Saturday, December 24, 2016

Grinchy Fruit Kabobs

 I saw a picture of these online (without any tips, directions, or a name) and have now made them for two occasions. They were a hit both times. The first time was at a Christmas party for our teen homeschoolers group and the second was at our special needs all-star cheer team's holiday party.

I have included directions that I came up with while duplicating these. I also learned this through trial and error that it is so much easier to use a bit longer toothpicks when making these. They also look better, in my opinion.  I used these toothpicks the second time and recommend these or something of similar length.


Green grapes
Strawberries (cone-shaped and not too big)
Bananas (straighter bananas work best, sliced)
Mini marshmallows (cut in half)
Toothpicks (4 inch if possible, I use these)


  1. Wash and allow the grapes and strawberries to dry. Decide how many Grinchy Fruit Kabobs you will make as you are doing this.
  2. Prepare your ingredients putting them into an assembly line fashion as you go.
  3. Cut the mini marshmallows in half with a paring knife, sit aside.
  4. Slice the top (end with the stem) off of each strawberry, sit aside.
  5. Slice the bananas. When I made 24 or 40, I used part of two bananas both times. 
  6. Assembly your Grinches in this order: green grape (go through the dot where stem was), banana slice, strawberry with the point facing up, and half of a mini marshmallow.
  7. Arrange them on your plate and cover if not serving immediately. If it will be awhile, I recommend getting everything prepped and in an assembly line except the bananas. Keep the marshmallows in a closed baggie so they do not dry or harden. When it is closer to time, slice the bananas and assemble.
  8. Enjoy!

{This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.} 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Components of Autism

Autism printable about the components of autism and what to watch for or understand #autismawareness:
This wonderfully detailed graphic was originally created and shared by The Little Black Duck: A Centre
for Autism Communication from Australia. Sadly, the link to this has been broken or deleted on their site.

Monday, December 5, 2016

How to Create a Veggie Lodge for Christmas

Picture from Green Giant's Facebook page.

Isn't this Veggie Lodge just the cutest?!? I came across this in a Facebook post by Green Giant and could not find a way to pin it to Pinterest WITH enough of the directions included, so here you go.   ;)  Just pin this blog post that includes a convenient link to the directions.

It uses carrots made into Lincoln Logs and cream cheese as the mortar. Besides being rather unique, it is much healthier and naturally gluten free. 

To get all of the directions, go to Green Giant's post from December 21, 2013.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Please Vote for Healthline's Best Health Blog 2016 Contest

The Journey Unexpected has been nominated for Healthline's "Best Health Blog Contest 2016"!

I'm both flattered and surprised.  ;)  It is now time for everyone to vote for their favorite blog. I would love it if you would go and vote for The Journey Unexpected! You can vote once every 24 hours until the contest is over. You can vote here.

* UPDATE: They move around. Search on the page below for "The Journey". You also have to confirm your email or the vote doesn't count.

To check out some of my health related posts, you can follow these links:

Some of the health issues my family and I deal with are:

Parkinsonism ~ I was diagnosed as having Early Onset Parkinsons for the last six years and have had symptoms for the last nine years. A few months ago, my diagnosis was changed from EO Parkinsons to Parkinsonism. You can read about that here.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency and Pseudo Cushings Syndrome, Sensory Integration Disorder, Dyslexia, ADD, gluten intolerance, chronic pain (most likely Fibromyalgia), and other issues from repeated head trauma, etc.

My teenage son, whom I homeschool, has Asperger's which is on the Autism Spectrum.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope that The Journey Unexpected can be used to encourage and inspire others.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Easy Low Country Boil

I have been making this Low Country Boil for several years now and my guys totally love it. It is extremely easy and made right on the stove top in one large pot.

The original recipe is from a cookbook that I have by Paula Deen. The original recipe can be found on Food Network, too.

I make a few changes from the original recipe, though. I use kielbasa instead of smoked sausage links, change the quantity, and because of the change in type of sausage...adjust the time cooked. I also peel and de-vein the shrimp ahead of time and use cobbettes instead of full ears of corn. You can easily change the quantities to reflect the amount of people you are feeding, too.

This is extremely easy to make gluten free when using gluten free kielbasa.

Here is the way that I make this easy and tasty one-pot meal:


Old Bay Seasoning, 2 tsp per quart of water
12 red new potatoes
2 packages of Kielbasa (cut into 3 inch pieces)
6 half-length cobs of corn
3 pounds fresh uncooked shrimp, peeled and de-veined (or unpeeled, if desired)


  1. Fill a really large pot with enough water to cover all of the ingredients.
  2. Add the Old Bay Seasoning and bring to a boil. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  3. After the water comes to a boil, add the potatoes. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the kielbasa. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Add the corn. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Add shrimp and cook for about 3 minutes. The shrimp will turn pinkish and a bright white. Do not over cook.
  7. Drain and serve with a crusty bread or baguette. I like to serve with Udi's French Baguettes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Quick Blackberry Lemonade ~ Only 2 Ingredients

This Blackberry Lemonade is so quick and easy that it feels weird calling it a recipe. I just had to share this 2 ingredient creation, because it is so refreshing.

It was inspired by a flavored lemonade I got at a local food truck called All Wrapped Up this summer.

All you need is your favorite lemonade (I like mine really tart) and some blackberries.

You muddle the berries in the bottom of the glass and then pour in your lemonade and stir.

It can be made with homemade lemonade, a mix, or a good quality store-bought lemonade. I prefer mine with fresh squeezed or the Costco's Kirkland Organic Lemonade.


4-6 Blackberries
Lemonade (enough to fill your glass)


1. Muddle the rinsed blackberries in the bottom of your glass. Muddling is a gentle mashing of the berries. I just used a fork.
2. Fill your glass with ice-cold lemonade.
3. Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2016

United Nations Jambalaya - Ethnic Fusion Recipe - Easily Gluten Free

{This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.} 

This flavorful concoction was developed quite by accident last night.

It was inspired by what little I know of jambalaya and gumbo and is a fusion of Basque, Polish, West African, Southern, and Asian.

Here's the situation that caused this creation to materialize:

  • I needed to get dinner on the table really soon.
  • I didn't have a plan for dinner.
  • I was out of at least one important item for all of my go-to recipes.
  • I was starving and craving some major flavor.
  • I had been watching Chopped and Chopped Junior for a few hours (a cooking show where they have to create their dishes with surprise ingredients).
I went "shopping" in our big freezer and first noticed a package of ground Basque chorizo. I then spotted a package of peeled shrimp. That's when it started to come together. 

I had seen the first few minutes earlier this week of Sunny Anderson on The Kitchen cooking her Quickest Sausage "Gumbo" Ever. I went online to try to find it, but I didn't even know the name of the recipe. (I didn't find her recipe until a couple of hours ago.) 

When I thought about a mixture of sausage and shrimp, Sunny's recipe of "whatever" kind of merged with the Low Country Boil by Paula Deen that I have made many times throughout the years. (When making a Low Country Boil, I usually use two packages of kielbasa instead of the smoked sausage links.)

That was when it started to really come together! I then grabbed a package of kielbasa as well as a couple of cups of Basque Sauce and headed back to the kitchen. I thought it obviously also needed a lot of sauteed onions.

The very little that I knew about jambalaya....which this was beginning to resemble in my opinion...needed to be served on or mixed into some kind of rice. I have been craving rice noodles a lot lately, so it had been decided.

I mass-produced thawed meat quickly and started to brown and heat everything. Still not knowing what all was going in the dish or how it would turn out.

I started with browning the Basque chorizo and threw the thick slices of onion in when the chorizo was about halfway through the browning process. I sliced the kielbasa into thin coins a little over 1/4 inch thick and found about a cup of pre-cooked chicken to throw in, too.

I then started the "cooking process" with the rice noodles. Mine just needed to soak in hot water for 10 minutes.

Next came the idea of adding a can of Okra and Tomatoes. If I had two cans, I probably would have added the second one. I thawed and heated the Basque Sauce in the microwave. I get my Basque chorizo and Basque sauce at Villa Basque Cafe in nearby Carson City. We stock up on these, as well as tamales and chorizo links whenever we go to Carson.

I served this starting with a base of these rice noodles. I topped those with some Basque sauce. This is basically a tomato sauce with cooked onions and peppers as well as some seasoning that I have not yet figured out. That's why I still try to have some of theirs on hand. None of the recipes I can find online seem even close. The good news is that this sauce is optional. I had leftovers earlier today without any sauce and it was almost just as tasty. If doing this without the sauce, I would likely just double the Okra and Tomatoes. By the way, if you do not have access to Margaret Holmes Okra and Tomatoes, you could probably use a can of diced tomatoes and about a 1/2 cup of okra (double these if you want it more saucy).

I finished with tossing in the shrimp. Next time, I will either saute these in the skillet first thing and then set aside until the last few minutes or saute them in a separate skillet and then add at the end, because it took quite a bit longer to make sure they were all cooked due to the skillet already being full.

The concoction of meats then was spooned on top. Yummo!

Hubby and "Buddy" both really loved it. Buddy had his separated (rice noodles beside the meat concoction, not on top and without the sauce. It's one of his Aspie things). He didn't mind the mixing of the concoction so that was a big win! Buddy was upset when he found out that we are now almost out of leftovers and told me I need to make it again soon! That's what I love to hear.

I served ours last night with green beans and some Brazi Bites. I get my Brazi Bites at our local Natural Grocers and the Okra and Tomatoes at one of our local Walmarts. For those in the Reno/Sparks area, I usually can find these at the Walmart just off of 395, but occasionally have seen at a couple of other area Walmarts.

No additional seasoning was needed with all of the flavors already going on in the individual ingredients.

I had NO idea what to name this dish. Ed, a friend and fellow church member, was clever enough to come up with the "United Nations" part. Thank you again, Ed!

United Nations Jambalaya
Basque, Polish, West African, Southern, and Asian Fusion


1 pound ground Basque chirizo ~ gluten free if needed
1 pound shrimp (raw, peeled, deveined, and tail off)
1 cup pre-cooked chicken (chunked or shredded) - optional
1 package of kielbasa - gluten free if needed
1 large yellow onion
1-2 cups Basque sauce - optional
1 or 2 cans of Okra and Tomatoes - I use Margaret Holmes brand
1 package of rice noodles (about 6-7 oz)
Avocado oil or olive oil - if sauteing shrimp first or separately


  1. In a large skillet, saute thawed shrimp in a little oil. This will only take a few minutes. When the shrimp is pink and white, it is done. Set aside on a plate. (Keep skillet for cooking additional ingredients.)
  2. Meanwhile, begin slicing the onion (cut in half and then thickly slice) and slice the kielbasa into little coins about 1/4 inch thick or slightly larger.
  3. In the same (now empty) large skillet over medium-high to high heat, start browning the ground chirizo, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. About halfway through the browning process, add the sliced onions to the skillet. Keep stirring, as necessary.
  4. Cook or moisten your rice noodles according to the package in a separate bowl or pot.
  5. Once the chirizo is cooked and the onions are soft, add the chicken (if using) and sliced kielbasa. Turn the heat down to medium-high (if previously cooking over high heat).
  6. Once the kielbasa and chicken begin to heat up, add the okra and tomatoes. Stir well.
  7. Heat the Basque sauce, if using.
  8. Add the cooked shrimp to the skillet for the last few minutes. You do not want to over-cook shrimp or they will become chewy.
  9. Serve by laying a bed of rice noodles on a plate. Top that with some Basque sauce, if using. Finally, top with some of the meat concoction. 
  10. Enjoy!

What interesting ideas have you come up with when put on the spot to get something tasty on the table? Please share yours below in the comments area.

United Nations Jambalaya - Gluten Free - Basque, Polish, West African, Southern, and Asian Fusion Recipe