"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philipians 3:13b,14

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Crock Pot Coconut Curry Beef

I don't know what the weather is like where you live, but it's been HOT here.

It doesn't exactly promote cooking over a hot stove at dinner time.

So..... YAY for a great crock pot recipe!!

Here's what you need!
1-2 lbs. beef stew meat (I used 1.5 lbs)
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 can coconut milk
juice from one lime
2 Tb butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander (I didn't have any so I left this out)
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp chili paste (or 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes)
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated (I used the kind in a jar)

I put my meat in the crock pot still frozen.

Stick the butter in the crock pot:
Then add the meat (or, in my case, the meatsicle):

Then pour/sprinkle the other stuff over the meat. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.When it's done cooking, stir it up, the sauce sort of separates and you need to mix it.

I served this with some steamed rice (the sauce is GREAT on the rice!) and some green beans that I sauteed with a bit of teriyaki sauce.

I got this recipe from http://www.crockpot365.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wifely Battles- In Defense of Arguing

"Fear not those who argue but those who dodge"
~Dale Carnegie

"Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict - alternatives to passive or aggressive responses"
~Dorothy Thompson

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another"
~Proverbs 27:17

This is the third post in the "Being a Wife" series that I am working on. The first post is Wifely Duties, and the second post is Wifely Contentment. Please be sure to read my disclaimer in the second post- it basically tells you how imperfect I am. (As though anyone needs a disclaimer for that!)

I got married at a young age. Before I was married, I was very careful to do my pre-marital counselling, pray for all the right things, fill out all the workbook pages on how we would decide the important things....etc....

....I was young. I thought that if I did all the right things, and didn't do any of the wrong things, I would have an idyllic marriage. I thought I could avoid conflict with good intentions.

Guess what?

.....I was wrong.

When Wade and I first had conflict, in the early years of our marriage, I was very, very (VERY) passive aggressive. I would give him the silent treatment, expect him to REALIZE what he did wrong, then explode in anger when he didn't magically acquire the knowledge I was withholding. Needless to say, that wasn't a great method for resolving conflict. I realized that right away, but felt I was stuck in a cycle that I couldn't break. I would be resolute in my desire to be different, but as soon as any important conflict took place, I would resort back to my usual response.

This was frustrating for Wade as well, he would initially try and give me what I wanted, but that was difficult, because he was forced into guessing what I wanted since I wouldn't tell him. The problem was, I had this idea that if he loved me enough, and thought about me enough, he would do or say the right thing to make me happy, to make me not angry.

That was a fairly tumultuous time. One I wouldn't really be thrilled to relive.

There was a turning point in my life when I started to change. (Thank you Lord) Unfortunately, how I decided to THEN resolve conflict was to avoid it by trying to NEVER be angry about things at all. (Yeah, by the way, that doesn't work. All you end up doing is stuffing your anger.)  Even when I was rightly angry about something. I felt that I should just pray about my attitude, and that God would convict Wade when he was wrong, but that I wouldn't argue or fight about things, because I wanted to avoid that. (Just a side note, I think it is a good thing to be praying that God would convict your husband when he is making a bad choice, and praying that YOU would have the right attitude. I just don't think that's a substitute for communicating your feelings to your husband.) The problem with that method (obviously) was that Wade was happily doing things that made me feel totally resentful and taken for granted, and I wasn't ever telling him about those things! Every once in a while I would bring something up that had been bothering me and he was either totally clueless, or he sort of knew it bothered me, but figured if it wasn't a big enough deal for me to talk to him about it, he was going to go ahead and do what he wanted.

Fast forward to the present.

Do you know couples who never argue? Who glide along through life in a seemingly eternal state of bliss and agreement? I do. It's hard not to compare yourself to people like that, isn't it?

I am not convinced that anyone who isn't catatonic actually lives life that way though. No two people agree about EVERYTHING all the time. (If you happen to be the exception to this rule, please accept my apology.)

Now, when Wade and I disagree on something, we argue about it. (Well, according to Wade, we DON'T argue. (even though we do) He says we DISCUSS.)

I am not afraid of arguing anymore. In a way, I sort of embrace it. Let me explain why.

There are some things worth arguing over:
I am not going to argue over what we have for dinner, or what radio station we listen to. But sometimes, when we have a conflict over how to handle a situation with our kids, or how to spend money, or how we should handle a family conflict, the issue is important enough that it is WORTH an argument. My opinion matters. BUT- the only way it is going to matter is if I value my instincts and opinions enough to be passionate and share them with Wade. In our house, he has the final say, but I want to influence him when I feel differently than he feels. There have been times when I've been dead wrong. There have been times when I've been right on the money. Arguing my side allows me to be a partner and not an employee or child. And it allows Wade to see another side to things, which he may not have considered.

Arguing diminishes the power of the "silent treatment" weapon:
I learned, fairly early on in marriage, that when your spouse is treating you unfairly, or making decisions and not considering you, that you have very few healthy tactics with which to respond. I also learned (Actually I didn't learn this, it was already built in, I think...) that there are quite a few unhealthy, manipulative methods you can employ. My weapon of choice was the silent treatment. I got quite skilled at that. The problem is, have you noticed that when you are trying to make your husband "come around" in a conflict, and you use the silent treatment, or whatever your favorite weapon of choice may be, it doesn't actually give you any real power? Because even if you end up getting your way, it's not satisfying- because you know your husband just gave in. It's not a real, lasting solution. Even if you temporarily get what you want, ultimately, the problem that exists is still there. Lurking.

 Another downside to the silent treatment is this: it's hard to withhold your affection from just one person. So generally you have a diminished sense of joy and love toward EVERYONE in your life, not just the person you're intending to ignore. Yuck. If you argue about the problem, even if you don't get your way, there is conversation. You can be heard. You can use the healthy power you DO HAVE- the influence you have over your husband as his partner and someone he respects and loves. And you can hear his reasons, his opinions, his rational for making choices, and maybe understand where he is coming from.

If you argue enough, you get good at it:
Ok, that sounds like a bad thing, but I promise you it isn't! When Wade and I first started to actually argue about important issues, we weren't very skilled at it. So it usually disintegrated into insults. But as the years have gone by, we have learned how to hear what the other person is saying. We have also learned (Most of the time) to keep at it if we don't come to a solution the first go around. I have learned not to take things as personally, since that is a flaw of mine. Wade has learned to be a bit more open to hear me out completely, even when I am saying something he doesn't like. Do we argue perfectly? NOT AT ALL!!! But we both have the same goal in mind- finding a situation or decision that we can both live with- together. And we can find that when we try. Sometimes it is hard-earned, we really have to contend with each other. But thankfully, we've learned how to argue well.

Once you're done arguing, it's DONE:
I think this is my favorite benefit to arguing things through. When you finally DO reach a compromise, you're done! The issue isn't waiting to rear its ugly head again in two days. Or two weeks. Or twenty years. You don't have to keep track of who did what to whom and how many points you have. Arguing until you reach an agreement keeps you on the same team. I know that sounds contrary, but it isn't. I believe that keeping arguments inside instead of voicing them sometimes leads to secretly working against the other person, and having a "his team" and "my team" mentality. When you feel like you have to look out for your own needs because your husband doesn't know what your needs are.... that is divisive. If you feel like you have to hide resources, or information, or anything from your husband because you can't bring it up to him.... that's divisive. Arguing and presenting all the facts to each other keeps you two working as partners. On the same team. Together. One.

One is good.

To sum it up, I am not advocating screaming at one another. Or fighting. Or being unreasonable. What I am suggesting is that when you are in a marriage with someone you respect, they deserve to know what you think. Even when it's different from their opinion. I believe one of the ways I show that I trust Wade is when I let him know what bothers me, what I need, what my opinions are, what I see as the right choice. I can't tell you how much he's changed over the years, and stepped up to the plate, and worked hard to be worthy of that trust. Does he mess up? Of course! Do *I* mess up? Most assuredly! But we keep at it.

If you argue when you disagree, it makes your approval and agreement even more sweet- because your husband can trust that it's real. That's a good gift. He'll know you're not saying one thing and feeling another.

Lastly, I want to just say that I think most men, when they love their wives, want to lay the world at their wife's feet. They just need to know how to do that for you. Trust them enough to be real.

If you don't agree, I'll be happy to argue with you. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fresh Cherry Limeade!

Around our house, Mondays are special.

Wade is off work (usually) on Monday. So we have breakfast all together, and usually I make something nice for dinner.

I like to make Monday night dinner special, so I will usually make someone's favorite dish, or use candles, or we'll eat outside or something like that. (Do you do things like that in your family? Kids- and husbands- LOVE when regular dinner feels "special", so it's worth spending some time coming up with fun ideas!)

Last night, I made a pitcher of fresh cherry limeade, and served it at dinner! Then kids loved it, and so did Wade and I!

I added a small bottle of sparkling water to mine, so it was sparkling cherry limeade! Nicholas was so excited when I put this on the table at dinner!!

Here's what you need!
~1 1/2 cups fresh lime juice (That was about 8 limes for me)
~1 1/2 cups sugar
~1 1/2 cups water
~2 Tb. grenadine syrup (it's by the alcohol mixing stuff at the market)
~5 cups water (I used 2 cups sparkling and 3 cups plain water)
~maraschino cherries and lime slices for the pitcher or glasses

Juice the limes and set that aside:
Then combine the 1 1/2 cups of water and sugar and bring to a boil in a pan and stir until the sugar is dissolved. What I did at this point was to put the lime juice, grenadine syrup, and the sugar water in a pitcher and place it in the fridge until dinner time. Then, right before serving, I added the additional 5 cups of water, the cherries and lime slices, and some crushed ice.

We have 4 people in our family and there was plenty for one meal. If you have a lot more in your family, you may want to make double.

I got this recipe from http://www.foodgawker.com/

Oh, and we had the make ahead Calzone for dinner last night- they were AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! Here's the link to the recipe: Make Ahead Calzone. You should totally make a batch- it was really nice to be able to just pull them out of the freezer and bake them. :)

Have a great day!

Monday, July 25, 2011

7/25 Baking Day- Recipes and Photos (The gas was ON this time....)

So, today was baking day.
As I have stated in a previous post, "baking day" refers to more than just baking- it is basically the day that I spend several hours in the kitchen preparing things for the week.

Oh, and today, there were no surprises- the stove worked when I turned it on!! ...it's the little things that make me happy.......

So here's what I made today!

I made a double batch of these: Multigrain Blueberry Pancakes, we ate half for breakfast, then I bagged up the other half and put them in the fridge for breakfast this week!

We're still in the middle of apricot palooza here..... so I made another batch of this: Make Your Own Apricot Jam

I also took several pounds of apricots, halved and pitted them, then individually froze them on wax paper-lined cookie sheets.

After the apricots were frozen, I bagged them up so I have them to use later- either in jam or crisps/cobblers!

I made a batch of these: Peanut Butter Cookies for lunches this week- of course I used creamy peanut butter, because crunchy is gross.

...and of course we licked the bowl....

Then I made some of these: Homemade Smuckers Uncrustables- I used whole wheat bread and black raspberry jam...mmmmmm......

Then I made a double batch of these: Make Ahead Meatballs- I used ground turkey. I also took out about a pound of the mixture and made 4 patties so that we could have Turkey Burgers one night for dinner!

Last, I made a loaf of: Banana Bread... This will go in Wade's lunch for breakfast or a mid-morning snack. I'm sure the boys will bet a piece or two also.....

Have a great week!!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Make Ahead Calzone... For Tonight or For the Freezer!

There are often two teams in our house.

Team #1- boys

Team #2- girls

Unfortunately for me, there are 3 people on team #1, and one person on team #2.

In the interest of balance, I am going to give you two recipes- one for MY favorite Calzone (Three Cheese and Spinach), and the BOYS' favorite (Pepperoni). Both are yummy.

Here's the post with the recipe for the Spinach and Three Cheese Calzone, with instructions on how to assemble them: Calzone Recipe

For the Pepperoni variety- I used one of the Whole Wheat Pizza Crusts from freezer cooking- here's the post with the recipe for that crust: Whole Wheat Pizza Dough. I thawed it out , then divided the dough into 4 pieces, then rolled each into a circle and put 1/4 of the following mixture in each:
~1 container ricotta cheese (mine was 15 oz)
~1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (either mozzerella or I like jack cheese)
~1 egg
You'll also need:
~20 slices pepperoni
I spooned the filling into each dough round, then places 5 slices of pepperoni onto the top of each mound of filling. Fold in half and crimp, and freeze as directed in the above recipe.

I put the frozen calzone in a 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping. Yum.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Make Your Own Apricot Jam!

Ok... I have a confession to make.

This was my first time making jam.

Another thing...I don't really have any desire to can things. (Does that make me null and void as a homeschooler?? Aren't all homeschool moms required to can things?) (For more on that, read this post)

I want to have the desire to can things, but alas....it eludes me.

If you feel the same way- GOOD NEWS! You do not have to can this jam. Really, if you can boil soup, you can make this jam. I put mine in the snack-sized Ziploc disposable containers, this way when I gave some of the jam away, I don't have to worry about getting the containers back from people. (I used to have very expensive Tupperware containers, and would be bitter when people wouldn't return them.... so now I use cheapy containers. Ok, I wasn't actually bitter, but it did bother me....)

You only need 3 ingredients!!

8 cups pitted, chopped fresh apricots
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
6 cups sugar

Pit the apricots, then chop them. I chopped mine roughly, I like big chunks in the jam, so that I can serve it with waffles and pancakes.....

Then put all the ingredients into a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat:

Then continue boiling for about 30 minutes, stirring often to avoid the bottom burning/sticking. If you see the jam boiling too high, lower the heat.

Then turn off the heat, and spoon it into whatever containers you are using! If you are going to keep all the jam for your own use, you can freeze the containers once they're cool!

I feel so domestic.
Maybe I'll try to sew something.......

....yeah....I don't think so.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quinoa and Black Beans (GREAT Make-Ahead Lunch Idea!)

Another use for Quinoa!!

I packaged mine up for lunches, but this would be an awesome side dish with Mexican food- it is tasty, healthy, and quick to make!

Here's what you need:
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained (there are two cans in the photo, I decided to only use one in the recipe)

  • Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan, and cook the onion and garlic until soft and lightly browned. Then add the (THOROUGHLY RINSED- or it will be bitter) quinoa and stir it up with the onion and garlic. Then add the chicken broth (if you'd like to make this vegetarian, you could use water or vegetable broth), cumin, cayenne, and salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 15 or 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.

    Then add the corn and black beans and cook until the corn is heated through...

    Then turn off the heat and add the cilantro. That's it!!

    This is SO good!! I think it would be GREAT in a tortilla with some shredded chicken and cheese, or scooped up with tortilla chips..... or just by itself!!

    Packaged up for lunches...

    I got this recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com/

    ~Quick and Spicy Tomato Soup (heated in the crockpot- made ahead on the last freezer day) (Here's a link to the post with the recipe: Tomato Soup)
    ~Watermelon and honeydew melon
    ~Amish White bread from baking day (Here's a link to the post with the recipe Amish White Bread)