Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer Salads: Part 2

I love cooking from what is available seasonally. As much as I sometimes want to grab for that container of strawberries in the middle of Winter, waiting 'til Summer has proven to result in major payback. Not only are fruits and vegetables cheaper when they're bought in-season, but they are OH SO DELICIOUS too. Lately we've been eating lots and lots of watermelon, cherries, and berries. Also squash, peppers, tomatoes & of course- the star of summer: corn on the cob. :)

Tonight I made a very unusual-sounding salad recipe using green beans and strawberries as the base. I wasn't sure how this was going to taste in the end, but I was pleasantly surprised- it was scrumptious! If you decide to give it a try I hope you enjoy it too!

~Strawberry & Green Bean Salad
with Feta, Mint & Pistachios~
Serves 4-6

1 lb. fine green beans
1 lb. strawberries
2-3 Tablespoons pistachios
1 small bunch fresh mint leaves
(I used some from my yard!)
4 oz. feta cheese
salt & pepper

2 Tablespoons raspberry vinegar
2 Tablespoons superfine sugar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
pinch of salt
1/2 cup olive oil

1. To make the dressing, mix the vinegar, sugar, mustard, and salt together in a bowl until smooth. Slowly poor in the oil, whisking constantly until the mixture has emulsified. Cover and refrigerate until required. 

2. Blanch the beans in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 1-2 minutes, so that they retain plenty of crunch. Drain and quickly toss in a large, cool bowl. Hull and halve the strawberries, then add to the beans. Stir in the pistachios and mint leaves. Toss the salad with enough dressing to coat lightly.

3. Break the feta cheese into chunks and scatter over the salad. Add a good grinding of pepper and serve immediately.

Happy & Healthy Food to You,


Summer Salads

There's nothing better for dinner on a warm Summer evening than a fresh, cool salad. :) Soups & casseroles have their place no doubt, but a salad made from some of Summer's freshest picks? I'd call that gratitude at it's best. 

This week we've practically lived on salad. Just this week I've made:

*Whole wheat pasta salad with olives, feta & fresh spinach
*Baby red skin potato salad
*Waldorf fruit salad with walnuts
*Romaine salad with grilled red peppers & red onion
*Chicken Fiesta salad

Today I thought I'd share the Chicken Fiesta Salad recipe. It's really delicious and sooo easy to prepare too. Matthew and I ate it in two days it was that good, and we usually take three or four days to eat up something in this house when I make a big bowl of it. Not this time! Ha!

My mother made us this salad the week after I gave birth to Cole. I wasn't about to step into a kitchen and start cooking cause I had a longer-than-normal recovery period (at least it felt like forever) and wasn't feeling the greatest (hormones didn't help either!). My mother was an Angel from Heaven who stepped in and took care of everything for us. Thank you, Mom! Making this recipe brought back sweet memories of that week spending time with our newborn baby Cole, moments with Matthew, and sweet conversations with Mom. {I cannot believe 9 months have already passed!!! Time flies!}

~Chicken Fiesta Salad~
{adapted from Better Homes & Gardens cookbook}

4 cups torn romaine lettuce
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 8-ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed & drained, or
1/2 of a 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey (I used 
a rotisserie chicken)
2 small tomatoes, cut into thin wedges (or cherry tomatoes
cut in half)
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup sliced pitted ripe olives
1 recipe Chile Dressing
3/4 cup crushed tortilla chips

Place the lettuce in a large 2-quart salad bowl. Layer ingredients in the following order: cheese, beans, chicken, tomatoes, carrots, & olives. Spread Chile Dressing evenly over salad, sealing to edge of bowl. Cover salad tightly with plastic wrap. Chill for 4-24 hours. To serve, toss lightly to coat evenly & sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips.

Chile Dressing: In a small bowl stir together 1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing, one 4-ounce can chopped green Chile peppers, 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, and 1 clove garlic, minced. Makes 3/4 cup.

Note: Chilling the salad for up to 24 hours allows the flavors to blend. Layer the ingredients one evening and have a read-to-serve meal the next. 

Prep: 30 minutes Chill: 4-24 hours Makes: 4 main-dish servings

Monday, August 15, 2011

Love Never Fails

The greatest......is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Praying 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Heavenly Father, today remind me from Your Word about the most excellent way of love. 

     If I gurgle and coo and engage my baby in unintelligible conversation but don't love this precious child, then I am only a silly, baby-doting woman (v. 1).

     If I know everything about child raising and am looked up to as an "expert" but don't parent with love, then all my knowledge is good for nothing (v. 2).

     If I made all kinds of sacrifices for my child but do so out of selfish motives rather than out of God-directed love, then I will gain nothing (v. 3).

     Love is patient with babies who won't burp, and it is kind to babies who accidentally bite at breasts. It doesn't envy Mrs. Smith's baby or take too much pride in my baby's attempts to walk at nine months (v. 4).

     Love doesn't ignore my baby's cries for help, isn't angered by lost binkies, and doesn't keep track of silk blouses destroyed by spit-up (v. 5). It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres- even through the toughest days and nights (v. 7). 

     Where there are experts, they will change their opinions; where there are many words, they will run out; where there is certainty, it will rise to doubts. But love...love never fails (v. 8)!

     Thank you, Lord of love. Teach me this most excellent way. 

     I pray in Your name. Amen. 

The above was taken entirely from this wonderful book that my
Mother gave me first my first mother's day:

     I hope you were encouraged by this beautiful adaptation of the Book of Love. I know I was!

Have a delightful Monday!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer's Heat

This Summer's heat has been very wearing on me. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. It's just been SOOOO hot in Texas this Summer! I usually look forward to Summer, too. There's lots to look forward to in Summer...


*Wearing shorts, skirts, sandals & tank tops
*Taking the baby for a stroller ride outside where it's pretty
*Watching your plants grow
*Watching other people's plants grow
*Feeling the warmth of the sun's rays on your face
*Ice cream cones
*Spending time with family & friends
*Eating a ripe piece of fruit in season- like strawberries, peaches & cherries
*Suntans & freckles
*But mostly... just being OUTSIDE!!!

Unfortunately, being outside isn't something we've done a whole lot of around here...and I'm starting to get major cabin fever! I want to take Cole for a stroll around the neighborhood...but it's waaay too hot. My plants are practically burnt up (even though I water them) and everyone else's grass is pretty much brown and dead. I haven't swam once....not even ONCE!....therefore no tan (which honestly isn't a top priority, but would be nice to be a darker shade of pale) and most of the other things I would love to do during the Summer somehow have just not been gotten to....or can't be done. The thing that gets to me the most though is not being able to be outside. There's only so much indoors I can take! Even Cole seems to be getting cabin fever and he doesn't even know what he's missing out on...haha! I remember Summers when my siblings and I were growing up where we'd play outside all day long, run through the sprinklers, eat ice cream on the back porch, play kick-the-can late into the evening hours with the neighborhood kids and just. have. fun. Either I've gotten really old and crotchety or I was really oblivious back then and too carefree to see what was going on around me. I'm guessing it was the latter...I hope? Hmmm...

So that's my rant for the day. Thanks for listening....

Today I said a little prayer to God that if He should lead Matthew and I to a place where there were 4 seasons a year, where there weren't 111 degree temperatures during the Summer, and where it was pretty all year long and you could actually grow plants in the Summer and your grass didn't burn up....

.....then it's be alright with me. :)

Have a happy & *hot* Tuesday,


*Now I need to go say another little prayer that God would put in me a content heart and open my eyes to the blessings He already has before me! Dear Lord....HELP!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Today I faced my fear...

....of car washes!!! 

That's right...I've been a bit of a wimp when it comes to going through those big car washes where you put your car in neutral, take your hands off the wheel and brakes, and just let yourself glide through those weeping willow-looking, something-out-of-Sesame-Street, monster sponges & brushes. But I did it. Phew! And I didn't die! I'm not exactly sure why I was afraid to go through it (alone that is, cause I've done it with Matthew and I'm fine)...but I guess you could say I'm a little claustrophobic at times. I also have a wild imagination and imagine myself going through the washing tunnel...then one of my windows breaking and one of the large Woolly Mammoth brushes attacking me! A likely scenario...I know.

Well anyway...now that I've conquered this fear I will probably be frequenting the car wash much more often and our car won't look so dirty all the time! And paying the 6 bucks for a car wash is definitely worth it in comparison to the hour it would take washing it out in the 109 degree weather with all the sponges, towels, water and soap I'd have to drag out and then later wash. They even buffed & dried my car off so there wouldn't be water spots on it later. :) So, I'd definitely say it was a successful day all around!!

What's an irrational fear that you have? Do tell! :) (it'll make me feel better about mine....)

Outdoor Country Party

Ever since we moved into our little rental I've wanted to host an outdoor party. The patio between our back porch and garage serves as the perfect little place for stringing up some lights and having a party. So finally......after living here a year and a half.....we did just that. :)

Meet my "Little Big Sis", Grace:

She just turned the BIG 3-0,...but you'd never know it. She knows how to rock a 3-inch wedge and could be the cover girl for paper drinking straws. :)

I call her my "Little Big Sis" cause she's shorter (though older) than me....and she calls me her "Big Little Sis" cause I'm taller (though younger) than her. If you ask me, her nickname sounds waaay cooler. I've always been the "tall" one in my family cause all my sisters are just so short!! And I'm not even tall....I'm just an "average" 5'6"!!! :)

{Goofballs :) }

Gracie turning 30 provided the perfect opportunity to use our little patio for the party. It was so fun to put the party together for her (with the help of her family and friends) and to {hopefully} show her just how much she means to all of us.

{Flowers in a canning jar on the food table}

{Little guest at the party-my sweet little nephew, Levi}

{Drinks were served in jam jars}

{The beverage table:
peach tea, lemonade & water}

{Vintage fabric flag banner above the
food table}

{My sister Glenna}

{Sisters Gwen & Glenna with

{The seating area. Old quilts were used as tablecloths
to create a more country feel}

{Grace & her husband, Aaron}

{8 years later and still going strong! :) }

{Gracie with her little man, Johnathan}

{My incredibly beautiful sisters,
Glenna & Greta}

{My Dad being, well....Dad :) }

{Gotta hydrate!
Paper straws source here}

{Dad & Cole....with his "deer in headlights"

{Gracie's favorite: Angel Food Cake}

{We made the birthday girl cut her own cake.....
JK.... she wanted to!!}

It was a very casual evening but couldn't have been more fun. After the guests finished eating & drinking, we headed on inside to open gifts and look at old photos of Grace strung all over our living room using jute string & clothes pins. Ooohhh....the memories!

I've known my sister my whole life....so I barely have a memory of my childhood that she isn't also in. We shared a room together, told each other secrets, went through "awkward" phases of our growing up years together, saw each other with braces on, squirted pimples together, had silly sister fights, fought over boys, shared clothes (she wore my hand-me-downs cause I was taller :), and saw each other grow up. When she went to college I bawled my eyes out cause I had lost my best friend. Then she got married to the love of her life and I was her Maid of Honor. Then I went to college and she called me up and told me she was pregnant. We've shared a lot in our years together....marriage stories, unhealthy pregnancies, losses of children, healthy pregnancies & babies, moves, homemaking....and the list goes on. I could write a novel about all the little things I love about my sister....Gracie, are you listening?

I love my sister so much. You know they say, "you don't get to choose the family you are born into". Well....that may be true, but if I DID get to pick out the perfect older sister to "look up" to...

I would have still chosen her. :)

Happy 30th Birthday, Gracie! {again!}