Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Let's talk food...

I'm thrilled to be able to talk (let alone think) about food again without getting sick. I have finally gotten into a groove again with dinners, but I have been wanting to do more baking than anything, which has kept my family very happy :)

I have a load of recipes to share that have been on our favorite list lately. Here goes:

Vegetarian: I am beginning to think we breed vegetarian babies. This pregnancy, what are the first things I want once I am feeling well enough to stomach normal food? Beans and lentils. Strange. And not only that, but after 4 vegetarian meals last week I watched miya scarfing down all variety of beans and lentils...and learned that this child LOVES beans. She will turn her nose at beef and chicken, but give her beans and she will devour them. And hey it's cheap and good for you, so we'll roll with it.

Coconut Rice & Beans

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (I used unsweetened b/c I had it on hand)
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/4 cups uncooked basmati rice (I used brown basmati)
1 small onion, chopped
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed (I used dried beans that I soaked and cooked)
1 can black eyed beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 red pepper, chopped (optional)
1 lime
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Toppings: lime wedges, diced mango, sour cream, cilantro, green onion. (the mango I had wasn't ripe, so I just sliced up some peeled naval orange over top, it was delish)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted. Cool.
2. Bring broth, coconut milk, salt & pepper, 2 Tbsp. butter, and 1 cup water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan. Stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender and water is absorbed.

A few more:
Martha's Bean Burritos
Seriously the best bean burritos ever. They freeze amazingly, in fact we have a big batch in the freezer that we grab from for lunches and dinners, they reheat so well.

Black Bean Soup
LOVE this so much. It's super easy, and you can used dried beans too, but I usually end up using canned ones that I just rinse to get rid of extra sodium. Also I have found it's pertinent to use a fresh salsa for this (you know the kind you can find in the deli or at the refrigerated section at Trader Joes?) It turns out SO much better with fresh salsa. We serve it with sour cream and sometimes a dab of homemade guacamole on top. Actually having leftovers of this today for lunch. It's yummy with quesadillas to dip or tortilla chips.

Coconut red lentil soup
Got this one from my SIL and it was so yummy, and make great leftovers too.

Ok we do have some meat dishes we like too :)

Just made this Beef Pepperoncini last night with some of the grassfed cow that has been hanging out in the freezer, it was really good and really easy. We served it on some warmed focaccia rolls with a little mayo and some melted muenster cheese.

And for sweet goodies, that have been rocking my pregnant world lately:

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Need I say more? I mean this was so good, the best banana bread I have ever had. VERY moist and the peanut butter flavor is soooo good. I used 3 ripe bananas and that seemed to be perfect. I didn't use the flax because I didn't have it on hand, and I didn't use the peanuts either for the same reason.

Coconut oil Choc. Chip Cookies
Ok so I changed the title (the blog calls them "Bye Bye Butter Cookies" and I love butter too much to ever say goodbye) but I didn't have any on hand so I thought I would give this a shot....and SERIOUSLY best cookies ever. I cooked them the least amount stated on the recipe and they stayed really really moist and chewy and fluffed up just like she described in the recipe. We loved them and devoured them in record timing. The only adaption I made was I used whole wheat pastry flour. They were truly the perfect cookie, I think I will go make some more right now......

And one that I would like to try soon:

Apple Coffee Cake in the crockpot
This just sounds good, and has so little sugar. I haven't tried any dessert baking in the crockpot but figure it's worth a try! I don't have the smaller slow cooker so I would probably try putting a bread pan in my larger slow cooker as she describes. Anybody tried this?

And that is what's on my mind lately :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Many are the plans...

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
(Proverbs 19:21 ESV)

This passage has been one that has both been encouraging and humbling in the past few months. There is something humbling about knowing we can plan and plan with the best of intentions, but ultimately God is sovereignly reigning over our lives and circumstances. I have had much proof of this lately.

First I have to refer you back to this post on waiting, specifically this portion:

I feel like we are currently in the "school" of waiting. Waiting for a new job for Lew, waiting to figure out where we are going to live...eventually :)...waiting to decide if we should buy or rent a home...waiting on more children...

I think we are always "waiting" for something. But certain seasons the waiting seems more daunting and wearisome. But in each season I am SO aware of how God's grace carries me through the waiting and how much I am learning in the process. It's so easy to be looking forward to the outcome...the thing we are waiting for. But really it's the process that bears the sweetest fruit.

To follow that let me give you a little time line from the last year to sum up the amazing ways we have seen God provide, in many ways God's provision came at a time that was a complete surprise to us, times when we weren't sure what He was doing, and when we "thought" we knew what direction we were heading in. Little did we know God was taking us in a completely different direction.

January 2010: After much prayer we move out of our apartment and in with my parents with the goal to pay off debt and possibly save for a home. Lew is also continuing to aggressively search for a new job at this time as his current one has no potential for professional growth.

Febuary 2010: God plants a seed in our hearts that I should possibly pursue going back to work in a hospital setting where the pay is better and where I can work nights to allow me to still be home with Miya during the days. This was a very VERY scary idea for me. It required a lot of faith and prayer for me to feel ready to move forward with this, mainly because I felt so out of the loop since having Miya and wasn't sure how I would juggle home life and work again. But after a chat with my sister in law Rachel who is also a nurse she encouraged me to "not fear or shrink back from hard things." In other words just because things are hard, doesn't mean we are not called to face them. That was all I needed to hear, she was right and I moved forward by applying to the PICU at Shady Grove Hospital. After getting called in to meet with the nurse recruiter I was told the PICU had no positions, but that I could still chat with the nurse manager that day in case something opened up. After meeting with the nurse manager she offered me a job on the spot. And not just any job but the exact position I wanted, which would allow me to work just one 12 hour night shift a week. Clearly God's provision....

March 2010: Miya turned one year, and I start working in the PICU. It was a big adjustment, but after this first month I began to see what a blessing it was. I loved the nurses I was working with and God was pouring out much grace for the transition. Living with my parents was a huge blessing during this transition because we had lots of help and extra hands!

April-July We spent this time just working and aggressively paying off debt. Miya was able to thoroughly enjoy by parents big backyard and I was able to plant my first vegetable/herb garden. We also were able to enjoy a great summer trip to Indiana as well as a beach trip to OC with my family.

End of July 2010: Lew and I start talking about a timetable for trying for another baby. We both knew we didn't want a huge gap between our kids, and because we had no clarity yet on whether we would buy or rent, we decided to not prevent pregnancy and see what God did....

August: Lew is still aggressively pursuing work at this point, still no major leads. BUT we were able to pay off Lew's car at this point which was resulted in much rejoicing!

September-October: By the end of October not yet pregnant and feeling ready to begin to pursue options for where to live, we decided to get back in touch with our realtor and broker to see what would be a good option for us at this point. We also decided to hold off on trying for kids until we had more clarity about whether we would buy or rent.

November: we meet with our realtor and broker and are approved for a loan! We begin our search with the caution that it may be difficult to find something we really like right away in our price range and in less than 2 weeks (I kid you not) found a home and had an offer down. We had our home inspection and Lew and I were discussing if this was the home we really wanted to buy. There was more cosmetic work to be done than we had realized, but otherwise the home was in great shape.... we decided to take a night to pray on it and talk more about it. That night we talk and really have faith for it. The next morning I awoke with a jolt and for some reason had this inkling of suspicion that I might be pregnant. Call it a woman's intuition :) Well a pregnancy test immediately confirmed that suspicion. I cried as I told Lew not because I was sad, but just shocked! But we had a BIG decision to make. Do we move forward with this home? Some of you may remember that I got pregnant with Miya when we were pursuing buying a home last time (almost 3 years ago) so there is something about home buying that brings babies for our family! Either way we decided we had faith to move forward and confirmed our offer on the home. 4 days later I began to miscarry. There was a lot of confusion in my heart as I battled with trying to understand what God was doing...but there was also peace. I just knew God was in control and had a lot of faith as we moved forward with buying our home.

December 2010:
We excitedly settle on our house December 7th. All went without a hitch and we were very excited to move in. I had begun to feel extremely exhausted but just chalked it up to packing and working etc... I mentioned to Lew how tired I was and jokingly mentioned the possibility of being pregnant again. He laughed and responded: " what are the chances of that!?" I decided to find out by taking a pregnancy test. And it appears the chances are good enough because the test came back positive...again! It was like deja vu. I couldn't believe it...neither of us could. And amazingly I had forgotten to cancel the doctors appointment that I had made the month earlier so I was able to go in early on to see how things were going...we got a good report and days later moved into our home. Around the same time Lew saw a job that he was very interested in on, but being so busy caring for a sick pregnant wife and chasing a wild toddler AND helping unpack and settle just didn't have time to apply. We spent our first Christmas in our new home.

January 2011: My sickness hit an ultimate high this month. This pregnancy has definitely been more difficult than my last but I think moving, caring for a busy toddler, and growing a baby is quite the load to carry :) This month Lew gets an email from a recruiter saying they saw his resume on and thought he was a perfect fit for the job. As soon as Lew looked at the job description he realized it was the exact job and company he had seen and wanted to apply for in January! God had brought the job to him. Lew interviewed and had a job offer almost a week later, he accepted.

It's been amazing to see how God provided for us. Granted in praying for all these major things we didn't expect God to give them to us in a short 2 month span, but I just can't help but laugh when I think about how easy it is for me to think I have every thing under control, all my plans laid out...then it's like the control is gone, the plans shaken...and boy am I glad. God's plans have always been better than ours, and I'm thankful he doesn't let us have it our way, or I wouldn't have this wonderful blessing growing in my belly.

I am just over 14 weeks and just coming out from under this sickness. Keeping food down and more thankful for health and energy than I ever have been. My due date is August 14th and if this little one cooperates we may find out the gender March 6th. Well there is my book... I never have been good at keeping things brief :)