Saturday, March 31, 2012

Beef and Broccoli

Beef and Broccoli

This is healthy, quick, easy, and delicious!  

-1 Tbsp canola oil
-1 lb flank steak, thinly sliced, across the grain
-5 c broccoli, cut into bite sized florets, steamed for 4 minutes (in microwave or on stove top)
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-2 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp water

-1 Tbsp soy sauce
-1 Tbsp rice vinegar
-1 tsp sugar
-1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp water

-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/4 c oyster sauce
-1 Tbsp rice vinegar
-1 Tbsp sesame oil
-2 Tbsp soy sauce
-2 Tbsp sugar
-1/2 c chicken broth

Whisk together marinade ingredients, toss with sliced beef, allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.  Heat oil in stir-fry pan over medium-high heat.  Add beef, cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add garlic, cook an additional 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Whisk together sauce ingredients and stir into the beef and garlic.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, stir in the cornstarch and water mixture.  Once combined, stir in the broccoli.  Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2-5 minutes.  Serve over rice.

revamped lamp

My nightstand lamp died a few months ago. I found this lamp at a yard sale for $2 and knew that it had potential.



I used the same paint leftover from Jeremy's parents bathroom that has been showing up in all of my recent projects, and I used a cut up yard sale sheet for the fabric.  Total cost to me was $3 for a new fun lamp.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

::this week::

reading: Streams from the Desert, James, The Discipline Book

Hillsong, All I Need is You

Hillsong, Came to My Rescue

doing: attending a Turkish Cooking Class tonight with some friends... always such a fun and delicious time!

enjoying: a slower pace after a super busy weekend... some time outside, jogs, the playground, this nice weather, a little extra time outside chatting with neighbors, welcoming people into our home two nights in a row.... once to share a meal with a friend and father whose wives were out of town and once for community group

cooking/ eating: brie stuffed mushrooms, breakfast casserole, baked oatmeal, pizza, beef and broccoli, hamburgers, sauteed veggies, pumpkin pasta, spinach and mozzarella egg bake

creating: Mother's Day cards for our moms from our little man, a baby gift for a friend, a refinished lamp that has been sitting dormant for 2 weeks now needing my attention, a small t shirt mending project for a friend

reminiscing: enjoyed telling "our story" at our party this weekend and hearing the love stories of a few friends.  listening to some old Hillsong songs that remind me of when we were dating.  so grateful for this amazing man of mine, and the honorable way in which he pursued me.

praying: the nations.  our nation.  our city.  our neighborhood.  God's Kingdom to come. the next generation... these little ones that I get to pour into.
praising: so thankful for our community group and how much closer to each other and the Lord we have /come in the 3 months of this year as opposed to the prior 2 years that we've been meeting together.  praising the Lord for a slower pace, a week without accomplishing many "to do's", but a week in which I am constantly communing with Him.

being challenged and inspired: by Bethel Atlanta sermons, by the book of James... specifically relating to taming of the tongue and being quick to listen and slow to speak,

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Brie Stuffed Mushrooms

I've been wanting to try these Brie Stuffed Mushrooms for a while.  I thought this was the perfect way to use up the half wheel of brie that I had leftover from our wine and cheese party.  These were delicious!  I wouldn't, and didn't change a thing!  Well... in the ingredients she didn't list how much butter she used, but it looked like a lot.  I used 2 Tbsp of butter for 16 oz of mushrooms... adjust according to your taste, but I found it perfect!  These are fairly simple to throw together and well worth it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

17 months

Here is what is going on with Noah this month according to;

You may be surprised by the force of your child's likes and dislikes. Even at 17 months, toddlers can be very clear — loud and clear — about what they do and don't want to do, to eat, to wear. 

Some children surprise with another kind of force — hitting, especially when they're frustrated. The most likely target: you. It's counter-intuitive, but this is actually a sign of trust. A 17-month-old child knows that you're a safe person to show just how upset and frustrated he can get.  You may also notice that your child occasionally but very deliberately disobeys your orders. You say, "Please stay away from that vase," and your toddler looks right at you, reaches out, and touches the vase, or plucks a flower from it. You know he got your message, so rather than let the defiance become a big deal, experts say to simply ignore it whenever possible. In fact, it's important to try to avoid a confrontation with every little issue.

The first time you forget to read your toddler a bedtime story, don't be surprised if he reminds you. Toddlers thrive on routine, and they may remember each step of a particular ritual. If your child's end-of-day routine features bathing, drying hair, brushing teeth, picking out books, and then reading together in bed, there's a good chance that if you try to skip one or more of these steps, your 17-month-old will protest.  Even at this young age, toddlers can be quite adamant about following rituals, some of which may make no sense to you. For instance, when you tuck your child into bed at night, he may insist that you cover his favorite doll or stuffed animal with a certain blanket — and only that blanket. Or he may want to drink his milk from one particular cup, or insist on oatmeal for breakfast every single day for a month. Though these demands may puzzle or even annoy you, they serve an important purpose: Routines help to make your child's world more predictable.

At 17 months, most children are becoming less wary of strangers. At the grocery store your child may say hello to every person you pass in the aisles — something he never did before. Or when you go to music or tumbling class, he will suddenly want to be near the instructor. Mom and Dad are still the most important people in his life, but he is starting to develop special relationships with other people, too. He may even associate extended family, caregivers, and neighbors with certain activities. When you visit his grandparents, for instance, your toddler may pull his "Papa" out into the garden to investigate the roses he showed him on his last visit.

New words this month are; catch, giraffe, Lisa (Jeremy's sister), bean, yuck, park, dirt, cookie, people, broccoli, bunny, Jesus, Bible, froggy, turtle, page, swing, slide, beet, bead, bus and more .  It seems that he's adding several new words a day right now.  He also says lots of phrases.  His favorite phrase is "big truck", which he says every time he hears or sees one.  He also says "bye bye big truck", and "bye bye poo poo dipey (diaper) quite often.

One of my favorite things right now is the way that Noah claps for himself when he's done something that he's proud of.  For example, when he gets all of the pieces in the puzzle he stops and claps, looking at me and Jeremy for approval.

Noah and Luke continue to play and get along so well.  They have fun all day long and give each other hugs and kisses when it's time to part.  Noah is also still enjoying having baby Hayden around.  Most days when he wakes up, before I even get him out of the crib, he is already standing up saying "baby".  When I prop Hayden up on the floor with a pillow Noah will lay down and put his head on the pillow to snuggle her.  When I burp her he also comes over and taps her back.  He does get a little jealous of her though, especially when I'm giving her a bottle, and he has been known to lay flat on the floor and say poo poo (when he hasn't pooped), in hopes that I put the baby down and come change his diaper and give him attention.

Noah really loves to read right now.  Aside from going to the playground or for walks I think that is his favorite thing to do.  He brings us books constantly, and will sit on our laps requesting that the same book be read over and over and over.

He has watched 20 minutes of Veggie Tales twice ever.  I think he'd rather play, but it's nice to know that when I'm extremely tired or not feeling well that I can snuggle him up in front of the laptop and stream some kiddo shows via the internet.

He has been a very picky eater the last few months.  He loves cheese, fruit, pretzels, yogurt, most pasta dishes, broccoli, and peanut butter toast.  He'll eat spiral pasta noodles, but not most other shapes.  He'll eat most breads or carbs.  He'll eat all fruits.  But he won't eat most veggies anymore, and the only protein he'll eat is hamburgers, tuna, or meatballs.  He just looks at things and doesn't want to try them, but almost always when we can get him to try something he'll like it and eat more.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

wine & cheese party

we had a fun wine and cheese party for some of our close friends last evening.  with the evite I sent a link to a wine and cheese pairing chart and each guest brought a bottle of wine with a matching cheese to the party.  I had some light snacks set up and we enjoyed a great evening of conversation, sipping, and snacking.  parties like this are so easy to put on, without having to cook a lot of food, and having a topic of conversation (like wine and cheese) is such a great way for people who don't know each other to unite over a topic and get to know each other.

this wasn't a formal wine and cheese party.  we kept the attire and atmosphere casual.  none of us are that snooty with our food and beverage.  it was more about enjoying each other and trying fun things than it was about having knowledge and showing off sophisticated pallets.

to mark our glasses and provide a cheap and easy party favor I made some wine charms from beads and beading wire that I had on hand

the lighting in our kitchen is very bright so I bought some white christmas lights from a yard sale to use for a more dim effect

I took some pillar candles that I had on hand and tied corks around them to use as centerpieces for the table

I typed up cards for each wine and cheese pairing, plus spread kraft paper over the table for our guests to sign, and to write additional notes of what wines to try with each cheese

the snacks consisted of salmon mousse that a friend made, salami, olives, pickles, pickled okra, marinated mushrooms, pickled carrots, crackers, a strawberry tart that a friend made, rosemary curry spiced nuts, and chocolate fondue with pineapple and strawberries

my favorite two pairings of the night were Camembert with Merlot and Jarlsberg with Riesling, closely followed by Brie with Chardonnay and Cabernet with smoked Gouda.  delicious!!!!

Marinated Mushrooms

(mushrooms in the upper right corner of the pic)

Marinated Mushrooms

As far back as I can remember, my aunt and uncle have been serving marinated mushrooms around the winter holidays.  As I kid I always loved them, and could eat them endlessly.  Recently I requested their recipe and gave it a try myself, but with a few flavor changes that suite my taste.  These turned out really well, and I would definitely make them again... and again.  Next time I might try substituting thyme and rosemary for the basil and oregano though, because I tend to like those herbs with mushrooms.  This recipe is really forgiving, you can use whatever seasonings you prefer.  Next time I might add a bit of red pepper flakes for heat also.

-1 c red wine vinegar
-1/2 c cold water
-5 peppercorns
-1 small bay leaf
-2 tsp salt
-2 cloves garlic, peeled
-1 Tbsp dried parsley
-1/2 tsp ground mustard
-1 Tbsp brown sugar
-1 tsp dried oregano
-1 tsp dried basil
-1 lb mushrooms, cleaned... preferably small mushrooms left whole, but if you can only find large ones then cut them into halves or quarters

Combine the vinegar through the basil in a saucepan on the stove.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, add mushrooms, and simmer 10 minutes.  Pour into a 1 quart jar, cover, and let marinate in the fridge for 1 week prior to serving (but they are good after 3 days).

Pickled Carrots

I'm thinking that this photograph isn't that appetizing... especially after my husband told me that these carrots looked like body parts floating in a jar in our fridge.  But don't let the photo deceive you.  These carrots are great.  They are spicy, tangy, crunchy, unexpected, and unique.  I followed this recipe, but used 1/2 tsp of ground mustard instead of the mustard seed, because that is what I had on hand.  I served these as one of the snacks at our wine and cheese party, and several people really liked these paired with the combination of Zinfandel and Asiago.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I have been challenged with this devotion this week, so much so that I have gone back and read it every day.  I've spent the last couple of weeks not really hearing the voice of God or being aware of His presence, or maybe hearing something, but then going back to feeling spiritually "dry" within minutes afterwards.  His Word hasn't been coming alive for me lately, as I'm so used to it doing.  I've felt like I was waiting.  Waiting on Him to show up.  Waiting on Him to reveal Himself to me.  Waiting on Him to do something profound.  And I was too caught up in my discontent with waiting, that I've been missing what He wants to do in me during this time.  I was so focused on getting out of this season that I neglected to consider the fruit that was ripening during this season.

This particular passage from the devotion stood out to me...

"We easily grow impatient of God’s delays. Much of our trouble in life comes out of our restless, sometimes reckless, haste. We cannot wait for the fruit to ripen, but insist on plucking it while it is green. We cannot wait for the answers to our prayers, although the things we ask for may require long years in their preparation for us. We are exhorted to walk with God; but ofttimes God walks very slowly. But there is another phase of the lesson. God often waits for us.

We fail many times to receive the blessing He has ready for us, because we do not go forward with Him. While we miss much good through not waiting for God, we also miss much through over-waiting. There are times when our strength is to sit still, but there are also times when we are to go forward with a firm step.

There are many Divine promises which are conditioned upon the beginning of some action on our part. When we begin to obey, God will begin to bless us."

The Lord has been telling me this week that the last couple weeks have been a quiet time of waiting for me.  A friend sent me a reference to Exodus 24, and how it has stood out to her how Moses had to wait on the mountain for 6 days for God to show up... 6 days!  What I see from that is how faithful Moses was.  As I was reading Hebrews 11 this week, that stood out to me for all the other "giants of the faith" listed in that chapter.  That Abraham, Noah, and more all had to patiently wait in faith for God to do the thing that he had promised, had told them about. 

My prayer is that I would have the faith of Abraham, of Moses, of Noah.  That I would believe things that don't make sense to me.  That I would have confidence in the voice of the Lord and hold fast to His word, to his truth, to his promises.  That I would be patient in the waiting, allowing Him to fully develop His work in and through me, and that I wouldn't over-wait, but would step forward in confidence at His first prompting. 

A few other devotions (from Streams in the Desert) have stood out to me in this area also.  Especially this one, talking about how there is no music during a rest, but the rest is part of the music.  And this one about trusting God whether or not we are seeing visible evidence that He is remembering us, and that when we trust Him without that evidence we will appreciate it even more once he sends us that visible evidence again.

Praying that I would be faithful in times of waiting.  That through that He would strengthen my trust and dependence upon Him.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

::this week::

reading: A Meal with Jesus, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Streams in the Desert, Hebrews

Hillsong, Nothing but the Blood

Hillsong, Lead Me to the Cross

enjoying: these beautiful flowers that my hubby brought me home "just because".  I really needed to feel special this week, and these were so much more meaningful than I can describe with words!  Jeremy isn't an obligation type of guy, so he almost never buys me flowers for specific holidays, just because he's not a cliche guy.  He is very good at bringing me flowers, or doing sweet and special things, just because he wants to though.

praising: today, even more than normal, I am so grateful for community, and our specific community group!  so grateful for the chance to receive the ministry and prayers of others this evening when I really needed it.  so much in awe at how the Lord uses His body to minister to and encourage each other.  feeling so blessed to be able to experience Him in this way.  praising God for freeing me from feeling "dry" over the last 2 weeks.  feeling humbled at all of the ugliness in my heart He is showing me has been the cause of it all.  all the more grateful for His grace and forgiveness as a result, and the grace and forgiveness of others.  so grateful for that man of man, for his strong leadership, and his strong relationship with the Lord!

praying: constantly for the needs and struggles of many friends and family.  my heart is heavy and burdened with prayer, this week, even more than normal.  for increased and supernatural faith for myself. that the truth from the words prayed over me this evening would be real to me, as opposed to the lies that I've been believing.  that the men of our church would connect with the Lord and each other in profound ways at their retreat this weekend.

learning: to be present. to wait upon the Lord.  but not to over wait... to be sensitive to the prompting of the Spirit for when I need to step out of waiting.  to trust God, even when I don't like His response.

looking forward to: girls board game night and sleep over at my house of Friday, yard saling Saturday, a wine and cheese party at our house on Saturday, some family time and the chance to corporately worship on Sunday.

creating: prayer board, party decorations, refinished lamp.

being challenged by: Exodus 24 (send to me by a friend)... that Moses had to wait 6 days on the mountain before God showed up. Psalm 46:10. The amazing faith of those mentioned in Hebrews 11.  The picture of community in Hebrews 10:23-24. 

feeling: humbled.  liked God is doing a major Psalm 139:23-24 on me this week.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I can't believe that I never blogged these... in February our church's women's ministry had a craft night where we made these bolt and washer bracelets found on pinterest.  I'm not sure that either of these projects are something that I would have picked to do myself, mainly because I almost never wear any jewelry, but they were fun to make, and I attended more for the fellowship than for the projects.

Monday, March 19, 2012

prayer board

I took a $2 yard sale frame, painted it(with some leftover paint from my mother-in-law's bathroom), distressed it, ran string across it, and turned it into a prayer board for our wall.  I've been wanting one of these for a while, and I am so happy with the way that it turned out!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Homemade Life

I finally finished reading A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg.  This is one of my favorite books ever.  Not because it was profoundly life changing.  Not even because of the amazing recipes, which it is full of.  But because, never before have I read a book that I would so much love to write my own version of.

As the title suggests, this book is a memoir of Molly's life, told through recipes that were meaningful to her.  For each recipe there is about 2-3 pages of life story that goes along with it.  The book gives you a good sense for Molly's family, her travels in Paris, and how she met, dated, and married her husband.  It's all told in a very casual and witty tone of voice, as if you were sitting down enjoying a meal with her and she was sharing these stories with you while you dined.

This book is filled with great recipes that I'm dying to try.  In fact, I'm seriously tempted to make this book a "Julia project" for me, and cook my way through it.  In fact, in the few weeks it took me to read this book I've already tried the Braised Cabbage and Bouchons au Thon.  Next I have my sights on her pickled carrots that were served at her rehearsal dinner, and the chocolate cake that she made for her wedding.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have never been so sad to finish a book, because I don't want it to end.  I really looked forward to reading a recipe and the story associated with it each evening before bed.  I guess I'll need to become a regular follower of Molly's blog, Orangette.  I see several other food memoirs in my future, I think it's my new favorite genre of books.  Does anyone have any favorites to recommend?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Braised Radishes

I made these braised radishes.  They were good, and quite an interesting taste and texture in comparison to a raw radish.  They didn't wow me though.  I'd give them a solid C+ if I was a teacher.  I added 1/2 tsp dried thyme while cooking, but other than that, made no changes.  You could easily use veggie stock to make this a vegetarian friendly recipe.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pumpkin Scones

I made these "better than Starbucks" pumpkin scones.  They were amazing!  They are by far the best scone that I've ever had, and by far the best thing that I've baked in a while (although the lemon bars were close).  They did make HUGE scones though.  Next time I might divide the batter into 8 scones, rather than 6.  I followed the recipe as written, just using fat-free half and half and skim milk.

::right now::

reading: A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table, The Discipline Book, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

creating: party favors and decorations for a party we are hosting at the end of the month, baby presents,  a prayer board to hang in our bedroom, a made-over yard sale lamp (all will be posted upon completion)


Holy Spirit, by Bryan and Kaite Torwalt

And Fall Afresh, by Jeremy Riddle

these two songs are ministering to my soul right now!

cooking/ eating: pizza with turkey pepperoni, mushrooms and jalapenos; curried Kenyan cabbage; pumpkin scones; braised radishes, beef and broccoli (recipes for those two to come later in the week), and maybe some pickled carrots that are intriguing me

planning: a girls board game night in 2 weeks, a wine and cheese pairing party at our house in 2 weeks, a baby shower for July

learning:  listening to lots of Kris Vallotton sermons via itunes.  challenged this week by the fact that the Bible isn't necessarily Truth on it's own... but the Bible by the Spirit is Truth... that the Bible in the hands of the devil is a lie (ex. the temptation of Jesus).  the goal of christianity is not to know the Bible, but to know the author.  John 5:38-40  Ephesians 3:17-19... "to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge..."

loving: longer days.  mild weather.  a houseful of kiddos that I have the privilege of shepherding.  our newly refinsihed table.  knowing that I'll have a date night with my hubby this weekend.  2 Timothy 1:6-7.

cherishing:  this season with my sweet little boy who is endlessly changing.  soaking up the snuggles.  time spent in my lap.  the laughter.  the silly faces.

missing: that handsome husband of mine... who has been gone for 3 days... the longest that we've been apart EVER... not to mention the longest he's been away from Noah ever. and the amazing coffee that said husband makes me.  since I don't know how to make it his way I've been having 3 cups of tea a day instead of coffee.  and this family who invested so much in us during our time in Myrtle Beach.

praying:  for a several day spiritual dryness to be over... for an overwhelming sense of the Lord's presence... to hear His voice

praising:  God's provision... spiritually, emotionally, physically... He is SO good!  for community... to have such amazing friends to "do life with".  for our health.  for my "job".  for parks, playgrounds, and beauty all around us.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

I made this Chicken Parmesan Casserole.  It's much easier, and more healthy than traditional chicken parm.  Jeremy and I both really liked it.  The changes that I made were to double the garlic, sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper before pouring on the sauce, use dried basil, reduce the cheese by half (using part-skim mozzarella), and to bake for 45 minutes (instead of 35) because my chicken breasts were rather large.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bouchons Au Thon

These Bouchons Au Thon are the second recipe that I've tried this week from A Homemade Life.  The way Molly Wizenberg talks about food inspires me.  I have to say that I was intrigued by the ingredients in this recipe... canned tuna, and eggs; forming a mixture that resembles quiche?  Really?!  These were very unique, tasty, economical, and easy to throw together.  And this is one of the only ways that I've been able to get Noah to eat any type of eggs or meat recently, so it's definitely a winner in my book.  I changed two things to make this recipe more budget friendly, but they definitely make the dish less French inspired, and less refined, but I still had good results.  I used swiss cheese instead of the gruyere, and used light sour cream instead of the creme fraiche.  I chopped the cheese, onion, and parsley separately in a food processor before stirring into the mixture, but next time I think I just give all of the ingredients a whirl in the food processor (since I'm already getting it dirty) rather than mixing by hand.  Some garlic, thyme, basil, or oregano would also be great in these.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Braised Cabbage

(I apologize that a bowl of soggy cabbage does not photograph very well)

Braised Cabbage with Cream

This recipe is from the book A Homemade Life (review on the book to come within the next week when I finish it).  I'm going to list Molly's recipe as is, but I made a few changes.  I used fat-free half and half instead of heavy cream.  I increased the lemon juice to 2 Tbsp, and the salt to 1/2 tsp.  I also added 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp fennel seeds.  The overall result was okay.  It was good, and way better than boiled cabbage, but I happen to LOVE Kenyan Curried Cabbage and Roasted Cabbage so much that I don't think this dish is the best stewardship of cabbage, for my taste. 

-1 small cabbage head, cut into eighths
-3 Tbsp butter
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 cup heavy cream
-1 Tbsp lemon juice

Melt butter in large pan over medium high heat.  Place the cabbage cut sides down in the pan, and cook 5-8 minutes, until brown.  Using tongs, flip the cabbage wedges over and cook an additional 5 minutes. {I had to do this in two batches because I couldn't fit all of my cabbage wedges in the pan to brown}.  Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage.  Pour in the cream.  Cover the pot, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.  Flip cabbage wedges again and cook an additional 20 minutes.  Pour in the lemon juice and give the pan a good swirl.  Cook a few more minutes without the lid to let the sauce thicken.



This is more about the method than the ingredients.  A frittata is a great way to use up whatever leftover meats, veggies, and cheeses that you have on hand.  So substitute with your preference for meats, veggies, and cheeses.  Fresh herbs would be even better here, but it was great with the dried herbs that I had on hand.  This is a great breakfast, but serves as a light, simple, inexpensive dinner when accompanied by a salad and bread.

-1/2 Tbsp butter
-16 oz mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
-10 eggs
-1/4 c skim milk
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 c cheese, shredded (here I used a combination of swiss and parmesan)

Melt butter in a 10"-12" ovenproop skillet over medium heat.  Saute mushrooms until cooked, about 5 minutes.  Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and herbs until well combined.  Stir in cheese.  Pour egg mixture into skillet and stir well with the mushrooms using a rubber spatula.  Continue to cook (without stirring) until the bottom is set, and the top is almost set, about 5 minutes.  Place under the broiler until the top is set and browned, about 5 minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

lemon bars

I'm starting to realize that I haven't been very creative in the kitchen lately.  I haven't been coming up with many recipes of my own, and have for the most part been producing the fruit of the creativity of others.  Oh well... at least it has been delicious!  On that note, here's another one that I've been wanting to make for a while and am just now getting around to.

I made these Lemon Bars from Smitten Kitchen (one of my favorite and most trusted foodie blogs!).  I followed the recipe for the thick layer of filling, and didn't change a thing.  These were a great and delicious way to use up some of the lemons that I have laying around from the tree of a friend. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cajun Chicken Pasta

I made this Cajun Chicken Pasta from Pioneer Woman.  Speaking of which, I LOVE her!  All of her recipes are SO great!  But fattening!  And I tend to lighten them up. A LOT!  But I love how she cooks simple, straight-forward, crowd pleasing food.  Her beautiful photos and charming wit also make it fun to read her blog.  But I digress...  Back to the pasta.  I liked it.  Jeremy thought it was ok.  Had I followed her recipe fully it probably would have tasted even better, but I'd make the same changes again in effort to keep things on the healthy, yet still tasty side.  The changes that I made were;

-used whole wheat pasta
-used one can of diced tomatoes (undrained) in place of the fresh tomatoes
-reduced the butter and olive oil by half
-used fat-free half and half in place of the heavy cream, and whisked it with 1 Tbsp flour prior to adding to the dish to thicken a little more
-added 1 mushrooms, sliced, after the peppers started to soften
-topped our individual bowls with parmesan cheese

the lesson I learned from the table project

I posted here about my newly refinished kitchen table.  In addition to brightening up our kitchen, and sprucing up our table, I also learned a valuable lesson from this project...

First, let me back up a little bit and say that very frequently I tell people what I am not, or what I don't do.  I frequently say that I don't sing because I'm tone deaf.  I frequently throw around phrases like I'm not a decorator, or I'm not handy, or I'm not good with make-up, fashion, etc.  Recently one of my friends pointed that out to me.  She gingerly pointed out to me that I'm always saying what I'm not, or what I don't do.... that I'm frequently defining myself by my weaknesses and what I'm against, rather than my positives and what I'm for.  (Nina, if you're reading this I may not have really heard you in the moment, or really grasped the wisdom in what you said, but your words are still whispering to my heart!). 

So I have spent years telling people that I'm not handy.  And not a decorator.  And then I take on this project of re-finishing our table.  It required the use of sanders, and paint, and wood stain, and all kinds of various tools and medium that are foreign to me.  (Thank God for youtube!).  But with my husbands encouragement I took on this project that seemed to be too big for me.  And you know what?  I did it.  And I did a pretty good job with it.  And I had fun.  And now I realize that maybe I can be handy, and can be a decorator.  Maybe I just haven't believed in and applied myself in the past.  Maybe I've spent too many years believing the lies that I am not these things, rather than tapping into all of the gifts and passions that I have.

And now I wonder... what other lies am I believing that are crippling me from me all that I can be... all who God created me to be?  What other hidden passions and talents have I not indulged and excelled in due to fear of failure?

Now I press on... to try new things... to be defined by positives, by what I am about and what I am for, rather than what I am not.

refinished table

A few months ago Jeremy and I were handed down a table from friends who were moving out of the area. (Apparently these friends had been handed down this table from other friends, who had been handed down from other friends, so we are at least the 4th family to be enjoying this table). I was thrilled to have a 6 person table (FOR FREE) to replace our 4 person table that didn't seem adequate for all of the entertaining that we do. Unfortunately the table came with some stains on the top of it. So I began to brainstorm how I could refinish it.

I couldn't be more happy with the end result. It is basically my dream table now. This was a very scary project for me, I don't tend to be a decorater, or a do-it-yourselfer. It seemed intimidating, but the whole process went very well. I have learned some technique tips that I would do differently next time around, but I am still so pleased with this piece.

Jeremy has been looking for a creative outlet lately, so he did the table and I did the chairs. My favorite part is that the paint for the chairs was all free paint leftover from home projects from friends and family members. So we have chairs that same color as several of our loved ones walls, and we have a little piece of their home incorporated into ours.




 and a close up of some of the distressing and staining...

This process was so rewarding, and I love the fun pops of color that liven up our kitchen now.  I'm already perusing the house for what I can paint and distress next... spice rack, microwave cart, dressers, bookshelves; I'm coming for you!