Lemon Chicken Breast

Standard

In many ways I can’t believe that April is almost over!  When I think back to where we were this time last year…our basement was about to flood and begin a month-long craziness, Brad was about to have interviews in Texas, and I was starting to fill out job applications for Texas districts around the places Brad had interviews.  A LOT has happened in this last year.

On the other hand I am so glad that May is around the corner.  Because of all the craziness from last year, we didn’t get much of a summer to relax and regroup.  This will be the first summer in a while that we have been able to just breathe.

I’ve missed blogging for those two people that actually read my posts ;-)

Believe me I think many times about sitting down to share a recipe for the table or a recipe for life—but working as a full-time teacher again keeps me hopping!  The last time I was in the classroom I didn’t have children of my own at home—that is a game changer in the world of education.

This year our family dinners have taken on a different look.  The weekends used to be for quick and casual while our weeknights were the meals I spent time on preparing.  Now it has flipped.

Here is a quick and easy dinner that I found this week.  We all enjoyed it and I was able to get it into the oven and the kitchen cleaned up before it came out of the oven.  (And with no dishwasher now for almost a month—that is a big deal!….Home Warranty company has finally decided to replace the ailing dishwasher but now we wait on that!)

Lemon Chicken Breast

Preheat the oven to 400°

Warm in a small saucepan over medium-low heat

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil

Add to the warmed olive oil and cook for just one minute (don’t allow the garlic to brown):

  • 3 Tablespoons minced garlic (about 9 cloves)

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add to it:

  • 1/3 cup of dry white wine
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (I used the juice freshly squeezed from the lemon I had zested)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Pour the saucepan mixture into a 9 x 12 inch baking dish

Add to the baking dish:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts (I used skinless too but you could have skin on them…put them skin side up if you do)

Coat the chicken, on both sides, with the olive oil mixture in the pan.  Sprinkle the coated chicken with:

  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper

Cut what remains of your lemon into slices and tuck it among the chicken pieces.  If you have a second lemon you could just slice that one into wedges and use that.  I only had one lemon so we just used it thoroughly!

Bake for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

After removing the chicken from the oven, cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

We all enjoyed this dish and it was quick and easy for me to prepare after giving state tests all day long :(

 

(I based this recipe off of one that I found online at shescookin.com that was called “Ina Garten’s Lemon Chicken Breast”)

Preparing for the New Year

Standard

I forgot how precious the holidays are when you teach school!  I have really enjoyed my time off and we were so blessed to be near our family and able to see them multiple times throughout the holidays.  As this first day of 2015 wraps up, I have begun to think about work again (I might have to start a summer countdown calendar though).  One thing that I will be doing before school starts back up and I am busy-busy again is that I will freeze some meals for those days that I just can’t spend time cooking.  I am planning to put two different “main entrees” into the freezer before Sunday night.  One of them, Porcupine Meatballs, I’ve blogged before.  This new one is a recipe my Aunt Gwen shared with me.  Neither of us have made it after it was frozen, yet we have made it fresh.  However, I’m going to try freezing it and bought gallon-sized freezer zip bags at the store this week for that very purpose!

Cilantro Lime Chicken

Place into a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast (if they are crazy big chicken breasts, cut them to make thinner)
  • 4 Tablespoons of lime juice (about 2 limes if using fresh)
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped (this was about 3 cups prior to chopping it)
  • 1, 16 oz, bag of frozen corn
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Once all the ingredients are in the bag, mix it all together and zip the bag closed.

Place in the freezer for up to 3 months.  When you are ready to prepare the dish, remove it from the freezer and thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Cooking times:

Slow Cooker: This recipe works great in the slow cooker.

  • Low for 8 hours
  • High for 4 hours

Stove:  I found this site that helps convert recipes from stove to slow cooker.  I may try this when I cook this for my family as the slow cooker and my teaching hours don’t mesh well.  According to this on stovetop it would take about 45 minutes to cook this meal.  I will most likely pull the chicken out and brown it on both sides and then pour the rest in on top to finish cooking it all together.  I will update this post after I try it to let you know how it works!

 

https://beckinpa.files.wordpress.com

Family time is priceless!

 

Ratatouille—Vegetables after the Carb Fest!

Standard

We have had a wonderful Thanksgiving here in Texas.  It was wonderful to drive to be with our Giese family.  Thanksgiving is the only time of year that the entire clan (close to 40 of us) plan to get together.  This year we were just outside of San Antonio and next year I get to host!!! (And yes, the spreadsheet is already forming in my head and I’ve determined where furniture will be placed too!)  Then on Friday we drove over to see Brad’s parents and had another wonderful feast.  Needless to say, we need some vegetables without butter and brown sugar all over them!

I just finished prepping this Ratatouille recipe that I found last winter in “Slow Cooker Revolution”.  I served our dish with some Rigatoni Pasta to help my kids be a bit more receptive to this vegetable focused meal.  It does take a bit of time to prepare (30 minutes) but then you have 4 to 6 hours to clean up the kitchen and know that later your family will have a warm, healthy meal without any butter :)

Ratatouille

Cut into 1-inch chunks:

  • 2 eggplants (2 pounds)
  • 3 zucchini (1 1/2 pounds)

Heat in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat:

  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil

Brown in the heated oil for about 5-7 minutes:

  • 1/2 of the eggplant; turning it to brown on all sides.  (I pepper mine a bit)

Transfer browned eggplant to your slow cooker.

Repeat process with 1 Tablespoon more of oil and remaining eggplant.

Then, work in two batches again, to brown the zucchini (adding 1 Tablespoon of oil before each batch.)

Put the browned zucchini in the slow cooker.

Heat 2 more Tablespoons of oil in the skillet.  Add to the shimmering oil:

  • 2 onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme (could use 2 teaspoons of fresh if you have some)

Cook the vegetables for 8 to 10  minutes until softened and lightly browned.

While the vegetables brown, drain but reserve the drained juice

  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes

Once the vegetables are browned, Stir into them and cook for 1 minute:

  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour

Slowly whisk into the skillet, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out lumps:

  • the reserved tomato juice

Transfer everything to the slow cooker.

Stir  into the slow cooker:

  • The drained, diced tomatoes

Cover and cook for 4-6 hours on low until the vegetables are tender.

Prepare your desired pasta just before the vegetables are finished

Stir into the vegetables:

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
Ready to cook for 4-6 hours!

Ready to cook for 4-6 hours!

Enjoy!

August 10- a day I will always remember

Standard

Today is one of those “anniversary” days for me.  It is one that I will always remember for the rest of my life.

It is the day we picked up our girls, in 2013, from Sleep-Away camp in Pennsylvania for the last time. It was the day that we told them three very big things:

1) Uncle Dude and Aunt Erin were going to have a baby

2) Aunt Robin died during the night after battling cancer

3) We had decided that I would not accept a job in Texas that had been offered to me….a job that would have allowed us to live just an hour from our extended family.

August 10 is quite the anniversary for me.

This year I remember the day while sitting in Texas, our new residence….where God has provided a job for Brad and now, pending a written offer, a job for me. We moved into our home a week ago and live just over an hour from our extended family. Last year, I had no idea how it would all happen but we decided to Trust God and Walk Forward, knowing He had a plan for us. Knowing if we trusted Him, we would end up in just the right place….wherever that would be.

Today we visited a new church….I hate church shopping but it is a necessary evil of moving. The preacher was the highlight of the church for me, even with all its wonderful amenities. His sermon was a perfect confirmation of our desire to move back to Texas.

He preached from Colossians 3:20-21. His first point was “Make the relationships with our family of primary importance.” This entire move was based on this need of family. Our schedule in Pennsylvania did not allow us to interact as a family on a regular basis. Brad’s job was a great job, but the hours were not conducive to his being around at the times our girls were home. We did not like this. We had seen the warning flags that the pastor, Dr. Mark Hartman, shared

  • When the busy seasons become the norm.
  • When we connect our careers with our self-worth
  • When we stop fighting the battle of balance and give in to the career.

We saw these flags beginning to fly in our lives and didn’t want to overlook them and carry on.

I am thankful that God gave Brad and I the same desire, to find a job that allowed him to have a more consistent schedule to be home in the evenings. We know that our girls are growing up and we will never have this time again….we want to be the parents God has asked us to be. We also wanted our girls to know and be able to develop relationships with their extended family, as family is such an important part of life.

For us, this meant some big changes in career, location, and finances.

Moving is tough. We miss our friends, we have worked for hours packing boxes and now unpacking boxes and I won’t even mention the money involved in a move—ouch!

God is faithful and He provides.

I know He will provide new friends.

I know He will provide rest.

I know that He will provide for our needs.

 

Philippians 4:19

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

I hope to always be able to remember August 10 as a day that is bittersweet; mixed emotions and God’s hand always at work.

Hearing about a new cousin on the way!

Hearing about a new cousin on the way!

Celebrating the life of my Aunt Robin.  I miss her so much.

Celebrating the life of my Aunt Robin. I miss her so much.

Eating lunch in our new home....no Burger King this time but Whataburger!

Eating lunch in our new home….no Burger King this time but Whataburger!

Rainbow over our new hometown.

Rainbow over our new hometown.

Hey Math Teacher…when will I use this stuff?

Standard

Yes, that is often the thought of many a math student sitting in the desk of math classes around the world. Well, let me tell you when you will use “this stuff”. Currently my life seems to be one big story problem; and the answers are not written at the back of the book!

We are excitedly looking to move back to Texas in the next few weeks. God has generously answered the prayers of many people and opened the doors for us to move back close to family. Right now, though, we constantly have to figure out all kinds of things:

  • If we have to be in Texas by x-date yet our belongings will be picked up on y-date and it takes so many hours to get to Texas, how many hours do we need to travel each day? (Make consideration for traveling with two cats)
  • If our insurance ended on June 30 and the COBRA information arrives on July 11 and is RIDICULOUSLY high, which short-term insurance plan should we go with taking into consideration the maintenance medications we are using and that our family will be traveling in two different directions in three different vehicles across the nation in just two weeks?
  • How many jobs do I apply for in the short amount of time I have to sit at the computer and give to that task?

I could go on and on. I am getting many opportunities to quote Philippians 4:6 to myself…I’ve paraphrased it a bit to fit my situations though:

Be anxious for nothing, not even finding the right job,

Be anxious for nothing, not even how you will get all of this done,

but with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.

 So the recipe for life is to start each day with Thanksgiving.

Thank you Lord for this move!

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to watch you work.

Thank you Lord for guiding each step of the way.

Thank you for the amazing friends and relatives that are all helping out in their own ways.

Thank you for being so amazing and loving me even when I don’t deserve it.

 

The answers are in the book…His book….the Bible.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

So when in doubt, go to the best book around, The Bible and seek his help with the story problems of life.   The answers are not at the back of the book but all throughout, from start to finish!  Then, as Philippians 4:7 goes on to say “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Answers throughout the book!

 

Back to packing!

 

 

Tortellini and Ground Beef…who knew?

Standard

We tried a new recipe at our house this week and it was a winner.  It has the two characteristics of a recipe that I love: fast and easy!  Then it has two more loves for us…tortellini AND ground beef, I never would have thought to put them together.

Our life here in the Smith house has been going a little fast too….not so much easy but not too difficult.  I have had many thoughts of blog entries to write and share with you, but things just are moving too fast to sit down and write at this point.  Meals at our house have not been to creative either as my schedule has been very full.  But I did finally try something new this week and since everyone liked it at our table, I thought I would share it with you.

I first found the recipe and pinned it to  Pinterest and then when we made it had to change a few things to fit the ingredients we had in the house.   So here is my version:

Baked Tortellini Casserole

In a large skillet or chicken fryer pan:

  • Brown 1 lb of lean ground beef

Add to the beef before it is totally browned:

  • 1 small, onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt
  • pepper to taste

While the beef is browning, prepare according to package instructions:

  • 1 large (12 oz) bag of dried tortellini (We had cheese and spinach tortellini in the pantry.  I cooked it on the shortest end of the cooking time so that the tortellini would finish cooking in the oven.)

tortellini bag

Once the beef is thoroughly cooked through and drained, stir in:

  • 2, 14-oz cans of diced or petite diced tomatoes (could use crushed tomatoes too)
  • 1, 8-oz can of tomato sauce

Stir into the beef mixture:

  • prepared tortellini
  • 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese (we mixed mozzarella and Parmesan)

Transfer to a casserole dish and bake at 350° for about 20-30 minutes

Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of Italian cheese of your choice over the top and serve!

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast anyone?

Standard

Today is the first day of our spring break and I’m happy to report that it actually feels like spring!  Now tomorrow is another story but at least we have today.

This morning I made a recipe that I recently found on pinterest.  It seemed easy enough for a mindless-morning recipe.  I hate breakfast recipes that make you think too much or that you have to cook for an hour or so (meaning you have to wake up way before your family to get breakfast ready).

This one was quick and easy and it is totally gone after my family had breakfast.  We served it along with a bowl of fruit.

Crescent Roll Breakfast Ring

Preheat oven to 375°

Scramble on the stove top

  • 5 eggs (I tried to do 6 as that is what I had left in the carton and honestly….it was one egg too many!)

Lay out on a parchment lined pizza pan or  cookie sheet

  • crescent rolls in a circle that looks much like sun rays!

Add to the crescent rolls:

  • 8 slices of fully cooked bacon (I purchased a box of fully cooked bacon to make this an easy prep breakfast)

 

Yum...Bacon!

Yum…Bacon!

Add to the ring in the following order:

  • 1/3 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (or colby-jack)
  • cooked eggs
  • 1/3 cup of shredded cheese

Fold the crescents over and tuck in or pinch the point to the long side of the roll

Add to the top of the ring

  • 1/3 cup of shredded cheese
Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

Bake for 17 minutes or until the crescents are done and golden brown.

Enjoy!

Breakfast Ring_slice