17 February 2013

the best sweet potato fries ever, i promise~

Have you been to Outback and had their sweet potato fries?  They are a.m.a.z.i.n.g.  I'm not sure how much of our Christmas gift card I've used going there to have some.  They are the perfect mixture of sweet and salty.  I finally decided I needed to figure out how to make them since my gift card isn't going to last forever. Plus, I figured they were probably not the healthiest thing ever since they are super sticky.  But have I said they're good?  Oh yes, they are divine.

Now, I've bought a couple of those bags they sell at the store, but they are terrible.  I may try them again in the future and prepare them the following way just for the convenience of having them pre-sliced, but baked straight out of the bag leaves much to be desired.  So, courtesy of pinterest and a little doctoring-up, I present to you the recipe for perfect sweet potato fries.

* sweet potatos
* liquid coconut oil - I imagine any oil would work
* salt to taste
* powdered stevia or brown sugar - I've used both and my kids can't tell a difference, and they are not stevia lovers

* Preheat oven to 450 and line your baking sheet with foil.
* Peel your sweet potatos, or not, and slice into whatever thickness of fries you prefer.
* Toss in just enough oil to lightly coat the fries, they do NOT need to be super wet.
* Place on baking sheet.  Sprinkle generously with salt and amount of sugar/sweetner you think is good.    You can always add more, but you cannot take it back.  Trust me on this one.  A little stevia goes a long way.  One little packet was enough for two sweet potatos.
* Bake in oven for approximately 15-20 minutes.  This will depend on the thickness of your fries and how soft or crispy you like them.  We like the edges beginning to brown.  You'll probably want to stir them around at least once during the baking time so they don't stick.  The bottoms will get black if you're not careful, so keep an eye on them.
* Remove from oven, and this is important - sprinkle more salt on them while they are hot!  It kind of carmelizes and makes such a difference.

They are delicious.  They are not sticky like Outback's fries, but they taste almost identical.  Several of our previously skeptical kids declared their undying love for the new, improved sweet potato fries.

Happy Sunday!

11 February 2013

baby bear~

Because every baby needs a pair
of pants with a bear bottom.   :)

February 2012

because she's 14~

Anna and I in the airport on our DC trip to do the historical thing 
as well as help out with a rally for 

In case anyone wanted proof that my oldest daughter is not an unsocialized homeschooler a very normal teenager, well here you go.  Unless of course you think these actually prove the first point, then nevermind.  

29 January 2013

quick & easy three bean chili~

Well, it's Tuesday, the day I'm supposed to blog.  I guess I'm not quite as ready to say as much as I intially thought.  Lots of stuff going on inside my head.  Still processing, I guess.  I'm getting ready to start a 14-week inner healing class.  Something I've needed for a looong time.  I'm excited, yet terrified out of my mind. I've known about the class for a long time, my youngest sister has gone through it twice and has told me repeatedly I need to go.  Like yesterday.  But truthfully, I think I'm just now really ready and I've been trusting the Lord to cause it to work out in His perfect timing...and apparently, that time is now.  So if you think about it, prayers would be so appreciated.  Especially prayers that I wouldn't end up in the corner with my eyes bugging out of my head.  Or passed out.

That obviously had a lot to do with chili.

This originally came from my friend, Andrea, though I've modified it over the years to suit our family more.  I will say first up, if you don't keep pre-browned hamburger on hand in your freezer or if you're a make-your-own-beans kind of girl, this won't be nearly as quick or easy.

Quick & Easy Three Bean Chili


* coconut oil or butter for sauteing 
* 1/2 - 1 lb ground beef, chicken, whatever
* 1 onion chopped (or ninja-ized - I'm telling you, this ranks right up there with my kitchen-aid mixer, ya'll)
* 2-6 cloves minced garlic depending how garlic-y or healthy you wanna be
* 1 26oz can petite diced tomatos with juice
* 1 can each black, kidney, and pinto beans, drained
* other miscellaneous veggies
   (I often add a can of corn, shredded zucchini, a diced sweet potato, a diced apple or two; really whatever  you want)
* 1T chili powder
* 2tsp cumin
* generous splashes of worcestershire sauce (I don't know, maybe 1/8c.?)
* 2 faster splashes of liquid smoke (I know, I'm really helpful on these last two.  Sorry 'bout that.)
* desired toppings


* Cook your meat if it's not already cooked.  And your beans if you're all crunchy and domestic like that.  But if you're going that route you should've started way earlier.

* In a large stockpot, saute onion, garlic, and sweet potatos in coconut oil or butter.  Add your meat.

* Stir in tomatos with juice, drained beans, chili powder, cumin, and chicken broth.  

* Add beans and desired veggies along with worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke.

* Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until you're ready to eat.

You could totally top with cheese, and for sour-cream lovers I would imagine it would be good that way, as well.  Chopped green onions would probably also be good.  I also think it would be good scooped out with a slotted spoon and used as nachos.  I should do that sometime to shake things up a bit.

My whole family eats this, there are rarely leftovers.  I would have to double it, but since I don't like chili (true story, I often don't eat what I make) it makes just enough.  Which will probably change in the near future since Caleb has informed me three times in the last week that his newest shoes are now tight.  This makes three shoe sizes in two months.  No joke.  Plato's Closet is my new bff.

Sing with me, "Chilli, chili, bo-bili..."

28 January 2013

chicken & bacon wild rice soup~

Can you say yummy?  Wow, this is amazing.  It's the first time I've made it and I significantly tweaked the recipe I had, so I'm making it my own.  :)


* 32oz chicken broth
* If using homemade stock, add 1tsp of Better Than Boullion or an equivalent
* 2c. water
* 1/2c. uncooked wild rice
* 1/2c. green onions finely chopped
* 1/2c. chopped or diced carrots
* 2 stalks diced celery
* 1/4c. butter
* 1/4c. coconut oil
* 3/4c. brown rice flour or any gluten free equivalent
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp all purpose seasoning (I used Carl's All Purpose Seasoning)
* 1/8 tsp pepper
* 2c. half and half  (I used raw milk since that's what we have and the fat content is pretty high)
* 1/2c. cooked chicken or turkey
* 8 slices of bacon, cooked, drained, & crumbled


* In large saucepan, combine broth, water, boullion, rice, carrots, and celery.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until rice is done.  There will still be a LOT of liquid.  Do not drain it.

* In a medium saucepan, melt butter and coconut oil, stir in flour, salt, seasoning, and pepper. Whisk until clumps are broken up.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly.

* Gradually stir in milk with the butter/flour mixture and cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. You may have to whisk it pretty well.  Add this creamy mixture back into the saucepan with the rice/broth/veggie mixture. Add chicken and bacon. Heat on low, stirring every once in a while, for at least a half an hour. Do not boil.  Like all good soups, the flavors incorporate the longer it sits, so while I tasted it immediately and it was fabulous, I'm sure it will be even better later.  This does thicken up quite a bit, so you may want to add more broth, water, or milk.

* I doubled this for my family, the given recipe is for more of a normal size pot.

Happy Soup-ing!

25 January 2013

gluten free chocolate pumpkin muffins~

Not to be confused with pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, but you could totally add chocolate chips if you wanted.

We loved these.  The hint of unsweet chocolate was the perfect balance with the pumpkin.  If you like super-sweet desserts, you may want to add more sugar.  But these were sooo good.

In in the interest of full disclosure, this is loosely the Pamela's Pumpkin Loaf Cake recipe muffin-ized.
And with chocolate added.   :)

* 12 T melted butter (I use half butter, half coconut oil)
* 6 large eggs
* 4c. Pamela's mix
* 1 T cinnamon
* 3c. canned pumpkin
* 1/4c. cocoa
* slightly less than 2c. sugar, rapadura, whatever floats your boat
* 1 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 1/2 tsp ginger
* dash or two of nutmeg

* Grease muffin tins or liners if needed.
* Preheat oven to 350
* Beat together butter, coconut oil, sugar, egg, cocoa, and pumpkin.
* Add remaining ingredients and mix completely
* Scoop into muffins tins.
* Bake for approximately 30 minutes or so.
Actually I can't remember exactly how long, so just watch them.   :)

Makes enough to feed us with leftovers.  That would be two parents who sneak them whenever possible, a 14 year old who loves baked sweets, a boy who has grown two shoe sizes in the last 2 months, and six other muffin lovers, baby included.

Happy Baking!

08 January 2013

a new start?

Wow, I'm on a roll.  A post every six months or so.  I.am.on.fire.

When I go back and look at my old posts and read things about how baby #6 threw me for a loop, or how I'm dealing with a hormonal 11 year old, or any number of similar things I have to laugh a bit.  Oh, former self, how silly you were.  I'm sure I'll be saying the same thing a year, two years, five years from now.  But for now I am (beginning) to understand what *they* mean when *they* say the younger years are so simple.  Carefree...no.  Simpler...yes.  Managing a house full of very unique, strongly opinionated, competitive, mostly strong-willed children from high school down to baby is...time consuming.  And brain-space consuming.  And often quite mentally draining. I am an introvert, dontcha know?  But I do miss blogging - it's like being inside my own head but being able to get it out.  I don't want to lose this time and the memories of our days and years.  So, I've set my calendar to remind me to blog on Tuesdays when the oldest six kids go to their tutorial.  Maybe I will.

I did go quiet for reasons other than busyness, though.  I think I used to feel like I had a message, or a soapbox, or something to say.  I still have lots of opinions and strongly held beliefs, but the Lord began to reveal to me how terribly judgmental I was.  I've always known that about myself, but I really began to confront the raw ugliness of it.  The Holy Spirit used some very personal situations in my life to begin to chip away at my pride, judgmental attitudes, and extreme selfishness.  The depth of my sin was and is startling.  I've never claimed to be perfect, but boy did (do?) I want to appear that way.  The thing about perfectionists is that they are usually just as hard on themselves as they are on others, possibly even more so.  So, while I have stood on my high hill looking down at those around me, I've also internally struggled with the stark reality of how I've never measured up to my own standards.  Depressing, really.  But, oh, how sweet is grace.  My heart has always clung to grace.  There is a reason I named this blog, a cat, and two of my daughters names that mean some variation of grace.  I would be utterly lost without it.  I know it is not about me, it has never been about me.  It is always about Him.  Always.  Such a paradox it is; struggling violently with pride and selfishness yet been keenly aware that I am not even close to what I would desire to be.

So anyway, the Lord took me to a quiet place.  He asked me if I was willing to be hidden.  Could I be content to be quiet?  Was it truly about Him or about me?  I'm not even sure about writing all this, even this sounds like I'm trying to impress people with my response.  All I knew was that I was tired of trying, and if I truly wanted to mother well, learn to love well, and really face my *stuff* I needed to be quiet and be hidden.  And so it was.  No longer do I feel like I have any platform from which to speak, save what the Lord has done and continues to do in my life.  I have not arrived, not even close, (does anyone ever?)  But I am learning and hearing.  I do, however, feel like I'm ready to start writing again about our life and about what the Lord is doing in me.  I'm not sure what that will look like, and I can't promise that I won't have any opinions or thoughts to share, but primarily I want to just live this life and be able to look back and not only remember what all of the kids were like, but remember what He has done for me.  He is so faithful and His grace and mercy are new every morning.

Now, if I could just learn to take good (I'd settle for decent, even) pictures.  There's that perfectionist side again, right there.  Seeing as how I'll be hard pressed to remember what things were like or what the kids were like without photos, you guys will just have to deal.  My apologies in advance.  :)   But today, a bonus.  Thanks once again to my friend, Lillian, for some amazing family photos.  After this, it's all me.  Fair warning.

(Blogging is so weird.  Am I even writing to anyone?  I'm really just writing for myself but this format lends itself to feeling like I'm writing to people.  Whatever.  My brain is tired.)
"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness." ~GK Chesterton

2012 November

2012 November