Recipe and Resolutions

Hello, and happy New Year!  I’m still quite enjoying myself here at home…and I’m still geeking out over the full kitchen with all the  “staples” I need to delve into whatever baking/cooking project my heart desires.  Oh, and I’m diggin’ the home-cooked deliciousness (we’ll just pretend like I don’t cook most of it 😉 )  But being able to cook things in normal quantities without having leftovers for years is lovely.  For example, I’d probably never cook my mom’s scalloped potatoes for less than four people.

Enough rambling…what I’m saying, is we made scalloped potatoes and they were amazing!  Soft, warm, slightly creamy, cheesy (CHEESY), lightly peppered…and the ham!  The best part is…this is basically the easiest recipe ever.  Watch and learn, my dears!

Quit drooling.  Just read the post, then go cook! 🙂

This is one of those recipes that we loosely follow…as in we put the ingredients in, but don’t measure much.  So peel, slice, and rinse an amount of potatoes that seems right.  For two dishes, we used maybe…ten small ‘taters.

Next, lightly spray a baking pan with olive oil or some other type of non-stick spray.  Then, cover the bottom with a single layer of potato slices.

To complete the first layer, sprinkle finely chopped onion (about 1 tbsp), flour (about 1 tbsp), shredded cheddar cheese (to your liking), cubed ham (to your liking), then lightly sprinkle salt and pepper, and dot with butter/margarine.  Repeat this layer about 3 times, depending on the size of your casserole dish and how many potatoes you sliced.

Hi mom! 😀

When you finish the last layer of potatoes, go ahead and put all the layer ingredients on the potatoes, except for the ham.  And maybe add a bit of extra cheese.  Just for good measure.

Now, this is the only slightly tricky part.  The cook book says to heat milk, almost to scalding, to pour over the layered potatoes.  How on earth do you heat something almost to scalding?  So we just stick to our true form of improvisation!  For the two pans of potatoes, mom heated about 4 cups of milk in the microwave, until it just started to bubble a bit.  Then simply pour it over the potatoes!

Now, cover the pan(s) with foil, and place in a 350* oven for 30 minutes.  Then, take the foil off and continue cooking for about 1 more hour, or until the potatoes are soft and smooth and delicious and you can’t wait any longer because the DELICIOUS smell is driving you crazy.

I like these a lot.

Now, ours had extra oven time because we started them early.  So when the hour-and-a-half cook time was through, my dear dad saved dinner (mom and I had to run and errand) and turned the oven off  letting the pans just sit there until dinner time.  Perfection.  Or as close to it as possible 🙂

In the last bit of cook time, add more cheese to the top.  You taste it more on top than in the layers anyways!  And please, PLEASE put cheese on the table so we can add more to our own plates!

This meal is particularly special because we only have it when there’s leftover ham.  We’re a family who’s firm in our traditions, so there’s only leftover ham after Christmas and Easter.  Two times a year, people!  This is a big deal…

…Austin sure thinks so!

 

Now on to the resolutions!

Dana at My Little Celebration posted her resolutions for 2012, and I felt inspired to think of a few of my own.

First, I think I’ll adopt Dana’s “Body Resolutions”:

I want to embrace what I was given.
I want to stretch more.
I want to dress to accentuate my best features.
I want to stay healthy.
I want to relax more often.

And for a few of my own:

I want to focus on the nutritional benefits of the food I eat, rather than worrying about how many calories it might have.

I want to improve my health (weight, etc) in order to better serve – my roommates, friends, loved ones, family.

I want to wear less make-up without worry.

I want to improve my health so I can go to Africa and serve for a few weeks.

 

How about you?  Do you have any resolutions?  Do share.  And go make some potatoes!

Blessings,

Beth

 

 

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Christmas-Time and Life

Wow, it’s been a week since my last post!  Guess I’m really on vacation!

I hope you all had a delightful and merry Christmas!  I enjoyed the day very much, going to church, cooking, relaxing, and driving around to look at Christmas lights.  Oh, and having pie, of course 🙂

Here are a few scenes of my break thus far:

Party!

 

They only look like poop. They're actually oreo balls before the choclate coating 🙂

 

Before baking....

 

I was having too much fun to actually remember to photograph Christmas morning or Christmas dinner.  Or even the pie after baking.  I think this is a good thing 🙂

This week has been lovely so far.  Much relaxing, shopping, cooking and fellowship-ing.  Deeee-lightful!  To be completely real, though, this time of year is undoubtedly one of the hardest for dealing with my bad friend (eating disorder).  Every where I turn there’s food!  And it’s sugary, creamy…delicious.  All these foods we only eat at special events – pumpkin or peppermint confections, summer sausage with cheese, Christmas cookies.  Every get-together is centered around food.  Costco even has extra samples out!  It’s like this crazy dual temptation.  I want to taste everything, eating to the point of satisfaction, while delighting in the decadent treats (temptation #1).  But then I become nervous – scared, even.  There are so many choices.  So many things I want to taste.  So many calories.  Then, I just want to walk out.  Or throw my plate away and grab a stick of gum.  This is temptation #2.

Guys, I haven’t mastered this yet.  I’d love to say that I find this great happy-medium where I enjoy a normal amount of food, neither feeling deprived or overly full, and then I happily skip home, feeling comfortable and relaxed.  That, however, wouldn’t be entirely true.  I can usually eat a normal amount of food…or at least eat until I feel satisfied.  But then that nasty voice starts bugging me, telling me that I ate too much or that I better walk extra in the morning.

So what do I do?  I do the best that I can.  I eat several times during the day.  Perhaps not always up to “standard” but again, I do my best.  And then I take care of myself.  I make time to just be alone in the quiet.  I go for walks.  I reflect on all the reasons I have to take care of myself.  And I read scripture, going back to the promises I’ve read over and over, taking comfort in their familiar and comforting words.  These things aren’t magic pills, but they certainly help. 🙂

I don’t mean to sound like a downer.  God is still good and faithful.  He won’t leave me or forsake me.  And change and growth never come without a little discomfort 🙂

I hope you’re all enjoying the Holidays!  Check back soon for a recipe for the best scalloped potatoes, possibly ever.  Seriously.

Blessings!

Beth

 

Two Years Ago Today…

Unbelievable.  Today marks the two-year anniversary of perhaps one of the most life-changing moments to date.

Two years ago today, I received the diagnosis of anorexia.

Two years ago today, I spent two days in the hospital, undergoing tests and exams.  All pride was removed.  Or shall I say ripped down.

Soon after leaving the hospital

Two years ago today, my life, under God’s sovereignty, was placed on a path different than I would have ever imagined, one that I never would have chosen.

And as crazy as it sounds, it’s been a blessing. 

I’ve had the opportunity to meet people and develop close(r) relationships with people that probably wouldn’t have occurred, had my life not taken this unexpected turn.  And I look forward to meeting more people and developing even closer relationships.

I’ve gained understanding of people.  I can empathize and sympathize better than before.  When a young and nervous girl tells me that she “doesn’t like eating”, I know what she’s really saying.

Thanks to counseling sessions, mentoring sessions, and more opportunities to have deep conversations with lots of people, I’ve been able to get to know myself better.  Ask myself the hard questions.  Figure out what I really believe and think and feel.  Make some decisions.

I’ve worked harder and dug deeper than I ever have before.  And guess what?  I had no choice but to rely upon and trust in God more deeply.  And if that was the only reason I could state as a blessing, it would be good enough.

See, I don’t believe that God does anything by accident, or “just because”, or because he likes to see us squirm.  God is love, and putting us through difficult times just for the sake of doing it doesn’t seem like a loving characteristic.  I do believe, however, that God allows challenging things into our lives in order to grow us; to refine us and grow us.  Growth is change, and change is temporarily uncomfortable at the least…downright painful at the most.

So this is my reflection today – remembering where I began, and celebrating where I am.  There is still recovery work to be done, but so much has been accomplished.

Today

I’ve learned that He makes beautiful things out of dust.

Blessings,

Beth

Home!

Well folks, I made it home!  Thursday, I hopped on a DEEEElightful little turbo-prop and made it home in about an hour and a half…beats the train any day 😉  I don’t mean to go hatin’ on the train, but seriously…would you rather spend 14 hours on a train or 1 1/2 hours on a plane?  Even though I don’t particularly enjoy flying, I can deal.

The whole process went smoothly – checking my bag (pre-paid baggage check, score!) and security….well, there was this conversation at security…I had placed all my things in the little plastic containers, taken off my shoes, and thought it was time to go through the metal detector…except the TSA guy didn’t act like he wanted me to come through.  I started to walk towards him, and the exchange went something like this:

TSA guy: You’ll want to stay with your stuff until it’s in the X-ray machine.

Me: (not realizing he was talking to me) uhhhh…. (and then I kept walking)

TSA guy: Is that your stuff?  Your computer?

Me: Yeaahhh…..

TSA guy: Do you care about it?

Me: Ummm…yes?

TSA guy: Then I suggest you stay with it until it’s in the X-ray machine.  Never trust strangers…my mother always told me to never trust strangers…..

So yeah.  That was a wee bit awkward.

But I made it through security with no true issues, and then set out to find my gate and my lunch.  I easily found my gate, then found Wolfgang Puck Express.  The new employee apparently didn’t know how to ring up a side salad with a bowl of soup, so I ended up getting the salad for free…lunch for less than $5?  Okay!  Scalding my mouth on velvety-smooth, slightly sweet yet delightfully savory butternut squash soup?  NOT OKAY!  But I survived.

My flight left on time, and I was blessed with a nice seat-partner.  He’s an older fellow from the Flathead, with a cowboy hat, a bright red button-up shirt and a long, white beard.  And he felt similarly about flying as I do.  I struck up a conversation during take-off (distraction, yo!) which lasted a good while.  The best pearl of wisdom he shared with me: When it comes to finding a job after graduation, is it more important to live in a particular place and take whatever job you can find, or is the job itself so important to you that you’d go anywhere just to have that job?  This fellow was pretty cool!   And yay for having meaningful conversations with complete strangers (safe strangers, of course)!

Before I knew it, the seat belt light was on, and we were beginning our decent into Kalispell.  And then my seat-partner and I were pointing out Highway 93 and the Stillwater River, and then “Oh look!  Airport property!” and then we landed!  My mom was kind enough to snap this shot of me:

So that’s that!  I’m here to stay for about 3 weeks…joy!  In those 3 weeks, I plan to catch up with friends, catch up on rest, and do ‘lots of cooking (with corresponding blog posts, obviously).

Hooray for a well stocked kitchen!  Hooray for mom and dad buying things with which to stock the kitchen!

Hooray for being home.

Blessings,

Beth

 

A Date With my Roomie

Finals officially begin tomorrow.  Oye vey!  I’ve hit that wall where I can no longer study tonight, so I thought I’d catch you up on the delightful dinner out with my roomie (Marisa) last Friday!

For awhile, Marisa worked for a catering company.  The owner of the catering company also runs a restaurant called Pomegranate and let me tell you…it’s legit.  The menu changes seasonally, highlighting fresh, local fare, always with a classy yet home-made vibe.  Options range from fried chicken or grilled cheese & tomato soup to white fish tacos, flat bread pizzas, and phenomenal desserts.  And they even have a coffee and pastry bar open all day long!   Basically what I’m saying is that if you’re anywhere near Redmond, you have GOT to go to Pom.

The table setting…so simple yet elegant.  I adore the bottle of water, and the soft glow of the candle.  Perfect ambiance.

Well hi there, Marisa! 🙂

See the windows on the left?  That’s a view into the kitchen.  SO cool!

Marisa had a pretty good view of the pizza oven from her seat.  She even got to see them tossing the dough!  Lucky girl.

And then dinner came!

Marisa stuck to her Italian roots, and dined on Mac n’ Cheese and fresh Rustic Bread.  That Mac n’ Cheese is basically amazing.  The top is covered in bread crumbs and baked for a few moments, giving the top layer a bit of crunch.  Marisa skeptically opted for sausage, but after a few bites, the skepticism vanished.  And the bread!  Soft, chewy…perfect.  Her only complaint?  Cold butter.  But she could deal 😉

I chose the Niçoise Salad – mixed greens with juicy tomato, crunchy green beans, soft, cooked (and cooled) potato, salty olives, hard boiled egg, and rich tuna, all covered in a delicious, tangy dressing…oh.my.wow!  The bread (which I only took a few nibbles of to avoid much wheat) was essentially Pom’s pizza crust with cheese and olive oil.  And the tomato soup…definitely the best I’ve had in a long long time.  Rich, thick, salty, creamy…out of this world??!  No wonder it’s on the menu every day!

And did you really think two girls would go out for a nice dinner without dessert?  HA!

It’s a foregone conclusion that Marisa would be ordering the House Made Nutter Butters with chocolate soup.  They’re just that amazing!  Soft, pillowy cookies encase a sweet and creamy peanut butter filling…all doused in bittersweet chocolate.  What’s not to love?

And my dessert: Chocolate Coconut cake!  The bottom layer – a layer of coconut, mixed with something to keep it all together, then baked to brown it.  The middle layer, well…I don’t actually know what to call it.  Creamy?  Yes.  Sweet?  Yes.  Coconutty?  Yes.  So we’ll just call it delightful and move on to the GANACHE!  That top layer?  Solid ganache.  In case you didn’t know, ganache is basically bittersweet chocolate melted and mixed with heavy cream.  Holy yum!  But oh so rich.  I ate about a third and asked for a box.

Besides the food, here’s a few favorite moments of the night:

Favorite family: the one with the dancing little girls.

Favorite seating arrangement: Ours!  We sat at the end of the family table with 6 people at the other end.

Favorite story topic: Our ridiculous childhood crushes.

Favorite quote: “Hey, there’s a doughnut in my purse!” (Marisa)

Favorite end-of-dinner-quote: “Hey, there’s STILL a doughnut in my purse!” (Marisa)

So as you can see, there is no other descriptor for the night except lovely.  Especially when we secretly decorated Marisa’s parent’s house while they were out and about 🙂

And in other news, the SEAHAWKS WON!!!!!

Blessings,

Beth

Comfort Food Heaven

BRRRRRR!!!!  It’s getting quite…er…chilly, as of late.  I know, I know, nothing compared to what it will be like in Montana during Christmas break, but still.  I’m cold!  And it’s just this type of cold weather that sends even the most burly and tough looking man looking for a soft, warm, comforting meal.  Not that I fit that description…but still, this cold weather definitely makes any food below 160* seem fairly unappealing.  So with inspiration from a can of pumpkin in my cupboard, I got to work lookin’ for a recipe.

And here is what I found: Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie.  Pumpkin infused potatoes rest over a savory pumpkin-chicken-veggie filling to create…comfort food heaven on a plate.  Warm, dense, not to heavy.  Delicious!

Here’s our team!  Ground chicken, S&P, chicken broth, cornstarch, pumpkin, ketchup, onion, potato and carrot (rosemary missed the picture).  Pretty simple, and a lot of these ingredients are probably in your pantry!

The recipe is as simple as the ingredients:

First, peel and chop a potato, then let it boil while you make the filling.

Sauteé carrots and onions in some cooking spray.

Add the ground chicken (or whatever ground meat you prefer), cornstarch, rosemary and S&P, and let it cook for awhile.

Then, toss in some broth, pumpkin, and ketchup and cook a little longer.

Drain the potato, then add pumpkin, cheese and S&P (and a splash of chicken broth if you should desire).  Bust out your trusty hand mixer and…..

…PULVERIZE!!!!!  Ahem.

Now,carefully pour the hot filling into a pan (I used a loaf pan).

Evenly spread the potatoes on top.

Now at this point, I let the shepherd’s pie sit out for a bit, then put it in the fridge to finish later.  So it works great to do that, or you can continue right along with the process.  If you do finish  the cooking later, place it in a 350* oven for 20 minutes before continuing with the next steps.

After assembling the pie, sprinkle with cheese and place under the broiler until the cheese is melty and perfect.

Look at that cheesy crust!

Don’t be bashful about adding more cheese on top… 😉

Chicken and Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie

Adapted from Very Best Baking / Libby’s

The Goods

1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

1/4 cup (+/-) shredded cheese

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cooking spray

1 small onion, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1/2 lb ground chicken (or whatever ground meat you prefer)

1/2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp rosemary, crushed

1/2 cup + splash reduced-sodium fat-free chicken broth

1/2 tsp ketchup, optional

The Plan

1. Place potato chunks in a medium sauce pan and fill with water until potatoes are covered; bring to a boil.  Cook over med-high heat for about 10 minutes, or until tender; drain.  Return potatoes to saucepan and add 1/2 cup pumpkin, a pinch of cheese, S&P to taste, and a splash of chicken broth.  Beat with a hand mixer until smooth.  Cover.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet, coated in cooking spray, over med-high heat.  Add onion and carrot, cooking and stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until carrot begins to soften.  Add beef, cornstarch, rosemary and some more S&P.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until meat is cooked.  Stir in broth, 1/2 cup pumpkin, and ketchup (if using).  Bring to a boil, cooking for 2-3 minutes (stirring occasionally), until mixture has thickened slightly.

3. Preheat the broiler or let cool, and refrigerate**

4. Carefully spoon filling into an ungreased, broiler safe, deep pan (loaf pan, pie pan, etc).  Evenly spoon potato mixture over the filling, then sprinkle with cheese.

5. Broil for 5 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned.

**If placing in the refrigerator: before broiling, bake in a 350* for 20 minutes, or until hot.

Definitely one of the best dinners I’ve made recently.  And it reheats well to boot!

Well folks, the semester is winding down.  Two projects and two finals, and I’m outta here!  There’s undoubtedly an underlying sense of stress, though, and this is when I fight those nasty eating disorder voices the most.  I keep reminding myself that I won’t be able to finish strong if I’m not fueling my body well.  From a mental/emotional perspective, this isn’t always easy to do.  But  Psalm 139:4 came up in my devotional this morning, and I think it’s a perfectly timed reminder:

I praise you because I’m fearfully and wonderfully made;

Your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

Blessings, friends!

Beth

 

The [Fearsome] Appetite

At about 9:00 every night, I hit a wall in which I can no longer do homework.  I could read something ten times but I still won’t retain or comprehend it.  I used to push through it until I realized that although perhaps valiant, my lack of comprehension makes it rather pointless.  So instead of studying for my Biology lab final (eeek!) I’m writing to you! 🙂

I suppose the title of this post is quite confusing.  Aside from the Sunday School answer of “sinful appetites”, what appetite could be considered fearsome?  If you’re new to my blog, I’m recovering from anorexia (take a moment to read my about page).  I feel like I’m doing better, but I still have an instinct to restrict my eating, and an overall fear of eating “too much”.  So when I have a bigger appetite than usual, it’s kinda scary.  What’s gonna happen?  Will my jeans fit tomorrow?  And why am I so hungry?  These types of questions fill my mind.

“You shouldn’t eat that.”

“You don’t need that.”

“You don’t need anymore to eat.”

“See, your tummy is already rounder.”

Phrases like that are fired at my mind with the one goal of tearing down my defense system.  I used to listen; used to let it completely rule me, obeying that voice without a question or a second thought.  It must be true.  Right?

But then I realized this voice was full of it.  A lying Enemy.  This realization didn’t occur overnight…it took time and a lot of trusted people telling me over and over.  And they still have to tell me sometimes – to remind me that these words whispered in my heart are indeed lies.  But I fight back.  I find something to eat.  And I eat something else if I’m still hungry.

And then I remind myself of a few things:

My fight isn’t against flesh and blood, but against powers of the dark world (Ephesians 6:12)

If I turn my head to the right or the left, I’ll hear a voice reminding me of the path to walk (Isaiah 30:21)

Satan comes to kill and destroy, but Jesus came to give abundant life (John 10:10)

Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)

And

The Lord rescues me from my enemies when I call to Him (Psalm 18:16-19)


In the same way God gave us tasty food to be enjoyed, He gave us an appetite to desire these food-gifts.  And therefore, an appetite isn’t something to be feared 🙂

Snack time?  Perhaps!

Blessings,

Beth