Monday, January 30, 2017

Motivational Monday~

I am sure many of you have already heard this, but even so, it's worth listening to over and over again.




We need Him now more than ever. Amen.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Dish It Up Sunday~

Today I am sharing another yummy soup recipe.  Who doesn't enjoy a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter's evening?

French Onion soup is something we have always enjoyed, but take out the gluten and dairy, and well...you basically take out the best part, the crusty bread and gooey cheese. Until now.

Rich French Onion Soup



Ingredient:

3/4 C butter or expeller-pressed coconut oil (we used Earth Balance Dairy/Soy Free Butter)
3-4 large sweet onions, (Vidalia), approx. 6 cups, thinly sliced
6-10 cloves fresh garlic, minced (more or less to suit your taste, we used our good old jarred)
2 TBS. arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
1/2 C red wine
2-3 tsp dried thyme
5 large bay leaves
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper (we use white since I can't have black, crazy, I know)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (the more garlic the better I say)
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 quarts organic beef stock (we use Kitchen Basics)

Instructions:

1. Place the butter (or coconut oil) in a large soup pot (we love our Staub Dutch oven) and add your thinly sliced onions and minced garlic.
2. Cook over medium heat, covered but stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and starting to turn golden brown.  This will take about 10 minutes.  Careful not to let the onions burn.
3. Stir in the arrowroot powder until the onions are coated.
4. Add the red wine (hope you didn't drink it all ;-) and stir around.
5. Let the mixture cook for 3-4 minutes to burn off the alcohol (we do want this to be kid friendly).
6. Add the spices and stir.
7. Add the beef stock and bring soup to a nice simmer.
8. Reduce heat to low/medium-high and let simmer 45 minutes.
9. Remove from heat and serve.

To add back in that crusty bread with the gooey cheese, we sliced a loaf of Udi's French Bagette and toasted with sliced Follow Your Heart Provolone Cheese.

Spoon soup into individual bowls and top with two "cheesy croutons".

Enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thoughts on Thursday~Late Addition

I've always been of the camp, "better late than never".  Ask my littles I've taught.  We'd be halfway through snack on a crazy day and I'd be reminded by them, "Ms. Lauren, we forgot the blessing!" Oops.  And I'd always say, "better late than never" and we would stop and pray.

So while it's already 6:30 PM here, I thought I'd still get a post out.

This quote seems appropriate given the past couple of days.  I'll share more when I post about our updated fireplace mantle. But, suffice it to say it didn't come off without a couple hiccups.


There may or may not have been times I wanted to quit.  I may have muttered things under my breath I wasn't proud of.  And, it may have taken my #2 to keep me from going into the all out ugly cry yesterday.

But, today is a new day.  And God's mercies are new each and every morning.  And sometimes we see things with fresh eyes, and well...a calmer demeanor.   Not to mention all my sweet sweet IG followers who have been my biggest cheerleaders throughout this entire process. Love y'all.

So with all that said, I want to encourage you to keep at it.  Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.  But the end result is always worth it.  It may not always turn out the way we hoped or planned, but it does turn out the way He intended it to.

TGIF in less than 6 hours!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What's for Dinner Wednesday~Spicy Garlic Brown Rice Noodles

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Here's another simple, healthy, under 30 minute recipe for you.  I love that there are so many dietary options for this one.  Find the one that works for you.

Sticky Garlic Brown Rice Noodles



Ingredients:

8 oz of gluten-free noodles (brown rice, quinoa noodles, zucchini noodles, etc) *we chose brown rice
3 TBS butter (or ghee, or vegan butter spread) *we used Earth Balance vegan butter
1/2 C (plus a few extra TBS for garnish) green onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, diced *we used our stand by chopped out of the jar
2 TBS of coconut sugar (or brown sugar) *we chose brown sugar
2 TBS of tamari (or soy sauce) *we used coconut aminos
Optional: 1/2 tsp oyster sauce (we omitted)

Directions:

1. Boil noodles according to directions until al dente, drain, and set aside (add some butter so they don't stick together after draining).
2. Meanwhile in a saucepan over medium-high heat melt the better.
3. Add the green onions and garlic and stir for about 1 minute until fragrant.
4. Add the sugar and stir vigorously until it is completely dissolved.
5. Add tamari (or soy sauce), and mix in thoroughly.
6. Toss the noodles with the sauce, plate and garnish with fresh green onions.

Add-ins:
Grilled Chicken
Grilled Shrimp
Mixed Veggies

Original recipe can be found here.

As most of you know, our youngest moved home just before Christmas.  When meal planning these days, we try to come up with recipes that will yield enough for leftovers for her to take for lunch the following day to work.  This fits the bill.  This recipe is easy to double.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Egg and Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookies~

Popping in on this Tuesday morning to share a quick recipe with you. Confession, we are not big sweet eaters. Oh the horrors. Now with that said, we do love warm freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on occasion.  However, with our dietary restrictions the traditional recipes are a no go. That is until #2 and I decided to take the Original Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe and make it gluten, dairy, soy, egg and nut free.

Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Egg and Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookies



Ingredients:
2 1/4 Cups gluten-free all purpose flour (we love Pillsbury's, but Bob's Red Mill is also good)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 C (2 sticks) butter, softened (we use Earth Balance vegan butter sticks)
3/4 C organic granulated sugar
3/4 C organic packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract (we sub with maple syrup as I am to limit vanilla in my diet)
Egg Replacer, equivalent of 2 large eggs (we like EngerG brand best)
2 Cups Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl until creamy. Add egg replacer, and beat well.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in morsels.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely that is if they last that long.

#1 bought me cookie scoops for Christmas, and they work like a charm.  Nice even sized cookies that bake uniform.





Monday, January 23, 2017

Motivational Monday~



As we enter into the new year, many of us have organization on our mind. I stumbled upon these quotes on Pinterest, and thought I'd share them with you all. Just a few things to ponder this week.

Happy Monday!


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dish It Up Sunday~

Winter months bring a longing for a good old bowl of comfort food, do they not?  Y'all this recipe fits the bill.  My daughter found it on Pinterest, and knowing my hubby is a potato lover we just had to give it a try.

I was curious to see how it would taste.  Comfort food, Potato soup...Gluten AND Dairy free? I am hear to tell ya, you won't miss a thing!  It is that good.  Hearty, rich AND creamy. Yum.

Homestyle Potato Soup (dairy + gluten free)



Ingredients:

6-8 slices bacon, diced (we use Hormel naturals)
1 C white onion, diced
2 whole carrots, sliced lengthwise and diced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 C gluten-free all purpose flour (or cornstarch)
2 Cups chicken stock (we use Kitchen Basics)
2 Cups dairy-free milk of choice (we use flax milk)
4-5 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 Cup So Delicious Dairy Free Unsweetened Cultured Coconut Milk Yogurt (say that 10 times fast)
salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley, optional

Directions:

In a large pot over medium heat, brown the diced bacon until crispy.  Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain the grease.  Reserve the bacon grease in the pot.  Add onion, carrots and celery and allow to cook a minute or two until translucent, then add garlic.

Whisk in the gluten-free flour and allow it to cook for one minute.  Add the chicken stock and continue whisking until lumps are gone.  Stir in the dairy-free milk, then add the potatoes and the cooked bacon.  Turn temperature to medium low and allow soup to simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally.

For added creamy texture, mash some of the potatoes in the soup.  Leave about half the potatoes in bite-sized pieces.  Stir in the cultured coconut milk yogurt and season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Serve alongside your favorite gluten-free dinner rolls.

Enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thoughts on Thursday~Happy Birthday to My Best Friend


Today's thoughts are focused on my best friend, my husband of almost 29 years.  I can't imagine life without you.

30 years ago, I quit nursing school to the dismay of most that knew me.  In the meantime, I took a job as a receptionist for the insurance company my dad was working for at the time.  That position eventually led to another, but not before you stepped off the elevator one day for an interview.

I like to think of it as God intervening.  His plans were greater than mine.  Had I stayed in school, I would not have been the one to greet you that day.  The day God gifted me with my soul mate, the person whom I would share the rest of my life with, the person who would be the best father in the world to my children, the person who would become my best friend for life.

Sometimes we think we have life all planned out. But, the honest truth is He has already set in motion plans for each of us, and sometimes they differ from our plans.

There is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful for His intervention, and for the soul mate he placed in my life.

Happy Birthday to my one and only...God truly blessed me the day I met you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What's for Dinner Wednesday~Crispy Chicken Tenders with Cashews and Coconut Curry

Okay y'all, here's another "dirty" chicken recipe for ya.  This one is super easy, and something even the kiddos would love (just don't tell them about pounding the tenders into submission, k?).

Crispy Chicken Tenders with Cashews and Coconut Curry
from Fifty Shades of Chicken



Ingredients:

1 1/4 pounds chicken tenders, patted dry with paper towels
1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 C coconut milk (I used the culinary version, it's thicker and helps the crust adhere better)
1 TBS red curry paste
1/2 tsp Asian fish sauce or soy sauce (we used coconut aminos)
3/4 C roasted, salted cashews
3/4 C unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 C cornflakes
Lime wedges, for serving
Cilantro sprigs, for serving

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a large baking sheet. (I prefer parchment lined for easy clean up)

2. Using the side of a rolling pin, gently pound the chicken tenders into submission, they should be about 1/4 inch thick.  Season with salt and pepper. (ours were already thin guess the butcher at Whole Foods got to do the pounding)

3. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, curry paste, and the fish or soy sauce.

4. In a food processor, pulse together the cashews and coconut flakes until finely chopped. Add the cornflakes and pulse until just blended. Transfer to another wide, shallow bowl.

5. Dip a chicken tender in the coconut mixture, letting the excess drip back into the bowl.  Then dip the chicken in the cashew mixture, turning to coat evenly.  Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining chicken.

6. Transfer the chicken to the oven and bake, turning once halfway through, until golden all over, about 10 minutes total (our oven took a bit longer, just watch as to not burn the outside).  Serve with lime wedges and cilantro.

We served alongside rice.  For an added kick, dip in Sriracha sauce.

***Tenders are indeed the most tender part of the bird, but you can use boneless skinless breasts cut into 1/2-inch wide strips.  The pounding is optional, depending on how much your chicken wants it.



Monday, January 16, 2017

Motivational Monday~


Good Monday morning friends!  I hope most of your are enjoying the day off.

I stumbled upon this quote this week, and felt it was appropriate given many of us have either made a list of New Year's resolutions or set goals for 2017.

This quote really spoke to me.  It is so easy to give up on our resolutions and goals when things don't seem to be working out; we aren't seeing results fast enough, we set our expectations too high, we don't have the  time to devote to them or we just flat out give up.

Well, what if we asked ourselves this simple question when that happens?  "What if  I am going about it all wrong?"

For example:

You decided to work out in the mornings, but you're not a morning person.  Instead of quitting, find the time of day that works for you.

You want to eat healthier, but rush out the door in the mornings and choose fast food instead.  Plan ahead.  Make lunches on Sunday for the week, or plan extras for dinner so you have leftovers for lunch.  It's easy to just pack it up when cleaning up from dinner and put it in the fridge.

You want to cut back on your spending, so you say no to any "extras", yet you then feel deprived. Pick one guilty pleasure (within reason) and enjoy it once a week rather than every day (such as that fancy coffee).  Or, find a way to do that same thing at home yourself.  Buy a pretty new bottle of nail polish and paint your own toes.

Sometimes it's not the resolutions or the goals we set, it's that we are going about them all wrong!

Just something to ponder this week (as this is the week most will quit what they just started).

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dish It Up Sunday~Jambalaya

Having raised two daughters who were both very active in school activities and sports, I know that weeknights during the school year can be a bit hectic.  Especially when it comes to getting a hot, home-cooked meal on the table.  I was always looking for something that didn't take a lot of time to prep, and could be prepared in 30 minutes (or less).

We recently made this dish out of our Wheat Belly 30 minute (or less) cookbook, so I decided to share it with you all.  It fits the bill.  30 minutes or less, hot, and tasty.



Jambalaya

Prep Time: 15 minutes/Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
3 TBS extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil, divided
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and minced (wear plastic gloves when handling)
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
8 oz chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes (we substituted 1 lb of peeled & deveined shrimp)
1-2 TBS Cajun Seasoning Mix (recipe to follow or you can use a store bought version)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 package (6 oz) fresh baby spinach

***Cook's notes:
We use this chopper for quick veggie prep.  (this is the newer version)
We purchase jarred minced and chopped garlic. (so no prep)
We took our fresh andouille sausage out of the casing and crumbled.
We had chicken the night before, so we subbed with a pound of shrimp.

Cajun Seasoning Mix:

2 TBS paprika
1 TBS garlic powder
1 TBS onion powder
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt

This will make more than you need.  Prepare and head and keep in an airtight jar.

Directions:

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until hot.  Cook the onion, garlic, and pepper for 3 minutes, or until they begin to soften.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet.  Stir in the sausage and chicken (shrimp if using it).  Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the chicken and sausage are almost cooked through.  Stir in the seasoning mix, tomatoes with their juice, and spinach.  Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring once, or until the chicken (or shrimp) and sausage are cooked through.

We served ours over rice.  Minute Rice of course!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thoughts on Thursday~

Hello sweet friends!  While my posts were a bit sporadic the past 6 months, my hope is to post more often now that the holidays are over and we have settled nicely into a routine here at home (for those that do not know, we are no longer empty nesters as baby girl is living at home during her externships and we'll have a surprise next month to share with you, not what you are all thinking).  With that said, I will always stay true to my philosophy of blogging...blog when I have time (time that doesn't take away from my family or my duties to said family), blog when I feel I have something relevant to share, or when God has placed something on my heart.  No apologies.

With the New Year, often comes resolutions.  Not a fan!  Make a list, maybe start working on said list? Only to discard it within a couple weeks, and then feel guilty as all get out. Ummm, no thank you!  For several years I chose a word.  Some years the same word as I still needed to work on said word.  This year I have decided to approach things differently. After reading this question:


Deep right?!!!  What we choose to say and do today effects our every tomorrow.  WOW!  My sweet Core Leader for Bible study and I had this very discussion today.  What do we need to let go of maybe?  What do we need to spend more time doing?  What do we need to quit entirely?

Something to think about.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What's for Dinner Wednesday~Cranberry Baked Chicken with Apple Cider and Quinoa

Today I am back with yet another scrumptious recipe.  This one comes from a cookbook #1 gave her dad for Christmas.  Fifty Shades of Chicken. Yes, you read that right.  My daughter had read all the hype about it and decided to get it for her dad, but not before reading one of the descriptions of a recipe with her sister in Barnes and Noble...most likely turning beet red first, then praying no one was watching them, gasping, and then DYING laughing. 

Y'all this is not a cookbook for the faint of heart, nor those without a serious sense of humor.  I told the girls it was the perfect gift for a newlywed couple (that should tell ya somethin').

Needless to say, her dad and I read one of the recipes Christmas day while the girls looked on...they were dying and so were we...could not stop laughing.

***a word of caution, do not leave this out for your guests to see unless you want to have to do some explaining...just sayin'

We decided to make the Cranberry Baked Chicken with Apple Cider last night and it was delicious!



Ingredients:

1 C apple cider
1/2 C dried cranberries (we used Craisins)
2 TBS apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
1-inch piece peeled fresh gingerroot, smashed with the flat side of a knife
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (we used white since I can't have black)
3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, patted dry with paper towels (we used thighs)
1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
2 TBS cold butter, cut into pieces (we use dairy free-Earth Balance)
Cooked with wild rice, quinoa or couscous for serving (we chose quinoa)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Combine the cider, cranberries, vinegar, cinnamon stick, and ginger in a saucepan over medium-high heat. and season with the pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the cranberries are very soft and the liquid is reduced by two-thirds and has a syrupy-consistency, about 20 minutes.  Discard the cinnamon stick and ginger.

2. Season the chicken with the salt.  Lay the parts in a roasting pan, skin side up.  Spoon the cranberry mixture over the parts, then dot with the butter.  Roast until the chicken parts are browned around the edges and cooked through, about 40 minutes.  Serve up with rice, quinoa, or couscous, and enjoy.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Motivational Mondays~



Hello friends!  Yes I do realize it is Tuesday, but my inspiration for Motivational Monday didn't occur until late last evening.  So, I decided it would be okay to share it on Tuesday.

Most of you know we had some icy weather this past weekend here in Atlanta not the pretty snow that our unreliable weather folk predicted.  Well due to said weather, our mail and garbage service has been a bit off.  We have yet to get mail since Friday our mailman of 20+ years retired before Thanksgiving and hasn't been replaced so we have subs.  It was dark and cold last night when our final garbage truck entered the neighborhood.

Our new neighbors across the street (moved in last week) had placed a TON of boxes out for pickup.  Nothing wrong with that (honestly recycling should have taken them but didn't), EXCEPT...they didn't break any of them down.  I am sure you can picture what that crazy pile that took up half their yard and oh the contractors had blocked with cars all day looked like.  It was his last stop in our neighborhood...our garbage man got out of his truck and hand loaded ALL of them into his truck.  I just felt I needed to say something.

I didn't have any disposable coffee/hot cocoa cups on hand (and honestly didn't think even with my Keurig I'd get it made in time), so I did the next best thing.  I grabbed a bottle of Coca Cola and ran across the street to thank him.

The look on his face said it all.  To be recognized for going above and beyond on a cold night, working a mostly thankless job.  It was much appreciated.

Of course after the fact I prayed I had grabbed the bottle with the fancy new pull top :-0

So with that, I encourage you to find some small way to make someones day just a bit brighter today.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Dish It Up Sunday~ 5-Ingredient Bacon Crusted Chicken (Paleo, Low Carb)

Hello friends!  Are you thawing out from the "deep" freeze?  We were warned to expect 4-6 inches of snow here in Hotlanta...all we got was a dusting and a bit of ice in the trees. Boo!

So, since the grocery stores were open and ready for business,  I decided to search Pinterest for a yummy new recipe to try for dinner.

When I stumbled upon this one..5-Ingredient Bacon Crusted Chicken...I knew we had a winner on our hands.

Suffice it to say, it did not disappoint.



5-Ingredient Bacon Crusted Chicken (Paleo, Low Carb)

Ingredients:
4 large Chicken Breasts (we prefer organic)
1/4 Cup Mayonaise (we use Veganaise as it is dairy free)
1 1/2 Cup Bacon Bits (cooked) we used Epic Bacon Bits (gluten free)
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
1/4 tsp Sea Salt

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees . Line a baking sheet with foil and grease lightly.

2. In a blender or food processor, pulse the bacon bits, garlic, and sea salt, until pieces are very small. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

3. Place the mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Dip each chicken breast into the mayo (coating with a thin layer only), then roll in the bacon mixture to coat all sides.  Place on the baking sheet. Repeat with all the chicken.

4. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the bacon is crispy.

We served alongside mixed veggies.

Super easy.  But, everything tastes better with bacon y'all!

The original recipe can be found here.

Friday, January 6, 2017

It's time to panic~The South is expecting SNOW!!!

They have been predicting it all week, snow is coming to Atlanta!  Sound the alarm, or better yet...make that mad dash to the grocery store for milk and bread.  Ok, gotta be honest...having grown up in the north (NY) and also being married to someone from the north (MI), we don't get it.  Salt for the sidewalk/driveway, firewood, water...get it!!!  Milk and bread, not so much.

This is pretty much what  every grocery store in Atlanta looks like right now, or did last night.  This is the plus side of being gluten free AND dairy free, not panicking because we can't eat it.  A girlfriend joked that she wondered how many would make the switch because it's all that is still available! LOL




And, this pretty much sums up what drivers down here look like when that first snowflake falls.  I am thankful that this go round they are closing or calling schools early and most are heeding the warning to stay home. We DO NOT, I repeat, we DO NOT need a repeat of Snowpocalypse here in Atlanta.  My daughter was stuck in her truck for 7 and a half hours.  Mind you, she had no problem driving in it as she had her Hummer at the time.  It was all the other crazy people and trucks blocking the roadway, causing the problems. She couldn't navigate around them. My sweet friend Amanda's, Dixie Delights, husband was stuck in his car for 24 hours people.  He eventually walked the rest of the way home.  It was INSANE and scary.  

I pray all heed the warnings and STAY HOME.  



This pretty much sums it up.


To all my fellow Atlanta/Georgia bloggers and friends, stay safe and warm!  To our Northern friends, we don't blame you for your uncontrollable laughter at our expense. 

To Northside Hospital, Atlanta's "baby factory", consider yourself warned...October 2017 is going to be a busy month ;-)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

What's for Dinner Wednesday~Flank Steak with Sherry Vinegar Gastrique

It's been awhile since I posted a recipe.  We love a good marinated flank steak.  The Sherry Gastrique adds a unique flavor and is perfect served with mashed potatoes.

Marinated Flank Steak with Sherry Vinegar Gastrique, served with Mashed Potatoes (Good Old Idahoan-GF)


We marinate our flank steak for about 30 minutes in olive oil, with a touch of salt, pepper and garlic. We love our Vacuvin for this purpose.

Ingredients:

Flank Steak

For Sherry Vinegar Gastrique:

1 C sherry wine vinegar
1/3 C sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt (we use sea salt)
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 fresh sage leaves
1 bay leaf
1/2 sprig fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp black peppercorns

Mashed Potatoes:  for a quick dinner we used instant Idahoan (gluten free), but you could make you own homemade as well.

Marinate the flank steak for about 30 minutes or even overnight in about a 1/4 C olive oil, with salt, pepper and minced garlic to taste.

Grill or broil to desired temperature.

To Make the Gastrique:

1. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally as the mixture heats.  Let the mixture boil for 10-12 minutes or until reduced by half.

2. Reduce the heat to low so the vinegar simmers. Stir in the thyme, sage, bay leaf, rosemary, and peppercorns and let the gastrique simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

3. Strain the gastrique into a glass bowl and let it cool to room temperature.  At this point, the gastrique should be the consistency of light syrup, and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Use right away or cover and store at room temperature for up to 10 days.

Slice the flank steak, drizzle with the gastrique and serve alongside the mashed potatoes.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Pinecone Door Hanger~Winter Door Decor

Thank you to those who left well wishes for my oldest yesterday, either here or via Instagram.  We truly appreciate all the wonderful sentiments and love.

Today I thought I would share a simple idea for a winter door hanging.  After taking down our Christmas wreath, our front door was looking a little bare.  I normally have a wreath of some sort on it, but decided to change it up this go round.  While browsing Pinterest I saw several door hangings using pinecones and decided to make one myself.

I had "dipped" several pinecones in white acrylic paint to use in our home holiday decor this year, and thought they would work well for this project.  The white snowy tips seem to say "winter".



I was a bad blogger and did not take pictures throughout the process.  It really was quite simple however, and was achieved in less than 30 minutes.

Supplies:
Pinecones in varying sizes
*for snowy tips you will need white acrylic paint, a paper plate and some wax paper:  pour a small amount of acrylic paint on the paper plate, gently roll your pinecones in the paint ( I found it easiest to hold the tip) and then place standing up on the wax paper to dry overnight)

Ribbon of choice ( I used leftover pieces we saved from gifts)

Glue Gun

Directions:

Apply a small amount of hot glue to the bottom of your pinecone and then adhere the ribbon.  Do this for each one.  I used 11 in all (odd numbers work best).  Once all of your pinecones have a ribbon attached, I then tied a smaller piece of ribbon at the base with a simple knot and cut the ends on an angle to add a "bow").  Once that is complete, take one ribbon with a pinecone attached at a time and then add one by one (keeping the ribbon on top of the one before so it appears to be one), varying the heights (basically forming what looks like a grape cluster).  Once you have all of your pinecones the way you want them, simply tie the ribbons in a large knot.  I then cut the ends to equal length at the top.  I then added to pieces of ribbon to make a bow just above the knot.  Hang using a door hanger or a nail.

Super simple.

Here's a closer look...




Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy Birthday To My Oldest~




27 years ago today, you entered the world and our hearts forever.  Having grown up with 3 brothers, and a family full of boys, the doctor's announcement of "it's a girl" came as quite a shock to all in the room.  God truly blessed us that day.

We could not be more proud of the woman you have become.  Your passion and love for people is evident.  Many times putting their well-being before your own.  God blessed you with the gift of compassion.  You have always been one to follow your heart, and aren't afraid to face the unknown and take that  "leap of faith" following your life verse, Jeremiah 29:11-13.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

May you continue to seek Him with all your heart in the coming years.  2017 is going to be a great year!!

Much love,
Mom, Dad and Katie (Toby, Kylee, Koda Bear, Remy,  and Kiyah too)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year~Prayer for 2017

I stumbled upon this prayer by Shelly Faust, and just had to share it with you my dear readers.  May God bless each of you today and in the coming year.  Happy 2017!