Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Black Bean Soup




Black Bean Soup

I had a ham bone lying around to use up so I added it to the mix and used water instead of the broth listed in the recipe below. This soup is an easy vegan meal, but you can add some kind of sausage, crumbled bacon or diced ham if desired. In a hurry, you could even substitute 6 cans of black beans for the dried beans and have dinner ready in just a few minutes of simmering to heat the ingredients through. I intended to puree this soup entirely, but realized that I had packed up my immersion blender months ago so I left it chunky. It's delicious either way. Serve with your favorite assortment of cilantro, chopped onion, hot sauce, sour cream, shredded cheddar and/ or avocado for topping.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-6 cloves garlic, minced
-1 lb dried black beans, soaked overnight, then drained and rinsed
-1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
-5 cups veggie or chicken broth
-1 Tbsp sugar
-2-4 Tbsp hot sauce
-1 tsp chili powder
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp oregano
-1/2-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
-2 Tbsp lime juice

Heat olive oil in medium large pot over medium heat. Add onion, saute 5 minutes, until it softens. Add garlic, saute 1 additional minute, until fragrant. Add beans, diced tomatoes, broth, sugar, hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and cayenne. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until beans reach desired tenderness (1.5-2 hours). Taste and adjust salt and spices. Stir in lime juice. Either serve soup as is, or puree with an immersion blender, food processor or blender and serve with desired toppings.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sauteed Butternut Squash and Kale with Cranberries, Walnuts and a Balsamic Reduction

 
 
Sauteed Butternut Squash and Kale with Cranberries, Walnuts and a Balsamic Reduction
 
Butternut squash and kale are in my current flavor pairing obsessions, right along with maple syrup and balsamic vinegar, sweet potatoes and black beans and goat cheese and anything. This is such a versatile side dish... you can leave out the cranberries and walnuts and turn it into a quesadilla or burrito filling, use it us a pizza topping, stir into a risotto, put in a lasagna or add broth for a soup. You could add goat cheese to the finished product for a little more decadence. Or you could leave the kale raw, add the goat cheese and turn it into a tossed cold salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.
 
-3 Tbsp olive oil
-1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
-1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1/3 cup dried cranberries
-1/4 cup chopped walnuts
-1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
-1/2 cup pure maple syrup
 
Heat oil in large stir fry pan over medium high heat. Cook squash, stirring often, until squash is brown and begins to soften (about 10 minutes).
 
While squash is cooking, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the vinegar and syrup, simmer and stir for at least 10 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced by half.
 
Once the squash reaches desired doneness reduce heat to medium, add kale, and stir until it just begins to wilt. Remove from heat, toss with salt, pepper, dried cranberries and walnuts and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
 


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Turkey Sausage and Cheddar Breakfast Casserole


Turkey Sausage and Cheddar Breakfast Casserole

I love breakfast casseroles! They are my go to for using up extra (or past their prime) breads, meats, cheeses and vegetables. The possibilities are endless. Plus, I usually assemble them the evening before making breakfast completely fuss-free the following morning. I make this casserole every Christmas morning. It's a more healthful twist on one my grandma used to make. We also have this as breakfast for dinner once every few months or so.

-1 package regular flavor turkey breakfast sausage
-10 eggs, lightly beaten
-3 cups milk
-2 teaspoons dry mustard
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-10-12 slices (based on whether you are using small of large sandwich bread) whole wheat bread, cubed
-2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
-1 large can mushrooms
-6 green onions, sliced

Preheat oven to 325 F. In large skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until thoroughly cooked and no longer pink. In large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper; whisk until well incorporated. Stir bread, meat, cheese, mushrooms and green onions into egg mixture and mix well. Pour egg/ bread/ meat mixture into a greased 12 x 9 pan. Bake uncovered for 55-60 minutes, or until eggs are set. Tent with foil if top begins to brown too quickly. Note: May be assembled ahead and refrigerated up to 12 hours before baking (I usually assemble it the night before and bake in the morning).


White Bean Soup



White Bean Soup

This soup really is so versatile. I had a ham bone lying around so I used the ham bone and water (instead of the broth listed below) and I shredded the extra scraps of ham from the bone to put in the soup). You could also add some diced tomatoes, spinach or kale to this soup if you have any needing to be used up. I have recently become a big fan of the way that Shauna Niequist tops her white bean soup with curls of parmesan and a drizzle of vinaigrette, but the soup is still great without them. You can even make this more quick and easy by using canned beans instead of dried, rinsing and draining them, and combining them with 2 cups of broth (instead of 8) and the rest of the ingredients according to the directions. Don't forget some crusty bread for dunking in the soup.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-2 big (or 4 small) carrots, diced
-2 ribs celery, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-8 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
-1 lb dried white beans (soaked overnight and rinsed)
-1 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/2 tsp salt (if needed, based on the saltiness of your broth)
-1 Tbsp sugar
-1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
-(optional) 1-2 cups meat of choice, either cubed ham, chopped prosciutto or crumbled cooked sausage

Heat olive oil in medium large pot over medium heat. Saute onion, carrots and celery until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 additional minute, stirring constantly. Add broth, beans, dried rosemary, dried thyme, black pepper, red pepper flakes and meat of choice (if using). Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium low. Continue to cook, stirring every now and then, until beans reach the desired tenderness (about 1-1.5 hours). Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Mash some of the beans with a potato masher or wooden spoon to thicken the soup. Stir in the sugar and vinegar.

Serve with parmesan curls, crusty bread and a balsamic vinaigrette (see link in intro paragraph) or plain balsamic vinegar for drizzling.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

::this month::




the week that i typed my last monthly update we had a ton going on! we were in the midst of funeral plans and preparing for what jeremy was going to say at said funeral. we thought we were going to have to be out of our current place 3 weeks before our closing date on our new home, causing us to move twice and get storage and stay with friends. then a few days later we were wondering if the whole contract on the house was going to fall through all together causing us to have only one and a half weeks to find a home to rent for the next year and move. let's just say that we had a lot up in the air. i wish that i could say that i handled it all with grace and faith but there were moments when i cried, worried and felt anxious trying to resolve all of the details. then, within 3 days most of the difficult circumstances were resolved and provided for in miraculous ways. i was left looking back wondering why i had wasted time worrying and not trusting god, when i have so many prior memories of him making the impossible possible in my life. fortunately he is better than we know, better than we give him credit for, and he can and will do far beyond all that we could ask or think.

despite all of the ups and downs that have been in the process, we still hope to close on our home in april, and jeremy will be doing some traveling, and then we'll have family in town for a week. it looks to be another full month.

i am so glad to say that i am finally over the first trimester hump and am feeling so much better! i feel like myself again. i have energy, have been getting a lot done, and have been able to really enjoy and be present with the people around me. after months of feeling awful i am so unbelievably grateful to feel good and really live each moment. all of my senses seem more keen and aware and everything around me seems so wonderful, as if i have on rose colored glasses. i have been doing a lot of processing this month... possibly correlated to reading the book make it happen and asking myself all of the questions it entails. i've been looking at how i spend my time and energy, the things i invest myself in, my passions and overall values and evaluating all of these things considering what is and is not working in each of these areas right now. for the most part, i feel like i'm right where i'm supposed to be right now, but there are a few things that i'll be changing over the next month or two, and i'm also planning to start taking active steps towards some of the long term (5-10 year) goals that i have, rather than passively waiting for them to happen in the far off future.

last month jeremy was on 2 podcasts. he's still working on his next full length book, as well as 2 shorter ebooks. he also has a few upcoming projects and groups that he's working on putting together, more details on those to come.

praising:
that despite my fickleness and lack of faith at times that god is faithful, constant, unchanging, and always working all things for my good, even when it doesn't seem that way. i'm grateful for the ways that he miraculously provided us favor and changed circumstances to move forward with our house.

that my god is a living god, who died and rose again, who has defeated death and sin on my behalf so that i can truly live.
 

praying:
for a smooth and speedy process for our home to close

for wisdom and discernment as we continue to process some upcoming changes.


reading:
psalms, john, romans, 
make it happen, savor, all the light we cannot see
 

thankful for:
to be feeling well physically, emotionally and spiritually.

spring. we have had lots of sunshine. me and the boys have spent lots of time outdoors. it seems that the whole world around me is coming to life just as i'm emerging from a several month slump. i see flowers blooming, butterflies flying, hear birds chirping, and am just so grateful for it all.

our time living by the bayou. seeing as how we will be moving into our home within the next month and leaving our current neighborhood behind, i am so grateful for our time here. we are very excited about our new neighborhood and new home, but there is something so special about the area that we've been in the last 3 and a half years. we have really enjoyed this area, taking almost daily walks along the bayou and to the nearby parks and playgrounds. this is currently my very favorite neighborhood in new orleans, but i'm pretty sure i'll feel that way about our new neighborhood before too long.

cooking:


huevos rancheros, whole wheat pizza with turkey pepperoni and jalapenos, thai chicken pizza, vietnamese noodle bowls, chicken sausage on buns with sauteed onions and peppers, gumbo, caesar salad, grilled cheese and tomato soup, four cheese lasagna with turkey sausage, whole wheat banana bread muffins with chocolate chips, taco soup, tacos with homemade salsa, italian stuffed peppers, chicken pavlava, fried rice, maple balsamic pork tenderloin, chai bars, veggie tray with curry dip, green well salad, lemon bars, coconut lemon chickpeas with sundried tomatoes and spinach, zuppa toscana, spinach and feta pie in puff pastry, baked risotto with peas, white chicken chili, cornbread
 
baby update:
i still haven't been to the doctor yet (i've been working with our insurance to change my plan so that i can go to my doctor whom i love who did not accept my prior plan). i do have an appointment next monday, so we will know more soon. as of right now, we think i'm around 18 weeks pregnant. that said, we've been joking that by the time i finally go to the doctor they will be confirming my pregnancy and telling us the gender all in the same appointment. i've been feeling much better, and more like myself again, although still a little nauseous here and there and still unable to consume caffeine and fried or greasy foods. in addition to the cravings of sushi and pho that i mentioned last month this month i've also been craving lime popsicles, homemade salsa, beef, lebanese grape leaves and orange juice. as of now i've gained a few pounds and think that my belly officially popped this month and has started truly appearing to be in the early stages of pregnancy. we have not discussed, or even thought of names for this baby yet, because it has been a crazy busy few months, but we still have a girls name leftover from eli, so we have one unofficial girl name idea and no boy names. good thing we still have several months to go.
 

doing:
all the usual activities; weekly homeless outreach, monthly book club, monthly community group, radiant monthly ladies gathering, lots of playdates and dinners with friends.

pondering:


proverbs 23:7 for as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

i've been thinking about this verse. that how a man thinks of himself so he will be. so he will act. so will be his fruit.

what are you/ i thinking of ourselves? are we thinking that we aren't good enough, aren't talented enough? are we thinking that we are lesser than others? worthless? insignificant? flawed? broken?

or are we believing the truth? the truth that we are redeemed. whole. holy. loved. accepted. valuable. forgiven. reconciled. clean. without sin or flaw. that we are covered in and defined by the blood of christ. worth his coming to earth. worthy of his sacrifice. that god loved us so much to send us his son. and his holy spirit. that we have been equipped, empowered, sent out. that we have the fullness of god's power dwelling in us.

i want to believe the truth about myself, and so be those things. act those ways. bear that fruit.

may we do that together, friends. may we see ourselves as god sees us and define ourselves by what he says about us. may we live in constant communion with him. basking in his love and rest, manifesting his kingdom on earth. may all of the lies have no foothold or roots in our hearts and minds.

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.