Friday, March 27, 2015

Taco Soup

Taco Soup

This soup is so easy that I almost don't count it as cooking because all you really do is chop an onion, open cans and dump everything in a pot.  If you'd like to liven it up with a little more freshness (and more work) you can also saute some diced bell pepper or minced garlic with the onion, or you could even toss in some freshly chopped cilantro at the end.  Part of the comfort of this soup is that it is so uninvolved though, and we all need a few recipes like that in our arsenal.  Serve the soup with cornbread or tortillas chips and cheddar cheese and sour cream for topping.  This recipe makes a lot.  It fills my whole large pot (not stock pot).  I'd say it serves at least 10-12 heavy eaters.  It's great for a football party or anytime you are feeding a crowd because you can make it in advance and keep it warm for an entire party.  If you're serving a smaller group I'd recommend cutting everything in half and you'll still have plenty for at least 5-6 people for dinner.

-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-2 lbs ground beef
-4 cups beef broth
-1 (29 oz) can diced tomatoes (with their juice)
-1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes with chiles (like Rotel)
-1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
-3 (15 oz) cans any type of bean, rinsed and drained (I did 1 pinto, 1 light red kidney bean and 1 dark red kidney bean in this batch)
-1 can chopped green chiles
-1 envelop ranch dressing mix
-4 Tbsp brown sugar
-1 Tbsp chili powder
-2 tsp cumin
-1 tsp oregano
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
-3 Tbsp cornmeal mixed with 3 Tbsp water

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Saute onion and beef, stirring often and breaking up, until beef is cooked, about 10 minutes.  Drain off fat.  Add broth- cayenne to the pot with the beef and the onion.  Simmer over medium heat until flavors come together, at least 20 minutes.  Stir in cornmeal/ water mixture and continue to simmer until it thickens, at least 5 minutes.  Serve with desired toppings.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Slow Cooker Pulled Buffalo Chicken

Slow Cooker Pulled Buffalo Chicken

Although this recipe contains more processed ingredients than I normally use, it is super easy, a crowd pleaser and it hit the spot on a spicy meaty craving for this preggo lady. Because I made a double batch to feed a crowd we had lots of leftovers that I plan to use making lettuce wraps, quesadillas and buffalo chicken pizza. This filling could also be great on a salad, in enchiladas or wrapped inside of a tortilla.  If making sandwiches like I did in the picture above serve with your choice of  buns/ bread/ tortillas, ranch or bleu cheese dressing, bleu cheese crumbles, lettuce and shredded carrots.

-2 pounds chicken breasts
-1 (12) oz bottle hot sauce
-1 packet ranch dressing mix
-2 Tbsp butter

Place chicken in a greased slow cooker and cover with 1 c of hot sauce and 1 packet of ranch dressing mix.  Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove meat from the slow cooker and shred using 2 forks. Discard juices from slow cooker.  Return meat to slow cooker, add butter and additional hot sauce to taste. Continue to cook on low an additional 30-60 minutes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

::the last 2 months::

now that we've covered that announcement i can address why i have been a slacker at blogging for the last two months.  i have been feeling sick for the past two months.  i have done the bare minimum possible in almost every area of my life and have basically just been treading water to stay afloat, rather than swimming and accomplishing anything extra {aside from building a tiny person inside of me}.

we have been busy.  with school applications for noah.  with personal and bastion taxes and year end accounting.  with jumping through hoops on the house that we have under contract.  with all of our regular activities and groups.  with regular visits to a friend who has been battling cancer for months and who passed away last friday.  it has all been a lot to keep up with and all i have wanted to do has been give in to my pregnancy hormones and lay on the couch and nap.  so blogging just hasn't happened lately.  but i'm starting to feel better and feel able to return to my regular routines again.


god's faithfulness, grace and abounding love... how he is always present and always good even when i don't feel like it, even when i don't see him and his true attributes when i look around... he is always the same... and always has grace to cover the lack in how i am perceiving him.

that god really does work all things for good.  i believe this from the depths of my soul.  i can be confident that in all things he will use them for good.


for chet's family and friend's as they mourn, miss him and process the loss of a loved one.  he was so full of life and laughter.  he was so vibrant, engaging and enchanting.  he was so loved.  he brought out the best in others and challenged them to pursue their dreams.  we miss him, but are so glad that he is no longer suffering and we are completely confident that he is in heaven right now.  jeremy will be speaking at the funeral this saturday, which will probably be one of the hardest things he has ever done, but we are looking forward to a sweet time of celebrating and remembering chet's life. 

for wisdom, clarity and favor as jeremy and i dream and plan and talk to god about what's in store for bastion ministries and our family this year, next year and the next several years.

for the process to go smoothly on the house we have under contract.  there is a possibility that we'll have to be out of our current rental 2-3 weeks before we close on our house.  which makes things complicated...  it means we'd have to move twice, get a storage facility and stay with friends for a few weeks.  there's also a possibility that our new closing (and moving) date could fall on a week that jeremy will be out of town for 5 days speaking at a conference.  so prayers for favor in all of that are appreciated right now!


psalms, esther, john, a house in the sky, make it happen

thankful for:

friends.  new and old.  on earth and in heaven.  we have been blessed to be surrounded by such great people.  given recent events, i'm not {or trying not to} taking{take} a single moment or memory with anyone for granted.

lots of extra help and support from my hubby, family and friends during this several month season of me not feeling well.  my hubby who has been so patient and understanding when i haven't been as engaged or emotionally present as i normally am.  family and friends that have watched our kids, done our laundry, cooked us food and shown me grace when i haven't been the kind of friend that i normally am.

all of the fun birthday celebrations this month.  i felt so loved and celebrated and am so grateful to have such great people in my life.

grace. despite the complications that have been thrown our way with this house and the move, i am so completely grateful to have options.  to have gotten to live in a place that we have loved for the last several years.  to get to buy a beautiful home and grow deeper roots here.  to have a fun option of staying with good friends, even if we do end up having to move twice.  things have gotten seemingly inconvenient, but we are so blessed.  we have always had a wonderful place to live and we've experienced such favor in all of these details, and just maybe there's a reason for the current complications, and just maybe we will find blessing in them.  because whether they are from god or the enemy, i know that god works all things for good, and so this too, will be worked for good.


huevos rancheros,  whole wheat pizza with turkey pepperoni and jalapenos, vietnamese noodle bowls, chicken sausage on buns with sauteed onions and peppers, korean beef, spicy chicken enchiladas, pumpkin pasta with turkey sausage, pulled buffalo chicken sandwiches, steak, caramelized brussel sprouts, veggie tray with curry dip, gumbo, sloppy joe's, caesar salad, grilled cheese and tomato soup, jerk chicken with jamaican red beans and rice, creole okra and tomatoes, chinese char siu roast pork, vegetable soup, thai tilapia curry, chai bars, pumpkin oat muffins with chocolate chips, four cheese lasagna with turkey sausage, chana masala

baby update:

i still haven't been to the doctor yet but we are thinking i'm around 12 weeks pregnant now and will be due around the second week of september.  as i mentioned, i have felt pretty nauseous and tired for the last two months, but am feeling a little better each day as of now.  as of now, this pregnancy is pretty comparable to my first two.  i've felt pretty much the same and had the same cravings and aversions.  my biggest cravings have been sushi, pho and caesar salad and my biggest aversions have been coffee, sweets and anything fried or greasy.  my belly is just starting to pop out and appear a little pregnant, although it's still easily covered up by baggy shirts. 


all the usual activities; weekly homeless outreach, monthly book club, monthly community group, radiant monthly ladies gathering, lots of playdates and dinners with friends.  a homeless outreach with our community group.  hosting a local new orleans gathering for the yearly women's conference "if gathering".  a few mardis gras parades and festivities.  several birthday celebrations for me including an overnight date night without the kiddos, lunches and breakfasts with friends, and a ladies road trip, sushi dinner and worship night.  packing.  cooking in a yearly gumbo cook off.


in my last "monthly" update i talked about my word for the year for 2015.  in addition to that, there are a lot of words that god has put on my heart that i have been meditating on that are an indication of some of what is going on in my heart right now.  these are areas that i want to be more intentional in, grow in and thrive in in 2015.

-present: i want to be present always.  with god.  with those around me.
-enough: this word has been standing out to me for months.  ever since reading daring greatly.  i want to be confident and fully know in my heart that i am enough, just as i am.  to really know in my heart that nothing i do defines me or changes my worth, but that i am enough.  and that god is enough.  that all of my needs and desires and found in him.  of course i know these things in my head, but i want to walk in the deep heart truth of knowing them fully in every part of me.
-savor/ enjoy/ cherish: along with being present, i really want to savor/ enjoy/ cherish each moment, each person, each interaction.  i think this starts with being present, and then builds on it.


i've also been processing how i have felt spiritually complacent this year.  the last few years i have felt like i walked in such faith, believing and expecting the impossible and miraculous and not feeding into fears and doubts.  i really felt like i lived out 2 corinthians 5:7 and walked by faith and not by sight.  over the last few months i feel like this has decreased.  i've been giving more credit to my natural circumstances, to fear, to emotions and feelings, to the approval of others and have slipped away from walking by faith alone.  so i've been coming back to 2 corinthians 5:7 and meditating on it.  letting god speak to my soul and renew my mind and heart to who he is and who i am in him.  and he's been giving me opportunities to walk this out... to say no to fear and doubt and to proceed forward in faith and trust.  it's a lot easier to say that i want to walk by faith than it actually is to choose faith in those situations (over fear, worry and doubt) but i am being refined and renewed along the way and i'm gaining a little ground with each step, each time i trust, each time i say no to the enemy and his tactics.


i've also felt lately like i'm in a season on waiting... there are some promises that god has spoken to me and given me dreams and a vision for, but many of them are at least 5-10 years out from the current time.  so it can be easy to loose sight of them and question them.  it could be easy for me to sit back and say that i know this isn't the season for them so i'm going to sit back, relax and wait.  but lately god has been whispering something to me over and over again.  he's been saying that "waiting isn't passive".  that waiting is a season of preparation for the one to come.  it's a season of tilling the ground, planting the seeds and watering, so that in it's time, the crop will come.  it's a season of believing in the unseen and speaking things into existence, step by step.  waiting is active.  the character needed for the next season is being built and established in this one.  there's a responsibility for me to actively believe for what is to come, like the "heros of faith" mentioned in hebrews 11, who believed god's promises even though most of them never actually saw the promise come to pass.  they still had to live their lives in faith, believing for the promise and establishing the groundwork which would make the promise possible for the next generation.  like david, when he didn't actually step into the role of king until over 15 years after he had been anointed by samuel.  and during those 15 years his circumstances started to look like he was getting further and further from being king... he began to be persecuted by saul, then his men began to leave him, and it appeared that he had decreased in favor and was forced to live in hiding and isolation.  he could have easily given up on the promise that he would one day be king when his circumstances seemed to be saying the opposite.  but he never gave up on himself, or god, or ceased to let his character be built through the process (when he chose not to use the opportunities that he had to kill saul). and so i'm learning to wait actively as opposed to passively.