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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We Made It!!

I had no doubts, but we made it! And no one fainted from a lack of food at lunch! I really don't think anyone really missed it either. Except perhaps, Faith, who watched the clock all afternoon, reminding me how many hours until dinner :) Our One meal for One Child was a piece of cake. Not cake, since we were not eating. Perhaps that was not the best metaphor. Anyway, it was easy.

I promised the kids a big breakfast, and an early delicious dinner. And I don't think they were disappointed. For breakfast we had scrambled eggs with green onions, shallots, and cheese with gluten-free chocolate chip pancakes. I was a bit worried about the pancakes, wondering if everyone would like them, since they were gluten-free, but they were amazing, and the kids didn't even use syrup. They were that good. I wish I had taken photos, but you will just have to take my word for it. They were amazing. I adapted a recipe that I found in a great cookbook, so the recipe that follows at the end of this post is an original!
For dinner, with the help of my great kids, we made Arroz Con Pollo (chicken with yellow rice). It was absolutely amazing. I think it was the best I ever had. I know it was the best I ever made. I used brown rice, so it was healthier that using white rice. I also used carrots, so it had hopefully had a little more vitamins, too. Here's how we did it:

We used a whole organic chicken, 2 Tbsp olive oil,  1 1/2 cups brown rice, a can of organic diced tomatoes, 2 carrots, one onion, 6 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 3-4 saffron threads, 3 Cups hot water and 1 Tbsp  organic chicken flavor Better than Boullion and some chopped cilantro.

First, I cut up the chicken. I my oldest son was grossed out when I was cutting it up, and so I didn't figure you all would want to see that! Then I browned the outside of the chicken it the olive oil in my wonderful
All-Clad high sided saute pan I got at HomeGoods for way cheap. Then I removed the chicken from the pan, and added the onion, rough chopped garlic, and rice. We sauteed them for a few minutes, then added the tomatoes, after draining off a little of the juice.

Next we added the water, saffron, cumin, paprika and Broth.

Now the carrots and cilantro.

Then we added the chicken back to the pan, covered, and turned the heat down to simmer and waited while the house smelled so delicious for 40 minutes. 
At the end of the time, I took off the lid and turned up the heat a little so the last of the juiciness could evaporate and the rice could fluff up. That took about 5 to 10 minutes.

It was the best meal we've had in a long time.

I served it with black beans, homemade salsa, and a salad. It was worth skipping a meal for!
Here's the recipe:

Arroz Con Pollo

1 Chicken, cut up
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, cut into chunks
6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 carrots, sliced
1 can chopped tomatoes, slightly drained
1 1/2 cup brown rice
1 Tbsp chicken flavor Better than Boullion
3 Cups hot water

Brown the chicken in the olive oil over medium heat in a high side saute pan, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken, lower heat and add onions and garlic. Saute for a few minutes, then add rice. Saute for a few minutes more, then add the rest of the ingredients except chicken and bring to a boil. Lower heat and put the chicken back on the top. Nestle it snuggly in the pan, and put the lid on. Simmer for 40 minutes, checking periodically so it does not burn on the bottom. After 40 minutes, check rice and liquid level. If it seems too juicy, leave the lid off and simmer for a few more minutes until liquid is absorbed. Serve immediately, and ENJOY!!
And here is the pancake recipe:
Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Pancakes

2 eggs
3/4 cups oat flour (rolled oats that I ground up in the Vitamix)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup olive oil (I think you could butter or a different oil if you would like)
1 Tbsp PLUS 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp honey
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 cup vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips (you could use regular choc. chips, or chop them up a bit)

Mix the dry ingredients except the choc. chips, and then add all the wet ingredients and mix well. Add chocolate chips. Heat a buttered or oiled griddle or, in my case, cast iron skillet, until a drop of water 'dances' on the surface. Drop by big spoonfuls or ice creme scooper onto hot griddle. Cook over medium heat until browned on one side, then flip and cook on that side until done. Makes about 10 delicious 4" pancakes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One Meal for One Child

This past Sunday, our Pastor challenged us with a sermon based on Luke 12:32-34, calling it simply, "I'm Rich!" It was a message that was nothing new, but somehow, God used very familiar scripture to illuminate my sin once again. We live in the richest nation the world has ever known. Yet we hoard our resources like no one else. Why? For me, it is because I am selfish and in love with stuff...this world stuff. I use stuff to placate my loneliness, pain and feeling sorry for myself. So I buy myself something and justify that I 'need' it for something, or that since it is on sale, or inexpensive that it is somehow ok for me to have it. Or that I am going to use it for someone else. But God has been teaching me that it is not ok, and that I do not need more stuff. In fact, if I buy something I don't need, someone else who does need it may not be able to get one. And that when I do need something, he will provide it. I do understand that our Father gives good gifts to his children, but I am learning that good gifts are not what I suppose they are. Good gifts are sometimes physical gifts, but the ones I really want are the ones like he really wants to give: Spiritual gifts that I cannot be ready to recieve until I am empty of my self and my desires for anything other than Him.

All that to say, that our Pastor without knowing it, spoke straight from the Heart of God to my heart Sunday. Basically, he said, in a nutshell to offer all you are and all you have, giving as you have been blessed. I loved the way he explained the verse that says, "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." He said that  your heart will follow your treasure, not the other way around. So we need to store up our treasures in heaven because that is where our heart is.

At the end of the message, he quoted something from "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. It was something that had hit me square in the heart when I read Crazy Love last month. He said that people are always saying that if God is such a loving God, why doesn't he do something about the hunger in the world? Then he said that God is probably weeping and looking down saying, "yeah! why don't you do something? You have the world's riches at your disposal. Why don't you do something?"

As we were driving home, I asked the Fam: "what are some practical things we can do to 'do something?'" What can our little family (which isn't so little) do when there are so many needs? Then God struck us with an idea: One meal for One child. We could sacrifice one meal a week to support a hungry child through the One Child program at our church. (want to know about One Child? click Here.)  So we are going to skip lunch on Wednesday and give that money to feed and clothe 'one of the least of these'. I got to thinking about this and realized that we eat about 90 meals a month. Most of the world eats less than 30. And our meals are not cheap. We eat good, healthy, mostly organic food. I figure we spend on average, for the 6 of us who all eat like adults, (not including breakfast, which is a cheap meal at about $10.00 unless we eat out, then all bets are off) about $30.00 a meal, especially when we eat out. And we eat out alot. Now for most people, that is a huge amount of money, I know. But that is not the point. The point is what we can do. We decided that our Wednesday lunch could support One Child at $30.00. Thats 4 children that we can support per month! or we could sponsor a national pastor for $100 and still have enough by adding only $10 to support one child.
Then I was thinking: What if everyone embraces this concept? What if every Christ follower in every church would give up one meal a week to support hungry people around the world? We could really do something about hunger. I know some people have medical issues, and other reasons they cannot go without a meal. Some people don't have enough themselves. I am not talking about them. I am talking about people like me, who have more than enough being willing to sacrifice one meal for the One who sacrificed it all for us? Because like he said, "if you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto Me."

The kids were worried about being hungry, but I assured you that we will eat a late breakfast, then have an early dinner, and no snacks in between. I let them know that a little hunger wouldn't kill them and that it was good to know what other children must feel all the time. And that the little hunger pains would be nothing compared to what Jesus suffered for us.

Tomorrow will be our first Family Fast.  One meal for One Child. Could you do the same? Or maybe One Fivebucks for One Child. Or maybe you, like me might not need that new gizmo or book or whatever. Will you join us? What will you sacrifice? How will you make a difference? There are lots of great organizations that would be worthy of your contributions. and World Vision are two of my favorites. Whatever God leads you to do, do it with joy, as unto Him!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Back to Daily Life

Well, today is Monday and that means Laundry Day. I always do my laundry on Monday, and my goal is to get the entire lot of it done and put away. HA! That never happens. Usually it is Tuesday or Wednesday before it makes it to the closets and drawers, if it makes it at all. I always have high hopes of getting some craft time, but unfortunately it never seems to happen the way I'd hoped. Tonight was no exception, but since I haven't posted some of the fun things Faith and I have done recently, I thought I would share some goodies we loved doing.

So today, I am sharing our first attempt at Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.
We have recently discovered that Faith and I are both gluten intolerant. So that has sent me on a search for delicious gluten free recipes. This one for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies was a home run with everyone, including my non-gluten free family. That says alot!

For our ingredients, we used old fashioned rolled oats. We ran some in the Vitamix, and ground it into flour using the Dry container. I love my viatmix!!
(Don't have one? check out for my friend Lea Ann's website to get yours!!)
We also used Xanthan Gum, which gives the dough stickyness, like gluten would. Then Yoghurt, butter, baking soda, vanilla, sucanat(which is dehydrated sugar cane), baking powder, salt, grain sweetened mini chocolate chips, and raisins, since we like them in our oatmeal cookies. You could add nuts, but we didn't this time. I think I will try it next time, though.
First, you creme the butter and sugar, then add the other ingredients. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips and raisins.

Then, drop them in blobs (technical term here) on your silpat or parchment paper.

I used a medium sized cookie scoop to make uniform cookies. I have to make uniform sized cookies, or else somebody gets upset 'cause they got the little one, and somebody else got a bigger one.

So here are the uniform cookies. The dough was delicious. Would have liked to put some in a little ice creme. But then I decided it would be better to bake them and put ice creme in between and make a sandwich.

Heres the happy first plate. Yummy!

They disappeared way too fast. Next time I will make a double batch! And next time will be really soon!

Notice the Peets Coffee mug? Got that on the last California trip. So sad that all we have her is Fivebucks.

Those beautiful little fingers are dipping in a mug of milk, not coffee. Yes, you can use a Peets mug for milk. Especially when Peets coffee is not available.

Yum Yum. The beautiful face that goes with the fingers.
The cookies disappeared way faster than the time it took to make them!

Heres the actual recipe:
1/4 lb. (1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter
1/2 cup sucanat or firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. plain yoghurt
1 cup oat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup+ :) chocolate chips (more, more, more!)
1/2 cup raisins (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350 degreees.
Creme butter and sugar together, then add eggs and mix until lighter and thicker. Add all other ingredients except the chips and raisins. Beat until thick and creamy. Stir in chips and raisins, and drop onto the cookie sheet. Baie for 8 to 9 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two, then remove to a rack and let cool completely. Makes about 30 yummy cookies.

The Girl Creative

Keeping It Simple

Friday, June 24, 2011


Well, my honey and I just returned from a 3 night getaway celebrating our 29th anniversary. It was so much fun, and so relaxing to just do nothing for a few days.
  We escaped to Miami, actually to the Mayfair Hotel in Coconut Grove. Most of our time was spent wandering around the streets of the Grove, shopping in the quirky little shops and eating. I think we went from one meal to thinking about the next. There are so many great restaurants in Miami that we did not even scratch the surface (or the flat-top). But undaunted by that fact, we gave it a valliant effort. We checked out Urban Spoon's recomendations, and off we went. I won't bore you with all the delicious tidbits, but here are the best meals we had:
For Breakfast: The Grove Spot
We both chose the Kiwi Sampler. It came with 1 Egg, (we chose to have it poached light), homefries, which were flecked with BOTH bacon AND prociutto, as well as sauteed onion and tomato, toast, and an authentic English banger (sausage). All for only $7. I also had the yoghurt and fresh fruit which was a massive bowl that I think I could have gone for a swim in. The yoghurt was a little thin, but tasty just the same. And, how sad for us that, according to the waiter the chef felt like giving us 2 poached eggs instead of one! Lucky us! (I can imagine why two eggs, since you are going to the trouble to boil the water, add the vinegar and mess with poaching, might as well do 4 instead of just 2. Why bother with all that fuss for just two eggs?)

For Lunch: Gardeners Market
What a great little market! Fresh bread, cheese, wine, deli, and a huge salad bar. 4 different kinds of soup. (The carrot bisque was divine!) I had a hard time choosing, but my hubby knew exactly what to order. I eventually decided on the salad bar, fruit and the soup. Don got the Capri sub, on a whole wheat baguette. It had pesto, prociutto, buffalo mozzarella, and thick heirloom tomatoes. Delicious!

For Dinner: It was a toss up between Two Chefs and Georges in the Grove
The reason it was a toss up was because Georges had better appetizers and their dessert was just as good as Two Chefs, but the Meatloaf at Two Chefs won over the lamb shank at Georges. We had Roasted beet with goat cheese at both places, and Georges was better. More beets, better roasting, and better dressing, which gave the whole dish another layer of flavor of buttery deliciousness.  Two Chefs crusted and deep-fried the goat cheese, which was totally unnecessary, and a bit disgusting. Made it taste greasy and flat.
We also had the Buffalo Caprese salad at Georges, and other than a couple of the tomato wedges being a little mealy, it was fantastic.
For our entree at Georges, we chose the 3 hour braised lamb shank with white beans. It was seasoned with Garam Masala, which gave it a gingery clove flavor. A little sweetness, but good. It was served with white beans, which for me did nothing to add to or take away from the shank. They were just there. I think a risotto might have been nice instead, but what flavor? Maybe thats why they chose the beans. At Two Chefs I had the Coc au Vin, which was good, but not great. It was served with Potato Croquettes, and they were yummy, but I could only eat one, since they were deep fried and I was saving my fat quota for the dessert.
Don had the Meatloaf served with Horseradish mashed potatoes and prociutto wrapped roasted asparagus. And I thought I should save my fat quota! His was the winning meal of all, because the meatloaf and potatoes were the most delicious things we ate the whole week. Besides dessert, of course. The meatloaf was extrordinary, and I am going to crave that for the rest of my life. I hope they serve that in heaven. And I hope I have 2 tummys. It was that good.
Dessert was equally as good at both restaurants. Two chefs: chocolate souffle, with creme anglais AND chocolate ganache. Don told me that he didn't think you were supposed to eat the creme and the chocolate ganache with a spoon. How else were you supposed to eat it? Perhaps you were suppose to turn it up and drink it? I could have, you know. But I settled for the spoon. I tried to spoon it over my souffle, but the spoon had a mind of its own and kept diverting itself directly into my mouth. Eventually I had to put the spoon down....I had reached my fat quota for the decade. I did decide right then and there that I was going to have to teach Faith how to make the perfect souffle. After I learn how to make them. I cant wait to get started. My fat quota will be getting a workout. So will my muscles, since I dont want to wear the quota around my waist!
Georges had a great Creme Brulee. Little tiny portion, too....NOT! It was served in one of those side dish containers that was twice, maybe three times the size of a ramekin that it is usually served in.That lent itself to hold Lots of nicely browned sugar on top. It was enough for 4 people. Which was nice, since we ate with Dons brother and his wife who live down south. Which made the meal even more delightful.

But now we are back to reality, and I have lots of posts of projects to put up in the next few days. Hopefully I will get to it soon. In the mean time, stop drooling and go visit one of these fine places. Or find your own and let me know about it! Enable my food addiction!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yummy Meatballs!

I am always amazed how fast the day goes by. Where does the time go?? I have such grand ideas every day, and every day I run out of time before run out of "to do's". Today, I had grand ideas of crafting, sewing and cooking a wonderful meal. But, as usual, life got in the way. The meal I planned was a slow cooked meal, and as the afternoon dwindled away, I knew that was not going to happ

en. So, plan B was what worked, and it was delicious, I must say. Faith was my lovely assistant, and if you do not have one of those, (a lovely assistant) you really should get yourself one. They are wonderful to have, and I think everyone should have at least two. I myself have 5. That way, if one is busy, there is always someone to help me out.
But I digress. I want to share our Lebanese Meatballs. I got the recipe from the Whole Paycheck's (otherwise known as Whole Foods). I love that store! But I usally spend way more there than anywhere else. But I do use their coupons, so I save money, too. Last time I shopped there, to buy the meat for this meal, I saved $37 by printing coupons off their website. I felt like one of those 'extreme couponers'! I won't mention that I spent $400.00! But I digress again.
Back to the Meatballs. They were supposed to be Kababs, but I could only find one of our skewers, and it was starting to rain, so the grill was out of the question, so I pan fried them in my wonderful cast iron skillets. Which is something else everyone should have. I don't know what I did before I got them last summer from my sister. But I digress yet again. I do that alot.
Anyhoo, here's what we did:
Lebanese Meatballs
(I did not think they were very lebanese tasting, but they were good!)
You will need: Ground Beef (I used grass fed, but any kind will do), an onion, parsley, allspice, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper and olive oil.

First, we grated the onion into the ground beef. I used 2 lbs of meat and 1 med. onion.

Then, we added 4 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley,  1 tsp. allspice and cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 3/4 tsp. salt, and about 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper.

The you do the fun part: mixing it all together. We started with the spatula on the left, but quickly realized that the hands would be far more fun. And we had to make meatballs by hand anyway, so we dove in. As we were mushing it all together, Faith said, "we should put some cheese in the middle". I had some feta, so I cut it into cubes and wrapped the meat around it. They were especially delicious! Great idea!

Then I sauteed them in olive oil. I know, you are not supposed to overheat olive oil, but I just can't help myself. I love the flavor, and really can't substitute anything for that wonderful flavor.  (note the beautiful 6 burner gas stove. I got it when we remodeled the kitchen last year. The top is gas, the oven is electric. I love it!)
Here's the final product. The ones on the left are the ones with the feta. The others are plain. Everyone agreed the feta ones were the best. Next time I will make them all with the cheese. We served them with a salad and sugar snap peas.  Delicious!! 
Even though my craft and sewing projects still sit undone, I got to spend some fun time in the kitchen with my little Faith, and make a delicious meal for my family. And I feel blessed!
 To get the full recipe, here's the link:
Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Beginnings

Today is the beginning of a new Era. I am changing this blog for the better, to include the antics and capers of homeschooling with my darling 10 year old daughter, Faith. I decided to do this for several reasons: My boys have started CollegePlus, a study-at-home-for-the-CLEP-test-and-earn-college-credit program so they don't need as much attention from me. Also, Faith is so into the same messes that I am into, that I thought it would be amazing to teach her writing and journaling through this. Additionally, I am at the age that I forget the little joys, so I wanted to chronicle and share them. This is going to be an educational experience for me as well, since my computer knowledge consists of turning it on and asking my kids how to do something. However I am determined to learn how to attach pictures and do links, and really make this something to smile about. According to the study skills course that my boys are taking for the CollegePlus, I need to learn some new skills and challenge my 50 year old brain so it will make new nuro-connectors and help my memory. Yeah, right. I'm afraid I will just end up frustrated, but since I have someone counting on me, and my hope is not in my ability but in His, I persevere!
It is a great creative outlet, and I am sure that the joy of sharing the gifts God has given will be worth it. Hope you like it!