Tuesday, July 24, 2012

{What's Cookin'?} Red Lentil Curry in a Hurry and Baked Cauliflower

We love curry around here and this is a very mild, sweet coconut curry that even our toddler enjoys. The recipe comes from the cook book The 150 Healthiest 15-minute Recipes on Earth by one of our favorite nutritionist and authors, Jonny Bowden. This recipe is fast and frugal, delicious and nutritious. That covers all the bases for me. We like to serve it with baked cauliflower. Try it this week, I think the whole family will approve.

Red Lentil Curry in a Hurry

3 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 tablespoon Thai green curry paste (e.g. Thai Kitchen)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 ½ cups dried red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 large sweet potato, diced into ½ inch cubes
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup low-fat coconut milk
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro or slivered basil, optional

Heat the broth in a large soup pot over high heat. Whisk in curry paste to dissolve, add the tomatoes, lentils, and potato, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables and lentils are tender – watch liquid level. Stir in the salt, peas and coconut milk until smooth and cook for 2 minutes or until heated through. Adjust the seasonings to taste and stir in cilantro or basil just before serving, if using.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Per Serving: 285 calories, 5g fat, 19g protein, 46g carbohydrate, 18g dietary fiber, trace cholesterol, 313mg sodium

Baked Cauliflower 

1 large head cauliflower
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut cauliflower into medium size florets and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to coat in a 9x13 baking dish. Bake for 30-45 minutes depending on size of florets.Cauliflower is done when it is easily pierced with a fork and slightly caramelized.

In Him,

Monday, July 23, 2012

An Unpinnable Post

Over the weekend we had some friends over for a barbeque. There were no burlap table runners or mason jar center pieces...gasp! No s'mores bars, s'mores brownies, s'mores cupcakes or s'mores candies. No, not even a pallet in sight.

I did throw a table cloth on the patio table, but only because that was easier than wiping all the grime off of the table top. We served barbequed chicken, as in chicken + jar of barbeque sauce = barbecued chicken. There was a pasta salad. Here's the recipe if you want to pin it: boil tortellini, scoop pesto out of jar, mix with cherry tomatoes from the garden (tomatoes are optional.) For desert we had ice cream...scoop, serve and enjoy. And all was elegantly served and consumed on paper plates.

Can I tell you what else we had? We had fun! We relaxed. We had great and encouraging conversations. We laughed at the antics of toddlers playing in the grass, and cuddled warm, sweet babies. Food was devoured and tasted great, even better between belly laughs.

And this hostess? She relaxed all afternoon with her family, was really present all evening with her guests and tossed a few paper plates in the trash before turning out the kitchen lights and going to bed...early...with a happy heart and a clean kitchen.

Now friends, I do like Pintrest. Oh, no, I do love Pintrest. As in 1,452 pins and counting love it. I enjoy many things crafty and culinary. There are times for all of the glamorous recipes and eccentric centerpieces. But I've been learning lately the need to keep it simple. Finding the blessing in keeping it real. It's the people, not the place settings. It's the fellowship, not the food. Love and laughter before DIY chalkboard paint and wine bottle lanterns, ya know?

So, break out the paper plates, put some hotdogs on the grill and call some friends. Don't consult Pintrest, don't even sweep the floor. Live and laugh. Have fun and fellowship. I dare you!

In Him,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Help for the Homeless

Photo Credit
Last night, while on an "emergency" milk run to our local grocery store, I was approached by a sweet family, father, mother and two little girls, humbly asking if I could buy them a loaf of fresh bread. I told them I certainly would and came out with a loaf of bread, a small bag of necessities and some M&Ms, because all little girls need a special treat sometimes. Through broken English and thick accents they tried to tell me that they came here from Los Angeles to find work and that they had no where to stay.

Once home I told my husband the story and how I wish I could have provided them with a place to stay for the night. He wisely voiced that we should know where the closest homeless shelters are so that in the future we can point people to these services.

I spent some time researching last night and found This site was started as a list of homeless shelters and now also includes listings of the following:
 - Homeless Service Organizations
- Monetary Assistance
- Transitional Housing
- Free Clinics (Dental and Medical)
- Low Cost and Free Treatment Centers
- Outreach Centers
- Day Shelters
- Relief Organizations that can help the needy
- Women's Shelters and Battered Women's Services
- Food Pantries, Soup Kitchens, Food Banks

This seems like the perfect website to have at the ready on a smart phone. Think about it, no matter where you are, even on vacation out of town, you can easily bless someone by pointing them to the resources they need.

What do you think friend? Would this be a resource you might use? What creative ways have you found to bless those less fortunate?

In Him,

Monday, July 16, 2012

{What's Cookin'?} Peaches & Cream Bread Pudding

We were so blessed this weekend to have Nick’s parents in town for a visit. Charlie was over the moon excited about having Grammy and Grandpa here, playing games, going swimming at their hotel pool and getting extra lovin’ and extra treats. Nick and I were so thankful to get not one but two little dates out this weekend while they stayed with the girls. A Saturday afternoon road bike ride (I haven’t been on my bike since before I was pregnant with Charlie and felt so uncoordinated) and Sunday afternoon at an art festival and with a little thrifting thrown in. 

For Sunday morning breakfast I made a new recipe, Peaches and Cream Bread Pudding. I found the recipe here and tweaked it to my liking. It turned out so tasty with fresh peaches and just the right amount of sweet. This was a great breakfast for a busy Sunday morning before church since it is assembled the night before and just baked in the morning. This breakfast dish feels like something special but is so easy you could make it any old day of the week.

1 loaf French bread, sliced (I used 2/3 of a loaf)
8 large eggs
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 fresh peaches, sliced
Scant ¼ cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange bread in a tight, flat layer in dish. 

In a large bowl, whisk eggs with milk, sugar and vanilla until blended; pour over bread. Arrange peaches on top and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. 

Remove baking dish from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour cream into a small pan; bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk continually until thickened, approximately 5 minutes. Drizzle cream over peaches and bake, uncovered, until casserole is lightly browned on top and just cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes.

I'd like to try a healthier version next time and use a whole grain bread. I think this would also work with the sweetener of your choice added to the egg mixture, maybe agave, honey, maple syrup? Also, any stone fruit would be good with this too or berries or cherries or…oh, so many options I will have to try!

What about you friend? Do you have an easy, go-to breakfast that you prepare for guests?

In Him,

I'm linking up today at...

We are THAT Family

Women Living Well

Raising Homemakers

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Second Round of Firsts

Dear Annie is just a week and a half shy of six months old and got her first taste of "big girl" food last night. It is milestones like this cause me to pause and reflect on what it was like hitting these markers with Charlie and how different it is the second time around. 

The differences in my perspective between Charlie and Annie been have obvious from the beginning. Pregnant with Charlie, if asked how far along I was, I could rattle of that I was 20 weeks, 3 days and 11 hours pregnant and that she was the length of a banana. I couldn't imagine not knowing how far along I was with my baby. But alas, pregnant with Annie, when asked I would pause and say, "ummm, 14 weeks, I think. Maybe 16." After just one time around pregnancy felt so routine. I didn't read up on what to do or not to do. I just went about my busy life caring for Charlie, at times even forgetting why I was so tired or feeling nausious. She was just there, growing and squirming inside of me. I cherrished the kicks and hicups but couldn't ever compare her to my produce purchases.

With sweet Charlie I was always anxious and pushing to reach the next milestone. Excited to get to first foods, sitting up and crawling. Reading, reading, reading to make sure we did things just right. The second time around? Well, I like it. It's been comfortable. Not nearly as many worries, hardly a page turned in research. I've been cherishing each phase and been in no hurry to reach the next. Take last night's first taste of rice cereal. There was little fanfair. I was wanting to start solids sometime before her six month check up incase any questions came up but I've been putting it off because I know it adds one more piece to our routine and, well, breast milk diapers are just so much more pleasant than solid food diapers. We had the cereal, a bit of "mommy milk," and a bit of free time so we went for it. It is still so much fun to see her reaction to the food and best of all was when Charlie asked to feed her. It was adorable! (and, on a side note, I think it might just be ingrained in us from the very begining to open our mouths when feeding a baby. Charlie did it with every single scoop. Funny, huh?)

Being a fisrt time mommy is wonderful, everything is so new and exciting. But I like being a second time mommy too, because it's all familiar and I can just sit back and take it as it comes.

How about you friend? Do you have more than one kiddo? How have you noticed your perspective changing with each child?

In Him,

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Welcome to the Homemade Oasis

The most daunting thing about starting a blog is writing that first post. Do I just jump in with "10 Tips for Traveling with Tots?" No, not yet. Certainly it can't be something as mundane as "How to Clean Your Refrigerator Coils." After much debate (and scratching my head about who has time to clean their refrigerator coils) I've decided to go with a quick family show and tell. So, with out further ado, here are the Joneses!

I call him Handsome, because, well, he is!
 First things dear husband, AKA Handsome. He's the love of my life and my BFF. He's got patients in spades and the longest fuse ever. God knew what he was doing when he put brought us together, because I sure test that patients daily. God bless this man!

A SoCal boy born and raised, a middle child of four. He atended Cal poly San Luis Obispo, studied Landscape Architecture, fell in love with Christ, met his future wife and discovered the beautity that is Nothern California.

He blesses his family by working hard as a construction project manager at a local university, makes his commute on bike and still has the energy to love on his wife and girls at the end of the day. Love him!

When it's a good picture of you, you just don't worry about what the kid is doing
 Oh, and then there's me! I was born and raised a NorCal girl, the oldest of four. I do not posses patients in spades or a very long fuse but God's grace covers it all and He is growing me day by day.

I fell in love with the Lord in high school and swam my way to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on an athletic scholarship. There I got a teaching credential, was blessed with incredible friendships that grew my faith immensely and met my future husband (go figure.)

I taught elementary school (3rd and 5th grades) for four years before being blessed by my husband with the gift of staying home to raise our babies.  I spend my days at home and, while I know I am blessed to do so, I wouldn't be honest if I told you I love every minute of it. It's hard work friends, but it is good.

This girl's got spunk!
And here is our first born. Our spunky, spirited, strong willed first born. A mover and shaker from the womb, this girl has never been one to cuddle much but her high spirited antics and fancy dance moves keep us all in stitches. She is simply the sweetest thing you'll ever meet. She loves milk, ketchup, books and rocks.
Oh those big, blue eyes!
Our littlest treasure came along just sixteen months after her big sister. This sweetie pie is the most easy going girl ever. We're talking sleeping through the night by 2 months old and waiting patiently each morning for mommy to come get me and feed me easy. No tears, no fuss. Her job is big smiles and lots of loud talking as of late. She's kissable, she's cuddle-able (not a word by the way, but totally should be). She loves milk, her thumb and her giraffe Sophie.

Thanks for stopping by friend!

In Him,