Wednesday, August 29, 2012

{What's Cookin'?} Stewed Chicken and Tomatoes over Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

I am so excited to share this meal with you today!

It was one of those dinner nights with out a plan. You know, when you just start pulling things out that seem to match and figuring it out as you go. Around here dinners like that are known as Scrounger's Delight, a name made up by my roommates and I in college.

While usually palatable and satisfying Scrounger's Delight has never received the highest complement to be awarded to great dinners around here, until I made this. When Nick told me, not once, but twice, that I could serve this in my restaurant (no, I don't actually have a restaurant, but it was that good.)

I love this meal because it's A. Delicious, B. a snap to prepare and C. can be made with the chicken still frozen (not that I ever forget to take meat out to thaw...but I'm just saying.)

I'm not one to do much measuring and timing but here's the low down on making this delicious bowl of deliciousness. Perfect for days that are cooling from summer to fall and a great recipe for your bumper crop of tomatoes!

Stewed Chicken and Tomatoes

Olive Oil
1/2 red onion - sliced
1 rib celery - chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
4-6 tomatoes (depending on size) - cut into large pieces
6 chicken thighs
bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 cups spinach, thick stems removed
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in large pan. Saute onion, celery and garlic until soft.
Add broth, tomatoes, chicken, bay leaf and red pepper. Simmer until chicken is cooked through.
Stir in spinach to wilt before serving. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

I chop and boil a pile of  red potatoes until soft. I like to mash them by hand and don't worry about any lumps, it makes them kinda rustic (guess I have a thing for lumpy, rustic food, weird...check out my "rustic" applesauce. And since when do lumps = rustic anyway?). I added salt, pepper, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, milk and chicken broth until they were creamy, cheesey and garlicy good.

Serve the stewed chicken with it's savory sauce over mashed potatoes. Repeat. (We definitely each ate two huge servings.)

Enjoy friends!

In Him,

I'm linking up here today...

Friday, August 24, 2012

{Five Minute Friday} Join

Today I am linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. So I'm writing for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. The topic this week is Join...


In our modern age we are so very connected. We join Facebook, join blog hops and link ups. We join Twitter and Pintrests and on and on. We are social in so many corners of the web and join in each day through computer screens and cell phones. But I can't help but wonder if all of our connecting and joining has left us feeling disconnected and alone.
Let's try joining in on dinner with friends, eye-to-eye contact, hugs and belly laughs (not lol, but real laughter heard out loud.) Let's power down and join our family for a game on the living room rug, join the neighbors and chat on the grass while the children meet up for a game of hide-and-seek. Let's really be present and join in on the real life, the good life, this God given life of flesh and breath and smiles and warm sun on your face.
Will you join me?


In Him,


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

{What's Cookin'?} Rustic Applesauce

So, while I never intended for this to be a food blog, that seems to be the place I'm in right now. We've been cooking up a lot of delicious things in the kitchen as of late, but don't forget to check out all the fun I've got cooking for the blog in the coming months (printables? giveaways? yes and yes!)
Today's recipe is a long time family favorite. One that smells and tastes like home to me. My mom made this delicious applesauce every year when we were kids and I've been excited to start this early fall tradition with my own family. The secret to this best ever applesauce is the apples. My mom always, always makes hers with Gravenstein apples. These beautiful red-green apples have a great balance of sweet and tart and really just make the applesauce something special. They are an early variety and just showed up at our farmers market two weeks ago. I've never seen them in the grocery store, so you might want to load up the family for a special apple hunt at your local farmer's market. If you can't find them you can substitute any tart apple variety, like Granny Smith.
Here's the low down on this delicious rustic apple sauce. Unlike my mom I don't have a food mill to process my cooked apples and separate the peels and seeds from all of the good stuff, so I have to do all of my peeling and coring up front. If you happen to have a food mill or know someone who does, you can skip the peeling and coring steps in the beginning. Also, since my sauce isn't processed through a food mill it has what I consider a rustic consistency. It is a bit chunkier with stray bits of peel, I actually really like it that way. Feels kinda like a sauce you'd find in a little house on the prairie or something.It's really so simple and so worth the peeling and coring.

Rustic Apple Sauce

- Peel, quarter and core enough apples to fill a large stock pot (or pot of your choice) and cover with water. Note: I'm not very meticulous with my peeling and coring. I just try to get most of the peels of and just the seeds and very hardest part of the core out. The rest of the core will soften when cooked.)
- Bring water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until apples begin to fall apart. (watch the pot to be sure it doesn't boil over, it will make a huge sticky mess that is no fun to clean up...ask me how I know)
- You can leave the applesauce as is or mash with a potato masher to get out some of the lumps
- Eat hot or cold, add sweetener and cinnamon to taste
Because these apples have a short season I like to make a lot and freeze some to take out on special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas, or as a special treat just because.

Enjoy a sweet bowl of fall flavor friends!

In Him,

Friday, August 17, 2012

{Five Minute Friday} Stretch

Today I am linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. So I'm writing for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. The topic this week is Stretch...



It's mid August (I think) and the hardest working man I know (who also happens to be my husband) is working, a lot. Like 10 hour days plus Saturdays a lot. He comes home fatigued and discouraged. All of him stretched thin and exhausted by the endless hours and just wanting to be home with his girls.

What does this do to me? I'm stretched thin too. Six days on my own. I need back up. And what does this stretching do? Like the stretching of a shirt to small on a body too big we can see right through to what's underneath. And, oh me, it isn't pretty.

We get stretched and pulled and what's in the heart is revealed. And my heart hides ugly things. The exhaustion can't hold back the inpatients, the anger and unkind words. I snap, I whine, I grumble. And I convince myself, my blessed-beyond-measure self, that my lot in life is the worst.

But this stretching can be good if I let it. The sins are too obvious not to confess. When they surface they can be dealt with. The Lord can help me wash them away.


In Him,

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

{What's Cookin'?} Oven Roasted Tomatoes

We've got a vegetable jungle garden that looks like this...
 This is the first year we've ever had a garden worth mentioning. Most years have yielded little to no fruit but oh my this year...we've got tomatoes coming out of our ears! I attribute that to Nick's hard work preping the soil this year. He tilled in a truck load of good strong chicken manure and everything has taken off. In fact, we've got close to ten pumpkin vines that sprung up all over the yard...and we didn't plant a single seed. Accidental gardening, I'm all about that.

But Like I said, tomatoes coming out of our ears. Every couple of days we end up with this...
a colander FULL of garden deliciousness! We eat them in salads, as salsa and straight off the vines. We cook 'em and give 'em away. Today I turned my harvest into these beauties...

delicious, oven-dried tomatoes. I saw the directions a year ago here and they really are Slow Roasted Tomatoes of Perfection and Deliciousness. If you've got an abundance of this sweet summer fruit I highly recommend giving this a try. They are so simple and simply delicious!

And then they became a part of this...
a yummy BLT inspired salad. Check back in a day or two for the recipe!
Do you have an abundance of tomatoes this year? What are some delicious ways you serve them up? I'd love some great ideas and recipes!

In Him,

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Look Ahead

We've got a whole lot going on around here lately and I've got some exciting things planed for the blog as well. Check back in the coming weeks/months...

*I just finished a rag quilt (and my first quilt ever) using this tutorial as a guide. I did mine a bit different and it's pretty grande (twin size). It's far from perfect but I am so pleased with how it turned out. I'll post my finished product and a few tips for you in the coming week or so.
*Charlie Marie is turning two next month and we are planing a Backyard Butterfly Birthday Extravaganza! I'll be posting on all of the fun decorations, food and festivities in the weeks leading up to and following the par-tay. Until then check out the party pinsperation board.
*The biggie around here is that I'll be participating in the Nester's 31 day series in October. It will be 31 Days of Activities for Tots. I hope to post everyday with new ideas of things to do with your little ones. There will be tutorials, printables and hopefully a give-a-way or two!

Come back and check in with us often...we've got a lot of fun in store!

In Him,

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

{Quick Tip} Snazzy, Jazzy Ziploc Baggy

Life around these parts has been C-R-A-Z-Y as of late. My dear, hard working husband has been working six days a week, roughly 58 hour weeks and he's been sick. Such is summer in the construction industry. Lord willing it's only for the month of August. Needless to say this has really zapped the energy out of the whole team. We're in just-gettin'-by mode.

Just-gettin'-by = naked kids and messy floors
But, even in seasons where we feel like we just might drown in all that life is hurling our way, we need to look beyond ourselves and find ways to bless others. Here is a simple little tip for jazzing up a small token of appreciation or a little baggie of encouragement, even when life is all in a frazzle.

Some dear friends from church recently had us over for dinner and I wanted to bring along a small hostess gift. The toddler and I had made granola that morning and I thought I'd share our tasty treat. I scooped some into a ziploc baggie but the presentation was less than impressive. With a scrap of pretty paper and a few staples I was able to turn it into a pretty little package.

Less than impressive presentation
This is really just so silly simple that I don't think it needs explaining, but...
1. find pretty scrap of paper roughly the length of the top of your baggie
2. fill baggie with special treats
3. fold pretty scrap in half, and staple to the top of the baggie

Snazzy and Jazzy...but just a ziploc baggie :)
This would be a great and inexpensive way to package party favors too!

So go find a treat and bless a friend with a snazzy, jazzy ziploc baggie of love.

Ok...back to the grind...over and out!

In Him,