Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chicken Baked Potato Casserole---------In the Little Things

The Food Stuffs:


Made up of comfort foods, this casserole is warm and filling. It looks a little weird, though! If you have leftover cooked chicken, it's also a great way to make use of it. 
You'll need a casserole dish and a saucepan for the gravy. You will also need cooked chicken, so boil some up in a separate pot if needed. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Ingredients (based on a small sized dish for two):

1 Large Chicken Breast, cooked and chopped into small chunks
2 Large Potatoes, thinly sliced
1 Cup Broccoli, chopped into bite-size pieces
5 tbsp Melted Butter
1 Large Can of Cream of Chicken
1/4 Cup Milk
Cheese, Shredded Cheddar
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder


1.Place 3 tbsp melted butter in the casserole dish. 2. Spread sliced potatoes, as flat as possible, in the dish.3. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes (or until soft and tender to the touch of a fork.)4. Meanwhile, trim the fat and any other undesired bits off of chicken breasts. Boil until cooked. Chop up. 5. Chop up the broccoli. Combine it with the cooked chicken.6. Season with garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and onion powder. Trust your nose!7. In a saucepan, warm the cream of chicken and remaining 2 tbsp butter. 8. Add the milk slowly, stirring as you go until completely combined.

Putting It All Together:

When the potatoes are soft to the touch, spread the seasoned chicken and broccoli over the potatoes. Pour the gravy over the top of it all. Smooth to ensure that the gravy is evenly covering the dish. Bake for about five minutes. 

Topping It Off:

Cover with cheese and bake for another five minutes. Let this dish sit for about ten minutes to cool and firm. Serve and enjoy!


-Bacon bits or chives would probably be great as additional toppings.
-If you have leftovers, they make for great little appetizers. Simply refrigerate the casserole to keep it and make it firmer. Then, cut the casserole into little bits and place each bit on a cracker. 


Thoughts on God's Faithfulness in the Little Things

I've heard a lot about God "in the little things." Often the suggestion is that people neglect to incorporate God into the little aspects of life. The reasons vary. It might be not wanting to "bother" God about minor issues. Or, it could be simply not trusting the Lord. For some it might be forgetting that even small details matter. In my life, I find myself not surrendering to the Lord the tiny things because I, ultimately, assume I can handle them myself.

Asking God for every little thing doesn't align with the classic line "God helps those who help themselves" (which isn't in the Bible, by the way.) Practically, it makes no sense to stop and surrender to and ask the Lord for every single little thing. Even the whole "pray without ceasing" bit in the Bible is a tad confusing for person who likes to understand and follow directions literally (and that is certainly me.)

While I could (and ought to) explore the idea of praying continually, I need to fence my thoughts before they get wild.

I also think I need to keep in mind that God is faithful in everything. Including the small bits that I overlook or subtly, pridefully, assume I don't need to include God in. But, the Lord cares about the little things. I was reminded of this recently when a friend told me about a way He recently worked in her life.

My friend lives with a few other girls and they take turns cooking meals. From what I understand, she hasn't had as much experience cooking as her housemates. Every time she cooks for them, she feels under-qualified and like she isn't meeting expectations. My friend is a sweet lady. She always wants to give people the best. It has been a source of stress for a long while to choose recipes and prepare to cook. One of the last times it was her turn to cook, she felt that God asked her why she never asked Him about what to prepare. It seemed silly. She asked anyway, and waited for an answer...she waited until the last minute, when she had to buy groceries. God finally answered her, citing a soup recipe. It's summer time. Soup is not impressive. But she was obedient. To her surprise, she was actually complimented on the meal choice and recipe execution. God knew what was for dinner.

Maybe that sounds silly...but little things cause us stress and they matter to us. If we are in a close relationship with Jesus Christ, then we share even such tiny details of our lives with Him. If all that we do is to glorify Him, then shouldn't all these little details also be surrendered to Him?

I think of the friends I am closest to. People who don't know me well know a lot about me. They know the big stuff: where I went to school, my occupation, who I'm married to, etc.

The people I am close to know about what I like to do. They know what makes me laugh, they know what I like to cook, they can cite odd things I say, the games I enjoy most, and plenty of little things that stress me out. Because we share these things.

The friend whose story I've shared has discussed cooking with me for about a year. Ironically, I have to confess, it began when I asked her if she cooked simply because I wanted to brag about my cooking. How wonderfully God took down my pride and self-concern! My friend was struggling in the kitchen while I was finding delight in the same thing. I needed to continue to share with her about cooking, not to boast in my own discoveries but to listen and care because I love her. She is a close friend. We talk about the little things -and we talk about them in light of our Lord. I pray that the things I share with my closest friends I share with Christ too.

I have been thinking that maybe Christ wants us to not stop every two seconds and check that all things are being handed off to him. Maybe He just wants what we do....little, big, and everything in between...to be done in light of Him, to be done recognition that Christ cares.

God is intimate. Seeking him just in the big things is prideful of me. It also misses the point...which is not to boast a Godly existence but to know Him more closely.

Colossians 3:23-24: "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Smores' Brownies----------Reconciling Worlds

The Food Stuffs:


This one is super easy and quick! Gather a boxed brownie mix, marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate chips. 

Putting It All Together:

Follow the usual directions for the box of brownies. Cook until the top of the brownies are just about two minutes from fully cooked. They should already look fully cooked when you pull them out. Place marshmallows all over the top. Add crushed graham crackers and chocolate chips. Bake until the marshmallows have ballooned and the chocolate chips are soft. 


-Small marshmallows are probably best. If you only have big ones (I did,) just tear them up. 
-Cake-like brownies are great in this recipe. Just add an egg to the ingredients!

Thoughts on Reconciling Worlds

I'm sure I'll write about this again. I'm sure that this won't be eloquent and may have no fine points or conclusion. I'm sure someone will disagree with me on this...

Loving the Lord is lonely and difficult. The way is narrow. We are fleeting, unstable, easily swayed beings. I am so easily overcome by simple thoughts, worries, memories, and feelings. And I don't think it's just me. 

One of my friends tells me how he just can't discipline himself enough to read the Bible everyday. Not even a sentence. Yet I have witnessed how much he strives to glorify the Lord. Another friend tells me how her mind wanders; she cannot think about or pray to God for long. These people love Christ. They set aside time, they are devoted to Him. I can't even focus to write this post even though I've been thinking these thoughts for a while now. 

How much more do we struggle apart from the "Christian" times of day, week, or whatever? When we're conversing with people, especially with people who don't like or aren't comfortable with God being a part of the stories we share. When we play games, do our jobs, and complete mundane tasks. We grow so disconnected from this eternal, heavenly world we are living for and the world of grace and mercy in Christ that we have been redeemed to operate within. We are tempted, distracted, and swayed by everything. There is always an excuse, convenient, ready in evil hands to turn our eyes away from the reality of our sinfulness. 

The worlds of the flesh and the spirit oppose each other.
This human world is staunchly against the heavenly realm.
Life before Christ is constantly grasping at us, desperate to drag us back away from the path of Christ. 

It is lonely and it is difficult to constantly be deciding. To be choosing between the opposing forces. To be walking away from the identities, relationships, temptations, and temporal glory of this world and this life. Especially because all of these things we do are just to be a small step closer to a God we can't see. That we can't always hear. And we certainly can't fully understand or figure out at all. Who we constantly fail. 

But, he is a God, the one God, that does not demand from us. He does not command our attention and threaten us. He is firm, but he is just. He is honest, but he is gentle. He accepts us but we have to choose to be his. 

Thank the Lord for his mercies. His many mercies. Thank the Lord that these worlds we create, this world we live in temporarily, is within His own. I cannot reconcile any worlds. Not within myself, not around me, not between my past and my new life hidden in Christ, not between this crazy thing right here, right now, not at I think about heaven and ponder arriving there as soon as possible....I cannot reconcile anything.

And weakness like this, for me, is lonely. It is hard for me to feel love while recognizing that I am at someone else's mercy. Even's God's. But I don't think that's just me. And I do know that this one with me, watching me, working in me...He is faithful. He is merciful. He is gracious. And nothing of His depends on me. Thank God!

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship." Romans 12:1

Friday, July 19, 2013

Salsa Alfredo------On Complimenting Beauty

The Food Stuffs:


This (loose) recipe makes enough for about 4 people. You will need a saucepan, a baking dish, and a plate to prep the chicken on. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I assume in this recipe that you know how to boil some pasta and keep it warm!  

The Chicken:

2 Large Chicken Breasts
1/2 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs
2 tbsp Melted Butter
Garlic Powder
Chili Powder
Italian Seasoning

1. Trim the fat and any other undesired bits off of chicken breasts. 
2. Dip the breasts into melted butter (season butter with garlic for extra flavor)
3. Roll, pat, and otherwise press the breasts on a plate coated with bread crumbs and the seasonings described. ........I never measure, just go by the smell (taste and smell are linked, if it smells good, go with it!)......
4. Place the breasts in a greased baking dish.
5. Bake in the oven about 15 minutes. Flip the breasts, bake until cooked through.
6. After the chicken is cooled, slice it into thin pieces (as thin as you desire!)

The Sauce:

4 tbsp Butter
4 tbsp Flour
Cheese (A flavor you like! Cheddar or another sharp cheese work great.)
Chopped Bell Pepper (you are welcome to choose a spicier variety!)
Chopped Asparagus
Chopped Snap Peas
Onion Powder
Pasta Sauce 

1. While the chicken is baking (or after its done,) melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
2. When the butter is completely melted, add the flour, stirring until the mixture is thick. 
......You have created a roux! This is a thickening agent great for a multitude of sauces. We prefer it over heavy creams or other thickening agents. If you need to adjust the amount, just be sure you have equal parts fat (like butter) and flour!......
3. Slowly add milk to the mixture, stirring until you have a smooth liquid. 
4. Add a bit of cheese at a time, stirring all the while. You choose how much cheese!
 ......How quickly you add it, how well you stir, and how much you put in will all affect the texture, so take your time and use your eyes and nose. And your mouth, taste to determine how cheesy you want it!.....
5. Once you have a cheesy sauce mixture, add in the chopped veggies and turn the heat to low. Add spices to scent and taste. 
6. After about three minutes over low, add in pasta sauce slowly, stirring all the time. Taste to determine how much you want to add. 
7. When it smells right, looks right, and tastes right, let the sauce simmer over low for about five minutes. 

Putting It All Together:

Load plates with cooked pasta. Add slices of chicken as desired. Spoon (a soup spoon is best because of the veggies) sauce over the pasta and chicken. That's it! So simple!
6. Bake for about 18-20 minutes. 

Topping It Off:

We threw sliced almonds on top of ours! I would bet that a spicier nut would make a great topping as well. 


-We like our veggies crunchy, even when cooked! Add a little time to the sauce making step 6 if you want yours mushier.
-We also dislike extreme spice (at least I do!) Hotter peppers, a dash of hot sauce, or any other spicy ingredient may make for a great addition if you prefer a little more kick!


Thoughts on Giving Compliments, Especially about Beauty
Giving people compliments is a great form of encouragement. Lifting people up by encouraging them is certainly Biblical. But, sometimes, compliments make me cringe. 
Okay, a lot of the time they do. Part of that is my only self-consciousness. However, some of my cringing is based in how little we actually say when we praise others. Not that we lie or purposely dish out praise that is shallow (although I sometimes do,) but more in the sense that a lot of our compliments undermine the God of those we are praising. Or, present dangers in directing attention or priorities to unimportant traits. 
For instance, I have been noticing a ton of different men whom I respect and love as Christian brothers telling girls how beautiful they are. Knowing them, I am certain that they repeatedly compliment their daughters, friends, and wives on their beauty because they want to ensure that these girls and women never doubt it. And it is honorable and kind for these men to so fervently take up the cause of reminding women they are beautiful. 

Sounds good, right? It is. But, here is my dilemma. 

1. The word beauty is thrown around a ton. Among people, (especially women,) throughout the media, in the stories we tell, the places we shop, and more. What the nugget does beauty even mean though? When we tell little girls and old women that they are beautiful, we leave the term open to interpretation. We leave people filling in blanks with answers they find...where? Around them, wherever. A little girl generally associates being told that she is beautiful with looking like someone in particular or with particular traits, like being very skinny. 
Our compliments rarely provide substance. So little have I heard people say "you are beautiful BECAUSE." So sparse are phrases like "your laugh is beautiful," or "your care for that friend was beautiful," when we dish out compliments. 
When a girl hears or sees anything that causes her to doubt that she is beautiful, her defense is weak if all she can do is think "no, this person said I am." Her defense is strong when she can list off the ways and reasons that she is indeed, beautiful.

2. Repetition shapes us just as much as it reminds us. Repeatedly telling someone they are beautiful does more than serve to remind them of the fact. It also begins to imply that being pretty is important. That looking good is a priority. That people will notice you, admire you, and identify you by your beauty. Is this the message truly intended by repeatedly complimenting someone on their looks? Likely not. Our culture already tells people that looks are very important; that message is prevalent. 
We need to identify what beauty is and we need to balance our compliments in order to guard our hearts from allowing a human trait to become essential to our sense of self and identity.  

3. Which brings me to my final struggle with so many compliments I hear (and receive and give.) Our praises of other people rarely point to the Lord. To call someone beautiful is not the same as telling someone that God has made them beautiful- even if that is how it is meant. Nor do most compliments direct the praise to the savior of the person. Rather compliments often rest in our souls and lie there, wasted. When we are dying, when we grow weary and doubt,  the praises we have heard are nothing but skeletons if the Lord is not in them, breathing life. Compliments are cause to praise the Lord. When we receive them and give them.
Praise God that he has made her laugh so beautiful. Thank the Lord for his intelligence. What a blessing that Jesus has made their compassion for others and for Him so radiant!

And, here's the thing. It is easy to pick out something that we really admire or want to see flourish in a person we love. Then, it is easy to make that the focus of our compliments -all of our praise- of that person. It doesn't have to be beauty. Maybe it's strength, courage, intelligence, compassion, even servitude. The Lord does not make us to be one trait or one anything --but His. Are our praises of others substantive? Are we balanced in what we praise? Do our compliments point people to their Maker and their Savior? 

It takes time and effort to intentionally lift others to the Lord rather than tell them they are just fine the way they are and that that is good enough. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Apple-Cranberry Muffin Cupcakes----Worrying Too Much

The Muffin Cupcakes: A combination of multiple recipes into one!


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease muffin tins. Recipe makes about 20 muffins. Prepare two bowls, one large bowl for dry ingredients and one for the wet stuff. 

Dry Ingredients:

3 Cups  Flour
3/4 Cup Sugar
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup coca
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Cinnamon 
1 tsp Nutmeg

Wet Stuff:

1/4 Cup + 2tbsp Melted Butter
4 Eggs
1/2 tsp Vanilla

The Good Stuff:

4 Apples, peeled and chopped into fine chunks
1/2 cup Cranberries (dried are better)

Putting it All Together:

1. Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl until evenly combined. 
2. Blend the wet stuff together well.
3. Add the wet stuff to the dry ingredients, stir with a spoon until just combined. 
4. Fold in apple bits and cranberries.
5. Fill muffin cups (greased or lined with cups) 3/4 full.
6. Bake for about 18-20 minutes. 

Topping Them Off:

Stir a little bit of milk (about a tbsp) into about a half a cup of powdered sugar, fluffing as you stir. You will end up with a drizzly frosting. Drip over slightly warm muffin cupcakes. 


The Thinking: 

How much of my life I have spent worrying! And with good reason, according to the wisdom of this world. There are a lot of things to worry about. From making enough money for survival to being a friend that actually cares, I have frequently told myself that it is righteous to worry about, well, being right before God. Recently the Lord has been working in me to teach me a little about worry. 

A conversation with my husband the other day was particularly used in my heart to convict me about my anxieties. Matt told me that he thinks sin is often trying to do what it is that God does. He talked about our desire to see things work out in certain ways and how, when these things we desire seem Godly, we seize control and attempt to work them out ourselves. In doing so, we step in front of God on his throne and start parsing out directions, assuming his approval. Satan, I've noticed, certainly encourages this.

That pesky evil one has often convinced us that if we don't worry, no one else will and nothing will happen. He has told us that to wait is to be lazy or timid. He has convinced us that it honors God to take action and to stash away back-plans, emergency funds, and all sorts of connections...just in case. Because being wise pleases the Lord. 

Isn't it sneaky how he sprinkles lies into truth, altering the taste of what we think just enough to create something new? Using the wisdom of the Lord pleases the Lord. Wisdom from me sidesteps the Lord.

When it comes to worrying, I am forgetting that the Lord remembers even more than I do -and that is a lot! His promises are true and He is always faithful. If my heart belongs to the Lord and I am seeking him, then I should not be worrying about what God thinks of me. The Savior stands before me in my failings and weaknesses, making my love for Christ (and through him the Father) absolutely enough. 

Earning money, looking into future opportunities, and seeking relationships with others is not wrong. But, if I am doing these things in case God falls through, I am sinfully making myself into much more than I am!

Praise God for muffins and cupcakes.

Introducing Some Disorderly Recipes and Thoughts

When I cook, my hands are busy, by eyes are at attention, my nose is alert, and my brain is marching messily. Step by step, exploring in the best way. My attempted blog here will be a mashed mix of recipes and the things I think about while I pace around the kitchen. Enjoy some part of this chaos!