Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Yummy Low-Sodium Chili!

I have recently discovered a new favorite to add to my recipe box. It hits a five-star on my "good weeknight meal plan" rating. It does involve a package of seasoning, so if you are anti-seasoning than this recipe isn't for you. If, however, you want something easy, inexpensive, healthy, and delicious...this is a must try!

The Recipe:
1 Package McCormick 30% Less Sodium Chili
1.5 lbs. Ground Beef
2 Cans Pinto Beans (drained & rinsed)
1 Can No-Sodium-Added Diced Tomatoes
(Optional shredded cheese, sour cream, & onions for the topping)

Step 1: Brown beef, drain excess grease
Step 2: Transfer beef to a pot, add the McCormick seasoning, stir thoroughly
Step 3: Add beans, tomatoes, & a can of water
Step 4: Bring to a boil, then put a lid on and let simmer at least 20 minutes, up to two hours (stirring occasionally)
Step 5: Serve it up and add cheese and sour cream or (my personal favorite) put some over a baked potato. Have with a salad. Dinner is served!

(This recipe feeds about four people. I double the batch so we can have leftovers!)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Just Do the Thing

We all have that thing. That thing we talk about, dream about, think wistfully about, complain to our spouses that we wish we could do and if only (fill in the blank) would happen it would be so great because...and on and on it goes. Here's the catch. That thing? We don't actually do it. Our excuses and lists that have to be accomplished crowd our minds and can the dream before it ever actually has a chance to take root in our lives. But, like a weed, it keeps popping back up. Enticing us. Alluring us. Giving us butterflies when we actually take a moment to think about what life could look like if we actually did the thing.

Do you want to hear my solution? It's rather profound...you might want to grab a pen to jot this one down. Are you ready? Just do the thing! (Side-note: I am not talking about immoral or selfish acts here...I am talking about passions and dreams that God has placed inside of you, and is waiting for you to run with. You know what I'm talking about, and you know what doesn't meet the standard.) Okay, so back to my theory. What if (crazy idea) we actually went after that dream that is cocooned inside of our souls? What if we let it emerge and take flight, not knowing exactly how it might play out in this season of our lives but knowing that, though it may not look like what we think it should look like, it will be beautiful if we stop making excuses. 

I know a man with a passion for cooking. Though he doesn't currently know how to make but a handful of meals, he gets excited about the idea of combining various spices and creating bursts of flavor that excite the taste-buds. What if he pursued his passion? Maybe not in big ways like enrolling in culinary school. But maybe in small ways, by taking a cooking class here and trying a new recipe there. Slowly, his skill would build. Think of the ways that could impact not only himself, but others as well? He could bless his family with delicious meals, meals he enjoyed creating because he has an excitement for the process. He might enter cooking contests and get to know people in his community. He might help prepare meals for a food bank. There are so many ways this thing, if pursued, could enrich his life and the lives of those around him!

I think, oftentimes, we wait until "the right time" to endeavor into our passion. "I can't do that right now because I don't have any money...or time...or resources." "I can't do that right now because I don't have the schooling...or connections...or support." Why don't we get honest with ourselves and admit that the majority of the time we don't do it because we just don't have the nerve. We are afraid that if we try and fail, our dream will be dashed on the rocks. It's safer when it is just a dream. But oh how that limits God! What if he wants to take that thing and do something with it...even if that something might not be what we thought it would be. Are we willing to step out and try?

I know what "my thing" is. And I'm guessing that you probably have an inkling of yours. Maybe you have more than one thing that puts a light in your eye and pep in your step. What if we take a step...and often there are many to choose from...toward our goal. What if we do just one thing to bring us closer to our passion. And what if, little by little, we build into the thing that is cocooned inside of us, giving it life and breath. Imagine the possibilities that could await us if we would just do the thing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Out of Routine...the benefits of looking outside our norm

Well it has been almost a month since I've posted anything at all. It was an unintended blogging break, but life can definitely bring seasons of busyness and get us out of our routine. Let me state that I like my routine. Some may call it boring...in fact, several years ago I probably would have called it boring. But it suits me for this season of life. I know (basically) what to expect each day and I like that.

I wouldn't classify myself as a "routine" kind of person, but with a move, a baby, a job change, and a husband who is "on-call" 24-hours a day I have grown to savor that which I know to be stable. And while I may, at times, think wistfully of the days of yore when I could pack up at a moment's notice and head to the woods for a day hike or jump on public transportation and be downtown to sit and people watch...wondering who I might start up a conversation with today...most of the time I give a sigh of contentment when I have a happy baby and a somewhat organized home.

So this past month, with my routine out-of-whack for a variety of seen and unforeseen reasons, you might not find it hard to believe that this over-analytical mind of mine has been hard at work trying to figure out what I can learn from this. As I sit snuggled up back on "my" corner of the couch with coffee cup filled and laptop open on my lap, I am glad to be, for the moment, back in routine. However, I have been learning that sometimes we need to be taken outside of our "norm" to shake things up. I can tend to get too comfortable in my own little corner of the world. I live my life day in and day out and it is easy to keep my eyes turned towards my routine and miss opportunities that God may place before me outside of my paradigm.

I want to be open to the little adventures that God has for me in each day, but I have to be looking for them. So today, that is what I am going to do. I'll let you know how it turns out...and if you join me, I'd love to know what adventures may lay before you that are out of your routine as well.