Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012: Intentional (Dinner Recipes)

My word for 2012 is intentional.  I started a post soon after the new year on this word, but I have not quite finished it.  There are several areas in which I am focusing my intentionality.  One of which is healthy dinnertime meals.  My husband was diagnosed with high cholesterol, so these meals represent his recommended eating red meat, low sodium, no white bread or white potatoes, and overall a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. My focus is dinner meals right now, but eventually I hope to include breakfasts, snacks, and lunches.

I need a place to keep all of my recipe ideas so I remember what we've made and what we like!  Some of my recipes are online while others are handwritten or typed.  I hope that you will find these recipes helpful, as I am very excited about only having to go to one place to decide on our menus! 

Note: We are trying new recipes each month until we get about 30 yummy heart-healthy recipes.  This list will be growing each month!!!

Please feel free to share any healthy recipes your family loves!

1. Chili-Rubbed Tilapia
2.Chicken Tetrazzini
3. Quick Zucchini Parmesan*
4. Chicken Tortilla Soup*
5. Spicy Chicken Tacos
6. Roasted Chicken Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach*
7. Pork Tenderloin Southern Style
*See recipe below

Trying these new recipes in February (and I will add them to the list if we like them!):
-Honey Sauced Chicken (in crock pot)
-Crock Pot Southwestern Chicken
-Quinoa Burgers
-Honey Lime Tilapia
-Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake (as a side)
-Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche with a Brown Rice Crust
-Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Quick Zucchini Parmesan (recipe from my aunt, not sure of original source)
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 medium roma tomatoes
1/4 tsp. salt
2 medium zucchini
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
cooked brown rice or whole wheat pasta

1. In a 9" skillet, heat oil, add onion and saute until golden.  Add garlic.
2. Stir in tomatoes and salt, cook 2 minutes.  Wash zucchini and tip off and discard ends.  Cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices.
3. In a small bowl, combine basil and oregano and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.  Sprinkle cheese mixture over zucchini and pat firmly onto zucchini.
4. Remove 1/2 of tomato mixture from skillet.  Arrange zucchini slices in skillet.  Spoon removed 1/2 of tomatoes over slices.
5. In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, remaining Parmesan, and mozzarella.  Sprinkle over zucchini.  Cover tightly and simmer 8-10 minutes.  Uncover and broil until cheese browns.  Serve with pasta or rice.

Our Favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup (not sure of original source)
3 large chicken breasts
8 cups of water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1 (16oz) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 small package frozen corn
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 medium zucchini, sliced and diced
3 yellow squash, sliced and diced
2 large carrots (or about 2 handfuls of small ones (sliced)
1 can mild rotel
3 tsp. cumin
3 tsp. garlic powder
Boil 8 cups of water and cook chicken in water for broth  Remove chicken (shred or cut into bite-sized pieces) and add bouillon cubes to broth.  Saute onion and garlic in olive oil.  Add veggies, sauteed mixture, and all other ingredients.  Boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.  (**Can also be put in crock pot and cooked on high until vegetables are soft.)

Serve with chips, cheese, avocado, and sour cream.

Roasted Chicken Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (my variation from a Taste of Home recipe)
1 cup light (or fat free) ricotta cheese
1 cup low-fat (or fat free) cottage cheese
1/2 pkg. (5oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 egg
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
10 uncooked whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 small fully cooked rotisserie chicken, skinned and chopped into bite-sized pieces (about 3 1/2 cups chopped)
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 6oz. can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 small yellow squash, chopped
2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup crumbled light feta cheese
8 ozs. shredded light mozzarella cheese
2 T chopped fresh parsley

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, cottage cheese, spinach, egg, oregano, and black pepper.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare lasagna noodles according to package directions.  Drain.  Rinse with cold water and drain again.  Set aside.

Saute onion and garlic in 1 T olive oil until onion is tender.  Stir in tomato paste, water, zucchini, squash, salt, oregano, and pepper.  Simmer, covered, 30 minutes.

Spray a 9" x 13" baking pan with cooking spray.  To assemble lasagna, spoon 1 cup sauce over bottom of pan.  Arrange 3-4 lasagna noodles over sauce.  Top noodles with another cup of sauce followed by 1/3 chicken, 1/3 feta, and 1/3 mozzarella.  Arrange 3-4 more noodles over top, followed by 1 cup sauce, 1/3 chicken, all of the ricotta/spinach mixture, 1/3 feta, and 1/3 mozzarella.  If you have enough sauce left over, repeat layering with remaining noodles, sauce, chicken, feta, and mozzarella.  Sprinkle parsley over top.

Cover loosely with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Heart Faces Weekly Photo Challenge - By the Book

This moment I captured of my daughter was just that...the briefest of moments.  I love everything about this slice of time...the evening light pouring through her window, the trail of open books spread out across the rug, her peaceful, still posture (a rare sight!), her rounded baby tummy, the few remaining rolls on her legs, and the intent look on her face as she quietly reads. 

Photo Challenge Submission

Be sure to check out other great photos for this week's "By the Book" theme!

Friday, January 20, 2012

With a neigh and a moo and a cock-a-doodle-doo...Addison is 2!

Dear Addison,

What a wonderful year of learning, growing, and loving we have had!  I feel like we got to know you, our beautiful daughter, on such a deeper level as you are now able to communicate your thoughts and feelings.  What a joy you are and what happiness you bring to our lives!

As you continue to grow, I love discovering how God created YOU…the only YOU in the entire world!  What makes you overly excited, happy, scared, or sad?  What fuels and energizes you?  The answers to these questions will change with the passing months, but embracing who you are in this very moment is what I love most about each and every day.  The way God created you is simply breath-taking, inside and out.

I love you, all of you, Sweetheart.  I love your silky blonde hair that actually sparkles in the sunlight.  I love your captivating eyes that have gradually shifted from blue to light gray this year…the kind of gray that teases you with hints of blue, fawn-brown, and green.  I love the dimple on top of your nose.  I love the three tiny freckles that are sprinkled across your soft, smooth skin.  I love when your small hands grasp mine.  I love your enthusiasm and the way you scream with excitement because you just can’t hold it in.  I love the wonder you have when learning new things.  Your compassion and gentleness around babies and baby dolls melts my heart.  I love to hear you talk; your expressions, pronunciations, and sentences are precious.  I love that you still want me to hug you close and kiss away your “boo-boos” even though you are seeking independence and remind me often that you can do most things on your own.  I love how excited you get when you have the opportunity to spend time with your family and friends, who love you dearly and you love dearly as well.  I love the laughs and squeals of delight that fill the house when Daddy tickles you.  Addison, I love the way God made you.

From the day we found out you were alive and growing inside of me, I have been praying specifically for you, my daughter.  I pray that your life would be a reflection of Jesus…a life that loves and trusts God, strives for purity, humility, diligence, compassion, and integrity.  I pray that you will find your identity in the One who created you and not from the lies of the world.  I deeply desire that Daddy and I will have a close connection with you through each stage of your life, and even though it may not seem like it to you at times, that you would rest with full assurance knowing that we always have your best interests in mind.

Speaking of your Daddy, are you aware that you have the best Daddy in the world?  He is fun, caring, involved, and loves us so deeply.  However, most importantly he loves Jesus and his life displays His Name.  Daddy is a man of integrity, honor, wisdom, courage, generosity, compassion, gentleness yet strength, and loyalty.  He adores you and loves you through and through.  I pray that one day you will chose to marry a man who treasures you like Daddy treasures me and you, who deepens your faith in God, who loves you without reservation, who tells you you are beautiful from sun-up to sun-down, and who rejoices in the way God made you.  Daddy is that man to me, and I pray that your future husband will be same to you.

Addison, my love for you continues to grow deeper with each passing day.  No matter what you do, believe, or what you think of me over the years, I will love you unconditionally all the days of my life.  You are my treasure and I am so thankful that God chose to place you in our lives to love and cherish.  Daddy and I are so proud of you and we celebrate every aspect of you.  We have an exciting year ahead as you become the Big Sister!  Your little brother or sister is blessed beyond measure to have you to look up to.                

All my love, 
A few pictures from her birthday party!

A few of the details...

I am very grateful to my talented sister who took the majority of the party pictures!  And thank you, thank you to all of our family and friends who came over to celebrate Addison's birthday!  You mean the world to our little girl (and us!)!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Celebrating Another Miracle

"I have come to believe that 'the glow' of a pregnant woman comes entirely from the presence of God.  God does not begin the work of creating and then leave.  I believe that He remains and indwells the heart, soul, and body of a woman with extra measure of His presence.  Every woman is visited by the Creator God as He quietly performs the miracle of life.  And like the city on a hill, the light of the Father cannot be hidden.

...This season will pass quickly, and the blessing that awaits you is breathtaking.

Drink deeply from these days...pray without ceasing...and marvel."  

-Prayers for Expectant Mothers by Angela Thomas Guffey

I only cried tears of sorrow once the months following Addison's birth.  I clearly remember the night.  She was less than a week old.  Our new family of three was cuddled close together on a cold, winter's night as we rested before bed.  We were tired, but My Hero and I were in amazement of our beautiful, sleeping miracle.  She was finally here, finally in our arms, safe and sound.  I looked across our room to a framed set of 4 pictures, photos my sister had taken when my rounded belly proudly displayed the newest of new life growing within me.  Without any thought, tears began cascading down my face.  "I wish I was still pregnant," I confessed to My Hero as I began to ache on the inside.  I loved the complete oneness my daughter and I shared while I was pregnant.  I loved having her all to myself, safely tucked away from the dangers of this world.  I loved feeling her every movement, wondering if that was a knee, an elbow, a foot or a hand.  I loved the responsibility I had to eat right and exercise so that I could rest assured knowing I did my part to give her the healthiest start possible.  I loved how beautiful I felt in my husband's eyes.  I loved the incredible purpose my life had during that time.  I loved being able to take her everywhere with me.  I loved knowing that without me, this miracle would not exist or survive.  I loved resting my hand on my bulging baby bump, praying over the newest of new life.  I loved being pregnant.

And then, 6 hours after the first twinge of labor pains signaled the fast-approaching moment I had been dreaming of, I was no longer pregnant.

I would later read these words from Ann Voskamp, mother of six, in this post.

"Sometimes I catch myself, this laying a hand on my flatness, over that still cavity. Sometimes I can feel the pulse of ache’s howl. A woman’s body is hollowed out to create. Her soul made to knit in the private spaces. And so the longings come, these yearnings to fill, to carry, to deliver."

I later realized that is how I felt - empty and lifeless.

But then I looked away from the pictures and allowed my eyes to rest on my tiny, sleeping baby girl, wrapped snugly in a pink blanket and my tears transformed into tears of joy.  Sorrow-filled tears that trickled like raindrops were replaced with a rushing waterfall of tears bursting with all the happiness and gratitude I could have possibly felt in one moment.  She was so fresh, so innocent, so dependent, so perfect.  The moment she was born and we saw her for the first time, an intense, indescribable love captured us and bonded the 3 of us together in a way I cannot understand.  She was beautiful, healthy, and whole...God's handiwork revealed for the world to marvel at.  I sank deep into the truth that her life had a far greater purpose in my arms than inside of me and my trust in God deepened as I knew that He would care for her in this world.  My husband could finally hold, kiss, gaze at, and cradle his baby that he had felt move from the outside for so long.  Their relationship could begin growing into a deeper connection.  To this day, there is still something about my strong man with our precious daughter that makes my heart melt.  Yes, being pregnant was a fleeting, miraculous time that went by all too quickly.  However, after that brief moment of reminiscing, I would never desire for her to be anywhere but cradled in our arms, right where she belongs.

And as I sit here and write this, my emptiness is no longer and I am once again showing the first stages of fullness, roundness, and blossoming life.  A brand new life that has been given to us by our Father in Heaven.

We are humbled and overly grateful for the amazing gift He has chosen to place in our lives, no matter whether we have a few short weeks or many years with our child.  Losing our second baby to a miscarriage this summer was one of the most heart-wrenching experiences we've ever gone through.  Now, more so than ever, we are grateful for each and every day and we trust that God's plan is perfect.  How thankful we are for the time we have already been given knowing that our baby's heart is beating and he or she is growing. 

 "Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name." -Psalm 103:1


I am beyond excited to go through this pregnancy in light of eucharisteo.  I am slowing down, being still, and drinking deeply from these fleeting days.  The peace I feel is all-consuming.  I cannot hide my smile every time I touch my swollen stomach or catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I allow my mind to dwell on the fact that God is knitting our precious child together in me.  I rest in Him and marvel at the works of His hand.

And this little girl, now the big one, the girl that made me a Mommy....

(photo taken this summer)

she is going to be the best big sister!  She is so compassionate, loving, gentle, and motherly when she is around babies.

I am so excited to give her a childhood playmate and hopefully a lifelong best friend.  My heart swells with joy as I think about her loving and helping me care for her younger brother or sister.

I feel a twinge of sadness intermingled with the joy, for we are counting down the months until it is no longer just the three of us.  So we are doing what we always do, making the most of each moment and spending all of our time together.  I do have a feeling, though, that the best is yet to be!


I am overwhelmed with thankfulness....

642.  The sweet, exciting thoughts about the little one forming in me at this very minute.  I can't stop thinking about this tiny miracle!

643. Finally getting in bed.  Creating a new life is exhausting!

644. Re-reading pregnancy books

645. Dreaming about whether or not we will have another daughter or our first son.  Will Addison have a brother or sister?

646. Feeling like my life has an even greater purpose and importance right now.