My life has been full of these things lately! I have always, always been a crier. But I promise, I have been crying more lately than I ever have before! I mean happy, sad, sweet, anything and everything can bring me to tears. I cried at two OnStar radio commercials. RADIO! It didn’t even have a visual. I cried on a McDonald’s tv commercial. I cried when my coworkers jokingly hurt my feelings. I cried on several Food Network shows, and the Food Network was the only channel that didn’t make me cry. I cried about a Camp Rock 2 song. Even though I’ve seen Gilmore Girls in it’s entirety, every episode of every season, at least twice, and this particular episode even more, I cried. Cinnamon, the cat, died and I cried. I don’t even like cats! And I knew the cat died! I’ve seen the cat die like 12 times. My car air conditioner broke in my car (and will cost a fortune to fix) and I cried. I had to ask my daddy for help and I cried. I chop onions and I cry. I chop my fingers while chopping onions and I cry (okay not really, I just scream and jump around). I cry! I have discovered this weekend that I think I have been more emotional since starting birth control for the Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome. Which, duh, makes sense. It has hormones. I am guessing this is normal. Maybe this is how I was supposed to be? All I know is I should be loosing weight with all the fluid that is leaving my body through my eyes. I even cried when I baby sat Macy and rocked her to sleep. As she finally fell asleep, I had an emotional break down and cried for 30 minutes! I’ve rocked lots of babies to sleep and never cried!
Now the Macy tears, actually stem from my greatest fear. Fears are funny things. Sometimes they drive us to action. Sometimes they cause us to be paralyzed from action. There are some culinary things I’ve always been afraid of. These fears are driving me to action. How silly to be afraid to make something because it seems fancy or like only grandmothers can do it. I’ve conquered my fear of whipped cream, homemade biscuits, and gumbo (recipe coming soon). I, in my silly quirkiness, am afraid of many things. I don’t like bugs, dark, animals, snakes, spiders, scary movies, and I’m okay with not conquering these fears. Other fears are not so easy to overcome. I’m afraid of boys. That one, not so easy to conquer. But my greatest fear can’t really be conquered. I just have to find peace to stifle the fear, which is almost as hard as finding courage to conquer conquerable fears. My greatest fear is that I’ll never get to be a wife and mother, the two things I want more than anything else in the world. The good thing about fears is when they get to you enough, it drives you to dependence on and hope in God, which is really what you should have had all along. Because this fear is so big for me, I rarely let myself even pray about it. I don’t want to be disappointed, so I don’t even ask God for it or talk to Him about it. Well, as I held that precious baby that I adore and had another one of my many emotional break downs, I finally did. I was just honest and told God I was scared and wanted this more than anything. It felt nice.
When God brings peace to fears, dreams are fed. The next day, after my emotional break down and honesty with God, something really cool happened that I have to believe was God’s way of telling me not to be scared! I was assigned yet another new client, which I was totally not excited about. The client has pretty severe dementia and slept the whole time, but his daughter and son-in-law were great. They are believers and were excited I was one as well. They happened to live in a neighborhood that I used to live in, in Slidell. I never mentioned my marital status, but I guess when I mentioned living there with a bad roommate they picked up on it. As I was leaving, my client’s son-in-law asked if I minded if they started praying that God would send me a Godly husband. Of course I said not at all, pray all you want, PLEASE! He asked if they could pray for me before I left. They held my hands and prayed over me that God would send me a Godly husband. Strangers! I felt peace. I knew it had to be God telling me to not worry. So for now my dream to be a wife and mother remains. And that is just one dream. Every time I cook and blog and receive encouragement from others affirming the things I love to do, my dreams just bubble and fluff inside me. Fluff just like the whipped cream I conquered and that you will see in some of the following recipes!
Stuffed Bell Peppers
This is a recipe I got from one of Amy Ogea’s cookbooks two years ago. Due to aforementioned car troubles, I ended up at the Ogea home on Monday night. Andrew had band practice, so since I had already prepared the peppers and they were ready to cook, I brought them over over and cooked dinner for Amy, Macy, and me! Yes, even Macy had a few bites of our yummy peppers!
6 Bell Peppers of any color (I used 4 because I wanted to have leftover mixture for my omelet for later in the week. I wanted to do one of each color, but they only had red and green. So I did two red, two green. Pick out fat ones that have a bottom that will stand easily. Don’t be afraid to try them out in the store. It is allowed!)
1 lb ground meat (Usually ground beef, I used ground turkey because it’s healthier and tastes just as good.)
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 medium onion, chopped (I used red, could use any.)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced
1 can tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
Seasoning (I use Season All, but you can use Tony’s or any all purpose seasoning.)
Mozzarella (Calls for shredded but I used fresh.)
1. Cut a thin slice from steam end of bell peppers to remove top (think pumpkin carving). Remove seeds and membranes, rinse. Blanch peppers (stock pot, cover with water, bring to boil, let boil 5 minutes, remove from hot water).
2. Cook meat and onions in frying pan over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes until pink is gone. Season meat with your all purpose seasoning of choice, especially if you are using turkey. The key to disguising ground turkey as ground beef is season season season! It, by nature, is not as flavorful, but if you season it correctly you really can’t tell the difference and it’s healthier. Drain and mix with rice, garlic, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the tomato sauce.
3. Heat oven to 350. Stuff peppers with mixture. Pour remaining tomato sauce over peppers. Cover tightly with tinfoil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and top with mozzarella. Bake for 15 more minutes until cheese is melted.
This recipe has several steps, but can be really easy if you do some prep work the night before. I use my handy rice cooker to cook rice the night before and went ahead and made my meat mixture and stuffed the peppers. I put them in my casserole dish and covered them with foil so the next day they were ready to go in the oven. Even if you do it all the day of, it’s still not overwhelming. Sides can be simple because you have a starch and meat in the pepper. I peeled a cucumber. De-seeded half of it and left the other with seeds in. Chopped it up small. Mixed it with 1/4 of a chopped red onion. Finely chopped 5 good size basil leaves (lay them flat, roll them into a tight little log, and chop). Halved a handful of grape tomatoes. Added salt, pepper, a little Italian dressing. I didn’t, but had I been serving more than just me and Amy, I would have served the meal with some french bread or focaccia bread to make the meal more complete.
So, when Amy and I hang out, we only watch two channels. The Disney Channel (to catch new episodes of Jonas of course and yes we are both adults) or the Food Network. Since no new episodes of Jonas were playing, the Food Network it was! People always say, “How do you watch the Food Network all the time and not get hungry?” There is only one show that makes me hungry! The Best Thing I Ever Ate is a horribly wonderful show! The way they talk about all their favorite things just makes me drool. This episode featured things with fruit. So I just had to make something! I had bananas starting to spot and then realized I had everything else to make banana pudding! I made mine in three containers. One to bring to the Ogea’s, one to bring to work, and one little small one for me. Like I’ve stated in a previous blog, just because you bake (or make) doesn’t mean you have to eat it all! Enjoy the stress relief and accomplishment of it, then give it away! There is just something about a task with an end, and a good end at that, that just makes you feel good about yourself. AND this one involves making your own whipped cream. Which sadly I must admit, this was my first time! I’ve always made banana pudding with cool whip. Doing my own whipped cream was always a scary task to me. But I’ve decided I’m taking on all of those cooking tasks I’ve though to be scary. It was sooo easy! Open, pour, whip, yum! I will never buy cool whip again (well I probably will, but I will never be afraid of whipped cream again).
1 pint whipping cream
1 (3 1/2 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
1 1/2 cups water
1 (12 ounce) packages vanilla wafers
6 bananas, ripe and sliced in lemon juice (I used 5)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Whip cream until thick. In separate bowl, beat sweet condensed milk, water and pudding with a wire whisk. Chill 5 minutes. Fold in cream. Put 1 cup pudding mixture in bottom of a large glass bowl. Now a layer of cookies. Now a layer of sliced bananas. Repeat layers with cookies on top. Chill 24 hours.
Rolled Rice Omelet with Peaches and Cream
Okay, so I know “rice omelet” sounds weird. It did to me the first time too. But I really do love this. You might not, but I do! My brother and I cooked for ourselves a lot growing up. Eggs were always something we ate. One day in high school, our friend Joey introduced us to rice omelets. We had leftover rice, we browned ground beef, mixed it with the rice and ketchup. I used the left over turkey, rice, and tomato sauce mixture. I decided to try a rolled omelet verses the traditional. You can use any filling you like: ham and cheese, just cheese, spinach and mushrooms, etc. It’s a cool way to make an omelet that can feed lots of people.
1 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup rice, meat mixture (or any filling you want!)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
(I also added 1 chopped green onion and a few chopped basil leaves.)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Beat eggs and milk until fluffy. Add flour, salt and pepper and beat or whisk until smooth. (I added green onions and basil at this point as well.) Pour into a buttered or greased 9 x 13 baking dish or pan (I used spray and mine stuck a bit, I’d actually grease it next time with butter or shortening). Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until eggs are just about set (Keep an eye on them at the 6 minute mark – depending on your oven, they could set that fast!). Sprinkle with whatever your filling is going to be. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Starting at short side, roll up omelet while still in pan. Place seam side down on serving dish. Cut into slices.
This is a fun way to serve breakfast to a family. It fed me a dinner portion 3 times easily. With small portions it could feed 6 people with other sides. I chopped up two market peaches and whipped some cream to top the peaches. Breakfast for dinner is always yummy!
Chili Cheese Tomato Dogs
This was a quick and simple meal. I saw this, once again, on Best Thing I Ever Ate and it was something I wanted to try. It was the classics episode. One of them were talking about a chili cheese dog topped with a big slice of tomato. When planning meals, I decided I’d try it. It was okay because hotdogs are just okay anyway you make them for me. But the tomato was my favorite part! I used vine ripened tomatoes from the farmer’s market. I used turkey hot dogs and turkey chili. I toasted my hot dog buns. Topped with a little cheddar, the chili, few chopped onions, mustard, and the tomato. Nice kid friendly meal made healthier. You really can’t taste a difference in the turkey hotdogs and chili and once again, the healthier choice!
I hope you enjoy at least one yummy recipe. Maybe you get some meal ideas from my meal ideas. AND I hope you are inspired to conquer your cooking fears! But more importantly, I hope you are inspired to have hope, to dream, and to not be trapped by the fear of anything. God did not give us a spirit of fear.