Monday, September 05, 2016

Squash and Sauce (the Tomato Sauce One!)

Homemade sauce is quick and easy with Mirepoix.  When I lived in Italy, a grandmother taught me how to make her sauce, which is a ton of work... but with Mirepoix, the chopping of the flavorful veggies is already done.

Start with a bag of frozen goodness (See how to make Mirepoix here.)

Now add 28 ounces of crushed tomatoes, one minced garlic clove, a dash of salt and pepper, and just a splash of orange juice.  Add 1/8 cup of red wine - but if wine is not your thing, you can add broth to it.  If you have fresh basil, throw a couple of leaves in.

Let it simmer forever.  Grandma Edna left is simmering all day.  Give it at least an hour.  Keep an eye on it and add water if you need to.

This will be your new favorite for pasta, pizza... or to top butternut squash!

Today I roasted pieces of squash with the rind on it at 425 for 30 minutes.  Easy and delicious.  And healthy!

For more Mirepoix cooking, look here!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Chicken Salad Mirepoix Style

My favorite summer food is chicken salad.  I can eat it by the bucketful.  This past summer, I ended up making it often with a healthy twist.  I made a big bowl and we ate off of it for a few days.  Plus, it turned out to be a great dish to have for lunches with friends.  The Mirepoix touch added extra veggies and deep flavor layers.

Even though summer is almost over, there is still time to make it!

(If you don't know about Mirepoix, read this first!)

Throw a bag of frozen Mirepoix in a pot.  Add a 1 cup of water.
Put in 2 large (or 4 small) chicken breasts.  I use frozen.
Let this cook down.  Watch your water, you might need to add more.
After the chicken is fully cooked and cooled, drain it. Make sure it's cooled!
Keep the liquid to use as chicken broth.
Chop up your chicken - keeping the Mirepoix mixed in. Let it get super cool.

Now, the rest - you get to play with!  Here's what I do, but you can always leave something out.

Chop 3-4 celery stocks.
Chop 1 large or 2 small apples dipped in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
Add 1/4 cup of light mayonnaise.
Add 1/8 cup of diced onions.  (Not the strong ones!  If you don't have onions - try just a few shakes of garlic powder.)
Salt and pepper to taste.

I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

Ready for some variations?  Try 1 1/2 cups of dried cranberries or grapes.  Add nuts, if they are your thing.  Also, if you want to make it just a little sweeter, add a tiny bit of honey to your mayonnaise.

And to be honest, I love mayonnaise - so when I say 1/4 cup - I often loose my willpower and add a little bit more.

Come on, summer.  Stay just a little longer.

Would you like to see what else you can do with Mirepoix?  Find some tasty ideas here!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Emotional Eating and Treasure Hunting

It's hot and I'm running errands and sticking to my budget; I should reward myself with a 69 cent ice-cream cone.

So-and-so was grumpy with me,  What a jerk. Good thing I didn't say what I wanted.  Cheesecake for me!

I worked so hard on that project and didn't get rewarded how I thought I should, so I'll have a few Oreo cookies.  Well, I really did a great job - I'll let myself just eat as many as I want.

I have changed seventeen diapers today and mopped the kitchen three times today.  Three.  Times.  My husband is on night shift tonight, so I can order pizza and eat it all by my self.  All.  By.  My.  Self.

My hip hurts, I'm alone, and not one person has reached out to me today.  Bring on the Doritos and a Netflix marathon.

... and so goes the emotional reward eating.

I've been thinking about this today... while, maybe these haven't been my situations, I often give myself a treat when life is stressful.  I've been trying to process why this is wrong.  Does it have something to do with how the reward of skipping the binge will be found on the scales? Or how God is going to reward me so I don't have to do it myself?

But I think I need to step further back - and look at the first part of the equation ... not thinking about the food and reward part, but thinking through the stress part.

The hard work of life.  And how I think I'm so wonderful, so tried and tested, so good and undeserving of pain?  Do I believe that if God really loves me then life will always be easily lived through Mountain Top Experiences?

When I am tempted to wallow in my woe-is-me pity party, I need to go on a treasure hunt.  I need to take an honest look up, look forward, and then look down.

First I need to look at my God.  Am I, in the midst of this burden, straining towards the fake gods of comfort, control, self-glory, or laziness?  What is really the problem?  My not getting that raise or promotion - what does that really hurt?  What is really wounded?  Even though my disappointment is real, if my eyes are on Christ, I will find that He has given me so much more than I deserve.  If I am weary of taking care of ungrateful people, but I remember God's love for His rebellious people (especially me!), I see that He is so faithful.

But, to keep my mind geared towards this, I need to be looking at who He is... I need to be reading His Word and soaking in His holiness, righteousness, generosity, power, and strength.  I need to be purposeful in seeking who He is - and not just what He has done for me.  I need to ask Him to enamor me with Himself.  I need to ask Him to help me love Him more than I love myself.  I have to ask Him to be my treasure.

Then, I can look ahead.  I can look forward to the treasures of Heaven - where there will be no sorrows.  I won't have to fight my sin-stained mind or my self-centered emotions.  My wounds will be healed.  My heart will be healed.  All because of Jesus.

I deserve hell.  Plain and simple.  My sin cannot allow me to stand before a holy, absolutely good God.  But, Jesus has paid the price of my sins and has wrapped me in His perfect purity.  So, I can be with God.  Now.  Forever.  And that forever will be so very sweet.  And I will find my treasure there.

And now I'm ready to look down - like for real.  As in, bow my head.  Not to look at facebook, or the cakemix I could eat if I just added water. Let me pray. For wisdom and patience.  For extra love for the people around me.  For protection from bitterness.  For a reminder that it's so close to lunch time.

I don't want my treasure to be my self-esteem, control or laziness.  And I definitely don't want my treasure to be a Snicker's bar.  That's a crummy place to land my heart.

Monday, July 11, 2016

An Elegant Omelette

I don't exactly make the most beautiful omelettes, but I was inspired by my husband's procurement of 11 pounds (11 pounds!) of asparagus.  So, I threw the asparagus in a pan with some chunks of frozen Mirepoix and a tiny bit of garlic.  This mirepoix batch had extra mushrooms, so it's even more perfect for a little omelette.  After the veggies were sizzling,  I  poured in beaten eggs and let the heat do its thing.  When it was ready I topped it with blue cheese.  Deliriously delicious.

Of course, if your husband comes home with 11 pounds of a different type of veggie, feel free to throw it in the pan!

Here's how to make Mirepoix.  I keep a bag of it that I chop off when I need it.  However, you could always freeze it in ice cube trays for individual meals like this omelette.

Find more recipes and inspiration here.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Beauty Found

This week goes in the books as being one of the sad weeks of my life.  I have cried every day.  And, I am ashamed to tell you why. I wish it were because I feel burdened by the ache of the world.  Instead, it's only because my personal world seems a little tilted right now.

I didn't get either of two dream jobs, and I feel discouraged and frustrated.  Add to the fact that one night of sleep lasted only five hours and I had the let-down after-party blues following an amazing event.  AND I have been nursing an injured animal - and not being an animal lover, I have felt drained, confined, and lonely.  To keep this animal still, I needed to spend a lot of time on the couch, doing something we don't always do: watch DVD's.  I watched the 6 hour BBC series of War and Peace, a move about dementia (Still Mine), and the Diary of Anne Frank.  I know, right?  Totally uplifting and encouraging.

OK - I tell you all of this not so that you'll give me a virtual hug and say that it will all be OK.  Actually, writing it out is very eye-opening.  I have a friend in deep grief over the loss of her husband.  Another with cancer.  Another broken over perpetual ache in her life.  And, although I have shied away from the news, it, too, is a reminder of all kinds of sorrow.  So, I know sitting with a puppy on your lap all week does not count as one of life's great tragedies.

Here's why I want to tell you:  I was sad this week.  Just really, deeply sad.  I couldn't shake it off.  I couldn't think straight or pray straight or listen to my Scripture reading.  I couldn't even read.  My eyes blurred and my heart blurred.

I've been thinking of my dear friend.  One who lives side-by-side with depression and anxiety.  I could barely think about God - much less have deep prayer conversations and meditation - during this week.  And here she is lonely in the depths of her mind and heart... and yet, she stays constant in this:

She prays.

She reads her Bible.

She seeks after God.

Even when she doesn't feel like it.

Me, I hand this puppy off and go journal on the front porch, and I feel better.  My head gets on straight.  My heart is able to breathe.

She doesn't have that luxury.  She can't manipulate circumstances to be more comfortable.

And yet, she still seeks after God.

Someone once told me that there will probably be a lot of alcoholics in heaven.  I was taken-aback by his statement.  I, being a self-righteous good-girl, was shocked.  I didn't want to believe it.  He went on to say that people who know their desperation for and dependence on God are holier than those of us who think we can save ourselves because we have it all together.

I am thankful for this week's - well, maybe? - taste of depression.  Of course, I knew it would pass, when part of having depression and anxiety must be the fear that it won't shed off.

And in this week, when I was weak in my motivation - I was weak in my pursuit of God I found such great encouragement from and awe for my friend.  She, who will not give up waiting on God.  He might never heal her completely.  And her greatest gift to me might be how she clings to looking for God in the midst of her sadness.

I know this is because God is at work in her - even when she can't see it.  I know this is because of His love and faithfulness - even when she barely has strength to open her Bible.  I know this is because He has an eternity for her free from the weight she carries now.

There will probably be a lot of depressed, anxious people in heaven... well, healed-up-dried-eyed-resting-rejoicing-former depressed, anxious people.  Oh, what glory God will get through the people whose desperation for and dependence on Him is holier than those of us who think we can save ourselves
because we have it all together.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

On the Eve of your Wedding (or A Humble Mind)

While this is a letter to Miss C., it comes from thinking about the last installment of a five part series of marriage advice from 1 Peter 3:8.
...have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.  
Here are the first, second, third, and fourth posts.

Tomorrow is the day your Miss becomes Mrs. The best part of being your wedding coordinator has been getting to know you and getting to love you. I pray God's richest blessings over your marriage.

I have been writing about marriage for a little while. Well, thinking about it, making notes, writing, deleting. I'm on the “humble mind” part of the outline. It's been killing me. Really. It is probably the hardest thing about marriage – and the hardest part of my own self. I feel that as I've been working on it, I've been in a wrestling match with my husband, my idols, and my God. Truth is, I don't like it. I don't like to do it. And I'd rather avoid the subject all together.

But, it's one of the deepest keys to unity in marriage and I'm praying that God will bring it to abundant fruition in my marriage and in the lives of the women I counsel… and now I'm praying for it to be in yours as well.

Today, you believe your husband-to-be is good. He's wise, careful, brilliant, and well, just amazing. I'm not going to say that he isn't… but I just want you to be on guard for those days when you start to think he isn't. Because, there will be days when you start to look at him as if he is a stranger.

He won't love the kids as much as you do. He won't serve you as much as you serve him. He won't put in enough effort, or support, or even interest. He'll make stupid mistakes. He'll be incapable of a menial task. He'll be irresponsible and unthoughtful. He'll be arrogant and condescending.  He will fully believe something you know is crazy.




And your mind will go to war. Your thoughts will spin off into keeping a record of wrongs so sharp it will prick your heart. You will bleed out bitterness, anger, and blame.

You will forget how you can be careless and lazy. You will ignore your sharp tongue, your judgmental eyerolls. You will not even think about your over spending and your over eating. You will be so focused on his faults, yours will just fade to a blur.

And in that moment… while you're so sure he is a monster and you are a saint, your only hope will be humility.

Laughter, forgiveness, kindness… they are amazing… but they are also all rooted in the humility of your mind. If you walk around thinking that you are better than your spouse, your laughter will be mean. Your forgiveness will be shallow. Your kindness will be bribery.

The truth is, he'll mess up. And you'll mess up on something else. He'll want to spend money on something that blows your mind (not in a good way), and you'll want to buy something he thinks is frivolous. He'll ask you to do things you don't want to do and he'll go places with you he doesn't want to go. He'll be really great at vacuuming and ignore the dishes. You'll be great at washing dishes and neither of you will dust. He'll say mean things and you'll shoot daggers with your eyes.

That's the deal. The better and worse part. He won't be perfect and you won't be perfect.

In 1 Peter 3:8, we're told to have a humble mind… such a sweet gift for your husband.

To remember that you are both flawed… that you are both in this thing together. To not let your mind measure only the bad things about him. To not talk about his weaknesses as if they are the only thing that defines him. To not keep tally marks of how he is falling short.

It's an every-day-decision, this love thing. It's a moment-by-moment decision, this humility thing.

I hope you have so much fun today with your bridal party. I hope the rehearsal goes as smooth as my lists say it should. I hope that when you put your wedding dress on for real tomorrow, your heart overflows with love for your groom.

I love being married. I love working through the nitty-gritty sweetness of two-becoming-one. And I hope you love it, too. I hope that your marriage is full lots of laughter, sweet memories, and growing old together. And I hope you don't settle for a marriage that is surviving. I hope your marriage thrives.

With deepest love and congratulations,

...We must say to ourselves something like this: 'Well, when Jesus looked down from the cross, he didn't think "I am giving myself to you because you are so attractive to me." No, he was in agony, and he looked down at us - denying him, abandoning him, and betraying him - and in the greatest act of love in history, he STAYED. He said, "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they are doing." 
He loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely. That is why I am going to love my spouse.' 
Speak to your heart like that, and then fulfill the promises you made on your wedding day.”

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
- Philippians 2:1-8

Monday, June 27, 2016

Chicken Pot Pie

When you are talking about homemade goodness, a chicken-pot-pie hits the spot.  However, the ones from the store are full of extra calories and who knows what else.  Try this one made with Mirepoix.  

In a crockpot or cooked a long time on the stove, cook until it falls apart:

1 bag of Mirepoix  (What's Mirepoix?  Read about it here!)
1 onion
4 small chicken breasts
1 cup of water
a cup or so of extra celery

Make traditional gravy with the juice or: Add about a 3 tablespoons of flour or Bisquick mix to the pot. (If going G-free, use rice flower or G-free Bisquick.)

Stir until flour is totally blended in. 

Add frozen veggies (the California mix works great, you might want to cut big cauliflowers in half).

Cook in pot until veggies are soft.

Make a crust (Bisquick+Crisco works great!)

Put chicken/veggie in pan and top with crust. Bake until crust is golden.

*For extra creaminess... add a little butter when you throw in the veggies.
*This easily doubles for big families and get-togethers.

For other Mirepoix recipes, click here!