Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mexican Fiesta!

One of my all-time greatest joys in this world (other than Jesus)(Oh, and other than my son)(And my family)(And the family Christ has given me)(You get the picture) is cooking for other people. It makes me happy all the way down to my toenails! Today I get to cook for another family, which means I am completely in my element. The boy is gone to work, I'm in the kitchen with the radio blaring some old school R&B... Right this second it's some Rachelle Ferrell and Will Downing... OH! Love.

Since I love Mexican food and I want everyone to love it as much as I do, that's the theme I choose. Here's is what's on today's menu.

Black bean and Mango Salad, Black beans with cilantro basmati rice, carne asada tacos.
Black bean and Mango Salad (I don't remember where I originally saw this-been making it for years now):
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups diced frozen mango, thawed
1 red pepper, diced
6 green onions, sliced
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 c fresh lime juice
1 T olive oil
1 seeded jalapeno pepper, small dice

Add all ingredients into a bowl, toss lightly. Done.

Basmati rice:
Cook rice according to package directions for the amount you'd like. Toward the end, squeeze the juice from 1/2 lime and add some chopped cilantro and recover to let it finish cooking.

Black beans:
2 cans black beans (do NOT drain)
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 T cilantro, chopped
cumin, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
Squeeze of lime, optional but good! =]

Saute the onion until translucent, add garlic and cook for 1 minute or so. Add the beans and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Season with cilantro, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Squeeze a little lime juice and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Tada.
Note: I've made HUGE batches of this and let it cook for up to an hour, just make sure you're stirring it so it doesn't stick. The flavors just come together so well!

Carne Asada Tacos:
3-4 lbs. chuck roast
3 dried chile peppers, rehydrated (see note below)
1 small can diced, green chilies
1 onion, sliced
kosher salt
cayenne pepper
garlic powder
chili powder
hot sauce
flour tortillas, medium size
tomatoes, diced
shredded lettuce
shredded cheese

Season the roast with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder on both sides and plop it into your slow cooker on high. On top of the roast, add onions, rehydrated peppers, chile peppers, and hot sauce. Add water to cover the bottom third or so of the roast. Cover and cook for about 6 hrs. By this time, it should be ready to shred. Once shredded (use two forks to pull the meat apart--you can do it in the slow cooker or take it out to shred, discard large pieces of fat that you find), add it back to the slow cooker for about an hour. Assemble your tacos with the toppings you choose. I like the meat to be the star so I don't like to add too many other things. I add tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese.

Now, Mr. Do Right by Jade is playing. I love this song.

Oh, do you want to know how to rehydrate chili peppers? This is how I do it. I choose peppers that aren't broken and have a slight bendability (I'm not sure if that's really a word) to them. Cut the tops off, slice down the peppers to open and get all the seeds and veins out. Place the peppers in a pan thats been heating over medium heat to roast them for just a few minutes. Turn them a lot so they don't burn. Then, place them in a bowl of hot water for about 20 minutes. Slice and add to the slow cooker. FYI - taste the water they were soaked in, it should be a brownish color and if it doesn't taste bitter, use that as your water for the roast. If it's bitter, throw it away. You can always save it for something else too... maybe add some in for the rice water (what a great idea! I think I'll do that!). It's really packed with flavor and I'd hate to waste it if it can be used for something else!

And now I have some Isley Brothers playing... oh. I heart old school R&B!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Breakfast.... SURPRISE!

Such a simple recipe, but people ask for it all the time, so here she is. =] (By the way, this will feed lots of peeps, so adjust it to however many people you're trying to feed. It does keep well, so you could always have leftovers the next couple of days with no problem.)


12 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 bag O'brien potatoes (or fresh small diced potatoes, onions, and red peppers)
1 lb. breakfast sausage
salt & pepper
Shredded cheddar

I've made this a million ways. I'll explain the basics. Brown your breakfast sausage in a large skillet, breaking it up as you cook it. Once it's no longer pink, add the bag of frozen potatoes. You want to let the potatoes sit a little before you stir them and then let them sit again before you stir. You want to cook them very similar to how you would if there were no sausage in the pan. In the meantime, crack the eggs in a bowl, mix with milk and whisk to combine. Once the potatoes are cooked through and have turned a golden brown, pour the egg mixture over the sausage and potatoes. You should let it sit for a bit, but then keep an eye on it and stir it as needed. You want the eggs to set, but no brown. Once the eggs have set, add whatever seasonings you like and sprinkle with however little or much cheese that you prefer. Turn off the heat and cover until the cheese melts. Tada! That's it.

If you're using fresh potatoes, then you can boil them first so they are almost done, then add to the sausage. Also, if using fresh onions and peppers, add that in toward the end of the sausage cooking, then add potatoes and finish like the above directions.

To serve, you can just serve it by itself or with some warm tortillas or top it with some salsa and sour cream or with some toasted bagels or.... You get the picture. You can do anything you want with it. =]

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Isn't it just a little bit ironic how you can be unhappy yet full of joy at the same time? Well, that's how my entire weekend has been. I believe it's because joy and happiness, while often used interchangeably, are really two completely different things.

There are things that make me happy. A foo-foo coffee, a good book, a good movie, a night out with friends. But, joy... that's from within. It's something that makes up the person you are, the actions you take, the words you speak. I have joy even though I don't feel really happy right now. It's amazing.

This weekend started with a Friday off work so that I could just catch up on some rest. I hadn't been sleeping well and I just needed to sleep. I did. It was great. I found myself a bit lonely on Friday, but I knew what was coming the next day and it helped to keep my spirits in check.

Saturday morning I was host to a houseful of ladies for our church Ladies Ministry monthly meeting. You see, a few months ago, God was really talking to me, trying to explain why we needed a ladies ministry so badly. Don't get me wrong, I was in complete agreement. We did need one. However, the second part of God's talk with me was that He wanted ME to lead it! Uhm, I'm sorry, what? God -- I know You're all knowing and all that, but I think You might have this one a little mixed up. I spent a lot of time praying about it and then I eventually poured out my feelings in a letter to my pastor, which recently led to the development of our new ladies ministry! Obedience, right? Got it!

So, Saturday morning was wonderful to say the least. We ate and drank coffee, played a great get to know you game, drew names for prayer sisters, and, best of all, played the Yarn Game. Oh. Have you ever done this? I wish I knew where I first saw the idea, but I can't remember. Here are the basics:

Start with all the ladies sitting in a circle with one lady holding the end of a ball of yarn. The woman with the yarn will tell something about herself, it can be as or as little personal as she likes. Then anyone who has that in common raises their hand and the first woman passes the ball of yarn to one of the women who raised her hand. In some cases, there may be several women who raise their hand, just choose one. Then, whoever is holding the ball does the same thing, says something about herself, then passes the yarn. In the end, all the women are holding pieces of this yarn and we are all connected. We all have something in common. We're all provided to one another, by God, to be there for each other. Whew. I learned a lot of interesting things, but I saw a lot of hurt too. It was a great opportunity to pray for each woman sitting in my living room, one at a time. The verses I referenced were 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

Later that day, I was able to get my house put back together and even color my hair before I was off for a night with my friends. This was a little bittersweet since the night's been planned for a few weeks because we were planning a birthday celebration for my no-longer sweetie. However, instead of cancelling, I went anyway and I'm so glad I did. We had a wonderful time! We saw "The Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and I laughed, cried, got scared, and was mad throughout the movie. I liked it! Then, we had a great dinner at Union Jacks in Winchester. I love that place. It's like an English Pub smack in the middle of Northern VA! =]

On to Sunday, church. Oh, I love my church. I can't say that enough. I LOVE MY CHURCH! =] While at church, I was prepared to put all my hurt from the week aside and just worship God. I did pretty all right. When we sang Majesty, I may have lost it just a little bit. But I recovered quickly! But it was what happened when I was leaving church that allowed me to see just another way God loves me.

During church, I was given two envelopes. When I got to my car, okay, I was already driving down the road, and I opened the envelopes to see what was in them. The first was a card. This song was playing on the radio and I was right at the part that says "But You love me anyway. It's like nothing in life that I've ever known. Yes, You love me anyway. Oh, Lord, how You love me." So inside the card was written a very sweet message along with a small monetary gift to me with instructions to do something FOR ME with it. Really, God? So, now I have to pull over.

The second envelope. Sigh. I have to backtrack to yesterday for a minute... the ladies are going on a mini-retreat to see Beth Moore in Baltimore, MD. The cost is minimal, but when someone has very little disposable income, like me right now, every little bit counts. I wrote my check out, asked if it could be cashed after Thursday so I knew the funds would be available. It was no problem. So, back to the second envelope. Inside was my check with a note saying "Here is your check back because someone has sponsored you for the event."

Can someone please tell me why you WOULDN'T believe that God is in control of EVERYTHING!?

I've written a lot. I could write a lot more. My heart is full of JOY -- deep down, Holy Spirit JOY! And, I hope, if you're reading this, you can understand what that joy is all about. If you can't, let me know... I'll tell you all about my Jesus. =]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Can ya feel me?

This has been a hard week. A really hard week.

My heart's been broken. Again.

The good news is that this heartbreak comes while I'm living my life with Jesus. Oh, what a comfort He is to me. I know that while my heart breaks, He holds me together. He is eager to mend me. He is in place to rock me to sleep and whisper promises that it'll be okay. He holds my hurt. I love Him. He is showing me a better way. He is protecting me. He is putting back the pieces even as I write this post.

I surrender.

"Creator only You take brokenness and create it into beauty once again" ~ Barlow Girl.

I knew this was a chance I was taking. Allowing my self to become vulnerable. Allowing myself to be a woman and not just mom. Allowing myself to trust. Allowing myself to feel.

It's not wasted. I've learned lessons. A lot of them actually. I've learned that there are men who know how to treat a woman like he should. I've learned that I'm not the best mom I could be. I've learned that loving someone with Jesus in the middle is a much better love than I ever could have expected. I've learned that not all men are a-holes, some just have issues. I have issues.

I will weave my way through this hurt with the most amazing Craftsman I could ever ask for. He will be my guide. Always.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chicken Wings - bow chica wow wow style

I don't make fried chicken wings. Ever. Like, I have never made them before in my life. I don't fry chicken, or anything else for that matter. Imagine my conundrum today when I had a bag of chicken wings to be cooked and no oven to use (we had a small element fire last weekend and I haven't called the landlord yet!).

My son has been begging for fried chicken. I don't know why -- a teenager thing maybe? Who knows. Anyway, today was the day that I would try my hand at fried chicken. Here's how I did it.

I laid all the chicken pieces on a cookie sheet (after I washed 'em and made sure they were all pretty).

Here's the crazy part - remember that 3 Pepper Mustard that I talked about a few posts ago? Well, put some in a bowl and use your fingers to slather that all over the wings, crazy right?

Lay the wings back out and season with onion powder, seasoned salt, pepper, garlic powder, uhm... I think that was it. Oh, some ground cayenne pepper, too. And a weee weee bit of ground mustard.

Have some flour set aside either in a bag or bowl - I don't like to shake and especially when it's covered in mustard! So I just laid the pieces in the flour and covered them generously then dropped them into a hot saucepan with some vegetable oil. I don't have a deep fryer since I've never fried anything, so I had to do it a make shift sorta way. Saucepan filled halfway with oil will do the trick.

I wasn't entirely sure how to know when it was cooked enough, so it was really a guessing game for me, but those with more experience would probably have an easier time with this. I would say I cooked them for about 5 minutes, then flipped them for another 5 minutes until they were nice and brown.

The end product was a tangy, sweet, fried chicken wing. I didn't need anything to dip them in... I only had a couple, but they were really yummie and not bad for my first go. Even the son's girlfriend said I did good and she comes from a fried chicken family... she, of course, reminded me it wasn't as good as her mom's or memaw's but still a good first time! YaY! So, next time you're frying up some wings, try some mustard on them first! =]

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Here are some things I've realized over the last few weeks:
  • I haven't been blogging much.
  • I haven't been blogging because I found Pinterest.
  • I'm addicted to Pinterest.
  • I have a camera.
  • I don't use my camera.
  • I will begin using my camera - I have so many things to capture!
  • I began leading our Ladies Ministry. God is blessing me ABUNDANTLY through that ministry.
  • I've been cooking, of course, but nothing exciting to write about -- just the normal stuff.
  • I have finally -- FINALLY -- broken down and watched Harry Potter, which has also had me busy over the last few weeks. I am down to Part 2 of Deathly Hallows. I'll be seeing that in the next week or so.
  • I've been with and without a computer a lot in the past month -- also why I haven't been blogging.
  • I am immersed in several bible studies right now. This is GOOD!
  • I love my peeps and I've been spending a lot of time with them lately.
That's it. More to blog soon. =]