Poblano spinach and chicken enchiladas

If you are tired of steak and potato leftovers from Memorial Day weekend, this is a recipe that will spice up your midweek monotony and is easy on the wallet as well as the calories. It’s also gluten free! There are endless easy modifications that can make this dish vegetarian, spicier, or even lower in calories…

Ingredients:

1 bunch of fresh spinach (roughly chopped)

1 poblano pepper (diced)

1 jalepeno pepper (minced) -if you are not a fan of spice this can be exchanged for 1/2 red or green bell pepper

1 clove of garlic (minced)

2 cans of enchilada sauce -I chose the old el paso because it was lower in calories and sodium

2 packages of 6 inch corn tortillas

10 ounces of Quesadilla Jalapeno Cheese- you can opt for the plain queso quesadilla if you would prefer a milder cheese

1 package of boneless skinless chicken (I used 8 strips) -Use chopped zucchini and squash for a vegetarian optionImage

Directions:

Cook the chicken on a skillet until lightly browned, I used cilantro and pepper for seasoning with about a tbsp of olive oil. Remove and set aside

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In the same skillet add the diced poblano pepper and minced jalapeno and garlic, cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat

Cut or pull apart the chicken into shreds

In a large bowl add the peppers, chicken, spinach, and 3/4 of the shredded cheese. Toss with hands until ingredients are well mixed

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Add just enough enchilada sauce to the bottom of an oven safe dish to make a light coating

Roll the corn tortillas with about a handful of chicken/spinach/pepper mix

Top the dish with the remaining enchilada sauce and cheese. 

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Bake for 30 minutes in 350 degrees and enjoy! About 300 calories per enchilada

This meal pairs well with any traditional mexican sides, chips and salsa, and if it’s a date night, margaritas :). 

Journey to The Center of The Universe

I am quite behind on updating, but I have a such a great story I can’t put it off any longer! Monday, April the 15th was James and I’s 4th year anniversary (crazy in and of itself). Four years ago we made our relationship official. I remember being so hesitant about starting a new relationship, because I wanted to do everything on my own and independently, and I just couldn’t bear the thought of changing in a relationship. In fact I told him we weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, and every one else we knew as well. April 15th 2009 came, and James was so different and so patient and accepting of all my flaws, that I knew I was ready. So the past four years have been a journey. We have experienced SO much together (insert huge sigh here!) and I couldn’t conjure up a better person to experience so much with. So back to Monday, April the 15th 2013, our 4TH anniversary! James always plans amazing anniversaries, and I look forward to them so much every year because we always ask off work and spend the whole day together. This year, James had clinicals Monday, so he told me we probably wouldn’t get to celebrate til Tuesday. I have to admit I was a little bit sad, but no big deal we would celebrate Tuesday and maybe get dinner or something small Monday. I arrived at James’ house ready for dinner, but asked if I wanted to get dinner first or second. Unsure of what he meant, but hoping for some sort of fun surprise, I answered, “Second!” So we got in his car and started driving…..Down seventy-first further and further and further. I thought to myself maybe we were going to Turkey Mountain. We went there a lot when the weather was nice, and it was a beautiful day. But we passed the turn for Turkey Mountain and kept going further down 71st. He took a couple wrong turns and was slightly panicky about showing up late, before we finally turned down a small road and drove for a few miles. I noticed an airport sign right before he turned into the Jenks airport, and I started to become REALLY excited.

Jump forward and we’re in a helicopter flying over downtown, and I’m just in awe of how pretty Tulsa looks from an aerial view. I’m also slightly terrified, because there were tornado warnings later that night :). We got back to the airport and landed safely, and leave to go eat at Carrabba’s (or so I think). Then James makes another turn in the opposite direction and says we’re headed downtown. He is smiling and starting to look nervous, and I am just trying to figure out what we are doing and what’s going on. We arrive at the center of the universe and I’m still really excited, cause I’ve never actually been there before. Right at the center he says some really sweet things and then says, “I brought you here to the center of the universe, because you’re the center of my universe,” and gets down on one knee (cheesy and adorable), and he popped the BIG question, and I said yes!!!!!! We are so excited, and I feel so blessed to have him in my life. He is such a hard worker and has been always the most encouraging person in my life. 🙂 I am overwhelmed by how much love God can give you for a single person, and how that love can grow even larger through struggles and time. 

And I’ll leave you with a poem from one of my favorite writers.

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” -Kahlil GibranImageImageImageImage

Downpour

Finding new music that you love is like being stuck in a downpour. I waste so much time when I find a new artist I’m head over heels in love with. It’s just like a new relationship and that stage where you have to see that person every second of every day. It’s important to have those moments in life when you get lost in something. It’s important to waste time in the downpour. Without them we don’t grow. Without them we don’t move forward or move on. So get lost in something outside of yourself and your busyness and your schedule. Find one and stay there, rather than trying to escape and protect yourself, rather than staying dry, rather than the monotony of whatever it is you’re fighting to keep intact. Get lost in the downpour.Image

Morning Haze

Went out looking for your crooked smile,

Til I ran out of places to go.

It’s feeling more like my heart is on trial,

You’re the only truth that I know.

Revisited wars we should have fought,

Words we should have spoken,

Like how you never gave us a fair chance…

Never gave me the choice to be broken.

I woulda let you take the best of me,

all the best there was for taking.

I woulda given you my morning haze,

all the love there was for making.

Heard you’ve been clean for a year now

Still there’s years we can’t undo

I walk the line for months at a time

Til I relapse back to you.

How I selfishly move on

And still want you for myself

How I hate it when you’re gone

While I sink in to someone else.

I woulda let you take the best of me

all the best there was for taking

I woulda given you my morning haze

all the love there was for making

Favorite Things

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1. John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

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2. The Lumineers (every single song off of their self-titled album)

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3. Shirley Gurley’s Banana Nut Bread (best family recipe ever, originally from my Nana’s good friend)

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4. Thank You Notes with a fun water-color feel (Target)

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5. Delicious and beautiful blooming teas (Teavana)

“My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations.” -Augustus Waters

Let me begin with this, you are the best writing material. All of my over-charged, emotion-driven, teenage verve was centered around you (and you and you and you), and you were the most brilliant, all encompassing, couldn’t-have-created-a-better-if–I-was-God-Himself muse. Every mistake you made, and every flaw you ever revealed was chronicled in crass poetry, and for that I apologize (and thank you). I feel so homesick for the honesty running uncontrolled with pen and ink and type, yet completely lacking in my speech. I want to train myself to be capable of speaking the way I write. I want my thoughts to make sense outside of my body. I feel nostalgia for a portion of my very own self. Why can we not communicate honestly with each other in society? We shuffle around restraining our own truths. We hide from ourselves, we hide ourselves from others. I want to learn to be open again. I want to learn to speak the things I write down or think or feel, especially the ones that contain too much emotion. I want to learn to describe experiences and ideas without using the words “like and very and umm.” I want to learn to look people in their eyes and say sentences thick with content. There aren’t many people who live like this, but when I meet them, I love them and feel instantly addicted to them.

I want to be one of the honest ones.

MMM COOKIE!

Some people really do spend their whole lives together.”

Christmas sugar cookies are a huge staple in my life this time of year. I have never been great at baking, mostly because it requires a creativity and eye for detail that cooking does not. I’ve always thought that if you are talented with scrap-booking, drawing, interior decorating, these types of things….you are probably phenomenal at baking.

Anyways, I have found it is much easier to make iced sugar cookies look pretty if you have “dippable” icing. I made these cookies and icing, and I LOVE the kiddish appearance they have as if they had just popped out of a cartoon. They are so easy and so fun!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups of softened butter
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp of salt

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the butter and sugar until they are creamed. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt. After you have a well formed dough, cover and refrigerate it overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface with a well-floured rolling pin. If you like thick soft sugar cookies leave the dough about 1/2 in. thick. If you like thin cookies with a crunch, leave the dough less than 1/4 in. thick. Use cookie cutters to create your shapes, and set 1 in. apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 6-8 minutes until a light golden hue is seen on the outer rim.

ICING INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of powdered (confectionary) sugar

2-3 tablespoons of milk

Food coloring

2 tsp of vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Mix together and dip cookies!

Thanksgiving Week

My favorite time of the year is in November, because it has become a tradition to ask off work for the week and enjoy thanksgiving, my birthday, and James’ birthday. They’re all so close together that it has turned into a week of excitement, surprises, and rest. Monday the nineteenth was James’ birthday, and I really had a hard time this year deciding what to do for him. I love “event” type birthday presents where they turn into doing something fun together. Of course material things are always necessary too, so I try to combine the two. James is not a sports fanatic, but he does love a few things…music, video games, his computer and remodeling it, and delicious foods. He is not much for big social gatherings, so I finally discovered a really fun shooting range, and knew it would be something he thoroughly enjoyed. He has been talking about hunting, gun ownership, etc… for a year now. The last time we shot guns was with my uncle in Alabama…who has a wide selection and a lot of land. James had a blast and has talked about owning a gun ever since. Anyways James had a ton of fun with the target practice and insisted on us buying another round of ammo and returning a couple weeks later…

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We then had an amazing dinner (James’ favorite filet mignon, cabernet, and pumpkin pie)

My birthday was on thanksgiving, a phenomena that happens once every 5-6 years. I really wanted to just enjoy time with my family, cooking, and eating, and playing games. Wednesday night we enjoyed a dinner with my closest friends, and I was so happy to see all of them (missing a few)…We woke up early Thursday morning and made a FEAST and had a wonderful thanksgiving dinner at my brother’s beautiful house.  It was a great day with the family, followed by more time with my best friends, all in all a perfect week with the people I love!!

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One of my favorite recipes this year was Pumpkin French Toast Bake

I found it on pinterest, and it was so easy to make the night before, pop in the oven thanksgiving morning, and serve as a delicious breakfast.

You break apart (or cut if you are extremely OCD like me) into cubes about a loaf of bread, any kind that you love. I chose a thick texas toast. Place the cubes into a 9X13 oven safe dish. I lined the dish with butter, because that’s what Paula Dean would do…

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Whisk together 7 eggs, 2 cups of milk, 1tsp vanilla, 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 pumpkin butter or 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, and 3-4 tablespoons of brown sugar

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Pour the mixture over your cubes and refrigerate over night

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Then bake it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Serve with maple syrup!

I forgot to take a finished picture the next morning, because we all devoured it so quickly :).

Death and all its lessons

The past three years I have been learning a lot about death…My first experience with death was when I was little and my Nana died. I never felt that anyone loved me more without any judgment or questions than that lady. She was a saint to me and a fighter throughout her whole life. I loved her so much and felt so close to her growing up. I remember being in my living room when my mom told me she was very sick and we needed to pray for her. I remember praying very hard but getting tired and falling asleep. She passed away that day, and I just knew it was my fault for not praying long enough and not praying hard enough. It was so impossible being at her funeral and seeing a body that resembled the person you love, but wasn’t them at all.

I forgot about death for a long time after that. But I knew that it hurt, and I hated it, and it wasn’t anything I could control, which I think is the scariest part.

When my pastor died, a man I had respected, looked up to, been in awe of since I was a baby. When that happened, I learned death can happen to anyone..and can come from seemingly no where…and can leave no explanation or reason and ten billion questions.

A few months later I lost my Uncle who went into the hospital to have a procedure he had had before, and no one expected a different outcome. I learned that death can leave someone without hope…that someone can be swallowed whole in a dark cave and not be able to find their way out for years, if they let it.

A year and a half later a friend from high school died. I learned that death is no respecter of youth, and that it hurts so much more when someone does not have a long life, but it can change people and restore a passion for life and a passion for God that wasn’t there before. It can inspire and push people to redirect their entire life…

A few months after that it was my Grandfather. And I wasn’t very close with him in recent years, but I had so much respect for him and the peace that he always had about him. He had this stoic authority and calm every time I saw him. I know that he is so peaceful now and without any suffering. I know my family had peace surrounding his death, and I look forward to seeing him again in heaven.

This past June I lost my cousin. I really can’t explain what it feels like, but you develop these relationships through your life that even when you don’t foster them on a regular basis, you find comfort believing that they will always be there. In my mind my cousin was always that same boy playing pranks on me and his little brother when we were kids. He was still that same boy so excited about hide and seek and Christmas and so annoyed by me and his younger brother. He was still the father that adored his two little boys, and the man who fought for our country bravely. When I first found out he was gone I thought of all these things and couldn’t accept it, he needed to stay this person, he needed to always be there. I had so many ideas of the future and him taking care of his little boys and doing more incredible things with his life.

And today my Grandpa…I can’t write about him right this moment, but I will.

I think now about being in the ICU and seeing death from an outsider’s view. Seeing death how it effects other families, and wishing I could do something more every time. Some families are so calm, so acceptant, and so ready. You can tell they do not view death with any negative connotations, but just another piece of living, just another step in the process. Some families are hysterical, to the point they can’t answer your questions or look at you or process any information. Some families are angry and need someone to blame, and you wonder if that person is yourself. Some families are thankful for your support and the care that you gave. Almost every family member tells you what they should have done differently, and how they could have changed the outcome.

I think about death as a first impact sort of thing. When it first hits me, I feel crazed and confused, and determined to fix it. I start replaying in my head everything that they tell me happened. I break it down piece by piece and I try to reassemble it in a way that changes everything. And when I realized nothing can be changed I try to shake myself out of a horrible dream, because I’ve had those dreams before… And next I just cry…or stare blankly…or fall asleep and try to reset everything. Thoughts just stop, and my body doesn’t function. It is the worst time in the world. And then comes the aftermath and prayer and reminding myself that God is still God. That I don’t mourn as the world does. That I do have hope…but that doesn’t make death or grief easy.

I know that God is greater than death, and healing exists, and the greatest hope is that we will be reunited with our loved ones and those that have gone before us. I have faith in this.

But I have learned a lot about death. I’ve learned things that scare me. I’ve learned things that have made me stronger. I’ve learned how to speak to people and how not to speak to people. I’ve learned all the paperwork and post-mortem steps.

But I think what I have learned that is most important is that death can be a beautiful thing. Sometimes you have these people who are suffering and hurting and worn down, and you think about all the peace they will have in the next life. How they don’t want to be here anymore. I believe there truly is a time to die, and it’s not something we should be against. I think Paul described it beautifully in Corinthians when he said while we make our homes in our body, we are away from the Lord..but we would rather be away from our bodies, and be at home with the Lord.

I have learned it’s okay to die. It’s not a failure or a conclusion. It is the greatest success and continuation.

James 4:14. Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

Love you Grandpa Ham. Wish I could give you one more hug and kiss. I’ll be seeing you again.

better for it

yesterday i saw your first car in the lot
same make same model
same poor parking job
and i remember riding passenger
and you taught me how to drive
the weather was warm
we were young and alive

somebody said your name yesterday
like a blaring engine, with an old familiar pang
what we wanted to keep
but just couldn’t maintain
you’re what drove me and kept me
to and from insane

and i still ache for you in the fall
when i hurt, but was better for loving at all

there’s always three feet between us
not a space left for speaking
all i gained for embellishing
what was ours for the keeping

i dream in grey and you’re shades of blue
but i’d never dream again just to forget you
you are the only one who thought it was worth it
to be the only one calling me out on my shit
while the rest lie and say “you’re perfect”
you are the first place i found that fit

and i know we’ve moved on
and we’re at a different place
but i want you to know
i still see your face

when i ache for you in the fall
when i lost, but was better for loving at all