Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chicken, Potatoes, and Cheese? YES, PLEASE!!!

Last night brought about such a delicious and amazing meal! I had cleaned and de-cluttered all day--even though I seemed to make a bigger mess--and I was exhausted. My separating abdominals hurt and I was walking oddly due to my discomfort. My plan was to make chicken Marsala, but Ryan wasn't in the mood for it, so I invented something new. Now...you all likely know that meal inventions either flop BIG time, or are a HUGE success. Which do you think mine turned out to be? ;)

Hot Chicken Salsa and Monterey Potatoes

Three chicken breasts (I only used two, but wished that I had used three)
1 can of corn, drained (I had Mexican corn on hand, but regular corn should be fine!)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 jar salsa
^ Can you tell that I was using whatever I found in my cupboard and fridge? Heehee
Cheddar and Monterey cheeses
Spices such as cumin, salt, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and paprika.

Preheat your oven to 425*F and season your thawed chicken in an oven safe dish, baking it for about 40 minutes, turning once halfway through. When the 40 minutes is up, immediately put the breasts into your mixer and use the paddle to shred the meat up. Put the meat back into the same dish and add the black beans, corn, and salsa, stirring together. At this point, I have turned my oven off and just put the dish back in. The oven is still hot enough to make the other ingredients nice and hot!

While you are waiting for the chicken to bake, prep your potatoes and set them to boil. After the hot salsa is back into the oven is the perfect time to mash your potatoes and add milk, etc. I seasoned them with salt and cayenne pepper, then added the cheeses. I didn't use much cayenne as I do not like spicy foods, and I added PLENTY of cheese! They were delicious!! I did need to put the mashed potatoes into a microwave safe bowl and heat them a little more to melt the cheese well before serving. We put the potatoes on our plates and spooned the hot salsa mixture on top. DELISH!! Now I wish that we'd had sour cream (it's almost grocery day. Haha) because a dollop of sour cream on top with some more cheese would have made it perfect! This was eaten with lots of "yummy noises" from my family and declarations that I must make it again. There are leftovers and I think I will get sour cream at the grocery store and make baked potatoes served with the salsa in too for a lunch! YUM-O!! <--- I think Rachel Ray would be proud of my meal, what do you think? ;)

Happy Noshing!!!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Seriously? Really?!

Today was filled with lots of ups and downs! After a lovely breakfast of chocolate waffles fresh from the iron and drizzled with strawberry syrup, then sprinkled with powdered sugar, Ryan and I attacked the laundry room. The laundry room has been the catch all for boxes that we aren't sure what to do with since we moved in several months ago. We spent hours in there not only rearranging, but purging junk that we don't need at the same time. As we reached the end, we wondered aloud where on EARTH our dishes must be. We've been looking everywhere and had not found them. We've been using plastic kiddie plates all these months. ;) All of a sudden, I moved a box and asked if he thought they could be in that red and white box underneath the one in my hands. It was literally the ONLY box in the house that we had not searched. Ryan started to say that he thought it was too small to fit the plates into, but stopped short as he opened it and saw the plates! It had been laying upside down and we could not see the label. We stood there and laughed until the tears nearly ran down our cheeks! The best part? That box was right in front of the door, so we'd been walking past it every time we went into that room!! It's been an entertaining day around here. :)

So, on to our continuation of freezer recipes! Today I will share my favorite recipe for:

Hashbrown Casserole
Bag of frozen hashbrowns
8 oz sour cream
2 cans cream of mushroom
1/2 lbs shredded cheddar cheese
2-4 chicken breast

Start by seasoning your chicken according to your personal taste, putting it in an oven safe dish with half a cup of water or chicken stock and baking it at 425*F for 40 minutes, turning over halfway through. When the chicken is done, you can put it into your mixer and the meat will shred nicely!

Pour the hashbrowns into a 13x9" casserole dish, or divide into two 8x8" dishes. Season with salt and pepper, then add sour cream and cream of chicken. Combine well, then stir in your cheddar cheese and shredded chicken. I often add more than 1/2 lb of cheese. :) Bake at 425*F for 45-60 minutes until golden bubbly! This is such a delicious meal!

Now I am off to enjoy some of my delicious apple pie and a cup of coffee while I watch Friends! Happy Saturday, ya'll!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Planning Ahead I

Today I sat down to make my menu and grocery list for the week. Upon reflection and weekly planning, it dawned on me that I should really start planning some freezer meals for when the baby gets here. Those of you who know me in real life will chuckle because you know how quickly I bounce back, but every mama wants to be lazy a few nights a week, especially when she has a new squishy bitty to snuggle, right? ❤ So I sat down today and came up with a list of some of our favorite meals that I know will freeze well. If you are expecting or need freezer meals for any reason, you may find this list helpful.

Tater Tot Casserole
Kielbasa and Yellow Rice
Hashbrown Casserole with Chicken
Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, and Corn
Chicken Broccoli Braid
Fried Rice
Spaghetti Sauce

The first meal I will showcase (and have to add a photo of later) is our favorite: Tater Tot Casserole

This will make a 13x9" pan, so it is easily divided up into two 8x8" dishes for freezing.
1lb ground beef
1 can (or equivalent homemade) cream of mushroom
1/2 lb (you can use more or less, depending on your personal preference) shredded cheddar cheese
1 bag tater tots

Season and brown your ground beef and drain any remaining grease. Stir the cream of mushroom into the meat and spread into a greased dish. Cover substantially with cheddar cheese and top with tater tots, sprinkling with salt. At this point, you can cover the dish well with aluminum foil and freeze. Take care that you don't use a glass dish, as you put this directly into the oven without defrosting. Bake at 400*F for approximately one hour until cheese is bubbly and tater tots are crispy. This is a delicious meal that my husband and daughters frequently request and takes very minimal time to prepare.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Days spent out of doors

Oops! I got really busy yesterday and didn't post, after promising myself that I'd post every day for a week. Darn.

I love watching my girls play outside. It is my favorite kind of play! They run and scream happily as they pick flowers with excitement. They are enjoying the beauty of God's nature and they appreciate fun and games that don't happen in front of a tv. I miss days like this in the Winter. Truly. Very soon, we will light the fire pit and have a s'mores night...once the evenings are a little warmer. ;) Every morning, they get out of bed and run to check on their vegetable seeds, which have begun to sprout. Kirsten so enjoyed picking her vegetables and eating the "fruits" of her labor last year, I know they will both enjoy the variety of vegetables they will be able to harvest this year. What are some things that you enjoy doing outside with your children?

Broccoli sprouts!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Toys. They are EVERYWHERE!!

I struggled finding a topic that inspired me today and tossed around ideas with my friend Amanda over at A Sweet Serenity. Can it really be this hard when I am the kind of person who ALWAYS has something to say?

As usual, Amanda and I talked about our girls during the day. We text a lot since children ALWAYS need something when you are on the phone. We talked about how much they are growing, the adorable things they are doing, and the ways that they are testing our parenting skills. *twitchy eye* Doesn't it seem like they are continuously finding new ways to be delightfully devious and test us? Today was no exception at my house. If your kids are anything like mine, it is a constant battle to get them to keep their room clean. I would love if their room would stay clean enough so you could see the floor. I dream at night about rooms that are actually categorizable as "neat and tidy". I'm doubting that will ever happen, especially because my husband and I are rotten housekeepers. (I can't take ALL of the blame, folks!) So today I sent Kirsten to her room to clean up a portion of it. You couldn't even see the floor, so I knew this would be a task to spread out over the next few days to keep from overwhelming her. First, I explained to her that she needs to keep her toys in the proper bins and her clothes in her dresser so we could find them when we need them, as well as not get hurt when we ventured into their room. Second, I sectioned off a small portion of her room like I always do and told her clean up the items in that area. I set the egg timer for thirty minutes and told her that if she did not have it cleaned by the time it went off, she would lose her tv privileges for the rest of the day. I also told her that throwing a fit of any kind or complaining about her task would result in me deducting one minute per complaint. She did quite well and didn't complain once, so I secretly gave her about fifteen minutes more because we all know how slow five year olds are. ;)

It wasn't until I was making supper that I knew what I would write about today. How many times have we wondered as Christians why there seems to be a never ending list of things that God needs to change in us? Why does He not change all of these things at once, say: the day we give our lives to Him?! Because, just like my five year old will cry and moan and scream, "It's too much! I can't do it! It will kill me!" we would be so overwhelmed that we would give up. Give up on God, give up on ourselves. He truly knows that parenting is hard. He parents adults. That must be WORLDS harder than parenting children! So He sets clear boundaries in the areas that we need to work on. He encourages us and lets us know that there will be consequences if we continue to make the choices we have thus far. He knows exactly when to reveal the things we need to fix in our lives to keep us from losing it. I am so grateful for a God who is a better parent than I am. I want to be like Him in every way. ❤

Monday, April 22, 2013

Burn, Baby, Burn.

It's Monday. Yes. Yes, it is. We are currently outside having a picnic and poor Norah is crying herself to sleep because she is just too tired and cranky to eat. Bless her little heart. Let me tell you about an interesting tradition that greatly intrigued the girls last night...

Cord Burning
This is a technique that we heard about quite some time ago and and I quickly declared that we would use it if we ever found ourselves expecting baby #3. Wasn't that lucky? ;) Cord burning began--to my knowledge. I looked for more history, but found none. I would love if anyone has something else to share!--in Thailand after the horrific tsunami that rocked our entire world. Tetanus was rampant and newborns were dying from infections of all kinds. Some midwives had the idea to burn the umbilical cords in lieu of cutting them with surgical scissors. Burning the cord cauterizes an otherwise open wound, virtually eliminating the deadly infections and saving precious lives! Just think about this: for 40-ish weeks, your baby has received 100% of its nutrition from this cord, an open passage between the placenta and its abdomen. When baby is born, this passage becomes an open wound, if you will. This is why many people are now choosing lotus births, which is where you leave the baby completely attached to the placenta until it dries up and falls off on its own. I the case of cord burning, you place some sort of barrier between the baby and the candles. Often, this is as simple as a piece of cardboard large enough to cover all of baby's abdomen with a cord-sized slit cut into it to allow the cord to be in a natural position. When the cord has completely stopped pulsating and is void of that wonderfully nutrient-rich blood, mom will likely have delivered the placenta. After this has taken place, people have different preferences on when to sever the cord, but none are the "correct" way, just personal preference. The barrier is put into position and two taper candles are lit. This can be a very sentimental and symbolic act. Our daughters will help Ryan and our midwife perform this task. ❤ The flames are positioned about six inches away from the baby and will begin to cauterize the cord. This process can take up to fifteen minutes. There should also be a bowl of some kind underneath the burning area, as there are often fluids in the cord and parts of the cord will liquefy. There will be some hissing and popping, along with a mild odor--all things that come with burning of any sort. The baby is typically very alert and calm during this process. When you are finished, the cord will be longer than you would see in the hospital, but you will find that it dries up and falls off VERY quickly! I have heard reports from friends of cords falling off around days three and four. I can deal with pretty much any bulky inconvenience to have a cord that falls off in less than a week! :) I am very excited to experience this (new?) technique and hope to see it become a major trend in birth. It just makes good sense. A great site with more information is www.cordburning.com. This midwife is apparently credited with bringing this technique to the United States. Google also has some great photos if you search "cord burning". Try YouTube, as well! I think many people will be intrigued by this process and I will be sure to thoroughly document our experience and share it!

Now for a Monday Meme I created this morning! I don't have any personal experience with this...
(^Those are my shifty eyes.)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Back That Chariot Up!

I just have to say how much I love our church and the wonderful people who go there! They are truly like extended family members--we know that someone always has our back and is praying for us, even if they don't know why we need prayer. They are just that committed to community and we are so blessed to be a part of this fellowship.

In my women's class this morning, many ladies were absent because they were on their way back from an encounter retreat--I AM SO JEALOUS! ;) They had a truly blessed time and I am so excited for them. My experiences on the encounter retreats have been life-changing in fantastic ways. God is so good! But I digress...It was a small group of us this morning, just five. Our topic was "self esteem", but it strayed from what we commonly think of as self esteem and delved deeply into the power of God and how He has equipped us with such power...but are we willing to make the effort to tap into it? I can't even tell you how exciting this class session was! Paul wrote that the same power which raised Jesus from the dead has been placed inside of us. Back the truck up, people. Digest that for a minute. For a long minute. As Christians, we know in our heads that the same power Jesus had on earth lives inside of us, but how much do we *truly* understand that? TRULY?

This morning, we read the definitions of two Greek words that Paul used when he talked about our God-given power. The first of these words is "kratos". Kratos means: "Demonstrated power, eruptive and tangible." Think about a bomb--we all have bombs on our minds after last week, right? Think about how that power is burning and exploding inside of whatever vessel is used to create that particular bomb until the force becomes such that the vessel can no longer contain the power! This is essentially kratos, the power God placed inside of us. The second word we discussed was "ischus", which means "ability, force, strength, might". Our lesson likened it to God's muscles. Want to know what I saw when I started to digest this in my spirit? I saw Jesus in hell battling Satan for those three days (ever wonder what THAT looked like?!) with the explosive and tangible power of kratos, while the ischus dwelled in the tomb with his body. I could just see the ischus power swirling around his body in eager anticipation of the fulfilling of prophesy. Then Jesus is done with His battle and His spirit with the kratos power join His body and the ischus power...BOOM!!! Dynamite explosion and resurrection! Now, I'm not saying that's what happened...but it sounds pretty awesome and we know how mighty our God is, so maybe it is! :) Just chew on that power and those thoughts for a while. It's rocking my world and I hope it does yours, too! Happy Sunday, ya'll! ❤

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Step Back, A Step in the Right Direction

All of the troubles and hatred in this world have inspired me to step back from social media and stop allowing my peace to be taken from me so easily. I'm hoping that I can become dedicated to blogging: an attempt--yet again!

Yesterday afternoon, the delightful and mouthwatering fragrance of banana bread wafted through our house as a loaf baked to perfection in my oven. This morning, my excited family got to cut into it. Our culture has forgotten how pleasing the little things in life are. I am a prime example: The other day I played Monopoly with my daughter. We had a great time and played for over two hours, but I kept sneaking peeks at my phone and social media. What is that about? We are robbing our children, our friends, our families, and ourselves of precious moments and for what? To scroll through our news feed and find out what nasty, grease laden fast food joint someone is eating at? To see yet another meme featuring Sweet Brown? To see a post from that one friend who persistently "vague-books" and whines and moans about people in their lives without implicating them fully by using their names? We are wasting our precious moments...for this? I don't want to waste my moments on that anymore. I am going to take this week and separate myself from my chosen form of social media and challenge myself to spend downtime blogging about the moments that would otherwise be wasted. Who wants to join me?