When it comes to comfort meals, pasta is right up there at the top of the list. Spaghetti, ziti, rotini, fusilli, linguine, cavatelli, and Fettucine are just a few in a vast number of shapes. They are served in a variety of delicious sauces or gravies, depending on who you ask, but the bottom line is, the sauce feels and tastes like love.
With a plethora of responsibilities at work and at home, taking the time to make pasta and a Bolognese sauce during the week isn’t something that aligns with most schedules. However, if you want to treat your family, friends, and yourself to something wonderful, this recipe for homemade pasta and Bolognese sauce is for you.
Homemade pasta is a snap. It can be made with an old-fashioned pasta machine. If you have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, you can buy the pasta attachment. Both are reasonably priced and make for a good investment.
This recipe has been adapted for:
Gluten-Sensitivities or Celiac Disease
Fresh Whole Wheat Homemade Pasta by Love and Lemons adapted by Still A Chick Lit
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour plus ½ cup white whole wheat flour, spooned and leveled (gluten-free all-purpose flour)
3 large eggs (Just Eggs liquid vegan egg replacer or ¾ cup silken tofu pureed with ½ teaspoon baking soda)
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Place the flour on a clean work surface and make a nest. Add the eggs, olive oil, and salt to the center and use a fork to gently break up the eggs, keeping the flour walls intact as best as you can. Use your hands to gently bring the flour inward to incorporate. Continue working the dough with your hands to bring it together into a shaggy ball.
Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes. In the beginning, the dough should feel pretty dry, but stick with it! It might not feel like it’s going to come together, but after 8-10 minutes of kneading, it should become cohesive and smooth. If the dough still seems too dry, sprinkle your fingers with a tiny bit of water to incorporate. If it’s too sticky, dust more flour onto your work surface. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Dust 2 large baking sheets with flour and set aside.
Slice the dough into four pieces. Gently flatten one into an oval disk. Run the dough through the pasta machine three times on level 1 (the widest setting).
Set the dough piece onto a countertop or work surface. Fold both short ends in to meet in the center, then fold the dough in half to form a rectangle (see photo above).
Run the dough through the pasta roller three times on level 2, three times on level 3, and one time each on levels 4, 5, and 6.
Lay half of the pasta sheet onto the floured baking sheet and sprinkle with flour before folding the other half on top. Sprinkle more flour on top of the second half. Every side should be floured so that your final pasta noodles won’t stick together.
Repeat with remaining dough.
Run the pasta sheets through the pasta machine Repeat with the remaining dough. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes.
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
2 carrots, chopped fine
1 medium sweet or yellow onion, chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons, fresh basil, chiffonade-style
2 tablespoons, fresh parsley, chopped
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound ground beef (Vegan Ground Meat)
¼ cup tomato paste
1 can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed,
¼ cup red wine
1 ½ teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Pepper
Virgin Olive Oil
In a large pot, heat olive oil over a medium flame until hot. Add the celery, carrots, and onions. Turn the heat down, and sauté for six to eight minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook until it begins to darken and begins to caramelize. Add the ground beef and cook through. Add the red wine, followed by the tomatoes, herbs, salt, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer on low for 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally and taste to adjust seasoning.
Most of the country has been enjoying a longer Indian summer than usual. However, fall is beginning to make its presence known with temperatures beginning to dip all across the country. Although many are sorry to see the warmer temps go, I enjoy the cooler temperatures. Sleeping weather is also a perfect time to enjoy a nice bowl of soup.
Squash is available year-round everywhere, but there are seasons when certain varieties are more plentiful. I love the hearty gourds like acorn and butternut squash. Both are versatile and can be used in many recipes. This Makeover Monday puts the spotlight on butternut squash soup.
This soup has been on my fall and Thanksgiving table for many years. The recipe is very simple, and you can adjust the ingredients according to your flavor palate. It’s a wonderful combination of roasted butternut squash, sweet onions, and ginger. To make it even easier, you can buy butternut squash that’s already prepped. It’s a time saver.
This recipe is vegan/vegetarian, low-carb, and gluten-free.
Total Time: Approximately 1 hour
Active time: 15 minutes Estimate
Inactive time: 45 minutes
Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup
2 large butternut squash (Cut in halves and seeded) (or 2 packages of pre-cut butternut squash)
4 medium sweet onions, rough chopped
1 small fresh ginger root (peeled and minced)
3 tablespoons Canola oil
Virgin Olive Oil
4 ½ – 5 cups Unsalted Vegetable Stock
Preheat oven to 375-degrees.
Split the butternut squash in half and take the seeds out. Line a large sheet pan with foil. Place the squash on the pan, skin down, and drizzle olive oil until the squash is coated. Place it in the preheated oven and roast it for 45 minutes to an hour. When you can easily pierce the squash with a fork, take it out and let it cool to room temperature. Once it’s cool enough to handle scoop the softened squash into a bowl.
In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onions. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until the onions are soft, then add the minced ginger, and cook until the onions are translucent.
Add 1 cup of the vegetable stock and the squash. Using an immersion blender, blend the onions, ginger, and butternut squash. Add the remaining vegetable stock, one cup at a time, blending well after each addition. Cover, and let simmer on low heat for ten minutes. How thick or thin the soup is up to you. If you like a thinner soup, add more stock, if a thicker soup is to your liking, add less.
You can save money buying fresh butternut squash and cubing it yourself. Split the squash in half, and then into quarters. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin, then cut into medium-sized chunks.
You can use unsalted or low salt vegetable broth
You can also use unsalted chicken stock or broth to add a little more depth to the soup
How much ginger you use is up to you. Remember, you can add more ginger, but you can’t take it out. If you use a bit more than intended and it has a little too much bite, you can a little applesauce to add a bit of sweetness and tamps the spiciness down.
If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a blender. Be careful to do it in small batches, and make sure the mixture isn’t too hot to avoid making a mess.
You can store the soup in the fridge for up to 11 days
This soup freezes beautifully in an airtight container for up to three months.
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Embracing Silver Linings of the Pandemic by Emma Grace Brown
New jobs, careers, lifestyles, ways of learning, and uses for technology alike have all arisen from the global pandemic. In these unexpected and unconventional times, many people have done what they can to build healthy habits during COVID-19 lockdowns.
The great news is that as you begin to embrace a new normal, those who’ve learned to balance work and play, picked up new hobbies, found a new appreciation for friends and family, or worked on new goals have a lot to look forward to. Whether you’ve learned to embrace nature or returned to school for an advanced degree, bringing these new interests and skills with you post-pandemic is a great way to set yourself up for a healthier you.
Mother Nature and Fitness Trackers
For many, the pandemic has afforded them the time to explore nature. Many people have picked up great habits, such as hiking and biking. Others have found a passion for outdoor travel and camping. If you’re like many who’ve become closer to Mother Nature, a fitness tracker or smartwatch can be a useful tool to track the progress you’ve made since picking up healthy habits and making positive changes.
Specific Changes to Carry Forward
The truth is that change is hard. Many people are struggling with their mental health, are grieving, or are experiencing anxiety about the future. Even good change can cause someone to feel stressed or experience symptoms of anxiety or depression. While it’s perfectly normal to feel down during a global pandemic, research shows that embracing healthy habits and engaging in self-care can help.
Consider changes you’ve made since the pandemic, such as eating healthier, getting regular exercise, making the most of family time, or being more engaged with your child’s schoolwork. These are all great habits you can carry forward. Whether you’ve created a new space in your home that you love or vowed to support small businesses, these changes will matter in the future.
Making Habits Stick
If you’ve decided to form new habits, create new goals, and set new priorities, make them a permanent part of your future. It’s not a good idea to return to work and the “old normal” without bringing with you those positive activities and interests you’ve worked so hard to develop during the pandemic.
As you return to work, school, or old schedules, build in time to engage in the things you’re newly passionate about. If that means scheduling daily walks or weekend hikes, go for it. You’ll thank yourself down the road. Not only will keeping good habits help your overall physical health, but they’ll add up to great ways to cope during the challenging times ahead.
Embracing Healthy Habits
At the end of the day, no one can change the fact that you’ve been impacted by the global pandemic. However, by embracing a healthy lifestyle and carrying it past the pandemic, you may enjoy a more productive future.
For more about Emma, click her to visit her website
The once rolling forest of the Allen-Boggs-Levitt Estates served as an ideal place for a golf course on the North Shore. It had all the things golfers look for, sweeping fairways, gently contoured greens, and sparkling ponds. It was a far cry from the cookie-cutter homes one of the estate’s namesakes, Levitt, built for GI’s returning from World War II. However, Levitt’s part in the creation of the North Hills Country Club and Golf Course was anything but assembly-line.
The 6730-yards, par 72 golf course’s gorgeous arboreal setting allowed members to enjoy a private island course less than 30 miles from Manhattan. It was there at the 18th hole, where all six feet of fifty-four-year-old Camilla, CJ, Jordan stood impatiently leaning on her club. A fair-skinned woman with freckles, CJ, was a brick house 1970s Commodores style with her long reddish-brown hair, 44-DDD boobs, curvy girl waistline, and firm round butt. At that moment, the curvaceous CJ’s eyes were set on her best friend and professional golfer, fifty-five-year-old Tyler, T-Shot Mitchell as he circled the hole again.
“Are you going to putt or square dance? You’ve circled the hole five times already.”
“Yeah.” He put his hand up. “I’m lining up the shot.”
Although over fifty, Tyler was still blond, toned, and tanned with a six-pack that rivaled men half his age. In terms of a sport to show off his swimmer’s physique, golf wasn’t on the list. Tyler grew up surfing and boogie boarding with his friends, many of whom were rich beach bums. Golf entered the picture courtesy of his grandfather. Tyler turned out to be a natural at it. He competed in amateur events all over California. Then a funny thing happened, wherever he played, there was a spike in female attendance from the amateur circuit to the NCAA. Everyone wanted to be near the golden boy. Tyler became golf’s first real sex symbol when he joined the PGA. His love life and exploits with women rivaled any NFL or NBA player. He dated supermodels, lead actresses, starlets, singers, and performers. He even married a supermodel turned entrepreneur and had one son. The marriage didn’t last. Tyler liked a la carte dating and relationships too much. Although conservative, the PGA overlooked his exploits. Tyler Mitchell’s name increased attendance and ratings.
Luckily for the PGA and Tyler, his good genetic fortune continued, but his fortunes on the green had taken quite a few hits as of late. At first, it wasn’t too bad. He only missed the cut for one tournament the year prior. Yet, after his disappointing performance in the subsequent cuts, he did make, he may have been better off not making the cut in the first place. He was in a slump and though no one came out and said it, everyone knew it. CJ was the last person he wanted to hear it from, but he knew it was coming.
While Tyler hailed from sunny California, CJ was a Long Island native from Manhasset. Already 6 feet tall by the time she got to junior high school, CJ confidently took auto repair and woodshop instead of home economics. At twelve she knew how to cook, but sewing gave her a headache. Once in high school, she captained the all-male debate team, then led them to four straight statewide and two national titles. Then she went on to hold the distinct honor of being the first and only female practice partner for UCLA’s men’s golf team. She was a man’s woman, but not a tomboy. She’d put on a dress as easily as a pair of jeans, fussed with her hair, and wore makeup, but could still roll with, talk to, and out bluster guys. Yet men continued to baffle CJ when it came to dating and relationships. A self-professed serial monogamist, she’d broken up with her longtime love a year earlier and wasn’t focused on much else besides business and golf. All of which meant, she had no intention of going easy on old T-Shot.
Tyler walked around the hole for the sixth time.
“Are you kidding me?!” CJ huffed. “I don’t think I have any chalk with me, but I can give you a red lipstick to use to mark up the grass. Give me a second, I’ll check my bag.”
“Fine.” He huffed. “Point taken.”
Tyler lined up his putt, swung, and it sailed past the hole. “Don’t say anything.” He tapped the ball in.
“That was anticlimactic.”
“You just had to say something, didn’t you?”
“What else could I do. You set yourself up. The only other thing I could say is I’ve seen you sink par 4 holes like this with your eyes closed.”
“You can’t help yourself can you?”
“Yes. I can. However, since you’ve taken to playing like shit lately, it’s becoming a reflex action.” She headed for the golf cart.
“I’m just off today.” He followed behind her.
CJ put the club in her golf bag. “No, an off day happens every so often. You were off for The Palmer Invitational, The Players, Quail Hollow…”
He cut her off. “I did take the green jacket at the Masters. What do you call that?”
“As of lately, a fluke. You’ve got to get it together Man.”
“Not everyone can be as stealthy as you, Priscilla.” He put his bag on the cart.
“I know how to separate personal from professional, especially in golf. If you have both going on in your head while you’re playing, you are sunk.”
“Not everyone can turn the ice on in their veins.”
“I don’t have ice in my veins. I keep my shit separate. Maybe that’s something you should aspire to.” CJ climbed into the passenger side.
“I’ll put it on my list of things to do.” He got in the cart. “We didn’t keep score, did we?”
“No, I was merciful for once.” She smiled. “Do you want me to make lunch at your condo?”
Tyler stared out at the course. “No, let’s drop the gear at the condo and have lunch in the club.”
“Works for me. You’re paying, right?”
“Aren’t I always?”
CJ laughed as they drove off.
Being wealthy and from California, Tyler liked anything that reminded him of the west coast and luxury. The Ritz Carlton Residences in North Hills fit the bill perfectly. His 2,000 plus square-foot condo was more than enough room for the bachelor and his usual parade of lovelies he called girlfriends.
CJ walked into the living room with her golf bag. “Where do you want me to put this?”
“Put it against the terrace entrance. I’ll have someone get it and bring it down to your car later when we get back. By the way, this is a full-service condo. You didn’t have to carry it in here.”
She put her bag down. “I’m sure people here keep the staff busy enough without me adding to it. I’ve been carrying this thing since I was a teenager.”
“Speaking of being a teenager, is that why you have that thing in your hair?”
“Oh, good grief. I forgot I put the scrunchie on.” She took it out and tossed her hair. “People find me less intimidating when I look like Gidget.” CJ put it on top of her bag.
Tyler chuckled. “Scrunchie or ribbons, you’re 6 feet tall, CJ you will always be intimidating. There’s a reason I call you Priscilla Amazon Queen of the Fairway.”
“Don’t I know it?” She smirked.
Tyler put his bag next to hers. “You ready to go?”
Lunch at the Governor’s Room boasted Michelin-rated food. It served as a banquet hall for larger events, but during the week, dining there for lunch or dinner was a culinary affair. CJ and Tyler took advantage of the warm weather and dined on the patio. A couple of luncheon-size steaks with salad and baked potato was just the thing to satisfy their appetites. Tyler had a beer while CJ stuck to sparkling water.
“The Memorial Tournament is coming up quick.” CJ sipped her water.
“I know. I’ve got a little time to pull it together.”
“You’re going to have to practice a lot and I know that’s not one of your strong suits.”
“I’ve grown up a lot since college, CJ.”
“You have, the women you date haven’t.”
“What? I’m just saying your current le chat du jour, is a black hole when it comes to her need to be the center of attention, especially when it comes to you. She practically demands your full attention.”
“She loves me. It’s nice to be wanted.”
“Being wanted by Alyssa makes the FBI’s ten most wanted list look like an informal invitation. Something about this girl.” She shook her head.
In the years since he turned forty, the age of the women Tyler dated skewed twenty years younger than him. He thought he was safe dating millennials. They weren’t into labels, so there’d be no strings. Then he saw tall, blonde, and lithe Alyssa Brummel at a red carpet event. She wore a neck-to-toe nude illusion lace bodysuit and Tyler couldn’t help himself. By the end of the evening, they went home together. A year later and the twenty-four-year-old, trust funder and bonafide Influencer regularly overshared everything, including her relationship with Tyler with her followers and the media.
“You’ve been talking to me about my love life for 20 plus years. Your love life…” he stopped.
CJ had a steak knife in her hand. “You were saying.”
“I can’t even with you.”
She laughed, and then looked up. “What is that?”
“What are you talking about?”
“In the sky. It looks like smoke.”
“Maybe someone’s burning leaves.” He kept eating.
“This is the gold coast part of the North Shore. People don’t burn leaves here.”
He looked up. “The smoke is too dark to be organic.”
CJ’s cell rang. She looked at the caller ID. “It’s Tim.” Hey, Tim. What’s going on?”
“Mom, have you been on Instagram?”
“Really, Tim? This is your mother you’re talking to. Of course, I haven’t been on Instagram. Why?”
“You need to go on it right now. Is uncle Tyler with you?”
“Yeah. We just played a round of golf and we’re having lunch at the club.”
“He needs to go on Instagram too. It’s Alyssa.”
“What do you mean, it’s Alyssa?” Tyler put his fork down.
“Tim’s saying that we both should go on Instagram to see.” She put the knife down.
Tyler took his phone out.
“Make sure you turn it so I can see.”
“Oh boy, Mom.” Tim groaned.
“I really don’t like the sound of that.”
When Tyler opened Instagram there was a live stream with Alyssa with ablaze and fire trucks behind her. She was ranting and raving.
“What the hell?!” CJ exclaimed.
Tyler watched frozen.
“It’s already gone viral, Mom.” He paused. “Are you there?”
“Yeah. It’s all I can do not to sail off into the atmosphere. “Wait, there are two bags. The bitch set fire to my golf bag.”
“Oh, no,” Tim said quietly. “I’m going to go, Mom. I know you want to talk to Uncle Tyler”
“I may do more than that. I’ll see you later.”
Tyler was stunned. “Where did she come from? She wasn’t supposed to be in New York. I spoke to her this morning.”
“She just did the golf equivalent of a burning bed, and you want to talk about when she got here? That’s the hill you want to die on?”
Tyler didn’t know what to say. Soon the whole dining room was focused on the patio.
“Everyone’s looking Tyler.”
“We better get out of here. I have to see what’s happening.”
“You have to see? It’s streaming live.” CJ got up. “I don’t know if you want me near her.”
“We have to be calm. It’s already horrible.”
“She just melted the bag my father gave me for my high school graduation. Thirty-six years I’ve had them and in one afternoon, they’re barbequed. You better hope the fire department got the blaze out. Otherwise, I may throw her shrimp ass on the barbie.” CJ huffed away full speed.
“No, CJ. I’ll make it right. I promise.”
“Bullshit. I’ll do it.” Head full of steam, she charged through the dining room with Tyler right behind her.
“No, we have to calm down and find out what happened.”
CJ stopped dead and turned around. “Please tell me what’s a good reason for setting a fire in front of private property and ranting like a mad cow. It’s stupid and fucked up.”
“Seriously. I will make it right.”
“How? She burned my shit. How are you going to make it better?”
“I’ll get your bag and clubs replaced with the exact same bag.”
“I don’t know if the company that made the bag is still in business. Or do you think that like a Phoenix, the bags will rise from the ashes?”
“You let me handle it.”
“Like you handled her when she showed up at Quail Hollow and trashed that poor woman’s room because she transposed the room numbers?”
The trashed room happened after the first round when Tyler went out for a beer with some fellow golfers and sport’s bloggers. He left his cell in his room. The next morning as he waited to tee off, he got the news that not only was Alyssa there, she was angry with him for not returning her calls. She flew in ready for a fight, but she went to the wrong room and furiously destroyed another guest’s belongings. Luckily, her father’s deep pockets compensated the guest for the damages plus suffering. Unfortunately, he couldn’t do the same for the damage to Tyler’s game which swiftly went down the tubes.
“You had to bring that up?”
“Yes. I did. Someone has to put some sense into that head of yours.” She exhaled. “You know what, let’s get going. We, or should I say you, have to see the damage. Thank God, I drove my car here. I’m going home.”
Tyler looked relieved. “I know you’re upset and getting in her face now won’t help anything.”
“What it will do is save her life. I was going to murder her on her live stream!” She took a breath. “Are you moving? Let’s go.”
Every set of eyes in the club was on Tyler. He knew this attention was only the beginning. He looked down at his phone. She was still going. “F my life.”
In the short time it took to get back condo, the residents’ parking lot was filled with police cars and fire vehicles. Tyler found a space in the secondary parking lot. Knowing it was imperative to get CJ out of there, Tyler flagged down a police officer to guide her out of the parking lot.
“You are one lucky son of a gun.” CJ scoffed as she hopped into her Range Rover.
“I’m not stupid. I’ve seen your temper.” Tyler closed the car door. “Well, you’re all set to get out of here.”
CJ started the car, then rolled the window down. “I don’t see any handcuffs. I bet she called her daddy.”
“That’s not fair, CJ.”
“You want to talk about what’s fair? I can still get out of this car and wring her neck.”
“Okay. You got me.”
“I don’t know why I am surprised. Girls like that always skate. You’ll be upset for another 10 minutes or so. Then you’ll move on to the makeup sex.”
“No, I won’t.” Tyler insisted. “You have to forgive people. They’re only human and make mistakes. You know you could do…”
“I could do what?” CJ’s eyes flashed with anger.
“Nothing. I’m sorry.”
“Right. I’ll email you the specs from my bag to replace it. I hope you know Merlin.”
“If I don’t, I’ll make a point to meet him.” He looked over at the officer. “He’s giving you all clear to back out.”
Tyler watched CJ drive off, then made his way over to where the action was. As he got closer to his condo, he noticed the placement of the bags. Did she throw them off the terrace? He traced the path with his eyes. Yes. She threw them off the terrace. He shook his head then made his way to a fire official.
He tapped him on the shoulder. “Excuse me, are you the fire chief?”
A short, stout man with a ruddy complexion faced him. “Yes. Chief Carlson. You’re Tyler Mitchell.”
“Yes. Where is she? Is she under arrest?”
He pointed. “She’s over there by the property manager. The police are here, but I don’t know what’s happening.”
Tyler looked at the smoldering heap. “Was there any other damage?”
“The fire was pretty much contained to the bags. There’s some damage to the grass, but nothing horrible. Good thing the bags were real, a cheap one would have gone up like a Roman candle. All in all, it could have been worse.”
“Yep. Thanks.” He stepped away. What a parting gift. If she was going to be a firebug, at least the bags were made of good enough material that it only burned the grass, as opposed to burning the whole condo down.
Tyler nodded as he walked by some of his neighbors. Everyone waved politely, but he could feel residual flames burning through his back when he passed by. People began to part as he came upon Alyssa, who was in a blue dress with puffy sleeves and a white-collar. She looked like Madeline from the children’s book. All that was missing was a pair of Mary Janes. So, if Alyssa was the schoolgirl, building manager, Harrison Pinter, who was next to her, looked like the headmaster.
“Ty!” She ran up and put her arms around his neck. “I’m sorry.”
“You stopped streaming?”
“Yes. Daddy made a deal.”
“Your father what?”
“Hello, Mr. Mitchell.”
“Harrison. I would say it’s good to see you, but you know.”
“Ms. Brummel telephoned her father and gave me the phone. He offered to compensate us for the damages and the services of his crisis management team to handle the press.”
Tyler looked around. “They must work fast. I don’t see any other cameras here.”
“The powers that be okayed it?”
“Yes. They want it to go away quickly. I am sorry about the bags, Mr. Mitchell. It could have been worse if they weren’t so well-made.”
“Isn’t that something.”
“I’ll leave you to it. Good day, Ms. Brummel.”
Tyler waited a moment. “All I want to know is why.”
Alyssa batted her eyelashes; it was the prelude to her coquettish act. “It’s your fault.”
“I’m sorry. It’s my fault you did all of this. How?”
“You didn’t answer any of my texts this afternoon.”
“I didn’t get any texts.” He took his phone out.
She grabbed it out of his hand. “See. You have a bunch from me.” She fiddled through his phone. “You didn’t remember you put your phone on silent?”
“I always put it on silent if I’m playing golf. You know that. I was going to take it off silent mode after lunch.”
“Yeah. I remembered, but then I got here, and I saw this in the living room.” She held up CJ’s red scrunchie. “You were here with another woman.”
He shook his head. “That’s CJ’s.”
All the color drained from her face. “CJ’s scrunchie?”
“Yeah. She wore it on the golf course today. She offered to make lunch here, but we had lunch at the club instead.”
Still as pale as a ghost, she seemed to shrink. “The bag belonged to CJ.” She gulped and looked around. “Is she here?”
“She was going to come back. I convinced her to head home and cool down.”
“It was an old bag anyway. It couldn’t have been worth that much.”
“That’s not the point. Her dad gave her that when she graduated. Sentiment adds value. It was custom, like your shoes.” He paused. “We have to do something about this jealous streak of yours. You can’t keep having fits like this. Your followers aren’t substitutes for friends. If you’re mad, make like Who Wants to Be A Millionaire and phone a friend, use a lifeline. It doesn’t have to be a poll.”
“My followers are my friends. They have some good advice.”
“What poll said you should start a fire?”
She rolled her eyes. “I was angry. You didn’t communicate.”
“And that was communication?” He pointed to the charred pile.
“I’m going to do something to rectify that right now.” She began to fiddle with his phone.
“What are you doing?”
“Making sure you know when I’m trying to get in touch with you.” Her fingers flew across the screen. “Better.” She put it in his hand. “I gave myself a ringtone of a doorbell. Now you will know when I’m looking for you. And here’s the vibrate button. Use it. It’s quiet, but it buzzes.”
“I guess the problem is solved.”
“That’s right, Baby. Let’s go back in and forget about this. Someone will clean it up.” She kissed him then took his hand.
Alyssa was blind to all the disapproving looks and tut-tutting, but Tyler wasn’t. He was following her like a puppy on a leash. He kept his head low to avoid their gaze. Just before he went inside, he turned around and saw people with fireproof gloves pulling what was left in the rubble. I’m sure my pride is in there somewhere. I don’t want to think about how many people saw this live. He sighed and went inside. Before the day was over, there were over 6 million views and counting. Unfortunately for Tyler, even when it was over, it wouldn’t be gone or forgotten.
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The aroma of cinnamon rolls wafting through the air is enough to wake even Rip Van Winkle from the deepest slumber. It’s also quite tempting in malls and rest stops in the form of Cinnabon. Their cinnamon rolls lure countless people to their kiosks and storefronts everywhere. The combination of the light fluffy consistency of the roll, the spicy sweetness of the cinnamon, and the sweet icing, is irresistible.
For many, making cinnamon rolls is a holiday morning treat to enjoy when everyone is at home and happily lounging in their pajamas. However, this recipe can be made the night before. All you need to do is allow it to rise for an hour while you get on with your morning, then bake them for about twenty-five minutes, and you are golden.
This is a great recipe to get your day and week off to a sweet start.
This recipe is by Natasha’s Kitchen and we’ve adapted it for:
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls Recipe by Natasha’s Kitchen adapted by Still A Chick Lit
Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 23 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 53 minutes
1 cup warm milk (98 to 110-degrees) ((dairy: whole, 2 %, or fat-free milk) (non-dairy: almond, rice, soy, or light coconut milk)
1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast (not quick rise)
4 Tbsp granulated sugar divided (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, monk fruit sweetener granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed fine)
3 cups all-purpose flour divided* (plus 2 to 4 Tbsp) (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sweet rice, brown rice, or sorghum flour)
1 large egg room temp (egg substitute) (2 tablespoons Aquafaba, ¼ cup silken tofu pureed with 1/8 teaspoon baking soda,1 flaxseed or chia seed egg, or vegan egg replacer)
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add 1 cup warm milk and sprinkle with 1/2 Tbsp yeast. Let sit uncovered for 7 minutes at room temp. Add 1/2 cup flour, 2 Tbsp sugar and whisk until blended. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 35-45 min (or in a 100˚ oven** for 25 min). It will look puffy.
Whisk in 1 egg, remaining 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp melted butter, and 1/2 tsp salt.
Using the dough hook on speed 2, add the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour (1/2 cup at a time) letting it blend with each addition. Add more flour 1 Tbsp at a time just until dough is no longer sticking to fingertips or the walls of the bowl as it mixes then knead/mix for 10 min. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp 2 hours (or in a 100˚ oven for 1 hr). The dough should double in size.
Generously dust flour over a clean work surface and place dough in the center. Sprinkle dough with flour (just enough to keep the rolling pin from sticking) and roll into an even 17″x10″ rectangle. Dot the top of the dough with 6 Tbsp softened butter and spread it out gently with a spatula.
Stir together 1/4 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp cinnamon and sprinkle ALL OF IT evenly over buttered dough. Roll the dough up starting with one of the longer sides, keeping a tight roll. Once it’s rolled up, push ends in slightly to make them a little more uniform then slice into 12 equal-sized cinnamon rolls.***
Butter sides and bottom of a 9×13 baking pan with 1 Tbsp butter and evenly space cinnamon rolls in pan, cut-side down. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (up to 18 hours). The following day, remove from refrigerator and keeping them covered, let cinnamon rolls rise at room temp 1 to 1 1/2 hours (or in a 100˚F oven for 35 min) or until puffy.
Brush tops with 1 Tbsp melted butter and bake at 350˚F for 22-24 mins or until tops are light golden brown. Let cool in pan 15 minutes then frost warm buns generously with the cream cheese glaze (instructions below).
How to Make Cream Cheese Icing:
Using an electric mixer, cream together 4 Tbsp softened butter, 4 oz soft cream cheese, and beat on medium speed until creamy and smooth. Beat in 1/2 Tbsp vanilla then add 1 cup powdered sugar and continue mixing until fluffy (3-4 min), scraping down the bowl as needed.
This Monday meal is just right for autumn and football season. When the temperatures drop, this chili will warm you up without weighing you down. It also comes together fairly quickly. Serve the chili alone, topped with cheese or over rice. It also goes well with guacamole and chips.
This is a family pleaser and perfect for Monday Night Football.
The recipe includes adaptations for vegetarians and vegans. It’s also gluten-free and high protein.
Chicken Chili by Still A Chick Lit
4 small or 3 large sweet onions, diced (Vidalia or Texas sweet)
2 green peppers, medium-diced
3 red peppers, medium-diced
1 orange pepper, medium-diced
1, yellow pepper, medium-diced
1 can low-sodium red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can low-sodium pink kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of unsalted chicken stock or broth
3 cans Campbells tomato soup
3 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste
1 pound ground chicken (or ground turkey)
1 pound ground chicken breast (or ground turkey breast)
3 tablespoons Canola oil
Add Canola or vegetable oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add your diced onions and peppers. Saute for 8 to 10 minutes. Add ground chicken and chicken breast in, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cover and let cook through, stirring occasionally.
When the chicken is no longer pink, add the chili powder and stir well. Add the beans and tomato soup. Mix well. Lower the flame and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
2 Packages of vegan ground meat
1/4 cup to 1/2 unsalted vegetable stock or broth
To Make Using a Slow Cooker
Cook the ground chicken separately in a skillet until cooked through. Set aside. Clean the skillet and add the onions and peppers. Cook until the vegetables are just beginning to soften. Remove from the heat.
Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a slow cooker with the beans, tomato soup, seasoning, and chicken stock.
Cover and cook on high until chili has thickened, about 4 hours. Or cook on low for 6 hours.
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For this blog post, we are going to talk about something we hate, rejection. In life, we are prepared to hear the word no. Our parents get us started on learning the meaning of the word. However, hearing the word no when it comes to something like a manuscript you poured your heart and soul into, that can sting. Therefore, to help take a bit of the burn away, I’m going to address rejection from a publisher professional’s perspective.
You can barely put a finite number on the number of manuscripts publishers receive every year. Some estimate the number to be between 3,000-5,000 a year. Regardless of whether it’s a small or large agency, literary agents receive thousands of submissions a year as well.
In terms of the number of books published, Forbes estimates there are 600,000-1,000,000 books published in the US alone. In 2014, a report from Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Surveys used the data from 9,000 respondents and concluded that those who completed a manuscript. 23% succeeded in becoming traditionally published, which is 13.4% of the total panel, All of that aside, there are things you can control to help increase the odds of agents giving you a serious look.
Target the right agent.– If you’ve written a sci-fi fantasy novel, you don’t want to pitch it to an agent that handles contemporary women’s fiction. Literary agents are like doctors, while all doctors know the basics of medicine, they have specialties. You can research agents to see what genres and/or sub-genres they represent. If you can’t find anything online, query them directly. Most are happy to respond.
Make sure you deliver the story you pitched. I once received a pitch for a romantic mystery that blew my socks off. It had all of the elements and the pitch looked like it belonged on the inside jacket of a trade paperback. I received nearly 500 pages, and after reading ten chapters, nothing I was promised in the pitch was there.
Make sure your writing mechanics are up to snuff. Agents give fiction writers a wide berth. Dialogue reflects the way people speak, which isn’t proper English. That’s a given. However, grammar and sentence structure is important. If you didn’t grow up with uncles who were English teachers, you would do well to invest in a grammar software program such as Grammarly. You might also want to consider hiring an editor to go over the manuscript to tighten it up before submitting it.
Even if you have checked all the right boxes, sometimes agents aren’t taking on new clients. Sometimes being offered representation is purely a matter of timing. If you’ve queried and submitted several partial or full manuscripts, take a little time to re-read your work and make adjustments if you need to. If you’re not part of one, join a writer’s workshop group. Getting other perspectives and feedback can be very helpful. If you don’t want to go that route, get in touch with a community college or university’s English department and talk to a professor. I know many authors who have worked with English and American Literature grad students to get their manuscripts in shape. The last thing I recommend is to put it away for a week or even a month. This will allow you to come back to it with fresh eyes and a refreshed perspective.
Lastly, don’t give up. Some of our most lauded literary names received countless rejections before they broke through. Keep writing as long as it makes you happy.
Our Next Post Will Cover Self-Publishing, Traditional Publishing, and Hybrid Publishing, what they’re about, and how to determine which works best for you.
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Although life north of forty and fifty plus has changed in a more positive way for us as women, many of us still struggle with the changes our bodies go through in the three stages of menopause. According to Johnson Memorial Health, the three stages are:
Perimenopause– The earliest stage of menopause usually happens 3 to 5 years before full menopause occurs. During this time, estrogen, and progesterone levels drop.
Menopause– The technical definition of menopause is not having your period for 12 months or more without having other health issues like illness, surgery, or pregnancy. At this time, the ovaries cease to make estrogen and progesterone.
Post-menopause– When a full year has passed after your last period, you are officially in post-menopause. Over a period of years, your shifting hormones will settle into a more stable balance. Hot flashes and other menopause symptoms will likely reduce significantly.
Besides hot flashes, many women find themselves battling weight issues. For some women, hormone fluctuations make it harder to lose weight, and it can feel like you’ve lost control over your weight regardless of what you eat. There is always something shiny and new when it comes to the world of dieting and diet fads. At one time the grapefruit diet and cabbage diet were the rages. Then there was the Scarsdale diet that focused on protein and the villainization of carbohydrates, which resulted in weight loss but raised cholesterol levels and caused gout in some people. Here in the US, we have the proliferation of diet plans from Nutrisystem and Jennie Craig, diets where you buy the food you eat, and then there’s WW formerly known as Weight Watchers. WW uses a system of points for each food. Servings of food are assigned points based on four criteria: calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein. Every Weight Watchers member gets assigned a daily and weekly point goal based on their height, weight, age, and gender. One of the latest entries for weight loss is Noom, which uses psychology to design a program to change eating habits. Members are coached virtually by psychologists whose goal is to help unlearn bad habits to form a healthy relationship with food. Dieting in America is a multi-billion dollar industry. Where it doesn’t seem to be a billion-dollar industry is in Europe.
People in countries like France, Italy, and Spain consume a lot of butter, pasta, cheese, and more, but they also have lower cases of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, just to name a few issues that are very common in the US. What is their secret? Well, there really is no secret. Europeans eat an abundance of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, bread, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, extra virgin olive oil, poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. They also eat beef, lamb, game, and pork. What is most notable is the smaller portion sizes, and if they do snack, they don’t go for a bag of chips, choosing fresh bread, cheese, fruit, or nuts.
Since there’s so much going on in our lives, one of that the best ways to address this issue is to make a change gradually. Our bodies have been evolving since we were in utero, if we embrace this as something that happens incrementally, it can help with our health goals. We’ll share recipes that touch on facets of the Mediterranean diet (Italy, Spain, Greece), and the French diet full-fat cheese and yogurt, butter, bread, fresh fruits, and vegetables (often grilled or sautéed), small portions of meat (fish or chicken than red meat), wine, and dark chocolate.
Naturally, before beginning any lifestyle diet change, check with your doctor so the two of you can work together for a healthier you.
We begin with Baba Ganoush which is usually served as an appetizer. It’s a spread made chiefly of eggplant, tahini, garlic, olive oil, and lemon. There are a lot of variations of this eggplant spread. This recipe comes from the Mediterranean Dish Blog by Suzy, who has a number of wonderful recipes to try. The link to her site and social media platforms is below the recipe.
Baba Ganoush by Mediterranean Dish
2 pounds Italian eggplants (about 2 small-to-medium eggplants*)
2 medium cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice, more if necessary
¼ cup tahini
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the eggplant and garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
¾ teaspoon salt, to taste
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of smoked paprika, for garnish
Serving suggestions: warmed or toasted pita wedges, carrot sticks, bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, etc.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. Halve the eggplants lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with olive oil. Place them in the prepared pan with the halved sides down.
Roast the eggplant until the interior is very tender throughout and the skin is collapsing, about 35 to 40 minutes (this might take longer if you are using 1 large eggplant). Set the eggplant aside to cool for a few minutes. Flip the eggplants over and scoop out the flesh with a large spoon, leaving the skin behind.
Place a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl, then transfer the flesh to the strainer and discard the skins. Pick out any stray bits of eggplant skin and discard them. You want to remove as much moisture from the eggplant here as possible, so let the eggplant rest for a few minutes and shake/stir the eggplant to release some more moisture.
Discard all of the eggplant drippings, drain and wipe out the bowl, and dump the eggplant into the bowl. Add the garlic and lemon juice to the eggplant and stir vigorously with a fork until the eggplant breaks down. Add the tahini to the bowl and stir until it’s incorporated. While stirring, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Continue stirring until the mixture is pale and creamy, and use your fork to break up any particularly long strings of eggplant.
Stir in the parsley, salt, and cumin. Season to taste with more salt (I usually add another ¼ teaspoon) and more lemon juice, if you’d like a more tart flavor.
Transfer the baba ganoush to a serving bowl and lightly drizzle olive oil on top. Lastly, sprinkle parsley and smoked paprika on top. Serve.
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Summer is the season of hot weather, going to the beach, cool drinks, grilling, and long lazy days. Conversely, autumn is the season of cooler temps, leaves changing, sweaters, hot apple cider, comfort food, Halloween, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving. For so many of us, it’s time to put the oven on and head back into the kitchen.
Comfort meals are just the thing to help us hit the reset button in the midst of the stresses of work, school, and other obligations that can make us feel a bit off balance. During the week, we often don’t have the time or energy to deal with a long complicated meal. Even a slow cooker can be hard when you don’t have time to put the ingredients together, or some of us have even forgotten to put it on. However, we came across a recipe in Southern Living that is easy, healthy and comes together in less than thirty minutes.
Chicken soup is one of the ultimate comfort foods and cure for all that ails you. The best thing about this soup is you can buy many of the ingredients pre-cooked and pre-chopped. We’ve adapted the recipe for vegans and vegetarians ( no chicken, vegan noodles, and non-dairy milk) as a way to be sure that everyone can find comfort in a hot, creamy soup perfect for the cooler evenings ahead.
Enjoy and Happy Fall!
Creamy Chicken Soup recipe by Southern Living Magazine adapted by Still A Chick Lit
Total Time 25 minutes
¼ cup unsalted butter (unsalted vegan butter)
1 medium-sized yellow onion, finely chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced into 1/2 -inch rounds (about ¾ cup)
2 medium celery stalks, chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups fresh spinach or 1 cup frozen peas
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 bay leaf
¼ cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, sorghum, white rice, or brown rice flour)
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
6 cups unsalted chicken stock (unsalted vegetable stock) (I like Kitchen Basics)
8 ounces Old-fashioned wide egg noodles (you can use pasta, such as orzo or even angel hair spaghetti to keep it vegan/vegetarian)
1 cooked or rotisserie chicken, torn into bite-size pieces (omit for vegan/vegetarian soup)
½ cup heavy cream (dairy: light cream or half and half) (non-dairy: rice, soy, or almond milk)
1 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Melt butter in a large pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, bay leaf, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened. Add flour, garlic, and smoked paprika. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is fragrant and the flour begins to turn brown.
Add stock to the mixture and increase the heat to bring to a boil. Stirring occasionally. Add the noodles, spinach, or peas and cook, stirring occasionally until the noodles are tender. Reduce the heat to low, add the chicken. Cook until the chicken is heated through, about one minute. Stir in the cream, sherry vinegar, and remaining salt. Before serving top with thyme leaves. Serves Four.
For a vegan or vegetarian version of this soup, double the vegetables for an extra-yummy creamy vegetable soup.
There isn’t a lot of knife work for this recipe, however, if you’re not comfortable, most grocery stores and supermarkets have pre-chopped vegetables in their produce section. It’s also a time saver.
In 2020 the pandemic put trips to the hair salon for regular trims, hair coloring services, a wash, and set, or a blowout on pause. We were forced to pivot and turn our bathrooms and makeup tables into an in-home salon on the fly. While most of us are knowledgeable when it comes to our own hair, many of us still found ourselves going through a process of trial and error when it came to finding the right products for our hair type. Moreover, age can play a factor. Many women who are north of forty and fifty plus are dealing with changes in their skin and hair as a result of hormonal fluctuations, perimenopause, and menopause.
As a black woman who is north of fifty, I found this to be especially challenging after I stopped relaxing my hair. My decision to go natural was the result of getting older and from having an autoimmune disease (MS) for twenty-plus years. However, my relationship with Ms. Clairol was safe. I made the transition with the guidance of a skilled hair professional who took care of my hair every two weeks. I received a combination of services including deep conditioning treatments, hair coloring, and styling.
When the pandemic forced salons to close, I had to figure it out. At first, I was able to wash and blow my hair out at home. I worried about the use of heat weakening my hair. So, I decided to embrace the curls I’d been avoiding for most of my life. It didn’t take long to discover that finding the right products for my curls was going to be a challenge. Nevertheless, it was a challenge I was willing to accept.
From time to time I will post my experiences with different products. I will review the products, provide price ranges, product effectiveness, and more all in an effort to give you as much information as possible.
My first review is Mark Anthony True Professional Hydrating Curl Cream.
The pitch: Extra Frizz Control! This Sulfate-Free Curl Cream is a hydrating blend of Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, and Biotin that help de-frizz and add moisture to your dry brittle curls. It provides extra curl styling control with humidity resistance. Curls are now shinier, more defined, and tangle-free. Lightweight enough to use daily after shower. Color safe.
Usage: Apply to wet or damp hair. For my purposes, I applied after I washed and conditioned my hair. I section my hair in two. Then I use about a half-dollar size amount of cream in my palm and work it through from the roots to ends with my fingers. I try to follow my curl pattern and repeat on the other side. I let my hair dry naturally, but you can use a diffuser to blow it dry as well.
Results: I’ve found that my curls have great hold while still feeling soft. I’ve found that some products with coconut oil and shea butter can make your hair smell like a tropical fruit salad, which if you live in a warmer climate, or it’s spring or summer, can be tricky once you go outside. Bees don’t know the difference. Marc Anthony’s hydrating cream smells nice and it’s not overwhelming.
Cost: The cream ranges in price from 8.99-9.99 (depends on where you purchase it)
Available at: Walgreens, CVS, Target, Walmart, and Rite Aid. Check online to see which stores in your area have it in stock