Monday, December 8, 2014

Red Beans and Rice



Red Beans and Rice

This is one of the quintessential New Orleans dishes, right up there along with gumbo and jambalaya.  It is a New Orleans tradition to eat this dish on Mondays.  You can easily leave out the meat and make this dish vegetarian since the beans pack a bunch of protein, but the meat adds so much flavor so I always include it.  This recipe is more of a method than strict instructions.  Red beans are versatile, you can use whatever meat (or meat bones) you have lying around.  You can also use up extra veggies (peppers, onions, celery) and even throw in any homemade stock.  I almost always soak the beans overnight the night before I plan to make this dish, but you could skip that step and increase the cooking time.  Don't forget to serve with French bread for dipping and hot sauce for topping.

-1 lb red beans, rinsed, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed again
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-1 bell pepper, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 lb smoked andouille sausage, sliced (I like the spicy Cajun variety)
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/4 tsp cayenne peper
-1 tsp dried thyme
-2 bay leaves
-2 Tbsp hot sauce
-6-8 c water
-cooked rice

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  saute onion and bell pepper until soft (5-10 minutes).  Add garlic and cook 1 additional minute, stirring constantly.  Add sausage and cook 5 additional minutes.  Add beans and fill with water until the beans are just barely covered.  Add salt- hot sauce and stir.  Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer on medium low for 1- 1.5 hrs, stirring every 10 minutes (or so).  If beans become too dry add more water while cooking... I like them pretty thick and not soupy, but that's just personal preference.  Once bean are desired tenderness remove from heat, taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve over rice, with parsley or scallions for garnish, hot sauce and Tony's seasoning for sprinkling, and French bread for dipping.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

RADIANT {announcing a new monthly ladies gathering}


I am so excited to announce a new monthly ladies gathering called RADIANT that my friend Heather and I are starting in January.
 
This is for ALL. Whether you would identify yourself as a Christian, or not. Whether you are a part of a church, or you have never entered the walls of a church. This is a safe place. A place to come be. To connect. To question. To share. To receive.

In the Bible, when people encountered Jesus they were changed. They were healed and made whole with new hope breathed into their lives and circumstances. We believe God still does this today. That when we encounter Him we are changed. Our goal is to create an atmosphere where people can encounter God through a time of worship, teaching and connection with others, and that as a result we will each leave with a more keen awareness of the always present God in us, our wholeness in Him and His purposes for our lives. Join us, as we do this each month.




Our first monthly meeting will be Thursday January 8, from 7-8:30 pm.  Our January topic will be "A Fresh Start". Join us for worship, teaching and testimonies of God's transforming love, and come expectant to have new hope breathed into your life and circumstances.  Check out the event page on facebook.

 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee


This is yet another recipe from the book Bread and Wine.  Every recipe in that book is just outstanding!  Several of the recipes have been in my favorites rotation since I first read the book a year and a half ago.  This toffee though... it's buttery, chocolatey, salty perfection!  I have made it several times and it always gets oohs and ahhs.  I follow Shauna's recipe as listed below, except I use way more than the 1 tsp of salt that she calls for.  That is way too light for my taste, and I tend to find that some salt falls off when I break the toffee up so I eyeball it and shake with a heavy hand directly from the canister.  As pictured above, I decided to forgo my traditional Christmas cookie baking this year and hand out little packages of this toffee instead.  With only 4 ingredients, and no need to heat my oven {if you don't live in New Orleans you may not understand why this is a problem in Dec., but it has been over 70 every day for the last week here and we have had our a/c running} I have concluded that toffee instead of cookies was definitely a win this year, and may need to be a tradition going forward.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee

Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine

-1 cup butter (2 sticks)
-2 cups sugar
-1 cup dark chocolate chips
-1 tsp coarse sea salt

In a saucepan, combine butter and sugar, and bring to a boil.  Over medium-high heat, keep stirring until it turns a deep amber color.

Remove from heat and pour onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or until cool and solid to the touch.

Melt chocolate chips in a glass bowl over a pot of gently boiling water.  When the chocolate is smooth, pour it over the toffee and spread with a spatula.  Sprinkle sea salt, and then refrigerate until cooled and solid.  Break into irregular pieces.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos



I have made this recipe several times now but have forgotten to take a picture each time, so I'm just now finally getting around to posting it.  I always double the recipe if serving more than me and Jeremy, but we like leftovers around here.  I serve them with the goat cheese mentioned, cilantro, radishes, assorted hot sauce (I particularly like the Tabasco brand Chipotle and Jalapeno hot sauces) and sour cream.  One time we even had them with some shredded pork and homemade pickled red onions and banana peppers and that was delicious as well.  The only change that I make is to add a few Tbsp of olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper and 1 Tbsp brown sugar to the garam masala when tossing it with the sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes and black beans are one of my current favorite flavor combinations and goat cheese on anything is always the way to my heart.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Apple Dumplings




I have made this recipe a few times now.  I am sort of horrified at, and embarrassed by the processed ingredients in this, but I gave it a try because the Pioneer Woman has never steered me wrong.  And she didn't this time either.  These are super easy, super delicious, and a great vegan dessert option.  Serving these with vanilla ice cream is a must, in my opinion.  The few changes that I made were to reduce the butter by half, use reduced-fat crescent rolls, cut the apples into larger slices (4-5 per apple instead of 8,using 2 apples rather than 2) and to use sprite instead of mountain dew.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

::this month::



as I stated in our update for October, if I had to describe that month with one word it would have been "refreshing".  to the contrast, this month I would describe as a "whirlwind".  this month we have been barraged with details and decisions about schools for next year for Noah, possible homes to buy, Jeremy's trip to India, finalizing his book on rest entitled The Quitter's Manual, finalizing details for some new partnerships and events we have coming up and more.  phew!  this has been a busy month, and it appears that the next few months will continue on in that pace.

praising:

such a good trip for Jeremy and Dave to India.  so much fruit.  such a rich time of connection, teaching and ministry.  here are a few blurbs and updates that we previously shared on facebook (written by Jeremy);

Friends, meet Arpan. I met Arpan today when we were taken to a slum to minister. The visit was life altering for me. I immediately feel in love with the people. During our visit, many people were healed, but I was most blown away by a particular way in which God chose to creatively demonstrate His love and affection.

Our Indian partner David was praying with Arpan in Hindi when I walked up. I joined in. After that, I began to prophesy over the boy and David translated. Arpan is destined for great things and God told me to speak to the calling that Jesus was speaking over Arpan's life.

As soon as I was finished, David told me that just before I walked up, he asked Arpan if he had heard of Jesus. Arpan told him that he had heard of Him, but knew little of Him.

David then asked Arpan if he wanted to see Jesus. Arpan shook his head in interest and agreement. What happened just after that, set the course for the next hour and impacted me for life. When we prayed and asked Jesus to appear to Arpan. He did just that!

Jesus, Himself, appeared to Arpan! I repeat: JESUS, HIMSELF, APPEARED TO ARPAN!

We asked him what Jesus looked like. He told us that the Jesus who appeared to him was a white man wearing white cloths of loving fire. I then asked Arpan if he wanted to have the Jesus that he just met become his King and accept the gift of life the Jesus died to give him. Arpan said yes. He prayed with me and will never be the same.

Two other people had the same encounter with Jesus as Arpan, and were healed of their infirmities and realized their salvation in Christ.

I love when Jesus does that, become I He is who people need to meet and I would much prefer Him personally minister to people than me.

Lots of people were healed and met Jesus in the slums today, but somehow I feel as though I am the one who was blessed. It is beyond humbling to see how relational God is and how eager He is to touch people. It is also humbling to see people respond and get zapped with the Glory!
 
***Update Nov. 8***
 
This morning, as we were getting in the car to go to the conference that we are speaking/ ministering at, we received a very exciting phone call...

The slum that we visited earlier this week- where many people were healed and realized Jesus as their Savior- is helped regularly by the staff of the Kolkata City Mission. The Mission has provided wells for fresh water, a small milk factory to generate revenue, a little school, and other resources to assist the extremely impoverished "city" inside the larger city of Kolkata. The sudden phone call was from the head of the mission and he was giddy with joy to explain to us what has occurred in the slum in the last couple of days since our visit. He proceeded to explain that his staff that works in the slum met yesterday afternoon. Occupants from the slum that we ministered to during our visit welcomed themselves to the meeting. They came together with one voice and declared to the mission employees; "We've never seen a God like Jesus. If Jesus has so much power to heal us like He did, why are we still following our gods?"
The collection of occupants want to hold a meeting and gather the entire community to find out how to leave behind their Hindu gods and turn to Jesus.

There is nothing to add to this. This is just plain awesome. God is just plain awesome.

***Update Nov. 14***

I don't know jack squat about church planting, but it appears that we have accidentally played a in roll in starting a slum church.

Last week, while in Kolkata, we were brought to a slum to minister the love of God. The neighborhood consisted completely of beautiful Hindu people. Long story short, the Holy Spirit went all book of Acts on the place and many miracles occurred. The next day, the collective people declared their desire to turn to Jesus.

We received word that they have already held their first meeting and 168 people came to worship Jesus. I don't know about you, but this sounds like a church to me.

The purpose was to love; the results were left to God.

praying:

for provision... we could use some additional monthly donors and/or one time gifts for Bastion Ministries.

for favor, opportunities and open doors.

for wisdom on numerous details and decisions needing to be made soon including schooling for Noah and housing for us all.

for vision and clarity as we finalize details on some upcoming projects.

reading:

Psalms, Luke,  Isaiah, 1 Samuel

thankful for:

so much!!!!  big and small!!!!  in light of Jeremy's trip to India, and experiences in a culture without many of the modern conveniences that we have in America, and in light of a recent trip of me and a few ladies to minister in the French Quarter to the homeless population there, we have a renewed sense of gratitude for everything that we have... materially, physically, spiritually, emotionally.  we have so much.  we are rich, in every sense of the word.  we are blessed and living in abundance.

I'm grateful for heat and air conditioning and  roof over our heads and food and clothes.  for relationships.  for people who stand by us through the good and the bad.  who stick it out with us through conflict and grow stronger through it.  for people who lift us up when we are down.  for the way God works through His people to encourage and serve and touch others.  for all of the people who kept me company, loved on our family and served us while Jeremy was in India... I could not have done it without you, y'all are a blessing!!!!

for our family.  Jeremy and I both get to do our dream jobs right now.  we love what we do and are grateful for this privilege.  for a close connected family.  for great kids.  for lots of time for us to be together and enjoy each other.  this is priceless.  this is what I have always wanted, hoped for and prayed for.  a family that is close.  that spends time together.  that is connected.  I am just so grateful!

cooking:

huevos rancheros,  whole wheat pizza with turkey pepperoni and jalapenos, vietnamese noodle bowls, chicken sausage on buns with sauteed onions and peppers, chai bars, salad with ginger peanut dressing, green well salad, white chicken chili, cornbread, sausage cheddar breakfast casserole, pumpkin french toast breakfast casserole, tukey sausage lasagna, ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, apple dumplings, baked "risotto", sweet potato and black bean tacos, slow cooker apple oatmeal, spinach and butternut squash lasagna

creating:

Christmas gifts and kiddos birthday gifts.

doing:

all the usual activities; weekly ladies Bible study, monthly book club, monthly community group, lots of playdates and dinners with friends.

Friendsgiving for our community group.  Jeremy's trip to India.  me and some friends handing out food, coats, socks and water to homeless people in the French Quarter.  family photo shoot.  a few date nights to celebrate Jeremy being back.  Thanksgiving at our house and a visit from my mom.

pondering:

Luke 9:12-13  Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.”  But He said to them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.”

this month God has been teaching me about action, responsibility and power on our part.  He has been teaching me that while our salvation/ freedom/ healing/ standing with God are not obtained by what we do, but that what we do matters.  how in Luke 9:13 Jesus says "you give them something to eat" to the disciples.  how He has already placed all authority in us and has told us "you do it".  how we are His chosen agents and vessels of love, action, power, healing and signs and wonders.  how we are commanders, having been empowered by Him.  how so many times we, like the disciples, pray and ask God to do x, y and z, and then He says back to us "you do it". 

we are not defined by what we do, we are not the sum of our actions, but our actions can determine the degree to which we walk in our destiny and the fullness of God. 

I think that sometimes I get lazy and take a copout of "God said {or} promised" that something is going to happen and then I fall into a state of passivity waiting for it to come to pass.  when really, most of the time, God telling us that something is going to come to pass is His invitation to us into action. 

action does not mean striving.  all valuable actions will be done from a place of rest and communion with God, but rest is not an excuse not to act.  once we have learned to quit striving then we will find rest, and then we can do, from a place of being.

I've been thinking how so often people can share struggles with each other and then a cliché "I'll pray for you" is thrown out in response.  how this statement can sound callous and like a lame copout to the person with the struggle... if we're not willing to step into action and get our hands dirty alongside someone and give of ourselves and time and resources then a prayer can sound silly.  (please don't hear me undermining the power and value of payer here... I deeply believe that prayer is powerful and effective, but it's a both/ and... as always, with Jesus there is never a formula for how to handle things, it is always based on what He is saying and doing in a particular situation, but what I am learning right now is that I have been coping out the choosing passivity all to often over His invitation of "you give them". )

it's also standing out to me that after Jesus told the disciples "you give them..." their response was doubt.  their response was to inform Him of the reality of their circumstances and of the natural world.  Jesus' call to us is one of faith... of the miraculous... it's a call to look beyond the natural realm and to expect and be agents of the supernatural... of the impossible.  it's not an invitation to explain to Him why what He is asking doesn't make sense, but it's an invitation to change what we see in the natural realm.  to bring Heaven to earth.

the main point to all of what I am learning is that I am powerful.  you are powerful.  we are commanders.  we have been entrusted with all authority, power and God almighty dwelling in us and it is our destiny to release Him.  to change people, circumstances and our world.  that changing others and our world requires action on our part.
 
***
may we walk in confidence of Christ in us.  may we be aware of what He is doing in and through us and hear His call for us "to give" when He beckons.  may we be world changers, walking in power, authority, and above all else, love.  love that is action and truth.

may your holidays be blessed... with eyes to see all of the blessings and gifts from the Lord, and a heart that delights and rejoices in each gift.  may you be present in each moment, with God and those around you, savoring each moment to the fullest. may you have a "Mary heart" amidst holiday to do's, and sit at the feet of Jesus resting and taking Him in.  may your cup overflow with love, peace, joy and hope to every circumstance and person that you encounter. 

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

:: this month::

 
 
this month has been good.  if I had to sum it up in one word it would be "refreshing".  as cooler weather has come in and offered some reprieve from the sweltering summer heat and humidity we have spent even more time outdoors, which is always good for us as a family, and as individuals. 

it has been a refreshing time for me spiritually also.  God has been renewing and reviving some things in me spiritually... reminding me who He has created me to be... reminding me of testimonies of the great ways that I have experienced Him over the years.  bringing some new relationships with an out of town church and with some local like minded believers who are very like hearted to us.  by breathing hope back into some circumstances that I was becoming hopeless on.  by walking me down a path that is most likely going to lead to some upcoming changes, but good changes although not necessarily easy changes, making room for new things.

Jeremy has been re-editing his soon to be released book on rest, entitled The Quitter's Manual.  I am so excited about it and the simple yet profound truths included in it.  Jeremy lives this message of rest unlike anyone else I've met.  he really gets that rest isn't the absence of activity but a state of being that we have the privilege of carrying into the world and circumstances around us.  be on the lookout for upcoming details on this book, that will be free the first 2 weeks it is available.

Jeremy and two other minsters/ friends are going to be doing a conference in New Orleans in January.  There is limited seating so click here to register ASAP. 

praising:

some refreshing time away.  a weekend without the distractions of our everyday home life.  a weekend in which I heard and experienced God more vividly than I have in a while.  a weekend in which I was blessed and encouraged and challenged by the Lord through His people.  a weekend of traveling with and enjoying some special time with my honey.

God's provision for us.  spiritually. relationally. emotionally. materially.

praying:

for Jeremy's upcoming trip to India, and my time at home with the boys while he is gone.

complete healing and health for our family... after Noah had the stomach bug this week it is imperative that Jeremy doesn't end up with it while he will be spending over 24 hours traveling to India later this week.

for provision... we could still use some additional monthly donors and/or one time gifts for Bastion Ministries.

for favor, opportunities and open doors.

for wisdom on numerous details and decisions needing to be made soon including schooling for Noah and housing for us all.

reading:

Genesis, Psalms, Romans, 1 Samuel, Luke, Wild

thankful for:

a fantastic weekend away with Jeremy for him to speak at a church in Ohio.  the opportunity to enjoy time with family, some cooler weather and changing leaves, and the blessing of getting to enjoy such a special body of believers there.

new friendships and like hearted people in this city and across the country.  I know the connections that are forming have been God ordained and I am so excited to see what He is up to and about some upcoming partnerships we will have.

all of the family and  friends who loved on and celebrated Jeremy and Noah for their birthdays.  we had some special times of celebration for each them and are so blessed with great people who care for us and so generously gave their time, words and presents to celebrate my guys.

cooler weather and lots of time outdoors.

coffee and dinner dates with my love before he leaves for 2 weeks.  it has been so good to have time to talk and stay connected to him throughout this month.

cooking:

huevos rancheros,  whole wheat pizza with turkey pepperoni and jalapenos, vietnamese noodle bowls, chicken sausage on buns with sauteed onions and peppers, green well salad, iced pumpkin cookies, pumpkin gingersnap cookies, black beans rice and corn casserole, spinach balls, veggie tray with curry dip, sweet potato and black bean tacos, pesto pasta, spicy chicken enchiladas, refried black beans, grilled cheese and tomato soup, pumpkin french toast casserole, beef with broccoli, beef bourguinion with mashed potatoes and rosemary olive oil bread

creating:

decorations and favors for noah's birthday party

now that the party is over it's time to start working on some Christmas presents also.

doing:

all the usual activities; weekly ladies bible study, monthly book club, monthly community group, lots of playdates and dinners with friends.

celebrating Noah and Jeremy's birthdays.  me and Jeremy traveling to ohio for him to speak and us to see family.  Jeremy leaving for 2 weeks in India.


pondering:

 luke 5:37-39   “and no one puts new wine into old wineskins. for the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. 38 new wine must be stored in new wineskins. 39 but no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘the old is just fine,’ they say.”

verse 39 makes me think of the pharisees and how they were happy with the "old wine" and did not want the "new wine".  I don't ever want to settle for what is "just fine", or as NASB says is "good enough".  I don't want to settle for a inferior relationship or experience with God, or for anything because it is good enough.  I want the best, the new wine, the fullness of Him and His glory and His power that is available to us all.  I want to be a new wineskin, supple and able to receive the new wine.  not stuck and comfortable with my old ideas, beliefs, practices, experiences, but always advancing in Him.  I think there have been some areas of my life that I have been settling for "good enough" and I'm glad that God is breathing new hope back into those areas.