Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Night Foodie: Thanksgiving Style

This was my first Thanksgiving to go gluten free and at first I was a little disappointed.  Surely this meant no pie, no dressing, two of my favorite things!  But as I have discovered lately, there are so many ways around gluten that it is glorious!  Awareness is a beautiful thing.  So this year, I got a little creative.

First up, plantain dressing:
Plantain Bread - 1 plantain, two eggs, 1 tbs of oil.  Blend until smooth.  350 for 15-18 minutes.  Delicious.

Cut into cubes and toast.
Saute onions and celery. 
Mix together with chicken broth and season with poultry seasoning, thyme, and rosemary in a crockpot and simmer on low for an hour.  Then, pop back in the oven on 350 for half an hour and eat warm.  Survey says?  Delicious!  I should not have halved the recipe I don't think, but it was still delicious and I definitely plan on making the bread just to eat on a daily basis.  So stinkin' easy and yummy!

Next up, brown rice apple pie:

2 1/2 cups brown rice flour/1 stick of butter (chilled in the freezer for half an hour)/tsp salt/tsp sugar/6-8 tbs of ice cold water.  

8 cups of chopped apples/1tbs cinnamon/1tbs nutmeg/pinch of salt/more brown rice flour...

Attempt lattice…one day you will perfect this!  400 for 40 minutes with aluminum foil, then fifteen more uncovered.  Serve hot!
My sweet friend Sharon Peterson picked up some gluten free pie crusts for me a few weeks ago and I had fully intended on using those.  Tuesday morning I remembered everything…but the pie crusts :(  Still, this was good practice in pie making and as I fully intend on becoming an expert pie maker (complete with fifties style dress and pearls) this was good practice.

Survey says: delicious!  I was scared the dough would end up very dry and crumbly but it was so stink in' good!  This is a recipe I will stick with.

And now, for pictures of fellowship!  How thankful I am to be part of the body of Christ.

Alison making cranberry deliciousness!  Looking amazing even after being up all night with a coughing baby.

Momma pealing po-ta-toes.

Me, making the second pie for everybody else.  This one had lard and regular flour.

Thomas and Jimmy.  My movie buddy is back!  For a while :(

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Night Foodie: Plantain Chips

Aside from my new obsession with spaghetti squash, I've also renewed my love for plantain chips.  In Peru, you could buy bags of thinly sliced plantain chips for one sol (about a third of a dollar), and fried plantains are a common ingredient in all jungle food.  My first experience with jungle food was in the market in the jungle my second week in the country.  We went nearly every morning for breakfast and coffee (amazing coffee!)  At first, the only thing I would try were the bananas with either fresh cheese or mani (natural peanut butter), they seemed the safest and least likely to make me sick (I'd heard horror stories about parasites and was pretty nervous upon arrival), and so when the others told me to try a Peruvian dish called tacacho I swore I never would.  Tacacho is fried plantains that have been ground with pig fat and bacon and served with lime soaked purple onions, ahi (a super spicy and delicious spice), and mayonnaise (sounds odd, but Peru knows how to do mayo like nobody else).
It took some convincing, but eventually I caved.  The dish is delicious, if not a little odd, and I was so glad my friends made me do it.  In the future, I plan to try this recipe from the Peruvian cook book I brought back, but this week I kept it simple with plantain chips.

These are fairly easy to cook and the hardest part is actually getting them out of their skins.  My suggestion is to get them somewhat yellow, too green and they'll basically require you to skin them with a knife.  Either way, plantains are much harder than regular bananas and you will need a knife to get them open.  Cut off the ends and then use the tip of the knife to make slits on each side of the fruit…vegetable…eh, it's up for debate.  Once this is done, you should be able to peal it with some amount of ease.  Cut into fairly thin slices depending on how crispy you want them.  The thicker they are, the softer they tend to be.  However, you don't want them too thin, otherwise they will burn.  

Heat your oil in your pan on medium high or so (I used olive oil) and carefully place the chips in until they are mostly submerged.  I don't have a specific time frame for how long, just keep an eye on them and flip with a fork.  I found using a spatula did not work so well.  Drain on paper towels and season with salt.  Then, enjoy!  Just be careful, it's easy to get burned and easier still to become somewhat obsessed.  Do you have any international dishes that you could make yourself sick on?

Made for Another World

I’m tired.  For an insomniac that is not entirely unusual.  Since the day I was born sleep has been an often illusive friend, coming and going with no real sense of regularity, and always desiring to tempt at unconventional times.  Sleep beckons at 2 PM rather than 2AM, my eyes growing heavy in the afternoon and wide open as darkness falls.  Even when I find available time for a nap and sleep comes at the appropriate hour, I always feel as if I need more.

I’m hungry.  Being a foodie I’m always looking for new recipes, new challenges and experiments.  If you know me at all, you are fully aware of my current Pintrest obsession.  (It’s a problem…maybe)  Yet food never really satisfies.  Though I often stumble upon amazing concoctions (even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then as my dad says) it’s never quite as good as it could be (I’m like a Hobbit, Second Breakfast is a daily occurrence).

I’m busy.  As an extrovert, I crave company and love being social.  A day without people would not be a good day in my book.  Last year I got two strains of the flu and was more or less quarantined at home in Fulshear at my parent’s house.  They had good friends over to visit and I couldn’t go down to see them Two of them came up and risked  hugs anyway, something I very much appreciated, but I couldn’t fellowship with them, couldn’t join the conversation, could only hear their enjoyment of one another’s company from afar.  It was miserable.  Yet, I find even my greatest friendships can often fall short.  Among others I still sometimes feel lonely, on the outside, and as usual, not quite satisfied.

I love my local church, playing in the band, enjoying my small group, but it has it’s flaws (if I were to find a perfect church my very presence would ruin it by my sin).

I love my city, but the driver’s are nuts.

I’m thankful for my job but don’t always enjoy it.

I love my family but sometimes they drive me crazy.

This, my friends, is a blessing.  The things of this world always leave me wanting more, wanting better.  I’m often disappointed, often let down, by my own failures, the failures of others, and the failure of this world in general to fill up the empty space in my chest.  Why is this a blessing?  Why do I think the slight suffocation of disillusionment is the most glorious feeling I can experience?  Because like the pain of an injury, this reveals to me a problem, a need, a reality that is vital for me to know.

There is a disease called congenital analgesia.  People suffering from this cannot feel physical pain at all.  While some of us may often wish this amidst an injury, this disease is incredibly dangerous.  Why?  Because pain reveals to us that something is wrong, that we may need to seek help.  

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

The deprivation and pain of this life, the hole in the center of our very being serves as a warning to us, a signal that this world will never satisfy.  As Pascal put it, “There is a god-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, and only God can fill it.”  


And yet we as believers, filled with the Holy Spirit of God, continue to feel deprivation, lack, tragedy.  We wonder why.  I wonder why.  I wrestle with guilt.  I should be joyful, feel fulfilled, and happy all the time!  I question God, question my own salvation, question what I know to be true.  

But then I’m reminded; I am not yet in glory.  It’s the tension of the already but not yet.  I have been made alive, yet I continue to struggle with the after effects of sin, I have been adopted, yet sometimes I act like an orphan.  

“And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”  Romans 8:23

Still, the continued dissatisfaction, I believe, is also a blessing.  For amidst joy we do not cling to prayer as much, we do not remember our own frailty, we worship the world and our friends and family.  We continue to long because, even though we have been brought from death to life, we are not yet fully redeemed.  

So how do we live in the longing?  I think Packer said it best: "Think against your feelings; argue yourself out of the gloom they have spread; unmask the unbelief they have nourished; take yourself in hand, talk to yourself, make yourself look up from your problems to the God of the gospel; let evangelical thinking correct emotional thinking."  Knowing God

Dear friends, speak truth to your feelings, and pray with me that when we long, we will realize it is a longing to be with our Heavenly Father.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Friday Night Foodie - Saturday

I've been on a huge spaghetti squash kick lately.  Like the Miracle Noodles, they tend to take on the flavor of whatever it is your cooking, so you can get really creative with sauces.  Add to that the slightly crunchy texture and it's a nice little substitute for pasta.  This week, I tried Baked Margherita Spaghetti Sauce.
Slice squash in half and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and garlic powder.  Bake at 400 for thirty minutes.  

Use a fork to scrape the insides, leaving it in the skin.  Cover with 1/4 cup of mozzarella (I so used more than this because I have a cheese problem), sliced tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes), and fresh basil.

Set oven on broil and heat for 3-4 minutes.

Enjoy!  I meant to save one of the halts, but ended up eating the whole thing.  
 I absolutely loved this recipe and will likely do it again.  It might be good as a side with chicken, but it was more than filling enough and while my taste buds appreciated multiple servings my stomach did not!  Pintrest success!

Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 45 minutes / Servings: 2


  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large Roma tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp. each salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Using a large knife or a cleaver, slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise down the middle.  Use a spoon to remove the seeds and center strings.
  3. Drizzle the two halves with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  4. Place the squash, open side down on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven, check to see if the squash is soft and easily comes up with a fork into a spaghetti like texture.  If it's too hard to remove, cook for another 10 minutes.   Remove from the oven, scrape and fluff the stringy squash with a fork.  Leave the squash in the skin.
  5. Turn the oven up to broil. Add the tomatoes and fresh basil into the squash, stir and top with the mozzarella cheese.  Place in the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving the squash.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Where We Began

Genesis 1:27

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

People suck, but I can't forget where we began.  

Like a mirror now ruined by dust and time, we once reflected our Creator.  He could see His face in us, clear and plain as day, unwrapped, undistorted, unmatched to anything we could possibly imagine.  What did that look like?  Humanity unmarred by the void sin creates, humanity in its birth, its perfection, humanity in unhindered relationship with the God of the Universe, holy and happy?  It's an image even my wild imagination can't wrap itself around, an image I'm not sure I could look upon in my current state of unholiness and sin.  

To my very core I am dust, ashes, a worm and not a man (Psalm 22:6), but that is not how God created us.  In His graciousness, and without any need on His part, He formed humanity in wholeness, holiness.  He brought us into being because He is, by nature, creator, He brought us into being because He is, by nature, relational, He brought us into being knowing exactly what it would cost Him; the greatest suffering imaginable.

Sometimes I struggle with the idea of sin.  I see death and destruction in the news, hear cruel words out of the mouths of my coworkers, know the evil thoughts of my own heart and I wonder, 'How could a loving and sovereign God allow it to happen?'  It's a question everyone asks, a challenge from those who deny any sort of intelligent design much less a creator, and in my weak faith, this question often shakes me.  Yet I am reminded, so graciously by this holy Creator, of the fact that no matter how sin came into existence at all, He chose to create us knowing just what it would cost Him.

Even those condemned to hell will never know what Christ suffered on the cross, for He knew perfect fellowship with the Father, He knew no sin, and yet took the justice we rebels deserved (2 Corinthians 5:21).  God did not simply wave away our sin like a fog to dissipate in the air, He poured out justice upon it, upon His Son, and gave us a righteousness that is not our own…

He is pulling us back to where we began.  

The dust and grime are begin scrubbed away and it hurts sometimes but one day we will again perfectly reflect our Creator, serving our true purpose yet again…

So I'm thankful to be made aware of my sin, of the grime, of the dirt, because it also reminds me that it no longer defines me, and that one day I will be what God has declared of me: His righteousness. 

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Friday Night Foodie…or, You know, Saturday

Recently, my doctor took me off of gluten.  I've always had stomach issues, but I never thought it might be associated with an intolerance.  Coffee, wine, tomatoes, sure, but flour?  Thankfully, most restaurants and grocery stores carry gluten free options, and so long as you stick mainly to fresh produce you're fairly safe.  Add to that my love for trying new foods (spaghetti squash) and it really hasn't been so bad.  

And then there is my sweet friend Sharon.  This lovely lady is not only the queen of Craig's List, but sells her cookies to help pay for her kids ABA therapy, and found me Miracle Noodles on Amazon.  

Made from Shirataki Konjac, an Asian plant root, Miracle Noodle is carb free, gluten free, and soy free and, even better, zero calories.  You can buy a box of six on Amazon for around $13.  It comes in packets filled with water and sort of looks, well, like little white worms.  After you drain and rinse them in a colander, you boil them for 3-4 minutes like you would any other pasta. 

 Boil in salted water for 2-4 minutes.
Drain again.

Sautee on medium heat to remove excess water.  I added chicken sausage as well for some protein. 

Add your sauce: I used vodka sauce and added  fresh basil.

I also had a goat cheese, tomato, and basil salad.  Verdict?  Kind of an odd texture, but still pretty good!  Might take some getting used to, but I'll definitely keep using it.  

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

People Suck

Warning: there is some language in this post.  I'm using it to prove a point, but if it offends you I encourage you not to read on.

People suck.

Sound harsh?  I know with absolute certainty that my parents are cringing if they read the previous line, but as it is a harsh word I find it appropriate.

People suck.

I suck.

Paul used similarly harsh diction in Philippians 3:8 when he described his own works: rubbish, filth, shit.

I on the one hand I apologize for the profanity, on the other I want to honor the extremity of the word.  People are ugly, fitly, disgusting.  They speak beautiful word with their lips yet hate you; they speak harsh words and murder you; they manipulate, fail to understand, put themselves first.  They are no different than I am.  I murder with a glance, I give not grace with my words, I destroy that which God created with a syllable because I believe myself to be the highest authority.

I am shit.

Again I apologize.

Yet I don't because it's what I am.

The older I get the more I realize just how deeply imbedded sin is within me.  To my very core I (and everyone around me) am utterly selfish.  I treat others well because it will make them like me, I do good for the praise, I strive for godliness because it just might attract a man worthy of my time, because I am the guiding line for what is good and holy and right and obviously anyone would be lucky to have me on their side; I am a worm and not a man (Psalm 22:6)!  Yet I am not despised because, like those on Capitol Hill, I pour layer upon layer of lies to invent myself and make you see me a certain way.

I am often a white washed cup (Matthew 23:27), clean on the outside but leaning toward the ways of death on the outside.

This realization is the only way I can love others.  Why?  Because people (me included) suck.  We treat one another as peasants, believing ourselves always to be justified in our actions, always to be the heroes, the protagonists of the story, when, in reality, we are the supporting actors, the extras, the one our glorious LORD has allowed to be part of the story.

If I focus on others I will absolutely despair because they are like me; riddled with sin.  And yet, if I focus on the Creator of this around me, of the One Who redeemed me from the pit, that is when I can love others fully.

And why is that?

Because "we love, because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

If this is true then even our most vile offender can be loved.

If this is true we are merely offenders choosing to love other offenders.

If this is true, we can let go of vengeance and trust the God of justice.

If this is true, we can love each other even when we suck.

LORD, soften my hardened heart to fellow sinners.  May the imputed righteousness of Christ bring forth an abundance of love and mercy towards others, no matter how they wrong me.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Friday Night Foodie

I'm starting a new section of my blog called "Friday Night Foodie" in which I attempt recipes mostly gotten off Pintrest and share them with you.  I'll link up to the site with instructions and let you know how it turned out for me.  This week I tried jerk chicken... did not turn out as well as I'd hoped...
Garlic, onion, ginger, thyme, olive oil, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt honey, red wine vinegar, and lime juice...


Marinate skin on chicken for 24 hours - it smelled glorious!

375 for 45 minutes...I don't think I cooked it long enough...

I'm not totally sure what I did wrong, but it wasn't very good.  The sauce was grainy and did not stick to the skin.  Probably a fail on my part.  It was the first time I'd cooked with skin on chicken...anybody got any tips?