Friday, January 9, 2015

FAST and EASY Recipes!

My life is busy. I have two jobs, I try to get in exercise and keep the house tidy and I really do like to cook...But honestly, things are too hectic for fancy meals. My husband and I get off work at different times and I don't want to prepare something nice that he's not going to eat until several hours later. I'm sure a lot of women struggle to find recipes that are quick, easy, and convenient. Deciding what's for dinner is often the most laborious part of the whole thing! Over the next few weeks I'm going to start posting a few of my favorite FAST AND EASY recipes that I KNOW you will love! :-)

-1lb ground turkey
-1lb ground turkey sausage
-1 sweet potato (chopped) --optional
-1 onion (chopped)
-1 can diced tomatoes
-1 can kidney beans
-2 tbsp Chili Powder
-1 1/2 tsp Cumin
-Salt and Pepper to taste

Brown the meat and throw it and the rest of the ingredients in the crockpot. Stir and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve with some cheese and sour cream if you like. Easy!!

Out of one large package of chicken thighs, divide up into 3 equal portions. Put the 3 portions of thighs into separate ziplock bags. Marinate 1 in Maple Syrup and Dijon Mustard (plus a little minced garlic, salt and pepper if you like), Marinate 1 in BBQ Sauce, and Marinate the last one in Teriyaki. Toss in the freezer for quick meals you can pull out and eat whenever you want!

To cook--thaw and then bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Easy!!

-2 frozen chicken breasts
-1 cup of salsa
-1 cup of cream of mushroom soup (make this from scratch using chicken broth, butter, and flour--find recipe here.)
-1 taco OR fajita seasoning packet

Throw all the ingredients in the crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Shred the chicken and then add shredded cheese and serve in burrito shells, taco shells, or even just naked with your favorite toppings! EASY!!

-2 Thawed Chicken Breasts, sliced in half to make 4 thin chicken breasts
-1 lemon
-2 tablespoons minced garlic
-Italian season, salt, and pepper to preference
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

In a glass baking dish, line up the four pieces of chicken. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning on both sides. Then squeeze 1 half of the lemon over the top. Spread the minced garlic over each piece of chicken and then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Slice the other half of the lemon and place the slices on top of the chicken. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Easy.

-1 Spaghetti squash (cut in half and seeds removed)
-1lb ground turkey
-1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
-1tbsp minced garlic
-1 onion
-1/2 package of mushrooms
-1tbsp honey
-1tbsp red wine
-1 tbsp Italian seasoning
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
-Salt and pepper to taste

Put spaghetti squash cut side down on a microwave safe dish. Put water in the bottom of the dish and then place in microwave on high for 10 minutes. While microwaving, brown and strain the meat. Add in onions, mushrooms, and garlic until vegetables are tender. Add in the sauce. Stir well. Add in the honey, the red wine, the Italian seasoning. Stir and then taste. If you think it needs a little kick, add in the cayenne pepper. If it needs salt and pepper, add it to taste. Then simmer on low. Remove the squash from the microwave and use a fork to shred the squash into "noodles." It helps to hold the squash in one hand with a hot pad and scrape out the insides. Put the noodles into a strainer to help drain excess water. Serve on a plate and top with sauce. Super yummy!! And easy! :-)

 All of these basic dinner recipes can be served with yummy sides like a salad or you can cook asparagus, beans, or broccoli. My current favorite way of cooking the veggies is to put them on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Really easy, delicious, and healthy.

I hope these make life a little easier for you! Stay tuned for  more recipes in the weeks to come!


Monday, December 8, 2014

When Lights Are Too Bright...

I've recently been meditating on the metaphor God gave us of being lights to the world.

Matthew 5:16
" In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

We understand that we've been called to be a light to the world, but what kind of light exactly?

What started this thinking process most recently is the increasing amount of Christians that I see who are so quick and eager to correct others for doing wrong (myself sometimes included in that!). While I know it happens a lot outside of the internet, I think social media has made it that much easier for us to express our thoughts and opinions freely. We feel comfortable hiding behind a computer screen when we attack someone else for doing or saying something that we don't particularly agree with. But is this how Christians should act? Is this aggressive, sometimes violent, portrayal of faith an accurate representation of who Christ is? What kind of light is that?

I like to think of it like this (and I'm paraphrasing a message given by my brother a few years back):

There are a multitude of different kinds of light. There are flashlights, headlights, lamps, candles, lights for the garage, lights for the closet, chandeliers, sunlight, moonlight, the list goes on! All have the same purpose: to help you see things better. But what happens when one of those lights is used incorrectly? Let's take the flashlight, for example, because I think it's one of the closest things we have to the kind of light God wants us to be. When a flashlight is used correctly, it helps you find your way at night or it can help you see into places that are really dark. You point the light in the direction of the path or the thing that you want to illuminate. If you and a friend are walking together, you can both see the path clearly when the light is pointed in the right direction. However, if you take that light and you shine it in your friend's eyes, they can't see the path and neither can you because you're shining it at your friend and not at the path!

God calls His word a "lamp" to our feet.

 Psalm 119:105
"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path."

A lamp is a soft light. It's a light that is just enough to help you see, but not so much that you're blinded by it. Too often Christians are shining their light in people's eyes as opposed to illuminating the path...

My thinking is this--if you are supposed to be a light, your light should shine just enough to help others walk the path. It's a quiet kind of light. The very fact that you follow the Lord and are eager to walk in his ways is enough. His light shines through you--your LIFE becomes the flashlight. When you get overzealous and too eager to be in each other's faces about who is right and who is wrong, neither of you is walking the path. You're just blinding each other. The same is true if you're too busy boasting about how great of a Christian you are or acting "holier than thou". Your light is pointing at you and not at the path. Being God's light requires humility. It's a gentle, kind, and beautiful kind of light. It's friendly and welcoming and beckons others to walk in it.

While I know it's a growing process that's going to take a lot of time and effort to achieve, that's the kind of light--the kind of Christian, I want to be.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Home Wisdom: Vinegar in the Dishwasher!

Left glass is before vinegar--Right is after!
Home wisdom tip of the day...

Many people, I'm sure, already know this, but for those that don't, I wanted to share this bit of knowledge I learned today.

Jon and I recently switched our dishwasher soap to this awesome toxin free soap from The Honest Company! It was great the first month we used it! Then I started noticing this gross white film on all of our dishes. We kept running the dishwasher because we thought the dishes weren't clean... I finally had enough of it and started doing some researching. Turns out, that awesome toxin free stuff can create mineral build up in the dishwasher because it's not using those harsh cleaning agents that are in most common dish soaps! A little inconvenient, but there's an easy fix... Just add in some white vinegar to the dishwasher after the soap dispenser releases the soap and Voila! Clean dishes! :-) You can also run a vinegar cycle on your empty dishwasher to help clean up any extra build up you may have in there.

Clean and toxin free! I never knew what caused that stuff! Maybe this little bit of info will help some of my friends who also didn't know :-)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Daily Journal

It's been awhile since I've posted on my blog, mostly because I haven't really been cooking much or really doing much worth posting ;-) However, I started to think that maybe the little things I HAVE been doing would be good to share. 

Recently, I purchased a beautiful journal from an amazing company called Trades of  Hope (Trades of Hope is a company devoted to empowering women out of poverty using the home party model. To find out more about it, click the link above)! When my journal finally arrived, I realized how ornate it was and I actually thought that it seemed too pretty to write in! Eventually, I decided to make it a daily journal. I wanted it to be something relaxed and not very formal. I just wanted to jot down little thoughts or questions I had during the day about life or God or anything at all really. It was just going to be a way of releasing my mind, but it has become so much more than that in the last month...

Something I realized as I started writing was that I have many more questions than I do just random thoughts. My innermost doubts and fears surround things like, "Am I going to be safe?" or "Does God love me even when it feels like no one else does?" I've found such freedom in letting my fears and worries come out of my head and down onto paper. It's like I can examine each thought and process it more fully and the best part is that I can pray over it and open my Bible to look for answers to my questions. 

The Bible talks about bringing our thoughts into captivity (2 Corinthians 10) and for so much of my life I've let my thoughts run wild. I've battled anxiety for a good portion of my life and I've been known to speak my mind a little "too" freely sometimes. Every day I am working on it and I'm growing and maturing and changing, but I don't think I've spent enough time meditating on this idea. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says,  

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 

Something I've learned from writing down these questions is that at the end of the day, the biggest enemy I have in the world is often myself. The biggest arguments I'm having are ones that are stirring in my soul. My doubts and fears are so often contrary to the knowledge of God. If I fail to take those thoughts captive, I'm binding myself to fear and finding no freedom from it. I'm falling prey to the desires of the world and the hopelessness of the world. Instead of taking my thoughts captive, I'm being held captive by my thoughts...

If you're struggling with wild thoughts like I have been, take time to write them down. Get them out of your head so you can release them from your mind and take your thoughts to God so he can give you peace.

I'll be praying for anyone who reads this today.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Garden Fresh Salmon

Right before going in the oven!
Salmon is, by far, one of my and Jon's favorite meats to eat. It's tender and flaky and delicious... and high in Omega-3's! It's a treat when we can get it on sale since we always buy wild-caught Alaskan salmon and never farm-raised. This recipe was perfect for us last night since we are all about using our fresh garden ingredients, not to mention it's SUPER easy! I won't prolong this intro much farther so that we can just get down to business discussing the recipe. ;-)

(makes 2 or 3 servings)


1 Large Salmon Filet (If frozen, be sure to thaw in the fridge a day prior)
1 Tsp Garlic (Minced)
5 Large Cherry Tomatoes--or 10 Small (Sliced)
1/4 Small Red Onion (Sliced Thin)
A Few Springs Fresh Oregano (you can use a few pinches of dried oregano if need be!)
2 TBSP Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste


Served up with pan-seared asparagus and jasmine rice!
Preheat oven to 400°. Grease a 9X13 casserole dish with 1 TBSP of the olive oil. Lay the salmon down in the dish, skin side down. Top the salmon with the minced garlic and use a spoon to spread it over top. Then place the onions and tomatoes across the salmon and garnish with fresh oregano. Drizzle the remaining olive oil across the top and sprinkle with salt and pepper to your liking.

Place in lower rack of oven and cook uncovered for about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with rice and your favorite veggie and enjoy!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Celebrating A Legacy

With Mamaw & Papaw at our wedding
The passing of a loved one is probably the hardest thing that we, as humans, are forced to deal with in our lifetimes. Today is a day that I'm reminded of a special, one of a kind woman who would have been celebrating her 86th birthday. Jon's grandmother, Sarah, (or "Mamaw", as she was affectionately known) passed away just a few short months ago... I can't help but think of her today and what a wonderful a woman she was. I remember meeting her and feeling her warmth almost immediately. She had an air about her that was so friendly and yet so feisty at the same time.

Mamaw was outspoken and I felt a kindred spirit to her that way. She always said it like it was and Jon and I felt the affects of that after we'd been dating for several years. Whenever we'd see her, she'd ask if we were going to get married anytime soon... ;-) When we finally tied the knot, we somehow ended up seeing all of Jon's family the very next day--including Mamaw. I remember Mamaw putting her arm around Jon and acting a little sheepish as she smiled and said, "Well... Did ya get lucky??" She was never afraid to be bold. She was never afraid to be humorous. I don't know a single person who didn't feel unconditionally loved by her... I feel so blessed that I was able to know her, love her, and be loved by her over the past five years and I feel blessed immeasurably by the legacy of love she left behind. I think all of her children and grandchildren (and all of their spouses) would agree that she is someone we all look up to, admire, and want to be like.

I think one of the things that makes the passing of a grandparent hard is the seeming loss of connection to a piece of the past. Mamaw had so many stories and telling them brought her so much joy--and it brought her family joy too. Something I learned about Mamaw after she passed was that she was meticulous at documenting things. She documented phone calls and kept records of all the cute and wonderful things her grandchildren had said. She was a painter and every painting was numbered, dated, and signed. She wrote poetry, took tons of photos, and kept a draft on her computer of the story of her life with Papaw...

I don't think I saw the value in doing little things like that until now. How blessed we are to still feel connected in some way to her through all the beautiful documentations she made. We can still feel her emotion and her laughter and we can still see her beauty through the things she left behind. I just marvel at her and the kind of person she was. She was generous, patient, loving, caring, compassionate, bold, brave, daring, and she just simply radiated beauty. Most importantly, she was a shining example of the Proverbs 31 woman. She loved the Lord and she cheerfully and faithfully served him and everyone she met...

So today I celebrate the legacy of a wonderful woman, whom my husband and I miss so dearly. Happy Birthday, Mamaw. We love you.

The last family picture we all took together.. How I cherish this now.
"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.' Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
--Proverbs 31: 28-31 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blueberry Banana Bread

I tried out this recipe on a whim one day and it's quickly become one of my favorite sweet breads to make. The thing I love most about baking bread is the opportunity afterward to share it. There is something about bread that just seems to bring people together. It has such a uniting quality. I think that's why restaurants typically serve bread right before a meal out. It's like an opportunity to break the ice, to start a conversation, to have an experience with someone else that is the same. Whenever I make bread, I'm reminded that Jesus is the bread of life. He came to unite us while Satan aims to divide us. Jesus shares the bread of his life so that we may partake in a similar experience with him in the Kingdom of Heaven. I want so desperately to choose the bread of life.

 So, whenever I make bread, I try to share it. I try to connect with other people in hopes that maybe my gift of bread will help break down barriers and that we can share in the joy of life together.

"Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." 
--1 Corinthians 10:17

Blueberry Banana Bread, fresh out of the oven!
(makes one loaf)


1 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Nutmeg
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
3 TBSP Coconut Oil
1 Large Egg
2 Large Ripe Bananas (Mashed)
1 Cup Blueberries
1 TBSP Raw Sugar


Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.

In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the coconut oil, sugar, 1 egg, vanilla extract, and mashed bananas. Once the ingredients are combined smoothly, slowly add in the flour mixture just a little bit at a time and stirring as you go. Using a hand mixer, combine until smooth. Then, fold in the blueberries with a large spoon or spatula. Add the batter into your greased loaf pan, shake until it spreads evenly across the bottom of the pan, and then sprinkle the remaining raw sugar onto the top of the loaf. Bake for 60 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Then remove from the loaf pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before serving.