capturing our week.

I thought I needed an updated title this time.  I really love recapping our week on here as I’ve captured it on Instagram.  Linking up with Jeannett at Life Rearranged for her InstaFriday.

Here’s our week via Instagram:

Last week was a rough one with teething and a bit of a cold for Jack Jack.  I needed me some Sonic happy hour.  Nothing like an 89 cent drink to get you through the afternoon with a grumpy toddler.

Jack loves to play the piano.  Something he’s been doing since he was very very little [hey, Prentiss family].  They figured out that it soothed him when he was a teeny baby.  Now that he’s all grown up he likes to play himself.  I caught this moment of him playing with the help of his Nan, and little man started turning the hymnal pages.  Baby genius on our hands.

It was one of those nights where I needed to get out of the house.  No cooking, no cleaning up, just fried food.  It was good.

He’s been obsessed with his bibs lately.  He doesn’t want to take them off when he’s done eating.  He turned this one into a cape.  All moms need a superhero in their life.

Sleeping baby always melts my heart.  Always.

He loves his new golf clubs that his Pops got him, and he finally figured out how to push and pull his golf bag.  It was a proud moment.

Ice cream date with my boys.

Oh how I love the boys in my life.  They are best friends.

Maybe it’s the chair, but every time I see him like this I think “when did he grow up?”.

Thanks for reading and looking at our week.  I so appreciate you stopping by!

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yesterday.

Yesterday we had the most fun day.  I love spending my days with my boy.  LOVE.  And it’s even better once the bigger boy man gets home from work.

I was all about the camera yesterday.  Well, camera phone, so these aren’t great quality pictures.  But, I was capturing our moments, which I treasure.  Being able to look back and remember how I was feeling yesterday is priceless to me.

Sweet, sleepy head always always makes my heart stand still for a moment.  Jack is loving his new golf clubs from his Pops.  He had a blast impressing us with his skills.  While this series of pictures is blurry and out of focus, the focus on him made his heart so happy.  These faces, these expressions of pure joy, are ones I won’t soon forget.

We had a little after-dinner family date at Chickfila for some ice cream.  This is one of the few, if not only, places I can eat ice cream out because of my food allergies, so it is a BIG treat for me.

And was the perfect sweet treat to wrap up our day.  Yesterday, a day full of sweet, heart-filling moments.

the story of spaghetti and hidden veggies.

I have been a fan for awhile of sneaking in vegetables.  I’m not hardcore about it, but I figure there are a lot of places we can add vegetables to boost our intake of them– so why not do it?  For instance, there aren’t too many kids who will eat peppers plain, or even in a mixed veggies dish, but if they’re mixed in with their baked spaghetti, maybe they will.

We all know we need vegetables, but here’ s a little recap of why they’re so good:

1.  Fiber!  A dietitian mentor of mine often uses the phrase “FIBER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND”.  Fiber does so much good.  I think more than we even know.  Fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.  That is seriously awesome.  Bring on the fiber!

2.  Lots of good nutrients.  Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants– vegetables are rich in these.

3.  Low in calories and fat.  Vegetables are always a good choice.  We get way more bang for our buck with vegetables.  For example, one cup of macaroni and cheese has around 335 calories.  1 cup of carrots has 50 calories, no fat.  I don’t know about you, but I can down a cup of mac and cheese in about 1 minute.  It takes me awhile to eat a cup of fresh carrots.  And if you add 2 tablespoons of Ranch dressing for dipping those carrots, that only adds 48 calories [if you use reduced-fat dressing].  So for under 100 calories you can have a healthy snack or side dish thanks to vegetables.

Enter baked spaghetti.  This is a perfect place to sneak in some veggies.  I hadn’t planned for this, so I had to look around my kitchen to see what I had.  I came up with some tomatoes and a pepper.

One of the great things about a CSA is having lots of vegetables on hand to throw into dishes.  One of the bad things is having lots of vegetables on hand to stare at you in the face when you don’t throw them into dishes and they start rotting on your kitchen island and stinking up your house.  But I wouldn’t know about that.

I cooked my noodles and cooked my meat.  I went to the grocery store yesterday, and they had ground chicken on sale for 99 cents because the expiration date was in two days.  So I snagged that up because I knew I would be using it that very evening.  99 cents!  I usually try to use ground turkey or ground chicken in spaghetti.  Occasionally I use ground beef, but always try to make sure it’s 93/7 on the fat.  The 80/20 is cheaper, but it’s no good for the heart, or gut, or rest of the body for that matter.

I sprayed a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and poured the noodles in.  Then I added the chopped veggies on top of the noodles.

I only added veggies on half because I was nervous about how it would turn out.  No need to be nervous, friends.  It was delicious!  No I’m going to be really disappointed when we get to the “plain” half with our leftovers.

I poured the sauce over top.  I used a jar and a half because I don’t like my baked spaghetti to come out dry.  And then I added cheese.  Mozzarella would be perfect, but I didn’t have any, so I went with a cheddar jack mix.  I’m big on using what I have on hand.

I love this because kids would never know by looking at this that it’s full of vegetables.  Not that I’m totally into tricking kids.  I think it’s so important to talk with them and involve them in their food so that they want to eat vegetables and feel included in the meal process.  However, if you have really picky kids, this works.  If they are into helping, this is a good dish to ask them what vegetables they would like to add to the spaghetti.  Pretty much any vegetable works, so let them be creative.  They’re way more likely to eat it if they chose the vegetables that went into it.

I was ready to bake it.  I put it in the oven, and as I was closing the oven door I looked up and saw the skillet with the cooked ground chicken.  Fail.  I pulled the spaghetti dish back out, added the chicken, another layer of sauce, and some parmesan cheese on top.

I baked it at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until everything was warm and the cheese was gooey.

I always love tomatoes in anything, but the bell pepper in there was fantastic!  I will definitely add more bell pepper next time.  And I served this up with some texas toast– you know, to make up for all the extra vegetables we were getting.  Oh, texas toast, you are so hard to resist.

how to serve your friends healthier options.

The other night I had some friends over for a sweet time together.  I wanted to fix some sweet treats for them, but then I thought that while sweet treats are awesome [which they totally are, and I did have those] I could probably serve them something that is better for them in so many ways.

I could easily give them something sweet to please their taste buds, but what if I went a step further and served them something that was good for their bodies?

5 Tips for Serving Your Friends Healthier Options:

1.  Serve them water.

I used to think that I had to offer fun, exciting, or even just sugary beverages to be a good hostess.  Now I’m thinking, maybe being a good hostess has nothing to do with what I have to drink.  And on top of that, what if I am being a good friend by giving my friends water- the healthiest option.

2.  Make fruit an option.

Set a healthier option out beside the super sweet goodies.  Some people may not want super sweet or may be watching their calories.  Giving people options allows them to make healthy choices for themselves.

3.  Presentation can help anything look appealing.

Visually appealing presentations make fruits and veggies look more appealing.

4.  Remember less is more.

I used to think a huge spread of food was necessary when having friends over, but I’ve learned that’s just not so.  For one thing, my friends are still going to love me if I have out 1 food or 6.  And B, having fewer foods out, allows for less temptation for someone on a diet.  It also eliminates that “I need to try some of everything” mentality so many of us have.

5.  Encourage healthy habits.

This one’s not so much about serving, as it is about supporting.  I can’t even begin to count how many times someone has said to me “I shouldn’t eat this, I’m watching my weight” or something similar.  And how many times in response I’ve said something like “Oh, it’s ok, you deserve it”  or “Just this one ______ [fill in the blank — brownie, cookie, piece of cake] is ok”.  I used to think I was being good to my friends, to people, by having responses like that.  Turns out, I was feeding into their struggles and being the opposite of helpful.  For someone who’s been working hard to lose weight, they don’t “deserve” to mess up their hard work for 10 seconds of enjoying a brownie.  Next time I’m in that position, I’m going to respond better.  I’m going to tell them that I’m proud of their hard work.  That I’m proud that they see the big picture and know that that brownie’s not worth it.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll follow their example and skip the brownie, too.  Maybe.

our week.

Linking up with Jeannett at Life Rearranged today for her InstaFriday.

I’m obsessed with Instagram, y’all.  Greatest social media tool out there.  I would so much rather see a picture than just have an update of words.  I’m laurengmorgan on there.  I’d love to have you follow me.

New rule: no golf clubs at the table.  [And I’m totally smitten with this fella]

Family fun.

Happy birthday to my baby brother!

Our garage door had a rough weekend.  It ended poorly, too.  Now we have a nice, new shiny garage door.  And I can get my car out of the garage.  Oh, it’s the little things.

Glorious evening on the front porch.  It’s startin to feel like fall, y’all!

2 hours at the car dealership.  We had to get very creative with our entertainment.  Still smilin though.

Little man got a chair that’s the perfect size for him.  It makes my heart swell every time he backs himself up to it and sits down.  He’s growing up so fast.

The scrunchy face was finally captured!  We’ve been trying to get this for months.  His scrunchy face = our favorite.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

when it doesn’t work.

I have a passion for fresh food.  If you’ve been reading my blog, this is not news to you.  This summer I’ve been working on making dishes that are fresh, healthy, and delicious.  I believe that so many people think healthy food is too “hardcore” for them, but I so believe that we can all make healthy choices that fit in with our individual lifestyle.

This summer I’ve been experimenting some.  I’ve learned a few things.

1.  Evidently I think I’m more creative than I am.  I start out with nothing, thinking I can whip something up with no direction.  Doesn’t work.  Hardly ever.

2.  Just because you see the chefs on tv throw ingredients together and make it work, doesn’t mean you can.  And by you I mean me.

3.  I need recipes.

Last night I decided to pull all of our CSA vegetables that we had laying around that were about to go bad and make one big vegetable dinner with them.  FAIL.  A lack of a plan was my first problem, followed by lack of a recipe, and clearly no desire to eat edible food.

I started with this.

Tommy came in and saw the disaster about to take place.  This is how our conversation went.

T:  “what you making?”

L:  “i’m using all of these vegetables that are about to go bad.  it’s vegetarian night.”

T:  “oh, ok… what stuff are you going to make with them?”

L:  “i’m just going to wing it.”

T:  [long pause]  “are you putting all of it in one pot?”

L:  “no, of course i’m not putting all of it in one pot.  i want to make something good.”

Then I thought, “well, there goes my plan.”  Seriously I was going to put it all in one pot.  Good thing I didn’t because the 2 vegetables I put in the same pot didn’t turn out so good.  I mean we ate them, but it just tasted like cooked squash and cooked tomatoes.  Nothing special.  I struggle sometimes.

So here’s my thing…  when I fail at making a healthy dinner that people will eat I get discouraged and want to throw in the towel.  After all, what good does it do to make something that no one [including myself] likes and then we fill up on ice cream or cereal or something before we go to bed?  No good.
But I’m reminding myself  to allow room for grace in this process.  To allow room for mistakes and growth.  For without them, how will I learn?  So maybe last night my family didn’t eat a delicious dinner.  But tonight it was better [not perfect, or close to it, but better], and maybe tomorrow will be even better.

Here’s a quick recap of my failures, followed by a recipe that I hope you find helpful.

Failure #1

I read somewhere that someone used instant potato flakes as a breading for eggplant, and I thought I’d give it a try.  Apparently the box of instant potatoes that I just happened to have since I never use instant potatoes wasn’t so much flakes as rather large hard pieces.

Doesn’t look too bread-y, does it?  Anyway, they burned, so it’s a moot point [moo/moot, Seinfeld anyone?].

See that bowl up there in the top of the picture?  That, my friends, is failure #2.  I thought if I put squash and tomatoes in a pot in the oven for 30 minutes they would magically become one delicious dish.  Wrong.  They tasted exactly the same- like squash and like tomatoes.  Maybe if I’d had the sense to put them on a baking sheet things would have gone differently, who knows.

While last night had several failures there was also one success [well, 2 if you count mashed potatoes which are pretty hard to mess up].  Zucchini spears.  The only hope my dinner had was the presence of a Pioneer Woman recipe.  She is my hero, and when I saw her post this zucchini recipe the other day, I knew I had to try it.  You can find the recipe on her site here.  Her pictures are gorgeous, her narrative witty, and her food delicious, so if I were you I’d skip on over there now and forget this blog.

photo via 

So is anyone else with me on this?  Anybody have struggles with getting healthy dinners prepared that you actually enjoy?  Tell me I’m not alone. 

the casserole saga.

I’ve never been a big fan of casseroles.  In my mind I’ve always thought of casseroles as unhealthy, processed ingredients thrown together in a mush.  I don’t like any of those things.  For a long time I’ve preferred fresh, simple ingredients.  I’d take a simple meal with 3 ingredients  over a casserole any day of the week.

So I’ve been anti-casserole our entire marriage.  I don’t prepare anything that even remotely resembles a casserole.  I stay away from the condensed soups and, usually, recipes that require them.  When Tommy said he wanted to make squash casserole I was very skeptical.  The squash was fresh, yes, but the casserole part?  But he didn’t want to eat plain squash for another meal [we’ve had a lot of squash in our CSA] so badly that he was willing to make this squash dish.

Turns out I was wrong.  Shocking, I know.  Who knew there was such a thing as a healthy casserole?  Apparently my definition of casserole which includes butter, cream, condensed soups- isn’t right.  Some casseroles are like that but some are made up of very healthy ingredients.  What?  So this squash casserole rocked my world.  Also, Jack couldn’t have loved it more.  The kid ate his weight in squash.  Seriously.  And Tommy said it was really easy to make, too.  So I share with you today the casserole recipe that changed my mind and my heart.  And I apologize to my mama whose casseroles I would never eat.

And if you have kids who don’t like squash, try this.  I’m pretty sure– and Jack guarantees– they’ll be blown away.

Prep:  20 mins

Cooks:  30 mins

What you need:
4 cups sliced yellow squash
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups fresh bread crumbs [we used a fresh loaf of french bread from good ol’ Kroger and put part of it in the food processor to get fresh, soft bread crumbs]
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
1 T butter

What to do:
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Put squash and onion in a large skillet.  Add 1/2 cup water and cover.  Cook for about 5 mins– until squash is tender.
3.  Drain squash/onion mixture well and put in large bowl.
4.  While squash is cooking on stove, prepare your bread crumbs.  We put our bread in the food processor to get the bread crumbs, then mixed with cheese.
5.  Add half of bread crumb mixture to squash and onion.  Mix together.  [Reserve other half of bread crumbs for topping]
6.  In small bowl mix together eggs and milk.  Then add to squash mixture.
7.  Add 1/4 cup melted butter to mixture.  Add salt and pepper for seasoning.  Give everything a good stir to get it all mixed together.
8.  Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
9.  Pour mixture into baking dish.
10.  Sprinkle remaining bread crumbs across the top of dish.  Dot with 1 T butter.
11.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes.  Their recipe called for crackers to be used as the breading, but we made bread crumbs.

Enjoy!

when life gives you bananas.

Some times you just have an overflow of goodness in your life.  Fresh, ripe fruit that overflows into the season, making all things joyful.

Other times the fruit is harder to find.

We search and search for it.

Digging deep into our buckets…

to be met with disappointment when we see what is there.

Only the smallest pieces of fruit.

Then other times we have plenty of big fruit around, but we let it go bad.

For whatever reason it sits, untouched, only to turn a dark and ugly color.

But thankfully there’s beauty in the ugly.  When the old, gross, and overlooked is about to be thrown out, it is transformed into something beautiful and nourishing.

I feel as if this all parallels my summer season so well.  This summer has been all of the above – time of richness, growth, and the evidence of rich fruits in our lives.  We’ve had a blessed summer as a family of 3 with many joys to fill our hearts.  It’s also been challenging, dry, and seemingly emptying at others as we’ve walked a road of learning how to help and handle others in our lives.  I’ve seen lots of ugliness in myself this summer.  Dark spots in my heart that are full of sin and needed to be exposed.  It’s hard to imagine how those places will change, and while there’s still plenty of changing to do, I’m starting to see the banana bread that comes from the ugly.

Thankful for a season of growth where I’ve learned to make banana bread, whatever my fruit bucket may look like.

the line.

I’m sure that everyone who posts their thoughts online for the internet-world to see struggles with finding “the line”.  The line of what is appropriate to share and what is not.  If it were up to me, I would open up and share it all.  I used to live a life of holding in and pretending I didn’t feel the way I felt, but you know, God has changed me from the person I used to be and I’m so thankful for that.

So now, I share, I open up, I strive to talk about my struggles, where I am weakest.  Because it is then He can be strongest.

But sometimes, my struggles come from other places and other people, and I don’t have the rights to share those parts of the story, even my parts of those stories.  And that is where I am currently struggling.  If it impacts me, why can’t I share it?  It it helps me to share it, what’s the problem?  It’s part of my story.

Thank goodness for the slowing pace that the Lord sometimes lays on us or else who knows how many times I would have jumped into action before thinking about what I was doing.  Because when He slowed me, I realized my thoughts had a commonality.  Me.  All pointed back to me– how it affected me, how I felt, what was fair for me.  It’s in those moments I’m deeply humbled.

So while my brain wants to share details on here and work through the harder parts of life through words, my heart tells me to slow down.  Some things don’t belong on the internet after all.

our week.

Our CSA pick up last week.  Lovin’ the color and variety here.  Still have a bunch of it to make.

Breakfast for all.

The perfect summer sandwich.  Two colors of tomatoes.  Yum.

Found this old picture in my phone.  Had to post it.  Livin on memory lane for a few minutes.

Back to School Spaghetti Supper at Granny and Grandfather’s.  She even made a sign.  So cute, that Granny of mine.  I was a little bummed to not be included in the back to school festivities, but hubby took care of that by getting me a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.  Sweet man.

First time on a riding mower.  For both of them.

Crisis averted.  We went to the animal shelter and didn’t bring home a dog.  Whew.

Our week in pictures.  Linking up with Life Rearranged for her InstaFriday.