Friday, January 16, 2015

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts



 
 
Caramelized Brussel Sprouts
 
Until recently, Jeremy said that he didn't like brussel sprouts and now he has announced that we could eat these for dinner every night.  This method is simple and fuss-free, but ends up with such delicious results.  You can also toss in some bacon or pancetta with these while roasting, as we had in a restaurant in Ohio a few month ago.  I follow this exact same method for roasting carrots  (peeled and cut into 1" chunks, or whole baby carrots) also, I just increase the cooking time.
 
-2 lbs brussel sprouts, rinsed, trimmed, sliced in half
-1/4 c olive oil
-3 Tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
 
In a medium bowl, stir together oil, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Toss with brussel sprouts.  Roast at 400 for 35-45 minutes (or until desired browning has occurred), stirring every 10 minutes as you go.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chana Masala



I made this Chana Masala from the book A Homemade Life.  Our book club read the book and we each brought a recipe from the book to share for our dinner.  EVERY. SINGLE. RECIPE. WAS AMAZLING!  This Chana Masala was great over basmati rice, but would be good served with naan also.  There were a few things that I changed from the recipe, mainly that I used ground cumin and ground cardamom because that was all that I could find at my store.  I also added a tsp of sugar because I like a touch of sweetness in anything that has tomatoes.  Other than that I followed the recipe as directed and would do so again.  Try this.  It's easy and nutritious. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

6 Profound lessons I've learned from doing homeless ministry with a fast friend



First I'd like to introduce you to my friend Heather.  Isn't she beautiful?  She's just as stunning in person, and even more beautiful on the inside than she is on the outside.  I met Heather just a few months ago and it was love at first sight.  She spoke a language of faith so similar to my own that I knew it was a God ordained relationship.  We talked about God the entire evening, sharing testimonies of our encounters with Him and the revelation He has given us.  There was power on that conversation and I left knowing that  we would be friends and eventually have opportunities to partner together.

Last year Heather started a ministry called Kingdom Project and has a beautiful and passionate heart to love and serve on people that are in need.  She is gifted in evangelism and teaching and is doing and is going to do great things and "greater things"!  Shortly before I met Heather she had started going out to the French Quarter, to where the broken, hurting, lonely, needy people were and meeting them where they were to bring them Jesus.  She brought them food and clothes for their physical needs and love, hugs, Truth, prayers, encouragement and a listening ear for their spiritual and emotional needs.

For the last month or two I've had the privilege to go out and minister with Heather and two other ladies (hi Lyndsey and April, y'all are awesome also, but that will be a story for another day) almost weekly.  God has taught me so many lessons along the way and I wanted to share some of them with you, that they may be of encouragement to you in case you don't have a Heather in your life.



1. You/ I can do this!!!!!  The "this" might be different for everyone but I've always thought of evangelism and street ministry as these big scary things that only the super spiritual people do (whoever they are).  Whatever your "this" is I bet it's not nearly as scary as you've made it out to be in your  mind.  I bet it seems bigger and more complicated than it actually is.  I bet you were made for such a time as "this"!  I know that God prepares, equips and calls us to things that are so much bigger than ourselves, so much bigger than what we think we can do because He loves to show off using ordinary people, and really, no one is ordinary because He uniquely created each one of us for a purpose and for great things!  And if He is for us, who can be against us?



2. Start now.  Start right where you are.  With whatever you have.  Heather could have waited until she had more free time.  More money.  A team of more people.  She could have waited and waited and said "I will do this when _____________________".  But she didn't.  She just started.  She took the little bit of time that she had.  The little bit of resources she had.  And combined it with passion, purpose, and trusting that God is sufficient and she stepped out in faith.  She didn't wait until she had it figured out, or all of the right answers and methods.  But she set out on a journey, learning along the way.

do you see this smile?  we gave him 1 pair of socks, a breakfast sandwich and a used sweatshirt...  and he smiles like this!  have you smiled like this today?  take a minute to reflect on all of your blessings and SMILE!

3. Give thanks always.  Each time we go out it humbles me by just how appreciative everyone that we minister to is.  (There may very well come a time that someone isn't receptive, and that will be ok, but I thought that people wouldn't be receptive, that they would be mean).  One day when we went out several of the homeless expressed their gratitude to us by coming up with and reciting a poem, singing us a song and/ or playing us an instrument.  They had so little, yet they were so grateful for each and every thing that they had.  For us giving them some food, clothes and speaking life to them.  I felt awful that I wasn't doing more.  Wasn't giving them a home.  A shelter.  A job.  Or something that would more tangibly change their circumstances other than meeting their immediate needs.  But they didn't see it that way.  They weren't concerned with what I wasn't giving them.  They didn't think about the fact that I was going back to my comfortable home and was not going to be any less comfortable by doing something so simple for them.  We have so much, and yet can feel so dissatisfied with our much.  Thinking we need more.  Or better.  They have nothing.  But are so grateful for each crumb thrown their way.

this guy played us a Johnny Cash song to thank us for the supplies.  he's a retired veteran.

4.  We are blessed to be a blessing.  As I mentioned in the prior paragraph, one day when we went out at least 5 different people used creative efforts to thank us for what we were doing.  They received blessing from us, but turned right around and immediately poured it back out.  Isn't that how it's supposed to work?  Aren't we supposed to take every single thing that we receive and immediately turn it around and bless others?  They could have thought poorly about themselves and thought they had nothing to offer us but they didn't.  They just blessed us.  It was a natural reaction.

I think this guy's name is Eugene.  this hug made my day!  I was blessed!  we were out of food and sweatshirts when we met him but we prayed with him and spoke truth over him and he cried and smiled and grinned and we were all touched. 

5.  When we bless others we are blessed.  It's such a Kingdom principal that through humbling ourselves, we are exalted.  Through death, we find life.  To be first, you must be last.  To lead, you must serve.  When we bless, we are blessed.  ALWAYS!  Being blessed is not why we bless others, but it's always the fruit of putting others first and blessing them.

this is Tom holding a donated coat we were able to give him.  he's a carni who came down here hoping to rent a room daily but the rates were too high so he ended up homeless.  he has a brain aneurysm and gets dizzy spells.  we listened to him, spoke truth over him and prayed with him.  he was so moved that we cared.  that we listened.  that we prayed and hugged and embraced him.  that he was seen, heard, touched, valued.

6.  When we know our need, we can fully receive.  If any one of these people chose to live in pride, not wanting to accept help from others they could have turned us away.  They had the power to not receive our gifts and blessing.  But because they knew their need, and were willing to humble themselves, they were able to receive of the gifts that we had for them.  When we won't admit or come to terms with our needs then we miss out of the gifts available for us.


These lessons aren't just for me, they are for you too, friend!  May we live them daily.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

::last month::




after the whirlwind that was november, december has been good to me.  we still had a lot going on (we put a house under contract, jeremy's new website and second book were released, plus preparing for and enjoying all things christmas). 

the last few years of our life have been very categorized by change.  sometimes change is exciting.  sometimes i look forward to the changes with anticipation and enthusiasm.  and sometimes change is hard.  sometimes i drag my feet kicking and screaming resisting the changes.  that never tends to go well for me... it usually results in me feeling bitter and frustrated until i finally make the decision to let go.  the last few months have been a time of embracing change.  of no longer looking back to how things were and being ungrateful and not present where i am, but this has been a time of starting to see all of the good in these changes.  to appreciate the changes.  to see the new blessings that the changes made room for in my life and heart.  of seeing change as a blessing and not an enemy.  and this is probably a good attitude shift considering i see several more changes on the horizon for 2015.


praising:

answers to so many of our prayers over the last few months.

all of the open doors and favor that god has given us. 

praying:

for wisdom, clarity and vision as we begin discussing and making goals for 2015 and the 5-10 years following.

for the process to go smoothly on the house we have under contract.

reading:

psalms, luke, isaiah, 1 samuel, micah, ezekiel, a homemade life, the greatest gift, young house love

thankful for:

 a slow{er} month. the ability to be present and engaged as i savored the moments.

family. time to be together and enjoy each other.

holiday traditions {new and old}. 

gifts.  material, spiritual, relational.  we are so very blessed with good things!

the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of my savior. 

an entire "me day".  all to myself.  i think it might have been the first one since we had our first child over 4 years ago.  a rich time of coffee shop dwelling, planning, preparing, resting, working out, shopping and hanging out with my maker.

christmas cards. i get giddy over opening our mail every december and seeing the faces of our loved ones on cards, and then displaying them on our mantle for the month.

chai nog lattes.  this is winter in a cup for me.  it warms my heart and body.

a smooth release of jeremy's new website and book and the fact that his book made it to a #1 best seller on amazon.

the probability of us owning a beautiful home as of early to mid-march.  it's such a perfect space for our little family. 

the generosity of others to watch our kids and give jeremy and i several dates this month.  the chance to focus on each other and stay connected.

cooking:

creating:

christmas and birthday gifts.

doing:

all the usual activities; weekly ladies bible study, weekly homeless outreach, monthly book club, monthly community group, lots of playdates and dinners with friends.  lots of family nights and trips to see christmas lights.  several coffee, gym and dinner dates with my love.

pondering:

the close of 2014 and some of the most important lessons along the way;
     - "your perceived lack is getting in the way of your gratitude"
     - "you give"/ a stirring to action
     - the new wine and not settling for what is "good enough"
     -my word for the year of "expect"... learning not just to believe that "greater things" can happen but to expect that they will happen. 
     - god revealing more specifics on my calling to me

my word for 2015:  ABIDE
according to merriam webster abide means
     - to stay or live somewhere
     - to remain or continue
     - to remain stable or fixed in a state

theologically speaking, i know that i am one with god.  that we are inseparable.  that i am spiritually always abiding in him, and him in me.  but, i often forget that.  my mind looses sight of this truth and needs to constantly be renewed of this reality.  i need to discipline my senses and take my thoughts captive so that the greatest truth and reality that i experience in any given moment with all of my body, heart, soul and mind is my position in christ, my identity in him, my oneness with him, his power, his peace, his joy, his resources and not my feelings, emotions or circumstances.  i want to in every moment understand (as merriam webster says) that i am stable and in a fixed state with god, that i will stay/ live/ remain/ continue with him.   i want my awareness of this union with him to be the center of everything i do, see, taste and experience.

i see a lot of action and "doing" in store for me in 2015.  that makes it crucial that i am constantly aware of my oneness with christ.  that i am constantly at rest in him.  that all of my doing is from a place of being and not a place of striving, lest it be futile.  i want to constantly, in each moment, live from a supernatural eternal perspective walking in faith and not letting my circumstances dictate my feelings, mood and outcomes.  i want to be so rooted in him that it's impossible for others to not see him in me, to not encounter him through me.  i want to change every person, situation and circumstance for the better because i am bringing the fullness of god to them.

      john 15:4 abide in me, and i in you. as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me.

     psalm 91:1 he who dwells in the shelter of the most high will abide in the shadow of the almighty.
 
***

what are your 2015 goals/ resolutions?  do you have a word for the year?  how can i believe with you that god has great things for you this year?

may your 2015 be blessed... blessed with the knowledge of your oneness with god, knowing that he will never leave or forsake you, that he is with you always... blessed and overflowing with his abundant joy, peace, hope, power, provision, faith and love.  may this be your best year yet.  may you thrive.  may you be bold, brave and courageous. may your dreams be fulfilled.  may you love and be loved.  know and be known.  cherish and be cherished.  that is what we were created for! 

happy new year, friends!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Red Beans and Rice



Red Beans and Rice

This is one of the quintessential New Orleans dishes, right up there along with gumbo and jambalaya.  It is a New Orleans tradition to eat this dish on Mondays.  You can easily leave out the meat and make this dish vegetarian since the beans pack a bunch of protein, but the meat adds so much flavor so I always include it.  This recipe is more of a method than strict instructions.  Red beans are versatile, you can use whatever meat (or meat bones) you have lying around.  You can also use up extra veggies (peppers, onions, celery) and even throw in any homemade stock.  I almost always soak the beans overnight the night before I plan to make this dish, but you could skip that step and increase the cooking time.  Don't forget to serve with French bread for dipping and hot sauce for topping.

-1 lb red beans, rinsed, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed again
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-1 bell pepper, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 lb smoked andouille sausage, sliced (I like the spicy Cajun variety)
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/4 tsp cayenne peper
-1 tsp dried thyme
-2 bay leaves
-2 Tbsp hot sauce
-6-8 c water
-cooked rice

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  saute onion and bell pepper until soft (5-10 minutes).  Add garlic and cook 1 additional minute, stirring constantly.  Add sausage and cook 5 additional minutes.  Add beans and fill with water until the beans are just barely covered.  Add salt- hot sauce and stir.  Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer on medium low for 1- 1.5 hrs, stirring every 10 minutes (or so).  If beans become too dry add more water while cooking... I like them pretty thick and not soupy, but that's just personal preference.  Once bean are desired tenderness remove from heat, taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve over rice, with parsley or scallions for garnish, hot sauce and Tony's seasoning for sprinkling, and French bread for dipping.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

RADIANT {announcing a new monthly ladies gathering}


I am so excited to announce a new monthly ladies gathering called RADIANT that my friend Heather and I are starting in January.
 
This is for ALL. Whether you would identify yourself as a Christian, or not. Whether you are a part of a church, or you have never entered the walls of a church. This is a safe place. A place to come be. To connect. To question. To share. To receive.

In the Bible, when people encountered Jesus they were changed. They were healed and made whole with new hope breathed into their lives and circumstances. We believe God still does this today. That when we encounter Him we are changed. Our goal is to create an atmosphere where people can encounter God through a time of worship, teaching and connection with others, and that as a result we will each leave with a more keen awareness of the always present God in us, our wholeness in Him and His purposes for our lives. Join us, as we do this each month.




Our first monthly meeting will be Thursday January 8, from 7-8:30 pm.  Our January topic will be "A Fresh Start". Join us for worship, teaching and testimonies of God's transforming love, and come expectant to have new hope breathed into your life and circumstances.  Check out the event page on facebook.

 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee


This is yet another recipe from the book Bread and Wine.  Every recipe in that book is just outstanding!  Several of the recipes have been in my favorites rotation since I first read the book a year and a half ago.  This toffee though... it's buttery, chocolatey, salty perfection!  I have made it several times and it always gets oohs and ahhs.  I follow Shauna's recipe as listed below, except I use way more than the 1 tsp of salt that she calls for.  That is way too light for my taste, and I tend to find that some salt falls off when I break the toffee up so I eyeball it and shake with a heavy hand directly from the canister.  As pictured above, I decided to forgo my traditional Christmas cookie baking this year and hand out little packages of this toffee instead.  With only 4 ingredients, and no need to heat my oven {if you don't live in New Orleans you may not understand why this is a problem in Dec., but it has been over 70 every day for the last week here and we have had our a/c running} I have concluded that toffee instead of cookies was definitely a win this year, and may need to be a tradition going forward.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee

Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine

-1 cup butter (2 sticks)
-2 cups sugar
-1 cup dark chocolate chips
-1 tsp coarse sea salt

In a saucepan, combine butter and sugar, and bring to a boil.  Over medium-high heat, keep stirring until it turns a deep amber color.

Remove from heat and pour onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or until cool and solid to the touch.

Melt chocolate chips in a glass bowl over a pot of gently boiling water.  When the chocolate is smooth, pour it over the toffee and spread with a spatula.  Sprinkle sea salt, and then refrigerate until cooled and solid.  Break into irregular pieces.