Wednesday, August 31, 2011

At Home

I love being a stay-at-home mom! It has challenges but tons of blessings as well! Justin and I try very hard to keep a simple schedule, especially mine and Micah's. It revolves mostly around church services and naptime. :) Occasionally though, life gets pretty crazy! And I'm always thankful at those times that it's not typical for us.

When I'm not home:
1. My home is not cared for properly. I skip my weekly cleaning and daily tasks. Then I get stressed out trying to catch up.
2. I'm not training my son. Public places are not optimal for training toddlers. Toddlers are distracted and they lack a safe place to play and learn.
3. My husband is inconvenienced. My husband is a great man! And I want to take care of him! If I'm not here, I can't do that. One of my priorities is to be here to fix him lunch and supper or take it to him if he needs me to.

This is not a comprehensive list but it's a good start. That's why my husband and I agreed a long time ago that we would make my being home a priority. I'm very thankful for the work God has given me and I want to do it to the best of my ability!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Sloppy Joe's

Sometimes you just need some messy food. For instance, if you haven't had to clean anything all day, or if you haven't had to change your shirt already, or...ok, those are ridiculous scenarios. Maybe you just love sloppy joes!

I found a Rachael Ray recipe and adapted it. I'm not a huge fan of chunks of onions and peppers so I always leave them out. If you like them, add them in with the meat and let them soften.

1 pound ground meat (I used turkey)
salt and pepper
1 tsp. each garlic and onion powder
2 tsp. steak seasoning
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar (use white vinegar if that's all you have)
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tbsp. tomato paste
4 hamburger buns

Brown meat with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, steak seasoning, and cayenne pepper. When meat is browned, drain if needed. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

(I'm personally impressed with how you can see the steam in this picture!)

Add the vinegar and worcestershire sauce. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Add tomato sauce and paste, stirring well to incorporate. Add some amounts of water if meat mixture is too thick. Cook for five minutes longer and serve on toasted buns!

Quick, easy, and messy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Debt Free Conference

This has been a crazy week! I'm enjoying it but I'm glad they aren't all this way! The biggest thing about this week is that we are having Debt Free Conference at our church. It's been great! Please take the time to watch the recorded sessions at our website! We'll finish up tomorrow!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lesley's Nachos Supreme

I love eating almost as much as I love cooking. Ok, probably as much as I love cooking. But I still like the occasions when I get to eat and not cook! We ate with some friends this past Friday and had a Mexican feast. I felt like I should write "fiesta" there :) We have a great Mexican restaurant in town and they make some delicious nachos! Well, my friend Lesley is awesome and she learned to make them on her own. They are amazing!

She marinated her meat overnight and it was wonderful!

1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup water
juice of one lime or 1 tsp. orange juice
1 1/2 tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. minced garlic.
Mix well.
Add 1 pound beef strips and 1 pound chicken strips and let sit overnight or at least 2 hours.

Saute meat in batches until browned and cooked through. (If you don't do it in batches your meat is going to steam instead of saute. It won't have a nice crisp texture on the outside.)

You're also going to need
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 tomato, cut into chunks

Saute on griddle (fighting the kitchen equipment envy!) or in saute pan until crisp-tender.

She used the new Velveeta Queso and it was really good. She said she might try the actual queso cheese next time because the Veleeta does harden after a short while. Still tastes delicious though!

1/3 block cheese
1/4 cup milk
Mix together and melt cheese in microwave, approximately 2 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Nice closeup of the meat and veggies. Hungry yet?

Last, but not least, you're going to need nacho chips! You'll have to decide how many! Add meat and veggies to the chips and top with cheese! Now you have your own Mexican fiesta!

Ever noticed how your clothes smell funny after you've been in a Mexican restaurant? Well, ours did after this too. That's success in my book!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Favorites: Climbing

Micah's favorite new thing? Climbing, of course! He likes to climb on anything. Unfortunately, he also likes falling! He thinks it's hilarious! This kid is going to love roller coasters once he's big enough for them!

His high chair is on its lowest setting here and he wanted back in it!

He can climb on the couch by himself now. He tried to walk off of it earlier today. He landed on a pillow and thought it was great! He also likes to stand on the ottoman and do a King of the Mountain pose! I don't have a picture of that because I'm more concerned with making him get down :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fish Tacos

Fish tacos always sounded really questionable to me until I found a recipe in a magazine. It looked delicious! The only problem was that the recipe called for mayonnaise. My husband hates mayonnaise and I don't really care for it either so we don't keep any. I wasn't about to pay for mayonnaise to use for this one recipe so I just changed how the recipe was made!

Really I just included this picture because my new microplane is awesome!!! It works great and it so easy to clean. Thanks, Mom!

1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets
1/2 cup milk
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/2 bread crumbs
3/4 packet Ranch seasoning
flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 large carrot, shredded
Ranch dressing

This poor lime has been zested and juiced. But isn't it still pretty?

Thaw fish (if necessary) and slice fillets in half, lengthwise. Heat small amount of oil in pan over medium heat. Combine milk, lime juice, and cayenne pepper in a shallow plate. Combine, flour, bread crumbs, Ranch seasoning, and lime zest in another shallow plate. Cover fish in milk mixture then coat in bread crumb mixture.

Cook fish for 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy around the edges.

I had never cooked fish quite like this before so I had to taste it. That probably doesn't excuse eating a whole piece!

Slice cabbage into small shreds and shred your carrot. I laid my carrot on the cutting board and pressed down extra hard with a veggie peeler to get these pretty curls.

Warm your tortillas in the microwave. Layer fish, cabbage, carrots, and Ranch dressing on the tortilla.

Devour in three bites. These were pretty filling so we didn't have many tacos each. But the fish was so good that we went ahead and ate more of it. That's why we run out of leftovers for lunch the next day!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Coloring Those Blue Days

Sometimes I have those days when everything seems to go wrong, I don’t feel well, or I’m just off my best game. But there has to be a better solution than complaining on Facebook or sitting on the couch staring at the tv. Regardless of how I feel, I will never get that day back! So I started paying attention to what helped me get through those days the best way possible.

My Game Plan

1. Acknowledge the problems. Ps. 62:8 “Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.” Take one time each day and present your problems before the Lord. Pour out your heart and then the rest of the day, refuse the thought when it comes up. Purposely put it from your mind.

2. Focus on the positive. Phil. 4:4 ”Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice.” Thank God for everything you can think of. Start with the basics and you’ll think of more. Continually come back to this all day.

3. Keep moving. 1 Cor. 4:2 “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” Often on down days it’s tempting to sit and brood or skip your normal work. Don’t do that! Once you’ve poured out your heart to God and thanked Him, be faithful to what God has given you to do.

It might not end up being your best day ever but I think you’ll find that the days you accomplish this turn out better than the days you don’t even try!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Fried Squash and Okra

Late summer is here and we have produce! I have to admit that sometimes I sit produce on my counter and feel healthy just having it there and intending to cook it. And it never sounds good so I leave it sitting there until I have to throw it away. Then I feel guilty so I get more produce to eat. See the vicious cycle?

Let's break that cycle! What isn't better fried? So let's fry that produce! My favorites are squash, okra, and zucchini and they are done in almost the same method. You only need two things besides the produce. And the pan. And some oil. Ok, you need five things!

For the sake of measurements, let's say you have 2 medium-sized squash or zucchini, or a plateful of small okra.
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tbsp. spicy seasoning blend- try Mrs. Dash extra spicy, you won't be disappointed!

Wash your produce and remove the ends. Slice the produce thinly. I like my fried veggies crispy! And the thinner the slices, the crispier it will be. Okra can be a little thicker because it's so small.

Combine cornmeal and seasoning blend in a plate. For the zucchini and squash, coat each slice in the cornmeal mixture, making sure to cover both sides. Do this as you are ready to put it in the pan. If you do it all beforehand, water will leak out of the veggies and make your coating gummy. Gross. You do not need much of the coating!

Fry in oil in a medium heated pan until brown, then turn and cook until crispy. Place on plate covered in paper towels to soak up the extra grease. Repeat till it's all cooked.

Good luck getting it to the table! My brother and I always ate it as Mom was cooking it. Justin and Micah do the same here!

Place okra slices in a bowl and sprinkle the cornmeal mixture over the top. Toss okra around in bowl to coat all sides lightly. Cook 2/3 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until browned on all sides. Remove to a plate covered with paper towels. Repeat until all the okra is cooked!

I always rationalize that at least I'm eating my vegetables even if I am frying them! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chocolate Icing

Remember that chocolate cake? I made it for some friends last week and we decided that we needed some icing! Thanks, Hershey's!

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa (Don't tell, but I used Nestle!)
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt butter, stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount of additional milk if needed. Stir in vanilla.

Frost cooled cake. If you frost a hot cake because everybody wants to eat it your icing will melt. But don't worry, it still tastes great. And even looks good when everything cools off.

And speaking of cake...Happy Birthday to my wonderful mother-in-law, Sharon! We love you! (And I'll make you cake this weekend.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I was reading Proverbs 9 yesterday (you can read the Proverb that corresponds to the day of the month and read the book every month) and noticed something about the two personified ladies in this chapter. "Wisdom" works. She's learned how to do different things and employs them on a regular basis for God's work. "Foolish" is ignorant. The end of verse 13 actually says "she is simple, and knoweth nothing."She is not learning anything; she's content where she is with what she's (not) doing.

My goal is to strive for God's wisdom for my life. It's easy to see that God's ladies are busy working, doing many different things with their talents. Read Proverbs 31 and list the many abilities that this lady possessed. Our Pastor has constantly told us that we need to be reading and learning or we will stagnant. So where am I growing?

1. In the Bible- I spend time in the Bible every day. I listen to my Pastor's messages when I'm at church and also from the archives online. I read good books by great Christians that push me.

2. Piano- My pastor's wife has been instrumental in teaching me to play the piano. Another lady at church has loaned me some technique books that I have started working through.

3. Cooking- I read several cooking blogs and get tips from other cooks. I try new recipes and techniques. I'm expanding even more as I'm cooking low-protein for Micah.

These are just a few areas that I'm really focusing on right now. There are other areas that are harder to label or measure, such as being a better wife and a more effective mother. I also have some longer-term goals for the next 2-5 years. I hope to learn more about gardening and putting away food. I want to learn to sew. I'd like to learn about photography as well. But if I can only grow in three areas, I want it to be the three I've listed above.

Where are you growing? Do you have a plan to keep growing or to start growing?


Monday, August 8, 2011


For years I've bought the boxed baking mixes. You know, Bisquick, Pioneer, the Aldi brand. Then I noticed I was purposefully not buying them because they were expensive and when I wanted to make biscuits on the spur-of-the-moment I couldn't. So I decided to make my own.

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar (adjust for your taste preference)
3/4 stick butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place pizza stone in oven. Combine dry ingredients in medium sized mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until only small pieces of butter remain in dough. (The butter will allow the biscuits to flake up.) Add enough milk for mixture to combine into dough. Knead on a floured surface for 30 seconds or until dough forms a smooth ball. Roll to desired thickness (you should be able to see small pats of butter throughout the dough) and cut out biscuits. Place biscuits on the hot pizza stone and return to oven for 8-10 minutes or until biscuit tops are browned.

Serve with butter, jelly, or honey. Serve as a side with supper. Pour gravy over them and eat with bacon. Or use for breakfast sandwiches. Eat them as an afternoon snack. Or use them for whatever you would normally use biscuits. But don't throw them at people because they don't hurt unless you overbake them. And why you would ruin a good biscuit like that?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Sermon

Our Pastor preached tonight on service. Since I've written about that lately, I thought I would share the link! Enjoy!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Favorites: Air Conditioning

Really the title says it all, right? We've been averaging mid-90s and humid. If we go outside after ten in the morning it's to play in the pool!

Honestly, we have missionaries that constantly work in much hotter weather with no air conditioning at all and they never complain! It's embarrassing to me. And helps me not complain!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


We are all guilty of reacting without thinking to a situation or a request, right? (Please tell me it's not just me!) And I've found that I am even more guilty of this if I am stressed or tired. Shame on me if I think that's an excuse! I've found the best way to help myself is to have a catchphrase that I can say in my head and stop myself from reacting sinfully.

When I was pregnant with Micah the catchphrase was "it's not about me." I remember this one well because I shared it with the ladies in the jail during Reformer's Unanimous. (RU is an addiction program that my husband and I participated in through our church for two years.)

Recently, my catchphrase has been "Servant's Heart." Sometimes this gets draw out to "be a servant," "serve willingly," or some sort of variation on that. So when I'm asked to do something and my initial reaction is "that's not fair" or "I don't want to," I can stop myself, take a deep breath, and respond willingly. And I think that makes God happy.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been on a desserts kick the past few weeks. I promise I'll stop because it's not good for anybody! But before I quit, these cookies are amazing! My favorite part is the toasted pecans. They make the cookie for me. But my husband prefers them "without the nasty nuts!" So try them both ways. Or make some with nuts and some without. :)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

To toast pecans, melt one tablespoon butter in an oven-safe dish and add chopped pecans. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, stirring two or three times. You should start to smell a heavenly aroma. (You can also do this on the stovetop in a dry pan for a shorter amount of time but what's the fun in that?)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla until just combined. Add flour mixture in thirds and mix well after each addition. Stir in toasted pecans (if you want pecans in all your cookies) and chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes (check your oven) or until golden. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Eat while warm with a glass of milk!