Monday, September 29, 2014

Gorgeous Rustic Slow Cooker White Bean and Kale Stew with Chicken Meatballs and Herb Pistou: Assemble in 5 Minutes, Ready in Two Hours



This is my favorite slow-cooker soup of all time and so simple to make! You can literally throw together the ingredients in five minutes, turn on your slow cooker, and come home to a delicious rustic stew that your entire family will love.

Ingredients:

3 carrots quartered and diced

1 shallot or small onion diced

1 small bunch lacinato kale chopped into bite-sized pieces

2 or 3 cloves of garlic - finely diced

2 bay leaves

1 rind of parmesan cheese

2 or 3 15oz cans of canelini or navy white beans drained and rinced

grating of fresh nutmeg to taste

1 package of your favorite pre-made chicken meatballs or  if you want a spicier soup: take 1/2 pound of fresh chorizo ground pork, form into little meatballs and add them to the soup...they will cook with everything else.

Two quarts of low sodium chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup of cream or half-and-half to finish

pesto (homemade or jarred) to garnish soup

Here's my quick food processor version...Pistou/Pesto:
1 bunch basil
1 handful walnuts
1 clove garlic
2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste


Directions:

1. Combine all but the last two ingredients in your slow cooker. Turn on low and let cook for 4-6 hours, or on high for two hours. 

2. At the end of the cooking, you can give some of the beans a mash with a potato masher or emersion blender to give the soup more body. Then, add in cream before serving. Garnish each bowl of soup with a dollop of pesto and serve with crusty bread.

3. Enjoy!




Friday, September 26, 2014

Do You Feel Inadequate to Share Your Faith?



Do you ever feel embarrassed to share your faith?

I do.

Which is why I often write about my own doubts and insecurities in my relationship with God, rather than trying to convince anyone else to do things my way.

These verses from the Apostle Paul have changed my perspective.

No matter how inadequate I feel, I don't have to worry. If I am willing to get out of my own way, the Holy Spirit will work through me and take my inadequate words and make them into a Message that God wants me to share with others.

We don't all have to have the same words. After all, we all have our unique and individual relationship with God.

So let's promise to meet each other simply, honestly, and with words from our own heart.

God will meet us there and the Holy Spirit will give us the perfect message to share.

Love xo,

Suzanne




No Such Thing as Writer's Block From God's Perspective



Whenever I'm about to start a new writing project, no matter how excited I am, or sure that it's a great idea, I am beset with insecurities.

For example, this week I decided that a six-week Bible study of Ephesians would be my next Christian living book. I'd been praying and seeking inspiration for a book idea for the last six months, but nothing sparked my imagination so strongly that I knew its excitement would stay with me through the long hours required to bring a book into existence. 

Although I think of myself as a writer of women's novels, my faith is such a central part of who I am that it seemed only natural to write about it as well. For me,  writing is an endless conversation with readers. 

In matters of faith, writing about my walk with God, my fears, my doubts, my wonder of His Love, my frustration with waiting for answers to prayers, are ways for me to share what I believe we all experience. In sharing my experience, I hope to let you know that you are not alone.

Which is why I was so excited this week when I finally had that 'aha!' feeling while reading through the Bible book of Ephesians. It's only six chapters, and I've been reading just one chapter a day so that I can really savor the wisdom that I'm finding in every verse. 

And that's when it happened. 

All of a sudden I realized that I wanted to write about the wonderful promises and truths about God's love for us that I've found in Ephesians. 

I was so excited, I got up from where I was reading, went to my computer, opened a new document and typed out chapter headings. My prayer for inspiration had finally been answered, I couldn't wait to get started!

And then I froze. The negative thoughts flooded my mind ...

Who are you to write a Bible study?

You're not qualified.

You're not talented.

You're certainly not holy.

You better leave this subject to someone better than you.


I was crushed. My heart said yes, my mind said no. What was I going to do? Oh, I knew I'd eventually work through it, I know that writer's block is just another word for fear. And the best way to overcome a fear of something is simply to go ahead and do it, work your way right through the fear and watch it fall away.

But, I longed for a word of encouragement.

Which is exactly what I found the next day as I was doing my devotions and read the following passage in Oswald Chamber's classic, My Utmost for His Highest:

God does not ask us to do the things that are easy to us naturally; 
He only asks us to do the things we are perfectly fitted to do by His grace...


I can honestly say that as soon as I read those words, the fear left, the excitement returned, and I knew everything was going to be okay. I will write this Bible study to the best of my abilities and God will be with me every step of the way.

I believe this is the approach we can take toward any challenge we face in life: if God is for us, we can be confident that He will give us the strength, perseverance, and resources we need to accomplish His Purpose.

I'd love to hear your thoughts or experience on this topic, please leave me a comment!

Love xo,
Suzanne




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

BRASSICAS : A Cookbook Review



BRASSICAS by Laura Russell, is described as 'cooking the world's healthiest vegetables. I would describe it as a practical, entry-level cookbook that will encourage you to add these vegetables to your weekly cooking menus.

For this review, I tried out Laura's recipe for broccoli frittata with pepper jack cheese. In addition to the broccoli, I added mushrooms and some mixed 'super greens' (which included kale, spinach, and arugula) that I had in the 'fridge. The frittata turned out beautifully and was part of a simple and easy brunch to share with a friend who'd stopped by the house.

I'm looking forward to trying out Laura's recipes for 'charred brussels sprouts with pancetta and fig glaze', the 'red curry soup with broccoli and shrimp', but especially, 'broccoli rabe with romesco sauce'...since broccoli rabe is one of my favorite leafy vegetables.

I recommend these straightforward, tasty recipes in this cookbook for anyone who wants to expand the variety and taste of the vegetables they serve in every meal.

Brassicas is filled with beautiful photographs of many of the dishes as well as charming narration that explains the origin of the dish. My only wish is that the book was published in trade paperback rather than hardback.




"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

A Map of Heaven Preview : Chapter Two




Chapter Two

Into a Mundane Life Comes the Unexpected: A Bottle of Wine
and Contemplation of Her Options

If it were not for hope, the heart would break.


Friday, September 19, 2014

How To Make Unexpected Decisions?


From time to time we will face difficult decisions that come out of the blue and leave us breathless. We don't know what to do, or even if we are capable of choosing the right way.

This is when we need to stop...and pray.

Sometimes it is better not to move too fast, just slow down and seek God's will and direction.

Take a moment, or a day, or a week, to sit back and just exhale and trust that our answer is on the way.

Turn to God in prayer. Seek His wisdom through reading the Bible. Sit quietly and listen for His gentle voice to lead us to the right decision.

And fill our hearts with these profound truths:

Trust that God loves you.

Believe that He has a perfect plan for your life.

Deep in your heart, embed the knowledge that whatever
you are currently going through is no surprise to God.

He is with you every step of the way.

He will bring you through it stronger and better than before.

God loves you immeasurably.

The passage below is from the book of Ephesians.

It is my prayer for you, and for me....

Love xo,

Suzanne





 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. 
I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. 
And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. 
Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! 
He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!

Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!


Ephesians 3:16-21The Message (MSG)

The Message (MSG)






Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Map of Heaven Preview : Chapter 1






Chapter One

The Linear Nature of Time and the Deep End of the Pool

“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.”