Lemon and Herb “Riced” Cauliflower

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Our eating habits have really been shaken up this year, in a good way. One of the biggest changes has been a huge reduction in our carb intake. Before you roll your eyes and glaze over on me, I am not going on a no carb diet. This is not sustainable long term for me, so we have been looking at changes that we can make towards healthy living long term. One of the things we are challenging ourselves to do is plan our eating better. Carbs earlier in the day, and more veggies and protein at night. Now… this sounded like a really good plan, until it came time to cook. I now realize how heavily I depended on my carb for my meals. Pasta, rice, potatoes and company is where I usually start, then plan my meat and veggies around it. This has been a hard habit to try and break!
One cool concept I came across when I started researching low carb meals is using cauliflower as a substitute for rice. It took me a few weeks to work up the excitement to try this, since I am not a big cauliflower lover. It’s a vegetable that tastes kinda bland to me, quite honestly. What I am learning it that this could actually work to my advantage! It can take on pretty much whatever flavors I want it to, The whole idea here is to blend the cauliflower down to where it is about the size of a rice grain, then cook it in the same fashion you would have cooked your rice (you can use a box grater if you don’t have a blender).I tried it a couple weeks ago microwaved for 7-8 minutes (add a few drops of water) and then added lime juice and cilantro, since that’s one of my favorite ways to make my rice. It was…ok…. but I wasn’t too thrilled (even though my hubby liked it). I decided to give it another attempt and try it as fried rice! I LOVED IT! I mean totally loved it. Enough that if you would have offered me rice in place of it, I would have turned it down willingly. This is a huge win for me. I am one of those people who do not eat to stay alive, it means a lot to me to actually enjoy my food.
I hope you give this recipe a try. If you do, please chime in and let me know what you think. The flavors can be changed up to whatever you like in your rice. I think next try for me will be attempting to make it into a Chinese fried “rice”.

Makes 4 servings.
Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh parsley (if dried, use 1 tablespoon)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

1. Break down your head of cauliflower into florets. In 2 batches, put in the processor or blender, and blend until it is the size of a rice grain.

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2. Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add your onion and garlic and fry for a 1-2 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning.
3. Add in the cauliflower and cook for 7-8 minutes, until the cauliflower starts to soften up. Add the lemon zest and juice, parsley, salt and crushed pepper, cook for another minute.
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Serve anywhere you would rice. I had mine with some steak tips and sauce, and it was fantastic.
Enjoy.
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Devotion for the day:
Yesterday I was reading from Romans 4, and it totally rocked my day.

Romans 4:3: What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Romans 4:18-25: 18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Here I was thinking… wow! Righteousness is attainable! I know this is probably not as much of a shock to some of you, but it was to me! I grew up in the church, and there were so many do-nots and a list a mile high of things that I was supposed to do as a christian. It was filled with legalism, so much so that in my mind, there is no way I could ever match  up to the standard. I always felt not christian enough. Then here comes the bible, telling me that it can be “credited to me as righteousness”. It’s hard for my mind to wrap my mind around, but I feel such a renewed hope. The beauty of it is that it is not based on how good I am, but the wonderful grace of God.

Chocolate covered Strawberries

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I have thought about this post for a few days now, and talked myself into, and then out of posting this recipe. After all… it’s a week after Valentine’s Day! Who wants to read about chocolate covered strawberries now? After much back and forth, I decided I had to post it, for a number of reasons. First, who said we can only have these delightful treasures on Valentine’s day. Secondly, how easy and inexpensive they are (it cost me $14 for the chocolate and a big pack of strawberries). That reason alone is good enough to make me post this. You see, I was at some store the other day, and casually walked by the chocolate covered strawberries, thinking how pretty they were, and how they needed to come home with me. This was before I looked at the price tag, and almost burst into a sprint in the opposite direction. $12 for 4 strawberries????? Seriously????? There was no way I could justify it. The third reason is that it’s a kid friendly recipe. It’s really hard to mess this up, so it’s perfect for little hands. My daughter had fun with this one.

My daughters woke up to a Valentine’s card and chocolate from their Daddy last Thursday, and my oldest wanted to do something special to thank Daddy. Since I am terrible with artsy stuff, a craft was WAY out of the question. The only option I really had was to cook something. I wanted to make something pretty that would not take us all afternoon, but could greatly involve her in the process. This was the perfect thing. She also wanted to share some treats with our sweet neighbors who have become her adopted grandparents. This way, we were able to kill two birds with one stone. Making these was a ton of fun for both of us. I could be a bit more relaxed since there weren’t a bunch of steps for her to follow (I am terrible when it comes to relinquishing control of my kitchen. I’m trying to learn….), and she had fun licking the chocolate bowl when we were done.

As far as the recipe goes, I will give you my instructions that are microwave directions. I had every intention of using a double boiler on the stovetop to melt my chocolate, until I realized my bowl would not fit on the saucepan that I had. The microwave was my last option, but proved to be so easy, I will do it this way every time from here on. I used semi-sweet chocolate and white chocolate, but any chocolate would do. Feel free to substitute milk or dark chocolate. I also think it would be fun to play around with different toppings next time, like shredded coconut or nuts. Just dip the strawberries in chocolate, then roll in the toppings before the chocolate dries. Have fun, and make them your own.

One more thing. I had big blocks of Styrofoam from an appliance we had just purchased, so I used that to hold the toothpicks until the chocolate dried. If you don’t have some handy, just line a pan with some parchment paper, or wax paper and lay them on it. They will be a little flat on one side when they dry, but just as good. You could also do this without the toothpicks, and just hold the strawberries by the stem. I just like the less messy method with the toothpick.

We had a pretty big packet of strawberries, so we were able to get a little over 30 covered berries. If you want to make less than that, be sure to adjust your chocolate accordingly. These make excellent packaged gifts.

Ingredients.

32 strawberries

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (optional)

6 ounces white chocolate

1. Stick a toothpick on the stem end of the strawberries. Make sure the strawberries are totally dry, or the chocolate will not adhere to them.

2.Put your semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave safe dish. Set the microwave to half power, and heat for a minute at a time, stirring after each time. You want the chocolate just melted (too much and it will seize up on you, and become un-usable). Mine took just over 2 minutes. Once it is melted, if you choose to, add in a tablespoon of vegetable oil (this makes it more glossy, and helps with the texture).

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3. Working quickly, hold the toothpick and dip into the chocolate about 3/4 way up the strawberry. Dip the berries, and then  twist them a little to get the excess chocolate off. Place on the styrofoam block, or parchment lined tray.

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4. Put the white chocolate in a Ziploc bag. Melt in the microwave 30 seconds at a time until just barely melted. Mine took 1 1/2 minutes. Cut a very small hole on one end and squeeze to decorate over the dark chocolate. The smaller the hole, the better. (You could also melt the chocolate in a bowl and use a fork to drizzle the white chocolate).

5. Set aside to dry. It takes about 30 minutes.

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Devotion For The Day:

It’s still February, the month of love! I think of all the cards and flowers, chocolate and other gifts that go out every February as we take the time to celebrate our loved ones. I have been reminded a lot in the last few days though, about the ultimate love. God’s love. The kind of love that chases after me with reckless abandon. The kind of love that I don’t have to earn,  and that never diminishes. Today I want to share one of my favorite verses, because it really helps me grasp how deep and unconditional God’s  love for us is.

Romans 5:8. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Banana Oatmeal pancakes(with Peanut Butter)

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It’s funny how things change with time. I have been a huge hater of oatmeal over the years, but now here I am posting my second oatmeal related recipe. I think it all comes down to the texture, for me. I have since come to accept that I like the nutty flavor of oats, and I definitely like the health benefits, yet even these reasons are not enough to make me commit to a bowl of mush every morning. My new challenge is now to figure out how to re-purpose this wonderful grain. My hubby started grinding uncooked oats into flour and adding it to his protein, banana and peanut butter shakes. (Not half bad, actually…), but there’s not a chance I’m committing to that. Yet again… it’s the texture. I will say though, that his smoothie inspired these pancakes. I wanted something wholesome and high protein, tasty and easy to make ahead for busy mornings. Three tries later, I finally tweaked the recipe to fit my liking. Not too sweet, and totally yummy! This is a breakfast that I can be happy to feed my kids, without compromising flavor or nutritional value. I was pleased at how well they reheated in the microwave days later. My next project is to test whether I can flash freeze them and zip lock them for later. Maybe reheat in the toaster? I will update if this works out.

Yields 12 4-inch pancakes (4 servings)
Ingredients:
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
2 bananas
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted butter (or cooking spray)

1. Put the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a blender bowl. Blend until the oats are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

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2. Now add the bananas, peanut butter, egg, milk and honey to the blender bowl. Blend until smooth, scraping off the sides (the peanut butter has a tendency to stick the sides). Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Some lumps are OK. (Over mixing leads to dense, chewy pancakes).

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3. Heat a griddle or non-stick pan. Brush lightly with butter (or use cooking spray). Spoon your batter leaving about 2 inches between pancakes.  I use a 1/4 cup measure. Cook on medium-low for about 3-4 minutes, when the bubbles start to form on top, and the edges are dry. Flip the pancakes and cook for another 4 minutes.
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Serve with some sliced bananas and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Enjoy.
Note: I like to warm my oven to 200 degrees F to keep the pancakes warm as I cook off the whole batch.  I also doubled the batch the last time I made them to reheat for a quick breakfast during the week. My husband loved them!
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Devotion for the Day:

Today I’m reading from proverbs 22. There are 29 verses that cover a bunch of topics, from parenting, to laziness, friends we should avoid and warnings against exploiting the poor. Today though, I’m going to highlight the passages regarding finances. I am no financial guru by any means, but I will direct you to one. His name is Solomon. I think if there had been TV back in the day, every station would be dying to interview him. It’s not every day you meet a man who’s yearly income not counting revenues from outside merchants and traders amounted to 25 TONS of gold. And this was well over 2,000 years ago! No doubt his wealth was legendary, but he was also the wisest man alive, since he had pleased God by asking for wisdom instead of material things. This is a man whose words command my full attention. And what does this extremely wise and wealthy king have to say to me regarding wealth and good stewardship?

Proverbs 22:1-2

A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord is the Maker of them all.

Proverbs 22:4

Humility is the fear of the Lord;
its wages are riches and honor and life.

Proverbs 22:7

The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Proverbs 22:26-27

26 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge
or puts up security for debts;
27 if you lack the means to pay,
your very bed will be snatched from under you.