Learning to serve the Lord and my family one day at a time.

Learning to serve the Lord and my family one day at a time.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

This has become my go to take a mom a meal. For the longest time I was hesitant to sign up to bring new mothers dinner because I hadn't the foggiest idea what to cook for them. I wanted something hearty without beans or broccoli as I know it bothers some breastfeeding babies. It need to be easy to take over and be cooked before hand or allow her to cook it herself or be frozen.

If I bring this to a friend, I usually include fruit salad and maybe some healthy muffins for dessert or breakfast. Since it has lots of veggies mixed in already you don't have to have a separate vegetable side although steamed veggies or a salad go nicely.

Wonderful Pinterest brought me the most fabulous chicken pot pie recipe I have ever tasted. It's so creamy and delicious, my family can nearly go through a whole one in one sitting plus a lunch for David. In a few years from now I will have to make two pies to feed all of us! 

The only down side to the recipe is you have to cook it at 425 for at least 30 minutes which make my chicken boiling hot in August! Alternatively you can cook it in the morning and reheat it for dinner.

Pie Crust- store bought or use this Martha Stewart simple dough recipe

*I've had luck making this dairy free with almond milk and vegan butter. I suppose you could try coconut or another oil in lie of butter for the rue.

Recipe courtesy of One Crazy Cookie
Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie
1/3 cup butter 
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1  1/2 cups water
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules or 2 cubes.
1 cup chicken, cooked and diced
2 cups cooked diced vegetables (I use potatoes, carrots and peas.  You can also use frozen mixed veggies)
2 pie crusts

Cook vegetables until tender.  Set aside.  In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until well blended.  Gradually stir in water, milk and bouillon.  Bring to a boil stirring constantly and boil for 2 minutes.  (It should be like gravy). Remove from heat. Stir in chicken and vegetables. Put bottom crust into pie pan.  Pour filling into crust. Place 2nd crust over filling.  Trim, seal and flute edges. Cut slits in the top of the crust.  


Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.  You may want to shield the edges after the first 15 minutes to avoid over browning.

Summer Steak Salad

  • Recipes from Primal Bites

  • Steak Marinade 
  • 1 pound of flank steak
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce if you aren’t paleo)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions 
  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients, and put in a large freezer bag.
  2. Score the steak with ¼ inch deep cuts about an inch apart, across the grain of the meat, then place in the freezer bag and coat the steak with marinade. Seal the bag, place it in a bowl, and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours, or up to overnight.
  3. Remove the steak, sprinkle generously on both sides with coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
  4. Grill the steak for 4-6 minutes on each side on a hot grill, or broil in the oven on high for 4-6 minutes per side
  5. Remove the steak from the grill/oven, place on a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Slice thinly, against the grain and as a slight diagonal to make wider slices.

Summer Salad
  • 1 large or 2 small peaches, chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 large yellow tomato, chopped
  • ¾ cup blueberries
  • 1 cup purple cabbage, chopped
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 8 cups of spinach or mixed greens
  • Asian marinated flank steak and Green Goddess dressing for serving

Green Dressing 
  • ½ of a large avocado
  • ¼ cup loosely packed cilantro (a.k.a. coriander)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ inch cube of fresh ginger
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • 3-4 Tbsp water, or enough to thin it out

Directions 
  1. Put all the ingredients minus the water into a food processer, or use an immersion blender to blend it until smooth
  2. Add water 1-2 Tablespoons at a time until you get a pourable consistency.
  3. Taste and season with salt and pepper

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Avocado Chicken Salad

Paleo Chicken Salad with Apricots and Almonds

Author/Source:

Christine @ onceamonthmeals.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado, ripe
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoon chives, minced
  • 1.5 pounds chicken, cooked and shredded
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 Tablespoons dried apricots, diced
  • 4 Tablespoons almonds or other nut sliced
  • lettuce, as desired

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix together avocado, lemon, mustard, and chives. Stir in cooked chicken, salt, pepper, apricots, and almonds. Serve over a bed of lettuce and enjoy!

Freezing Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix together avocado, lemon, mustard, and chives. Stir in cooked chicken, salt, pepper, apricots, and almonds. Place chicken salad in freezer bag, label and freeze flat. To Serve: Thaw. Serve cold on bed of lettuce.
Servings: 4

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bolognese Sauce


The following recipe is courtesy of Yes to Yummy. I usually double this recipes as it freezes very well. Feel free to use less ground beef to stretch your grocery budget or omit the bacon although it adds excellent flavor. This is very filling with the spaghetti squash so I find I only eat about a cup of the sauce plus a small serving of spaghetti squash. It is one of David's favorite meals. 

To roast a spaghetti squash, slice it in half, scoop out seeds and place open side down in a 9x13 pan with about an inch of water. Cooked about an hour at 350 until flesh scoops out easily. I call this "noodles" and my kids love its soft texture and mild sweet flavor. 

Ingredients

Prep Time 
Cooking Time 
Total Time 
Yield 6-8 servings
2 tablespoons of ghee, butter, or coconut oil
2 chopped onions
3 chopped carrots
3 chopped celery stalks
A pinch of salt
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of dried basil
1/4 lb sliced and diced speck (can be substituted with prosciutto or bacon)
2 lb ground beef or ground turkey. A combination of both works well. 
3/4 cup of red wine or beef broth
3/4 cup of coconut milk
12 ounces of tomato paste (I love Muir Glen Organic for all my canned tomatoes) 
3 bay leaves

Directions

In a large pot or dutch oven, melt the ghee, butter, or coconut oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is glistening, add the onions, carrots, and celery stalks. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then saute until translucent and beginning to soften, about 7 to 8 minutes. It the veggies start browning, turn the heat down and add a little more salt so they’ll release some more water. This process is called sweating. 
To the softened veggies, add the minced garlic, dried oregano, and dried basil, and saute for one or two minutes longer. Then, add in the sliced and diced speck.
After the speck has been hanging out with the veggies for a few minutes, crumble in the ground pork and ground veal. Saute until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes, then add in the red wine, coconut milk,  tomato paste, and bay leaves.
Stir to combine, bring to a boil, and turn the heat down to low. Let cook with the lid on until thickened, about an hour. After the hour mark, reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook until you’re ready to serve over spaghetti squash or roasted root vegetable puree.
- See more at: http://yestoyummy.com/recipe/bolognese-sauce/#sthash.HORi1OXf.dpuf

Salvaging mealy fruit and coconut whipped cream recipe

We had a half dozen peaches that Laura would not touch last week. She didn't complain about them but would just leave them sitting on her plate after I served them. I finally tasted one and "blah" it was all I could do to choke it down!

"Waste not, want not" is my motto so I was determined to figure out something to do with them. I chopped them all up, threw them in a pot with water, a bit of sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice and let them simmer for about two hours until they were soft, sweet and most of the water has boiled down. I couldn't believe how the flavorless mealy peaches were now delicious and ready to be eaten. I might have eaten a few spoonfuls of boiling hot peaches off my stovetop in the process.

I then turned to my favorite Paleo dessert blogs site for a cobbler dough inspiration. I used her Oven Skillet Cobbler recipe as the base for my own cobbler. I didn't have quite enough fruit so the coconut flour was a bit overwhelming. I topped it all off with easy to make coconut milk whipped cream.


Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

Ingredients and supplies

  • Can of cold, full fat coconut milk
  • Tablespoon of your favorite sweetener
  • Cold metal or glass mixing bowl and whisk beater attachment. 

Refrigerate your coconut milk overnight or if you're a last minute person like me stick it in the freezer for a bit. Just don't forget about all afternoon or you'll be trying to figure out how to defrost it without heating up too much.
While you've got your freezer open pop in a small glass or metal mixing bowl and the whisk attachment   for your stand or hand held mixer. You could beat this by hand if you would like to get in a forearm workout and are in a pinch without a mixer.
Open your chilled coconut milk and scoop out the hardened fatty milk off the top. Save the water for smoothies or your kid's oatmeal.

I used maple syrup to slightly sweeten this while I beat the cream into a luxuriously thick whipped cream that would have fooled most people into thinking it was dairy. Now that Daniel no longer has a dairy sensitivity to what I'm eating it's nice to enjoy dairy products again. However,  I don't usually keep heavy whipping cream on hand but my pantry is always stocked with canned coconut milk.

Use the whipping cream in coffee, fruit or dessert. This was delicious the next day on fruit salad.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The days are long

"The days are long but the years are short"
I seem to have prolific and poetic spurts of writing stored up in my head that only make their way forward as I'm attempting to doze off to sleep at night. David was out of town last week for a conference so I laid awake for much too long most night just thinking. I'm tempted to hop out of bed and furiously began hacking away at the keyboard but alas, babies don't sleep in and I would be paying tenfold for my sins come morning.
I snuggled my sweet boy in my bosom, nursing him long past he had fallen asleep. I could hear the muted roar of the freeway beyond his window and the rush of his sound machine. I gazed at this sweet face, cherishing our intimate time together. No one can explain motherhood or a mother's undying love until they experience it for themselves. So many days, I pray for the hours to pass quickly. I glance at the clock above our old piano. "10 am" it tells me, great only 8 more hours until I can speak to another adult again or use the bathroom without a partner.

Somedays I anxiously away for David to come through the front doors wearing his boots and ACUs and lovingly say "let me take the kids for you." Last week the days were insanely long with no one to come home and relieve my tired and weary self.
The days often seem like an endless cycles of work that is never truly finished. Of diaper changes with a wiggly little baby who I can barely get a diaper on before he is pulling the art off the walls or eating Destin. Laundry piles that final disappear only to make themselves mysteriously reborn in the morning. Meals that get eaten before I have a chance to sit down. Long. Long. Days.

I could wish it would fly by. Pray for the school days to come or butt wiping to be accomplished without a cry from the bathroom "MOM…" My prayer instead is to cherish these long, endless days. Days of dying to myself over and over again. Of discipline, fruit and forgiveness. Of joy and little sweet sticky faces.
I hold my sweet baby in my arm and kiss his little cherub face one last time. I pray the Lord will bless our home with more babies but I don't know the future. Nothing is for certain and all I know is right here and right now and I can love each day and pray that I use it to Glory His Name.

We have been working with Laura on scripture memory. It is so fun to see how quickly and enthusiastically she learns new verses of God's truth. I came across Psalm 118: 24 one day and thought what a relevant verse not only for my child but for this mother's heart-

 This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

California or Bust

I believe "California or bust" is an apt title because anyone who has ever traveled with young children knows how difficult it can be. But we made it and the only thing about to bust was our midsize SUV that was crammed to the gills!

David had two weeks off between his first and second years of residency last month and we decided to visit my dad's father in California who will be 91 this fall and has never meet David or my children.  My dad's brother and his wife graciously offered to host us in San Diego for four days. My younger brother Brian came along as well.

We left from San Antonio and arrived midmorning at the San Diego airport where we picked up our rental car. Flying west is wonderful because we gained two hours. The kids are great flyers now and did wonderfully on the plane.


I was concerned about space in the rental car with two suitcases, five people, a pack 'n play, an umbrella stroller and Brian's wheelchair and luggage. I just couldn't bring myself to spring for the insanely expensive minivan rental so I reserved a midsize SUV. I was hoping to get a car with a roof car but they didn't have anything available. The rental car place was rather odd. The 10'x10' office was spilling over with people and rather chaotic.

It was directly below the flight path and every time a plane came over it was so painfully loud I had to cover my ears. I'm sure the people who work there probably had hearing damage. Once I gave the attendant our reservation paperwork we were free to checkout any car in the lot that was the type we reserved. They all had the keys in them and then you hopped in, drove up the the gate and they checked you out.

Uncle Mitch and Aunt Cheryl live in North Park just north of Balboa Park. Their house is a charming 1920's Craftsmen bungalow that has been kept up to historical standards. They were incredibly gracious hosts and we were so thankful to be able to stay with them. The most relaxing part for me was having lots of help with the babies and no house work or cooking to speak of! It's not vacation if I have to cook.

We visited Cabrillo National Monument with my grandfather Saturday afternoon. He is doing incredibly for his age and gets around as well as many people in their 80s. The Hall men live along time and I hope he has many more years to enjoy life.

The monument at Point Loma commemorates the landing of Juan Cabrillo in 1542. He was the first European to explore the America West Coast.

Sunday we visited a PCA church in downtown San Diego. We always enjoy worshipping at new churches when we travel. It's wonderful to see God at work across in country in different congregations.

After a quick lunch at In 'N Out Burgers we drove over to Petco Park to attend the afternoon Padres baseball game. We were able to get great seats with a Sunday military prices and enjoyed the perfect San Diego weather and a win by the Padres. David loves baseball and I'm slowly learning to appreciate it. I think I will find my self in the bleachers of many little league games in the not too distant future.

A trip to San Diego with kids isn't complete without a visit to the zoo. We got there midmorning and road the bus tour around the perimeter. The zoo is so huge you really can't see all of it in a day so we hit several highlights before heading home for lunch and naps. We went back after dinner but it seemed like many of the animals were asleep which I was somewhat disappointed by. All in all, it is a great zoo  but I don't think it warrants the steep ticket prices and I will always miss the Colorado Springs Zoo.

On Tuesday we drove over the bridge to Coronado Island to spend a few hours at the beach. As the locals say "May gray, June gloom." and gloomy it was. By the time we headed home at nap time (my life is micromanaged around certain tiny people's sleeping schedules) the gray overcast skies had cleared to blue. Laura enjoyed digging in the sand and Daniel enjoyed eating it despite my best efforts to keep him on the towel.

Wednesday we rose early than should be allowed on vacation (3 am to be precise) and began our six and a half hour trip north to Yosemite National Park. The kids were amazing in the car and David did the majority of the driving.

Pictures of Yosemite cannot do it justice. Beauty this stunning always reminds me of God's incredible goodness, power and glory. Mountains and the outdoors are something I miss greatly after living in Colorado for a year. I might be a native Texan, but the Hill Country pales in comparison to Half Dome or waking up to a view of Pikes Peak every morning.

While in Yosemite, we stayed in Curry Village on the Valley Floor in the heart of Yosemite. For the price of a nice hotel room you can pay to "rough it" in tent cabins which are simple hard floor cabins with a single light, beds and canvas sides. They have been described as a "refugee camp" but the location can't be beat. I was anxious about how the kids would sleep and nap since your neighbors are just feet away with only air and two pieces of thin plastic to guard against noise but they managed to sleep relatively well.

I was able to get away by myself for a few hours on a trail ride which I really enjoyed. There's no cooking allowed in Curry Village and all food has to be placed in a bear locker outside you cabin which is a major pain considering my kids want to eat every two hours. Our camping food wasn't hot or glamorous but we had full bellies. The Village has a very well stocked store as well as a pizza restaurant and cafeteria. I stumbled my way over to the coffee stand each morning and enjoyed my coffee in the cool morning and towering cliffs above me.

With my brother now in a wheelchair much of the time our hiking was limited to accessible trails and what we could see from lookouts along the road. Despite this, we were able to hit up most of the major views and take in the park from along the paved trails.

All in all, we had a great trip and it was a nice break for me from the endless cycle of dishes, dinner and diapers. I love my job as a mom but I was in desperate need for a change of pace for a bit. When we got back a friend told me it's not a vacation if your kids come along, she calls those "trips" and I heartily agree. David and I will celebrate five years of marriage this Christmas and we are hoping to get away for 24 hours for a true mini vacation.

Seals at the Children's Pool in La Jolla

Tunnel View of the Valley 


Grandpa Stafford and his great grand kids 


Laura holding a picture of her late Grandma Margaret at age 3 


Mariposa Grove of the Sequoias 



Half Dome from Glacier Point  




Mirror Lake 

Merced River