Spicy Sausage Pasta

Once upon a time long ago, I had the luxury of cooking a three course meal every night, setting a full table, and decorating my plates with garnish before placing them on my clean linen tablecloth. I could be exaggerating slightly. But I did have the luxury of time.

Now as a busy wife and Mom of three, I’m a self proclaimed connoisseur of quick and easy recipes. With emphasis on the quick and easy. 

When I found this recipe for Spicy Sausage Pasta on  http://www.kevinandamanda.com/spicy-sausage-pasta/  I was really excited to try it. It’s super simple, with a hint of fancy. 

Get ready to make the easiest and most delicious sausage pasta you’ve ever tasted!  Do prepare to be wowed. Do not expect to have leftovers.  

Here are the ingredient that you’ll need:

Olive oil 

2 garlic cloves minced or 1 tablespoon minced garlic

1-14 oz pack Turkey sausage

2 cups Chicken broth

1-10 oz can Rotel mix

¾ cupHeavy whipping cream

8 oz (1 cup) Bow tie pasta- uncooked

1 cup shredded Colby jack cheese

Cajun seasoning

Cayenne pepper (optional)

*My recipe varies slightly from the original

Directions:

Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a cast iron or an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of minced garlic to skillet. Use a wooden spoon to cook garlic about one minute or until fragrant.

Slice turkey sausage and add to skillet. Cook until lightly browned on each side – about 4 minutes) Add additional seasoning like Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper if you desire. Next add broth, rotel mix, ½ cup heavy whipping cream, and dry pasta to the skillet. Stir well. Adjust heat to medium high/high stirring from the bottom. 


Once it begins to boil, cover the skillet and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 12 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in ½ cup of cheese. Stir in the remaining whipping cream. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Broil in oven until cheese is melted, brown, and bubbly.  


Enjoy!

 

An Open Letter to the Person Who Insists on Devaluing the Black Lives Matter Movement by Telling Me That All Lives Matter

Dear you,

Yesterday another black man was shot down in cold blood. His name was Alton Sterling. I’ve seen pictures of him smiling while holding his children on his lap, oblivious to the fact that he wouldn’t be there when they grow up.

I’ve read some horrible things written by some very insensitive people. I’ve heard rumors that he was a convicted felon, a sex offender, and that he was resisting arrest. I watched the video on CNN of his son literally breaking down into tears and I sat at the table and cried for his loss. I still have not been able to watch the full video of his murder because I feel like I won’t be able to get the images out of my head.

All day I’ve been playing back a conversation in my head that I had with my (then) 5 year old son. I told him, “Sweetheart, if you’re ever stopped by the police and they tell you to get on the ground, you do it.” Him: “Okay Mommy.” I told him, “Baby, don’t ask any questions, don’t reach for anything, and don’t make any sudden moves. Just lie down baby. Okay. Please. Just lie down. Promise me.”  By that time my voice was breaking and I was in tears. I tried to calm down so I wouldn’t scare him. He looked at me with confusion in his eyes and he said, “Okay Mommy. I promise.” That’s a moment in my life I feel I’ll never forget.

Can you imagine my anguish and my fear? To feel the need to have that conversation with my kindergarten son? Do you know the terror I feel knowing that I’m raising a young black male who could be a victim of police violence at any age?  Because there are people out there who think that black lives have no value. People who think that all black folk are dangerous thugs who don’t deserve a chance to live.

I rarely allow my son to play with toy guns, if ever, and I never allow him to point one at anyone, because I’m scared for his life. I want to keep him in a bubble, beside me, at all times. But I can’t. And that’s the scariest part. No matter what side of town he lives on, how well he’s been raised, or how well spoken and respectful he is: he is a black male. He is a target.

I didn’t know Alton Sterling. It could very well be true that he was a sex offender and a convicted felon. But he wasn’t resisting. He put his hands up. Why did he have to die that way? Why did he have to be shot down in the street. Didn’t his children deserve to have a father? Didn’t he deserve to live?

Doesn’t my son deserve to live? Don’t my husband and my two daugthers deserve to live? Don’t I? Why must I be forced to take away their innocence and security because their black? Don’t they deserve to feel safe? Do I have to live in fear of the day one of them gets pulled over or is questioned by a police officer at the corner store?

It’s horrible.  To have to listen as people try to justify and refuse to acknowledge that these people were gunned down in cold blood.  To have to listen to people as they cite black on black violence and the rioting of desperate people who feel powerless, as a justification for killing us. I guess we’re supposed to sit by idly and be quite. As long it’s not happening to us, I guess we’re not supposed to care. And you. Do you have black friends. Do you have children. How can you not see it?

So the next time you feel the need to point out how #AllLivesMatter, I urge you to look up #AltonSterling #TamirRice #EricGarner #TrayvonMartin #FreddieGray #WalterScott #EricHarris #Sandra Bland and #AiyanaStanleyJones. They all had a right to live. Because all lives matter.

Except, ours. Ours seem to matter a little less.

Sincerely,

The Black Wife of a Black Man and Three Black Children Who Deserve to Live

The Moment I Realized I Wasn’t Expecting Enough From My Children

The other night my teenage daughter asked if she could have a friend over after summer workouts. Unless we have plans, I never mind her friends coming over. I have ulterior motives but hey, what Mom doesn’t? Her friends are all very well raised, they’re good influences on each other and it gives me a chance to see what there up too. If they’re here, then I know they’re safe.  Plus, it’s summer vacation and she’s a good girl, so why not?

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I told my daughter that her friend could come over as long as she cleaned her room and her bathroom. Now I’m kind of a clean freak so I expect things to look a certain way and the kids actually do a pretty good job keeping the house up to par with only a mild bit of nagging from me. As the night passed she and I did the things that we normally do. We watched movies, I did her hair, she played with her sister and she chatted on Facetime.

About 11:00 pm, I told her she needed to go to bed because she had to get up about 5:30 am for workouts. Then I realized that she hadn’t cleaned the bathroom. I asked her Dad go and check to see if she had done what she was supposed to. She hadn’t. She told her Dad that she had done everything but clean the tub. How do you clean a bathroom without cleaning the tub? I didn’t remember smelling any Clorox and I knew for a fact that she hadn’t come and gotten the broom. Uh oh. Activate Mommy Dearest mode.

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I stood there in the kitchen fuming. I felt a massive rant coming on.  This behavior was absolutely unacceptable. She had no problem asking me if her friend could come over. As a matter of fact, lately anytime she’s wanted something, she’s had no problem asking for it. But when I ask her to do one simple thing, she conveniently “forgets”. How disrespectful.

I headed back to the bathroom intending to deliver her a lengthy lecture. I planned to tell her how hard her Father and I worked so that she could live this life and how she was behaving very selfishly, among other things. As I stormed towards the bathroom, it hit me. My daughter’s shortcomings in doing what was asked of her, were my shortcomings as a parent. The entitlement that my daughter was exhibiting, began with me.

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I have three children so please don’t misunderstand me. I’m no stranger to discipline. I’m not ‘that parent’ that feels like their children can do no wrong. I don’t allow my children to behave without any consequences or responsibility. I believe in accountability. Spare the rod, spoil the child. So why? Why hadn’t I been expecting more from my children? When did I begin giving them everything and requiring nothing? When did I begin telling them ‘yes’, so much, and ‘no’ not often enough?

I realized that often times, I’m doing the cleaning because I want things to look a certain way. If I do it, I know it’s going to be done right. But if I never really give my children a chance to do anything, then how can I be upset when they do it incorrectly? If I’ve never really taught them to do it properly, then i’m handicapping them. how am I preparing them for the real world?

Instead of delivering that lecture, I made a silent promise. I promised myself that from here on out, I’ll tell my daughter exactly what I expect of her. Instead of just giving my children orders, I’ll help them and show them how to properly do whatever tasks they’re assigned. I’ll prepare them for the world by teaching them that hard work builds character and that they should always give their all. I’ll be the change that I want to see, in them. I’ll lead by example.

Psalm 32:8 – I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

 

 

A Mustard Seed

A year ago I began to feel that God was leading me in another direction. It was a very strong feeling. I wasn’t sure what it all meant or what direction I was supposed to be going in, but I believe that when God speaks, you listen. So I decided to do just that.

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After months of thinking, planning, and praying I decided that I was going to embark on a career as a stay at home mom, freelance writer, blogger, and business owner. It was an idea that I had visited in the past but I never truly opened myself up to. This time though, I felt good about it. I sat down and talked to my husband about my ideas and we decided together that I should go for it. Then I got cold feet.

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I started doubting myself and making excuses. I began to panic. What if I’m not successful? What if this doesn’t work out? What if don’t make any money? What if the financial strain is just too great? What if I can’t get my old job back. The list went on and on. I was literally spiraling out of control with doubt.

I began questioning the plan and the intentions that the Lord had for me. I cried out for him to show me a sign that I was going in the right direction. Now I don’t believe that God is an on demand God, but I know that he is an on time God. He may not show us that sign right when we want to see it, or the way we want to see it; but he always shows us.

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Shortly after that I had my first freelance job and my blog was featured on a major site. I was ashamed. How could ever have questioned him? When has he ever NOT provided? Two days after that, I turned in my letter of resignation.

It’s not always easy to listen to your heart, but to not be obedient is to sin against him. Giving up complete control and surrendering yourself can be downright scary, but we have to trust in God and his promise.

I don’t know exactly what the future holds, but I know that God always has my best interest at heart. So with my faith in tow, his love surrounding me, and my family by my side,  I’m stepping headfirst into this new adventure. Stay tuned!

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Transition

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A year ago I was on maternity leave with my new baby girl. She was 3 weeks old. I was officially a Mom of three. I would soon return to my full time job in Law Enforcement. Life was good. Happy marriage. Beautiful children. Nice house. Dog. Two trucks and a car. We were living the American Dream.  I had no way of knowing then, but my life was about to change in a big way.

Fast forward to 3 months later. I get a call at work. The baby had some labs drawn and some of the results could be abnormal. They need to us to come into the office. We go into the pediatrician’s office the next day and we’re told that her liver levels are high, her bilirubin is elevated, and her spleen is enlarged. What? They tell us that we need to take her to Children’s Hospital. Now.

We get to Children’s and they admit her for observation. And the wait begins. Over the course of the next week we meet doctors, nurses, surgeons. She undergoes CT scans, more bloodwork, a liver biopsy. Diagnosis. We find out that she suffers from a rare liver disease. Our sweet baby girl. Oh God, oh God, oh God. This can’t be happening.

But it is happening. Biliary Atresia. It occurs in 1:10,000 infants. It’s a rare disease of the liver in which the bile ducts inside or outside the liver don’t have normal openings, or don’t exist at all. Because of this, bile does not flow properly and remains in the liver which causes cirrhosis. It is the leading causes of pediatric liver transplants. There is no cure.

The next day we release our tiny baby girl into the arms of surgeons for a major surgical procedure called a Kasai. Her bile ducts were removed and a piece of her small intestine was attached to her liver in an attempt to restore bile flow and prevent further cirrhosis. The ideal time to have that surgery is 12 weeks and under. She was 14 weeks at the diagnosis. She comes out of the surgery well but we’re told that there is still a chance that it won’t be successful in the long run.

And just like that, two weeks after our world fell apart, we’re home. Shell shocked. Every cough, sniffle, sneeze, sends us into a panic attack. We have doctor’s appointments twice a month to monitor her liver function. Even a cold could be life threatening. Over the next few months she’s hospitalized twice for an infection called cholangitis. Sleepless nights. Depression. Anxiety. We’re on an emotional roller coaster.

Next come the monthly doctor visits with the gastroenterologist. Monthly visits turn into biweekly visits. Biweekly visits turn to weekly. Finally, we get the news that the Kasai has failed. Our daughter needs a liver transplant. Without one, she’ll die. We break down, we pray, we rage. Why? Why are you doing this to us? Please, please! Let us have her.  How do we come to terms with something like that? Knowing that there is a chance that our child may not get a chance to grow up? That she may be taken from us before she even has a chance to live.

Finally, nearly 10 months later, our life is almost normal again. Our daughter just celebrated her first birthday. We still haven’t come to terms with it yet and I don’t think we ever will. But I can tell you what we do. We fight and we love. As hard as we can. Every. Single. Day. We take every single moment and make it special. We spend as much time together as we possibly can. We hold onto our faith. We celebrate every day. Most importantly, we live.