Posted in Recipes

Stuffed Zucchini

Zucchini, the vegetable that keeps on giving and giving even when we might not appreciate its generosity. I think we could learn a lot from this hardy, versatile vegetable. I have made stuffed zucchini often and enjoy changing it up a lot but this recipe could basically be featured on “Chopped”. I used half of a zucchini that was left from a different dish and the rest of the stuffing from what I had on hand. The marinara sauce was left over too but just a little short so I added a tomato to kind of help it out.

I am in my happy place cooking when I have to use what I have or improvise. My family wouldn’t always appreciate my creativity but to me its more fun. Now that it’s just me I usually cook for I get to do this without any sighs, blank stares and put on smiles. Yes, my kids were good sports, and I am so blessed.

And blessed to have zucchini so lets get to todays recipe.

As You can see I was not stretching the truth about all the little odds and ends do make it work.

Stuffed Zucchini:

1 or 2 Zucchini depending on size of the squash

1 Green Bell Pepper diced

1small Tomato

1/4 of a white Onion diced

6 cloves of Garlic diced

1 cup a Marinara Sauce

1 cup of cooked Quinoa

1 cup of grated Cheese

1-2 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

Cut the center of the zucchini length into two strips and width slice across all the way down but not all the way through leaving a shallow bottom of the zucchini. Scoop out the bite sized pieces setting aside. Next dice green bell pepper, tomato, zucchini, onion and garlic. Add the olive oil to a skillet and turn on to a med/high, add veggies and sauté until the union is almost translucent then add marinara sauce. Simmer for a few minutes add quinoa cooking just long enough that all ingredients come together. Take of heat spoon into zucchini shells that are in a 13×9 baking dish with water in the bottom then top with cheese. Cover and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. After 30 minutes take of cover and let cheese brown for the remainder of 15 minutes. The zucchini is done when it is tender and the stuffing is bubbly.

Cut into serving pieces, serve and enjoy.

Posted in Recipes

Butternut Squash Soup

I am bring this older recipe back because it is that time of year for Butternut Squash. You may find that it is in season (for the US) from end of September all the way through late Autumn even early Winter.

I used frozen in this recipe because I made it in the off season and it is easier but with this great squash in season it would make this soup even better. If you choose to use fresh it is very easy to cook just allow about an 40-50 minutes to bake this yummy squash.

Butternut Squash has some pretty amazing health benefits too. It helps boost the immune system, support lung function and who doesn’t need that especial this YEAR! The benefits of this great Veggie go on but just the two I mentioned has me eating this vegetable as often as I can.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I do and maybe eat it in some fuzzy warm cozy socks.

Todays recipe is a very fast way to make butternut squash soup.

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As you can see, I have just the basics but this is still full of flavor.

Butternut squash soup:

1  12 ounce bags of cut up butternut squash

( if using fresh squash: cut length ways clean and remove seeds, wash squash then drizzle olive oil salt and pepper on squash. Place face down in pan add enough water around squash so it is steamed not submerged in the water. Bake at 375 for about 40-50 minutes.)

2 cup of veggie broth

1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk

1 Tablespoon of coconut oil

The following seasoning per your taste:

Rosemary, poultry seasoning (or sage and thyme), black pepper mix, parsley

In a hot pan add coconut oil, butternut squash and seasonings. Sauté for a few minutes until fragrant.  Turn down burner to a simmer then add veggie broth. cook for about 10 minutes until squash is done. If you want a smooth soup put soup mixture in a food processor. When I am in the mood for more texture or I don’t feel like cleaning my food processor I just mash-up the squash with a potato masher. Finally add and stir in the coconut milk. Simmer for a few minutes more, then enjoy your quick soup.

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Posted in Recipes

Lentil Sloppy Joes

I had seen a post on Facebook asking about Vegetarian Sloppy Joes and needing a recipe  alternatives to the Morning Star ground. The following post is two years old but after I saw the post and responded to the person on Facebook I got to thinking maybe I should bring back this recipe for those that may have missed it.

Sloppy joes are one of my favorite foods, they are simple and if done right really good. I have experimented with all different meat alternatives but enjoy the health benefits of the lentil full of clean protein and fiber. Lentils are rich in folate, niacin, and vitamin E. As well as a great source of  minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

I substitute lentils in so many ways that I usually have some already cooked and ready for me to use in a wide range of foods but if you do not have them on hand. Place preferred amount cleaned and in a pot with just enough water to cover the lentils then cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes. You my season them but when I cook them for the purpose to have them on hand I wait to season them later.

GREAT TIP: I  have found that when I use lentils for meatless meat balls or a meatless ground I mash them slightly and let them dry a little.

I like to use brown or green in this recipe but you may use what ever kind you prefer.

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1 – 1/2 cup of cooked lentils slightly mashed (may use more for a large family adjust the following ingredients as well)

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic minced

1/2 small onion diced

4-5 mini sweet peppers diced

1 8 oz can of tomato sauce

1 Teaspoon (vegetarian friendly) Worcestershire sauce

1 Teaspoon of vinegar

1/2 Teaspoon of dry mustard

1 Teaspoon or so of brown sugar

The following per your taste salt, pepper and garlic powder

In a pan add olive oil, garlic, onion and peppers sauté until fragrant and onion is almost translucent. Add lentils cook until lentils start to look a little crisp then add brown sugar and rest of the ingredients. Simmer for about 15 minutes.  Serve on buns or bread, can top with cheese.

Makes about 2-3 large sandwiches depending on size of bun and amount you use for each.

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Posted in Uplifting

20 Seconds of Courage

“You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it.”

― Benjamin Mee-We Bought a Zoo

I have never seen the movie but would like to, so when I read that quote and thought how true. I couldn’t have read it at a better time. I was having one of those days when all I wanted to do was have a melt down and if I was a baby I’m sure I would have. You know those days you wake up maybe a little crabby and all the normal things that you do in the morning with out effort take effort and don’t go smooth. You start to wonder if you should have stayed in bed but you can’t because life goes on even if its not smoothly.

This was were I was at but trying to make the best of it when I read that quote. My mind went into over drive I thought I have 20 seconds to be kind and not have a crabby attitude. I think that was the longest 20 seconds I have had in awhile but I made it through. I moved on with a little more of my day with that thought of I can be nice for 20 seconds and for me on a crabby day that is real courage.

That day kept me in the moment, it kept me mindful, and how to be nice when I don’t want to be. How when everything feels like its just one big crap shoot you can still rise above it even if it is just for 20 seconds at a time.

20 seconds may seem short, but when you are trying to have “insane courage” and be “embarrassing brave” its a lifetime. Isn’t it just that, how funny when broken down it can be so do able. If done then that is when we get “something that is great”. We get a good life even when things are going just the opposite of great. Even in a pandemic, unrest and political craziness let alone all the little day to day problems that we face. 20 seconds of stepping out of our bad mood and being kind is just as infectious as the problems but what peace and contentment we have, making others want it.

Maybe next time someone cuts you off or miss treats you think 20 seconds, I know I will. We all are walking in some really uncomfortable shoes now but 20 seconds of kindness goes a long way and who can’t be brave for 20 seconds?

This did help me, my day stayed the same but my attitude didn’t and with a better attitude I could handle life not as smooth as I’d like.

I also started to remember a Bible verse I love because it really breaks down what is required of us and it is simple especially when done at 20 second intervals.

Micah 6:8

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,[a]
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Posted in Recipes

Lentil and Kale Soup

I don’t know if it’s the smokie gray skies or just my wishful thinking but I am in the mood for all things comfy. Soup is one of my favorite things to cook and eat and in my book you can’t get any more comfy than that.

This soup has kale in it and hopefully even if you are on the fence with this vegetable you will give this a try. I know kale has got to be one of those veggies that are so good for you so you eat it but you only do it because you’re a grown up and know its the right thing to do, but hopefully this recipe will give you hope that you can enjoy kale.

I didn’t take pictures as I cooked with this recipe but it is fast and the ingredients are all easy to find.

Even though lentils can vary in the nutrion content there is no dening that what every type of lentil you choose for this recipe they are packed with good things like…

High in fiber, complex carbohydrates so hello to some quick energy with LOW in fat and lets not forget potassium but I believe it is the red lentil with the highest levels. They also offer clean protein, thiamine, Niacin the health benefits go on but the small little legume is pretty great for you. Mix it with kale which is great for detoxing, your skin, eye health and yes the list goes on for this mighty but difficult to like vegetable.

This recipe is pretty quick under an hour easy but keep in mind that cooking time varies with the type of lentil you choose.

Lentil and Kale Soup:

Prep time 15 minutes, Cook time 45 minutes Total about 1 hour

2 Cups of dried lentils ( rinsed and cleaned)

1-2 Cups of Kale chopped

8 Cups of Veggie stock (or 8 Cups of water and 1 Tablespoon of veggie bouillon per cup)

1 white Onion chopped

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

2 Carrots diced

2 cloves of Garlic peeled and diced

1 Teaspoon of Cardamom

1-2 Teaspoon of Turmeric

1 Teaspoon of Cumin

1-2 Teaspoon of Curry powder

Pepper per taste

(Side note I don’t measure and like seasoning and spice so I did use more than I have about but I believe these measurements will work for anyone’s taste.)

In large pot add oil, onion, garlic and all seasonings but pepper. Sauté until onion is translucent then add carrots, lentils and sauté for a minute or two then add vegetable stock or if using water add at this time with the veggie bouillon and pepper. Bring to a boil then turn down for a nice simmer for 35-40 minutes. When the lentils are almost done add the kale cooking a little longer until the lentils are done and the kale is cooked but still has some life in it, just a little crunch left.

When soup is done add to bowls and enjoy.

Posted in Uplifting

To Be Seen

Have you ever had the pleasure of being around someone who with out saying a word they just got you? Or maybe someone you could go to and they would listen in such a way that you not only felt heard but seen?

Those traits are only found is rare special people that have a quite strength that draws you in like a moth to a flame.

I had the good fortune in calling one of those rare special people my grandpa. He was quite, quick witted, compassionate…..the list of his traits go on but it was his ability to really listen even taking note of what you didn’t say, because of his active listening I always felt like I was seen.

Sure, perhaps I have my rose color glass of a granddaughter who adored her grandpa on but even those that worked with him felt like he just got them. The quite carpenter, volunteer firefighter, writer, family man who saw pain and grew up with abuse gave such compassion people flocked to him.

I was reflecting on this as I dusted the picture of him and I. I came to a stop with cleaning and putting up my fall decorations. It has been years since his passing but his ability to love still stays. I miss just sitting with him and feeling understood without words. I said a pray about how much I miss being with him, when I felt that I have something even better.

I have my father who I am able to really be seen by. I went on cleaning and decorating but that feeling of peace knowing I am really understood and loved stayed. We may think God is just out there waiting to hit us over the head when we screw up but what I find so amazing is that when he gave us His son Jesus, Jesus spent his years on this earth teaching healing and just being with us and if that wasn’t enough I love the fact that the longest recorded conversation Jesus had with anyone was with a women!

In a time when women were less than property He sat down away from crowds and just spoke to a women that doesn’t even have a name recorded in the Bible. Instead she is just “The Women at the Well” (John 4:5-30) with a very colorful history. Jesus shows us that taking the time to sit and really be with someone has a lasting effect, because Jesus showed the women she was seen, her whole village heard about it and came to check it out. Jesus showed love, acceptance and broke rules for someone who was viewed as lesser than property. If he was willing to do that then don’t you think that He sees you and loves you warts and all?

Psalm 139:2-4 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD.

Posted in Recipes

Veggie Sausage and Pasta

Yes, another pasta recipe but I couldn’t help but share.

Yes, I love pasta

Yes, I like fast easy meals (most of the time)

No, I am not one for making recipes I have to go to a specialty store for ( unless its a holiday then sure I’m in).

Keeping that in mind then you know this recipe will be quick and with things you can pick up at any grocery store or online.

I really love pasta but use ones that are higher in protean because I do not eat meat. I could and probably should do a post just on pasta, there’s just so many different kinds and alternatives to just wheat flour. In this recipe I kept it basic and used Barilla Protein plus multigrain spaghetti pasta but I have used so many other kinds, it is fun trying them out.

I also enjoy a nice Bolognese pasta so todays recipe is a little of that too.

Veggie Sausage Pasta:

2 Veggie Italian Sausage, sliced

2 Roman Tomatoes

Handful of Chives diced

1-2 Tablespoons of diced garlic

1 can of Tomato sauce

1-3 Drops of Basil Essential Oil

1-2 Drops of Marjoram Essential Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Olive Oil

Spaghetti Noodles cooked according to the box and drained keeping 1/4 cup of pasta water

In hot sauce pan add olive oil, garlic, then brown sliced sausage to almost done. Now adding the chives and tomatoes cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes add tomato sauce, essential oils, salt and pepper simmer for a few minutes longer.

At this point the pasta should be done. Drain pasta reserving 1/4 cup of its water to add to the tomato sauce mixture. Remove from heat add cooked pasta and serve.

Posted in Uplifting

“It’s Forgiveness” Part 2

I really like that quote but it is so much harder for me to do. I tend to forgive others so much quicker than I do myself, I seem to think that I made such a mess of things with my actions, (or lack of action) words that have been said (or not said) that I find it only fair that I carry guilt of what I did. Why should I extend grace to myself?

Along with forgiving my (ex-)husband I needed to forgive myself for the part that I played. To let go of the if only, why didn’t I and how could you. Those are the bitter pills for me to swallow. It is easier for me to accept and carry the guilt and shame than to release it and give it to God. To leave all of that baggage at the foot of the cross where its suppose to stay but I somehow manage to make a hike up to old Calvary to collect what I feel is mine to keep.

The baggage can be a comfort. It can give a false sense of security. That blanket of shame has been with me to long I feel incomplete with out it.

The sad fact is that living that way is what keeps me and any one else behaving in the state of I deserve less so accepting less is fine with us. We end up not living our full lives and really living.

I love hiking but making that trip back to Calvary to collect what I was never meant to have only takes my energy. It is telling Jesus that what he did was great for everyone else but I am the exception to the rule of forgiveness. How it must break His heart when we decrease the value of what He did on the cross. We cheapen the act of His death and resurrection.

To accept that we are worthy of forgiving ourselves, learning and moving on and actually living loved is the best way we can say thank you to God for what he has given us.

When I am starting to make that hike I reach for Psalm 103 then I feel I deserve to just accept, not over think but to give grace to myself because “it’s forgiveness”.

1 Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: 8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. 15 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. 17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— 18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. 19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. 20 Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. 21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. 22 Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, my soul.

Posted in Recipes

Meatless Nuggets

I have never been a big fan of the chicken nuggets, even if I did eat meat it’s just not one of those things I would really ever order out. When my son was little he was the chicken nugget fan. Well anything that had to do with chicken I knew it would be eaten in no time and he is still that way.

I was talking to him about how I was thinking of coming up with a good meatless nugget and he seemed excited so I did it and almost broke my arm patting my back they were so good.

Really, I used tofu and before I loose you please just hold on and read on…they really are good. I even got the thumbs up from my son.

They were crunchy with flavor, baked not fried so they are on the side of good for you too.

Meatless Nuggets Recipe:

1 package of extra firm Tofu drained and cut into nugget sizes

1/2 cup of Corn Starch or Potato Starch

1/4 cup of wheat flour

1/4 cup of Nutritional Yeast

Seasonings per your taste: paprika, garlic and onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper

1 Egg

4 Tablespoons of water

The key to this crispy nuggets is to remove all the water from the tofu. To do this drain the tofu then wrap it in a towel putting weight on top for at least 15 minutes. I have found a nice cast-iron skillet with a few cans in it work great.

In a bowl add egg and water then whip them together making a egg wash

In another bowl add corn/potato starch, flour and seasonings

In the last and final bowl add the nutritional yeast.

I know the amount of dishes sound like way to much but it is worth it!

Take the drained, cut tofu rolling it in the nutritional yeast then dredge in the egg mixture, then put in corn/potato starch mixture making sure you cover it well. Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Do this with each nugget. Place the full cookie sheet of nuggets in a preheated oven at 350 for about an hour turning flipping the nuggets at about 30 minutes.

Note: If you want extra crispy, spray the nuggets with olive oil before baking them and then again when you flip them. I didn’t do that this time but have noticed a slight difference with crispness.

When they are done place on a plate and serve with dipping sauce of your choice or even just plain works too, they are that good.

Posted in Uplifting

“It’s Forgiveness”

I thought I had a handle on forgiveness, not perfect but I thought I had the basic thought down. I had forgiven those who had wronged me and moved on, or so it seemed. I had read some insightful books that really helped, spoken to very smart people that “specialize” in helping people “like me”. I have healed a lot, I could talk about memories of my past hurts and not want to cry or throw up. So I was taken back when I kept feeling the nudge ( thank you God) of no I haven’t truly forgiven someone who hurt me in my past, the one who hurt me the most.

I was given the kick in the pants that I need to really dig deep and it all came in the form of entertainment. I was watching Sex in the City the movie, yes I know but I wanted a “girl movie” and turned it on but I wasn’t expecting to get pearls of wisdom to come from it.

The part of the movie that spoke to me was the exchange between two of the characters Carrie and Miranda, both friends but Carrie felt that Miranda did her wrong by keeping something from her. They got so mad at each other they didn’t speak for a little while until Miranda couldn’t take it any longer. Maybe it was the split from her husband who had cheated on Miranda, making her need her friend more than needing to be right. She needed her forgiveness and wanted her friend back. She made the first move. She stopped by and had a chat with her friend. She wanted forgiveness from Carrie. Carrie was surprised Miranda was expecting such quick forgiveness from her when Miranda couldn’t even entertain the idea of forgiving her husband after time had passed. Miranda said that was different but Carrie responded “it’s forgiveness.” As those words were spoken I had a nudge in my heart and that’s when I knew I really hadn’t forgiven my (ex) husband, ouch!

Had I really just done lip service?

I had and new I need to do better, I didn’t need to keep this resentment going allowing him and the things he did in the past to continue to hurt me so that it stills the full joy of today.

Forgiveness is NOT Conditional. That is exactly what I had done, I had made a list of what I would allow myself to forgive on one side and the other side are the wrongs that will never be forgiven. I didn’t want to admit it but its true. I had put my husband and some of the wrongs in that never forgiving column without even realizing it but they can’t stay there “it’s forgiveness”.

“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner.” unknown