Friday, July 30, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan

Special Blog just for Lauren :) (and anyone else who wants a cheater Eggplant parm recipe)

I try to keep recipes as simple as possible since i don't like to spend all day in the kitchen, therefore the sauce is not homemade and the cheese is usually pre-shredded ;) Happy Cooking!

SMALL eggplant-thinly sliced (otherwise you will be frying FOREVER)
Jar of fave marinara
Shredded Parmesan (or mozzarella--use what you have i say)
Italian Seasoned bread crumbs (could use plain or make your own but this way it's more Italian)
fave vegi oil and butter (yes, butter)
2-3 eggs depending on size of eggplant

To Do:
Heat oven to 350
heat 1T oil & 1T butter in "frying pan"

While oil is heating beat your eggs and start coating your eggplant slices--first in the eggs then in the breadcrumbs
Fry eggplant on each side until golden brown; place on paper towel or paper bag to drain.
Add more oil and butter as needed--this may be after each group depending on pan size and eggplant size/thickness.

Once eggplant is fried and dried, layer bottom only of casserole dish--eggplant can over lap. Cover with thin layer of sauce then grated cheese. Add the next layer of eggplant, sauce, and cheese. Continue until all the eggplant has been used or the dish is full, whichever comes first. :)
Top-most layer should be sauce then cheese, 'cause who wants eggplant on the very top.

Bake about 20m, this is assuming your eggplant slices are almost paper thin (like mine). If you like your slices a little thicker, bake 10m longer.

Finally--keep experimenting if it doesn't come out exactly right (whatever that means) the first time! It's how i came up with this recipe in the first place.

Note: If you want kiddos to help, put the breadcrumbs in a zipper close plastic bag. This way they can shake it up and you have one less step to do yourself. Both my boys eat the heck out of this recipe which is great since they don't like eggplant.

Modification: You could try battering the eggplant, spray both sides with cooking spray, and then baking them to get a similar "fried" effect. I have not yet tried this as I'm still recovering from the last time this recipe was made. If someone out there gives this mod a go, I'd love to know how it turns out!

If you have a question or I wasn't clear on a direction just post in the comments section.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chicken Wings and the Glory of God's Sovereignty...

Today I pulled a bonehead move. Tomorrow is my company potluck and I thought it would be cool to make some chicken wings and take them to work for lunch.

So I went to Wal-Mart and purchased two bags of chicken wings and a bottle of hot sauce. I placed the hot sauce and a bag of chicken in one sack, and the other bag of chicken in the other sack. I took my receipt and went on my merry way.

I got home and began preparing to make the most awesome chicken wings that Dell Customer Care has ever had the privilege of wrapping their gums around. Lo and behold, though, I found not two bags of chicken. I found only one. FRUSTRATION!

No big deal, though, right? I'll just head back to Wal-Mart, go back to the self checkout I was at, grab my bag of chicken, tell the customer service lady, have a little chuckle, and head back home to make the best chicken wings that Dell Customer Care has ever wrapped their gums around... NOT!

My chicken wasn't at the self checkout register I checked out from. So, I told the young lady who oversees the self check out stand I checked out from. No sir, she hadn't seen them. There was another bag of chicken wings at the stand which she offered me, but I was honest and told her they were not mine. It's OK sir, the service desk will probably just have you grab another bag of chicken wings. No problem! WRONG!

To save time, I grabbed another identical bag of chicken wings and made my way to the service desk. The young lady there talked to her coworker who said I was out of luck. She then proceeded to her supervisor who told her to talk with security who would run the tapes back and see if, indeed, I had left the chicken wings or if I was there to rob them blind of a $9 bag of chicken wings.

Security confirmed it. I purchased both bags of chicken wings and, sure enough, I left a bag behind... which was promptly taken by the person in line behind me. We're sorry sir, but you checked out at the self checkout. This is your own fault and we do not reimburse you for items left at the self checkout.

My flesh cried out... INJUSTICE!!! I paid for them! The person behind me STOLE THEM! Punish THEM, not ME! No dice. I paid $18 for $9 worth of chicken.

In my stewing anger, a small voice whispered, "Sovereignty" to me. I did NOT want to hear that! I want to pray hellfire and brimstone upon the heads of the great beast which is Wal-Mart. How DARE they cheat me out of 9$ of MY hard earned money. Yes, it was my own fault, but why should I have to pay the consequences of my own actions?!?!

Yes, at this point I am being facetious. I'm over my pride, anger, and self righteousness. It really isn't my money. I'm only stewarding it for God and He made the executive decision that someone else needed chicken wings tonight.

The truth is that He is God and I am not. He ordains these things to happen and through my boneheaded mistake, He has blessed someone else with food they would not have had otherwise.

I write this to exhort you. Do not let the enemy steal your joy over $9 of chicken wings. What Satan chose for evil, God redeemed for someone else's good.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cheers to photographers!

I LOVE pictures. I love to take them and look at them (not so much be in them though) I have literally thousands of the boys over the past 10 and 8 years taken with my old Konica Minolta--which sadly doesn't exist anymore.
If I could afford it I would have family pictures done every month by different photographers. I love seeing the different styles , the techniques, and how different the end result is depending on the photographer. It's such a cool art medium.
We recently had family pics done by a friend of ours, Jen, whose art I love because of the bold colors. When she was on the World Race I couldn't wait to get her updates with all the amazing colors and faces from around the world so when she had an open session I totally jumped at the chance to have her snap some shots. It was SO fun and the pics turned out AMAZING! (Just click on her name and you'll see what I mean.) BEAUTIFUL!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Shades of Gray: Results are in

6am-Alarm goes off. I, of course completely ignore it and let Brad get up and turn it off.
6:30am-2nd Alarm goes off. I ignore this one too because it turns off on it's own. My children are a little harder to ignore as one turns on the shower to wake up and the other jumps to the floor from his top bunk. Normal morning routine has begun.
7am- Kids grumble as they are forced to spend five minutes picking up the living room. As we live in a 900sq ft apartment it takes less than five minutes for the entire room to be done.
7:15am- Kids are out the door to head to school for breakfast and I start to get ready for my day. Today is not a normal day. Today I find out the results of the first MRI I have had in a year. It's now been almost a year and a half since the surgery...ages ago and yet just yesterday. I didn't spend a whole lot of time this weekend considering what the results might be. We had family day Saturday and 3D Alice is definitely a distraction. Sunday was filled with church and choir and other weekend busyness that happens to get ready for the next school week.
8am-The apartment is now empty and I have an hour until my appointment. I hate to be late. Too many years of choir have instilled the "if you're on time you're late" philosophy, but 45 minutes early seems a little ridiculous. So I put away dishes and check facebook and piddle around.
8:20am-Possibly too early to leave but it's rainy and foggy and Austinites do not drive well with these conditions so I go.
8:45am-It took 25 minutes to go 4 exits! That is slightly ridiculous. I'm glad I left early.
8:47am-All checked in. There is an older man with me in the waiting room all hooked up to IVs. He's about to undergo a directed radiation treatment. They bring a wheelchair to take him away. The nurse also has his radiation mask and I think of Matt Chandler and his recent treatments and say a quick prayer--both for him and his battle and thanks that I didn't have to go through it (can we say claustrophobia? I'll take an MRI any day.)
8:55am-I'm finally in an exam room. It's extremely quiet and this is when the butterflies start. What will the results be? What did the MRI look like? What if they aren't good? I remind myself that God is sovereign, but what if... I remind myself that Gods got this; this is not a surprise to Him, but what if...what if...
9:15am-Dr. Wilson comes in and we go over the is not possible to discern whether the gray areas are tumor tissue or areas still healing from the surgery. What does that mean? Because of the kind of tumor I had when they grow back it's in the same location as the previous tumor, usually around the edges of what has already been removed or killed by other means. So we wait. We wait to see if these gray areas begin to grow or to shrink. We wait to see if I begin to have other symptoms that would indicate growth in those shades of gray. In the meantime, I'll serve. sing. laugh. love. live. and deal with whatever comes as it comes.

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:34

"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." James 4:14

Saturday, March 6, 2010

By request: Mexican Martini Recipe

So this was actually a really easy recipe as far as ingredients, just took a few to get the ratios correct. I used a jigger to get my ratios and have no idea what they are in ounces. I highly recommend keeping the ratio for the first three ingredients the same unless you just want to be smacked in the face :) Enjoy!

1 jigger silver tequila
1 jigger triple sec (orange "flavor")
2 jiggers sweet/ sour mix
2 T olive juice
1/2 lime, squeezed for juice
dash of orange juice

Pour ingredients into shaker with ice. Do a little shimmy and shake; strain into glass. Makes about 8oz of martini. You can rim your glass with salt if you like them a little saltier (adding more olive juice will also do this). Let me know how yours turn out and what mods (if any) you make to the recipe!

Thursday, March 4, 2010 I don't like having an MRI

That's almost always the first question I get asked about the procedure when I have to have it done. Here are all your MRI questions answered (as far as a head scan goes):

They are not fun. First thing I do is check in, fill out gobs of paperwork (even though I've had this same procedure done multiple times) and put on those stylish hospital pajamas. I've gotten to the point where I don't where any jewelry because ALL metal has to be removed. Wearing metal while in a giant magnet is NOT a good idea and a mistake I have made only once and never repeated--fortunately there were no explosions :)

Next, they stick me with an I.V. Halfway through the MRI contrast dye is added because my procedure is always with and without contrast.

Finally it's into the tube, and I mean tube. Those nice, open, big machines that you see on t.v. are nothing like the one i get squeezed into. This pic is fairly accurate:

Add to that, because it is a head scan I also get to wear the cool "darth vader" mask: See full size image

These masks also have little stabilizers they place against your face to keep you from moving your head. SO, earplugs are in, because MRIs are LOUD (quick sample here--turn down volume): , Vader mask is on, panic button in hand, and hopefully I'm on the board enough that I'm not going to fall off the sides. I get slid into the tube (see above pic) and the MRI starts. I get about 20 minutes of those wonderful sounds before they pull me out to inject contrast then about another 10 minutes of sci-fi noises and the procedure is done!

Results take 24-48 hours to get to my doctor (unless they discover a walnut sized tumor than they tend to let you know the same day) and I find out results at next appointment with him. Currently my doc is Dr. Wilson. He runs the Cyberknife program here in Austin which is a pretty amazing technology. Check it out:

Hope this has answered some questions and if you have to have one done and are a little nervous check out the site below or ask me questions :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

The New Year... The New Ambition

A coworker asked me the other day, "What resolutions are you making this year?" I told her I have resolved to make no resolutions. The irony was lost on her.

I've long since decided to stop promising to join the gym, eat better, or any number of other failures we tend to set ourselves up for. I find that the excitement of wanting to see a new me wanes when the effort remains the same (or gets harder) and the results start to flatline and eventually fall off. Call me lazy. Meh!

However soon after my resolution denial, I began to hear that intimate whisper in my heart of hearts, "... but are you really being the best YOU that I created you to be?" Sadly, I could not answer in the affirmative.

I've never really been motivated by money. Getting used to not having much of it tends to keep it from becoming a huge priority. Yes, I know I fall into the top 4% of the richest people on the planet. The convicting part of it is, I earn just enough to keep my family fed in a tiny apartment with one working vehicle and that's just fine. Except, I am called to be a giver.

I have been created in the image of my Father in Heaven who gives of His abundance graciously. It is His joy to give us every blessing from His overflowing storehouses. It is this same joy of giving that has been instilled in me by His Spirit that resides in me.

So, I give what I have to give. I give a lot of my time between leading and discipling middle schoolers, leading and teaching choir members, volunteering at every church function I attend, getting involved with the boys' sports at the community center, giving rides to my neighbor, etc. Time, I have plenty to give... but I want to give more.

So I began exploring ways to increase my earning potential to give more. I could hire myself out to a part time job but, honestly, I would be miserable with just another job. An old friend told me that in order to create wealth, you had to create streams of income, preferably passive income. So I looked at passive income streams which led to all sorts of investment strategies. Unfortunately, God has not graced me with a savvy financial mind and I soon became overwhelmed with the variety of financial vehicles available.

Then I saw a website that recommended turning your hobbies, the things you love to do, into streams of income instead of a money pit. Immediately, I couldn't think how I could get someone to pay me to play World of Warcraft, but I was willing to give it a shot if a financial backer presented him/herself. Still looking if anyone is interested!

I began thinking that God has blessed me with a mind and passion for computers. There isn't a whole lot that I can't do with them. I have long been a resource for various friends and family members over the years for maintaining, repairing, and consulting on their computers. Why not print up some cheap business cards and pass them around? That could get a small trickle started.

I also enjoy photography a lot and have taken a few good ones in my time. Why not dust off the camera I use for special occassions and use it to make some prints to sell at trade shows and online?

Well I didn't say it was a great plan, but it is one that excites me, won't completely monopolize my time, and will allow me to give back more than I currently am. I do not anticipate achieving what Americans consider "excessive wealth," but I feel that God has laid it on my heart to use the talents He has given me to bring glory to His name. If He can use these mustard seeds to be glorified, then I am willing to be humiliated for Him.

Already, I am under spiritual attack. The "other" voice is here, telling me I will fail and I'm not good enough. I can't argue with that. I have a proven track record. However my prayer is "if it will bring You great glory, whether through me or in spite of me, then here am I."

"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

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7

"A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great." Proverbs 18:16