Archive | December, 2019

Toni’s Tasty Tip Tuesday:) Vegan Black Bean Burgers

31 Dec

“Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments.”

Bethenny Frankel


A great way to end the old year and start the new year is deciding to eat healthier and take better care of yourself. Food is a good way to start.

I’m visiting with my sister for a few days before I go back home to Texas, One of the things we wanted to do is to try making our own black bean burgers. She looked up a few recipes, and we kind of added our own flare. (I don’t follow recipes well.)

The first thing JoAnn did was to rinse and soak the black beans last night. Yes, starting from scratch. No canned stuff for us. She cooked them this morning, so they were ready to use by the afternoon. I’d share the recipe, but we didn’t exactly measure. But, I know most of the ingredients. I think?

One big pot of black beans. We used about 6 cups.

Chop fine 1/2 red onion, a few carrots, a handful of mushrooms, 1/2 bag of frozen corn, 4 cloves of garlic, Sauté in a little vegetable broth. While I was sautéing the vegetables, Jo was smooshing the beans with a masher, (that’s a professional cooking term…smooshing.) we added some cumin, smoked paprika, pepper, onion powder, low sodium soy sauce, and some hot sauce.

The binder was 2 tbsp.flax seed mixed with about 5 tbsp. water (let sit to thicken) and about 2 cups of ground oats. Mix that all up and let sit a bit.

For the patties, we mooshed ball sized rounds, bigger than golf and smaller than tennis balls. Then, squish, form a patty, and put on a plate of bread crumbs and flip. Place on plastic wrap in piles of 4 or 6 to freeze extra for the future.

We had no idea what we were doing, but the ingredients were all good and healthy, so what could go wrong?

JoAnn cooked them in a frying pan with a tiny bit of oil until crispy, with a side of spring greens on a slice of whole wheat toast. They were DELICIOUS!

It was a big productions and we made a huge mess, but I think they turned out great. She has about 20 patties in the freezer for future meals.

I’m not saying that I’m going to become a vegetarian or vegan, but I think if I have some healthier alternatives, I’ll try to incorporate them into my lifestyle. But, I’m still going to need pizza, burgers, fries, and some chicken fried chicken, fried okra and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy every now and then. Just sayin’! .

Old photo from this summer at The Pantry on the McKinney Square. Oh no, this is making me hungry.

Happy New Year’s Eve, my friends. I hope your new year is a healthy and happy one.

Montage Monday:) A Week In A Peek

31 Dec

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.”

Andy Rooney


I hope you still have a messy living room, with toys, wrapping paper, and holiday decorations strewn everywhere. Sometimes a happy mess is better than a sad tidy room. Savor the holidays while you can.

Another great week with family and friends. I’m still counting my blessings, but unfortunately, I can’t count that high.

A week in a peek….

Have a marvelous Monday, my friends.

Sunday Sermon, Saying Goodbye, and Some Amazing Maxwell Street Polish Sausage

30 Dec

“Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.”

― Shakespeare


I started out my Sunday in the most beautiful way. Lindsay was downstairs early with the baby, before 6:30. I offered to give her a bottle and play with her so mommy could go back up and get some sleep. Sophie and I played, I sang songs and read books, and had breakfast. The rest of the family came down after 8. Everyone was in a great mood.

I was pleased that Joe was going to 9:30 Mass with me again this Sunday. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of the house with two little ones early in the morning. It means a lot to me to be able to attend church with my son, a special bonding time.

Today was the Feast of the Holy Family. The Gospel was again about Joseph, and he was again warned in a dream. He was told to take his family and flee to Egypt. Harod was looking for Jesus and planned to kill him. Joseph obeyed.

I smiled because Father talked about St. Joseph, and how he was a good, loving, and patient father, and how he provided for his family, and he was a good husband, and obedient to God. I thought about my Joseph.

When the magi had departed, behold,

the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,

“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,

and stay there until I tell you.

St. Norbert’s was beautifully decorated, and we lit a candle after Mass.

I took a few pictures.

The family was going to meet some friends for brunch around 11, and my dear old (she’s not old- we’ve just been friends since the 70’s) friend Debbie was coming over around noon. So, I said my goodbyes to the grand babies and family before they left for their brunch. I’d be gone when they came home. Belle drew me a picture and the girls gave me big hugs.

Debbie arrived and helped me load up all my stuff into her car. I’m not sure how I’m going to get all that stuff in my suitcase? She asked me where I’d like to go for lunch. Well, Portillo’s was on my bucket list of all time favorite Chicago “gotta have” meals

before I go back to Texas.

When we walked toward the entrance, there by the door was a new shiny lucky penny. l thought that was a good sign.

Oh man! Maxwell Street Polish sausage with grilled onions, fries and a coke. To die for, (Probably literally)

After lunch, Debbie was driving me all the way to my sister’s in Elgin. Debbie is such a great friend. She lives in Chicago, drove out to Northbrook, which is a good hour drive, we had lunch. Then, she drove me to Elgin, almost another hour, then over an hour back to Chicago. Only a VERY good friend would volunteer to do that. I have the greatest friends.

So, it was a good Sunday. It was sad to say goodbye to the grandchildren, and family. But, I’ll have a couple of days with my sister, then back home to Texas. The time really did fly by.

Happy Sunday, my friends.

Saturday:) Sittin’ Watchin’ Notre Dame vs Iowa State

29 Dec

“Even if you’re not a huge football fan, there’s nothin’ like gathering around the television watching a game with your family and friends.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


The holidays are for making memories and sharing family traditions. Our family has been Notre Dame fans since the boys were little. Joe graduated from Notre Dame in ’03. So, I was pleased to sit and watch the game with my eldest and his family. More traditions continued.


Notre Dame beats Iowa State 33-9. Great game. Go Irish.

I’ll be honest, the only time I watch any football nowadays, it’s if Notre Dame is playing.

Happy Saturday, my friends.

Friday:) Family, Friends and Is There a Doctor In The House?

28 Dec

“The year end brings no greater pleasure then the opportunity to express to you season’s greetings and good wishes. May your holidays and new year be filled with joy.”

~Charles Dickens


The year is winding down, and certainly flew by like a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. (That’s a really fast plane, in case you were wondering.) It’s been wonderful to spend time with family and old friends.

I received a surprise call from my dear friend Lin this afternoon. She was out running errands and asked if I had time for a visit. The baby had just gone down for a nap and Lindsay and three year old Belle were playing, so I didn’t feel too bad leaving them for a few hours.

Lin picked me up and asked what I’d like to do. Way back during our old girlfriend bowling days, we used to go to Culver’s for turtle sundaes. That was kinda our special thing for birthdays, holidays, and almost every Tuesday. Our special place. So, of course, I suggested Culver’s. It wasn’t because I was fancying ice cream, as much as I was feeling nostalgic. And yes, they were pretty darn good. We had a wonderful visit and caught up on old times, family, and of course, grandchildren.

I think I ate too much ice cream. Luckily, I had a couple of young doctors waiting for me when I got back to the house.

I hope when they grow up to be real doctors that I’m still around to enjoy the free medical advice. Oh wait…I just did the math. I may not be around in 25 or 30 years… but you never know.

Happy Friday, my friends. Cheers!

”Twas The Day After Christmas

27 Dec

“Happy Day After Christmas, Merry Rest of the Year, even when Christmas is over, The Light of the World is Still Here!”

Matthew West


The day after Christmas can sometimes be bitter-sweet. So much preparation and anticipation, and poof…it’s over in a few minutes. Many of us are blessed and have family and friends to celebrate with, carrying on old traditions and making new memories.

“Twas the day after Christmas, but I wasn’t sad.

With wonderful memories, oh what fun we all had.

Two beautiful grand-daughters, as cute as could be.

The family together, all under the tree.

When I count all my blessings, too many, it’s clear.

Now, I won’t be this happy, ’till maybe next year.

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Christmas wouldn’t be complete without the traditional cookie making and decorating. Here’s a funny story. My son Joe decided that he wanted to make some very unusual cookies. He saw some funny John McCLane cookies on Pinterest., from the movie “Die Hard.” He figured that if anyone could figure out how to make them, it would be his very creative momma. They were just made from gingerbread cookie cutters and sugar cookie dough. The tricky part would be the decorating, especially since they were so small. I had the bright idea of finding a really large cookie cutter for one big cookie,

Belle and I rolled out the dough and cut out the small shapes.

I made the icing and we decorated.

Belle put pink sprinkles on all of hers.

Everyone decorated cookies. Joe was a little rusty at cookie making, but he did a great job with his very specific design.

We stayed up late, after the girls went to bed, and watched the movie and ate John McClane cookies. A new tradition, perhaps?

Today, the sun was out and it was just beautiful. I took The baby for a walk in the stroller, while Belle rode her little bike with daddy.

Christmas memories being made, and new traditions created. This is what it’s all about.

Merry Day after Christmas, my friends.

Merry Christmas All and To All a Good Night~ Elvis Has Left the Building

26 Dec

“Christmas magic is silent. You don’t hear it — you feel it. You know it. You believe it.”

~Kevin Alan Milne


The house is always joyous and exciting on Christmas morning when there are little ones. The girls slept a little less ne’er than usual this morning, mostly because they both did some crying, and waking during the night. Everyone is still sick. This includes Gamma.

But, we all managed to open mounds of presents and throw wrapping paper all around. This is my beautiful family. I am truly blessed.

We all went to lunch at a local Chinese restaurant as per tradition.

” Where’s the food, folks! I’m getting hungry.”

After lunch, it was a perfect day for a walk. Who would ever think that the Chicago area would be sunny and in the 50’s on Christmas Day? I don’t think anyone was disappointed that there was no white Christmas.

We spent a couple of hours making Christmas cookies. There’s a funny story that goes along with that. I’ll have to save that for tomorrow.

Now, the children are nestled and snug in their beds while the grown ups are watching tv and shaking their heads, “All this commotion for one day?” Yes, and making new memories and following old traditions,

Back to the real world. And, I guess my last day of Elvis on the Shelvis.

Elvis has left the building. Merry Christmas from Elvis on the Shelvis…

Tuesday:) Toni’s Christmas Eve and Elvis On The Shelvis Waiting For Santa

25 Dec

“Christmas gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on the important things around us.”

~David Cameron


It was a beautiful sunny morning, so the family bundled up the little ones and thy went to the park. I stayed home to wrap a few presents. They’re still not 100% after colds and ear infections, but everyone was hoping a little fresh air would do them some good. It was in the 50’s, which is SO unusual for this late in December.

I think the fresh air did the trick. The girls took a morning nap and when they got up Daddy, Belle and I walked down to the Dairy Queen for french fries.

A lot of other activities during the course of the day. There was cookie decorating, dancing, playing, making homemade pizzas, lighting the Menorah candles, changing the Advent calendar, reading, painting, and visiting with Nana. Of course, there were intermittent bouts of crying, fussing, whining, and watching Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol. Ah, the joys of parenthood. I certainly could not do this again…I’m too old.

It was a good day. I’m sure there’s still a lot to do before morning. There are presents to finish wrapping and put under the tree, and stockings to be filled.

Speaking of Christmas stockings…

Day 15~ Elvis on the Shelvis. Elvis is checking out his Christmas stocking that Santa brought him when he came down the chimney. Look! Elvis got a new guitar. Now, he won’t have a “Blue Christmas.”

Merry Christmas Eve, my friends.

Montage Monday:) A Week in a Gamma Peek

24 Dec

“Few things are delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap.”

~Doug Larson


Another exciting busy crazy week with the family. The weather here in the Chicago area has been just beautiful, in the upper 40’s today and more of the same tomorrow. Very unusual for this time of year, and very much appreciated. Everyone has been sick, sniffling, and coughing, including Gamma. But, I think everyone is on the mend. At least I hope so.

A week in a peek…

Happy Monday, my friends,

Sunday Sermon, Family, and Hanukkah With Elvis on the Shelvis

23 Dec

“Happy is the son whose faith in his mother remains unchallenged.”

Louisa May Alcott


Everyone got a little more sleep than usual last night. The baby and three year old only woke and cried a couple of times during the night, as opposed to a zillion times like the last few nights. Everyone has been sick, cranky, stuffy and feverish, including Gamma.

The girls were fairly manageable this morning, so my son Joe and I went to 9:30 Mass at St. Norbert’s, while mommy stayed home with the girls. I always feel very special and blessed when I’m able to attend Mass with my son.

Today was especially nice because the Gospel reading was about St. Joseph.

When Joseph learned that Mary was with child before their marriage, an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid to take Mary for his wife because she would bear a son conceived by the Holy Spirit.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”

When Joseph awoke,

he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him

and took his wife into his home.

Well, there might be a lot of controversy about what actually happened or didn’t happen, and questions. So, my take on it is… the story of Joseph having faith in the Lord, and obeying His command showed that his faith was more important than any controversy or possible conflict. He was a good man, a good husband, a good father, and obedient to God. That’s all that matters.

St, Joseph is the Patron Saint of several things including fathers, families, travelers, working people, and of the dying, But, I like to think of him as the role model for all men. I was honored to be at church today with my son Joseph, who is a good son, a good husband, a good father, and a good man.

“Happy is the son whose faith in his mother remains unchallenged.” I certainly hope and pray that my sons will always have faith in their mother.

When we got back, the baby was napping, and all was well… for a while. There’s a lot of hustle bustle chaos in a house with two little ones, especial when they’re sick. I try to help out where I can, but sometimes they just want mommy or daddy.

In the evening, Joe took the baby up for the night and rocked her a while. Then, about twenty minutes later, she woke up crying. I said, “Let Gamma go up this time.” I took her from her crib and rocked her in the chair and sang a few songs. She fell asleep in my arms after a while. But, I sat there another half hour or so longer, just enjoying every Gamma minute. I’ll blink and she’ll be grown and married and a mother herself.

A good Sunday.

Day 13~ Elvis on the Shelvis. Elvis celebrating the first day of Hanukkah and having a “Blue Christmas.”

Happy Sunday, my friends.