Monday, June 30, 2008

Ham and Black Bean Soup

Let me go ahead and tell y'all up front that Mr. U does NOT like black beans. At all. I, on the other hand, think they are divine. Every once in a while I'll try a new recipe in hopes that Mr. U will find them somewhat palatable.

After 9 1/2 years of marriage, I FINALLY found a recipe with black beans that he says is "pretty okay". Not exactly the statement I was looking for ("Oh, Honey!!! These black beans are AMAZING!! What have I been thinking all these years- I suddenly LOVE black beans!! Let's have more and SOON!!"... that's what I was hoping for!!!), but I'll take it!!!

Me? I LOOOOOVED this recipe!! Give me anything with garlic, lime and cilantro and I'm happy a happy girl!!!

Happy Monday, y'all!!

Ham and Black Bean Soup

1 cup red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 T olive oil
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, undrained
1 cup water
1 pound ham, diced into bite size cubes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 T ground cumin
sour cream
fresh limes

In a dutch oven, saute onion, garlic and green pepper in olive oil over medium heat until tender and onions are slightly translucent. Add undrained beans and water and season with salt, pepper and cumin. Stir well and simmer for 20 minutes.

Using a potato masher, mash some of the beans in the pot. Mash it until you get the consistency your family likes. Or, you may leave the beans completely whole, if you prefer.

Add ham and simmer for 10 more minutes.

To serve, place soup in bowl and top with your choice of sour cream, cilantro, and/or a fresh squeeze of lime.

Friday, June 20, 2008

An update on our flowers...

Well, I almost forgot to share this!!! Here's how Elizabeth's little flowers progressed after only 1 week!!!! As you can imagine, she is SO excited and keeps referring to them as "babies". HAHA! I guess they are young plants.

Now we'll just get outside and plant these sweet cosmos and hope little flowers will soon appear!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Easy Cajun Jambalaya

Oh yum. I made this Easy Cajun Jambalaya just the other day and it is good!! I found it at Allrecipes and changed only one little bitty thing- I did not put any hot pepper sauce in the food when cooking it. I was worried it would be too spicy for Elizabeth, so I left it out and everyone else added dashes of hot sauce to their food after it was served.

This is a keeper!!

Easy Cajun Jambalaya

Yields: 6 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
8 ounces kielbasa, diced
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced celery
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 cups uncooked white rice
4 cups chicken stock
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Saute chicken and kielbasa until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Season with cayenne, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, or until onion is tender and translucent. Add rice, then stir in chicken stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce.

(To all you Weight Watcher friends, Allrecipes almost always has the nutritional information posted on the website with each recipe. So, you can use that to figure out how many points there is per serving!!!)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sad, sad days here in our home...

It's no secret that I love a good cup of tea. My favorite way to take my tea is with a drizzle of sage honey and a splash of milk. Mmmmm. And this is all fine and dandy.


I always buy my honey from the co-op that I order my wheat from. When I placed my order last week, I was informed that there is NO SAGE HONEY!!!! Apparently there were some brush fires that ruined the sage bushes and the sage honey supply is low and this means no sage honey for me!!!

(a sage plant)

So, I am trying to find a decent alternative to sage honey until the supply is built back up (probably not available until September! OH NO!!!). Stevia is bitter. Clover honey is too strong. Sugar is just not right. I am not a happy camper, folks. Sigh.

My tea won't be the same until my wonderful sage honey is back in our home. There are sad, sad days ahead for me and my tea cup.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Won Without Words...

Won Without Words

“Sweetheart, wake up!”


“Don’t you remember? The pastor said that the man of the house should wake up early to read the Bible!”


“Harry, wake up! This is gonna be a Christian house whether you like it or not!”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Have you ever tried to change your mate into a more spiritual person? When a wife tries to take on this kind of “fix it” project, her focus is on something she can’t do anything about—her husband’s heart. It takes her mind off something she can do something about—cooperating with the Holy Spirit in changing her own heart.

The apostle Peter advises wives to be submissive, even to unbelieving husbands. Then he explains why in 1 Peter 3: “so that, if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.”

Have you been approaching your husband with nagging words or with godly behavior?

With Seeking Him, I’m Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

This was my email today from Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Boy, how many times have I heard about this exact situation!!!

Ladies, if you find yourselves in a similar position, wishing, hoping, that your husband was truly a godly man, do NOT try to force him into a mold that only God can fit!!! Your job? Your job is to pray and live a holy life in front of him, that he may see your First Love through your example and desire to follow after the Lord Jesus Christ, as well.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cheesy Southwestern Skillet...

Cheesy Southwestern Skillet

1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of very lean ground beef
1 onion, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 T chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes (do NOT drain them)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (4 oz) can chopped mild green chiles
1 T garlic powder
1/2 cup water
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

Cook macaroni according to package directions and then drain.

In a saute pan on medium-high heat, heat olive oil and then cook ground beef until no longer pink. Stir in onion and bell pepper. Pour in chicken broth and scrape up any bits of beef in the bottom of the pan. Stir in chili powder, cumin and salt. Cook until the onions are softened. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, chiles, garlic powder and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are well blended. Add the macaroni and stir to combine. Sprinkle cheese all over top and let it melt before serving.

4- 6 servings.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Garden 08 progress...

So we started the garden a little late this year (mid May)... hopefully something will grow, though!!

Here's the garden after two weeks. We have tomatoes, green beans, watermelon, zucchini, basil, lemon basil, sage, and a few other things that I can't remember!!

I cannot wait for the first tomato of the summer!!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Planting flowers...

While shopping at Target one day, we found these super cute tins of Cosmos flowers. They were in the dollar bins up near the front. FLOWERS!! I just LOVE planting flowers!! And I figured that Elizabeth would enjoy doing this, too, so that she could closely watch them as they grow.

Yesterday afternoon, we soaked the soil that came in the tins (you know, the kind that is super compacted together and you soak it in water so it'll become soft), placed it back in the little tins and tucked the tiny seeds inside. Now we begin the long wait for the sprouts to appear.

Elizabeth had quite a time playing in the dirt. She carefully placed each little seed in the soil and covered it with a little more dirt. It was incredibly sweet watching her be so gentle.

After they are 3 inches tall (according to the directions), we can take them outside and plant them!! Even more fun!!!

Hmmmm... I wonder who is more excited here- me or Elizabeth? HA!!!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

And here I go...


I've been dreading writing this post for a while. I know that once it is here on my blog, it makes it more real, more permanent. I knew that once I had written this, people could email me out of the blue and ask about it. So... here goes... (and yes, most of y'all will think I'm being over dramatic, I know... but it IS dramatic to me.)

I am overweight and I have decided to seriously do something about it.

I joined Weight Watchers in January of 2006 and by July of that year, I had lost 50 pounds and I felt SOOOOO good!! I was still far from my goal, but it seemed so attainable at that point!!!

Then we went away to a pastor's school that we attend every summer. We stay on a college campus, live in dorms for the week and eat at the cafeteria 3 times a day. An all-you-can-eat cafeteria, let me add. So, I messed up that week. Big time. But I figured when I got back home, I would start watching my portions and exercising again.

When we got back home, I did start. Kind of. I half-heartedly counted my points and exercised when I felt like it. But, I was fortunate to do just enough to maintain that 50 pound loss. I even survived Christmas that year without gaining!!!

Then came January 4, 2007. One of THE happiest days of my life. This day, we got our referral for Elizabeth. I was ECSTATIC!!! And, the last thing I wanted to do was worry about weight. MY BABY WAS WAITING FOR ME IN CHINA!! I had to pack!! I had to prepare for a new little life! Who had time to exercise and count points???

Then we got to China. This is where it gets bad. Really bad and ugly. We stayed at a wonderful hotel called the White Swan. Every morning for breakfast they serve a huge American style buffet breakfast. And every morning while we were there, I ate lots and lots of bacon and slices and slices of French toast with extra syrup. It tasted like home. We also found a place there called Danny's Bagels that would deliver to your room. They served food that also tasted like home- pizza, spaghetti, chicken Parmesan, mac and cheese. You know, low-cal stuff. (HA!!). And by day 5 or 6, I had discovered that the 7-11 across the street from the hotel had OREOS!!!! So I happily munched on a pack of 8 every night before bed. No, it was NOT pretty at all.

We got home and things went downhill from there. Since that time, I gained 25 of those pounds back and I feel icky. Blah, fat, flabby and icky (can anyone relate to that description??). I hate clothes shopping. I hate to see myself in the mirror and I HATE to be overweight.

So, I've had enough. I'm tired of it. I'm taking action. I've decided that *I* am now in control of my food- not the other way around. From now on, I will count my points because that is how I will control my food. I will exercise at least 5 days a week. I will drink at least 96 ounces of water a day. I will succeed and this time it will last.

I do plan on sharing weekly updates- mainly to keep myself accountable. (I even posted a "Tracking My Weight Loss" section over on the right side of the blog, about halfway down). This is going to be hard, I know. But, as I read on a weight loss blog the other day "It's hard. Being fat is hard too. Choose your hard."

Oh, and I would love to know if anyone else is in a similar boat right now and would like to share their struggles and successes. Surely I am not alone.


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