Thursday, March 27, 2014

Easy "Risotto"

I made this Ina Garten baked risotto recipe that produces an authentic risotto-like product, without all of the hands on work of stirring and watching.  I thought it turned out great!  I didn't have any wine on hand, so I eliminated it altogether, and added 1 Tbsp of lemon juice, because I like a touch of lemon with spring vegetables.  Next time I might even add some lemon zest.  I did find the finished product a little too salty and would reduce the salt by 1/2-1 tsp next time.  I also reduced the butter to 2 Tbsp, and might even cut it back to only 1 Tbsp next time, the cheese made it rich enough for me.  Other than that, such a great and easy recipe that can easily be changed to include your veggies and cheeses of choice... I definitely see an asparagus and mushroom versions in my future, and one with goat cheese instead of parmesan.

Monday, March 24, 2014



This is yet another recipe from the book Bread & Wine.  I've adjusted the original recipe from the book with the 3 changes that I made (add red pepper flakes, increase the tomatoes and reduce the bread crumb topping) to suit my taste.  This dish was simple, healthy, earthy and filing.

-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 lb. Italian turkey sausage
-1 1/2 cups chicken broth
-1 onion, thinly sliced
-3 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch dice
-3 parsnips, cut into 1/2 inch dice
-2 tomatoes, chopped, or one 15-oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
-3 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, drained
-5 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 t. dried thyme leaves
-1/2 t. salt
-1/4 t. pepper, freshly ground
-1/4 t red pepper flakes
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 c bread crumbs
-1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
-2 T. butter

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the sausage until well-browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel. Set aside.

2. In same Dutch oven, add the chicken broth, vegetables, beans, thyme, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, one third of the garlic, and the sausage.  Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour until the cassoulet is thickened and vegetables are tender.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, parsley, and butter. Sprinkle evenly over the cassoulet, and place in the oven. Bake, uncovered, until the crust is golden brown, 10-15 minutes.

To make ahead and freeze, prepare without the bread crumb topping. Cover and freeze up to 4 months. When ready to cook, uncover the cassoulet, sprinkle with bread crumb mixture, and bake, unthawed, 45 minutes to 1 hour at 400 degrees.

Our New Group

We are planning to start a new "community group" in the New Orleans area. This is going to be a group unlike anything we've ever seen or heard of being done.

Many different factors have come together to add up to this vision that we have.

The first being that we know lots of people in the New Orleans area (that are or are not part of a church, that are or are not Christians) who have a longing for community. So many of the people here are transplants from other places and don't have deep family roots in the area. People are longing for friends to stand the test of time, people to enjoy and mourn the ups and downs of life with, kids for their kids to grow up with, and an overall sense of coming together for the good of others, us all, and this city. They want to be cared for and to care for others. People to relax with, to play with, to celebrate with, to help and be helped when they move, need a babysitter, and more. They want community. So while I don't want to imply the church-y, Christian connotation that comes with "community group", that term very literally describes the essence of what we will be starting.

Another factor going into our vision is our heart for unity, for inclusion, to see all people accepted and welcomed despite all the barriers and divisions that our culture and society throw up. I (Shannon) recently livestreamed a women's conference that had multiple women coming together from different denominations and groups of faith. I think for the most part, we tend to let those differences divide us. But there was something so beautiful, and pure about these women holding their differences loosely and joining hands to be a part of a work together. I long to see that... to see people from differing faiths be able to fellowship together, respectfully.

So that's a little bit of the background going into this. What this looks like going forward is still a little unknown and uncharted. It may adapt a bit over time as our vision becomes more clear. But for now, we plan to start meeting once a month and see how that goes. It could then become more or less regular based on the interest of those involved. We're going to plan for the first Sunday of every month and then go from there. We will meet from 5-7 pm. The first hour will be mostly social and sharing a meal. The second hour will be some sort of group discussion, probably starting off just getting to know each other a bit and getting comfortable with each other. Our first gathering will be Sunday May 25, from 5-7 pm at the Mangerchine home. If you are interested in joining us, or have questions about this, please let us know.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Turkey Sausage and Butternut Squash Lasagna

Turkey Sausage and Butternut Squash Lasagna

This recipe is a slightly adjusted version of a recipe from a friend of a friend.  I used skim milk, because I always try to keep things on the lighter side.  It turned out well, but if you're not as concerned about calories I think you'd get an even better flavor using 2% or whole milk.  Next time I think I'd also consider adding a layer of sauteed spinach, because I really like the pairing of greens and butternut squash.

-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
-Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
-1 lb Italian Turkey sausage, casings removed
-1/2 stick butter
-1/4 cup all purpose flour
-3 cups milk
-1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
-1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
-1 Tbsp minced fresh sage
-15 whole wheat lasagna noodles, soaked in hot tap water for 20 minutes
-3 lbs butternut squash, neck portion only, peeled and sliced into wide thin sheets (quickly did this in my food processor)

Heat the oil in a large non-stick fry pan, over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl.  In the fry pan over medium-high heat, cook the sausage breaking it into small pieces, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain the sausage on paper towels, then add the onion mixture.  In the fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the milk, increase the heat to medium-high and cook until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a separate bowl. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheese, the 1/4 cup parsley, the sage, salt, and pepper.

To assemble the lasagna, spread 1/3 cup sauce on the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan and top with a single layer of 5 noodles. Top with a layer of squash slices, 1/2 the sausage, and 1/3 the sauce. Repeat the layering of noodles, squash, sausage and sauce.  Top with the remaining noodles, sauce, and 1/4 c cheese.  Transfer the pan to the oven and bake at 375 until the lasagna is browned and bubbly, about 35-45 minutes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

We Confess Hope, Truth, Victory and Identity in Christ

It has become more acceptable to confess sin, brokenness, struggles, and defeat than to confess and/or declare hope, Truth, victory, and identity in Christ.  People spend more time talking about their personal struggles and "prayer requests" than they do talking about Christ in us, His victory, righteousness, finished work, and who we are in Him.  More time is spent giving credit to the enemy and his works than to God and His FINISHED work.  This makes for a big devil, and a small God, even if unintentionally.

Bastion Ministries is committed to confessing, dwelling on, and declaring God and His glory, His attributes, His works, and His power.  Although we do face many of the worldly struggles that others do, we choose to handle them differently.  We choose not to dwell on them, live in them, and become defeated, but to look at all through the lens of Christ, to bring Him to each circumstance.  We choose to use our words for, and dwell our minds on the praiseworthy, admirably, lovely, and true things as we take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Philippians 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

We choose to bring life with our words and declare the testimony of God which defeats the works of the enemy.

Revelation 12:10-11 “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

We choose to speak words that bring healing, life and encouragement.

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb,  sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

The world has enough sin, brokenness, and darkness, it doesn't need us to confess those things.  The world needs us to know who we are in Christ and to bring His Light to all of the darkness.  To confess His glory, His victory, His power.

I'm not saying there is no place for confession of sin and struggles, but I am saying those should always be followed up with Truth and confession and declarations of hope, victory, and identity in Christ.  I am also saying that our confessions and declarations should be way more about God in us and what He has done, who He has made us, then the lies and attacks of the enemy.  

I think a lot of times our confessions of struggles are focused on for the sake of being "real" and relating with others.  The most "real" thing about us is Christ in us.  He is our reality.  The world doesn't need to relate to our struggles, they have their own.  They need to know the truth that there is more than our struggles.. that there is victory and freedom from struggles... that there is One who has already overcome.

Spending your time and energy on something gives it power.  Would you rather use your thoughts and words to give power to the enemy, or to God?  The more we dwell on our struggles, the more defeated we feel.  The more we dwell on Christ's victory and freedom, the more victorious and free we feel.  Spend your thoughts on Heavenly things and allow your mind to be renewed to the reality of the victory that has already been won.  

So friends, I challenge to spend your time, energy, thoughts and words on truth today... on victory... on hope... on who you are in Christ.  Let's be a people who confess His glory and goodness to the world.  So tell us, what is God teaching you today?  What is He doing in, through and around you?  Let's celebrate Him!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pasta with Turkey Sausage, Spinach, and Smoked Gouda

Pasta with Turkey Sausage, Spinach, and Smoked Gouda

This is my take on a recipe that a friend made from her church cookbook.  This dish combines many of my favorite foods/ flavors and is fairly simple to throw together.  When making/ serving casseroles like this, I almost always make them first thing in the morning while the kiddos are happily playing and then refrigerate and bring to room temperature for an hour before baking prior to dinner.  I find that my afternoons and evenings can get off course based on the ups and downs of kid behavior during the day, and it's always nice to know that dinner is already prepared and that all I need to do is pop it straight into the oven.

-1 box whole wheat pasta, cooked al dente (I used penne)
-1 lb Italian turkey sausage, cooked and crumbled
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-2-3 assorted bell peppers, diced (I used 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 orange)
-6 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (29 oz) can diced tomatoes
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-8 oz baby spinach leaves
-2 1/2 c smoked gouda, shredded, divided use

Heat oil in medium pot over medium heat.  Add onion and peppers.  Saute until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, saute 1 additional minute.  Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, stirring well.  Add spinach, cooking and stirring until just wilted, about 5 minutes.  Toss pasta and sausage with tomato mixture and 2 c of the cheese.  Spread into a greased 13x9 pan.  Top with remaining 1/2 c cheese.  Bake at 375 20-30 minutes, until warm and cheese is melted.

Super Hero Masks

I followed this tutorial to make some felt super hero masks for a little boy's birthday.  Noah loved the masks (or mask-es as he calls them) so much that I made him a set also.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Potato, Squash, Zucchini and Goat Cheese Gratin

Potato, Squash, Zucchini and Goat Cheese Gratin

I was inspired by this recipe, but made a few changes to suit my taste.  This gratin is really easy to throw together, it only took me about 10 minutes to assemble because I used my food processor for all of the slicing.  This filled a 13x9 pan, if serving a smaller family of 4 and you don't want a lot of leftovers then I'd cut the recipe by half.  

-about 5-6 red potatoes, washed and scrubbed
-2 yellow squash
-2 zucchini squash
-4 Tbsp olive oil
-4 oz goat cheese
-1/4 c milk or cream
-1.5 tsp salt
-3/4 tsp pepper
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated

Use a mandolin or food processor to thinly slice the potatoes, squash, and zucchini.  Toss the vegetable with the olive oil.  In a separate bowl, combine goat cheese, milk, salt, pepper and thyme.  Stir until well mixed.  Spread the veggies in a greased 13x9 pan.  Pour goat cheese and milk mixture over the veggies.  Top with parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 400 for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.