Tweet, Tweet! Are You Following Me On Twitter?

If you aren’t already, be sure to follow me on Twitter to receive daily updates on my Kickstarter campaign, baby food health tips and human trafficking information. Search for my handle name: @AnnaMEngel.

And, as always, I would love to hear what topics you would like to see up on the blog. Happy Thursday everyone!

How American Culture Contributes To Human Trafficking

Several months ago I had the opportunity to speak with Nanette Ward from the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking coalition (CMSHT) about the issue of human trafficking, particularly as it relates to CMSHT’s work.  Nanette made a very interesting and profound statement about how we contribute to the issue of human trafficking – whether or not we realize that we are actually aiding in the perpetuating it.  Take a listen:

New Blog Topic Ideas

It has been too long since I have posted anything to the blog.  Life has been immensely busy with the arrival of my sweet baby girl, giving me little time to do anything that is not related to motherhood.  But I have been itching to dive back into the writing world, particularly as it relates to human trafficking awareness.

I have been mulling over several topic ideas on which to write.  Primarily, I have a desire to cover different human trafficking organizations and the work that they are doing to combat this issue.  Several of the organizations that I have in mind are either entities that I have worked professionally with in the past through various jobs that I held or are organizations that I have connected with on a personal basis.  Many of these organizations provide invaluable educational resources, research and various ways to get involved in the issue of human trafficking.  It is my desire in covering these organizations to (1) provide updated HT information (2) provide ways in which you can become involved in the fight.

I have also been toying with the idea of exploring different human trafficking and sexual exploitation issues so as to bring awareness to the specific niches and nuances of the industry. If there are any specific topics you would like to see covered, please feel free to contact me with requests as I would be more than happy to write on any specific areas any of you might have.

Here is to happy writing and learning together!

Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars

cheesecake bars

Courtesy of Cupcakes OMG, adapted from Made with Pink.

For the Crust

  • 2 1/4 cups ground graham crackers (about 1 and a half sleeves of grackers)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 10 Tbsp. melted butter
Cheesecake Filling
  • 3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Caramel Topping
  • 2/3 cup dulce de leche
  • 2-3 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 Tbsp. caramel sauce (the good stuff in a jar, not that runny syrup junk)
  • Fleur de sel
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a large rectangular pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Combine the crust ingredients in a medium bowl until the crust comes together, kind of like wet sand. Press crust evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a rack while you make the filling.
3. Beat cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at time, beating each one until it’s incorporated before adding the next one. Add dulce de leche and vanilla extract and beat until fully incorporated. Pour batter onto crust and spread even. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until center is just set and edges are puffy and slightly cracked and golden. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before topping with caramel.
4. Pour dulce de leche and whipping cream into a glass bowl or measuring cup. Microwave for 10 seconds at a time, stirring between each interval, until the whipping cream is well combined with the dulce de leche. Add caramel sauce and stir until well combined. The topping should be pourable, but not runny.
5. When cheesecake bars are cooled, pour caramel topping all over the bars and spread evenly. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow caramel to set well. Cut into squares and top with fleur de sel right before serving!

Stuffed Chicken with Goat Cheese

Tonight I prepared a delicious dinner that was both healthy and satisfying.  The occasion: Christmas!  Although Christmas is still two days away, my husband and I will be spending the next two dinners with both of our families, therefore knocking out any opportunity for me to cook our first Christmas dinner together.  Therefore, I took it upon myself to make an early Christmas dinner for us, thereby appeasing both my desire to cook my first complete Christmas meal by myself and assemble my initial Christmas dinner as a married woman.

Stuffed Chicken with Goat Cheese 

(Source: Pass the Sushi blog, found through Pinterest)

dinner

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 black pepper
  • 3 slices bacon
  • toothpicks
  • Olive Oil

Preparation: Slice goat cheese into thin strips.  On a flat surface pound out your chicken to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.  Lay goat cheese in the center of each piece of chicken and sprinkle basil, thyme and black pepper evenly over each.  Using toothpicks to secure, fold the chicken up and wrap in bacon.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Heat oil in a skillet.  Place chicken in skillet and cover for 5 minutes.  Rotate and brown.  Transfer skill to oven (I used a cookie sheet) and bake for 15 minutes.  Serve with your choice of side dish and/or salad.  In my case, I served the chicken alongside a tomato salad.

Brie Cheese with Parmesan Crisps

cheese

As a side hor’d’oeuvre, I served a Brie Cheese that I had warmed in the oven for 1-2 minutes and garnished with basil and Parmesan Crisps, which can be found at Trader Joe’s.  Any sort of crostini or thinly sliced bread will suffice as a satisfactory substitute for the Parmesan Crisps.

The Twelve Days of Birthday (Parts X-XII)

The self-appointed ‘Twelve Days of Birthday’ in which I celebrated the twelve days leading up to, and including, my husband’s twenty-second birthday.  I must say it has renewed my thankfulness for who he is, all that he does and the joy he has and continues to bring me.

The past two weeks have been full of adventure as I have surprised him with little presents, activities and treats each day.  My husband remarked to me that I was more excited about his birthday than he was and, in a sense, that was true as the planning aspect of each day had me on the edge of my seat.  In addition to celebrating the amazing life of my husband, the flurry of the past two weeks has ‘rekindled’ our love, reminding us of our college days.

Day 10 – We ate a candle-lite dinner by the fireplace of flank steak and asparagus with goat cheese while watching an episode of Psych, my  husband’s choice of show.

Day 11 – My husband and I had dinner with both sets of parents at Claim Jumper, a restaurant tradition we have had every for his birthday since we have been together.

Day 12 – Happy Birthday to my amazing, talented and loving man!  We woke up and began the day with homemade eggnog lattes and warm streusel cinnamon bread.  Additionally, he opened the remaining presents I had bought for him.  Later that evening we went out to Blue Nami to enjoy a dinner of sushi with some of our college friends who had invested in C.Jay during his time at William Jessup University.

Birthday breakfast and presents

Blue Nami sushi dinner.

Not only did I have a thrilling time planning each day’s ‘surprise’ for my husband, but my husband enjoyed receiving the love language of gifts from me.  Who knows, I just may have begun a family tradition for us!