Friday, August 19, 2016

Bread-less BLT's with Chipotle Avocado Mayo



I've mentioned before that I love finding ways to re-vamp old favorites, making them a bit more healthy. Of course, I still love the "old" comfort recipes too, and still make them, just in moderation. One of my favorites from when I was little was the good ole' BLT. But after I got married, I just never really made it. I'm not sure why. A week or so ago a video surfaced on Facebook for bread-less BLT's and since we are trying to cut back on carbs I thought this would be a perfect meal. I love it when I'm right. I wasn't sure these would be filling enough but sometimes I think the feeling of "full" is more of a mental trick than a physical one. I try to go for "satisfied" rather than "full" because I feel like at that point, you've gone past the point of what would have been enough. Three of these Lettuce BLT's and some cantaloupe were plenty for me. I was satisfied but not "full".


These would be great for a light lunch, brunch, or even a picnic. In the season of life that we've been in, we don't have a lot of time for company but I always keep a mental list of meals that would work for company should the opportunity arise. 
I used cherry tomatoes off my tomato plant and they were so good and sweet! Use whatever you want though.

Ingredients

Romaine Lettuce leaves
Bacon
chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 Avocados
1/4-1/2 c. mayonnaise
chipotle powder
1 tsp. lime juice
dash garlic and onion powder


Instructions

1. Wash leaves and set aside. 

2. Cook your bacon til crisp, drain on a paper towel lined plate. You can assemble these while the bacon is hot or let it cool down first. 

3. In blender or food processor add avocados and mayo. Process till smooth. Add seasonings tasting as you go until it's how you want it. I probably only put 1/8-1/4tsp. chipotle powder because I am a wimp when it comes to spicy things. You can either 1) spread mayo on leaves with a knife or 2) place in a plastic bag, cut corner and squeeze out in a nice line (that's what I did).

4. To assemble; layer bacon on lettuce leaves. If you didn't already put mayo on leaves, go ahead and pipe it on top of bacon, then top with tomatoes. The mayo helps the tomatoes stay put. 

5. Indulge and enjoy!!

With Joy Unquenchable,

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Easy Freezer Applesauce



A few weeks back, my neighbor came over and told me he had some apples that had fallen off his tree and I could have them if I wanted, to make applesauce. I thought "sure, that sounds great". I asked my daughter to accompany me across the street and carry the box back since I had tweaked my back a bit. Then we set them on the porch...and they sat there, and they sat there, and they sat there for a good week. Ooops. Finally I went through the box, picked out all the good ones (which was still the majority of them) and brought them in my kitchen. I thought "I guess I'll just can some applesauce, but I don't have a water bath canner or pressure canner, and don't even know which to use". So off I went to Google land to see what I could find. Finally deciding a water bath canner was the way to go, I called a woman who has been friends with my hubby's family for well over 40 years, it's so awesome. She suggested I simply freeze my applesauce...it's easier and she feels like it keeps it's flavor much better. I'm totally into "easy" so I thought I'd give it a shot! 

The hardest part is the peeling and coring, unless of course you have one of those nifty gadgets that does that for you. I did not, so it took me a little while to get them done. But totally worth it, so let's get on with it. The amounts really are all based on how many apples you have. So go with your taste preferences. 

Ingredients

Apples, peeled, cored and roughly sliced (nothing fancy)
brown sugar (optional)
cinnamon
Juice of a lemon
1/2-1 c. water

Instructions

1. In a large soup pot, add your water, lemon juice and apples. You want just enough water to get things going, so start with less, and add more if you need it. Cook over med-high heat and keep an eye on it. 

2. Stir occasionally until you notice apples starting to break down. At this point I just keep watching it and stirring it periodically. When it starts to really breakdown, I start adding the brown sugar and cinnamon. You can totally leave these out if you want. My apples were pretty tart so I added probably about 1/2 c. brown sugar, and I love the cinnamon taste so added a couple tablespoons of that. Keep tasting it until it's where you want it. 

3. Once the majority of the apples have cooked down, remove them from the pan and into a blender or food processor. Blend to desired consistency. I wanted smooth! Return to pan, make sure it is to your liking, adding more flavors if needed. 

4. You can use either plastic containers or glass jars. Pour applesauce into jars or containers. Make sure you leave 11/2-2" head space for expansion. Allow to cool before placing in the freezer. 


So easy and it was so good. 



With Joy UNquenchable,

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What world do you live in?

What do you mean "what world do I live in"? What kind of question is that! "What world do you live in lady"? Well, I'm glad you asked. You see, while, yes, we all live on the same beautiful planet earth, we are not all living in the same world. 

By definition, "world", according to good old Merriam-Webster, can mean:



  •  the literal planet we live on, consisting of the earth and all the people living on it
  • human society
  • individual course of life
  • the sphere or scene of one's life and actions
So you see, the term world is so much broader than what we might think. As I've reflected on the tragic events of the last few months in our nation and abroad, I've once again come to the conclusion that we all simply do not live in the same world, that is, in the way we think, view and walk out life, and of course, the geographical location we find ourselves living in. I believe all of these things contribute to what we think and believe, and how we respond to circumstances around us, but I also believe that we are not bound to those things. That we can change our outlook, our perspective.

I don't believe for one minute that if you grow up in the projects (no matter what color skin you have), with drug addicted parents, living off welfare, that you, yourself will end up the same way. I don't believe for a minute that if you did poorly in school and couldn't afford college, that you are bound for a life of minimum wage jobs and poverty. I don't believe for a minute that every circumstance that happens around us is cause for fear and worry. I believe that happiness, success, rising above is a choice for each individual to make. 

You can sit in the same room, with 5 different people, watching the same thing on T.V. and get 5 different responses. Each of those 5 people are viewing the situation through a different set of lenses. Some might see "the glass half empty, while others see it half full", some might look at a field of dandelions and see hundreds of weeds while the others see a hundred wishes. Some might watch tragedies and think the world is coming to an end while others will still see hope left. 

So, I'll ask again, what world do you live in? 


As a pretty optimistic person, it's hard for me to see things, and think the worst. That doesn't mean I'm not affected, my heart often breaks for the tragedies around me. It takes intentionality to keep a positive mindset sometimes and not to become to hardened when our own circumstances are less than ideal. But I thoroughly believe that even in the midst of heartache or hard times, we can still have an outlook that is positive and thus we are able to walk through it so much easier. When I choose to look at life and the world around me with joy, hope and positivity, I am much happier, healthier and content. When I surround myself with people and things that bring me joy and build me up it makes a world of difference. What we allow into our lives really can alter our outlook. I have had to choose to hide some people on social media, or not watch too much negative TV, to not allow myself to be in the company too often of negative thinkers. And all of that is okay. I've also had to continually guard my thoughts when I read other blogs, etc..to keep from comparison or wrong wishful thinking. 

We live in a world that sensationalizes things, that desires to often drive fear into our hearts and minds for the sake of ratings, economic gain, etc. We have to be wise, sure, but we have to be sure we are living in a "world" that promotes peace and rest and hope, not a "world" that promotes depression, fear, anger and hatred. We have to be able to sift through the media hype to get to the truth. To grieve with those who grieve and mourn with those who mourn, but not become drowned by fear or others opinions. 

I'll close this with a few quotes from one of my favorite books, God Believes in You, by Francois duToit. 


" A thought often entertained becomes a footpath in the field of your imagination. It is common knowledge that a negative thought pattern  is the major cause of depression. A thought may remain secret and invisible for some time, but it inevitably will affect your conversation, your mood and your health. Your behaviour, whether it be your body language or attitude and mood can even transmit an invisible energy that influences others." (pg. 5)



"Fear's focus feeds on frustration, lack, lies, need, worry, anxiety, jealousy, anger, inferiority, suspicion, guilt, depression, ungratefulness, cynicism etc. Faith is fuelled by love. Love believes. Love values potential above performance or disappointment." (pg. 24)



"As long as you can find someone or something to blame, you remain trapped. In blaming someone or something, the depressed finds an excuse to remain depressed. You are freed the moment you realize that no one can take your quality of life away from you, if no one can stop you from thinking thoughts that truth inspires." (pg. 24)

There is so much more within the pages of this beautiful book that encourage me, inspire me, and remind me of my origin, who I am and where my value comes from, no matter what happens around me or to me. Reading these types of books, blog posts, etc..spending time talking with my Jesus, whom I was made in the mirror image of and walk intimately with is what helps me keep my mindset where it should be. We have gone through some not fun stuff the last few years, and with people we never would have imagined so it was very shaking to our very core. BUT, our identity was and is grounded on something else and so while I can the circumstances sucked and were wrong on so many levels, and hurtful, I can also say that all is well, and will be well. Still heartbreaking at times for many reasons, but life does go on and who I am hasn't changed.

So be encouraged, be hope-filled, joy-filled and choose to think differently! Here is a link to where you can purchase this book if you are interested. God Believes in You.



With Joy UNquenchable,

Monday, August 15, 2016

Secret Recipe Club Reveal: Wild Rice Quiche

This month crept up on me and before I knew it I only had a week before our reveal. I had already pinned a few recipes already so it wasn't hard to choose. I decided that Monday the 8th would be a great day to make it since we were going out of town the next day and could eat any leftovers for breakfast. I really enjoy The Secret Recipe Club and  the variety of blogs and recipes I find. I get excited to go through my assigned blog as soon as I get it and start pinning recipes to my secret board. Then I try to narrow it down to one but sometimes that's not always successful and I end up making two, but we have to eat anyways right?

This month I was assigned the blog, Cook with Sarah. Sarah is a midwest girl who loves cooking and eating (which is very important I think for someone who loves to cook...wink wink). I love how she says she learned from her mother (through her example) that an attractive and delicious meal around the table shows love for those around you. Isn't that so true! I love cooking too and feel like cooking for people is a way I show love for them, whether I know them or not! Check out more on her About me page. She had several recipes that sounded good. I was going to make her Pumpkin Crepes (which I will probably do come fall)  and her Sassy Pot Roast looked yummy but in the end I opted for her Wild Rice Quiche. I knew it was something easy I could put together in no time and wouldn't leave really any leftovers that we would need to eat up before we left for our trip out of town. 


I made it and then was actually the only one home to eat it for dinner so we ate the remainder of it for breakfast the next morning. I loved that it was packed with ingredients. The flavor was great and I think I would make it again. I would probably add more rice, and the recipe said to precook pie crust a bit but mine totally shrunk down in the pan so I used the other, didn't pre-cook it and just lowered the heat on the oven. I also had some leftover cooked broccoli that I needed to use up so I threw that in there as well. That's the beauty of quiches. Just add whatever sounds good! What was unique about this quiche is that it used sour cream which I found interesting but ended up being so good.

Ingredients:


3/4 c. water

1/4 c. wild rice 
1 9" unbaked pie crust
3 eggs
1 c. sour cream
1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 c. cubed ham
1/3 c. finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 c. thinly sliced green onion, whites only
1 14oz. can mushrooms (I used fresh, and just a few on top since my youngest doesn't like them)
1 1/2-2 c. shredded swiss cheese

Instructions:


1. In a small saucepan bring water and wild rice to a boil. Cover; reduce heat to low and simmer 30-45 minutes or until rice is done (drain any extra water if not absorbed). *NOTE: I couldn't find the wild rice I was looking for in my stores so I went with a brown rice wild rice mix that took about half the time to cook.

2. Place the pie crust in a 9" pan and bake at 425 for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 400. This is where mine failed...my crust totally shrunk down, so I used the other premade crust, and baked at a lower temp. That worked. 


3. In a large bowl, beat eggs, then add the sour cream, mustard, salt and pepper and mix. Add red pepper, mushrooms, onion, ham and rice. 

4. Sprinkle pie crust with half the cheese and add the remaining cheese in with the other mixture. Pour filling in crust. 


5. Bake 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes. **NOTE: Since I didn't pre-bake my crust I cooked mine on about 365 until it was done. probably about 40-45 minutes.




With Joy UNquenchable,

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Recipe: Taco Zucchini Boats

I'm going to preface this post by saying I. LOVE. CARBS. I love bread, I love tortillas, I love carbs. BUT, I also know I need to cut back on them and I really didn't realize all the things that are loaded with carbs and that they all add up. So I've been trying to pick and choose what and when I have them to see what makes a difference since every body is different and responds differently to different things. 

I saw a few posts floating around Facebook for Taco Zucchini Boats and knew I needed to try them. I am always looking for creative ways to make our favorite meals a bit healthier without sacrificing flavor. In the past I have made these Italian Stuffed Zucchini . We love tacos, burritos, enchiladas, so this was something I really wanted to try. Now, my youngest does not like zucchini at all, unless it's in zucchini bread (which I made on Monday), so she opted for a tortilla. Using a zucchini that a friend had brought me, I created a new favorite, low carb meal for us. I love when I find something that can actually cause me to NOT miss the bread, or tortilla in this case. It's also a meal that is totally company worthy (well, really, what meal can't be company worthy when it's made with love). The beauty of recipes like this is you can really do whatever you want. I'll list the general needs but also add ins.

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground turkey
1-2 c. finely chopped Kale (trying to get those veggies in)
1/2 c. chopped onion (more if you like)
1 package taco seasoning or make your own
(opt) 1/2 c. salsa
2 medium sized zucchini sliced lengthwise, ends removed

Toppings:
Cheese
lettuce
tomatoes
olives
black beans
avocado
Grilled onions and red and yellow peppers

Instructions:

1. In a skillet, brown turkey and onion. Add seasoning, kale and salsa if desired. Cover to keep warm.

2. On a cookie sheet or in a baking dish, lay zucchini flesh side down in a bit of water. Cook in a 350 oven till tender, yet still holds shape. Maybe 15-20 minutes...depending on thickness of zucchini. Remove from oven and allow to cool just to touch. Scoop out the center of zucchini, leaving enough flesh intact (about 1/4"). You can either add the scooped out zucchini to the meat, or discard.

3. Fill boats with taco meat. You could at this point top with cheese and place back in the oven to melt, but we just scooped meat out, added our toppings and ate it as it was. I would place back in oven if you felt your boats cooled off too much. 

4.  Top with your favorite taco toppings and enjoy. 

This was a perfect substitution for tortillas without sacrificing flavor and not having a heavy feeling afterwards. While I cooked the meat, I grilled some sliced onion, red and yellow peppers in some oil. I'm telling ya....this is so good!

With Joy UNquenchable,

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