chicken & black bean cazuela…

often when dinner rolls around, i check out the fridge & pantry & have to get creative…last night was one of those nights. my hubby agreed this was tastier than our usual “taco night.” plus, it yields leftovers & got him to eat beans! bonus! haha he’s been bugging me to create a cookbook, but honestly i don’t even know where i’d start, so i figure this is the next best thing! here’s my simple mexican concoction…hope you like it!

chicken & black bean cazuela (casserole)
you will need:
3-4 chicken breasts…………………………………………..1/2 c. sour cream
one 4oz can diced green chilies……………………one pkg. hot taco seasoning & garlic
one 10oz can petite diced tomatoes……………3-4 soft tortilla shells
one 2lb. bag of sharp cheddar cheese………one 10oz can refried black beans

preheat oven to 350 degrees…
boil or saute chicken breasts, dice & set aside in a medium-sized bowl
coat a 9 in. round cake pan w/cooking spray

add to diced chicken:
1/2 tbsp. minced garlic or 2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. sour cream
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix – i get the “hot” stuff (or you can make your own)
1/2 4oz can of diced green chilies
1/2 10oz can of petite diced tomatoes
combine well

assemble casserole:
lay 1 tortilla shell in the bottom of the pan
spread an even coat of refried black beans over entire shell
lightly coat w/cheddar cheese
add an even layer of chicken mixture
finish with another coat of cheddar cheese & tortilla
repeat…

on the final tortilla shell – i spread the remaining sauce from the chicken mixture over the shell w/a spatula (kind of like glazing)
then finish w/a generous coating of cheddar cheese

bake uncovered until cheese is completely melted & not quite browned (about 25 mins or so)

enjoy!!! i’m having the leftovers for dinner! :)

ava’s version, now that we are introducing more dairy…black beans with a pinch of cumin & coriander mixed with a sprinkle of cheese. baked right alongside our dish. she loved it!

christian w/a multiple personality problem…

so i got to have one of those showers today…a thought-provoking one…it’s been awhile. :) i got so into my thinking about this that i almost turned the water off & got out before actually bathing! oops…

i’ll start off w/a picture – i think in pictures & analogies, which is why i think i love Jesus’ use of parables so much – picture an onion with all its layers (not so much the smell) :) that’s what i feel like. beneath all these layers (maybe in my case just a few) is my core person – who i am in front of the Lord, when i’m alone, when i pray, while i sit w/my child or close my eyes at night next to my hubby. that’s me, but for some reason those are really the only times i get to be me. the rest of the time i feel i’m a close version of me, & rarely, but more often than i’d like, i’m someone the real me doesn’t even recognize.

perhaps it’s walls we build up around only certain ppl…ppl who have hurt or disappointed us…ppl we subconsciously just don’t trust w/that inner person. i have a few of those ppl in my life, & the version they get to see of me isn’t who i really am & so consequently, they base their opinions on who they see, right? who they think you are, but that’s not you & in the end, you find yourself stuck in a box w/your labels & false personality. in my case, you eventually suffer knowing that they’ve got it all wrong about you & it’s mostly your fault, b/c you just can’t be yourself around them for some reason & there you stay, stuck in the box. yet you stay consistent, b/c that’s who you have become around that specific person or group of ppl, & God forbid you act your true self, right?! b/c then, they’d think you’re on crazy pills or something…& you can’t have that… am i making any sense? it made sense in the shower… :)

the other part of my problem – another cause of my “multiple personality problem” stems from becoming a christian – a true christian. now, before you jump to any conclusions, i LOVE my relationship w/Christ. He is my rock, my refuge, my peace & my hope. just some history though to shed light on this dilemma…before i became the person i am now – the person who loves & has an actual relationship w/Jesus – i was a good person. i was fun, had LOADS of friends, popular, funny, fashionable (believe it or not) – just plain fun basically. now…my family would probably say i’m no longer that person. i know, b/c i’ve heard it many times in the last 11 yrs, but among all those other things, i was also sad & empty inside. that’s where Jesus came in. things still make me sad, but my life & heart are full of love & purpose – something i hadn’t had before & no matter how much you know you are loved, or how much you give love, the fulfillment of that deep longing only comes from knowing Jesus. so anyway, that was a little tangent, but to get back to my issue…i still find myself wanting to be those fun things i was before Christ, only the christian version, but this is me now. here are some scriptures that kind of explain this spiritual transformation that happens miraculously, beyond your control or own doing…”therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 corinthians 5) & “you were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (ephesians 4). my new self is totally different from that old self. how do you get those traits you did like to carry over? it’s not that i don’t want to be fun, or laugh all the time, or feel “fashionable” – it’s just that i’m different now. i think i struggle letting go of my past personality sometimes & knowing that my loved ones who knew me then prefer that “old man’s” personality, sometimes throws me into a personality pickle per se…

anyway, so there’s my little shower soap box for the day. any thoughts? can anyone relate?

oh & just a side note – i know i’m a certified teacher, but i throw all the rules of mechanics out the window on here…hope you don’t mind :) but apparently grammar still gives me ocd, b/c i’ve been back to edit my mistakes now 6 times…

babies & banana bread

had my monthly check-up this am. baby’s heart rate is great. they forgot to tell me numbers…i’m one of those weird moms that records EVERYTHING in the baby’s book…but i’ll take “great.” one more monthly appt. in april, then it’s every 2 wks for this chick. seems to be going by pretty quickly.

our april appt. actually falls on the due date for “baby ej,” the 2nd of our three babies, who went to be w/Jesus in august. not quite sure how that day will feel. i’d like to do something as a family on that day to honor our babies and “ej,” but not quite sure about that either. what do you do? shortly after the miscarriage, we visited a park – in a local high-end township – so you can imagine this park. it had everything from miles of walking trails & ecological centers to sports complexes & a spa. we went with a mum that we had purchased specifically to plant in remembrance of our child in the “remembering our babies” memorial garden…well…it took 2 trips on 2 different days, asking staff members where we could find it only to drive around in circles for what seemed like forever, looking at online maps, & walking for nearly 2 hours (all w/a 9 mo. old in tow mind you) to find this “special” spot. let me tell you, the girl scouts’ flower garden was FOUR times the size & was no bigger than your average sandbox! this special “garden” ended up being a 2×2 ft. spot in a PARKING LOT! we only came upon it, b/c we had given up & were LEAVING for the 2nd time! it was so sad & i just lost my composure upon seeing it. yes there was a tree, and yes, there was a little bench, but that’s it. surrounded by blacktop. such a disappointment. sorry for the rabbit trail, but that said, originally, i was hoping this “garden” would be my remembering place. somewhere i or we as a family could go to pray, remember & honor our child. nope. mum came home & died in the garage. so anyway…not quite sure how april 15th will go.

on a happier note – after all this baby stuff this morning & forgoing a great breakfast due to that lovely orange beverage i downed for the glucola test (i had a piece of dry toast & watered-down oj)…i have decided to bake banana bread (and oatmeal bars), but the banana bread i’ve made several times & it never lasts more than 2 days in this house, so i thought i’d share… i’ll warn you though – it does stay a little gooey in the center, but it’s pretty tasty all the same. enjoy!

……………………………………………………………
chocolate chip banana bread
……………………………………………………………

preheat oven to 350 degrees
grease & lightly flour loaf pan (this recipe could prob make 2 loaves, but i make 1 biggie)
i also use a fork the whole time, so as to not over beat the mixture

bowl #1 – mash 3 to 4 bananas (i used 4 if they’re on the small side)
mix in 1 c. coconut palm sugar (or 3/4 c. white sugar) & 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
in a measuring cup – combine 1/2 c. coconut oil OR applesauce w/ 1 egg, amp; 1 tsp. vanilla, & 1 tbsp. honey
add it to banana mixture & stir briefly

bowl #2 – combine 1 1/2 c. flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, & 1 tsp. each of baking soda & powder
add to banana mixture & stir lightly (over-mixing = more dense bread = brick)

last, fold in about 1/3 c. chocolate chips (just hold it, there will be more!)
pour into loaf pan
add a final 1/4 c. chocolate chips and “help” into the batter w/ your fork
i have found that if i add them all into the batter and bake, they sink to the bottom
it seems to work a little better when i sneak some just below the surface & if some linger on top, it just helps the aesthetic side of things…

bake for about 30-40 mins. testing in several spots w/a toothpick.
(if you hit a banana, you may think your bread’s still raw…)
i bake in a glass pan, so 40 mins. is just right…
it also yields 18 cupcake-size muffins (only bake for 30 mins.)

comments? suggestions? let me know what you think!

frustration & faith

so this has been a downer of an evening…
hubby comes home – not a great day for him. breaks my heart. angers me really. he deserves a good day – at least ONE a week. doesn’t everyone? wouldn’t it be nice to be able to count on just one fabulous day each week? we pray, we work hard, we love and care for others. where’s our mountaintop? these valleys…just stink.

so i read 1 peter 5 again today. verses 5-11… “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

i’ll probably need to read it over and over everyday. anyway, verse 7 resonates in my noggin especially. He CARES for me. He cares for US. my family. our daughters. we matter to Him. shortly after reading these scriptures, i opened my email and read my “daily blessing.” the title? “don’t worry! pray!” followed with philippians 4:7, which reads, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

so – that is what i’m going to do – pray, pray, pray, and pray with expectation that God will move on our behalf, b/c He cares.

He knows what we need, but i will tell Him again, and i will thank Him for all He has done, starting now. i thank Him or providing for me a husband that has a heart for Jesus, a husband that goes to work each day, regardless of feelings and ALWAYS gives 150% – to the point that he works from home almost every weeknight and weekend – even though he won’t see an extra dime or affirmation for it. i thank Him for our healthy, beautiful girls. ava is the greatest gift He could have ever given us. the fact i get to wake up each morning and be her mommy is enough to praise God everyday for the rest of time. she is tangible joy. i know isla will be the same for us. pure, tangible joy – a piece of Heaven in the flesh. i thank Him for great families and true friendships. i thank Him for always meeting our needs – we have a warm, safe home, meals, cars, clothes. yes, i may look like a stuffed sausage these days, but i am still covered! :) anyway, i guess what i’m saying is life is tough. it’s not fair, but God is good, and He will see us through this valley and the next.

marriage with a side of cinnamon banana pancakes…

first things first…the marriage stuff…so my hubby & i were having a little argument the other day – hard to imagine if you know us haha – and i was sulking privately in our bathroom, thinking thoughts like, “he should be more like…i deserve him to be like…” get the picture?  so then i had a pleasing revelation – “he really should be the kind of man that he himself would want ava to marry!”  he should be THAT kind of husband at ALL times, because we should model THAT for our daughters…RIGHT?!  right…and then, I believe the good Lord butt right into my scrutiny :) and kindly reminded me that i should be the kind of woman & WIFE that i would like to model for my daughters.  ouch.  yep.  seems like i have a lot of work to do on my end and it doesn’t involve pointing my finger…so that’s what i am working on from now on – making a conscious effort to be a more godly example of a christian woman for my family.  so far that has involved getting my butt out of bed this morning w/ a smile on my face, making my family pancakes on a monday morning (usually just a saturday thing), doing a load of laundry, and showering all BEFORE ava woke up.  to some of you that may sound lame, b/c you do it all the time, but not this night owl.  i’m lucky to have my teeth or hair brushed most days before 7:30.  hopefully i can keep it up and keep the complaining spirit at bay in the process.

as for the pancakes…  :)  one of my favorite traditions growing up was my mom’s weekend pancakes.  she ALWAYS made from scratch, which is probably why i loathe bisquick, and so now i’ve adopted that tradition myself.  unless we go out for breakfast, which is rare, or i’m sick, saturday mornings at our house almost always include homemade pancakes or waffles.  ava’s on a dairy-free diet, so i adapted the recipe for her.  some of my friends had asked for the recipe before, so here it is…btw it’s a work-in-progress, b/c i insist on getting them right.  they started out way too flat, but tasty.  then they were fluffy little clouds, but the hubby stated he would prefer having pancakes he could chew on, so here is my latest update.  enjoy!

cinnamon banana pancakes (dairy-free optional)

bowl #1
mash 1 ripened banana & coat w/ 2 tbs of sugar – mix well
add 1 tbs veg oil & 1/2 tsp vanilla
measure 1 cup milk (or rice/soy milk) & add 1 egg – beat together
add egg & milk mixture to banana mixture – combine

bowl #2
start w/ 3/4 cup flour
add 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda, 3 tsp baking power & 1 tsp cinnamon (or to your liking)
add additional 1/8 c flour – mix (if using non-dairy…add an extra 1/4 c instead)
add to wet mixture
stir – but don’t over do it – you want lumps & air pockets

cook on low/medium heat til lightly brown on each side (i give a flip then a gentle tap immediately to spread w/out flattening)

i love how puffy they get & still offer that chewiness you’re husbands will love :)
let me know if you make any alterations that work better!  thanks & enjoy!

The Start of Something Special…

I love reading blogs…especially artsy ones.  I began one months ago, but never really got into it.  Wordpress & I just didn’t mesh well apparently.  So, this is a new start, a new blog, a new purpose…

I often find myself, not only praying or singing in the shower, but “writing” letters in the shower, “giving advice” to others in the shower…”delivering” what God’s placing on my heart in the shower…notice a trend?  I have!  It’s my fault our water bill is so high!  I think my hubby’s on to me…  The shower is probably every mom’s sanctuary.  (I should probably be there right now actually while it’s still the little one’s nap time!)  But anyway…this will become my avenue, my outlet for those things usually lost once my feet hit dry floor…a chance to express my thoughts, burdens, creativity, and passions.

Who knows, maybe it’ll evolve from there…

And as for the title…my world…my daughters…God’s little reminders that i must press in & press on…ava & isla…

Edited to add that yes, this little blog has evolved and turned into “Klover House”! You can read all about the name choice and transition above by clicking the tab “Why Klover”!