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.
The spring has arrived with a bang, and I am loving the warmer weather. I know that living in Alabama I should not be whining about the cold since Southern winters are pretty mild, but I can’t stand the cold. After a week of winter, I’m usually ready to call it a wrap. One of my favorite things about the spring is the bountiful fruits and vegetables available. I had long since given up on finding mangoes that taste anything like what I knew growing up eating in Kenya, but I have been pleasantly surprised to find really sweet mangoes at my local publix store. This recipe is one of the many ways we are enjoying our weekly mango stash. My kids love guacamole, and this is a welcome alternative to our usual recipe. I wasn’t sure how the mango was going to taste mixed with tomato, and I almost left the tomatoes out. I’m glad I didn’t. It was the perfect balance of flavors.I changed very little from the original recipe, except for reducing the oil, taking the seeds out of the tomatoes before dicing them, and using extra lime juice. If you like things really spicy, leave the seeds in the jalapeno. I was going for a milder salsa since this was a dinner side that the kids would be eating. I served the salsa with grilled chicken, and dinner was delicious, and done in less than 30 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Allrecipes. Serves 6 as snack, or 4 as a dinner side.
1 mango – peeled, seeded and diced
1 avocado – peeled, pitted, and diced
4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice ( I used juice from two limes)
1/4 cup chopped red onion
3 tablespoons olive oil (I just used 1 tbsp)
In a medium bowl, combine the mango, avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, and garlic. Stir in the salt, lime juice, red onion, and olive oil. To blend the flavors, refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.
Devotion For The Day:
Today we are getting some very welcome rain. We have been covered in pollen the last couple of weeks, and the yellow dust has been EVERYWHERE. Little yellow streams are running down the driveway currently, and we are really glad to see the actual color on our cars (the yellow was quite unbecoming). The only downside today is that there is the possibility of tornadoes as I live in Alabama (read.. tornado central). My two year old absolutely hates thunder, and the sound of rain makes her very anxious as she anticipates the thunder that might follow. I was just watching her a few minutes ago, and for the 20th time this hour she peeked out the window and said “I scare-red Mommy”. It just occurred to me though, that as much as she is scared, she is perfectly fine as long as she sees Mommy or Daddy. Somehow she knows that she will be OK. The trust that she has in us overshadows her fears. Contrasting this with moments when she’s alone and the thunder cracks, it’s a different story all together. She screams her little heart out until we come to the “rescue”.
As I pondered over the situation, it hit me that the same child’s faith she has in us is the same faith that God calls me to have with Him. As long as she knows we are with her, she knows she will be OK. Psalms 34:4 “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears”. I think this verse sums up perfectly what I need to do when a scary situation comes my way. Seek the Lord, and trust Him. He shall deliver me from my fears.
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.
Yesterday was one of those days I was really floundering around trying to decide what to make for dinner. As I mentioned earlier, taking meat off our diet for 21 days has really thrown a kink in my meal ideas. I casually picked up a cook book I had borrowed from the library, and then…. IT HAPPENED! Dinner hit me right across my face, in form of a mouth watering picture. Now we really had a problem. It was only 3.30, but I was ready to have dinner! What was I going to do for the next two and a half hours? After I wiped the drool of my face and talked myself out of adjusting all my clocks a couple hours forward and making my family eat a REALLY early dinner, I settled down and twiddled my thumbs till 5 PM.
The cook book I had picked up from the library is one that I have been waiting on for over a month, and I am so excited to have my hands on it. It is the new cookbook: the Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman from the Smitten Kitchen blog. She has a fantastic blog, and I could not wait to see what the book had to offer. I quickly went to work putting sticky notes on all the must try recipes. Conclusion: Her book did not disappoint! I’m not big into buying cookbooks, especially ones that I can borrow from the library. I find that I usually will borrow a book, but can only find 2 or 3 recipes that are compelling enough for me to try. This one is totally different. I have at least 10 sticky notes. I am going to HAVE to buy this book. The pictures are beautiful, and the ingredients are easily accessible, and the combinations fun and exciting, yet unfussy. I highly recommend it.
Back to dinner. I’m really loving the idea of breakfast for dinner these days. I used to be all hard core against doing that, but truth be told, I love brunch. Now I can get away with having brunch food for dinner, which works great for my kids, who never met an egg they didn’t like. I tried to stay pretty true to Deb’s recipe, but I did make a couple substitutions based on what I had on hand. I used pickled jalapeno, which are much milder, since that was all I had. I also used colby-jack cheese instead of all jack. The last thing I did different was to mix my lime and sour cream with a smashed avocado, since I had one on hand that I wanted to use up. It all came together without a hitch, and dinner was delicious. We used 9 eggs, which was enough for dinner, and packed lunches. Please don’t let the break down of the cooking steps discourage you. Start to finish, it took me no more than 35 minutes.
Enjoy. I can’t wait to blog about some of the other recipes in the book.
3 cups (28 OZ can) whole Tomatoes- I used 2 14 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed and peeled
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
15 oz can ( or 1 3/4 cups) cooked black beans (optional)
Crispy Tortilla Strips:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 small (6-inch) corn tortillas
Salt, to taste
12 large eggs
1 1/4 cup shredded Jack cheese – I used a Colby-Jack mix
2 Tablespoons lime juice (from 1 lime)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Avocado (my addition. She used a 1 cup sour cream in original recipe)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons green onions
Make the ranchero sauce:
Preheat oven to 450 Degrees F. Taste your jalapeño for heat. Some are hotter than others. Based on that, determine what amount to put in your sauce.
Toss the jalapeno, tomatoes, onion, garlic, some salt and pepper in the blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a 12-inch oven proof skillet and add beans (if using them). Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, or until it has reduced slightly.
Make the tortilla strips:
While the sauce simmers. brush a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cut the tortillas into 1/2 inch wide strips, and arrange them on the oiled tray. Brush the tops of the strips with the other tablespoon of oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 3-6 minutes, or until they are brown and crisp, turning over once if needed. Remove the strips from oven.
Turn the oven dial to broil to preheat.
(Please don’t be like me.. I totally forgot about my strips, thus the charred deep brown).
Make the cream:
Mash up an avocado. Add half cup of sour cream, and the lime juice. Add salt to taste.
Once the sauce has thickened slightly, remove the pan from the heat, and break the eggs across the surface of the sauce. distributing them as evenly as possible. Return to the heat, cover the pan, and simmer eggs gently in the sauce for about 10-12 minutes, until the whites are nearly but not completely opaque (you will finish cooking them in the oven). Sprinkle the surface of the tomato-egg mixture with cheese, and broil until the cheese is bubbly and a bit blistered- just a few minutes.
Garnish with a dollop of the avocado-lime cream, broken-up pieces of tortilla strips, and cilantro (I threw in green onions too). Serve immediately.
Devotion For The Day:
Reading from Proverbs this morning made me think of this verse. 2nd Timothy 3:16 says “all scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness“. I can’t help but think of Proverbs as a book written by my loving coach to instruct me on how to live a free, fulfilling, purpose driven life. My Heavenly Father and Coach is trying to teach me how to avoid the common pit falls that lie waiting ahead of me. I think of it as a loving instruction letter, and boy is it packed with wisdom as practical today as it was the very day that it was penned. Thousands of years later, this advice is solid, having been tested by many before me. God’s word is alive, and active. I truly believe that.
Here was my Proverb for the Day. It was Proverbs 19. I would recommend that you read them all if you have time, but this were the ones that really stood out for me today.
Proverbs 19:23 A foolish child is a father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof.
Proverbs 19:19 A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue them, and you will have to do it again.
Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
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!