Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Until Next Year

Today the decorations were tucked away ...
greenery taken down,
wreath boxed,
5 manger scenes put away,
the tree moved back to the bedroom and left with just lights and red hearts.

And prep for a little New Years gathering after prayer meeting:
Chicken Nuggets
Ants on a Log
Banana Chia Bites

Looking forward to a new year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Little Help in the Kitchen

There are some days when gluten free - mostly dairy free - low carb cooking
just eats up a lot of time.
Last week, I enjoyed having one of my nieces help me in the kitchen on Monday.
She was browning sausage for our soup and it was nice to have the extra hands.
While hubby was home last week,
we also did a lot of cooking together.

We tag team on breakfast so that everything is ready at once - 
the eggs aren't burnt, the avocado hasn't browned, the bacon is still hot - 
and the Teeccino is served with the breakfast.

On Christmas Day - 
We put together a pizza and my favorite cranberry Waldorf salad together.

But I also had some "cheats."
Ah - a rotisserie chicken from Walmart.
Perfect for Chicken Salad with mayo and cashews.
Perfect atop a bed of lettuce for a phenomenal chef salad.
Perfect as a snack when the next meal is just a little too far away.
It is one of hubby's favorite - is cheaper than eating out - feeds us more than one meal.
It is also a great help when we can't find a "safe" place to eat.

This week's menu:

Sunday:  Italian Sausage and Green Beans
Monday:  Sweet and Sour Chicken
Tuesday:  Shepherd's Pie
Wednesday:  Salmon Chowder
Thursday:  Tacos
Friday:  Chili
Saturday:  Tuna/Avocado Lettuce Wrap
Chicken Casserole

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Hubby and I wish you all a very merry Christmas!
To God be the glory - great things He has done!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Worthy Ruler

This ornament easily brings a tune to my mind.
Oh, the Hallelujah chorus!
Just to think of the future reign of Christ on earth.
We heard parts of the Messiah twice this year.
Once at the local college
and once down in Greenville.

The news can get discouraging.
Corruption and incompetent decisions abound.

But I am thankful for the supreme potentate - 
the King of Kings - 
the one whose birth we celebrate during the season.

He rules today, but one day every knee will bow to him.
One day, he will depose all others.
One day, we will be in a perfect kingdom.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Silent Night

The house is calm tonight after a busy overnight with one brother and his family.
We enjoyed our visit and reconnecting with the "not-so" little ones.
I tease my hubby that I would be awfully lonely if he had not married me.
All of the children that I babysit 
and even my nieces and nephews just bounce in the trailer 
with anticipation of his 5:30 pm homecoming!

In the calm,
I am thankful that I grew up not knowing a lot of hustle around the season.
I am thankful for a church that does not "thrive" on busy-ness.
I am thankful for a husband who enjoys my time and presence more than a big meal on a holiday.
I am thankful for a family that more than accepts the "in-laws."
I am thankful for friends and family who express their love all year long
and do not need to be stressed over the perfect gift at Christmas.
I am thankful for the Prince of Peace who helps guide are steps.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Give It A Try!

I would not consider myself a gutsy cook -
or even an adventurous cook ...
but sometimes the mood hits.

I had my recipes for the week planned 
and then ...
yeah, the bothersome food allergies ...
turkey pot pie was out.

What could I replace it with?

How about one of hubby's favorites ... Zuppa Toscana,
You know it from the O.G.
But it is high in dairy ... won't work.
And we are trying to tone it down on the potatoes.

Oh I love the internet.
Enter ... the new Zuppa Toscana.
My 5 guests and I tried turnips for the first time
and hubby declared it better than the original 
(of course anything that does not end in a stomach ache and heartburn is an improvement).
And I found out after 12 years of marriage that turnips are one of my husband's favorites.

And turnips - 
high in vitamin C
high in fiber
low carbs (no sugar spikes).

Zuppa Toscana

1 med. onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground Italian Sausage
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
8 c chicken stock
4 medium turnips (1 lb) - peeled and chopped
1 c almond milk (unsweetened)
4 c kale - stems removed (I halved this)
sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Brown sausage with garlic and onion.
Drain if necessary.
Add stock and turnips.  Bring to boil then simmer 10 min.
Add milk and kale - simmer 5 minutes.
Season as desired and serve.

This week's menu:

Sunday: Herbed Hamburgers on the Grill
Monday:  Zuppa Toscana
Tuesday:  Leftover Zuppa Toscana
Wednesday:  Tilapia
Thursday:  Pizza / More leftover soup
Friday:  Pigs in a Blanket / Ham Steak
Saturday:  Chicken Salad / Sausage Risotto

Thursday, December 11, 2014

He Provides

Jehovah Jireh - The Lord will Provide

I am not looking at my tree today - but I will be again tonight.
I have been on a business trip with hubby.
Back to Raleigh.
I worked on Christmas cards primarily.
I meant to be working on hubby's next book, but I brought the wrong thumb drive:(

But as I think of the Savior we celebrate this season,
I am thankful for Jehovah - Jireh.
God provides.
He has never let us down.
We have never lacked for the necessities of life.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Winter Welcome

The yard and gardens are cleaned.
Garden beds are covered with mulched leaves.
Annuals have been pulled.
Perenniels have been trimmed back.

There is a relief in having a few months off,
but there is an emptiness in the entry to our home.

Pinterest to the rescue.

Enter Mason Jar Lanterns.

My shepherd's hook stood very empty.
There were solar light options,
but mason jars were free
and votives cheap.

We used mason jars (actually most are almond butter jars),
a good length of thick jewelry wire,
some decorative sand and epson salt,
votive candles.

Very cute change.
We light them and enjoy the warm glow as we share a warm drink on the porch on our date nights.

And if we know that you are coming over on a winter evening,
we will light them as a winter welcome for you.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Prince of Peace

I showed you my quaint paint stick ornaments on Tuesday.
As I look at my tree, I remember Jesus.
I am thankful for my Savior.

This morning I was thinking on His title of "Prince of Peace."
I am thankful that in the rush of life,
in the hustle and bustle,
in the struggles and conflicts,
in the busy days,
I can rely on one who is Peace - and not only that - He is the ruler of Peace.

I am thankful that through Him I can have that peace.

I am thankful for the rest that He gives.

I am thankful for the burdens that He carries.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Three Months

Today was the day.
The last mow of the season.

The garden is completely covered with mulched leaves.
Extra leaves are piled beneath the trees.
The mower has been run dry.

I bid mowing farewell until March.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Better Fit

For the best 2-3 years hubby and I have skipped putting up a tree.
We love real trees,
but they are costly and they take up a lot of space in a small trailer.

Last year, we found the perfect artificial tree. 
It was slim,
it had lots of space in between the branches for ornaments.
We went to the store after Christmas hoping for 50-70% off.
As we walked in the store,
the floor model was walking out :(

When the 40% off coupon came in September,
hubby insisted that I order "our" tree.

Our little tree is usually in our pine themed bedroom - 
Decorated with hearts and love notes.
I love the twinkly lights all year round.

I moved it into the Living Room yesterday.
Still decorated with red hearts (a gift from my great grandma more than 35 years ago) - 
decorated with glittered pine cones - 
decorated with the names of Jesus.

The ornaments are made from 5 gallon paint sticks (we got 28 ornaments from 7 sticks).
Check out the tutorial here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Holiday Salad

Hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend.
We enjoyed a nice day with our church family
and a restful weekend since hubby had Friday off.

Our Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful.
I love sharing the cooking with the other ladies in the church.
We enjoyed feeding 6 college students along with our own families.

Below you will find my recipe experiment of Thanksgiving Day.
It was my tribute to healthy living (though most of our meal was very sensible).
This is a beautiful and tasty salad.  
I am going to buy some cranberries to make this again in December.

Cranberry Waldorf Salad

1 can full-fat coconut milk

12 ounces fresh cranberries
16 dried apricots
1 pound seedless grapes, cut in half
2 medium apples, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
**This requires a bit of forethought: place a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator, ideally overnight, but 3-4 hours will do. Also, this salad works best if you do the prep, let it sit overnight, then assemble shortly before eating. Trust me; it will be worth it!
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put your mixing bowl and beater in the freezer.
2. Wash the cranberries and set a few aside for garnish. Place the rest in the bowl of a food processor with the dried apricots and grind them until the mixture has the consistency of relish. (It’s OK! Go ahead… sneak a little bite. It’s tangy and delicious!)
3. In a large bowl, toss the cranberry-apricot relish with the cut apples and grapes. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator so they can get to know each other. Forget about them until the next day.
4. Meanwhile, spread the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 5-7 minutes until golden. Keep an eye on them; they can burn quickly. When they’re cool, chop the pecans and set aside – be sure to save a few unchopped for garnish. Resist the urge to eat them immediately. If you’re feeling lazy, you can use untoasted pecans; it will be fine.
1. When you’re ready to assemble the salad, take your can of coconut milk out of the fridge — don’t shake it — and put it in the freezer for 10 minutes, then…
2. It’s time to make the whipped cream! Remove the mixing bowl and beater from the freezer. Carefully open the can of coconut milk without shaking it, and scoop the thick, coconut cream into the chilled mixing bowl (toss the liquid that’s left over). Add the vanilla extract and beat the mixture on the highest speed of your mixer until it looks like whipped cream. This takes about 5-7 minutes.
3. When the cream is done, place the chopped pecans and fruit relish in a large bowl. Gently fold in the whipped cream and garnish with whole cranberries and nuts.

This weeks menu:
Sunday: Last of the Leftovers
Monday: Pork chops
Tuesday: Italian Sausage
Wednesday: Tilapia
Thursday:  Fajitas
Friday: Chicken Breasts
Saturday:  Taco Salad