Friday, September 13, 2013

FYI Friday

Bring that funky track back.  Ooh, bring it, baby.  If you haven't noticed by now, my thought process often involves songs.  I have no idea why that's so, but it's been like that for many years.  What's funny is that I wouldn't say I'm a big music fan.  I listen to the radio when I'm in the car but that's about the extent of it.  I guess the little snippets I hear form permanent wrinkles in my brain.  Now if I could just find a way to get my to-do list to form those same wrinkles!

Here are some things worth sharing.

** Get in my belly!  These bars will be made this weekend!

**  Sugar might not be all bad after all.  I'm not sure I could smear it on my face without licking it off, but perhaps that's a personal problem.

**  I love Indian food restaurants but the thought of making an Indian dish at home scares the bejeezers out of me for some reason.  This recipe might just lift those fears.  

**  New guilty pleasure.  I'm not even sure how I brought myself to confess.  What can I say, I like shows with pretty people and when there are pretty houses to boot?!  

**  Lexington friends, get excited for the first annual Crave Lexington Food and Music Festival.  Tons of local vendors, local music, and cooking demonstrations.  There will be something for the whole family!  By the way, that's my blonde head in the picture on their homepage.  That makes me famous, right?


Friday, September 6, 2013

Marinated Chili-Garlic Chicken with Roasted Veggies

It's been so long since I've posted a recipe, I'm not sure I even remember all that I used to do.  If I leave something out that you had gotten used to, please let me know.  I'm happy to oblige.  
I wanted to kick off my recipe resurrection with a good one and this one totally fits the bill.  Sometimes I select recipes for the week on an empty stomach and that's not always the best idea.  When you're hungry, everything looks and sounds good.  Then when it comes time to actually make the dish (or prepare yourself mentally earlier in the day to make said dish), you are less than thrilled.  This was one of those dishes for me.  It's not that it didn't sound appealing, I just feared it would lack flavor.  
Boy was I wrong!  The marinade for the chicken, with the chimichurri finishing sauce gave this dish more punch than DeAndre Liggins' girlfriend (a UK reference for all of you out-of-towners).  The garlic flavors were pronounced but not so in-your-face that you were left breathing garlic the rest of the day.  The chimichurri had just enough of a kick from the jalapeno that gave you that little boost of both flavor and heat.  
The vegetables were tasty in their own right.  One vegetarian in the family may have had an extra dose of veggies with just a tiny bit of meat on the side.  I mean, the chef has to try what they put out, right?  
One of the surprise highlights of the meal was the Israeli couscous that was intended to be a mere bed for the main dish to lay on.  This is such a fun food.  I don't care if you're 5 or 55, it's fun to pop these little pearls in your mouth and swirl them around on your tongue.  None of us could get enough of these little gems.  At one point, Sawyer had his plate turned up, trying to get the last morsel of couscous.  Poor thing, they're deprived.
Cooked with a little vegetable stock base, I can see this quick and easy side making it's appearance over and over on our dinner table. 
Add all of these components together and you get a wholesome, satisfying dinner that looks like a rainbow on your plate.  As Wes said, "this is one of the best things you've made in a while."  Not sure exactly how to take that, but I'll take the compliment just the same!

Marinated Chili-Garlic Chicken with Roasted Veggies
adapted from Yum Sugar


2 lb chicken tenders or breasts cut into strips
4 large garlic cloves
1/2 small onion, chopped
8 oz Greek yogurt (any fat content is fine)
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 cups eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 T. Bragg's Liquid Aminos
2 T. olive oil, divided use
salt and pepper

Chimichurri Ingredients:
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 of a seeded jalapeno, finely chopped
1/2 of a lime, juiced
3 T olive oil
salt and pepper


In a large bowl, mix together garlic, onion, yogurt, chili powder, soy sauce, oregano, and paprika.  Add chicken and stir to coat.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

About 20 minutes before you're ready to cook your chicken, begin to prepare your vegetables and chimichurri.  Preheat oven to 400.  

For the vegetables, line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread veggies evenly on top and top with olive oil and liquid aminos.  Toss to coat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook for 20 minutes, stirring once about halfway through.

For the chimichurri, mix all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside until ready to serve.

After you've tossed the vegetables, prepare your grill or grill pan for the chicken.  Heat pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil.  Grill chicken for about 4 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink.  

To assemble, place chicken tenders atop a bed of Israeli couscous or rice, top with a generous spoonful of roasted veggies, and drizzle with chimichurri sauce.

**Linking up to What's Cookin' Wednesday at Buns In My Oven.


Monday, August 26, 2013

What Could I Be Doing Differently?

I find myself constantly asking that about parenting.  People have said it's the hardest job you'll ever have and it didn't take me long to realize they are right.  I find myself full of doubt, lacking clarity, and frozen in my own mind not knowing how to handle certain situations.  I know I'm not alone, but that doesn't help me in the heat of the moment when I feel like running away from home.  I'm happy to say I've fought that urge thus far, but I don't like the feeling to even surface.  

I want it to be perfect and rosey every day.  I want to come home to children who are respectful, cheery, helpful, and never fight.  But when I look to myself, do I model those same characteristics every day?  Nope.  So why should I expect any more from my children?  I (we) are their role models.  We teach them the behaviors they have.  When my son gets angry and raises his voice, I know it's because he's heard me do that to him.  When he gets frustrated and immediately calls for help instead of continuing to try on his own, I know he's seen me do the same.  Friends, like it or not, our children are our mirrors.  They are who they are because of us.  

A recent sermon really resonated with me about being a disciple of Christ.  When the series began, I never thought little old me could disciple anyone.  I was the one who needed to be discipled.  I mean, what do I know?  Can I spout off verses from the Bible by heart?  Nope.  Do I know and understand every story in the Bible and can I discuss them with others like I know what I'm talking about?  Sure can't.  But can I live my life the way Jesus did?  Can I listen with compassion, feel with empathy, and react with love?  It's hard, but with God's guidance, yes I can!

When our kids are driving us crazy, there's some driving force behind it.  If we're lucky we can figure it out and remove that variable.  Sometimes we're not so lucky.  Those are the times they need our love most.  Yes, we'll have to dig from our pinky toes to find an ounce of it, but that's the only thing that will see us through.  

When they rub their snotty noses on our freshly laundered blouse and gently lay their head on our shoulder, all they need is love.  Snot washes out.  

When they are talking a mile a minute, asking 10,000 questions, all while you're trying to read a recipe to cook dinner, all they want is your love and attention.  Dinner may not be perfect, but that's okay.

When they fight with their siblings and run like banshees through the house, respond with love and attention.  Take a moment and run with them.  The laundry, dishes, or whatever can wait.

When they don't listen because they think what they're doing is more important.  React with love and remind yourself that you often do the same to them.  Take note and start with yourself before reprimanding them.

I'm hoping that by writing this out, I will be able to recall these ideas when I suddenly find myself in fight-flight-or-freeze mode.  I want to be able to drum up all the compassion and empathy I can muster and handle the situation with love.  As Stephanie, from A Wide Mercy, so eloquently put it, "We all need love the most in the moments when we feel the worst.  If I skipped the gruesome part of mothering I would also miss the chance to show them love."   


Friday, August 23, 2013

FYI Friday

Barney got it right, sharing is caring.  Might be the only thing, but it's a good one.  There's so many ideas and inspirations floating around out there, so when I see things I love, I want to share them.  Here's the things that are striking my fancy today.

1.  Are your kids as enthralled with bouncy balls as mine are?  And do they bounce them once and they disappear into the abyss?  Then there are tears and then there's stealing brother's ball.  Good times.  Never fear, get some borax and make your own!

2.  Yes, I did just buy some coconut milk solely for the purpose of this recipe.  Cheesecake for breakfast?!  Sign me up!  

3.  I want to throw a party just to do this.  Who comes up with these brilliant ideas?!  Martha, of course.

4.  Speaking of parties, now I want to have an ice cream or sundae party just so I can hang these around.  Maybe I'll just make them for no reason other than balloons make me happy.

5. Here's another article about "fake" food.  I understand not everyone has the time or desire to make everything from scratch, but this article should at least encourage you to know a little more about what you're buying and putting into your body.  Remember people, you only have 1 life.  I'd rather spend the money now eating healthy, as opposed to spending it in 20 years on medical bills.  Here's just a little excerpt:

"Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer hidden in thousands of foods you and your family regularly eat, and it’s one of the worst food additives ever created."


Thursday, August 22, 2013

You are what you eat

One of the things I'm most passionate about is food.  Eating it, sourcing it, preparing it, learning about it, anything that has to do with food is of interest to me.  This has been a gradually formed love and not something that happened overnight.  I used to be the world's pickiest eater, eating only macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches.  It's a wonder I ever went to the bathroom with all that cheese!  It wasn't until I lived in the sorority house in college that I began to expand my palate.  We had an awesome cook, who we called Gar-Bear, that just had a way of making us want to try new things.  I'm so thankful he opened my eyes to a world other than cheese!  Don't get me wrong, I still love cheese, but now I love a lot more.  

Once I began cooking for myself and searching for new recipes, I began to explore the world of healthy eating.  What I quickly learned is that the healthy food is not where the money's at for large corporations.  More often than not, the healthy alternatives in the grocery are double, if not triple the price of their lesser counterpart.  It's sickening to read the laundry list of fake ingredients in those "lesser" counterparts, many of which I can't even pronounce.  

I'm not here to preach about what our government should or should not do but I do want to make you aware of the the food world in which we live.  Here are 2 links that both exemplify what is going on behind the scenes in our government.  The first is a story of corn.  Sounds boring, but I found myself immersed in this article about why you rarely find organic corn at the local farmer's markets.  Reading what our government has allowed to happen over time is mind-blowing to me.   

The second link is a personal, real life story from a local blogger, The Lexington Streetsweeper.  He tells of a recent maddening experience at one of the big box grocery stores, whereby he witnessed our government's Food Stamp policy at work.  I'm thankful he was persistent and handled the situation the way that he did.  It's truly a crime the way sugary, processed, big company food is glorified for those who can't afford anything better, don't know any better, or aren't allowed to choose differently.

I really do hope that my one voice will team with others to make a difference.  Until then, I'll continue to protest the junk and go for the real food.  Real food that was grown by local farmers who are just trying to make an honest living like my grandparents did many decades ago.  These are the same grandparents who lived well into their 80's and 90's, numbers our youth are likely to never see at the rate we're going.  That is all.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Things You Must Try

During my hiatus, I haven't used my fancy camera one time.  Part of that is my frustration with not being able to quickly master it and part of it is just taking a much needed break.  As I tell my children, sometimes if you go away from something for a while, when you try again it's suddenly easier.  It's like clearing your brain, if you will.  I'm hoping that will happen with my photography skills.  I do know I don't practice often enough.  Again, something that I preach to my children almost daily.  Man this parenting thing sure does teach you a lot of what you're not doing as an individual!

Even though I don't have my own pictures, I've provided a link to the original photo to give proper credit.  Original pictures or not, I had to share some of our favorite recipes from the last couple of months.  There's a little something for everyone, I hope, so be inspired to try something new!

Let's start with dessert first, shall we?  I made this cake for my mom's birthday and it's one of my all-time favorites (and I've made a LOT of cakes!).  The only part I don't like is that you have to put the cake in the refrigerator to help set the whipped cream frosting in between the layers.  I just don't like the way the fridge dries out the crumb and makes it a little less moist, but even still the flavors of the cake make you forget about the texture of the cake.  She suggests Valencia oranges and after trying them, I second that suggestion. Navel oranges just don't have the powerful sweet orange taste like the Valencia ones.  She also talks about various butters and I used an Irish butter to give some extra richness to the cake.  Just don't use the cheap stuff and you should be good.  I didn't get a chance to do the fancy icing technique because I don't do artificial colors, but you should still watch her video of how she achieves such a beautiful pastel swirl.  It's almost too pretty to eat.  Almost.  
Orange Party Cake with Whipped Orange Frosting
via Sweetapolita

For a slightly healthier meal, might I suggest this BLT Chopped Salad with Corn, Feta & Avocado.  Seriously, it's everything I love all wrapped up in a giant bowl.  It's got both the crunch of the bacon and corn, as well as the creaminess of the avocado and feta.  Summer on a plate!

BLT Chopped Salad
via How Sweet It Is
Another delicious salad is this Thai Chopped Chicken Salad.  I omitted the edamame, but even without it was very filling and hearty.  I missed where the peanut sauce was supposed to be different from the dressing, so I just piled them all together in a mason jar and shook away.  I can't say what they taste like apart, but it's mighty tasty all blended together.

Thai Chopped Chicken Salad
via Taste and Tell
If you want to channel your inner-90 year old granny, this recipe for Homemade Chicken 'n' Dumplings is the way to go.  Seriously people, this is where it's at.  I have been dreaming of this big bowl of goodness ever since I made it nearly a month ago.  I made it as a surprise for Wes since he often feels our meals are too healthy (is there such a thing?!).  We were both pleasantly surprised how authentically awesome these dumplings were.  Now don't get discouraged that these are from scratch.  As Jenna points out, from start to finish this entire dish takes about 30 minutes.  You couldn't even park and get waited on at Cracker Barrel in that amount of time.  Plus as a bonus, you know what's in it (or not in it).  

Homemade Chicken 'n' Dumplings
via Eat, Live, Run
For a few vegetarian and vegan options, the next 4 are incredible!  I honestly couldn't pick a favorite because they're all great in their own right.  The French Onion Burger from the Curvy Carrot is full of flavor and one of the "meatiest" veggie burgers I've ever made.  It holds together well and doesn't smoosh into 100 pieces when you take the first bite.  The boys didn't even know it wasn't a traditional burger.  I served them on a pretzel roll from Trader Joe's and I'm now in love with those buns!  I'm a sucker for anything with caramelized onions, so this one had my name written all over it.  I couldn't lift the picture from her site.  Smarty pants!   

Wes requested a Bahn Mi type sandwich one week and even added that it could be vegetarian.  Not one to ignore a good challenge, I set off to find the best recipe.  And boy did I?!  There are many components to this sandwich, just as there are for a traditional Bahn Mi, but each one is an integral part of the overall goodness of the sandwich.  The mushroom pate would be great on a burger.  The only modification I'd make in the future would be to halve or even third the pickled vegetables.  They do keep for up to a month, but I had difficulties finding other uses for them.  I did enjoy the Daikon, as this was the first time I think I'd ever had one.  Crusty bread is another must to help absorb some of the wetness from the pate and veggies.  We went the egg route, as opposed to the tofu.

Vegetarian Bahn Mi Sandwich
via The Chubby Vegetarian
Another vegetarian meal that I would bet you wouldn't miss the meat is this hearty Chickpea Crockpot Pie with Biscuit Topping.  If you haven't noticed by now, we like bread.  Really it's me and I've passed on my affection to everyone else since I'm the cook.  These biscuits, although vegan, are the bomb!  I think the moisture from the crockpot helps a lot, as does the creamy broth and veggies sticking to the underside of each bite of the biscuit.  It's a match made in heaven.  Everyone was asking for seconds and were fighting for the leftovers.

Chickpea Crockpot Pie with Biscuit Topping
via Peas and Thank You

The last recipe may be a bit of a stretch for you.  Just trust me, it really it quite tasty.  Your kids will love that they get to eat a waffle and you'll love that said waffle is packed with nutrients.  Again, don't let the laundry list of ingredients overwhelm you.  Most of them are spices and all together it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.  The cauliflower gets chopped up, so the mouths you are feeding are none the wiser that they're actually eating something healthy.  Honestly, I think I liked this one more than Wes, but he's funny on the texture of his food.  He needs some crunch in every meal and, well, this meal is lacking in that department.  He also doesn't like anything with the word "sloppy" in it because he said it automatically sounds unappealing.  I guess I see it.  The boys and I loved it though.

Cheesy Cornbread Waffles with Cauliflower Lentil Sloppy Joes
via Keepin' It Kind

Phew!  I'm hungry now.  Doing a big post like this makes me realize just how many meals have come out of my kitchen in the last 3 months.  Which one are you going to try first?  That is if you're not in a food coma by now!


Friday, August 16, 2013

It's Been A Long Time

Hello, friends!  I hope you haven't all given up on me, but I wouldn't blame you if you had.  I appreciate all the comments and emails checking in on me to make sure things were okay.  Yes, everything is just fine, I just needed a break.  

You see, this little blog started as a way for me to share the things "I" enjoy and it spiraled into my trying to post things I thought "YOU" would enjoy.  While I am all about pleasing others, I don't want to do it to the point that it becomes something I am not.  I want to be real.  That will mean pictures that are not gallery quality.  That will mean parenting tales that aren't all smiles and giggles.  And that will mean that when I feel like I need to take a break to be with my family, I won't feel guilty for not posting a certain number posts each week.  I'll do the best I can and hopefully inspire you, make you laugh, and maybe even educate you along the way.  Here's to a fresh start!

I've missed you all!  Even though I haven't been posting, I've still been reading your blogs, sometimes just as a lurker, but still staying up in your business.  I'm too nosey to quit it all together.  Well, nosey and genuinely interested!  I've bookmarked countless recipes from your various blogs, smiled at countless family photos, laughed at many videos, and been inspired by so many DIY and home projects/improvements.  While the blog world can be overwhelming and make me feel somewhat inferior at times, I am truly amazed at the skill and talent level of the bloggers I've found along the way.

Here are some of the things I've spied over the last few months.  We'll catch up soon on our summer fun and daily life happenings.  I plan to do a whole post on recent recipes we've drooled over.  Until then, be inspired!

Is there a more serene looking place than this?  I'm not sure I'd ever be able to leave once I got there.  How could this be so close to me, yet I've never heard about it.  Southern Living, you're letting me down!

Colin's teacher is expecting and I'm already on the hunt for the perfect gift.  Isn't this the cutest baby book?  They sure didn't make them like this 6 years ago!

Is this not the most awesome-ist party ever?  Wouldn't you be so psyched if you walked in and saw this?  I'm not sure I'd ever leave this room.  Game?  What game?


Just when you think there are no honest people left in the world (you haven't met my husband if you believe this!), someone goes and does something that truly moves you.  What a wonderful ending to a wonderful story!  This makes me slightly less cynical.

On that note, I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend.  The weather here has been absolutely perfect and I'm hoping it continues through the weekend.  I'm off to a lovely local winery for a dinner in the vines!  Sure to be a great time!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Well, they can't all be good ones.  It wouldn't be real life if every Mother's Day just magically transformed into the best day ever.  Wes joked and said next year he was going to get me what I really wanted, a day without the kids.  Even that wouldn't classify as a great day because I'd spend the day wishing they were there with me.  

Some days I just don't fly at full speed.  My flag only flies at half mast and I'm irritable.  Yes, I said it, I can be irritable.  And if you meet a parent who says she never has a day like that, run the other way because lightning might be about to strike.

Bring a mom is a tough job.  It's also a very fulfilling, joyous, gratifying, and rewarding job.  However, as a mom of 2 young kids, the tough days tend to outweigh the super days.  As much as I try to focus on the positive the truth is, we're in a serious learning and transition time.  I'm learning to be the best mom I can be, all while realizing I'm not perfect and 50 other not-so-fantastic traits about myself.  Meanwhile, my children are learning what buttons to push, how to cope with their emotions, how to share, and all the other life skills that we somehow take for granted and think came preprogrammed into their little minds.  

Being a mom doesn't always mean being in control.  That's a hard one for me.  Just because you know they need a nap and desperately want them to take a nap (or go to bed at 5pm), doesn't mean it's going to happen.  No amount of force - I've tried - is going to physically make their little eyelids close.  No amount of bribery, coercing, or reasoning is going to make a strong-willed, opinionated, 5-year old take a nap when he doesn't want to.  Part of me wants to praise him for standing his ground because that will serve him well later in life when peer pressure rears its ugly head, but the other part of me, the part that is in the here and now wants to throttle him.  Nap = Sanity.  That equation doesn't balance when one of the components is negative.  Sometimes though, you have to wave the white flag and move on to Plan B.  Start praying for the sun to go down early so you can sneak in an early bedtime without them noticing.  

No matter what kind of day it's been, the fact that I came to play is all that matters.  Sure I may have days when I yell too much, don't feed them enough vegetables (gasp!), let them watch too much tv, but at least I tried.  Some days I may try less than others, but I was there.  It's unrealistic to think that you can give 100% of yourself every day to every person in your life.  I lived in that make believe world for a long time.  It's painful at the end of the day to realize you fell short...again...and again.  At some point you have to be content with giving it your best and realizing you can learn from your mistakes and short comings and hopefully give it another try tomorrow.  That's one thing we have, hope for tomorrow.  By the time we get this whole parenting thing all figured out, they'll be grown and on their own.  Then we can either write a book or guide our children with their children.  Now I feel old.  

I take my hat off to all the mother's.  By coming to play each day, you are putting your best foot forward.  They won't all be noteworthy days that the little lady at the coffee shop was talking about when she said to, "Enjoy every minute.  They're only young once."  No, you won't enjoy every minute.  Yes, you will wish away certain phases of their life.  But, yes you will be a great mom who is remembered and revered by her children for her love, not her mistakes.  Happy Mother's Day!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Weekly Menu - Week 17

{Printable menu with links!}

This week there I'm trying some recipes from a new cookbook, Veganomics.  A friend of mine let me borrow it and I quickly broke it in by copying about 20 recipes from it.  The Cassoulet and Banana Bread are both from it and I can already report the Banana Bread was delicious!  The boys both thoroughly enjoyed it, even with my modifications to use whole wheat flour.  I actually preferred the amped up nutty flavor the wheat provided.  

I didn't include the delicious Mother's Day dish Wes made for me on Sunday.  We gobbled it up before I snapped a picture of it, but here's a link to the recipe.  He served it with a grilled caesar salad and a decadent bruscetta with goat cheese, toasted macadamia nuts, and a honey drizzle.  Heavenly.  It was certainly a treat to have such a special meal on Mother's Day.  What a guy :)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Baked Pumpkin Donuts

It's been a while since I initially made these, but my children have not forgotten them!  Nearly every Saturday morning since then they have asked for "those donuts you made that time."  They were really good, as is just about anything sweet straight from the oven.  

I appreciate that Nicole reduced the oil and sugar from the original recipe and, like her, we didn't miss either.    I changed from her butterscotch icing to a simple sugar glaze, but I'm sure the butterscotch icing would be heavenly.  

Just seeing the pictures again makes me want to whip up a batch this weekend.  It's just as quick to whip up a batch of these as it is to get in the car and drive to our local donut shop, but these are definitely healthier!

Baked Pumpkin Donuts
adapted slightly from Prevention RD
{Print recipe}


1 3/4 C. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla

For the glaze:
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1-2 T. almond milk or water


Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a donut pan with non-stick cooking spray.  

In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (flour through spices).  In a separate bowl, combine oil, buttermilk, brown sugar, egg, pumpkin, and vanilla, whisking to combine.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, being careful not to overmix.  Fill the donut pan with batter, filling each one 2/3rds full. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the donuts comes out clean.  Let cool while you make the glaze.  

For the glaze, sift confectioners' sugar into a small bowl.  With a whisk or fork, whisk the almond milk (or water) until smooth, adding more liquid as needed to reach your desired consistency.

Drizzle the glaze over the warm donuts.  If you don't want it to absorb as quickly, wait until the donuts have cooled completely before icing.