an overwhelming process. At one point I almost booked us on different days. Good thing I caught that. After I booked both tickets I had a niggling thought bouncing around in my brain that I had put PurDude's birthday on College Boy's ticket. Chances are TSA would not look kindly on that discrepancy. Although, at the time I was booking I was conflicted. Maybe I should just let TSA hold onto him for a while. I bet by the time I swing back through the airport on the way home they'd be ready to let me have him back.

Lucky for him I pushed those thoughts aside. Unlucky for me I had to figure out how to get his ticket changed to reflect his actual birthday. But then a vacation is never appreciated more than when you're stressed to the limits, right?

Which brings me to today. Here I sit on St. Patrick's Day, just days before my youngest's birthday. And not just any birthday either, a big one. Yuuuuge, in fact. Trying desperately to enjoy the hell out of every single minute we're all spending together. And succeeding.

Here are links to all the other Use Your Words posts:

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Crockpot Orange Teriyaki Turkey Tenderloins

1 package (about 1 3/4#) turkey tenderloins
salt, pepper, paprika 
2 cups orange juice
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 tsp orange zest 
2 green onion, chopped
3 mandarin oranges, peeled and separated into sections

*Spray the inside of a slow cooker with nonstick spray.
*Rinse turkey tenderloins and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.
*Whisk together orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, hot pepper flakes, orange zest and green onion. Pour into crockpot.
*Place the tenderloins into the crockpot and turn onto high. Cook for one hour. Turn the meat, then switch the temperature and cook for 2 hours. 
*Add the mandarin orange slices and cook for one more hour. Be sure your turkey is completely cooked (165 degrees).
*Remove the turkey from the crockpot, slice and drizzle with the sauce.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Luck Gone Amuck: March Poetry

I love poetry. You probably can't tell by the way I butcher it each month in these monthly poetry posts. It shouldn't surprise you though, since I've been blathering on here on this blog for almost 5 years that I do love the written word. In all of its forms. It's why I don't limit my posts to recipes or fiction or editorials or family stories or humor or even heartbreak. It's why I say whatever's on my mind depending on my mood.

And once a month, lucky you, my mood waxes poetic. This month my friends and I picked the theme Luck. 

Monthly Poetry Group, March 2017 theme: Luck | Presented by www.BakingInATornado.com | #poem #poetry #MyGraphics

Since we chose this theme last year too, I'll take this as a golden opportunity for a do over.

So sit back and enjoy. Or not. You know I've got a delicious recipe to share in case you need a bribe. Or a reward. Your choice. Either way, it's chocolate. See:

Nutella Krisp Pie, a nutella based filling with a few surprise ingredients in this delicious dessert. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert #pie

 Nutella Krisp Pie
Nutella Krisp Pie, a nutella based filling with a few surprise ingredients in this delicious dessert. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert #pie

Luck Gone Amuck

She was ready, so it seemed,
to catch a leprechaun, she'd dreamed,
thoughts were thought and plans were schemed,
to grab the pot of gold that gleamed.

Finally it came, the date,
only St. Patty's Day would rate.
She'd planned the trap and set the bait,
that leprechaun would meet his fate.

And there it was up in the sky,
a rainbow had just caught her eye.
Heading off and feeling spry,
this year it was to do or die.

She followed it through hill and dale,
no, this time she refused to fail.
Sometimes dark colors, others pale,
she persevered, knew she'd prevail.

Exhaustion nearly reached its peak,
when suddenly, there, by the creek,
"Is that the Leprechaun I seek?" 
She thought (she was afraid to speak).

And now, oh Lord, she had to pee,
but can't lose sight or he will flee,
just think of how wealthy she'll be,
when he hands over that finder's fee.

She knew she'd neared that pot of gold, 
Lepechanun's fate would now unfold.
When undeniable truth came bold, 
her bladder she just could not hold.

Darting for the nearest tree,
of course the leprechaun did see.
Off he danced with spiteful glee,
"again this year you won't catch me"!
Well isn't that just my damn luck,
Another try has gone amuck,
"curse you, bladder, you suck"
(or another word rhyming with firetruck).

And yes, next year again she'd try
for success, that pot of gold she'd pry
from the leprechaun with the gleam in his eye. 
She can't lose, and you know why?
New plan . . . a catheter she'll buy.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, friends. Hope all your luck is good.

Before you go, click on these links to more poetry by some of my friends: 

Dawn of Spatulas on Parade shares The Meaning of Luck

Diane of On the Border shares (Bad) Luck of the Irish

Jules of The Bergham Chronicles shares Luck of the Draw.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Nutella Krisp Pie
Printable Recipe
1 uncooked pie crust
2 tsp flour
1/2 cup nutella
4 TBSP butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup Cocoa Krispies or Cocoa Pebbles cereal
1/2 cup butterfingers baking bits

OPT: whipped cream or ice cream for serving

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Spread the flour over the pie crust. Carefully turn the crust over and fit into your pie pan, flour side down.
*Whisk together the nutella, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Last, whisk in the eggs.
*Carefully mix in the cereal and the butterfingers bits. Pour into the pie shell.
*Bake for 45 minutes, tent with tin foil and bake another 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
*Store leftovers in the fridge. Bring to room temperature to serve.