{Homemaking Journal} New Spring Recipes

Five months into this whole mommy thing, I’m still loving the extra time I have to cook proper, delicious meals for my little family. Granted, this week included two nights back-to-back where I got precisely nothing on the table due to completely packed apartment days, but under average circumstances, I have the time and the energy to put yummy food in front of my hubby each night and I love it! Here are a few favorite new recipes from recent weeks. Please pardon the language in one of these blog URLs. It’s an unfortunate blog title but the food is scrumptious! My new favorite cooking blog for sure.

As always, I made numerous changes to these fine recipes…including altering them to be gluten free. Sorry for the poor photo of the Bang Bang Chicken! I always forget to get my Nikon out after I’m done cooking. =)

Trader Joe’s Spaghetti Squash Carbonara – I personally loved this more than the Cheesecake Factory version. To die for!

Cheesy Enchilada Rice Skillet – Nothing earth-shattering flavor-wise, but SO easy.

bangbangchickenBang Bang Chicken – I’ve made this twice already! DELICIOUS! Worth the fuss!

Cauliflower Chowder – I’m honestly not a big fan of cauliflower, but I absolutely loved this soup. And it was sooooo simple.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Panini – These satisfy that occasional and obsessive craving for something toasted with cheese.

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{Mommy Journal} Tips For 1 Bedroom Apartment Living

DSC_0337-2

Today I thought I would share a few things we have learned about sharing a one bedroom apartment space with a new baby. It’s actually quite manageable and has a lot to do with mindset. Therefore, my first point is…

1. Recognize that you will give up your ideal tidy living room/bedroom scenario and turn every room into a bit of nursery.

DSC_0349-001At first it was really frustrating having so much baby stuff everywhere with nowhere to store it away when it wasn’t being used. But now when I look at the activity mat, baby swing, car seat, diaper bag, and boppy that dwell in our small apartment living room 24/7 and get in the way of our book case and TV, they don’t look like a mess anymore, they look like they belong. Because they do, and that’s just how it is.

2. Use a travel sleeper until the baby outgrows it. 

We didn’t think of this until Caleb was about 8 weeks old, and it made such a difference! Previously we’d been taking the pack n play up and down and moving it back and forth between the bedroom and living room, or ended up having him sleep in our room at night to avoid the hassle. (But then we didn’t sleep as well.) Now, put Caleb down in his little sleeper in our room and when we are ready to go to bed, we lift the whole thing and move it out to the living room without disturbing him. He also takes his naps in our room, and we can take the sleeper other places, which has been great for naps when we are out. I highly recommend this!

3. Get a changing table that doubles as a dresser for storage. 

DSC_0337-001I love our changing table, which we found on Craigslist. I use the three baskets for onesies, bath towels and cloths, and accessories (shoes, socks, and hats.) The two drawers hold all his current sizes. (The basket on the ground has bibs and burp rags.) Don’t waste space on a changing table without drawers, you really can’t afford to in a small apartment. The ones with open shelves won’t work nearly as well for keeping folded clothes organized.

4. Get creative in where you keep your other stuff to make room for the baby stuff.DSC_0342-001

For example, I wouldn’t normally want a big all-in-one printer in our bedroom, but using the top of one of my dressers frees up space elsewhere for baby equipment.

5. Pick a corner or wall in one room to treat as a nursery. 

You shouldn’t have to give up all the fun of decorating for baby just because he doesn’t have his own room. We had fun making the wall above the changing table the “nursery area”. We even squeezed a glider rocker into our bedroom, and when my sister-in-law gave us an adorable handmade pillow, our nursery corner was officially complete.

6. Consider storing some things in the trunk or back seat of your car.

DSC_0343-001Our stroller stays in the hatchback exclusively, and I usually keep the Ergo carrier in the car as well. I also have an old “spare” pack n play that we plan to use when Caleb outgrows his travel sleeper, and we store that in the trunk of our other car.

 

{Homemaking Journal} Favorite New GF Dinner Recipes

I am loving this new season of life, with the bulk of my time and energy being devoted to home life! Andrew and I are still apartment managers, but because we currently have no vacancies, that job is only requiring a few hours a week on average. I am also back to reading books and writing reviews four hours a week, another fun job that I can cater to my schedule. With this new schedule, I have enjoyed getting to put more energy into cooking and trying new recipes! Here are a few recent favorites, all gluten free. My disclaimer is that I rarely follow a recipe and often toss instead of measure. Also, I add minced garlic or garlic powder to nearly everything I cook. =)

Honey Balsamic Meatballs – I love that these meatballs use cooked quinoa instead of bread crumbs. They were really easy to make and tasted great with brown rice.

image1Kale Caesar Salad With Crispy Garbanzo Bean Croutons – A friend made this at a recent baby shower and I couldn’t wait to try it myself. The homemade dressing is to die for! Making the “croutons” is a bit time intensive. I might opt to skip them next time, although they do add a lovely crunch.

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken – Sadly, another delicious recipe that has sugar. But it can’t kill you once in awhile, can it? I’d actually like to try subbing honey and see what happens. This is in the oven right now…Andrew immediately requested a repeat when we enjoyed it last week.

IMG_4669Southwest Salad – I recently learned that this kind of salad is one of Andrew’s favorites. I cheated and started with store-bought Ranch dressing, then threw in chili powder, cayenne, etc. And I used corn chips from Trader Joe’s instead of making my own.

Chuck Roast With Balsamic and Dijon – Except I didn’t use dijon, I used regular mustard, as I always do. This was delicious.

Tasty Chicken Hot Pot – This came out a little bland, but was better after some Frank’s hot sauce. I’m still saving it because it’s fast, simple, and doesn’t require unusual ingredients. We ate it over brown rice.

{Recipe} Homemade Bean, Rice, & Cheese Freezer Burritos

dsc_0099This is a repost of a “recipe” I make for Andrew with some changes I implemented this past time.

Andrew loves frozen bean and cheese burritos. He could eat them pretty much every day for lunch. So a couple of years ago, I decided to try making them myself to save money and add some nutrition.

Each time I’ve made them I’ve tried revisions. This weekend, I cooked a bunch of pinto beans and black beans on high in a crock pot for about six hours until soft through. Without rinsing or draining them, I used a slotted spoon to add them and some of the liquid to my Ninja Professional Blender. I threw in a bunch of Pace Picante Sauce (any salsa will do) from Costco. Then I dumped in a generous portion of salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and crushed red pepper flakes and blended. Wa-la. Refried beans that taste awesome and are actually good for you!

The amounts of all the spices and salsa are entirely to-taste. You can’t really go wrong. These were the most flavorful refried beans I’ve made yet and I loved the pinto/black bean combination.

I slather the beans onto large tortillas, add handfuls of cooked brown rice, top it all off with grated Mexican blend cheese, and roll them up. They’re all happily packaged in foil and stacked in ziplock freezer bags ready for consumption. Hooray!

 

As a recap, here’s what you’ll need: 

  • A bunch of pinto and/or black beans that are cooked until they’re soft
  • Any kind(s) of salsa you like
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Chili powder
  • Cooked white or brown rice
  • Grated cheese
  • A blender
  • Tortillas
  • Tin foil
  • Ziplock bags

{Recipe} Copycat King Mahalo – Chipotle BBQ Chicken Sandwich

imageDo you live in the Pacific Northwest? Have you ever dined on the King Mahalo Sandwich at Coconut Kenny’s? No? Then you are not experiencing everything that the PNW has to offer. It is literally the world’s best sandwich. But I have good news. You can make this fabulous item right in your very own kitchen, and it comes mighty close to being every bit as mouth-wateringly delicious as Coconut Kenny’s original.

First, to give credit where credit is due. I started with this recipe and then made a number of adjustments. My version, which is closer to Coconut Kenny’s, is below. (I used a gluten free bagel for mine, but I am sure Andrew’s was tastier on a hot dog bun.) I also didn’t measure anything, but below is approximately what I did. Note: omit the chipotle pepper if you don’t like spicy!

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded (thighs will be the moistest)
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
A bunch of fresh cilantro
Sliced cheddar cheese (enough to cover each sandwich)
Mayonnaise
6 hot dog buns

1. Mix chicken, pepper, and barbecue sauce in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until warm.
2. Mix in red onion and crushed pineapple. Leave warming on the stove.
3. Spread mayonnaise on hot dog buns and broil until toasted.
4. Add cheddar cheese slices to one or both sides of the buns and broil until melted.
5. Spread chicken mixture onto sandwich.
6. Top with fresh cilantro and enjoy!

{Reading Report} First We Have Coffee

Mama’s young face had a quiet peace, for she had dealt with her grief at the throne of grace. God’s promises would never fail! She had looked unto the hills and found, in God, a very present help in her time of trouble.

Delightful. Peculiar. Old-fashioned. Nostalgic. Simple. Heartwarming.

51SX83DTZML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_These are some of the words that come to mind when attempting to describe the unique read First We Have Coffee by Margaret Jensen. It is an appreciative daughter’s affectionate tribute to her mother’s full and unselfish life. “Mama” was a lovely Norwegian girl, married to a pastor–a passionate, God-fearing man who loved his family but adored his theology and books even more. Mama’s faith and charitable heart blessed not only the precious children whom she served and trained in righteousness, but also strangers, neighbors, and church members alike.

Just as the landscape of rivers, trees, villages and people, clouds, and sky blended into one moving picture, so the scenes from home blended into one picture–Mama. That must be why Papa needs her so desperately, I thought. She is his home, his roots, his source of life and meaning, for she continually directs his steps back to faith in God.

Life lessons could be found in everything Mama encountered, whether it be the worn shoes received in missionary barrels, the severe illness of a child, or Papa’s impetuous decision to purchase pearls instead of food during a time of financial difficulty.

Mama never allowed sympathy to obscure a deeper lesson.

Like everyone, Mama had her weaknesses. I am not holding this book or her life up as the perfect role model or theological standard; but I would be thrilled if I left a legacy similar to hers in the lives of my children and grandchildren. A large part of why I found First We Have Coffee so heartwarming and inspiring is that Mama’s characteristics and steady presence were much like those of my own mother, who set the tone for our home as my brothers and I grew up (although her marriage is much more harmonious and mutual than the one told of in this book). We came and went, traversed seasons of rebellion or disinterest, experienced highs and lows, and through it all, Mommy was always there for us, ready with Bible truths, a listening ear, and countless hot meals. In fact, she is there, still…not just for those yet in the nest, but for me as well, even though we are states apart.

This story would make a delightful read aloud for the family, or an inspiring break for the tired mom.

Home was Mama! The kitchen was a coffee pot. Security was the rocking chair. We were home!

{Reading Report} Glimpses of Grace

glimpses-of-grace_1As I ate up the reasonably sized chapters in this book by Gloria Furman, I was happy to find a balanced view of salvation and its affects on our thoughts, motives, and behavior as Christian women. Glimpses of Grace offers theologically sound but practically helpful counsel for cherishing Jesus, Who He is, and His beautiful gospel in the midst of the mundane moments that a woman’s life is made up of.

The balance of this book is clear throughout, including in the following quote from Chapter 3:

I believe it is helpful and necessary to retreat to quiet places to pray and read God’s Word. But silence is not necessary for you to have a vibrant relationship with God. your spiritaul life is not restricted to early mornings before the noisemakers in your life wake up. If you feel that God meets with you only when the house is empty or quiet, you’ll view every noise and every noisemaker as an annoying distraction to your communion with God.

Here we see the well-rounded philosophy that it is helpful and even necessary to retreat to quiet places for quality time with God. Yet if we legalistically believe that we can only commune with Him in that setting, we are opening ourselves up for a lot of unnecessary frustration and wrong reactions to the interruptions He has ordained.

One of my favorite things about this read was Mrs. Furman’s emphasis on the Person of Jesus Christ as our object of contentment. I’ve realized in recent months how easy it is to think I’m content because I’m choosing to enjoy my housework, my job, and the other mundane pieces of life. That’s great, but I really need to take it a step further. Mrs. Furman explains,

Surely these things–a cheerful attitude and sense of hopefulness–are wonderful by-products of rejoicing in God while in the midst of our homes. But that’s just what they are–by-products. The source of our faith, hope, love, joy, and gospel-grounded optimism is God Himself and not our stuff or our circumstances.

I also love the connection drawn between dwelling on Jesus and becoming like Him.

We study Christ because we’ve been saved for the purpose of being transformed into His image, and in our beholding, the work of transformation occurs.

In terms of practicality, Chapter 7 “All Grace and All Sufficieny for Every Dinner Guest” was my favorite. Serving through hospitality must, like everything in our lives, must be done out of a deep-rooted love for Jesus. I’m sure every woman can relate to the fear of man that is shown in letting earning the satisfaction and admiration of our dinner guests become an idol as we prepare to open our homes.

When we serve with the strength God supplies instead of from our own energies or motivation, we can serve with cheerfulness to the praise of His glory. We don’t have to be embittered martyrs on the altar of hospitality.

Quite possibly my favorite quote from the book is also in Chapter 7:

When grief over our sin and thankfulness for the gift of grace meet together at the cross, a powerful work of transformation occurs in our hearts.

I hope these few quotes whet your appetite enough to compel you to pick up Glimpses of Grace. As a young wife looking ahead to, Lord-willing, many years of serving primarily from my home, the truth and encouragement Mrs. Furman had to share rang true in my heart when held up against Scripture. Her sense of humor and realism kept the book light and enjoyable, and her illustrations and real-life examples skillfully brought heady theology down to a practical level, while not trivializing the magnitude of the Cross. I believe this is a book I will return to in years to come as I fight carnal thinking in the mundane moments of life, and I highly recommend it to any woman seeking to love Jesus through her day-in, day-out routine.