Monday, May 31, 2010

19 weeks

Here's what is going on with our baby this week, according to

Your baby's sensory development is exploding! Her brain is designating specialized areas for smell, taste, hearing, vision, and touch. Some research suggests that she may be able to hear your voice now, so don't be shy about reading aloud, talking to her, or singing a happy tune if the mood strikes you.  Your baby weighs about 8 1/2 ounces and measures 6 inches, head to bottom — about the size of a large heirloom tomato. Her arms and legs are in the right proportions to each other and the rest of her body now. Her kidneys continue to make urine and the hair on her scalp is sprouting. A waxy protective coating called the vernix caseosa is forming on her skin to prevent it from pickling in the amniotic fluid.  Think you're big now? You'll start growing even faster in the weeks to come. As a result, you may notice some achiness in your lower abdomen or even an occasional brief, stabbing pain on one or both sides — especially when you shift position or at the end of an active day. Most likely, this is round ligament pain. The ligaments that support your uterus are stretching to accommodate its increasing weight. This is nothing to be alarmed about, but call your practitioner if the pain continues even when you're resting or becomes severe.  You may be noticing some skin changes, too. Are the palms of your hands red? Nothing to worry about — it's from the extra estrogen. That darkened line running from your belly button to your pubic bone is called the linea nigra, or "dark line."  These darkened spots will probably fade shortly after delivery. In the meantime, protect yourself from the sun, which intensifies the pigment changes. Cover up, wear a brimmed hat, and use sunscreen when you're outdoors. And if you're self-conscious about your "mask," a little concealing makeup can work wonders.

As for me... I'm still feeling great.  I'm still hungry all of the time.  My belly is still growing constantly, sometimes even noticeably in one day.  This week that darkened line began to show up running straight down the middle of my belly.   When I sit or lay still I can frequently feel the baby moving inside of me now, which is super exciting.  Jeremy hasn't yet been able to feel it from the outside of my tummy, but I'm sure that will come before we know it.  I still want to eat all things meaty... especially sausage, hot dogs, and things of that nature.  I had a gyro platter for dinner on Friday and thought it was the best thing that I've ever eaten!  One week and two days left until we find out if our baby is a boy or girl... hooray!


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jambalaya Pasta

Jambalaya Pasta

Shrimp would also be great in this, but I'm too cheap to use 3 types of protein in one dish, and I already had sausage and chicken in the freezer.  This is on the mild side, I added a ton of hot sauce to my bowl, so either double the cayenne or add a Tbsp of hot sauce if you like your food spicy.

-1 lb whole wheat penne, cooked to al dente
-2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
-2 chicken breasts, diced
-1 package turkey kielbasa, sliced
-1 yellow onion, diced
-1 green pepper, diced
-2 stalks celery, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 cup chicken stock
-2 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
-1 1/2 ts salt
-fresh ground black pepper
-1 tsp thyme
-1 tsp oregano
-1/2 cup fat-free half and half
While the pasta cooks, set a skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, swirl the pan to evenly coat with the oil.  Cook the chicken in the pan until browned (5-10 minutes).  Place chicken to the side and cook the sausage in the pan until browned (about 5 minutes).  Set the sausage aside.  Add remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and saute the onion, green pepper and celery until soft (about 5 minutes).  Add garlic and saute until fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Add the chicken stock to the pan and scrape with a spoon to remove any browned bits that have formed in the bottom of the pan, about 30 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes, thyme, oregano, cayenne, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add the half and half to the pan and cook an additional 2 minutes. Return the chicken and sausage to the pan, as well as the al dente pasta.  Continue to cook the sauce and pasta, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.


Monday, May 24, 2010

weekly verse: Galatians 1:10

Galatians 1:10  Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Lately I've been praying a lot about my people pleasing, conflict avoiding, rule following tendencies.  I've been praying about whether I am doing things as an overflow of love for Christ, as a result of prompting of the Spirit, or in bondage to rules, laws, guilt, expectations and religion.  I've been praying for guidance from the Spirit, for freedom from this bondage, and for strength and boldness to do as He leads me.  Seeking approval of others has always been a tendency of my flesh, and it's about time that I memorize this verse, and guard my heart with this truth.

This verse is in your face clear, cut, and dry!  One cannot serve Christ AND seek the approval of others.  As people pleasers we become slave to the seeking of approval.  We cannot serve two masters.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

18 weeks

Here's what is going on with our baby this week according to;

Head to rump, your baby is about 5 1/2 inches long (about the length of a bell pepper) and he weighs almost 7 ounces. He's busy flexing his arms and legs — movements that you'll start noticing more and more in the weeks ahead. His blood vessels are visible through his thin skin, and his ears are now in their final position, although they're still standing out from his head a bit. A protective covering of myelin is beginning to form around his nerves, a process that will continue for a year after he's born. If you're having a girl, her uterus and fallopian tubes are formed and in place. If you're having a boy, his genitals are noticeable now, but he may hide them from you during an ultrasound.  Hungry? An increase in appetite is pretty common about now. Make it count by choosing meals and snacks that are rich in nutrients instead of empty calories (chips, French fries, candy, and other sweets). Bigger, more comfortable clothes are a must now as your appetite and waistline grow.  Your cardiovascular system is undergoing dramatic changes, and during this trimester your blood pressure will probably be lower than usual. Don't spring up too fast from a lying or sitting position or you might feel a little dizzy.  From now on, when you do lie down, it's best to lie on your side — or at least partly tilted to one side. (When you lie flat on your back, your uterus can compress a major vein, leading to decreased blood return to your heart.) Try placing a pillow behind you or under your hip or upper leg for comfort.  If you haven't already had a second-trimester ultrasound, you'll probably have one soon. This painless procedure helps your practitioner check how your baby's growing, screen for certain birth defects, check the placenta and umbilical cord, determine whether the due date you're working with is accurate, and see how many babies you're carrying. During the exam, you might see your baby moving around or sucking his thumb. Bring your partner along, and be sure to ask for a printout for your baby's first photo album!

As for me, no real changes this week.  Still feeling good, still getting bigger, still hungry all the time.  I'm wearing almost only maternity clothes, with the exception of a few stretchy shirts, skirts, and dresses.  I'm still feeling a few little flutters in my belly that I think are the baby from time to time, but I'm still not very confident in what I think are movements of the baby.  We have just over 2 weeks until we find out if it's a boy or girl, so this is your last chance to throw in guesses.  We've narrowed down some of our names and have 2 boy names that we like, and 3 girl names that we like.  We still won't tell what names we're thinking about, but we will take suggestions and consider them with the rest... so this is your chance to throw in name requests... but we can't promise we'll use the suggestions.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oriental Pasta Salad

Warning: this salad is DELICIOUS, but the dressing will give you bad breath... cut down the ginger and garlic if you are planning on being in public after eating this, or having long, meaningful conversations.  Bagged cole slaw mix could be substituted for the cabbages and carrot.  Cilantro and/ or bean sprouts would also be great in this salad, but I didn't have any on hand (and I read this week that pregnant women shouldn't eat any type of sprout... although I'm still not sure why).  If you like more pasta than veggies in your salad cut each of the cabbages down to 1/2 a head, but I like LOTS of veggies in my salad.

Oriental Pasta Salad

-1 package whole wheat linguine, cooked and drained
-1 head green cabbage, shredded
-1 head red cabbage, shredded
-4 carrots, shredded
-5 scallions, sliced
-1 cup dry roasted peanuts
-2 tsp sesame seeds

-juice of 1 lime
-6 Tbsp olive oil
-8 Tbsp soy sauce
-3 Tbsp sesame oil
-⅓ cups Brown Sugar
-3 Tbsp ginger, minced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Mix salad ingredients together. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Mix with tongs.  Chill at least 2 hours prior to serving.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Improved Sesame Noodles

Sesame noodles have always been one of my favorite dishes.  For some reason I've never been able to get Jeremy too crazy about them.  For the past few months I've been tweaking my usual recipe until I finally came up with a version that he likes, a lot in fact.  So this is my new go to Sesame Noodle recipe, Jeremy approved.

Sesame Noodles

-16 oz whole wheat linguine, cooked and drained

-1/2 cup soy sauce
-3 Tbsp sugar
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-3 Tbsp rice vinegar
-4 Tbsp sesame oil
-1 tsp sriracha sauce
-4 green onions, sliced
-2 carrots, shredded
-2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
Whisk soy- sriracha sauce together in a bowl.  Pour sauce over warm noodles.  Toss pasta with green onions, carrots, and sesame seeds.  Chill at least two hours prior to serving.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

17 weeks

Here is what is going on with our baby this week according to;

Your baby's skeleton is changing from soft cartilage to bone, and the umbilical cord — her lifeline to the placenta — is growing stronger and thicker. Your baby weighs 5 ounces now (about as much as a turnip), and she's around 5 inches long from head to bottom. She can move her joints, and her sweat glands are starting to develop.  Starting to feel a bit off balance? As your belly grows, your center of gravity changes, so you may begin to occasionally feel a little unsteady on your feet. Try to avoid situations with a high risk of falling. Wear low-heeled shoes to reduce your risk of taking a tumble; trauma to your abdomen could be dangerous for you and your baby. You'll also want to be sure to buckle up when you're in a car — keep the lap portion of the seat belt under your belly, drawn snugly across your hips, and also use the shoulder harness, which should fit snugly between your breasts.  You may also notice your eyes becoming drier. Using over-the-counter lubricating drops may help. If your contact lenses become uncomfortable, try wearing them for shorter stretches of time. If you still have discomfort, switch to glasses until after you give birth.  Many women report that their dream life shifts into high gear during pregnancy. Interestingly, during the second and third trimesters, you spend less sleep time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the cycle in which most dreams occur. Why, then, all those frequent and vivid dream memories?  It's probably at least in part because you may be interrupting a dream-filled cycle when you wake up to pee, cope with heartburn, leg cramps, restless legs, or a backache, or to shift to a more comfortable position. Waking up during REM sleep makes you more likely to remember your dreams.  It may also be in part that dreams seem so vivid during pregnancy because for most women pregnancy is a time of such heightened emotions — from joy to apprehension and everything in between — but no one really knows for sure.

As for me... I'm still feeling great!  I've had some cramps here and there, but nothing major, or that lasts over a few minutes, they are probably just the result of my body stretching and growing.  I'm hungry almost all of the time, and rarely seem to feel full, but I've been trying to eat lots of little meals rather than trying to get full in one sitting.  I've felt a few little rumblings in my tummy that I think may have been the baby moving, but I'm still not 100% sure about that.  My doctor says that is normal, and eventually I will know what it and isn't the baby moving around.  My belly hasn't grown too much in the last week, but it has gotten a lot firmer all over.  It's nice to feel like my bump is actually a baby and not just extra squish.  I could still eat sushi all day, every day and I'm still loving eating lots of salads... mostly cabbage based this week.  I'm not craving nearly as much heavy food as I was before, but frozen yogurt, sausages, and pizza all sound amazing.  I'm getting up at least 1-2 times per night to use the restroom, but nothing too bad yet.  I have been having lots of vivid and crazy dreams recently, so it's good to see from that that is normal.  I've had a lot of spells of "baby brain" where I just do silly things and feel dumb... for example, I made chicken curry (which I make about once a month, and have been making the same way for years) and I forgot to saute the onions before I made the sauce, and when I realized it and decided to do them in a different pan and then add them in I chopped them instead of slicing them like I always do.  This is small and silly, but I've been doing things like this all of them time!


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pickled Cole Slaw

This is a light, healthy, and tangy cole slaw.  It's a great alternative to the traditional mayo based cole slaw, especially for picnics where food will be sitting outside in the heat for a while.  This would also be great for topping pulled BBQ sandwiches, or fish tacos.  You could substitute 1/4 head of red cabbage for 1/2 the green cabbage, or use a bagged cole slaw mix in place of the cabbage and carrot

Pickled Cole Slaw

-1/2 cup cider vinegar
-1/4 cup olive oil
-3 Tbsp sugar
-1/4 tsp black pepper
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
-1 carrot, shredded

In medium bowl, whisk together cider vinegar, olive oil, sugar, pepper and salt.  Toss with shredded cabbage and carrot.  Chill at least 2 hours prior to serving.


Friday, May 14, 2010

weekly verse: Hebrews 10:23-25

Here are my verses for the next week;
Hebrews 10:23-25  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

To me, these verses is a great mission statement for any life group/ small group/ community group/ Bible study (why do we Christians come up with so many names for those groups anyway?).  I think it's easy for small groups (and churches for that matter) to become inwardly focused.  Where each person shows up to get their needs met, and when their needs aren't getting met by that group anymore they move on.  It's easy for the group to get so wrapped up in fellowship, accountability, encouraging each other, and living life together that they can forget that they are coming to group (or church) to be filled up that they may be sent out.  It's easy to forget that we are there to meet the needs of others and minister to them also.  That by us doing that we are being the body of Christ.

I love how in verse 23 the focus in on the Lord, on our hope in Him, and on His faithfulness.  It's always a good idea to start out anything (a group meeting, prayer, ministry, church, etc) focused on God and His greatness.  I love how verse 24 talks about spurring each other on towards love and good deeds... how basically that there should be fruit in our lives as a result of the Lord, as a result of the work He does in us through these groups.  That at times group can be about discussing theology, or sharing our struggles and being vulnerable, but that ultimately this fellowship is for the purpose of spurring forth loving acts of kindness in our lives.  Verse 25 wraps this up pefectly... stressing perseverance in us meeting together, that even when life gets busy and hectic, even when we have conflict with those in our group and times get hard, that we are still the body, that we still need this support, and without being filled up we are useless to go out into the world, so let us keep encouraging each other.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Southern Cole Slaw

Southern Cole Slaw

This is your typical cook-out style cole slaw.  1/4 head of red cabbage could be substituted for 1/4 of the head of green cabbage.  Or a bagged cole slaw mix could be used in place of the cabbage and shredded carrot.

-1/4 cup light mayo
-1/4 cup light sour cream
-1/2 small onion, grated
-3 Tbsp sugar
-2 tsp lemon juice
-2 tsp dijon mustard
-1/2 tsp celery seed
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
-1 carrot, shredded

Whisk together dressing ingredients (mayo-pepper) in medium bowl.  Toss with cabbage and carrot.  Chill for at least an hour prior to serving.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

baby M update

i had a doctor appointment today.  the doctor said that everything is looking good.  the heart beat was good and strong at 144, right in the middle of the healthy range of 120-160.  i love hearing the sweet beating of our little one's heart!  while we were listening to the heart beat there was a strange sound, and the doctor said that was our baby moving... so cool!  i'm still not confident on whether i am actually feeling the baby move at all, or if i'm just having gurgling in my belly... but it's fun and exciting either way, and within a few weeks i should be able to confidently know when the baby moves.  next appointment is 4 weeks away, and both jeremy and i will get to see the ultrasound, and hopefully find out the gender, hooray!!!!

please join us in prayer for our little one... that he or she would be healthy and strong.  that he or she would know and serve the Lord, and be even greater than us.  for protection against attack of the enemy.  and for preparation for jeremy and i as parents, that the Lord would heal our wounds, free us from our insecurities, and use us to love our child the way He loves us.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


This weekend in our ladies Bible study, while we were discussing living like Timothy we got into a big discussion on discipleship.  On being disciple makers, and being a "Paul" in the life of someone.  On being a disciple, and being a "Timothy" to a "Paul".  Discipleship is a hot button for me, it is something that Jeremy and I have always felt a strong call to, perhaps because our lives have been so dramatically impacted (for the good) by the people that took time to invest in us, and therefore we see value in doing the same for others. 

Years ago, when I first started feeling a call to discipleship I resigned from a ministry that I was involved in at my church to wait and see where God would lead me, to do what He had showed me He wanted to use me for (discipleship).  I was surprised by the reaction of my ministry leader, she offered me an opportunity to teach a new Believer class at our church that was just starting up.  Then I realized our miscommunication, her impression of discipleship was learning, teaching, and knowledge based, it was something most effectively done in large groups, especially with a church body as large as the one that I was attending.  It certainly fits the model of our society to conduct discipleship in groups, trying to get the greatest return on investment for our time, "building into" numerous people all at once.  And I'm sure God uses this model of discipleship. 

But that isn't what I think of when I think of discipleship.  That isn't the model that has so deeply impacted my life.  When I refer to discipleship I refer to a one on one relationship with another Believer.  Sharing life together.  Studying the Word together.  Praying together.  Serving together.  Seeking the Lord together while navigating the ups and downs of life.

Lately I've been shocked to realize just how many of my friends have never had any type of discipleship relationship; whether that be them being discipled, or doing the discipling.  Since they've never received it, they don't know how to give it, or think that they are incapable of discipling another.  And while I appreciate this humility, in that they understand that they aren't perfect, and don't have all the answers figured out, I know that no one does.  I know that imperfect people disciple other imperfect people, and we invite God into our weaknesses while we humbly share them, so that through that He may be glorified.  I know that discipleship isn't about having perfect theology, or having all of the answers, it's about walking with God, hearing God, and teaching another person to do the same.  It's not about telling another person what they should do in x,y, or z situation (although sometimes we do need to admonish each other with Truth), it's about searching the Scriptures with them, praying with them, and holding them accountable to not acting or moving forward until the Lord is guiding them to do so.  It's not about conforming them to laws and rules so that their lives reflect what a Christian life should.  It's about teaching them to seek the heart of Jesus, to be known by Him, while He transforms their life, and guides, and convicts them with His Spirit.

This was modeled for me, in multiple discipleship relationships that I've had, and although it may sound like a laid back approach, God used it.  Someone didn't have to point out my sin to me, show me the areas that I was out of line with God's will, and play the Holy Spirit in my life, God did that.  He spoke to me, through His Word, and cleaned me and transformed me.  As the saying goes "Jesus cleans His fish, it's not up to us to do it for Him".  In my experience, any time in my life when I have taken action under the advice of a Spiritual elder, and obeyed them (even though I didn't have peace or agree with it) I have regretted it.  I have wrestled and wrestled with the way that the situation was handled and ultimately come to the conclusion that it either wasn't the right decision, or that I made it too early, before the Lord had really brought my will in line with His.

And please don't misunderstand me, I am not saying this is an excuse to keep on living in sin that the Holy Spirit is convicting you of.  I'm not saying that discipleship and community don't require accountability, admonishment, and us pulling the plank out of our brother's eye (after having removed our own log). 

I guess where I was meaning to go with all of this is... Why isn't discipleship happening?  Why aren't mature Christians being formed?  What is stopping us from doing it?  Receiving it?  Recognizing it?  Giving it?

Are we to proud to realize we need it?  Too scared to approach someone and ask for it?  Too fearful of being humble and vulnerable?  Too proud to seek it out and admit that another person is more spiritually mature than us?  Too uninformed of what spiritual maturity looks like?  Are we believing the lies of the enemy?  Are we not realizing it if we've entered into a discipleship relationship just because we haven't defined or labeled it?  Are we too busy to invest time in others?  Too self-consumed to notice who in our lives we could invest in?  Are we so compartmentalizied in our fellowship with each other that we only associate with those in the same place spiritually as us?


Monday, May 10, 2010

Southwestern Salad with Mexi-Ranch Dressing

Southwestern Salad with Mexi-Ranch Dressing

This salad was an impromptu throw together of leftover ingredients from our burrito bowls this weekend.  I really enjoyed it and would definitely make it again.  It was a nice variation on a traditional taco salad.  This salad would be great with sliced grilled chicken, but I don't normally eat meat with my weeknight dinners.  The dressing was good, but I would probably add the juice of 1/2 a lime next time to thin it out a bit and give it a little more acid.  The dressing would also be a great dipping sauce for a Southwestern Chicken Wrap, or Chicken Fajita Wrap.  This dressing will make enough for 2 dinner sized salads, or 4 side salads.  The dressing has a lot of ingredients, but they are all things that I always have on hand, so this is an easy one for me to whip up at any time.

-Spinach or Salad Mix
-chopped tomato
-canned corn, drained
-canned black beans, rinsed and drained
-fresh cilantro leaves
-chopped avocado
-diced red onion
-shredded cheddar cheese, if desired (I didn't use any though)

-1/4 cup light mayo

-1/4 cup light sour cream
-1 Tbsp skim milk
-2 tsp minced tomatoes
-1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
-1 tsp minced jarred jalapeno peppers
-1 tsp minced onion
-1 tsp sugar
-1/4 tsp dried parsley
-1/4 tsp hot sauce
-1/8 tsp dried dill weed
-1/8 tsp paprika
-1/8 tsp garlic powder
-1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
-1/8 tsp cumin
-1/8 tsp chili powder
-1/8 tsp salt
-fresh ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients & chill before serving.


16 weeks

here is what is going on with our baby this week according to;

Get ready for a growth spurt. In the next few weeks, your baby will double his weight and add inches to his length. Right now, he's about the size of an avocado: 4 1/2 inches long (head to rump) and 3 1/2 ounces. His legs are much more developed, his head is more erect than it has been, and his eyes have moved closer to the front of his head. His ears are close to their final position, too. The patterning of his scalp has begun, though his locks aren't recognizable yet. He's even started growing toenails. And there's a lot happening inside as well. For example, his heart is now pumping about 25 quarts of blood each day, and this amount will continue to increase as your baby continues to develop. 

The top of your uterus is about halfway between your pubic bone and your navel, and the round ligaments that support it are thickening and stretching as it grows. You're probably feeling a whole lot better as you settle into pregnancy, too. Less nausea, fewer mood swings, and "glowing" skin contribute to an overall sense of well-being.  Soon you'll experience one of the most wonderful moments of pregnancy — feeling your baby move. While some women notice "quickening" as early as 16 weeks, many don't feel their baby move until about 18 weeks or more. (And if this is your first baby, don't be too impatient — you may not be aware of your baby's movements until 20 weeks or so.) The earliest movements may feel like little flutters, gas bubbles, or even like popcorn popping. Over the following weeks they'll grow stronger and you'll be able to feel them much more frequently.

As for me, not much new... my belly is still getting a tad bigger each week, I'm still hungry all day long, I still feel great all of the time.  The second trimester has definitely been a lot better to me than the first was, it's starting to seem more real since my belly is growing, and I actually get to enjoy being pregnant because I don't feel awful any more.  Now I'm wearing almost exclusively maternity clothes, with a men's tshirt, or empire waisted jersey dress thrown in here and there.  I haven't felt the baby move yet, but I'm hoping to soon and analyzing every little gurgle that my stomach makes trying to figure out if it's the baby or not.  I'm still craving lots of fresh fruit and salads and am eating a salad every day.  Now that I'm hooked on Pinkberry frozen yogurt that is all that I can think about and I think it has taken the place of my craving for Wendy's Frosty's.  I still want sushi all day every day, but didn't have any last week.  A piece of supreme pizza sounds really great now also, but who knows when I'll have that.  I'm still LOVING fried eggs, and fried egg sandwiches and had a few for breakfast this week.  I could really go for a great steak, and will have to make one sometime soon.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mexican Lasagna

I made a Mexican feast of Mexican Lasagna, Restaurant Style Salsa, and Guacamole for our community group in honor of Cinco de Mayo.  I love making things like casseroles, soups, and pasta dishes for crowds, because they are not only cheaper per serving (than doing a meat and some side dishes), but they are easily made ahead and then just re-heated for company saving me the last minute hustle and bustle of trying to cook and entertain at the same time.  In this instance I even made the Mexican Lasagna and Retaurant Style Salsa a day ahead because I don't have time to cook between when I get home from work and when our group meets, and because both of these items taste even better the second day.

Mexican Lasagna

I used ground turkey for this because it's lean and cheap (when I buy it in bulk from Sam's Club).  Any ground meat would work just fine in here though, or even some cooked, shredded chicken.  Since we have some spicy lovers and non-spicy lovers in our group I doubled the recipe and made a mini non-spicy lasagna, and a larger spicy lasagna.  To do this I made the filling following the directions below, then used 1/3 of my total for the non-spicy lasagna.  Once that 1/3 was taken out I added some cayenne and canned chiles to the pan prior to assembling the spicy lasagna.  I topped the spicy lasagna with pickled jalapeno slices, because I love them, and so everyone could clearly identify which lasagna was designated spicy.  Black olives  would also be great on top of this, but my hubby hates them, so I tend not to cook with olives.  If desired, salt could be added to taste to the filling, but with the use of taco sauce I never find that it needs it.  Some cilantro could also be added into the filling, but I forgot while I was preparing it.  I tend to skimp a little on the inner layers of cheese so that I get a good, thick coating of cheese for the top layer.  Serve this with sour cream, guacamole, and extra taco sauce or salsa for using at the table.

-1 package whole wheat tortillas, cut into quarters (our favorite brand are Aztec, but I coudn't find those this week so Misson it was)
-2 lbs ground turkey
-1 yellow onion
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 Tbsp chili powder
-2 tsp cumin
-any combination you desire of the following forms of tomatoes for a total of 2 cups; canned diced tomatoes, canned fire roated diced tomatoes, canned tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel), taco sauce, salsa, or fresh tomatoes... (I used medium salsa, medium taco sauce, and fire roasted tomatoes for this lasagna)
-1 cup corn (either canned or thawed frozen)
-1 can black beans, drained
-2 cups of shredded cheese (I used a Mexican cheese blend, but pepper jack, cheddar, or a colby jack blend would all be great)
-about 1/4 cup of taco sauce
-sliced jalapenos, sliced black olives, fresh scallions, or fresh cilantro for garnishing the top

Heat large pan coated with olive oil or cooking spray over medium high heat.  Add onion and turkey and cook until turkey is no longer pink (5-10 minutes).  Drain and return meat mixture to pan over medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Add chili powder and cumin and cook until fragrant and evenly coated over the meat (about 1 minute).  Add desired tomatoes (and salt, cayenne, cilantro, or chiles if using) and stir until evenly incorporated.  Add black beans and corn, stir to combine, and cook until warmed through (about 3 minutes).

Coat a 13 x 9 pan with oil or cooking spray.  Place tortilla quarters along bottom of pan covering it.  Top tortillas with 1/2 of meat mixture.  Top meat mixture with 1/3 of cheese.  Repeat layers of tortillas, meat and cheese.  Top cheese with additional tortillas.  Spread a thin layer (of about 1/4 cup) of taco sauce across top tortillas.  Cover with remaining cheese.  Top with jalapenos or black olives (if using).  (At this point you could put the entire lasagna in the fridge to be pulled out and baked the next day).  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Top lasagna with fresh cilantro or scallions and serve.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sesame Salad Dressing

Sesame Salad Dressing

This dressing was delicious!  Jeremy said it's his favorite dressing that I've made yet... even after the whole time he watched me make it he kept repeating "mayonaise?" in a questioning, disgusted voice.  My fave dressing is still the Peanut Dressing though.  It's funny that all of our favorite foods tend to be using Oriental flavors... I'm not sure if that is because we just really like them, or because that is what I'm best at cooking with... probably both.  I served this over a bed of mixed greens with scallions, mandarin oranges, and toasted almonds.  You could even add some shredded carrots, sesame seeds, cucumber, and chow mein noodles for a nice touch.  Since this dressing is basically a honey mustard/ Oriental fusion dressing it is so versatile that I think it would be great over a spinach salad with red onion and sliced strawberries also.  I think that some ginger or garlic would also be a great addition to this dressing, but Jeremy liked it so much that he doesn't want me to change anything... maybe we'll see if I can sneak it in on him.  ;)

-4 Tbsp light mayo
-3 Tbsp honey
-2 Tbsp rice vinegar
-1 Tbsp dijon mustard
-1/2 tsp sesame oil
-1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Combine dressing ingredients and shake or whisk until well incorporated.  Chill until serving.


weekly verse: Ecclesiastes 4:12

I finally finished memorizing my memory verse from last week. Philippians 1:18 took me a little longer than Philippians 1:21 and Genesis 12:2-3, but I'm confident that I've got it now. In case you don't have a good method that works for you for memorizing Scripture, here's a glimpse into what I do, in case it may be of use to you. Once God's given me my verse for the week I write it down at the top of a page in my journal. When I copy it down, I'm careful to read and remember one phrase at a time, and then write that phrase down from memory, rather than just copying word for word as I go and not retaining any of the verse. Then every time I sit down that week to journal, get in the Word, make grocery or meal planning lists etc. I turn back to that page and re-copy the memory verse. Doing as much from memory as I can, and again glancing at phrases when needed, rather than copying each word one at a time. Usually by 3-5 times of doing this I'll have a short verse memorized, and by 5-10 for a longer verse. I've also been going back towards the end of each week, and having myself write out the prior 2 weeks memory verses from memory. I feel like this is helping me to retain the verses that I recently memorized, and I feel like this is a big piece that has been missing for me in the past and is why I would forget a memory verse a month or so after I memorized it.

Now for the verse for this week...

Accountability has been a reocurring theme for me over the past week.  It came up and was a big topic of conversation in our Wednesday night (mixed gender) community group.  Then although it wasn't really a part of our weekly material for our Saturday morning ladies Bible study it came up again there.  After that I decided that God was trying to tell me something and that I needed to listen.  I'm so impressed by the way that God is working in our ladies Bible study!  He's taken a group of mostly strangers, and has brought us to a place of unity, vulnerability, and accountability in Him.  He's led us to share our struggles, and used us to speak Truth and breathe encouragement and refreshment into each other's lives.  I love witnessing how He shows up and speaks to us each Saturday, it is truly awesome!  This week both me and another woman were able to share areas that we needed accountability in, and instantly had sisters in Christ volunteering to stand up, challenge us, live life with us, and ask us the tough questions that we'll need to follow Jesus in obedience.  AWESOME!  Accountability is hard, it's humbling, it requires being vulnerable.  Our fleshly instinct is to want to hide our sin (much like Adam and Eve did in the garden).  We want to deal with it on our own, we don't want to admit that we can't do it on our own.  We think it is risky to open ourselves up.  I'd wager that it's more risky to keep our sin in the dark, and let the devil have a foot hold over us.  The fruit that comes through accountability is amazing.  The reminder that we can't do anything in our own strength, but only through the strength of Christ.  Seeing Him work through the church (not the building), His body, to minister to the needs of others is beautiful. 

As I was reflecting and praying about accountability the Lord gave me this passage;

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

I'm going use Ecclesiastes 4:12 as my memory verse for the week, but I just wanted to note it here in the context of the preceding few verses.

I've linked to these accountability questions in the past, but I can't express how much of a blessing these questions have been to my life, and how much I love these short, simple, yet CHALLENGING questions and think that they should be a regular part of accountability for every Christian.  I also love the focus of the brochure on "smaller groups", and having less lines of communication so that more sharing, accountability, and ultimately growth can take place.  Find an accountability partner and ask each other these questions, it will change your walk with the Lord!  (I promise that I was not given any reward for endorsing this ministry, I just strongly believe in what they are doing... okay, mini-advertisement over).

Lord, thank you for giving me other strands that my cord may be strengthened.  Use me as a strand in the lives of others, to strengthen them where needed.  Thank you for the gift of community, and fellowship in you Lord.  Help me to enjoy those gifts, but not getting so caught up in them that I neglect living among the lost, and boldly sharing your Gospel and love with those in need.  I love you Jesus!

For all of you who are my "strands" (you know who you are) I am so grateful for you!


Monday, May 3, 2010

15 weeks

Here's what is going on with our baby this week according to;

Your growing baby now measures about 4 inches long, crown to rump, and weighs in at about 2 1/2 ounces (about the size of an apple). She's busy moving amniotic fluid through her nose and upper respiratory tract, which helps the primitive air sacs in her lungs begin to develop. Her legs are growing longer than her arms now, and she can move all of her joints and limbs. Although her eyelids are still fused shut, she can sense light. If you shine a flashlight at your tummy, for instance, she's likely to move away from the beam. There's not much for your baby to taste at this point, but she is forming taste buds. Finally, if you have an ultrasound this week, you may be able to find out whether your baby's a boy or a girl!  You've probably gained about 5 pounds by now (a little more or less is fine, too) and are well into the swing of your pregnancy, but you may still be surprised by an unexpected symptom now and then. If your nose is stuffed up, for instance, you can probably chalk it up to the combined effect of hormonal changes and increased blood flow to your mucous membranes. This condition is so common, there's even a name for it: "rhinitis of pregnancy." Some pregnant women also suffer nosebleeds as a result of increased blood volume and blood vessel expansion in the nose.  If you're having amniocentesis, it'll most likely happen between now and 18 weeks. This test can identify hundreds of genetic and chromosomal disorders. If you're getting very anxious while waiting for the results, it may help to know that most women who undergo amniocentesis get good news about their babies — bringing welcome relief from their worries.  Don't be surprised if you and your partner are feeling a little stressed out these days. Many pregnant couples worry about their baby's health and how they'll handle the changes ahead. But with physical discomforts on the wane and energy on the rise, this is also a wonderful trimester for most women.

As for me, I have gained about 9 pounds so far and am wearing almost exclusively maternity clothes now, my pre-pregnancy jeans just aren't comfortable anymore.  People are starting to notice that I'm showing, and I've received several comments within the last week from co-workers, Jeremy's co-workers, and people at the gym that I am starting to show.  I still don't think that someone would be able to tell that I'm pregnant if they didn't know though, it still looks more like a bloated belly to me, especially from the front view.  I'm feeling great, no more sickness, and I really seem to be able to eat anything that I want.  I've even reintroduced bananas to my daily routine, which I had given up after they made me gag early in the first trimester.  I have had a few nose bleeds recently (which I NEVER get), and am comforted to know (thanks to that this is something that is common with this stage in pregnancy.  My stomach is still itching all over, but the lotion in helping a ton.  I have a doctor's appointment next week, but we are opting not to have amniocentesis tests done, as it doesn't change anything that we would do at this point.  Our doctor won't do the next ultrasound to find out the gender until 20 weeks, so we still have a little while to go, and the suspense is killing us.  Although that doesn't change much that we would do either, because we're trying to stick to gender neutral colors and toys, but I think knowing the gender will help it seem even more real, and help us know what names to focus in on.  I am CONSTANTLY hungry, and trying to eat small snacks of fruits and veggies so that I don't just indulge my every whim (and because it's just good nutrition), at this point I only need an extra 300 calories a day, which isn't much in the scheme of things.  I finally made the taco salad that I've been craving and it was delicious!  I still want sushi all day every day (if only we were rich, I would give in to that craving), and got to enjoy it twice this week (one as a treat from a co-worker, and once on my weekly date with my hubby).  I'm still LOVING the strawberry fruit bars, salads, and Wendy's Frosty's.  Other than sushi, there's not one specific food that I crave constantly, but additional craving are easily developed when I hear someone talking about something good, or see something good on a blog or TV.  Last night I saw a Shoney's commercial on TV and I instantly NEEDED fried eggs.  So at 9:00 at night I made myself two that hit the spot.  Then I made two again this morning.  I think I'd be okay if I stayed away from all food related media, but  I love browsing food blogs, and by the time I'm done I end up wanting every food under the sun.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

simple dinner

after another day of crummy weather a simple dinner of some of our favorite comfort foods seemed in order.  the stars of my plate were;

  • Broccoli cooked in the sauce for our favorite Chinese Green Beans.  I had to add a little cornstarch to the sauce to get it to thicken, but this was delicious!
  • Baked BBQ tofu.  I cooked it the same way as the Sesame Honey Tofu, but cut the cubes a tad smaller this time, marinated and cooked the tofu in my favorite bottled BBQ sauce before topping it with scallins and cilantro on the baking pan.  This was DELICIOUS!!!!  The tofu had the perfect texture, I think the smaller cubes helped it to get more chewy during the cooking process.  Jeremy definitely fought me for some of this good stuff, even though I made him his own Sesame Crusted Tuna Steak.
  • Brown rice with some scallions stirred in, as well as a few tablespoons of the dipping sauce from the Tuna Steak that I made for Jeremy.
Delicious + cheap + healthy = PERFECT!