Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mr. B's Chicken

Oh, Mr. B.

How you make such a tasty meal. And you don't. follow. directions.
It drives me nuts. It's my OCD personality.

I'm all about following the recipe correctly the first time, and then making my own adjustments the next time around. I used to never stray from this mantra, but over the last few years I have...especially when it comes to my healthier lifestyle, like replacing some ingredients with healthier ones, and realizing I don't have to have every ingredient listed and I can substitute to my own liking. Actually, I'm pretty sure I have no mantra except make it healthy, delicious, and good for you. These are my rules now. (Oh and, as I said before I'm OCD, I hate mess, so I clean up as I go.)

Mr. B's rules:
  • The recipe must have a picture so he can see what the food is supposed to look like.
  • If he doesn't have all the ingredients, oh well. "They all can't be that important."
  • Just because the recipe is written in a certain order doesn't mean it has to be done that way.
  • The kitchen must be a disaster when finished.
Ai. yi. yi.

Yet, this chicken dish is divine. I don't know how he does it. I don't know what he does, which step he's missing/combing/ingredient added or subtracted. I'm too busy cleaning up his mess as he cooks to pay attention.

One day he found this recipe in this huge cookbook I purchased for him way back when he moved into his first apartment all by his lonesome. It was on sale, way $9.99 Borders. (Ahh, Borders.) It's The 1,000 Best Recipes. And this thing can be a serious weapon. It's huge, inconvenient, and I have no idea why I bought it for him of all people, but it has beautiful and mouth-watering recipe gems. Anyhoo, he decided he wanted this for dinner. He had "all" of the ingredients, so he made it. And it's been his dish ever since. We have this about once every other month, only because he decides he wants to "cook-cook" every other month. (Mr. B will usually make a quick dinner, and it's usually just for him, about once a week, reading: steak or pork chops or sausage or eggs and bacon or frozen pizza [GASP.]. When he can grill, then his cooking is more frequent.)

Once, I was feeling brave. We hadn't had this dish in awhile and he was working late, therefore I decided to surprise him with his recipe. I followed the directions, used all of the right ingredients, and it looked exactly like the picture (which his never does, btw; this should have been my first clue). It wasn't awful. But it wasn't Mr. B's chicken. My sauce turned out soupy and thin. His is thick and holds to the chicken.

Alas, this is Mr. B's recipe and only his.

Chicken in Mushroom & Paprika Sauce (a.k.a. Mr. B's Chicken)
*this is the somewhat adapted recipe from The 1,000 Best Recipes

serves 4

4 chicken breasts
1/4 c flour (or cornstarch)
8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 c (plus more for cooking) chicken broth, divided
1/3 c sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

Trim fat from chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place chicken and flour in plastic bag, shaking until chicken is coated. Heat some chicken broth in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook (in batches, if needed) until chicken is brown, about 5 minutes. Place chicken on plate and set aside. Add more chicken broth to skillet, adding onion and garlic, cooking 2  minutes over medium heat. add mushrooms and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add paprika, cooked chicken, and stir to combine. Combine tomato paste with 1/2 c chicken broth in a small bowl. Add to skillet and stir until combined. Season to taste. Return to heat and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. (I know for a fact Mr. B doesn't do this step.) Cook until chicken is cooked through. Stir in sour cream, and sprinkle with parsley.

Good luck. Oh, and here's to making recipes your own!

*I promise to update this post with prettier pictures. We always devour this dish before I realize I haven't taken a picture!

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, April 22, 2013

7 Days 1 Challenge: Seventeen

Okay, y'all, this is the last one and we've come full circle: 52 weeks of mini challenges.

Fifty-two Mondays. Fifty-two opportunities to try something new.

Fifty-two small accomplishments.

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
20-minute walk every day.

Hit the trail, the road, or the treadmill this week for a short daily walk. Mr. B and I walked to the park across the street every day it's been nice these past few weeks...which currently are few and far between. But this week it is supposed to be a little warmer (high 50s), so I'm hoping to bundle up in the mornings/evenings and catch a short walk before work or after dinner. I encourage you to get out, too. :)

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

I hope everyone enjoyed these mini challenges. Check out my Challenged page for a list of all 52 challenges!

With Love & God Bless,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Three Years

Today is our three-year wedding anniversary!

On our honeymoon!

Happy anniversary, Mr. B.

Every day our relationship grows. We get stronger. We love deeper. We continue to positively influence each other. I love you so much more than words can say.

Image Source: Pinterest
With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Photo an Hour

7 AM

8 AM

9 AM

10 AM

11 AM

12 PM

1 PM

2 PM

3 PM

4 PM

5 PM

6 PM

7 PM

8 PM

9 PM

Last Sunday my friend, her mother-in-law, and I fought the crowds at the annual Vera Bradley Outlet Sale in Ft. Wayne, IN. Our day started at 7 am at the hotel and, after hours of standing and riding in a car, ended with me falling into bed well before 10 o'clock. But it was completely worth it. I saved over $240 with my 10 purchases, including two purses, a wallet, a book bag, and sunglasses! And the next day I even found a coupon in my email thanking me for attending the sale. I guess I'll put that coupon towards another wallet :D

Thankfully, we only had to wait outside in the cold and spitting rain for 47 minutes. Our Starbucks kept us fueled and our hands somewhat warm. And a tasty Jimmy John's sub was our reward.

I cannot wait until next year! (which is April 9-14, btw.)

(Check out February's A Photo an Hour post.)

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, April 15, 2013

7 Days 1 Challenge: Sixteen


 I cannot wait until next year, and I already have a new list of must-have items. This year I snagged two purses, a wallet, a book bag, an apron, some cloth napkins, slippers, sunglasses, a lunch bag for Mama, and a lanyard. Annnnd I still had money to eat on the way home. (It was only $5, but you do what you have to do.) Check back for the pictures tomorrow!

Here's a little sneak peek at the Vera merchandise my friends and I just happened to bring along with us for the over-night stay.  (To say we already own plenty of VB....) We had 11 patterns between us just on Saturday night. We now have a total of 27.

And the next morning we were off to stand in chilly weather elbowing others to purchase more.

Addicted? No. We're delightfully obsessed.

Oh, and here is this week's challenge.

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
Health-ify your meal.
Image courtesy of Chobani
No matter what your favorite comfort meal may be, or even your go-to meal, find a way to re-vamp it. Find healthier ingredient substitutions. Examples include subbing flax-eggs for eggs, Greek yogurt for oil or butter, black beans for flour, a mashed banana or unsweetened applesauce for sugar, almond milk for dairy, an avocado or sweet potato for cream, homemade seasonings instead of store-bought, and mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes.

The above chart will help you get started!

Don't be intimidated; just go for it. The biggest hindrance I faced when I decided to start living (and mainly eating) a healthier lifestyle three years ago was the fear of making something awful and having to throw away food. I hate to waste. It's one of my biggest pet peeves. BUT within the last year of trying new recipes/ingredients, I think I've only made three meals that weren't very good, but we managed to choke down, and only two that I just tossed. Nine out of 10 meals nobody notices the difference, unless I mention it. And Mr. B is still clueless as to what I did to his favorite cookies :)


Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love & God Bless,

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dessert of the Month

Guess what?!

In less than 48 hours my friend, her mother-in-law, and I will be on our way to the Vera Bradley Outlet Sale in Indiana!!!!!!!!!!! I.cannot.wait. Last year we went up on a Thursday, which required a ticket, but this year we're hitting the Sunday sale, which doesn't require a ticket. And there will probably be some flying elbows. I'm ready.

They're picking me up Saturday and we're spending the night at a hotel so we'll be there bright and early Sunday. However I work on Saturday, so we'll be arriving at the hotel quite late. To fuel us for the drive, I decided to make us some Black Bean Chocolate Chili [Cranberry] Cookies.

Now this is not my recipe, so it's also a review post. (And I really enjoy this blogger's recipes...vegan and I rarely ever have to substitute ingredients.) I've been eager to make these cookies for a while now. I almost made them at Christmas but the batch doesn't make very many. Not the kind of cookie you make for a crowd, nor the kind of cookie you make for people who don't like to try new healthier versions of cookies. But my friend, Jess, is all up for my healthy experiments. I knew this would be the perfect time to make them. Plus, if we do like them there's only nine cookies. (Well, eight now since I had to try one. I wouldn't want to give anyone a bad cookie.)

Yeah. These cookies hit the spot. The rich dark chocolate and the spice from the cayenne mixed with little bites of dried cranberries (the recipe originally calls for cherries) make for one satisfying cookie. It's not too sweet and I know I'm getting a nice dose of fiber from the chia seeds. Annnnnd.....they have my favorite "healthy" ingredient: BLACK BEANS! (Now you're getting your protein.)


I'm sure if you have a food processor these would be super fast to throw together when entertaining small company or when you're in the mood for cookies but don't want a lot. However, my food processor is super, super tiny so I used my blender instead. The mix kept getting stuck, and I'd have to stop and stick a spatula in there to wiggle everything around. After a few attempts, I had to scrape out the dry ingredients and then layer a little bit of dry, then some wet; repeat. But they're still quick to make.

Eventually, the batter will smooth out like the above picture; add the cranberries and chocolate chunks.

Then you scoop nine big cookies onto your prepared baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes at 375 degrees. And these are much better eaten when cooled than when straight from the oven. So, be patient.

Y'all have to try these fabulous, tasty cookies!

For an awesome rich chocolate fix with a kick, head on over to My New Roots for the recipe! And while you're there check out Sarah B's other great vegan recipes, videos, and tips.

But then, of course my thoughts turned to my wonderful hubby (who happened to be heading home from work at the time) and I decided to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. His favorite. I knew he wouldn't eat these chocolate chili cookies because 1) they're chocolate, 2) "who knows what [I] did to them to make them healthy," and 3) the batch only made nine cookies and they're not for him anyway.

But, don't tell Mr. B, I health-ified his cookies, too. Shhhhhh. I replaced the egg with a flax-egg. I wanted to make his cookies a little healthier; however I can't do too much or he'll know. And also because I wanted to eat a few spoonful(s) of batter. Now we're all happy.

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mid-Week Inspirational

It's Thursday!!!!!!!!!

And I have so much to do here at work. I have new books (finally!) to review, Summer Reading programming blurbs to write, picture books to weed through, and a bounty of yoga programs to plan (yay!), but I thought I'd take a few minutes to listen to a little motivation. And then I thought I'd share it with you.

So, here's TobyMac's "Me Without You" (one of my favorites), and I promise it will get you moving!

You rescued me, 
Now you are mine and I am yours.
You rescued me and I am yours forever.
You saved me, remade me 
Where would I be...

I'd be packin' my bags when I need to stay...

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, April 8, 2013

7 Days 1 Challenge: Fifteen

Oh my goodness, this weather is gorgeous!

My foot is starting to feel better, so the hubby and I took advantage of the sunshine and walked to the park yesterday. It was lovely. It's so nice to see others enjoying the park, especially the dog park. It's feeding my dog fever. I want one. And right now I'm trying to talk Mr. B into getting a Shiba Inu (since clearly my Chihuahua is out of the question).

I mean, come on. How cute is this little guy? I want him. I want to take him to the dog park and have everyone gush over how cute he is. And then I want to come home and snuggle. Because I'm not getting it from Mr. B or Siamese.
Source: Google Images
[Heavy sigh] I digress.

Anyhoo. The challenge.

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
Pilates every day.
Source: Google Images
Since my foot seems to be healed (praise the Lord!) I am eager to get back into my workout routine. But I'm up for something different, and Pilates are calling my name. I think it's because the routine is similar to yoga but with more cardio. There are a ton of Pilates videos on the web, so start Googling and get that booty movin'!

Here's a great site to get your Pilates fix.

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love & God Bless,

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Count Your Blessings

With Easter last Sunday, The Bible miniseries on TV, and a few rough days filled with stress, loss, and uncertainty, my Bible has been my constant companion. Turning to Scripture fills me with peace and helps me focus on God's promises. It's easy to get lost in the craziness of work, chores, friends, schedules, and tribulations. But through it all God's Word stays constant. He will provide and comfort those who call upon Him. Nothing is too ridiculous. Nothing is impossible.

In these past weeks, I realized I've been focusing all of my energy on things that don't matter. Stressing over the tiniest comment or missed chore. Reading His Word has opened my eyes; I need to focus on the blessings and gifts the Lord has given me. When your heart is centered on all you have, you realize the little things aren't important. You realize how blessed you truly are. How much you have when there are so many with nothing.

I decided to start jotting down the many blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me, and I keep the list near me at all times. So when life's trials seem too much, I can focus on all that I have, remembering how good life is.

1. The Cross. Christ's sacrifice and Resurrection. He is alive. I am so thankful for my salvation.

2. God's love. I am a child of God, and when I think about how much he loves me I'm overwhelmed.

3. Mr. B. I thank the Lord, twice, daily for my husband. The Lord brought us together. We balance each other. When I am weak, he is strong and vice versa. He's my best friend.

4. My parents. I still have both of my parents at the age of 26. I know so many my age who have suffered the loss of a parent, or both. I'm cherishing every moment.

5. Siblings. Again, I know way too many people who've lost brothers and sisters. I'm so blessed to still have mine. And we're healthy. And we love each other. And we support each other.

6. Family. Even though we can get on each others' nerves (what family doesn't?), I'm blessed to have family I can turn to and lean on. I have a huge family. And my thoughts are constantly with those members who are no longer here.

7. Friends. They are great blessings. Everyone needs friends to help balance them out. They're the "family" we get to choose. They're our support system.

8. A warm bed. During these last cold months, my thoughts have turned to the homeless. I crawl into cold sheets at night and shiver because our bedroom is only 59 degrees. But I remind myself there are those without beds, sleeping on the cold ground. I'm thankful for my bed.

9. Warren-Trumbull County Public Library. My place of employment. The Lord provides, and I'm thankful evermore for the opportunity to do something I love while working with such great, fun people.

10. Our house. I have a place I can call home. Just when we thought our house-searching progress halted, the Lord guided us to this wonderful home. It was an easy process and it felt right. With only a little renovation, we've made the house ours. I'm so thankful we're able to afford a lovely home.

In less than a year of purchasing our own home, I've known two families whose homes have been lost to fires, friends of my parents, and my father-in-law. It's ridiculous how your whole life and it's memories can be lost in a matter of minutes. I say a silent prayer of thanks every time I pull into my driveway.

11. Hot meals.

"Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they?" Matthew 6:26 (KJV)

12. The car. I am all too familiar with cars that never seem to start in the cold, break down in the middle of a busy intersection, or are in constant need of repairs. For the last three years I've been able to afford a car that is reliable. It gets me where I need to go with heat and air. I'm so very thankful, especially when I see someone broken down on the side of the road. I remember that used to be me, and I say a quick prayer that one day they too will have a reliable car.

13. Faith Family Church. My church. It's hard to go through life when you can't hear God's Word constantly. To know I have a home church where I feel welcomed and loved, who shares my beliefs, is very important to me. I'm encouraged and uplifted every time I hear a sermon.

14. Good health. I've been struggling with a sinus infection lately which has reminded me that I am in good health otherwise. Having your health is so important, which is why I commit daily to fueling my body with the food it needs and living a healthy lifestyle.

15. Sight. I can see! I can read books, see colors! Do you how many people can't?

16. Walking. I suffered a minor foot injury a few weeks ago, and after having my grandpa adjust it, I'm getting along much better. But during my down time all I could think about was, What if I always have a limp? I thought about all the things I wouldn't be able to do. I thought about a high school friend of mine who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan. Something so simple, but I take it for granted every time I get out of bed in the morning.

17. That I'm able to do everyday things on my own. Like go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, get out of bed, eat, and dress. Use fresh produce to make delicious meals. Heat a kettle for tea. One day I might need assistance with these simple tasks. Take the time to appreciate these now.

18. A beautiful mind. I'm thrilled I can think on my own. I'm educated. I'm creative. I can figure things out.

19. Money for bills. I don't have to fret over those student loan bills that come each month. We live within our means, and it's comforting to know I won't come home to the electric or the gas shut off.

20. An education. It was a struggle. A lot of tears. A lot of money. A lot of debt. But I have two degrees. I have a career. I can afford to go on vacation and purchase decor for our home. I'm very proud and extremely blessed the Lord has given me this opportunity.

21. The clothes on my back. That I don't have to worry about wearing old clothes, or finding clothes to wear. I have an abundance of clothes. And I'm always willing to help out those in need.

22. Grandparents. Unfortunately, not all of my grandparents are here today. But I'm always thinking about them, and I'm thankful so very much for the ones still here with me. You never know how much time you have.

23. My love of books. I've learned so much from my love of reading. I thank the good Lord that he bestowed me with this passion.

24. My husband's employment. It's hard to enjoy your job when you're surrounded by constant negativity, like my husband is as a Sheriff's Deputy. But I believe he is doing good in this world and he's changing some lives, even if he doesn't realize it.

25. The seasons. Some people dislike the cold and hot, but I'm grateful for all seasons. God made this world beautiful, and I'm blessed to experience it.

26. Love. Some people go through their whole life never experiencing love. I'm happy to say I know how to love, and I know I am loved.

I plan to share more of my blessings in another post (soon, I hope), and I encourage you to start counting your blessings. Feel free to comment and share how good the Lord is below!

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, April 1, 2013

7 Days 1 Challenge: Fourteen

Last week's challenge went quite well for me; I was even more conscience about my water and napkin use. I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter and was able to enjoy the afternoon's sunshine. Because right now it's cloudy, cold and snowing. O-H-I-O.

Speaking of O-H, I'm heartbroken and upset over this weekend's loss. No, we did not make it to the Final Four. We didn't play like we wanted to be there. We were awful. And I'm now rooting for Wichita State. Go creepy Shockers. Also, did anyone see that horrible injury during the Louisville-Duke game? My prayers go out to Kevin Ware and for a speedy recovery. (P.S. If you look up the injury, be advised it is pretty graphic.)

Now, let's move on to this week's challenge.

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
Don't sweat the small stuff.
I love to laugh, especially when Grandma Barb is burning up the dance floor.
While home for Easter this weekend, laughing with the family, it occurred to me this is what I need more of. Actually, it's what my Mama needs more of. I'm encouraging all of us to laugh a lot more this week, and to not get upset over the littlest things...especially the things we have no control over. For me, I'm going to relax more during my drive to and from work. I have a 50-minute commute both ways and it's mostly interstate, which means I set the cruise control and go. But I tend to have a little road rage. I like to speed (just a little). I get soooooo annoyed when I have to ease off cruise control. Instead of getting worked up about it, I'm hoping to spend the time relaxing from my day, speaking with the Lord, or enjoying the extra time I get to spend with my audio book. A few other things: not getting upset if I don't get the chores done (they will be there and will eventually get done), not to get discouraged because my foot isn't healing as fast as I would like it to, smiling when I'd rather roll my eyes, and laughing at harmless mistakes (like dropping egg batter all over the floor.)

Smiles and laughter reduce stress, increase brain power and creativity, and help us to relax and enjoy our days. So, I'm challenging you to SMILE!!!!

P.S. Happy April Fool's Day! I have one up my sleeve for my co-workers :P

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love & God Bless,