Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Four Corners Lentil Stew



I made this Four Corners Lentil Stew with Sesame Brown Rice. Jeremy and I both loved it and thought it provided a great balance of acid, heat and flavor, especially with very few ingredients and in a fairly nutritious meal.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Bowls



Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Bowls

We have been eating a lot of quinoa bowls and salads lately. Quinoa is such a nutritious grain that packs protein and my hubby just happens to love the texture of it. Set up an assembly line with the ingredients and let each person assemble their own according to their taste.

Sweet Potatoes
-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced in bite sized pieces
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 Tbsp chili powder
-1/2 Tbsp cumin
-1/4 tsp cayenne

Stir olive oil and spices in a bowl until well mixed. Toss with sweet potatoes. Roast sweet potatoes at 425 for 20-25 minutes (until browned and tender), stirring half way through cooking time.

Quinoa
Prepare 1 c quinoa according to package directions. After prepared stir in 1/2 tsp salt and any combination of 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1 Tbsp lime juice and/ or 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Dressing
-1 avocado
-1/2 c sour cream or yogurt
-2 Tbsp lime juice
-1 handful cilantro
-1 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 Tbsp hot sauce
-1/8-1/4 c water, until desired consistency is achieved

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until pureed and combined.

Additional desired toppings
Set out any assortment of the items below for guests to add in their bowls
-corn, either cut off of the cob or drained canned corn
-chopped cilantro
-hot sauce (I like the Tabasco brand Chipotle or Jalapeno hot sauce varieties)
-goat cheese
-black beans

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

::the last 3 months::


it has been almost 3 months since my last {monthly} update. those three months have been very busy and have been filled with many emotional and situational ups and downs (i am 8 months pregnant, so everything feels like an emotional up and down right now!).






after a 7 month long process of having our house under contract, and having the closing date pushed back month after month we were finally able to close on our home. we had to be out of our rental several weeks before closing, so this complicated process involved us moving twice, putting our stuff in storage, and our whole family of 4 staying with family and sharing 1 bedroom while we were waiting to close. but now all of those months of uncertainty as to whether or not the deal was going to work out and all the months of unknown about where we would end up living have finally come to a close and we are in our home and settled and so incredibly thankful that it is finally ours.
 
we have been doing some traveling this summer also. due to the generous gift of a friend, jeremy and i were able to spend 4 days away alone together in seagrove beach. after all of the difficult circumstances that we've encountered this year it was wonderful to have some good quality time away together to focus fully on each other rather than the distractions of life. we also took a weekend long trip as a family to lafayette to visit friends and really enjoyed having some time away as a family. jeremy has also taken several trips out of town this summer for speaking engagements.
 
we have been busy and trying to re-establish some rhythm and routine in our new home before our baby boy arrives the first week of september.


noah also started his first day of school ever (pre-k) on july 29. we are all still in the process of adjusting to him not being around during the day and adjusting our family schedule and rhythms accordingly.
 
in addition to all of the changes, travel plans, nesting/ settling/ home projects we have been working on some ministry and business related things. jeremy has finished the rough draft on his third book, which is now in the editing process. he is currently working on drafts and outlines for a few other books that have been waiting in the wings. he also has a business project that he has been working on for the last few months. i also have a business project that we have been working on this year, and hope to be able to launch sooner than later.
 
seeing as how we are not strangers to having lots of change in our lives or taking on lots of new stuff in one year it is no surprise that so far this year we are working on and taking on so many major life events including; buying a home, having a baby, building and starting two businesses, starting a few new monthly and weekly groups, writing and editing multiple books and more.
 
this year sure has been a busy one so far, but we wouldn't have it any other way. i shouldn't be surprised at that though, because right at the beginning of the year god had made it very clear to me that i/ we were stepping into a period of lots of activity and doing and making real many dreams, visions and ideas that had been ignited within us. he had spoken to me at the very end of 2015 through mark 6:33-44 and said highlighted the words "you give" from jesus telling the disciples to feed all of the people who had gathered to hear him speak. he was telling me that it was time to take action on many desires and passions that had been birthed in my heart and to stop passively watching and waiting for these things to happen, but to use the gifts, talents, desires and resources that he has already given me and to move forward with them. it's also pretty interesting that all of this is very similar to the message of jeremy's newest book that will be released within the next few months. we have spent this year really learning, living and developing this message that the book covers of moving beyond freedom with god, to being a commander and using what he has already placed in us as individuals to co-create with him in a way that is not micro managed, but in which we have a lot of freedom and creative room to make decisions and dream.

praising:
 

that the 7 month long saga of having our house under contract and having complications with the deal is finally over and we have moved in, are mostly settled and are loving it.
 
that me and baby boy are both doing well and healthy, without any complications.
 
god's faithful, abundant provision that has been so timely lately with so many things that we needed, right when we needed them over the last few months. items including the finances to be able to buy our house, to a car, to furniture that we needed to an unexpected check to our ministry from a donor, and more.

praying:
 
for our continued adjustments as a family to all of the recent and upcoming changes. mainly noah starting school and the soon-to-be addition of a baby to our family.
 
for a smooth entry into the world for our boy and that him and i continue to be healthy and recover easily from his arrival.
 
for god to provide financially, physically/ skillfully and relationally for our desires (that we believe are from him) and he upcoming projects that we've been working on.

reading:

psalms, 1 corinthians, acts, john, savor, unbroken, the storyteller, kinfolk table, l'abri, the gifts of imperfection
 

thankful for:
 
the bountiful gifts that god has provided us, through his vessels/ his people, that have truly blessed and humbled us over the last few months. gifts of finances to complete the sale of our home, to donations to our ministry, to a car that will easily hold and transport our growing family, to furniture including our bedroom set, a couch, a chair (and more), to a much needed beach trip for me and jeremy, to so many thoughtful housewarming gifts from friends. i have felt so utterly loved and provided for in this process and have experienced god's love and goodness through the hands of so many people that have stewarded these gifts to us, bringing fresh reminders of hope, encouragement and god the provider at times when i needed it most.
 
all of the friends and family who supported and helped us through the process of moving twice, cleaning out our old rental, and getting settled in our new home, not to mention providing places to stay while we had no where to live. there were people who did our laundry while we had no washer or dryer for a few months. people who contributed to this by watching our kids while i packed and bringing us paper and plastic plates to use when our dishwasher gave out due to a fire. there were people who spent part of their weekend moving our stuff, and cleaning our old home. i am beyond thankful for the thoughtful acts of service from so many friends and family. one of the ways that i most see and experience god is through friendship and connection with people, and i was so honored to be a recipient of so many tangible acts displaying divine attributes.
 
our home. not a day goes by that i don't look around exploding with gratitude for a home that we love so much. there are so many little things that i am so grateful for. for having 3 bedrooms now. for having a separate laundry room (and no longer having our washer and dryer in the midst of our kitchen. for the first time in over 6 years having a garbage disposal. for the first time in many months having a working washer, dryer and dishwasher again. for having separate bedrooms, each with it's own lock on the door (after several years of living in homes with shotgun floor plans). for having a closet in each bedroom (especially after only having 1 closet in each of the 3 prior homes we had lived in in new orleans). for having plenty of room and storage place to put stuff meaning that for the first time in the 8 years that we've been married we don't have clutter anywhere and everything has it's own spot. and the fact that our home is new so we don't have the typical problems surfacing constantly like we have the last few years from living in 100 year old homes. yet the fact that our home is very pretty and has beautiful historical and architectural details. is it perfect, of course not. had we built it ourselves there are many things i would have changed or done differently. but that doesn't stop me from being so very grateful for all that we do have and love about it.

cooking:

{click on the words to see the recipe}
huevos rancheros, whole wheat pizza with turkey pepperoni, grilled cheese and tomato soup, taco meat, steak, maple balsamic pork tenderloin, mexican quinoa, asian quinoa salad, white chicken chili, cornbread, salad with mexi-ranch dressing, vietnamese noodle bowlslasagna, red beans and rice, fish tacos, quick refried black beans, cilantro lime slaw, peach cobbler, sesame noodles, dark chocolate sea salt toffee, lemon bars, spinach artichoke dip, hummus, veggie tray with curry dip, rosemary curry sweet and spicy pecans, cream cheese stuffed bacon wrapped jalapenos, pasta with goat cheese and asparagus, four corners lentil stew over sesame rice, goat cheese stuffed bacon wrapped dates, curried chicken salad sandwiches, buffalo chicken dip, curried chicken pasta salad, chicken sausages on whole wheat buns with sautéed onions and pepper, salad with ginger peanut dressing, korean beef, chicken gyrosd with tzatziki sauce, tabbouleh, curried quinoa salad, chai bars, thai coconut tilapia red curry, jerk chicken with red beans and rice, cold brew vietnamese iced coffee, picadillo, chili mac, spicy chicken enchiladas, baked tortilla chips
 
baby update:

 
 
we have 1 month left until baby boy will be here. everything is going well and me and him are both healthy. although there are no complications i'm starting to be over this whole pregnancy thing and am feeling a little uncomfortable overall and tired of not being able to comfortably bend over to pick things up or strap on a pair of sandals. 
 
we have decided on the name ezekiel jeremiah and are planning to call him zeke.
 
my cravings have been pretty much the same throughout this entire pregnancy. i have eaten copious amounts of watermelon, orange juice, caesar salad and anything pickled.

 
creating:
 
baby shower decorations
baby shower gifts
some refinished furniture projects
 
 
doing:

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

lots of packing, moving into storage, a quick beach trip for me and jeremy, moving out of storage and into our new home, lots of unpacking and home projects, a trip to pa for jeremy to speak and lots of adjusting as a family in our schedule because noah has now started school for the first time ever.

pondering:

i've been thinking about relationships a lot lately. friendship/ relationship/ community is one of my biggest passions and pursuits. i very tangibly experience god through his people; through acts of service, words of encouragement, through the diversity of his people and how creatively he made us. i learn so much about relating with him through relating with others (and vice versa). over the past few months i have had some relational struggles though. whether i have said the wrong thing, there has been a breakdown in communication, or hurt feelings for someone on the part of someone else, it has been all too real to me that relationships are difficult. that they take work. they require grace (for ourselves and others), forgiveness, communication, investment, time, energy and more. at times i've entertained the idea of moving into the woods and never talking to or seeing anyone again. but then i have had moments that remind me that relationships are worth fighting for, worth putting ourselves out there for, worth risking being hurt ourselves or hurting others, worth the work it takes to clean up the mess when someone has been hurt. i remember that i have been created in god's image, and that he is in his core a relational being, 3 beings in 1. that my main purpose is to relate with him and his people in love. if i were to close myself off from others i would feel as if something was deeply missing. i would be missing out on who he created me to be and selling myself short on the experiences he wants me to have in life. and so i continue to put myself out there, to engage others, to risk hurting others and being hurt by others so as to not miss out on one of the sweetest gifts available in life.

 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Asian Quinoa Salad


Asian Quinoa Salad

This can be served as a light dinner, lunch as is, or as a side dish or salad to accompany a meal. It is vegan as is, packs protein from the quinoa and edamame, and contains lots of nutrition from the assorted vegetables. You can use whatever assortment of veggies that you have on hand. It is a great, light summer dinner that doesn't involve use of an oven.

-1 c dry quinoa, cooked according to package directions with 2 c water
-1/4 c soy sauce
-2 Tbsp sugar
-1 Tbsp rice vinegar
-1 Tbsp sesame oil
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 Tbsp sesame seeds
-1" chunk ginger, peeled and minced
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/2-1 tsp sriracha sauce
-1 c shredded red cabbage
-1/2 c shredded carrots
-1 c shelled edamame
-1/2 red, orange or yellow pepper, diced
-3 scallions, diced
-1/2 cucumber, diced
-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce- sriracha sauce. Toss with quinoa, cilantro, and all of the vegetables. Serve as is at room temperature, or chill until serving.

Mexican Quinoa with Black Beans and Corn


Mexican Quinoa with Black Beans and Corn

I have been making a lot of quinoa dishes lately. They serve as easy, healthy, summer meals that don't involve heating up an oven. This dish is vegan as is, but can have cheese added and melted over top. You can also stuff this mixture inside of bell peppers (and cover with cheese if desired) and bake them for a more sophisticated presentation.

-1 cup dry quinoa mixed with 2 cups water and cooked according to package directions
-1 c salsa or canned diced tomatoes
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-1/2 tsp cumin
-2 Tbsp lime juice
-1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
-1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
-(optional) 1 c shredded cheddar cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk together salsa or tomatoes- lime juice, until well mixed. Stir in quinoa, black beans, corn and cilantro. Serve as is as a side dish or light dinner. If using cheese, stir in cheese and place in a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cold Brew Iced Coffee and Vietnamese Iced Coffee


Cold Brew Iced Coffee

By cold brewing iced coffee you will get a smoother, less bitter taste.

-1 (8-11 oz) package ground coffee
-1 gallon (or a little less) cold water

Place ground coffee in a large bowl, pitcher or container. Cover it with 1 gallon of cold water (I use a little less than 1 gallon because I make this in a 1 gallon pitcher so I just cover the coffee with water until the pitcher is full). Let the coffee brew/sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours. After 8 hours you will need to strain the mixture. You can do this by pouring it through a coffee filter, a few layers of cheese cloth, or a fine mesh sieve (my preferred way). Once strained, you will have a good concentrated base for iced coffee. You can keep this coffee concentrate in the fridge and it will stay good for several weeks. Fill a glass with ice, add the concentrate and add milk/ cream and sweetener as desired and you are good to go. You will always be less than 1 minute away from enjoying a great glass of iced coffee. For a more decadent treat you can add a few tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk to your glass for Vietnamese iced coffee. Or you can follow the recipe below if wanting to make Vietnamese Iced Coffee for a crowd.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee for a crowd

This is great for showers, brunches or really any party or occasion. It is addicting though, so beware!

-2 gallons (or slightly less) cold brew coffee concentrate as prepared above
-2 small cans of sweetened condensed milk (I always use fat-free sweetened condensed milk)

Pour the contents of the sweetened condensed milk cans into the bottom of your desired serving decanter/ container. Pour in a few cups of the coffee concentrate. Stir well with a spoon, scraping the bottom of the container, until all of the condensed milk has blended into the coffee and well dissolved. Add the remaining coffee concentrate and give it one final stir. You can add additional milk or cream at this point if desired, but I don't. Chill until serving. Either serve alongside a bucket of ice or add several handfuls of ice cubes to your container to keep the coffee cool.

 (When I make the coffee concentrate solely for the purpose of making Vietnamese Iced Coffee for a crowd I strain the coffee through a sieve pouring it directly into the serving container and mixing with the sweetened condensed milk. Doing so will save you a step).

Friday, July 10, 2015

Chicken Gyros



Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

These are fairly quick, nutritious and are delicious! Serve with tabbouleh, hummus and/ or a Greek salad.

For the chicken
-1.25 lbs. chicken breasts
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-Juice of 1 lemon
-4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
-4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
-4 heaping Tbsp. plain yogurt
-1 Tbsp. dried oregano
-1 Tbsp. sugar
 -1 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. black pepper

Tzatziki Sauce

-2 c plain yogurt
-1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp dried dill
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp. red wine vinegar
-(optional) several mint leaves, chopped

For serving
-tzatziki sauce
-sliced  or diced tomatoes
-sliced red onion
-shredded lettuce
-pita bread

Make the sauce: Place the yogurt in a coffee filter or fine sieve and drain for at least 2 hours (and up to 8 hours). Combine drained yogurt with the remaining sauce ingredients. Stir to combine. Chill at least 1 hour (and up to 2 days) prior to serving.

Marinade the chicken: Whisk together the garlic- black pepper in a medium container. Add the chicken, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about at least an hour (and up to 8 hours).

Preheat the broiler (or grill). Remove chicken from marinade and broil (or grill) until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, depending what size/type chicken you are using. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before slicing into strips.

Set up an assembly line with the sliced chicken and the ingredients for serving and allow everyone to assemble their own chicken gyro to taste.