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.