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Baked Breakfast Greens

greens

I found this recipe on Vodka&Biscuits.com and my family loves it so much we have had it several times in the last couple of weeks. It’s very flexible, I add more veggies than the recipe calls for, but it works!

Baked Breakfast Greens

1/4 c diced onion

4 oz mushrooms (my addition)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tomato, chopped (my addition)

2T olive oil

1/2 t paprika

salt and pepper to taste

2 c kale

2 c spinach

4 eggs

2-4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium, add onions (and mushrooms) and saute 3-5 minutes. Add garlic (and tomatoes) and saute another minute and season with paprika and salt and pepper.

Add the greens and cook until wilted, then crack the eggs directly on top of greens. Crumble the goat cheese over the top and place the skillet into the oven. Allow to bake 10-12 minutes, until the egg whites are firm.

 

 

 

So Real

real

I went to the community center to work out last week, I don’t have a set schedule that I keep, so sometimes I work out first thing in the morning but I’m more likely to find my way there mid-morning or right at lunchtime. If I wait till much later in the day, I can talk myself out of going. Way too easy to do.

Anyway, I was sick with a chest cough for many weeks, went to the doctor several times and was given shots and prescriptions but ultimately it was time and rest that was needed most to get better. I was unable to work out for twelve weeks. Three months. There have been seasons in my life where that meant nothing at all, but I had been very consistently visiting the gym for the nine months prior, and I felt this absence.

I finally declared myself well enough to hop onto the elliptical, knowing that I would not be able to stay on it for the length of time I had prior to being sick. I was fine with this thought, I’m really in no hurry, but I quickly saw that it did matter to me after all. There was an older man on the machine next to mine, he was at least 15 years older than me, and he had a great pace going, looked over my way and greeted me and it was obvious he had just started because he wasn’t sweating or tired. I got on and felt the familiar movements that I had been missing for so long. It felt good to be moving again, but in no time I was soaking wet and sputtering for air. I made myself stay on for half the time I had been able to do prior, and I was counting down the minutes to accomplish it.

As I was hopping off I looked at my neighbor who was still going at the same cadence with no sign of stopping. He waved good-bye as I cleaned off the machine and I wanted to explain to him all the reasons that I was stopping so soon. Like he cared. This little situation forced me to acknowledge that I still worry too much about what others think of me, when I’m the only one who needs to be concerned about where I am. It’s a lesson that I would have thought I had mastered by now, but obviously not fully. This week I will go back to the gym and climb on that machine and give it my best shot, no matter who else is in the room.

Do you struggle with this area of pride sometimes? Please tell me you do.

 

West African Peanut Soup with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

africansoupShauna Niequist is an author who I follow, and she has amazing recipes along with powerful insight. This past week she posted a picture of this soup (which I am using) without sharing the recipe and I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I found one on New Your Times recipe site by Mark Bittman. I had almost every ingredient, just had to replenish the sweet potatoes and we were set.

West African Peanut Soup with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

2T oil

1 medium red or white onion, chopped (I used white)

1T minced ginger

1T minced garlic (I used 2-3 cloves)

1/2 lb chicken (I omitted)

3/4 c roasted, unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped

pinch cayenne (I used 1/2 teaspoon)

salt

pepper

6 c chicken stock (I used fresh turkey broth)

2 sweet potatoes, chopped in large chunks

14 oz stewed tomatoes

1/2 lb kale, but into bite sized pieces

1/3 to 1/2 c natural peanut butter

Pour oil into a deep skillet and heat on medium for a minute. Add onions, ginger and garlic and heat till onions are translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add chicken and cook till changing color, another three minutes. Add 1/2 c peanuts, cayenne, salt and pepper.

Stir in the stock and sweet potatoes, bring to a boil, and turn down to medium-low heat. Add tomatoes and kale and cook for ten minutes. Stir in peanut butter and taste to determine if you need more, I used 1/2 cup, cook till heated through. Serve with remaining peanuts sprinkled on top. 4-6 servings.

 

 

 

Control

control

Last week my guy visited our daughter for Thanksgiving break. She is in school in Maine, started this fall and her Dad hadn’t had the opportunity to go there until now. I was very excited for the two of them, for him because he would finally see all that we had described, and for our girl because she has been away from family for what feels like an eternity.

Before the trip I talked to each of them about plans while they were there and both were non-committal; it was almost like no one wanted to make the first move. So I researched things to do in cities nearby and had several ideas, in case they asked. They didn’t. I knew they planned to go out for Thanksgiving, so I looked up all the restaurants that would be open on the day and had two specific ones in mind that would be in the right area and took reservations. It turned out they didn’t need my help at all.

On Thanksgiving Day, my loved ones went into a larger city nearby and drove around until they found someplace interesting that was open, they had to sit in the bar because of a lack of reservations, but my guy usually prefers that anyway. My mini-family had a perfectly good four day visit, driving to four different states, without any help from me. They did it in a way that I would not have chosen, and that’s just fine because I wasn’t there. Several times I was tempted to tell them what they needed to do and how to go about it, but this way was so much better because it was their time together.

Sometimes I need to be reminded that I don’t have to control all the pieces on the board, keeping up with my own piece should be plenty. Now I can start planning my trip north to Maine!

Faith Restored

airport

Life can make a person pretty cynical if we’re not careful. Turn on the news and hear about abductions, terrorist attempts and people murdering their ‘loved ones’ – it’s enough on any given day to make you question where we are going as a society. Many people say they don’t watch the news anymore because it’s too depressing, and I understand that, we take a break from it from time to time for the same reason. But then I take a ride to the airport to pick up someone who has flown into town just to visit us, and my faith in humanity is restored!

If you’re feeling particularly bitter about the human race, go to the Baggage Claim area of your local airport. Order a cup of coffee and sit for a while and watch the people. You will witness grand hugs with shouts and tears, and tentative hellos with awkward beginnings and everything in between, often balloons or flowers are presented as a loved one is being enfolded back into a family. But most consistent of all, you will see smiles and true connections, even just for a second. Real people welcoming others into their circle.

I also like to watch people say goodbye at the airport curb; usually the words have all been said and there is a hurry to avoid getting yelled at by the police officer to move it along. But again, smiles, eye contact, connection. I drive away with a warm feeling because of the visit that just happened in my home, but also because of the energy of those around us, experiencing something similar. We are made for community, to connect with others even though it can be messy and hard. I like to think of those airport hugs and kisses as a precursor to heaven someday, with loved ones shouting and hugging, welcoming each other home.

Southern Sweet Potato Casserole

 

sweetpot

This is a Thanksgiving staple in our home, but we also have it for Easter with ham every year. It’s simple enough, one of the few recipes I got straight from my grandmother. Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

 

Southern Sweet Potato Casserole

3 c sweet potatoes, cooked, mashed

1 c sugar (I cut this in half now)

2 eggs

1 t vanilla

1/3 c milk

Topping:

1 c brown sugar

1/2 c butter

1/3 c flour

1 c chopped pecans

Combine all ingredients except topping, mix until blended and pour into 13×9 baking dish. Sprinkle topping over potatoes and bake for 25-30 minutes 350 degrees. Serves 10-12.

 

If We’re Honest

honest

 

A couple of years ago I decided to tell my closest friend about a situation we were mired in with one of our teenagers. It was one of those issues with many layers; not my journey but I am greatly affected, not my deal but I can be judged for it, not my decisions but I can easily talk myself into taking the blame. It was a dark time and easier to stay hidden. But I had some time with my friend in person and I let my guard down and poured my heart out to her.

Her response? Love. She spoke directly to my heart, telling me that we were given these children specifically because we are uniquely qualified to handle them. Then she went on to remind me of several characteristics that my teen needed and how her parents had those very qualities. If I doubted her, she drew on her own experience and pointed out how she had learned this lesson in parenting earlier in life, when she was going through a difficult season.

My friend didn’t try to fix it, she couldn’t. She also didn’t try to cover over it with trite sayings, she wouldn’t. And she didn’t let me off the hook, she shouldn’t. What I did that was right was that I opened up and shared with someone safe and what she did was to respond with safety and wisdom. We must be honest with each other about the struggles we are facing; when we bring the darkness to light shame evaporates, fear flees and hope is restored. My friends bolstered my confidence in God and in our parenting, and gave us the strength to stay in it and fight for our teen.

I’m including a video if Francesca Battistelli’s ‘If We’re Honest’ because it highlights the value of bringing our brokenness to one another. It is my prayer that you have someone you can open up and be honest with, and if you don’t, that you would find that person or group of people who can remind you who and whose you are.

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