Posts made in November, 2012

Gobble Gobble

Posted by on Nov 30, 2012 in Cooking | 1 comment

Gobble Gobble

It feels as though we have been eating turkey for a lifetime. Or longer. Three days of leftover turkey dinner. Turkey enchiladas. Turkey and asparagus in cream sauce over rice. Turkey tortilla soup. Too. Much. Turkey.

Yet I am determined to use all 20 pounds of it. Inspired by this recipe from Giada, I made Turkey Bolognese tonight. It was surprisingly delicious, and surprisingly tasted nothing like turkey. If you have leftover dark meat, you must try!

Turkey Bolognese

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

8-16 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms

4 cloves garlic, minced (I used 8. We heart garlic)

2 pounds shredded dark meat turkey

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

2 15 oz cans tomato sauce

1 8 oz can tomato paste

Salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, crushed red pepper to taste

1/2 c finely chopped fresh basil

Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Sauté carrots, mushrooms, and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes
Add turkey, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, seasoning, and basil
Simmer until flavors are combined

To make this even easier, I sautéed the carrots and garlic, then threw everything in the crockpot (did not cook mushrooms) and cooked it on low for 8 hours. I also added a splash of red wine. It was yummy. And it used up all of my remaining leftover turkey.

Thanksgiving

Posted by on Nov 22, 2012 in Bug & Bear, Faith, Marriage & Family, Mental Health | 0 comments

Thanksgiving

The past year has easily been the hardest year of my life. When it started, I thought I would crumble under the weight of it. As it progressed, though, the strangest thing happened. I found joy in the little things. I realized that life goes on, and I had a choice – I could crumble, or I could rise above. All it took was one glance at my babies, my little girls full of wonder and excitement over absolutely everything in the world, and the choice was clear.

Years ago I made a habit of writing down ten things that made me happy at the end of each day.  It changed my perspective. I found myself looking for the positive in my life, job, and relationships instead of noticing the negative because taking note of good things throughout the day made my list easier to construct at night. That simple task changed my heart.  I learned that circumstances really have very little to do with how we feel and perceive life. The choice we make of where to place our focus affects the condition of our hearts, and our heart condition has everything to do with the level of joy and gratitude we experience.

“God sometimes brings joy into distress to give us comfort.” Beth Moore

This Thanksgiving I’m so incredibly grateful for all of the joy that has brought comfort in the midst of distress.  The happiness I’ve found in the mundane of the day to day – my family, my marriage, my children, my crazy dogs, my wonderful friends, the beautiful scenery surrounding our new home, the simple things like cooking and driving and running and praying.  I’m grateful that this year has taught me gratitude as a lifestyle and cultivated an attitude of joy in my life.

 

 

Thanksgiving Feast

Posted by on Nov 20, 2012 in Cooking | 0 comments

Thanksgiving Feast

Have I ever told the story of how husband doesn’t like onions? He doesn’t like onions. That’s the end. It’s not a good story, but it is one that changed my life. I love onions. I used to put them in everything. I married Husband in spite of his onion aversion because I told myself he could change, and I secretly held out hope that it was a purely psychological issue. As a newlywed, I would finely mince a small amount of onion, sauté it beyond recognition, then sneak it into a dish and wait for him to sing praises over my onion studded dinner – instead, he would take one bite, call me out on my onion lies, and say he couldn’t eat anymore.

For a while it seemed like it would break us, our irreconcilable onion differences, but over time I slowly adapted. Some situations, though, still pose a unique challenge… Spaghetti. Chili. Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving dinner. It’s an onion packed meal. My favorite Thanksgiving side is dressing, but that, my friends, is basically just onion casserole. In an attempt to create an onion free holiday, I tweaked the traditional sides and came up with some onion free options that Husband and I can both agree on.

Here are two: Texas Cornbread Pudding and Spinach Madeleine. Neither is technically onion free if you go by the recipe, but I substitute a couple garlic cloves for the onion and both dishes turn out delicious. Texas Cornbread Pudding is a recipe from Brennan’s Restaurant in Houston. Spinach Madeleine was in the Junior League of Baton Rouge cookbook (River Road Recipes) about a hundred years ago, and my mother has served it at Thanksgiving since before I was born – the original recipe includes ingredients no longer sold at the store, so I updated it here. Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Texas Cornbread Pudding

4 1/2 cups crumbled cornbread

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 c finely chopped yellow onion (or 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced)

1 1/2 c corn kernels

4 eggs

2 c whipping cream

1 1/2 c shredded pepper jack cheese, divided

Salt and pepper to taste (I use about 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper)

Prepare cornbread a day ahead of time and reserve. Preheat oven to 325. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add onion (or garlic) and corn; saute until onion is translucent (or until corn is lightly browned). Set aside.

Whisk together eggs and cream in a large bowl. Stir in reserved crumbled cornbread, reserved corn mixture, and 1 cup of cheese. Add salt and pepper; pour into a greased 8x8x2 inch baking pan. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Cover pan with aluminum foil and set in hot water bath (a larger pan of hot water that comes within 1/2 inch of top of baking pan). Bake 1 1/2 hours, or until firm in center.

Serves 8. I always double the recipe, put it in a 9x13x2 inch pan, and increase the baking time to closer to 2 hours.

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Spinach Madeleine

2 packages frozen chopped spinach

4 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp chopped onion (or 2 cloves garlic, minced)

1/2 c evaporated milk

1/2 c cooking water from spinach

1/2 tsp black pepper

3/4 tsp celery salt

3/4 tsp garlic powder

Salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp)

6 ounces pepper jack cheese, cut into small pieces

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Dash cayenne pepper

1/2 c bread crumbs

1 T melted butter

Cook spinach according to directions on package in shallow bowl or dish (I follow microwave directions). Drain spinach and reserve cooking liquid. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add flour, stirring until blended and smooth but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add onion and cook until soft – or garlic and cook about 1 minute. Combine evaporated milk and cooking liquid from spinach – add liquid slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Cook until smooth and thick, stirring constantly. Add pepper, celery salt, garlic powder, salt, and cheese, Worcestershire, and cayenne; stir until melted. Stir in cooked spinach until combined thoroughly with sauce. Pour into an 8×8 inch baking dish. Combine butter and bread crumbs and sprinkle over top.

Serves 5-6. I always double this and put it in a 9×13 inch baking pan. It can easily be made ahead (and tastes better if it is) and refrigerated or frozen, then reheated in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

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I love changing up our holiday meals with new recipes – if you have one you love, please share it in the comments!

 

The Good Enough Person

Posted by on Nov 13, 2012 in Faith, Mental Health | 4 comments

The Good Enough Person

I’ve noticed a nasty bug going around lately. I’m managing to stay healthy even though I’ve been exposed, but I’ve had a terrible bout of it before that seemed nearly impossible to overcome.  Worse than the flu, it drained my energy and enthusiasm for life.  Worse than food poisoning, it poisoned me on the inside so that I had trouble keeping anything good down when I needed it. Like any contagious illness or infectious disease, it left me more isolated and alone than I wished.  Perfectionism. Unlike a physical illness, it was hard to diagnose, treat, and make a full recovery because I didn’t even recognize that the symptoms were pointing to a greater underlying illness.

I see perfectionism running rampant, destroying quality of life and relationships while people continue under its unmanageable burden unaware. Perfectionism is easy to identify, really, and it’s everywhere if you start looking.  The symptoms are control, judgement, unforgiveness, bitterness, high demands and expectations, blame (of self or others),  fault finding, criticism, and of course, appearing perfect. Despite the appearance of perfection, it stinks underneath, and I’m tired of it.  I think other people must be, too.  Recently I posted The Good Enough Mother and it was by far the most popular thing I’ve ever written on this blog.  I wondered why, because I thought it was okay but it was by far not my favorite thing I’ve ever written. I think it got so much attention because it gave mothers, who are expected to present so perfectly so constantly, permission to just stop it already, to just accept their imperfections as a beautiful, important even, facet of their mothering.  I think it relieves people to hear mothers say publicly that they’re not perfect and that it’s okay to throw that pressure right off and move on – all the better if the imperfect mother is a child therapist who should know better!

So here’s the next installment: I’m not a perfect mother and I’m not a perfect person. I’m not a perfect spouse or cook or friend or Christian or therapist or anything.  Neither are you. We’re not perfect people, and we’re not meant to be – we are meant to be imperfect people connected to a perfect God.  And that is where our medicine comes from to cure the malady of perfectionism – it’s a heavy dose of grace.  Grace first and foremost received for ourselves every day from a God Who loves unconditionally and forgives freely. Then grace given to all of those imperfect messes around us, which incidentally, happens to be everyone. Grace is easy to give when received – it overflows out of your heart to cover over the mistakes and imperfections of those around you.  Whatever is in your heart will overflow and make its way out.  In that way, the ugliest thing about perfectionism is that the pressure we put on ourselves to be a certain way overflows out of us to magnify the mistakes and imperfections of others. It is absolutely destructive to self and relationship.

Can we collectively agree to kick not just the Perfect Mother to the curb, but also the facade of being able to achieve perfection in any part of our personalities or lives? To throw the choking, life-sucking pressure of perfectionism right off of ourselves and move on? Instead, we could give ourselves permission to just stop it already, to just accept our imperfections as beautiful, important even, facets of our personalities. Truly, when submitted to God in humility and shared with others in transparency, our weaknesses and blemishes become what draw people to us, what exude grace and acceptance, what encourage people who are struggling. Growth and change are important pursuits, but the pursuit of perfection steals joy, vulnerability, and peace. The pursuit of God and grace transforms you effortlessly into someone better while relieving the pressure on yourself and the people around you to perform with perfection.

 

 

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