Posts filed under "recipe"

Afterthoughts

Afterthoughts was as Claire's-like store and one of my favorite stores as a tween. Since I was tall for my age (yeah, I was the tallest girl in my 5th grade class...hard to believe seeing me stand an even 5 feet now...I know), I didn't like shopping for clothes with my friends who were still little and "dainty". But I loved shopping for accessories. I guess that hasn't changed much in 15 years.

I was recently reminded of how, many times, things we think hold of a lot of importance to us come as an after thought. In reality, we put our own desires, or our own agenda ahead of the people/things we claim take priority in our lives.

This week, I've been given the opportunity of time. Jason works into each evening this week, and I've set a goal to make things that are usually "after thoughts" happen. For example, last night I went to the gym. So many nights I say that I'm going to go, I might even pack a bag to go straight from work, but at the end of the work day, I am tired and I head home for some quality time with my husband. If I do make it to the gym, I take it easy, tell myself that I'm tired and just a short, easy workout will do. But not last night. Last night I went to my first spin class since college...and let me tell you...I felt the two year long break.

Another thing that has been an after thought in my life, is seeking out time with people. I'm good as spending quality time with people who are built into my everyday life, but I'm admittedly bad at keep up with people that it takes effort to see. I realize that this has to change for those friendships to function. So this week, I'm trying my hardest to reach out to people I haven't spent quality time with in a while; people I miss.

Who, or what, are the after thoughts in your life? Is it reading the bible, spending time in prayer, or taking care of yourself by exercising or eating well? I've made all of those after thoughts at some point in my life, and it's tough to face the reality that we put such important things on the back burner. But our lives are complex, and we cannot ignore or overlook such things are relationships, time in the word, time in prayer, and keeping ourselves healthy. At some point, we're going to realize the missing link(s).

In other news, I had a dinner fail last night. Since we've been married, I've only made 2 big dinner whoopsies, including last night. Thankfully, I was only cooking for myself last night...so Mr. Picky (a.k.a my husband) didn't have to relive the vanilla yogurt fail of 2012.

Actually, the recipe was really good. But as you'll see in the recipe below, after everything is done cooking, you're supposed to put everything in the blender or food processor. Well, when I got home from spinning, I was SO HUNGRY, so I didn't want to spend a lot of time on this step. I poured everything into the blender and turned it on (I should have just used the "pulse" mode a few times). After about 20 seconds of going through the blender, the recipe was the consistency of baby food. I don't usually get caught up on the texture of food, but this was just more than I can handle. I may try it again in the future and figure out a way to not turn the soup into baby food.

Fortunately, the flavor of the soup was really good...and it even had some kick to it.

Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup

(Recipe from this blog)
Ingredients
  • 2 huge sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed. Measured this is about 6 cups of cubes
  • One 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers in water (drained)
  • One 14 oz. can of coconut milk
  • 1 c. of chicken stock.
  • 1 small red onion, large diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Directions
  1. You dump everything into your slow cooker.
  2. You let it cook for 4 to 6 hours.
  3. You blend it with an immersion blender, food processor, or blender (this is where I went wrong).
  4. Garnish it with red pepper flakes or chipotle flakes if you are fancy.

So you can see, it's really an easy recipe. Maybe I'll try it again this fall.

I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday!

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Weekend Top 5 - Single Car Family

The Weekend Top 5 is back!!

Before I dive into my weekend reminiscing, let me just send out a warm thank you to everyone who read the first guest post that went up on Friday. We had almost 100 views, which is incredible. For anyone who was a first time reader, I hope you'll come back. For those of you who read somewhat regularly, I hope you enjoyed Jason's take on his favorite summertime song. We'll have more guest posts from Jason throughout the summer and I know that each of them will have just as good of a viewership.

Now, onto the TOP 5!

#5: One Car Family.
This really isn't a favorite thing about the weekend, but it's a big story for me nonetheless. A few weeks ago, Jason's car got hit. He wasn't in it. In fact, it was parked. But anyway, the door got messed up and so last Monday he took his car to the shop and was given a rental car. Friday, I took the rental car to work and was supposed to return it and pick up his car. Well, his car wasn't ready until the rental car place was closing, so I wasn't able to accomplish my task. So, Saturday morning I headed downtown and returned the rental car. I was worried I'd need some sort of paperwork or piece of info that I didn't have, but luckily the return went off without a hitch. Enterprise took me to the body shop and dropped me off. I was in my workout clothes and ready to pick up Dora the Explorer (yes, that's what I lovingly named Jason's car when we were dating), head to the gym, and get my Saturday-o-errands started. But guess what? The body shop was closed. So of course I called Jason crying my eyes out (I'm one of those awkward people who cries when I get really mad or frustrated), because I was stranded downtown at a deserted body shop. Poor Jason had to take his lunch break at 10:00 in the morning, rush downtown, and save me from the situation. So, on a weekend when Jason worked both Saturday and Sunday, we had one car. I drove The Summit a lot this weekend. There's always a silver lining, and this time it was the fact that I got to spend more time with Jason on a weekend that I wasn't going to get to spend much time with him.

#4: 24 Day Challenge Ends.
Today is the last day of the 24DC. I know that's not technically the weekend, but this was the last weekend doing the challenge. So far, I feel great. I'll measure tomorrow, but I do know that I've lost 6lbs, which is more than I've been able to lose in a month in a LONG time. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to jump start their weight loss. I'll continue eating the same, and I really like the Spark energy drinks and the meal replacement drinks. I'm planning on keeping those around.

#3: Flatbreads.
I'm obsessed with homemade flatbreads right now. I've basically got it down to an art.

Here's how I make them:

BBQ Chicken Flatbread

Yields: 1 Serving
Ingredients
  • Flatout Spinach Flatbread
  • BBQ Sauce
  • 3 oz. cooked chicken, diced
  • About 1/4 c. of shredded, reduced fat cheese
Directions
  1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray cooking spray on the foil.
  3. Lay your flatbread on the foil and spray the top with a little bit of cookie spray.
  4. Put 1-2 tbsp. of BBQ sauce on the flatbread and spread around.
  5. Spread your chicken around on the flatbread. 
  6. Sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it. You'll want the edges to almost look burned. That's how you know it's crispy. 
  8. Enjoy! 
Sorry the picture is a little dark.

#2: House Hunters.
No, we're not going to be on the show, [yet] (I applied, although I really want to be on Property Brothers.).  Jason and I decided back in January that we're going to start looking for a house to buy in Birmingham around our one year anniversary. Well, Saturday marked our nine month anniversary, so that means only about three months until we get to start really house shopping!! I'm literally beside myself and my favorite pastime has become driving through neighborhoods to look at houses that are for sale. Yesterday, Jason and I drove around the Cahaba Heights area for about 45 minutes just looking. It's just really a lot of fun to dream together. We still have to figure out what kind of house we want and what part of town we want to live in, but the time to make all of these decisions is fast approaching and I couldn't be more excited!

#1: Welcome Home Lauren!
One of my best friends from college, Lauren, just moved back to Birmingham. I literally could not be more excited. Saturday night a group of us all met up at Jackson's to surprise her with a welcome home gathering (Jason was supposed to get a video of the surprise part on his phone but after the surprise ended, he realized he forgot to press record. Silly Jason). It was great to see her and other friends from college. We really have to get together like that more often. I am thrilled that Lauren is in Birmingham now and I can't wait to start getting together regularly...just like the ole days!
Pictures stolen used from Lauren's Instagram.


One last thing - 

If you're looking to make a delicious, healthy, cold treat this summer, look no further than right here. Saturday I made some chocolate strawberry popsicles at home.

Here's how:

Chocolate Strawberry Homemade Pops

Yields: 4 Popsicles
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Light Chocolate Silk milk
  • Handful of frozen sliced strawberries (make sure the buy the bag that has no sugar added)
  • Popsicle molds (Target has them for $2.99 on the seasonal summer isle in the back)
Directions
  1. Place strawberries in the molds.
  2. Pour milk over strawberries.
  3. Freeze overnight.
  4. Enjoy!!!
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Posted on June 24, 2013 and filed under "24DC", "Top 5", "cake", "friends", "recipe", "weekend".

Something to think about + Best salad EVER

Okay, so I'm a pretty neutral fan of salads. There have been very few times in my life when I've actually WANTED a salad and my craving is usually preceded by a lot of fast food meals. But last week I saw a picture of a salad on Pinterest that I just HAD to try.

In classic Jessica style (yes, I just did the third person thing, I'm sorry, I hate that), I started reading the directions about halfway into the cooking process, but it still turned out great. That being said, I have the "adapted" recipe for you today.

Curry Quinoa Salad with Chicken

(recipe adapted from here)
Yields: 3-4
Ingredients:
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 c. uncooked quinoa
  • 1 c. water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 diced peeled ripe mango 
    • I can't cut a mango to save my life so I used 2 of the little cups of fruit and just drained out all of the liquid first
  • 1 lb. chicken 
    • I used Tyson's frozen grilled chicken strips and put them in the crockpot for 4 hours with a little bit of curry powder. About half the bag was the perfect amount
  • 2-4 c. baby spinach (or whatever lettuce you want to use)
Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add curry powder and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add quinoa and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 16 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; stir in salt. Cool completely. While doing this, pull chicken out of the oven or crockpot and let it cool as well.
  2. Add mango and chicken to cooled quinoa; toss gently.
  3. Combine cucumber, mint, and yogurt in a small bowl; stir well. Divide spinach evenly among plates, and top each serving with about 3/4 cup quinoa mixture. I added a little bit of feta cheese and paired with a light raspberry vinaigrette.



Now, for a little something to think about...

I heard a sermon recently (we listened to a lot of sermon podcasts while we were traveling so I don't remember which one this was), and the pastor was talking about the church in Corinth and why Paul was writing to them (you know, I think this may have been a Brook Hills sermon).

One of the main reasons why Paul wrote to the church in Corinth was because Corinthian culture was invading the church rather than the church invading Corinthian culture. This sermon called us as the church in the United States to examine this: Are we, the church in America, invading American culture, or is American culture overcoming out lives and the church itself?

Over the last few days, I've been really thinking a lot about that and how it applies to my life.

In what ways does my life look like American culture?

When people see me, do they see the light of Christ or do they see the world?

If a stranger met me and talked to me for 15 minutes, would they know that I'm a believer? 

In the [many] areas of my life that look just like regular American culture, what can I do to change that?

I know this is kind of a weighty topic, but I think it's necessary. This is in no way a political standpoint, but rather a biblical one.

Let us, as God's church, examine our hearts and our lives. Let's pray for one another that we can come together as God's church in the United States and invade the culture that we're surrounded by, and in many ways immersed in.

Sermon podcast here (yay I found it).


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Posted on June 13, 2013 and filed under "The Church at Brook Hills", "podcast", "prayer", "recipe".

Weekend Top 5 - The Traveling Morales'

We've been traveling for three weekends straight. It's been a blast and I'm sad to see it ending next Sunday - although we're going out with a the best trip of all!

At the end of this week, we'll drive south to my hometown to see my sister graduate from high school (YAY JULIA!). Then we'll head east to Jacksonville to see our friends Cody and Lacey get married. Jason's actually in the wedding, so we'll be there all weekend, and then head back to Birmingham on Sunday just in time to see our friend Rachel off on her midterm mission trip. We will sure miss her over the next 12 months!

Now, here's this weekend's top 5:

#5: 24 Day Challenge.
So I've seen a lot of people on social media who are doing the Advocare 24 Day Challenge. I'm always looking for ways to eat healthier and just kind of kick start my body into eating better. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to do this or not though, because last time I did something like this I quit when it got really heard (remember the cleanse round 2?). But after talking to a friend about it and talking to people at the gym about it, I decided to do it. I began Saturday. So far, so good. I'll keep you updated.

#4: REALLY good food.
After beginning the 24DC, it was kind of tough to go out of town. But we did, and I think for a day of traveling I did pretty well. Saturday night I made salmon, asparagus, and for Jason I made garlic cheese bread. YUM! I also made some protein packed blueberry muffins so that I could gave a breakfast on the go or a good snack while we were traveling the next day. Usually that's a problem because even if I like the healthy version of things, Jason doesn't. BUT, he really liked the blueberry muffins so these are coming to you "picky-husband endorsed".

Here are my yummy eats from the weekend:
Salmon and asparagus.
Blueberry muffins.
Pulled pork salad from Fox Brother's BBQ in Atlanta.
Balsamic Bleu Salad from Ted's in Atlanta (I didn't eat the fried onion straws).

#3: Fall Out Boy. 
Jason has been a FOB fan for too many years to count. As he put it, he's been a fan since before their fans were all teenage girls. So since FOB has reunited, Jason bought tickets to THREE of their shows. One in Atlanta that was last night. One in Nashville at the end of June. One in Atlanta in September. He decided to sell his Nashville tickets after he bought the tickets for the second Atlanta show because he figured that three might be overkill. I just let him do his thing because I get to see JT in November - so I'll save rock and roll with FOB 10 times if that's what Jason wants. The show was actually a lot of fun. I'm a fan of FOB, but not nearly as much as Jason. I recognize most of their songs and I know a handful. But overall, we had a blast...other than them stopping the show four times because people kept passing out from heat exhaustion. Thankfully we snatched some seats upstairs where it was much less crowded, but still really hot.

Fall Out Boy.
Not sure how Jason has on a hoodie because I was absolutely disgusting due to the heat.
#2: Passion City Church.
We were planning on going to the Georgia Aquarium yesterday, but after a late start that idea got postponed. So, what do you do in Atlanta when your aquarium visit gets nixed? Go to Passion City Church of course! We went. We loved it. Jason got a pop (yes, King of Pops has carts there to raise money for the youth kiddos). Matt Redman led worship. Louie preached. We sang. It was awesome. I wanted to take a picture for the blog during the worship set, but I don't really like it when people take pictures at church, so I decided not to be "that girl". Instead I took one before the service started. It's not great, but I was trying to hold my phone in my lap so that no one would see me. Here's what I got:

#1: Backyard friends.
Friday night some of our friends had a little house show in their backyard. It was so cool. I love to hear my friends sing because they're all incredibly talented. I just love and admire so much how they use their beautiful voices to bring friends together and to worship our Creator. The backyard party was so much fun and such a wonderful time of fellowship with friends. We hope they decide to do it again soon!

Here's the recipe for the blueberry muffins:

Blueberry Muffins
(recipe adapted from this one)
Yields 12 muffins

Ingredients
  • 1.5 c. all-purpose whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar (I used baking Splenda)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 (6-ounce) container nonfat Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 c. canola oil (I used unsweetened apple sauce)
  • 1 egg (I used egg whites)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1.5 c. fresh blueberries
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. 
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl combine, Greek yogurt, milk, oil (applesauce) and vanilla. Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients just enough to combine. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top. 
  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.
How was your weekend?

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Posted on June 3, 2013 and filed under "24DC", "Top 5", "friends", "recipe", "travel", "weekend".

Ask & I Shall Receive

Remember how I spent the majority of the weekend sick? Well, I'm not a doctor, but I'm about 100% sure I was sick from being overly exhausted.

I've found myself wondering lately if there's some way to just add more hours in my day. I've gone over and over in my head trying to plan out and allot the perfect amount of time to get everything done. I even have a list of everything that MUST be done on a daily basis as the wallpaper on my phone. I'm a task-oriented person, and it's difficult for me when I go to bed at night really really tired and know in the back of my mind that I didn't get everything done. Then I start to freak out because I'm only eight months into marriage and we don't even have one kid yet! How will I ever survive motherhood someday?!? Then I just get really stressed out and I get sick for an entire weekend.

Do you ever find yourself feeling like this?

Well, if you do, you can probably also identify with me when I say that the first thing to go when I get really really busy is exercise. This week I found myself trying to calculate how many minutes I walk throughout the day if I added up walking to and from the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, and parking lot. A little hint: it's not enough to count as exercise. Then, I found myself absolutely determined to get to the gym on Wednesday. I did go after work and while I was there I just kept getting frustrated that I wasn't in good enough shape and I started thinking about all of the other things I had to do that night. I ended up leaving before I even really got started.

The next thing that goes is cleaning the apartment. I tend to be a little bit better at this just because our apartment isn't very big and not everything has a place to begin with. When it gets messy, I feel like the walls are caving in, so sometimes I'll take a few minutes before bed just to straighten up or put clothes away (Jason is really good at doing this too).

Those are really the only optional things right now - and that means that I rarely get to them on any given day. Even the weekends are crammed full of stuff these days. Between work, church, traveling, freelance work, cooking, grocery shopping, errands, sleep and seeing friends/family occasionally, there is not enough time in the day.

I spent a good portion of our time driving back to Birmingham last weekend complaining about just that - a lack of hours in the day. I told Jason that I was going to have to create a rigid schedule for myself and keep to it or I was literally just going to fall apart. "I need more hours in the day," I said, and Jason - who is a very very hard worker and very very busy - agreed.

Wednesday I saw this...

...and so I researched the app a little. Then I downloaded the app. For two days straight I have woken up at 5:00 and spent time being productive, attempting to be a "doer".  I have decided to spend that extra hour and a half primarily on exercise, reading the bible, and meal prep.

If yesterday was any indication on how AWESOME getting up at 5:00 can be, I never want to wake up later than that on a weekday again. In January I began getting up at 6:30 instead of 7:00 to read the bible. For the most part, I've been pretty good about doing that, but I still find myself running out of time sometimes and it never leaves any extra time to actually get things done. Getting up at 5:00 provides me the opportunity to actually accomplish things that are on my to-do list for the day and give them the priority that they deserve.

Since I worked out in the morning yesterday and did my meal prep for the evening, I was able to come home, relax for a few minutes, make dinner, work on a freelance project, take a 30 minute nap, clean both bathrooms and the kitchen, and spend some time watching TV with my guy.
I made a taco bar for two.
It was delicious.
Most nights I AIM to do all of that, but it looks more like this:
  • Get home from work.
  • Change for the gym.
  • Sit down to put on my shoes to go to the gym.
  • Decide not to go to the gym. 
  • Rush through making dinner and throw whatever it is on a plate in a huff because I'm stressed.
  • Work on freelance projects and feel rushed.
  • Get up to clean the apartment.
  • Decided I'm too tired.
  • Try to read. 
  • Decide I'm too tired.
  • Go to bed.

This morning I got up at 5:00 and Jason got up with me. We were able to go for a walk just as the sun was coming up. He works late tonight, and although we have plans for this evening, we won't get much quality time together. Getting up and exercising together at 5:00 gave us an extra hour together today. That is time that I truly cherish.
Jason took this on our way to the Lakeshore Trail.
It's times like these that I realize just how faithful our God is to take care of us. I spent a weekend complaining about how tired I was and how stressed I was. I felt helpless and hopeless to accomplish all of my goals each and every day. The Lord heard my small, whiny, pitiful cries and He didn't ignore me; He didn't say that my problems were too little or insignificant. Instead, He provided me exactly what I needed. I'm not much of a morning person, and the last time I got up at 5:00 in the morning consistently was in high school and that was out of pure necessity. But even so, because I know that this is a gift that the Lord has provided, I will get up an hour and a half early each day with joy because I've been blessed with more time. 

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" - Matthew 7:7-11
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Posted on May 31, 2013 and filed under "5club", "exercise", "recipe", "work".

It's All Greek To Me

So let's talk about this morning...

I woke up at 5:00. I haven't done that since high school, except for the random early morning trip every now and then. But today, I did it. I woke up at 5:00 and I got a TON of stuff done.

Last night I'd written a general to-do list on the white board we keep on the fridge. By the time I left for work today, I had crossed off about half of the items!

So, what does one do at 5:00 in the morning? Well, I don't know about all the other people who wake up in the middle of the night, but I woke up, got dressed, drove the the Lakeshore Trail, ran for about 35 minutes, came home, showered, made my lunch AND Jason's lunch, straightened my hair (which is rare if I take a shower in the morning), read my Week 15 Day 4 bible reading (Psalms 25, 54, 63, 18), and then left for work.

I like this whole being productive thing!

One thing that I did notice is that I move much slower in the mornings. I usually work out and cook at night, so this morning I felt like I was moving really slow. I also couldn't comprehend anything, like the time - it was as if everything was Greek to me.

Speaking of Greek...

Last night I made chicken roll ups for Jason and a HUGE Greek salad for myself. Both were delicious!

For the chicken roll ups, I used one chicken breast that had been seasoned with a little garlic salt, two whole wheat tortillas, cream cheese, and a little bit of feta cheese. You can get the full chicken roll ups recipe here.

Remember, Jason likes things pretty basic: bread, chicken, cheese.
But you can always add some lettuce to cucumber or even some of your own Greek dressing.

My lovely salad consisted of baby spinach (there's actually a little bit of leftover romaine in there too), one chicken breast seasoned the same way, feta cheese, chia seeds, and Trader Joe's dressing. It was one of the best salad I've ever made for myself!

I even added my Zoe's cup in the background to add to the Greek-ness of my salad.

Any night that includes handfuls of feta is a good night to me. I think I may just be Greek.

In other news, if you'd like to become part of the "5Club", you can download the app.

Here's what happens: When your alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m., you have one minute to "check in". I'll keep you all updated on how long this lasts, but I really would like for it to become part of my routine! When you're as busy as I've been lately (who am I kidding, most of us are that busy), any extra hours to add to the day are cherished!

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Posted on May 30, 2013 and filed under "5club", "exercise", "productivity", "recipe".