Friday, April 13, 2012

Chipotle Shrimp Tacos

We love mexican ... & eat it often.
Sometimes though, I want to mix it up a bit.
This recipe does just that ... a little added flare to the Mexican fare!

Coat skillet generously with cooking spray.
After it's heated, toss in the shrimp that's been seasoned with a dry chipotle seasoning ...
or use a mixture of cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper.
A minute and a half to two minutes is all it takes.

Start assembling these tacos on warm tortillas ... 
add shrimp, shredded cheese, diced onion, salsa, shredded lettuce, cilantro 
& chipotle sour cream {8 oz. sour cream with 2 tsp. dry chipotle seasoning stirred in}.

Serve with a wedge or lime {or lemon} to squeeze over top just before taking the first bite.

 For the shrimp:
  • cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle or cumin/chili powder blend
  • 1 pound medium shrimp (about 20), peeled and deveined
  • 8 flour {or corn} tortillas
The fixings:
  • 1 small onion,diced
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • shredded lettece
  • salsa
  • lime {or lemon}
  •  8 oz. sour cream, seasoned with 2 tsp. chipotle mix or cumin/chili powder blend
  • 8 oz. shredded cheese

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Steamed Kale

I love greens ... grew up eating all kinds of them.
My mom's a southern lady & she knew how incorporate these into many meals, with ease.
Dad grew many varieties in his garden so we always had fresh-picked organic greens 
like kale, mustard, poke, spinach, & collards.

Here in the Pennington house, I'm about the only one who really 'likes' these type of greens.
James wants to really badly because of the many health benefits, but he pretty much 
doctors them up {vinegar & pepper juice} & chokes them down.

I decided, in an attempt to make greens more 'eater friendly', I'd experiment with 
bumping up the flavor by adding various seasoning, etc.

This one was a winner.
I could've easily eaten the whole dish myself.

I started off with a very large bag of kale {clearanced down to .99}.
I sprayed my biggest skillet with cooking spray & piled in the greens.
Over medium heat, I wilted down the greens & then added the seasonings:
1 tsp. garlic powder, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. chicken bouillon base, 
& a dash of salt & pepper.

And for the star of the show, pork cracklins!
All you southerns know just what these are.
In case you don't though, cracklins are crispy pieces of pork fat trimmings.
Pretty much a cousin to bacon, only they are much more intense in flavor.
They can be munched on as a snack {think of pork rinds} or incorporated into 
biscuit or bread dough, scrambled with eggs and onions, used to flavor 
cabbage dishes, gravies, sauces and other foods.
I especially love making crackin' cornbread ... another southern food from my childhood.

If you don't have cracklins, you can substitute fresh bacon or jarred bacon pieces.
It only takes about a 1/4 cup  for a big flavor boost!

Take a look at the health benefits in kale:

Move over Popeye and make room for the "queen of greens," kale. 
Gaining in popularity, kale is an amazing vegetable being recognized for its exceptional nutrient richness, 
health benefits, and delicious flavor.

Kale, also known as borecole, is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. 
A leafy green, kale is available in curly, ornamental, or dinosaur varieties. 
It belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, 
collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Kale is a Nutritional Powerhouse
One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of 
calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, 
and 1,020% of vitamin K. 
It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source 
of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K -- and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.
Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the 
anti-cancer health benefits. 
Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower 
blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.

Super-Rich in Vitamin K
Eating a diet rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K can reduce the overall risk of developing 
or dying from cancer, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Vitamin K is abundant in kale but also found in parsley, spinach, collard greens, and animal products 
such as cheese.
Vitamin K is necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions, including normal blood clotting, 
antioxidant activity, and bone health.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pinterest Review ~ Melt in Your Mouth Chicken

On Monday, I showed you how to oven roast vegetables.
Today, I'll share another tasty Pinterest recipe. 

I served this dee-licious chicken alongside my oven roasted veggies.
Not only was this meal tasty, it was so healthy & easy ... a win-win-win!

This chicken is called 'Melt in Your Mouth Chicken' & let me just say,
the title is spot on.

Here's what you need:

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

{I used the chicken tenderloin pieces, about 20 of them}
1 cup of mayo
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder

Place chicken in baking dish.
Mix together mayo, cheese, garlic powder, salt, & pepper.
Pour over chicken & bake for 375 for 45 minutes. 

This chicken is moist, tender, & very flavorful.

Try these 2 recipes ... I think you'll be impressed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

So I Had a Bad Day

photo credit

Ever had one of those days when evvverything goes wrong?

Yesterday, evvverything went wrong.
It was literally a 'one step forward, 15 steps back' kind of day.

Things started off ok, until my feet hit the floor.
{hmmm, I think maybe I shoulda stayed in bed!}

Monday is cleaning day around here, so it was business as usual, in that respect.
This is, however, the beginning of a very busy week ... a very busy couple months, actually.
The kind of week where all my ducks have to be in a row.
I was preoccupied thinking on these things & my verrrry long to-do list ...
& that's where the chaos started ... in my mind! 

You know the scripture that perfectly described me yesterday?
The double-minded {wo}man scripture ... unstable in alllll {her} ways!!
That was me!

{Yes, I know the implications of that scripture are far more serious than I am meaning here, 
but just go with it ... you know full-well what I mean!}

I went upstairs what seemed to be a hundred times ...
& came back down without what I went up for.

I started up the washer & forgot to put in the clothes.
Not kidding.

I had 'the dropsy' ... you know, that's when you drop everything you touch!

I cooked chicken breasts in the crock pot all day, deboned them, & made a nice pot
of chicken & noodles ... that were SO terrible that I had to pour THE WHOLE thing 
down the garbage disposal.

Course, I didn't discover that the noodles had disintegrated into a pasty, goopy mess 
until after I had peeled the potatoes & put them on to boil.
Annnd, I haven't even mentioned that after I drained the potatoes, 
added the milk, butter, sour cream, cheese, & garlic, 
the whole lid came off the parsley as I was shaking some in ...
& I poured in the entire bottle of dried parsley!!

On a day that was already ca-razzy busy, my determination to make us 
a home-cooked meal backfired.
I should've just had us eat dinner at Chikfila at the birthday party we were attending.

James to the rescue ... he picked up some chicken on the way home from work ...
and I scooped out parsley in an attempt to recover the potatoes.

But it's not over.

On the way to the birthday party, we stop at Target to pick out a gift.
James dropped me off at the door so I could dash inside ...
only to majorly stub my toe on the curb, so hard that I broke my shoe!!
My flip flop snapped!

I am not making this up.

Though that was the last of my disasters for the day, I was feeling pretty defeated in spirit.
I could clearly see that in my attempt to rush around & pack too much into one day, 
I had caused myself lots of trouble!

I am my own worst enemy sometimes.

So today, even though it promises to be another very busy day, 
{& I am currently almost making myself late for an appointment just so 
I can tell you all of yesterday's troubles}
I am determined not to have a repeat of yesterday!

I will slow down ... & I'll think & act rationally.
{I will, I promise!}

I will repeat to myself over & over ... the joy of the Lord is my strength.
I will breath deep & enjoy the sunshine.
I will retain my sanity ... & thank God that He will do His part.

"You keep {her} in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you..." Isaiah 26:3

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pinterest Review ~ Oven Roasted Veggies

The best broccoli of your life?!

That caught my eye on Pinterest a month or so ago.
Talk about raving over broccoli, this one did!
After reading it through, I decided that I'd roast broccoli using this method 
& see what my fellas thought about it.  

The verdict:  They LOVED it!
They raved about too & agreed that it was their new favorite way to eat broccoli!
I've since been roasting veggies in the oven quite regularly.

Here's how you do it:

Cut your veggies into nice-sized pieces ... here, I'm using broccoli, carrots, & red peppers.
You can use this method for any kind of veggie you'd like.

The key to crisp-tender, caramelized veggies is to make sure they are dry!
I chose not to wash the broccoli ... the high roasting heat will kill any bacteria 
that may be lurking.

Fill your sheet pan ... trust me, you'll want pa-lenty!
Toss with 2 Tbsp. minced garlic, a generous drizzle of olive oil {about 4-5 tbsp.}, 
salt & pepper.
Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes.
The edges of some of the veggies will start to brown.

These veggies really get glammed up after they come out of the oven!
Squeeze the juice of a lemon {or lime} over the top & then sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
I know, right?!

{The original recipe calls for the zest of the lemon, plus basil, pine nuts & more olive oil,
but I chose to leave those ingredients out ... for us, we loved the simpler approach.}

I'm tellin' ya ... you've got to use this method for veggies!
It's over the top.

This recipe originates from The Barefoot Contessa, one of my very favorite cooks.
She's so super smart & know how to do everything in the kitchen ...
I mean she realllly knows how. 
I've learned a lot from watching her.
Although her recipes are very sophisticated, they are also simple.

I especially love her method for baking chicken breasts in the oven & I use it very often.
{Place bone-in, skin on chicken breasts on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt & pepper, 
& drizzle with olive oil.  Cover loosely with foil & bake for 35-40 minutes at 350.
Perfect & delish, every time.}

Friday, April 6, 2012

Character vs. Comfort

God is far more interested in our character than our comfort.

 "Our values determine our evaluations.
If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset.
If we value the material & physical more than the spiritual, 
we will not be able to count it all joy!
If we live only for the present & forget about the future, 
the trials will make us bitter, not better."
~Warren W. Wiersbe

What does your character say about you?

When our sons were little, our sons loved a video of the Donut Man 
about 'Character Counts'.
It taught the 6 pillars of character ~ 
 simple truths should be followed by all of us, adults & children alike.
  • Trustworthiness
           Be honest & reliable.   Keep your word.  Be loyal.  Have courage & do the right thing.
           Be loyal ... to family, friends, country.
  • Respect
           Treat others with respect & always follow the Golden Rule/ Use good manners.
           Don't use bad language.  Be considerate of the feelings of others.
           Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements.
  • Responsibility
         Be self-disciplined.   Do what you are supposed to do, always doing your best.
         Practice self-control!  Think before you act & consider the consequences. Plan ahead. 
         Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes.  Set a good example for others.
  • Fairness
          Treat all people fairly.  Play by the rules.  Take turns and share.  
          Be open-minded & listen to others.  Don’t take advantage of others.
          Don’t blame others carelessly.
  • Caring
           Be kind.  Be compassionate and show you care.  Express gratitude.
           Forgive others.  Help people in need.
  • Citizenship 
          Respect authority.  Obey laws and rules.  Be a good neighbor.  
          Do your share to make your community better.  Get involved in community affairs.
          Cooperate. Volunteer.

What are you doing to build your character? 
Are you actively modeling good character to your children?
Do you diligently teach how to incorporate good character into daily life? 
The effects will be dramatic & far reaching.

Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother
in the molding of character in her children. 
~Billy Graham
 “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”  
~John Wooden

Are you honest in your dealings ... even when no one is watching?
Remember, God always see ... God always knows. 
Are you teaching your children to follow this principle?

Character is always lost when a high ideal
is sacrificed on the altar of conformity and popularity.
~Charles Spurgeon
Do you stand up for the right thing, even in the face of adversity?
Will you fight for your faith & freedom regardless of the risk?

Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.
Good character will always have its reward.

"Character is the real foundation of all worthwhile success."
~John Hays Hammond

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Finding Fault

You want to know how NOT to find fault with other folks?
Stop looking for it!

Want to know how NOT to be bothered by decisions other people make, 
especially when they are of NO consequence to you?

Stop worrying obsessing about what people do or why they do it ...
whether they should do it ... or how they think they can do it ...
& well, to put it bluntly, just worry about keeping your own affairs in order.

The dictionary defines criticism as “an act of criticizing; 
to judge as a critic; to find fault; to blame or condemn.”

 A “critical spirit,” is an obsessive attitude of criticism and fault-finding, 
always seeking to tear others down.
This type of person camps out in all things negative, 
always eyeing for the flaws rather than the good. 
They are always complaining, always upset, and always have a problem 
or a complaint about someone or something. 
They often have little control over their tongue or their temper, 
and they reign supreme in gossiping and slander 
{which Paul said were sins “worthy of death”}.
Sometimes we often see their destructive spirit masquerading as 
"I am only telling you this so you can pray about it ... 
or I just thought you ought to know."

Some even think they are doing others a favor by pointing out the faults & flaws.

Think about it ... a meal, perfectly cooked & beautifully presented.
The only problem, too much salt.
What's the first thing that's stated?
This is good, BUT it has too much salt!

You may have spent all day painting the fence ... a really loonng fence, 
but leave a little square unpainted & it'll be the first thing noticed & pointed out.
You did a good job, BUT ...

Fault-finding & criticizing is oh so easy to do ...
but, no matter what the intention, it tends to drive a wedge between us & other people.

It's hard to live in peace with everybody when you have a critical spirit.

Nothing is easier than finding fault & Paul knew this would be a problematic area.
He knew Christians would be prone to falling into the 'fault-finding' trap 
when he penned this in Romans 14: 10-12:

"Why do you pass judgment on your brother? 
Or you, why do you despise your brother? 
For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;
or it is written, as I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,  
and every tongue shall confess to God.
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, 
but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother."

Tearing down fellow brothers & sisters by finding fault, judging, & criticizing
can pose a serious stumbling-block and cause irreparable damage to their faith.
Furthermore, you start the gossip train a'rolling & believe me, it will pick up 
momentum faster than you can ever imagine.
What if you destroy the influence someone could have had on a non-believer 
somewhere down the road?

We've become very skilled in recognizing the faults of others,
 all the while ignoring their many good qualities.
"I believe she's a good person & she loves the Lord, BUT 
I don't know how she thinks it's ok to do this or that ..."
"Yes, she's faithful to the Lord, BUT ..."
We devote a great deal of mental energy being bothered by the 'faults' of others ... 
often listing them, analyzing them, even meditating on them!

But the bottom line is this:
We are all never going to see eye to eye.

I may feel strongly about homeschooling my children, choosing to spend my years
at home tending to the needs of my husband & children.
I may feel like there are plenttty of scriptures to back that up.
I may feel like there are no two ways about it.
I may not {& do not}, however, look down my nose or put on my 'critical spirit' 
toward all my friends, family, & acquaintances who do not share in my strong beliefs 
in this area.

I may have strong opinions about music, choosing to steer away from secular.
I may feel like using the internet or watching a television is alright.
I may not have a problem with open-toe shoes or short sleeves.
I may let my sons play a video game, where as others may not.

I have friends/family who are unbelievers & practice all manner of sin.
I have some who are die-hard democrats ... & hard-core republicans.
I have friends/family who are German Baptists ... & Baptists ...
some who are Wesleyan ... & some who are Wesleyan Holiness ...
some Pentecostal who believe in the trinity ... some are oneness.
I have friends/family who believe in the rapture, while others are mid-trib,
post-trib ... & some say 'what in the world is trib!'
Some believe in the doctrine of grace ... others the doctrine of works.
Some believe in the gifts, some do not ...

& the list goes on ... & on ... & on.

While I may not be a Democrat, a German Baptist, or an Amish,
I'm certainly not going to make it my life's mission to obsess about how they believe,
why they believe, what they do, or what they don't do, constantly finding fault.

I'm also not going to think for one minute that I am above them or can't learn 
anything from them.

I've heard the Baptists bashed mercilessly ... their belief system labeled as
'from the pits of hell'.
Those same folks, however, will tell you how much they love the Duggar Family
{who are Baptists} & clearly see the light of the Lord shining from their lives.
There's nothing coming from the Duggar other than the Lord being lifted up
for all the world to see!

People will shun folks from their own denomination for not 'looking' the right way,
but will support authors, singers, & preachers who'd never be invited on the pulpits 
of their church based on how they look.

What a double standard.

The bottom line is this:
There will be differences of opinion on many issues in life, spiritual & non-spiritual alike.

And here's the liberating part ... it's ok!! 

We don't have to see eye to eye on everything, & believe it or not, 
we can still be friends, family, & fellow believers!
We can still speak to one another!
We can even still be friends on Facebook!

There are countless non-essential matters like worship styles, schooling choices,
political affiliation, denomination, pre-trib, post-trib, etc ... 
& it's ok to have varying opinions on these things.
Yet far too many Christians use these non-essential differences to feed 
their fault-finding frenzy.  
It seems to be a measuring stick used to gauge one's spirituality. 

Here's where we seem to be missing it.
Whether you believe one way or the other on these non-essential issues, 
it does not affect salvation. 

That is the one area where there is no room for variance.
When it comes to the issue of salvation, 
there should be no difference of opinion. 

We, as Christians, must seek to be set free from all this fault-finding!
We must seek to conquer the critical spirit!

If we ever hope to bring improvement in others, 
we must learn to build up instead of tearing down.

Our actions, attitudes and words must be devoted to encouraging the spiritual 
progress of our fellow brothers & sisters.

1 Thess. 5:11 says to "...encourage one another and build one another up
just as you are doing."

If you are not doing it, start now!
Identify what is motivating the destructive behavior & pray for God to take it
out of your life for good!
Common contributors are bitterness, negativeness, unhappiness, discontentedness, unconfessed sin, unforgiveness, insecurity, jealousy, & spiritual immaturity.

Look in the mirror.
Stop trying to line everyone else out & concentrate on fixing yourself.
Instead of looking for faults in others, 
look for your own faults & work on getting rid of them!

Eph. 4:29 says,  "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, 
but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace 
to those who hear."

And remember this, the Bible doesn’t promise peace to those 
who dwell on the faults of others! 
It says that the Lord will keep them in perfect peace, 
whose minds are stayed on Him! {Isaiah 26:3}.

**Make no mistake ... 
I'm not saying there's never an occasion to find 'fault' or make judgements.
Life requires both.
However, the type of critical spirit as portrayed in this blog is NOT an acceptable 
way of life for a Christian!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's the Little Things

I don't need earth-shattering moments in order to feel happy.
Those are good, mind you, but my earth-shattering moments are far & few between.

Every day, though, is filled with little things in which to find happiness.
Little things that bring a smile, the feeling of home, warmth, security ...
the feeling of 'things are well in my world.'

Here a few little things that made me happy this week.

Farm fresh eggs {all the way from Oklahoma ~ thanks, Nix Family!}

Organic raw cow's milk bought from an Amish family ... as fresh as you can get.

New decorative plates found on the 90% off shelf at Hobby Lobby ... 
they were a dollar something.

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
Totally sums up how I feel about the family God has blessed me with.

The plates are the perfect pop of spring green for the dining room wall.

My amaryllis's are peeking through!
These are the ones I didn't have a pic of here.

Last but so not least, you know you have a true friend when she not only 
buys you an adorable mug {a gift from several years ago}, but she also buys you 
a delicious box of latte!!
Chocolate lovers ... yes, that perfectly describes us.
Jody, you are a friend who knows what's necessary in life ;)

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. 
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. 
~Khalil Gibran

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
Ps. 4:7

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Not Your Momma's Hushpuppies

I meant to share this sooner.
Sorry to those of you who've been waiting & wanting ;)
Trust me, you will invent a reason to stir up a batch of these crispy balls of deliciousness!

I grew up eating homemade hushpuppies {thus the name of the recipe}.
Dad loved to fish ... me too, actually.
He'd come home from work, hook the boat up to the truck & off we'd go to Westwood Lake.
After a nice catch, we'd head home where the fish would be cleaned & fried.
With almost every fish fry, there'd be homemade hushpuppies.
And, I've made them just like my mom did for years ... until a few weeks ago.

James & a buddy had a fishing trip & caught a whole less of 'em ...
& we had a fish fry!
I was feeling a bit 'spicy' in the kitchen & decided to bump up my usual hushpuppy recipe a notch ...
or three!
The outcome ... well, let's just say I've made these a time or two already!

Here's your ingredients:

2 cups self-rising corn meal
1 cup self-rising flour
pinch of salt & pepper
smidge of cayanne pepper & smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 small onion, diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded & finely diced
1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 15 oz can cream-style corn
1 egg
water to just bind the ingredients {a thick consistency}

Mix all dry ingredients together.
Add all remaining ingredients, stirring with a spoon.
Add in water, a small amount at a time.
You do not want a watery, thin mixture.
Stir together til just incorporated, but avoid over-mixing.

Drop small golf ball size hushpuppies into hot oil & fry 3-4 minutes, 
or until cooked through & golden brown.
* Tip:  use small cookie scooper to keep the hushpuppies all the same size.