Friday, August 28, 2015

Quinoa Taco Bowl

Before this summer we had never eaten quinoa nor did we even really know what it was.  Our first experience was on our vacation up north when I decided to make a quinoa salad recipe to take with us on our day trips.  It turned out great and was so simple to make!  We took it with us several days and it was not only very filling but also portable and kept well in the fridge.  

Since it turned out so well I was thinking of making a taco version with black beans and this is what I came up with.  It is delicious and I love that it is a whole meal all prepared in one bowl.  When I made this I actually portioned it out into containers as soon as I made it and had several days worth of lunches ready to go.  Definitely makes my life easier. 

I am doing a challenge with some friends and have been watching carbs much more closely, which is why I made this veggie and protein heavy. However, if you wanted to make this more like a traditional pasta type salad you could add more quinoa.  Avocado would also be a great addition to throw in just before serving.
Let me know what you think if you try it.
Hope you enjoy!

Quinoa Taco Bowl

1 cup plain quinoa unprepared
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1 can black olives, rinsed, drained and chopped
1/2 to 1 onion depending on preference, chopped
3 bell peppers, chopped
2 large or 4-5 small tomatoes, chopped
4 cups cooked shredded chicken or ground beef (seasoned if desired)
Juice of 1/2 lime

Prepare quinoa according to package directions.  In a large bowl combine vegetables and meat.  Mix in slightly cooled quinoa and juice of half a lime.  Add minced cilantro and salt to taste.

Makes approximately 8 meal sized portions but could also be served as a side dish.

21 Day Fix-ers:  If you substitute additional meat for either the corn OR the beans this would come out to approximately 1 yellow, 1 green, 1 red, and 1/2 blue.  You can obviously measure if you want to be precise.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Garden Update - Winter 2015

Winter has certainly come with snow upon snow and chilly temps that make me want to just curl up with a cup of cocoa and a good book.  Thankfully there have been sunny days that almost blind you with the brilliance of the snow and our slider door has again become a greenhouse to brighten things up.  Perhaps you would like to see this glimpse of spring too?

Christmas cactus - it didn't take kindly to being
moved (we later read and were told that they like to 
stay in one spot) but had some nice flowers and
will hopefully be happier next year when it isn't
re-homed mid bloom.

Amaryllis starting up!

A mini orchid that we found.

The irises that had gotten confused by the weather.
We brought them inside to give them a chance at life
and they ended up blooming after all.  Very exciting :)

The amaryllis had a baby over the summer and
we transplanted it to it's own pot when we 
brought them out of dormancy.
We later learned that it maybe didn't want to be 
separated that early, but so far seems to be doing well.

Finally a bloom!

Some muscari for David... the latest addition to the green house.

I hope that this has brought some sunshine to your day.  One day spring will come!  
What are you enjoying about winter or anticipating about spring?

Monday, January 5, 2015

While I've been away...

Hello again friends :)

If anyone frequents the blog (ok, so mostly our parents!) they will have noticed that I fell off the face of the blog-o-sphere in early November.  Life happens and, while blogging ideas abounded, the time or focus to write about them did not.  David suggested that I could write about everything that's been happening while I haven't been blogging.  So if you were curious, here you go....

School pressed on.  I am burnt out on the program but pushed through the past two classes resulting in a glorious month off before starting my last two.  Almost there.

We carved pumpkins with the Junior Highers. 

The morning glories finally decided to bloom... in October. 

I worked on Thanksgiving but we were able to celebrate with both of our families afterwards.  Winter came early with snow that seemed to just keep falling for days.  Then it decided to leave and the weather seamed unseasonably warm for the month of December. 

On the garden front our bulbs were confused by the odd weather and started sprouting in our garage.  Even the ones left in the large pot on our deck started poking through.  I am afraid they might be done for.  We brought in one pot of mini irises but had to leave most of the others outside as they were mixed in with perennials.  

I accepted two last minute custom orders for Christmas gifts and enjoyed my lack of homework by painting signs while watching season two of Call the Midwife (never mind that I hadn't seen season one... the library only had season two at the time and when else will I have time to watch it?!).  The first order was for a crate with words painted on the sides.  In my eagerness to get it done I forgot to take a picture.  The second was a sign on repurposed wood, which I remembered to take pictures of so that I could post it to Etsy.  However, when I had delivered the sign and went to put the pictures on the computer I found that every picture taken in the month of December had mysteriously vanished :(     
On the up side, David probably won't mind if I have to make snickerdoodle ice cream or cherry almond rolls again before I can post them to the blog.

Due to unexpected trades and call-offs I had the special blessing of being in church every week for more than a month straight.  We got to see our niece and nephew in the Christmas program and ourselves participated in the cantata.  David laughed at me because, for once, I was able to read a whole book without having to renew it or return it to the library partially finished (it was called The Spark and was a very interesting and thought provoking read).  We dreamed and adventured and spent time together - one of the best parts of winter :)

As of now we are watching our amaryllis grow and scheming for when it will be warm enough to plant outside.  It's almost time for school to start again.  And maybe sooner or later winter will come again in ernest.

Hope that you are enjoying wherever it is that the winter finds you!

Friday, January 2, 2015

German style coleslaw

This recipe comes to you at the request of several friends who ate it at our New Year's party.  I often make it in the summer time to go with burgers or brats, but when I heard someone was making pulled barbecue sandwiches for our gathering this seemed like just the thing to go with it... winter or not.  It is simple to put together and the taste is great.  The recipe recommends letting it marinate a few hours before serving and, while we have eaten it after several days, it is best if eaten within one day.  This fact makes a double batch perfect for a potluck because if you use the whole cabbage there will certainly be enough to share.

[Sorry, no picture due to being mostly eaten at the potluck... it was good!]

German Coleslaw

adapted slightly from 

1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp white sugar
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise 

Combine all ingredients except cabbage in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add in sliced cabbage and stir to combine well.  Cover and place in refrigerator for two or three hours.  Stir well before serving.

Notes -
This recipe is quick because I use a mandolin style slicer for chopping the cabbage (I have this one).  You could also use a pre-cut cabbage mix if you wanted to avoid the cutting altogether.   


Monday, November 10, 2014

November is Adoption Month!

It's November already.  The temperatures are dropping and thoughts turning to Thanks and pumpkins and turkeys and family get-togethers.  In the midst of this I am reminded to rejoice with those whose families have grown through the process of adoption - children welcomed and loved as sons and daughters.  I couldn't help but think of this as a family in our church celebrated their first "gotcha day" anniversary this past week.  And I am also reminded to pray for those still waiting for families to call their own.  Some of my friends are in the midst of this process and it reminds me even more to be in prayer for these children and families.
Here are some resources for Adoption Month that you may find helpful regardless of whether or not you, or people you know, are adopting.

This sermon by John Piper is a good reminder of our need to trust in "the all-sufficiency of God's future grace"... and I certainly need that reminder!

Ever go to pray and you're not sure what to say?  Not sure how to pray for orphans?  Here is a Foster Care Prayer Guide with a lot of helpful ideas. 

Considering adoption but not sure where to start?  Jillian, an adoptive mama over at Adding a Burden shares eight ways to get the ball rolling.  See her post here.   

A few weeks ago we talked about the idea of a Blessingway and making a baby shower more meaningful.  I found this description of a toddler adoption shower which describes perfectly a gathering that blessed and encouraged.  So cool to read! 

    Adopted For Life by Russell Moore is a great book recommended by an adoptive mama friend.  I appreciate how he explained and fleshed out our adoption by God!

And lastly, if you don't want to be convicted, you probably shouldn't watch this video...

Consider lifting these little ones (and big ones!) up in prayer this month.  Perhaps think about what you can do to make a difference... be His hands and feet?


p.s. I love families and children and have since long before David and I were a family.  Since I have lots of thoughts in this area I have decided to write about them from time to time... though I realize it could start the rumor weed growing at a fantastic rate.  If you hear any rumors brewing about what's going on in the Brick house, please realize that they are most likely unfounded and do your part to keep the weeds from spreading.  Thank you! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Re-thinking the baby shower... why you don't have to be a hippy to want (or give) a blessingway

Baby showers are wonderful.  You get to see the expectant mama, and possibly the newborn little one, and shower them with love, kisses and gifts.  I have had the privilege of helping to plan several of these occasions and it's always a lot of fun.  But no one likes to plan the games (ok, very few people...).
Guessing games.  Candy bars melted in diapers.  Trivia games.  Rarely does someone pipe up excited to plan this portion of the get together (and it doesn't seem that people are necessarily ecstatic to play them either).  I think that showers are great.  Providing for the physical needs of the new family is important and helpful.  Laughing and playing silly games and drinking punch is all well and good too.... but sometimes I wonder if we are missing something in the midst of all the "stuff".  Hopefully the new mom and dad feel blessed by these family members and friends who have come out to offer them gifts and support.  

At the end of the day do they feel encouraged, strengthened, loved?  More ready to meet the challenges and joys of a changing family dynamic and training up a little one in the way he or she should go?  More confident in the plan God has for them?  If we believe this child is a gift, if we believe God has blessed this family, if we believe families are important and parenting is a sacred responsibility and a call from God, how is this reflected in our showering of the parents?  Could a shower be not simply a giving of bibs and blankets but also a giving of wisdom, a giving of praise to God for this gift, a giving of prayers and strength for sleepless nights and cutting teeth and temper tantrums, a giving of memories, a giving of God's word that speaks to each day of our lives?  There is a Navajo tradition that is called a Blessingway, which is described as follows (stay with me - I promise I'll bring this back from the hippy direction it sounds like it's going!):

"A mother's blessing is an intimate party inspired by an ancient Navajo ceremony called a blessing way. The ceremony is held to prepare an expectant mother for her upcoming birth journey -- to shower mom-to-be with love, support and encouragement. The act of birth is seen as a rite of passage for women, and this is meant to help a woman feel mentally, physically and emotionally ready to give birth".the bump

Photo from this Blessingway post

Many of the suggestions out there would make conservative protestants very uncomfortable.  Having the moth wear a flower crown, reciting mantras, painting her belly, and passing along "positive energy" paints a very hippy picture that many would not want to partake in at all.  And I'm not saying you should.  What I am saying is that maybe we need to reconsider the purpose of our baby showers and what message they are conveying.  Are we truly blessing this man and woman as they are on the way to being parents?  Is God recognized as the author of this happy event?  Is His strength sought on behalf of this growing family?

Scripture tells us that God has created this child uniquely (Psalm 139:13-16).  That God is the one who builds families (Psalm 127:1).  The blessing of a child incited praise to God and singing for Mary (Luke 1:46-55), Elizabeth (Luke 1:42-45), Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79), Sarah (Genesis 21:6-7), the friends of Naomi (Ruth 4:14-15), and Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10).  Children are a particular blessing from God.  God has given direct instructions about how we are to raise our children.  He is "before all things and in him all things hold together"... so shouldn't we include Him in the holding together of our families?  

So when you're planning the next baby shower maybe just stop and consider how it could be a little bit less... or a little bit more.  A little bit less about the perfect gift.  A little bit less about the perfect party theme.  A little bit more about strong parents.  A little bit more about building up Mom.  A little more about the God who gives all good gifts.  

And if you really want to melt candy bars in someone's diaper, by all means knock yourself out! :) 

p.s. I love families and children and have since long before David and I were a family.  My dream has always been to work in Obstetrics and I hope to fulfill that dream someday!  Since I have lots of thoughts in this area I have decided to write about them from time to time... though I realize it could start the rumor weed growing at a fantastic rate.  If you hear any rumors brewing about what's going on in the Brick house, please realize that they are most likely unfounded and do your part to keep the weeds from spreading.  Thank you!  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pesto and mozzarella flatbread

Today I have a super easy and delicious flatbread recipe for you!  When I saw this flatbread challenge I immediately thought of doing something with pesto because it just tastes so good to me right now.  Sometimes in the summer I have made a toasted tortilla with tomatoes and basil fresh from the garden (with feta of course :) ... unfortunately I only had one garden cherry tomato left, so it needed a little help, but that was the inspiration for this recipe. 

My husband mentioned that this would be good with some shredded chicken on it too, and if you're looking for a little extra protein or something to up this to a "main dish" I think that would be perfect.  With only four ingredients this is simple to prepare and comes together in a snap.  The flatbread disappeared very quickly in our house and I was sad it was gone in even less time than I took to make it.  I think it will definitely be making an appearance on our menu again in the near future!   

While making this flatbread I learned some very helpful things about dough as well.  I always struggle with rolling out my pizza dough and getting it to stay put on the pan.  A friend told me that part of the problem is probably that I try to roll it out before it is completely warm (you see, I often cheat and use frozen pizza dough that I thaw in the fridge overnight... but I don't always leave it out very long before trying to work with it).  I left this dough out much longer than I usually do and it was definitely room temperature.  It rolled out so much easier!  Note to self - use warm dough.  Also, when I read about the challenge I learned that Rachel rolls out her pizza dough with olive oil instead of flour.  This seemed a little odd to me but I tried it and was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked.  Good idea to remember for next time.

Anyway, here is the recipe.  Let me know what you think! 
Come join the Fabulous Flatbread Challenge at Rachel Cooks sponsored by United Dairy Industry of Michigan — Win prizes! See the flatbread challenge here

Pesto and Mozzarella Flatbread

Ingredients -
Pizza dough of your choice
1 6oz jar pesto
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
grape, cherry, or roma tomatoes, sliced

Directions - 
Divide dough in half.  Roll each half into a very thin flatbread and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.    Spread pesto onto flatbreads (you probably won't need the whole jar).  Sprinkle evenly with cheese and arrange tomatoes over top.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until desired crispness.  Slice diagonally or into wedges and enjoy!   

Note - This post is not sponsored by anyone.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.