Happy Thanksgiving! As one who didn’t grow up in the States celebrating thanksgiving, it is now one of my favorite holidays. I enjoy it so much more now that I have kids, and we are trying to build our family traditions and identity. It has been a ton of fun for me as I am learning how to make traditional thanksgiving meals from scratch, and putting my own little spin on a few of the dishes. One of the easiest places to start has been the cranberry sauce. We did the canned sauce for a couple years, and poor us…. we didn’t know any better 🙂 Last year, I ventured out and made the sauce at home, and it was so easy and delicious that I can never present a can to the clan again.
The best part is you can easily make it a day ahead, let it cool down and then refrigerate. That makes one less thing to worry about on turkey day! Happy thanksgiving from my family to yours. May we remember to take time to reflect on the blessings that God has bestowed on us!
1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
Zest of one orange
1 cup fresh orange juice (about 6 oranges)
1 cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon, or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and stirring occasionally, cook until the skin on the cranberries starts to pop. This takes about 8-10 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use.
The sauce can be made a day or two in advance.
Devotion For The Day:
As we count our blessings during this thanksgiving season, here are a few verses to reflect on.
Psalms 106: 1 Praise the Lord! Thank the Lord because he is good. His love endures forever.
Isaiah 12:4 At this time you will say “praise the Lord and worship him. Tell everyone what he has done and how great he is.
It’s the summer! A few months ago, I thought summer would never arrive. It was the winter that outlasted it’s welcome. I plan on enjoying the next few weeks outdoors with the kids, before it becomes smoldering.. cook an egg on the concrete hot. As a foodie, summer is my time! I love the abundant options when it comes to fruit and veggies. This salad is one of those recipes that screams summer time. A friend of mine brought this salad to my house a couple months ago, and it has become my go-to pot luck side item. I was really intrigued by it, to be honest because I had politely served a sparing portion preparing myself not to like it, and ended up LOVING it and returning for a generous second helping. I have made this salad for the last four weeks straight, so I believe it has earned itself a spot on the blog.
If you plan on making this, please allow a few hours for the flavors to soak into the veggies. The longer they sit, the better they taste. I have gotten into the habit of making it the day before I need it, and the flavors are fantastic the next day. It is a pretty forgiving recipe, in case you forget to buy an ingredient as I did this time. I like to include olives or pickled peppers, but they somehow escaped from my shopping cart this weekend. I took this to a memorial day BBQ , and it was a huge hit.
3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard (grey poupon is the best I’ve tried)
1 clove garlic minced
1 tablespoon sugar
11/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 medium head cauliflower (about 3 cups)
2 cups cherry tomatoes
3 medium zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
3 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, dijon mustard, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, onion and feta. Pour the dressing over the veggies and toss together to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple hours, or up to a day, stirring occasionally. The longer it sits, the better the flavors are.
Devotion for the day:
1 I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.[b]
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
I love verse 8-9. It paints such a beautiful picture of the nature of God. Filled with grace and compassion over us as His precious children.
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.
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.
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.
Serve anywhere you would rice. I had mine with some steak tips and sauce, and it was fantastic.
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.
Last week was Thanksgiving, which means it’s officially the holiday season. I have mixed feelings about this, and a few rants come to mind. I will share a few, just so you can see what’s running through my crazy mind. There’s the “are we really playing Christmas music in November” one, and the “I will be spending half my life in traffic since I live by the mall” one. I will discuss those at a later time….or not 🙂 For now, I will focus on the issue at hand. Christmas is a month away, and I have decided that despite the fact that it is the time for parties and all things food… I would like to be a few pounds lighter for Christmas. That being said, sensible meals are now gracing our table. The good news is, healthy does not have to be bland. I was looking for a way to make use of some lentils that have been sitting in my pantry for a few months now. I was trying to think up a tasty meatless meal that would win over my meat loving family. (Last week, we had a big HONKING ham that we re-purposed for days, and we are definitely in need of some meatless meals to compensate). This recipe kind of evolved as I was cooking, so I apologize for the lack of step by step pictures. I had not planned on using the coconut milk, but when I got to the end and tasted it, it was OK… but something was missing. I found a can of Coconut milk in the pantry and figured it couldn’t hurt. JACKPOT! It totally transformed it. That and the cilantro at the end are key.
Just a few thoughts before we begin. First, I added about a 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper. I could have done with more since my kids are OK with spice. It wasn’t overly spicy, so if you like spicier food, add more. You could also leave it out all together. The other thing to mention is that I used chicken broth. To make it truly vegetarian, you could use vegetable broth. If you have no broth, just dissolve some bouillon cubes in water. The last thing is the cooking time for the lentils. I cooked mine for an hour after adding them into the pot, and stirred them every few minutes since I wanted them to have some bite to them, not totally mushy. I started with 4 cups of broth and in the last 15 minutes added about another 1/2 cup as needed. I didn’t want to have too much liquid in them.
Let’s get started on these lentils. They are tasty and comforting, and perfect for a cold day. They definitely will not be winning any “best looking dish” award, but trust me… the flavor by far makes up for that. It’s a big plus that they are high on the nutrition scale. I served mine with some homemade wheat chapatis (an Indian flat bread), but rice would go really well with this dish too. Here we go!
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
2 Stalks Celery, diced
2 large Carrots, diced
1 Green Pepper, diced
2 Large Tomatoes, diced
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Ginger root, grated
3 tsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
11/2 tsp Salt
1 Pound Green Lentils, washed and rinsed (about 2 Cups)
5 Cups Chicken Broth (plus more if needed)
1 Bay Leaf
1 (13.5 oz) Can Coconut Milk (about 11/2 cups) You can use Fat Free
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
1. In a pot over medium high heat, heat the olive oil and add the onion, celery, carrots and green peppers. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until veggies start to soften up. Add in the tomatoes and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute stirring constantly. Add in the curry powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt. Stir and cook for about 3 minutes to allow the spices to start to smell nice and fragrant.
2. Now add in the lentils, broth and the bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
3.At the very end, once the lentils are to the desired softness (add more broth if needed during the cooking process), add in the coconut milk and the cilantro, and cook for a minute. Taste for salt. Depending on the salt content in your broth, you may need more salt. Discard the bay leaf.
Serve with Chapatis (or naan), rice or a toasty slice of bread. Enjoy!
Devotion For The Day:
My devotion reading today was from John 11, on the death of Lazarus. It is a story we have all heard before, so I will just highlight the parts of the story that really jumped out at me today. I remember in Sunday School having memory verse competitions, and one of the top 5 quoted verses was always John 11: 35, Jesus wept. I knew the verse, but I could not have told you the context of the verse. I had no idea why he wept. Well… Jesus was a good friend of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus received word that Lazarus was gravely ill, but he did not go to see him then, he waited a two days before he returned to Judea. By this point, he already knew that Lazarus was dead.
First Martha, then Mary run to meet Jesus before he reached the village. They both had the same thing to say to Jesus. Verse 21 and 32: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”. Jesus response to the grieving family and friends is what was most striking to me today. Verse 33-35: When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord”, they replied. Jesus wept. We know the rest of the story.. Jesus went to the tomb, asked Lazarus to rise up, and he raised from the dead. He had been dead 4 days.
What struck me the most was thinking about WHY Jesus wept. The sisters and the crowd were weeping because of the sadness that they felt because they had lost a beloved brother or friend. Even though Jesus loved Lazarus, he already knew that he was going to raise him from the dead. It was why he waited to come until Lazarus was already dead and buried (read Verse 4). He knew that he would raise him from the dead so that the people seeing would believe in him, and so that it would glorify God. The reason he wept was one that I had not understood. Simply, it was COMPASSION. He saw the deep sadness of the people, and he was moved. Jesus, who was all knowing and knew how this would end was still moved by the suffering of his friends, to the point that he wept.
It really encourages me today, and I hope it encourages you. The same Jesus who wept for his friends more than 2,000 years ago is still the same Jesus I know and love today.I’m humbled and encouraged to know that when I approach God’s Throne in my weakness, Jesus my intercessor is filled with compassion. He sees our deepest feelings, and he understands them. How amazing is that!