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Where was MuseScore when I was in College?

I was a music major in college. (Go Chants!) I spent a lot of time crossing my inner band nerd with my inner gaming blerd to create sheet music on my computer. At the time, everybody used either Cakewalk or Finale to do our arrangements. Both are incredible programs and are well worth the investment if you work with music on a daily basis, like a band director or a composer.

I am no longer a band director, so it’s honestly not worth my money to stay up-to-date with the latest in notation software. BUT I still like to dabble from time to time. I’m 2 or 3 laptops removed from college, so I no longer have access to a legit copy of Finale.

Notation Software

Below, you will find a link to MuseScore, the FREE notation software that I now use to make my arrangements. The learning curve may be a little steep at first, but that won’t last long. Give it a try! Maybe soon I’ll start sharing my arrangements!

MuseScore | Free music composition and notation software

Update: I have now found an awesome website full of tutorials for using MuseScore. Whenever I have a question I go right over there and it’s answered. Bookmark it!

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Shared Post: Japanese Steakhouse Yum Yum Sauce

Yum Yum sauceIt is entirely possible that I am addicted to hibachi chicken with Yum Yum Sauce. I could eat it every single day. I could go to Sarku for lunch today, and then Sakura for dinner tomorrow. There is nothing wrong with that in my world.

My favorite hibachi dish is usually chicken and shrimp over rice with the shredded veggies on the side. Any combination of zucchini, cabbage, and carrots will do just fine.

This recipe is not my own, but it is delicious enough to warrant sharing. Are you a fan of Japanese hibachi? How about those teppanyaki restaurants where they cook at your table and put on a fabulous show? I love that stuff! If I’m ever a millionaire, I’m going to have a teppanyaki table in my kitchen.

When you go to a teppanyaki restaurant in the US, they normally give you 2 or 3 tiny bowls to hold the various dipping sauces they offer. There’s always a ginger-based sauce. It’s delicious, but doesn’t stick well to anything. I end up pouring it over my veggies most of the time. The other sauce you will get is a creamy white/pink/orange sauce. It works well on any and all meat, in my opinion.

This is a recipe for that white mayonnaise-based sauce that they give you and it is by far the most accurate recipe I’ve ever come across. Most places call it Yum Yum sauce.

When I finally realized that I liked this sauce enough to eat it on meals at home, I went on a hunt. It’s available in a few local grocery stores, but it’s usually at least of $4 per bottle. I’m not about to pay $4 for seasoned mayo, y’all.

Japanese Steakhouse White Sauce (Yum Yum Sauce, Shrimp Sauce, Sakura Sauce) Recipe.

Recipe Notes

The original recipe writer (Chuck) is pretty adamant about using full-fat mayo. But as y’all know, I’m trying to get back in shape. I have made this recipe using low-fat and fat-free mayo before and it did not offend my tastebuds, so feel free to adapt if you like.

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The Easiest Tempura Dipping Sauce recipe

tempura dipping sauce

 

I loooove seafood and veggie tempura. The sauce that it’s dipped in has a distinct flavor that I find addicting. Nothing has ever inspired me to eat my vegetables like this delicious broth-based sauce.

You can find the bonito flakes to make Dashi stock on Amazon if your local grocery store doesn’t have them. I like to get a set of individually portioned packets so they stay fresh.

Tempura Dipping Sauce

  • 1 C. Dashi stock
  • 1/4 C. Mirin
  • 1/4 C. Soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sugar
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Store in an air tight container until needed.
If you use bonito flakes to make the dashi stock, wrap them in cheesecloth or a coffee filter so that you can pull them back out of the broth without leaving little bits floating in your broth. It’s like making a teabag :).

I guess now I need to make a post about frying your own tempura so that you have something to dip into this sauce. I’d be lying if I said I’d never considered drinking it as is. Something about that sweet and salty balance just gets me every time. I really can’t get enough.

 

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Smoked Turkey Legs by Tomorrow

smoked turkey legs

I recently got tired of paying $10 a pop for smoked turkey legs at festivals. Y’all know Blerdy Momma is too cheap for that. So after plenty of research about the smoking cooking technique, I put together my own brine recipe and set out to smoke my own turkey legs.

It turns out smoking meat is not really a complex process. It is time-consuming, but really not that complicated. Because it takes so long, I highly recommend smoking more meat than your family will eat in one sitting. I guess that’s really just limited to the size of your grill.

I like to buy fresh turkey legs on sale and store them in my freezer. Once I’ve got at least a dozen or so, it’s time to uncover the grill! Once they’re smoked they can be eaten immediately, stored in the fridge, or frozen for a later date. Perhaps you can see why this is my most highly-requested recipe when it’s time to feed a group of friends or family!

My brine recipe has it’s own post over here, or feel free to come up with your own. (Tell me about it in the comments section!)  I tried to include enough pictures to illustrate the key steps because this is such a long process. Have patience, though. You will not regret it.

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Smoked Turkey Legs

  • 6-12 Turkey legs
  • 1 1/2 Gal Brine
  • Charcoal
  • Wood Chips (I've used Apple, Cherry, Mesquite, Maple, and Hickory. All came out delicious.)
  1. Reserve 1-2 cups of brine to be used as the mopping liquid.
  2. Submerge turkey legs in the remaining brine and refrigerate for 24 hours. (minimum overnight)
  3. The next day, Light your charcoal. Put as much space as you can between the charcoal and the grill grate where the turkey will be. The goal here is INDIRECT heat.
  4. Soak about 2 cups of wood chips in a bowl with water for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Don’t forget to wipe the the grate with oil to keep your meat from sticking. Add a generous handful of wet wood chips to the coals once they are ready. Also add a smaller handful of dry chips to get some extra smoke when you first start out.
  6. Put the turkey legs onto the grill grate and cover the grill. Discard the brine.
  7. Every hour, add some wet chips to the coals. Mop and flip the turkey legs (just like brushing on BBQ sauce but use the reserved brine).
  8. During the last hour, add dry chips for extra smokey flavor. The turkey legs should be done after about 4 hours.

I do not have a dedicated mopping brush like many people do. I find that lint free, clean baby washcloths work just as well when held between some tongs. You can get them in packs at Dollar Tree.

***If you check your meat more than once per hour, you are not giving the smoke time to accumulate and do it’s job. Leave it alone!!***

If you have any questions, email me at blerdymomma@gmail.com.

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Coqui Basic Brine for Turkey Legs

turkey leg in brine

I am addicted to smoked turkey legs. I go to Oktoberfest for two things: beer and turkey legs… ok, and every type of wurst known to man.

Honestly, though, those turkey legs are getting so expensive! They run $10 and up now. Blerdy Momma is not rich, you guys. But, Blerdy Momma can cook.

It turns out all you need for your own smoked turkey legs is a good brine and some flavorful wood chips. A basic brine starts with salt and sugar dissolved in water. The rest of the spices are totally up to you.

Coqui Brine

This is fabulous on turkey legs!!

  • 1 1/2 Gal Water
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 1 C. Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Basil
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Vinegar
  • 1/4 C. Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 C. Molasses
  1. Stir together the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
  2. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate until needed.
  3. Once cold, you can add your meat to soak overnight. (Reserve 2 cups of the brine to serve as mopping liquid before you add your meat to the brine.)

 

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Looking in the Mirror: My Weight Loss Pitfalls

pitfallsI guess I’ll never lose any weight if I don’t take the time to look at all the traps and pitfalls that have stopped me from doing it before now. It’s really nobody’s fault but my own that I’ve gained so much weight. I bet I’m not the only one Who else has run head first into these pitfalls?

Food

Food is my ultimate weakness. I love it. I love to cook, I love to eat, I love to watch Food Network. I have no desire to stop eating. How’s a girl supposed to diet when it’s so easy to whip up my own french bread, cookies, and crab rangoon? And yes, I can make crab rangoon, they’re very easy. It’s too easy for me to go in my kitchen and make any unhealthy thing I have a craving for. Even the healthy things that I make , I tend to eat in unhealthy quantities. Portioning will be the death of me. It probably wouldn’t hurt to start planning my meals in advance as well. If I wait till I’m hungry to decide what to eat, I will eat whatever sounds good.

Activity-

I used to be involved in marching band, and that kept me extremely active, but all that ended 4 years ago. I have tried to start an exercise regimen several times, and I never manage to stick to them. I tried Zumba, P90X, regular trips to the gym, power walking… even the ones I enjoy I can’t seem to keep doing. If I do not see progress happening, I’m easily discouraged. I went the first 30 days of P90X without losing a pound, so I lost motivation and never made it to day 45. I went to Zumba class twice a week until my schedule no longer allowed it. I have to find something I can stick to without fail. Speaking of which…

Expectations-

I know it takes times to lose the amount of weight I’m looking to lose, but I think I expect to start off with a bang. It is so discouraging to not see the numbers go down on the scale after 2 or 3 weeks of work. Perhaps I need to try one of those cleanses to jumpstart my weight loss. That first 5 to 10 pounds seems to be the hardest to lose. It’s all about progress, and I have GOT to start making some.

Schedule-

I need to develop a routine to my day that allows time for a regular workout. Usually my daily life is so sporadic that I don’t even eat breakfast on a regular basis. I recently started working from home so I’m developing a daily schedule. I need to make sure I allot time for exercise.

Motivation-

I have tried to address this problem by having a workout buddy, but the minute schedule conflicts come up this falls apart. It takes so much to get me ready to sweat. I don’t know if I need to hang a poster on the wall or a donut in front of my face but something has to work.

Is it just me? I’ve got work to do…

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My Goals: Natural Hair and Weight Loss

Missandei is hair goals

No journey is complete without a destination right? I can’t exactly measure my progress unless I know how far I’m trying to go. Its time to define success. Writing down your goals makes you more likely to achieve them, or so they say.

Missandei is hair goalsHair goals:

  • A healthy scalp- no scabs or flakes, no itching
  • Healthy hair- no split ends, minimal breakage, soft, and shiny
  • All natural hair- no processed hair left

<~~ I’d love hair like this, but whatever is natural for me is what I’ll have

Weight goals:

  • Ideal weight- 130 pounds
  • Tighter body- minimize stretch marks, develop muscle tone, no muffin top
  • eating habits- making healthy and permanent, sustainable changes

Everything sounds reasonable, so I’m determined to get it right this time. I just need to come up with plans I can stick to. I suppose I also need a deadline. My husband will deploy in the fall for 7 months. I’d love to be feeling and looking fabulous by the time he gets back. That gives me about a year from now. I can do that…

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Weight: What the hell happened??

body change pregnancy
body in shape weight 130This was me my freshman year of college (2004). Ignore the hair, I was fresh from the beach that’s on the other side of those trees. I was probably around 125-130 pounds or so. I was also moderately active between marching band and just walking to every class. This was probably the best shape I was ever in. Not too skinny, but not flabby. No muffin-top, no stretch marks, no rolls. Everything was tight. I know 130 sounds like a lot for a girl whose only 5 feet tall but remember, I was active. Those thighs are more muscle than fat.

I’ve never really been a dieter… I’ve never needed to be. I ate whatever I wanted and I was so active that it burned off before I really packed on any weight. But you know, eventually you have to graduate and move on to real life. So 5 years and 2 degrees later, I was no longer marching 4 days a week and walking to all my classes. I was, however, still eating like a champ.

Here is me in 2009 and I’m a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding. What the hell happened to me?! I didn’t even realize it until I ordered my dress in a size 14 and it was TOO SMALL!! I basically refused to go another size up, because a 16 would officially put me into the Plus Size category, and I wasn’t about to make that move. So I spent the day hardly able to breathe instead.

Ever since I’ve been making one failed attempt after another to lose some weight. The only thing I’ve really managed to do is keep myself out of the plus size section.

I spent most of 2012 pregnant with my son. I consider myself lucky that I was able to keep my weight under control during those 9 months. The day after he was born, I weighed the same as the day I found out I was pregnant. The problem instead, was stretch marks and jiggling. My stomach has never been the same. The skin is somewhat looser and the muscles themselves are pretty soft compared to before I was pregnant. I’ve never had ab muscles, but I’ve always had a very strong core, and now that’s gone too.

So here I am in 2013 weighing 180lbs, getting flabby, and tired of it. The summer is coming in south Texas. All I own are bikinis and right now I look like this:

6 Months after baby
I’ve got work to do…
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Time to Change: Natural Hair and Weight Loss

body change pregnancy

I don’t know who might end up reading this, but hello and welcome to you. I have a couple other blogs, but this one is probably the most personal. I’ve been transitioning my hair for about 6 months now and I realized that I want to document my progress. A lot of change can happen in that time! It’ll help keep me motivated, plus just be a reminder of where I started. I’d hate to forget all the efforts I’m putting into this.

natural hair transition changeTransitioning is when someone with relaxed hair gradually switches back to having natural hair. This means you stop your monthly chemical treatments and let your hair grow out in it’s natural state. As the new, natural hair grows out, you cut the old, processed hair away; thus the term “transition”. It’s for people who aren’t willing or ready for the drastic “big chop”, where you just cut all your hair off and start fresh. I’m not that bold… I spent a long time working on growing my hair long and to cut it all off at once just seemed a waste. Plus, what if my bald head is shaped funny? lol.

weight loss journey changeI also want to start losing weight. I’ve tried several times and I always fail. Any progress I do make is short-lived, and I’m at a point where I’m actually unhappy with my body. There were days when I would look at myself and think ‘sure I could look better, but this will do’. I don’t think that anymore. I peek in the mirror or look at photos and go ‘when did that roll get there?’ It’s time to fix it.

 

So I’m going to document my efforts to get comfortable in my own skin again here. You’re welcome to share your thoughts, and if reading this helps you in any way, I’m glad. I suppose the only way to make this a complete log of my progress is to backtrack to where I started…

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My Cooking Philosophy

philosophy of cooking

I learned how to cook from my dad, who taught me how to make my own ramen and scrambled eggs as soon as I was tall enough to safely manipulate the stove. He taught me 90% of what I know about cooking. He also never used a measuring cup… EVER.

For the longest time, neither did I (baking is something only recently added to my repertoire). To be quite honest, the only reason it’s taking me so long to post all my recipes is because I never measure anything, so now I have to go back and cook these dishes and measure them so that I can write them down to share with you all.

Everything I cook goes by taste. Toss in an ingredient, taste; if it’s not right, sprinkle some more until it is right. Your tongue is the chef, not any piece of paper telling you 1 cup of this and 2 teaspoons of that. I will NEVER be insulted if you adjust a recipe that you find on this site to suit your palate. I feel like you aren’t really a cook until you can make decisions like that and make them well. If I use cheddar and you prefer provolone, use provolone. The recipe SHOULD still work, and now you’ve created your own dish!

You may have already noticed that I don’t specify certain types of ingredients. If something calls for vinegar, I don’t necessarily indicate whether you need apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or rice vinegar. Use whichever is your favorite. That’s how I cook. I use what I have because when I’m at the grocery store, I buy what I like.

Now to be fair, I must tell you that when I’m using a recipe that I didn’t just throw together on my own, I follow the recipe 100%… the FIRST time. When I see a recipe that I want to try, it’s only fair to try it the way the original cook intended. If there happens to be an element that I don’t like, I’ll change it the second time I try that recipe; assuming I liked it enough to try it again.

I hope this little bit of insight into my cooking logic makes my recipes easier to understand and follow.  Tell me about how you think in the kitchen! I love hearing new perspectives.

Happy Cooking!!

The Hungry Coqui aka Blerdy Momma