Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato “Icing” – Recipe

Sara Green's photo.

Ingredients:
1 pound extra lean organic ground beef
1/2 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup organic shredded carrots
1 cup organic tomato pasta sauce
1/2 cup water
2 organic Eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 (3/4-ounce) slices deli cheddar cheese

Potato Topping:
1 1/4 cups water
6 (3/4-ounce) slices deli cheddar cheese, cut into quarters
2 cups mashed potatoes whipped with butter and milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 450°F. Spray 12 cup muffin pan with no-stick cooking spray. Place muffin pan onto 9 x 13 inch baking pan; set aside.
2. Combine all meatloaf ingredients except cheese slices in large bowl; mix well. Stack 6 cheese slices. Cut into 4 even strips; then cut across into thirds to create 12 small square stacks of cheese.
3. Shape about 1/3 cupfuls meatloaf mixture into 12 (2 1/2-inch) balls. Press 1 stack cheese into center of each ball, covering evenly with meat mixture so cheese is in center. Place stuffed meatloaf mixture into muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature is at least 165°F and meat is no longer pink.
4. Meanwhile, combine left over mashed potatoes and 6 cheese quarters and cook over medium-high heat until cheese is melted. Top each cupcake with about 3 tablespoons potato mixture over each meatloaf; sprinkle with paprika, if desired.

IVF # 5 – Stim Day 14 – The 411

ivf 5 - keep calm and stim like a champ

Today is stim day 14… I am starting to wonder if we are ever going to get to the end of stims !  I do not feel the “full” feeling I get when my ovaries are about to burst with follicles.  I can not wait, actually yes I can, to get to that point.  Stimming slow and steady is the best way to get quality eggs so I am being patient.

I have been so stressed out the last few days.  One best friend losing her son and grandmom at 10pm the SAME night on Monday, My godmother and mother both undergoing cancer treatment, and my best friend, actor, Gary Anthony Sturgis, has finally gone public with his mother’s stage four cancer diagnosis.  He finally got his mom to tell her siblings and now he was talked about it publicly, so I feel heartbroken for him, but at the same time relieved that he will have additional support.  Cancer SUCKS rocks !  In the midst of all of this mortality, I am trying to create life.  It seems strange.

In better news, my agent and I are submitting the final (although it is really just the beginning phase) mock ups of my reality tv project.  I am excited about the possibility of this show about my life, my struggles and the fertility struggle so many women and men face that I get to put a face on, being on national television !  I also know what this exposure can do for my career and other projects I want to launch in the future.  I am trusting God to open the right doors to the right people at the right time !

I am so eternally grateful for the opportunity to even be able to take this journey and I would be remiss to not thank God for His faithfulness because there are so many who would not be able to even dream of doing what I have done this past year.

I did my AM injections of Ganirelix, Lovenox, and Neupogen.  Tonight, I will inject 175 units of Follistim and 37.5 units of Menopur.

ivf - menopur  IVF 5 - Follistim  ivf 5 stim day 4 neupogen  IVF 5 stim day 2             Vitamin D emulsion

Tomorrow morning, I have another blood draw and sonogram.  Prayerfully there will be a little growth in the follicles, but not too much of a leap !  I want all the little ones to grow to the same size as the larger ones so that I have plenty of quality eggs to transfer back next week !

In the mean time, I am working on little gifts for the staff at the clinic.  I bough EOS balms and made cute hand tags that say “You Are The BALM!”  Thanks !.  I also got peanut M&Ms and put hand tags that say ” Thank You For Helping Make My Little Peanut (s) !”.  I also had Banana Bakery out of Dallas Texas make medical themed cookies that say thanks on them and they are shipping the cookies to my hotel in Albany to arrive next week and they are already hand wrapped individually.

To keep my mind occupied, I have been making flour with hard white wheat berries and baking and my team and I are working on the launch of Valerie The Pajama Chef, my cooking show.  You can pull up my flour escapades on Youtube that I shot with my cellphone LOL.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8jkyWBJWp8

I am headed downstairs to my kitchen now to make mile high buttermilk biscuits !  I am craving them, so I am making them and will go get some molasses  🙂   I know I am supposed to be doing gluten free, but one little biscuit is not gonna hurt much !  With all the hell going on around me, I deserve one little biscuit right?  🙂

Valerie Renèe’s White Velvet Vodka Cake – Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons good quality vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 Tbsps Vodka

Directions:

  1. Sift together both flours, baking soda. baking powder, salt and sugar, Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the vegetable oil, shortening and vanilla. Beat well at high speed with whisk attachment until light and fluffy
  3. Beat the eggs in one at a time.
  4. Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Stir in Vodka.
  5. Add dry ingredients in three divisions and liquid ingredients in 2 divisions. It is very important to begin and end the additions with the dry ingredients. Do not over mix the batter. As soon as it has no lumps in the batter, pour into the two prepared 9 inch cake pans.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Vodka Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces sweet cream butter softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps Vodka (more to thin icing if necessary)

Directions:

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract and vodka.

(c) 2010 Valerie Renèe

Sesame Beer Beef – Recipe

Ingredients:

1 pound round steak

4 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons white sugar

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/3 cup beer

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 green onions, chopped

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Directions:

Mix soy sauce, sugar, oil, beer, garlic, and onions in a large bowl. Set aside.

Cut steak into strips and add to bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 30 minutes.

Cook in wok or frying pan until brown, about 5 minutes. Add sesame seeds and cook for additional 2 minutes.

IVF # 5 – Stim Day 13 – The 411

IVF 5 - Keep Calm Keep Stimming

Today is exactly one year from the day I did my first IVF transfer, which resulted in the conception of my daughter.  It is such a hard time.  I remember how full of hope I was and how sure I was I was going to be successful.  I was.. it just did not last !

I got up this morning, did my morning injections of Ganirelix, Neupogen and Lovenox. I went to the imaging center and had the longest, most uncomfortable transvaginal ultrasound of my life !   The new nurse was taking forever.  I felt like I had been molested by the time she got through twirling that thing in my hoo-hah !   It can not take anyone THAT long to look at a uterus, two ovaries and a lining !

Anywhoo…  My follicles are still small. The largest being 8 cm.  It has to triple in size before I will be ready to trigger.  The nurse called saying that I have 10 small ones on the right, three measurable, and on the left there are 2-3 small ones and two measurable so far.   They have increased the Follistim to 175 units and I am to stay on the same amount of Menopur as well as the other meds.  I go back on Friday to get checked again.

ivf 5 - stim day 13 scan 1                                 ivf 5 - stim day 13 scan 1

Now that my follicles are growing slowly, I am running a slight chance of missing Jared and his grandmother’s funerals.  The homegoing services are going to be on next Thursday morning and will be in the Bronx, which is good because I can take the train in to Manhattan and get a car service to the chapel then hop back on the train from Manhattan to Albany, if it is time for me to head there.

My friend just called me saying that the expenses are getting out of hand quickly and wants me to set up a GoFundMe account to help raise funds.  I am very conflicted about this because I am always VERY irked when people start these funds to pay for expenses they should be responsible for.  Preparing for death and life are things you have to take into account and make sure you have ample insurance for.  I more often than not decline invitations to fund these because I sacrifice about $400 per month in life insurance so that should something happen to me, my family will receive close to 1.85 million dollars. They have been instructed to cremate me and not waste my money on an elaborate funeral and just do a memorial service and release my ashes over beautiful blue water then get on a plane and go to the Caribbean right away.

I have to remind myself that everyone is not me !  Everyone does not live life by the same standards I do and low and behold, SHIT HAPPENS !   No one expects a 15 year old child to get sick at school and then come home, rest a few hours and then die at 10pm in an ambulance.

I am thinking long and hard about this, but I will probably end up setting up the page for my friend, reluctantly, albeit.  At least, unlike everyone else around me, she is not asking ME to fund a transport of her son’s body from Georgia to New York.  Jared LOVED Amtrak, so his mom wants to put his body on the Amtrak from Atlanta to New York to be laid to rest.  Evidently, the cost is a lot more than what was anticipated.  Why does it cost so much to ship a body by train or by plane?  It is not like they are taking up THAT much space, Jeezzz….

Anyway, I am going to pray about this and make a final decision.   I feel so conflicted because I do not like doing campaigns for frivolous stuff.  I do campaigns like this to raise money for the homeless, to raise funds to open an arts program for underprivileged children, and to fund my film projects… not to pay for funeral expenses.  But, hey, never say never because it will be the ONE thing you end up doing !

Here is a video of Jared on stage with Stevie Wonder:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNZWBTHvr8E&feature=share

After much thought and prayer, I decided to create the Gofundme page !   http://www.gofundme.com/jaredsangels

IVF # 5 – Stim Day 12 – NUMB !!! – The 411

baby - sad face

Today is my stim day 12.  My day started as it normally does… I did my injection of Ganirelix, neupogen and lovenox.  I got some work done, then left with my mom to go to SAMS Club and Walmart to pick up some items I need to make gift bags for the staff at my fertility clinic for next week.

While at lunch with mom, I notice a post on my Facebook page that fellow actor posted saying RIP.  I ask what the post is about and he informs me that my close friend’s son passed away according to a post on her page.  I go to her FB page and notice a cryptic message so I call a mutual friend of ours in Atlanta and he knew nothing about it and said he would call her mom and find out what the post was about referring to her son and grandmother being gone within 3 hours of each other.

I learned than my friend’s 15 year old son, who would babysit my puppy, Langston when they lived in NYC, took ill at school (he has sickle cell anemia) and my friend picked him up, took him home to rest and he still was not feeling well.  She decided he was in crisis and was taking him the hospital. She called an ambulance and once inside, Jared coded and they could not revive this kid.  Cristal called her parents to let them know what was going on and her parents broke down.  She then learned that her father’s mother had just passed away three hours before.

I am beyond numb !   I finally got Cristal on the phone and she is being brave and is completely heartbroken and in disbelief.  Her son was attending a new, state of the art performing arts high school in Atlanta and has performed on stage with Stevie Wonder.   He was slated to perform this weekend and his grandparents were going to fly in to surprise him.  According to the doctors, Jared’s heart gave out and was not strong enough.  I have no words….. no words…..   His mom just told me again how excited Jared was about the possibility of me having twins and he was eagerly awaiting them to get here.  Below is a picture of him and my puppy, Langston, at at one of my parties at my New York apartment a few years ago when Jared was 12.  They moved to Atlanta a few months later.

Langston with Jared

I am very sad and am so hoping that I will be able to attend services for him.  The services are going to be the beginning of next week in New York and my ivf procedures are going to be around that time.  I will not know until Friday what we are looking at…. hopefully, I will continue to stim thru the weekend and will not have to trigger until next week and then I will be able to go up to NY for the service prior to heading on upstate to Albany.  My heart is completely shattered and I was questioning God why this would happen to such a dynamic young man and not the little bad ass kids running around the world wrecking havoc and a voice spoke to me and said, ” He was ready.”    How can I argue with God?   This little angel was ready to be welcomed into arms of our Christ and the heavens awaited his arrival.   How majestic is that in the scheme of things?   Jared was definitely and old soul who seems to have been here before.  He was the most mannerly, bubbly kid and I have no idea how his mother, a self proclaimed “stage mom” is going to make it without him.  They were each other’s rock…..

RIP Jared Michael Jones ❤

Valerie’s Awesome Carrot Cake with Buttermilk Glaze and Cream Cheese Frosting – Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 large organic eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated organic carrots
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Directions:

Line 3 (9-inch) round cakepans with wax paper; lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set pans aside.

Stir together first 4 ingredients.

Beat eggs and next 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Fold in carrot and next 3 ingredients. Pour batter into prepared cake pans.

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Drizzle Buttermilk Glaze evenly over layers; cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.

BUTTERMILK GLAZE

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring often, 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth.

(c) 2010 Valerie Renèe

IVF # 5 – Stim Day 11 – The 411

IVF 5 - Follistim         ivf - menopur   IVF 5 stim day 2      ivf 5 stim day 4 neupogen

Today is the eleventh day of stims, sixth day on Follistim and fourth day on Menopur.   In the morning, I inject Neupogen, Ganirelix, and Lovenox.   I take various supplements and vitamins, and synthroid (which I have not taken since Friday because my TSH plumented to .1) and in the evening, I inject Follistim and Menopur.

Because my Vitamin D level has been low since February, I am no longer taking the pill version.  To raise my vitamin level, I have to take an emulsion at dinner that also has Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2 in it to help with absorption. (see previous post about Vitamin D levels).

Vitamin D emulsion

I ordered the emulsion from Amazon.com.  It tastes pretty okay.  Not nasty like I was expecting.

I had monitoring this morning and my follicles are slowly growing.  LabCorp had a problem with their machines today so my blood work was not in by the time my RE’s office closed.

ivf 5 - stim day 11 scan

I was instructed to just remain on my same meds and I will get a call tomorrow from my nurse once the blood work is in and they will make adjustments if necessary.

Hope everyone else is doing well !  More tomorrow ~

Beef Lo Mein A La Valerie – Recipe

Ingredients:

1 (8 ounce) package Barilla spaghetti

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon peanut oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

4 cups mixed vegetables (onion, julienned carrots, bell pepper, scallions, etc)

1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon Asian chile paste with garlic

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 12 minutes; drain and transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle sesame oil over the spaghetti; toss to coat. Place a plate atop the bowl to keep the noodles warm.

2. Heat peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir garlic and ginger in hot oil until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mixed vegetables to the skillet; cook and stir until slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Stir flank steak into the vegetable mixture; cook and stir until the beef is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

3. Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, oyster sauce, and chile paste together in a small bowl; pour over the spaghetti. Dump spaghetti and sauce mixture into the wok with the vegetables and steak; cook and stir until the spaghetti is hot, 2 to 3 minutes.