Saturday, June 18, 2011

This summer one of my pledges is also to the well being of my body. The older I get, the more south my body tends to go. I don't necessarily mind aging, its inevitable, but I would like to cling to my youthfulness a little, ok a lot, longer! You see, after a decade of working in fitness facilites in my late teens and early 20's, I KNOW what you have to do to keep your body healthy as possible, I just don't implement it as much as I should. Call me lazy, or just an individual who take pleasure in culinary delacacies. And when it is that time of the month, ANYTHING in the form of chocolate is a delicacy! So you can imagine how elated I must feel when come across a healthy snack, especially one that tastes good. You may have even prepared this for yourself, but humor me, I felt like a professional chef creating something tasty when I put this together. So, without rambling on and on,...drum roll please.....

Berry topped Citrus Infused Cottage Cheese, yeah, I could use a better name. I promise if you have not ever tried anything like this you will never look at cottage cheese the same again. This is a refreshing way to liven up boring old cottage cheese. Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 tbsp. juice of a lemon
1 tsp. juice of orange
1/2 tsp each, grated lemon and orange rind
1 tsp. honey
strawberries and blueberrie for topping.

*Mix lemon, orange, grated rinds and honey into cottage cheese. Top with berries. Eat. Enjoy. Thank me later. I just livened up your mundane cottage cheese :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Peace in Waiting

Waiting. Yep, that is what I am doing right now. Not waiting on any one, or special event, just on an endeavor I have longed to do for over a decade. This endeavor, we will call it "M.D." for (My Dream), is something that I have realized I am not capable of doing without the help from God. So, you would think that by realizing this I would be able to trudge forward and get to work, right? WRONG! I am as stuck as a bug to glue. Nope, not moving anywhere. M.D. has looked really promising at times and has even managed to wrench out a little progress from me. Then out of no where I slam into a wall and everthing I have worked on crumbles and I once again am starting from scratch. Do you ever feel like this? Like you work at something and think you have finally got it right only to have it blown up and your left back at ground zero? Well, this has been me lately. You might be saying, "Don't you think you should find another M.D.?" No, I do not! Tenacity and determination are what seperate the doers from the failures.

It was my birthday this year that really put things in perspective. I believe everyday is a gift from God, no less each birthday. But this year was different. Let me explain about this gift a little more in detail. I receive a couple of daily devotions to my e-mail account each day. I usually only read one specific one and ignore the others. But on my birthday, I decided I would read this one which I usually don't. I felt it was as if God was speaking directly to me. It was like this devotion was about me, just my unfinished story. God was giving me a very personal gift. His blessing and reassurance that He knows of M.D. and I have His backing. Ha, I have God's backing! But there was one underlying message to it, I must wait on Him. What?! I've been waiting over a decade! I have had all sorts on stumbling blocks to derail me! Babies, a disease, and all the other choatic mess life throws at you! And I am STILL supposed to wait?! It was in this moment that I realized God's true Glory. Psalm 37:7 says, " Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; .. There it is again, the word "wait". There was also another word accompanying my evil nemis, it is the word, "patient". Now here is something I have yet to master. Patience may be a virtue, but I am truly lacking in this department. I am not one for patience, my husband I am sure will be the first to second this. So how does one achieve "patience" so they can "wait"? The answer lies in Philippians 4:11-13, " I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Wow, does this scripture speak to me. It is all about finding peace and security in the One above. To me,this is one of the most beautiful scriptures in the bible. Life's uncertainties can leave us all feeling hollow and inadequete. It is about truly turning it all over to Him and letting go and letting God. Peace in the quietness. Peace in the darkness. Peace in the waiting.

M.D. will come. I know His timing is the right timing. Will I strugge with waiting? Yes, I am sure, but there is always His words, scriptures to reassure me and stregthen my faith. So if any of you out there are stuck in a "waiting period", I incourage you to turn it over to the God above who loves you and cares about you and your dreams. Then you will find peace.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Healthy Summer Treats

It has been awhile, I know. I wish I could say I have been on some fabulous exotic vacation, but I haven't. I have just been taking some time off from blogging as well as other trivialties in my life. Sometimes I think we need to disconnect to reconnect. As usual I allowed too many commitments to overrule my life and sadly it affected not just me but my family as well. I often think of women who are wives, moms, caregives, etc....who go non-stop from one project to another and then are able to go home and assume a whole other role! Seriously, I don't know how they do it!
So, I have pledged this summer to relax, find peace, patience and rest during the lazy days of Summer. I will keep my commitments at a minimum if so, none at all and enjoy my boys and husband. I will soak up God's blessed sunshine and appreciate all the bountiful offerings He has provided me within this world. I will start my day with His word, seeking solitude and guidance within scriptual verses. And most importantly, I will kiss my husband and children each and everyday and tell them how much I love them, trying not to take them for granted.
I think it is good to spritually cleanse the body and mind, and I would like to believe that I will emerge a more rested and more Christ-like individual, appreciating my life from a whole new perspective. We will see...

I have been getting my fingers a little sticky in the kitchen lately. I recently have had a craving for homemade ice creams, yogurts and sorbets. My childhood is flooded with memories of anxiously awaiting the churning ice cream on the back porch of my grandmother's during the blistering heat of Summer. She had the crank kind and would often venture out bak , craqnk it a few times and the return inside. This action was repeated til the ice cream was ready. So while I wait for the replacement mixing arm of my more advanced ice cream maker to be delivered, I have made some healthy sorbets in our food processor. I thought I would share a couple of the recipes with you all. They are simple and since produce is at it's best, you should take advantage of your local farmer's market, or grocer, and use fresh fruits; frozen ones work just as well and I did use some that would be more costly if purchased fresh.

A Better-for-You Chunky Monkey:

1-2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 tbsp. Honey
2 tbsp. Water
2 tbsp. Walnuts
3 tbsp. coarsley chopped semi-sweet chocolate

* Place bananas on a freezer paper lined cookie sheet and freeze for 1-
1 1/2 hours. After bananas have frozen, in a food processor, combine all other ingredients. Blend in processor til mixture becomes creamy. You may have to add extra water. There will be lumps from the walnuts and chocolate. Eat and enjoy!
* Can be froze in refrigerator for up to three four days.

Peach-Raspberry Sorbet

3-4 peaches, washed and sliced
1/2-1 cup raspberries
2 tabsp. Honey
1/2 squeezed lemon
Grated rind from lemon, a microplane works wonders
1/4 c. water

*Freeze peach slices on a freezer lined baking sheet for 30-45 minutes. In a food processor, combine all ingredients and mix til creamy and smooth. Freeze any leftovers up to one week. This treat is less than 100 calories and SO refreshing on a hot summer day!

There are many different variations you could institute. Have fun making your own concoctions!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I do apologize for my lengthy absence as of late. I feel as if I have successfully cut myself off from most of the world. This time of year seems to have a knack for being out to get me. I always know well ahead of schedule the many events I have coming up, but somehow, never seem quite enough prepared for them. We just wrapped up our 3rd annual school dinner and auction. It was a success and true revelation of God's miraculous capabilities. We raised a rather large amount in one night. A small Classical Christian with a little over 100 students. God's grace... Growth, in more ways than one.

I think of the many seeds we plant in our lives. How we nourish them, or neglect them. I feel as if I am constantly growing. Ever learning. God is tending my garden and nourishing the soil, strengthening the roots. Sometimes I try to trample over my on garden and weaken what He has tended to so carefully. Why do I do that? If I held the answer, it wouldn't ever happen. I have come to realize that in order for my own spiritual garden to grow, I must allow the Master Gardener to do His work. I am sure to have a few undeveloped and even rotten fruits, but I know that eventually my bounty will be plentiful. May your garden ever grow and be fruitful.

I thought I might like to share a few pictures of the decorations I put together for the school auction. I hope you enjoy.

I wish my camera would have caught the illumination in these centerpieces. They all "glowed" when the lights were dimmed.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Healthy Pita Pizzas

I am relieved to relate that I have had a bit of an inspiration streak last week. I have committed myself to eating lunch at home instead of grabbing a bite while out running errands. I have discovered less temptation this way and the fizzy deliciousness of a coke cannot beckon me. One of my favorite foods is pizza. Sadly, pizza can be cruel to our waistlines and unforgiving on the scales. So, I did what any self-determined southern lady would do, I re-vamped the bad ingredients and replaced with healthier, more portioned sized options. I know that if you scope out the latest magazines and health books you will see recipes for all sorts of creative pita pizzas. For me, it was about incorporating healthy veggies and proteins to balance out the carbs. Below I have three different pita pizzas that are easy, quick and sympathetic to your waistline. Happy Healthy Eating!

pizza 001

Greek Pita Pizza
Serves: 1
(You can use a balsmic dressing as a sauce)
Preheat oven to 350.

1 pitettes pita ( I use Toufayan)
1-2 tbsp. pizza sauce OR balsamic dressing
2 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/8 tsp. italian seasoning

You Choose the amount:
Chopped green bell peppers
Sun-dried tomatoes, (I used smoked ones)
Chopped Onions
Kalmata Olives
Feta Cheese, (I used tomato & basil)

* Spread sauce or dressing over top of pita. Sprinkle italian seasoning ontop. Add basil and top with veggies and feta. Bake in a 350 degree oven til the pita is brown around the edges, about 8-10 minutes.

pizza 003

Mushroom and Onion Pizza
Serves: 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 pitettes pita
1-2 tbsp. pizza sauce
1/8 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup shredded mozarella cheese
fresh basil leaves
sliced portabello mushrooms
Sliced onions

* Spread sauce over pita and sprinkle with seasoning. Layer with mozarella, torn basil leaves, mushrooms and onions. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges of pita are golden brown.

Tex-Mex Breakfast Pita Pizza

1 pitittes pita
2 tbsp. salsa
1-2 eggs
1/2 tsp. cumin
Pinch of garlic powder
pinch of salt and pepper
diced green onions
shredded mozarella
sliced jalapenos

* In a skillet over medium heat, scramble eggs. Mix in cumin, garlic powder,salt and pepper until cooked through. Spoon salsa on top of pita and add eggs. Top with cheese, green onions and jalapenos.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Passing the Time

Yep, I'm still in a cooking rut. I've tried a few things here and there, but nothing blog worthy. Quite frankly, its been pretty boring in our kitchen. I have been busy planning the decorations for our annual school auction; which might I add I feel so blessed to be a part of! So I thought I would share with you some of my inspirations and ideas.

I could see this with a linen table topper or burlap, instead of the brown paper.

This is pretty creative and a great idea for spring!

I LOVE, LOVE this! These are paper cut butterflies.

I actually really like this. I think it would be a great centerpiece for a black and white event.

This centerpiece is very elegant and I like it as well, but can't help but to wonder if you would be able to see those seated across you through the curtain of icicle drops?! Hmmm...

Well, Dang! I could have had some great centerpieces with all those over-large margharita glasses I got rid of! I think this is ingenious!

This is actually an inspiration I am using for our auction. Take off the red pom-pom looking do-dads and replace with orchids. Not going to a table centerpiece, but will be used as a focal point elsewhere.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Culinary Hiatus

I have a confession, lately I have been in a cooking rut. This can probably be compared to writer's block or inspiration obstruction. My culinary creativity is pooped out. We have been so busy as of late that I am just wanting a quick healthy meal to feed my ravenous boys. This time of year is when all things tend to increase by the day; from school projects, Spring league sports, after-school activities, fundraisers and on and on. Sometimes when I reflect on the baby years, I realize how less physically draining they really were, (of course you can't tell that to ANY woman who is operating on 5 hrs. sleep in a 48 hr. time frame!). So, maybe what my prescription for my cooking ailment should be is some recipe suggestions from you readers. Who knows, maybe your recipe will inspire some creativity!

I have been satiating my ideas for our new home, for once we get ready to build it. We have no plans to start yet, but we are compiling a collection of pics of things we both like. I can only imagine what our home would look like if my husband was to have no input from me. Maybe something like this:
matts hunting cabin
Um, not happening.

I on the other hand would probably choose something along these lines:
Yep, I can see this house set on some acreage, or maybe this house:
southern home1

But my all time favorite that I keep coming back too, and M seems to like too is this one:
I would lengthen it and add another dormer; not for the cyclops thing this particular house has going on.

I would replace the doors with these:doors

Somehow cram this foyer in it:

Then do this on the stairails:
Mamma Mia Movie Stairs

So, since my creativity skills have halted in the chow area, I have had to use them elsewhere. I look forward to your remedy of recipes! Au Revoir!

Monday, February 14, 2011


Today is the day of honor to that one emotion on which we were founded, love. I believe we can avariciously take for granted the gift of love. Most of us are unconditionally given love at birth. We seek it out as young blossoming adults and pray it finds us before to late as we age. The old saying, "In all due time", could never apply more to anything than that of finding true love.
In our technological world, we so easily send love e-cards, flattery e-mails and facebook or tweet our love ones to relate our feelings of deep, heart-warming love. What have we become? This morning I was listening to the Today's Show as I folded laundry and a clip caught my attention. It was an tribute, in short, between George Bush, Sr. and his wife , Barbara; you may have seen it yourself. Their courtship, as my grandmother would say, was during a time when the internet was non-existent, and phone conversations were minimal for those fighting in the war. They communicated by paper. That's right, through the lost art of writing a letter. There story was beautiful, and inspirational. It got me to thinking, I don't print conversations of e-mails between my husband and I, heck, I wouldn't want to, they're never romantic! But, just think how special he might feel if I wrote him a love letter? How special would you feel if you knew your better half took the time to personally pen you a love letter? Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give someone costs you nothing, just your thought and time. I think I will go write that letter, but I leave you with these beautiful words spoken from the mater of love himself, Shakespeare....

"O me! What eyes hath put in my head,
which have no correspondence with true sight,
Or if they have, where is my judgement fled,
That censures falsely what they see aright?
If that be faire whereon my false eyes dote,
What means the world to say it is not so?"

- The Love of Woman, William Shakespeare

Friday, February 11, 2011

Calling All Chocoholics!

"My beloved is mine, and I am his" Song 2:16

Happy early Valentine's Day to you all! Ah, L' Amour, who would we be without it?! Love is what makes the world spin on its axis, (ok, I know, not really!). But, it is what has helped to shape our world and society. Where would we be without all the famous love stories? If you know me, you are probably snickering right now. Seriously, us woman thrive on love stories. Lifetime would have never been able to launch their sister channel, LMN, if it wasn't so.
Just think of all the romance novels gracing the shelves of bookstores and homes alike. I know I have my share of them, hardback, paperback and piling up gradually in my Kindle! The romance literary industry is one of the most profiting industries in the publishing world; (FYI).
Imagine growing up without knowledge of Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Paris and Helen, Lancelot and Guinevere, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, and my personal favorite, Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett.
Whether you are aware of it or not, one of these famous literary couples have to some extinct helped to shape your view of romantic love.
I can one up this! Love applies to so much more than that between a man and a woman. Our hearts love so deeply with our children, family and even special friends. But, the greatest love of all came from our Father in Heaven and that of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Christ loves each and every one of us that he gave his life, enduring unimaginable pain and torture both physically and internally. He did this just so YOU will have the opportunity to know and live for Him. I pray you do, and for those that do not yet, for open eyes, hearts and minds. He is waiting.

I must admit that we don't go all out for Valentine's Day in our house. We do have special treats for the boys and I usually cook a nice meal for us. This year, however, my husband and I must have been thinking on the same page because he got me a facial and I got him a massage! Ironically, the day I got his massage, a gift certificate came for me in the mail about the facial. We were going to surprise one another, but since I got the mail and opened it before he came home, the surprise was spoiled. So we went ahead and exchanged our gifts. I guess now all that's left is the dinner. Not sure what I will be serving, but you can bet that for dessert we will be having this incredible flourless chocolate cake! It is scrumptious! I must warn you, it is super rich but oh so worth it!

Vanilla Bean Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 vanilla bean
4 eggs, seperated
3/4 cup butter, unsalted
1 cup sugar
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (I use Giradelli)

* Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate at 30 second intervals. Meaning, to stir every 30 seconds so you don't burn the chocolate. In a seperate bowl, scrape the vanilla bean and mix together 1/2 cup of the sugar with the four egg yolks ; add yolk mixture to chocolate and stir well.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then slowly add the remainder of the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. *Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature, you should have no problems resulting in stiff peaks. Fold chocolate mixture in and pour into a 9 inch round cake pan or into individual souffle ramekins.

Bake 40 minutes , or until a toothpick comes out clean when stuck into the middle of the cake. Cool completely before serving. Great served with strawberries, raspberries, cool whip, ice cream or just a dashing of powdered sugar.

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Beautiful Blog and A Great Product Review

This winter season has been harsh in the Malone house this month. Our family, sans hubby, has been assaulted by evil viruses. The boys had some sort of foreign throat infection which caused them to run high fevers for about 6 days. I was lucky fortuitous to get the old fashioned flu. Nightmare. Still recovering from it. So, in hind sight, this explains why I have been incognito for the last couple of weeks. I am happy to say that I am feeling a world's better and ready to get back to what I love doing: cooking, decorating and writing. I have spent the last few weeks surfing the net and all those blog sights I so deeply love to read. I have come across one sight, which I wish I would have discovered months ago! If you love the Lord and are looking for an inspirational sight to read, then I HIGHLY encourage you to visit A Holy Experience. Ann Voskamp is the author and her writing is so beautiful! Words leap off the pages at you and are engraved into your mind. Her perspective on life is so pure and encouraging in our world today. As a follower of Christ, we are often the outcasts in today's society. I like being a reject. For each time I am judged for my belief, it makes me want to shout it even louder! I am reminded of Christ's rejection and how He kept going, spreading the word of our awesome God! As I stand to be a guidance for my children, I struggle on a daily basis with the moral challenges of our world. I am on a daily crusade to stand against the powers of satan and raise my sword and shield so my children will know that we must continue to fight for our beliefs, no matter who says they are wrong. I encourage you to put on your "Armour of God" and fight the holy fight.

On a very different note, after having the flu and feeling like I have contaminated every part of the house with sick germs, I have been scouring this abode bringing it back to a sanitary status. I have, for months now, been searching in earnest for a reliable steam mop. I have tried a many steam mops, and have turned up either dissapointed or frustrated that it did not seem to "get the job done". Most of them left streaks the width of the mop or were unable to get all the gunk off the floor. Well, I am happy to say that I have discovered a wonderful steam mop and it has a bonus, it is also a vac! I usually do not recommend a product to anyone unless I am 100 percent satisfied and pleased with the product. This one I am and more than happy to pass it along to you. It is the Vac-n-Steam Mop by Shark. You can check out the product and watch a how-to-video. It is so great that even my boys beg to clean the floors!
Here is a pic of our youngest happily disinfecting the floor!


This handy contraption first vaccuums your floor, really good I might add, and then you place on the magnetic plate and microfiber cloth and mop! That simple! No streaks and stubborn spots came up fairly easily. It costs $149.99. I don't mind I paid that now that I know how well it works. Definately worth it in my opinion.

May you all have a blessed day and I hope to have some recipes coming soon!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Southern Style Baked Spaghetti


Southern and Spaghetti..... those two words really don't seem to belong in the same sentence do they? I couldn't help pondering this as I was making dinner tonight, which this is what I cooked. I am always attempting to find new and creative ways to mix up classic dishes. I love spaghetti, but quite frankly, get tired of the same old same old. I like classic Italian marinara sauces, but don't have the whole day to devote to making it. Even though my cousin and I (we were roomates in college), had this uber-goodlooking Italian neighbor who could make a really wicked marinara sauce, and he even once verbally shared it with us. I happened to remember EVERYTHING he said. I think that is because I used to absorb his every word! Ah...please pause a moment so I can sigh and pay my respect to youthfulness........ Thank you. It is a great sauce, but takes way too long. So my apologies to my old neighbor, but I had to come up with something that wasn't from a store bought jar AND could be made in a reasonable amount of time. Not too mention, isn't your same old boring spaghetti!
The recipe may seem like a lot of steps, but each individual "set" can be multitasked. If you are a woman, this should be easy for you...multitasking.


Southern Style Baked Spaghetti

For the Sauce:

2 cans whole tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. herbs de provence ( oregano, rosemary, tyme, savory and marjoram)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
1 can tomato paste
1 tsp. sugar

*In a food processor, blend tomatoes and next five ingredients. Transfer mixture to a saucepan and add bay leaf, tomato paste and sugar. Cook over med-low heat, reducing heat to low once it starts to boil. Cover and allow to simmer while you prepare meat and noodles.

For the Beef:
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. vanilla protein powder (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

* Heat skillet of med-high heat and brown meat, adding basil, protein powder, salt and pepper (to season meat). Drain. Return skillet to stovetop and saute onions and bell pepper sans meat. Add meat to veggie mixture. Set aside.

For the noodles:

1 pkg. angel hair pasta noodles OR Spaghetti noodles

* Do I really need to tell you how to prepare this? I shall not insult your intelligence! Cook them, al dente!

1 cup olives, black or green, diced (optional)
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

For the Whole Shabang:

*Put cream cheese into sauce and mix until melted; add meat and olives. Add noodles to meat and sauce mixture. Pour into a casserole dish, 9x13, that has been sprayed with cooking spray or olive oil spray.Make sure to remove bay leaf! Add shredded cheese to top. Bake at 350 degrees for 15- 20 minutes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie


Yesterday morning I woke with two sick little boys. It always makes me sad for my babies when they are not feeling their usual sprite selves. They have a nasty cold and are plagued with a lingering fever. My boys are troopers, though. They certainly do not want to admit they are sick, but whenever they curl onto the couch and cover up, I know they are feeling their worst.
I remember as a child, my mother would dote over me when I was under the weather. She would rent several movies, make a "bed" on the couch with lots of comfy and warm blankets and curl up with me. We would watch those movies all day long. She would even make me a special meal when I was able to eat. I try to carry that tradition over with my boys. This time, both came down with the crude at the same time. I would rather tackle their bug together anyday! After a day of care giving and running an infirmary at our house, I need a massage!
Tonight, I made the boys some homemade chicken pot pie. It was sprinkled with love to help them feel better soon! Do you have a favorite "feel better" meal that your parent or loved one makes for you when you are sick? Even if you feel miserable, that meal can lift your spirits brighter. I hope you all are staying well this winter. Here is a recipe for my oldest's favorite feel good meal, Chicken Pot Pie.


Chicken Pot Pie

2 chicken breasts, cooked ( I bake mine, but you can cook however you prefer)
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 cup frozen or canned kernal corn (drain if canned)
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp. italian seasonings
1 tsp. garlic
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 puff pastry

*While the chicken is baking, saute in a saucepan or dutch oven, carrots, onions and celery in olive oil over medium-high heat. When veggies start to get tender, add seasonings and bay leaves. Continue to cook about 2 more minutes, stirring throughout. Add 2 cups of broth to veggies, reduce heat to med-low. Add cornstarch to remaining half cup of broth, stir until mixed. Add cornstarch mixture to veggies and broth. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Shred the chicken. Add to veggie mixture. Pour the chicken and veggie mixture into a deep dish pie pan. Place puff pastry over chicken mixture. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and the pastry is golden brown.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Shepard's Pie with Port Wine

Helloooooo friends! How's the new year working out for you? How about those resolutions? Me, I did not make any resolutions this year. Why, you might ask? Well, honestly, I never see them through! I wish I could say to you that I am a disciplined person, one who is capable of trudging through any adversity, but that would be a lie. I have difficulty just fulfilling my daily plans and intentions! So, this year I have taken a different perspective on this glorious new year. I start each day by asking God to reveal to me His plans for my day, and to please keep myself from getting in His way so that I may carry out those plans. I then empower myself with the scripture of Psalm 139:23-24, which I want to share with you. It says, " Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the everlasting." (NIV)

What a prayer! I can tell you, it is not easy to give your life totally over to the lord, though it should be. We Christians tend to "cut off our nose in spite of our face!" It is our sinful nature to want to be in complete control of EVERYTHING! At least it is mine. Ok, where am I going with this?! My point is, if you are a failure at New Year's resolutions, IT IS OK! Let me repeat that, IT IS OK! Set realistic goals and pray for guidance and determination in meeting them. Realize that there will be many failures no matter what you do, but if you keep on trying and learn fromthose failures the end rewards will be phanomenal!

So without me rambling on any further, here is a GREAT recipe the whole family is sure to love. And if they don't, you might want to have their tastebuds checked out! J/K! It is Shepard's Pie. I'm sure many of you have heard of it! I got to wondering though, what the history of this all-in-one dish is and where it generated from. So, because I want my reader's to have the culinary knowledge of a scholar, here is what I learned. The first mention of Shepard's pie is in 1885, but it is believed to have existed LONG before then. It is popular in the UK and mainly made with sheep or mutton, hence the name "Shepard's". We make it here in the states mostly with beef' which actually is referred to as "Cottage Pie" in the UK. My version is different from the traditional recipes, but hey, I'm like that. If you like satisfying meal, my version of Shepard's Pie is sure to placate your appetite!

Shepards pie 002.JPG

Shepard's Pie with Port Wine
For the Beef Mixture
5 lbs. chuck roast, fat trimmed and cut into 1 in. cubes
5 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 med. sweet onion, diced
1 cup diced carrots
1 pkg. sliced baby bello mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups beef stock (or broth)
1/2 cup tawny port wine (you can find at your local wine store)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. herbs de provence (which are made of thyme, rosemary, oregano, savory and basil) Yes, you can make your own at home.
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 cup sweet peas

* In a large stockpot or dutch oven, pour olive oil into pot over med-high heat. Place beef into pot and brown on all sides. Add onions, carrots and mushrooms.Cook until slightly tender. Add flour, stir. Add chopped garlic. Cook one minute longer, stirring constantly. Add beef stock (or broth), port wine and water. Next add salt, pepper, herbs and garlic powder. Reduce heat to low cover and simmer about 1 and 1/2 hours to 2 hours. Meat should be nice and tender. (You can add more port if you like, depending on your taste, this is some pretty stout stuff!)

For the Potatoes

4 medium baking potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream (light)
2 tbsp. milk or half-n-half

*Boil potatoes until tender. In a mixing bowl, blend potatoes, butter,salt, sour cream and milk until creamy.

In a deep dish pie plate or baking dish ,(sprayed with cooking spray or buttered), place in beef mixture, cover with peas and mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. I even spread shredded cheddar over the peas and then again sparingly over the potatoes.

Bake in a 350 degree oven til potatoes are brown around the edges and cheese has melted. Serve in individual bowls. Enjoy your hearty meal!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Hello Blogger world! I've missed you! I do hope all of your holiday's was as peaceful and blessed as mine. We stayed fairly busy and on the go the later part of our vacation. But I'm back! I have been cooking up a storm and reserving several recipes to share with you.

Unfortunatley the weather down here in the deep South has not been amenable. One day it is warm, almost Spring like, the next rainy and dreary and the following cold, windy and bitter. This has been a pattern though; so since today it is rainy, I can suffice to say tomorrow will be bitterly cold and windy?. Does this set the tone for this coming year? Unpredictable? I'd like to rely on the old adage, "God is in control." And He is! So in the spirit of uncertainty, but faithful, let's focus on the fact that it is Winter and I will share with you a light and satisfying soup. Chicken Tortilla Soup. This is loaded with protein and fiber. All those good things you want to put into your body at the start of each new year! Or, if you are not as concerned about your waistline, make sure to top the soup off with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese, YUM! This recipe feeds about 4-6 people, depending on the hunger level of the individuals!


Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 box 34 oz. Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 cups water
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes, do not drain
1 large chicken breast, cooked (I baked mine)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp. half-n-half
1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper (regular will work just as well)
2 tbsp. Chipotle Tabasco sauce
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernal corn
Fresh Cilantro, for garnish and added flavor
Tortilla strips, for garnish

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, combine ALL ingredients, minus black beans and cilantro. Bring to a boil and reduce to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add beans the last 10 minutes. Scoop into individual bowls and garnish with cilantro and tortilla strips. Remember: sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese is great on top, too!