Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I'm BACK!!!

I'm back from Haiti and it was a wonderful trip!!

I have to say, I went into this with a preconceived notion of what Haiti was like. My image of Haiti came from what we all saw two years ago after the earthquake. It's funny how quickly places like that are forgotten after all the news coverage goes away. I think, in my mind, it was going to be like all of the pictures you see of Port-Au-Prince in the aftermath of the earthquake; rubble, tent cities and displaced people.

Port was still a bit messy, but it was functional and bustling with people.  Haiti isn't the same place it was two years ago. Life is moving on. The people are resilient and things are improving.  Buildings are being repaired and with the election of new president with a desire for change, Haiti is finally changing for the better!

The people of Haiti, including my new Brother-in-Law, are kind and welcoming. It's is the kind of place you have to look everyone in the eye and say hello. Such a stark contrast to the East Coast of the U.S. where doing that is bound to get you flipped off or worse mugged!

Though our flight arrived in Port-Au-Prince, we spent most of our time in the town of Montrouis, which can be best explained as a coastal rural area of Haiti. Below is a picture of the Mission house we stayed at. It was beautiful!
Life Connections Mission
The entire trip wasn't exactly like staying a a five star hotel though. Electricity  was spotty coming on and off whenever it fancied and generators supplied most of the power while we were there. Water for indoor plumbing like toilets and showers were gravity fed from cisterns on the roof. And I could go on  and on about the COLD showers! Internet was down while were there, so there was NO Googled answers for the questions we had about types of birds and fish we saw around us.

The whole trip had a different meaning for me and what I'm trying to accomplish with the blog. The simplicity there was so overwhelmingly refreshing! I left with a renewed determination to further simplify my life. Without  TV, the internet and a million other distractions that we have in the states, I felt sooooo relaxed. That's something I haven't felt in a long time!

See that beautiful couple? That's my sister and her new husband.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Packing and finding time for a project or two.

So I'm packing. Okay I lie. I'm doing the laundry so I can pack. Why do we have so much clothing? We should all have three outfits each, all the same color family, so I don't need to separate the laundry! Well, maybe not. I would have to do the laundry more frequently then. Urggggg!

I digress. Anyway, I'm getting ready for a trip, but I have some exciting things happening around the old Izzo homestead too!

It all started last week. We had to go into Philadelphia, so I could get my passport renewed super fast. Yeah, I pulled that puppy out and realized it still had my maiden name on it! Oops! So I had to rush into the city and have it expedited. It was a rather long and painful process, but I made it out alive and now I have a valid passport to get into Haiti. Since we were in the city, we decided to make a little time to test the cheese steaks.

We went to Pat's King of Steaks and ordered two cheese steaks "Wit-out." (Proper Philly lingo) We then took our steaks back to the warm car and scarfed them down. Then I look up to see Geno's and said to Chris "Hey, wanna try Geno's too?" Chris, never one to turn down a cheese steak, agreed and off we went to Geno's for cheese steak number two.

Yeah, I had two cheese steaks in a row. Which I must say was rather alarming, because I was still not full after I ate them both. Can you say smaller portions Ang!

Anyway, we both thought that Pat's had better steak and Geno's had better rolls. I think they should consider going into business together and combining there recipes. After all, I hear that Jim's and Tony Luke's also have cheese steaks to die for.

How did I just talk about cheese steaks so long? Gosh I need to loose some weight!

So on our way home I had to go to the bathroom. I mean, I just ate two cheese steaks! So, we stopped at Ikea in Conshohocken. I'm a firm believer that when you use a bathroom the establishment needs to be compensated for the toilet paper, so I bought a cute little hangy thinger. It's Swedish name was Grundall and if you have a dirty mind...like Chris does (not me!) You went somewhere with that name that was totally inappropriate for public and then joked out loud about it. Yeah, you're just going to have to Google it!

Since we were in the neighborhood, we also stopped at Ashley Furniture and tried out some of the couches in the showroom. We hadn't intended to but anything, but they were having a super sale, like a SUPER DUPER SALE. We ended up leaving with a very reasonably priced sofa and loveseat. Thank  you Christmas!

Well my furniture arrives in two to three weeks and since the furniture is tawny, I figured the living room wall color has to change!! The walls were due anyway. There were so many beautiful drawings on them from my little artist Abigail, but it was time for them to be covered up.

Now my living room is a lovely shade of happy blue and I must say it is much brighter and cheery in that room. Do you notice that old homes tend to NOT have enough windows? I guess it's because they needed dim lighting to hide their imperfections due to a lack of really good foundation makeup. Thank the Lord for modern times!

I also took it upon myself to further purge the other rooms of the house of unnecessary "stuff." This led to refinishing some side tables and finally completing the rolling island I made from an old wall cabinet.

See, I do keep busy still, I just don't have the time I wish I did to post it. I have a two year old an almost 1 year old to contend with. I love them though and wouldn't trade them for anything! That's what I have to tell myself everyday, so I don't trade them for an hour of alone time and a bar of chocolate! Because some days, I'll be honest, it's tempting.

Just kidding- No I'm not. Yes I am. Nope.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Hello all. Please excuse my tardiness! I do not have a Meal planner Monday for you this week and here's why;

Angie's going to Haiti in three days! 

I know, you're like "Pump the breaks, Ang! Haiti?" to which I respond, "yeah I know, but my baby sister's getting married...in Haiti!"

So in three days, I'm getting on a plane and heading off to the lovely town of Montrouis (pronounced Mo-Wee.) where my sister, Rebekah lives and works and is getting married.

Rebekah and Alex
Aren't they cute?

My sister works for a wonderful mission in Montrouis called Life Connections. (Please visit the link!) Here they  provide education, medical care, food and other basic needs to the people of Montrouis. She's been  involved with the mission for over two years and it was through the mission and her work there that she met her Husband-to-be Alex.
Alex and Corsange
This is Alex and his adopted son Corsange. Here is the story of how Alex adopted Corsange

Six year old Corsange was brought to the mission’s gates. His loving grandfather sobbed as he told Dale Moyers that he did not have the  funds or resources to take care of his grandson. He was so desperate he was going to give his grandson to a restaurant so that he could live and work there. Never has LCM been given the opportunity to help a child as they have Corsange. Dale asked, 22 year old and LCM employee, Alex Binot to help. Alex simply said Corsange would become his son. Corsange is now 10 years old and still living with his “Father” Alex, attending the College Education Excellence and is in the top of his class. He is a happy and healthy soccer player and nothing makes the mission happier than knowing we have in fact saved this boy’s childhood.

Corsange is now my Nephew! So see I have a lot to look forward to. Please keep me in your prayers. I hope to have a lot of pictures to share when I get back!! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Meal Planner Monday

Wow, January is off to a depressing start. I was visiting a dying neighbor in the hospital yesterday and I have a funeral to go to today. Not exactly the most uplifting start to the year, but it certainly makes you realize how lucky you are to have health and happiness.

Deep Sigh

Here's to a happy new year! How about some meals?

Meal 1

1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons chile paste (such sambal oelek)
10 garlic cloves, minced
12 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
Cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Combine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, chile paste, and garlic, stirring until honey dissolves. Pour vinegar mixture into a zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally. Remove chicken from bag, reserving marinade.
2. Preheat oven to 425°.
3. Place reserved marinade in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until syrupy, stirring occasionally. Place chicken on a rack coated with cooking spray, and place rack in a roasting pan. Baste chicken with reserved marinade; sprinkle evenly with salt. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes; baste. Bake an additional 10 minutes; baste. Discard remaining marinade. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until done. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Meal 2

4 chicken leg quarters
kosher salt
spray canola oil
3/4 – 1 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)

Line a sheet pan with foil. Set a rack in the pan. Set aside while you sear the chicken. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

inse and pat them dry the leg quarters . Sprinkle with a little kosher salt.

Set a nonstick pan on the stove over high heat and spray with a little canola oil. Let it heat up for a minute or two.When the pan is hot, drop in a few of the chicken leg quarters, skin-side down. You don’t want to crowd the pan (or your chicken will steam, not sear), so do this in a few batches.

Cook them on high like this for a few minutes, until the skin is nice and brown
When the skin is browned, transfer the chicken to your prepared pan. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. When all your chicken is browned cover each piece of chicken on all sides with barbecue sauce. Bake 15 minutes
After about 15 minutesbrush with the remaining barbecue sauce, covering each piece on all sides again. Bake again at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes more, until they’re cooked through completely. (Your chicken should be in the oven for a total of 45-50 minutes.)

After 30-35 minutes, they should have a nice crust. If you’re a meat thermometer type, you want a reading of 165 degrees in the thickest part of the chicken (without touching a bone).

Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Meal 3


3 pounds cubed beef stew meat
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup baby carrots
4 large potatoes, cubed
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups boiling water
1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix
3 tablespoons butter
3 onions, sliced
¼ beef broth
¼ cup warm water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


Place meat in a large plastic bag. Combine 1/4 cup flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt; pour into the bag with the meat, and shake to coat.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add stew meat, and cook until evenly browned on the outside. Transfer to a slow cooker along with the carrots, potatoes, parsley, and pepper. In a small bowl, stir together 2 cups of boiling water and dry soup mix; pour into the slow cooker.
In the same skillet, melt butter and saute onions until softened; remove to the slow cooker. Pour in beef broth and stir to loosen browned bits of food on the bottom. Remove from heat, and pour into the slow cooker.
Cover, and cook on High for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to Low, and cook for 6 hours, or until meat is fork tender. In a small bowl or cup, mix together 2 tablespoons flour with 1/4 cup warm water. Stir into stew, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until thickened.

Meal 4


1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 pork chops, 3/4-inch thick, bone-in
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup buttermilk
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish


Put the flour in a shallow platter and add the onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels to remove any moisture and then dredge them in the seasoned flour; shaking off the excess.
Heat a large saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat and coat with the oil. When the oil is nice and hot, lay the pork chops in the pan in a single layer and fry for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove the pork chops from the pan and add a little sprinkle of seasoned flour to the pandrippings. Mix the flour into the fat to dissolve and then pour in the chicken broth in. Let the liquid cook down for 5 minutes to reduce and thicken slightly. Stir in the buttermilk to make a creamy gravy and return the pork chops to the pan, covering them with the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes until the pork is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Meal 5


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 (1 1/2 pound) round steak, cut into serving-size pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, or as needed
1 (14 ounce) bottle ketchup
1 onion, chopped
2 cups warm water


Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Gently press the steak into the flour mixture to coat and shake off the excess flour.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the beef until brown on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove beef from skillet and drain excess oil. Stir the ketchup, onion, and water into the skillet, then add the meat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until tender, about 1 hour.
 Meal 6


3-4 tbsp of EVOO
2 (1 lb) boneless beef shoulder steaks (about 3/4 to 1-inch thick)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tbsp of garlic, minced
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups tomatoes in tomato puree
5 tbsp of lemon juice
6 tbsp of ketchup
3 tbsp of brown sugar
1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. In a bowl combine the water, tomatoes in tomato puree, lemon juice, ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce until combined; set aside.
Season both steaks with salt and pepper.
Brown both sides of the steak in hot oil then remove to a plate.
Add in onion to the skillet and sauté for about 3 minutes until onions soften.
Add in garlic and crushed chili flakes and sauté for another minute.
Add the steaks back to the skillet and pour in the sauce over and around the meat.
Cover and simmer on low heat for about 1-1/2 hours or until meat is tender.
Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
Slice steak into strips, pour sauce over the steak and serve warm.

Grand Total: $66.83