28 December 2012

Deliciousness! Frijoles and Sweet Cornbread Recipes

Tonight we are under a winter snow advisory.  As we have lived back in Kentucky for a couple years I am learning something - this is not the same winter weather patterns from when we lived here before!  We went to college here years ago - and we remember lot's of heavy snows!  The last two winters have really had little or NO snow.  Sadly, I am afraid that tonights weather will also show little actual snow.  We love snow - and would actually really like to see some!  In hopes to encourage the accumulation of our favorite white fluffy frozen precipitation we are having a traditional Northern New Mexico dinner and watching one of our favorite family movies!  Hugo!  Emi has honestly read the book, no less than five times.  If you haven't seen it, it's a beautiful movie and equally interesting for children and adults.  OH! With excitement we discovered that one of the main antagonists in Hugo is also in the new movie version of Les Miserables ~ another favorite story of ours.

These two recipes straight out of my Taos, New Mexico home.  The beans are how I make them - I'm not quite sure how "true" the recipe is - but they are nummy!  {I do have to add that my dear Brad actually did most of the beans tonight - I wasn't 100% today! Good Job Brad!} The corn bread recipe is via my father.  It's rather amazing, I have to say!  They go well together - but the meal would be all the better with some chili as well.  That recipe is for another night!

The beans may be eaten as a bean soup, used as a side dish, made into refried beans, or added to chili.  I like to freeze left over’s to be able to use in other recipes.  Thus this recipe makes a large amount of beans at one time.  

Frijoles - Pinto Beans New Mexico Style!

  • 2 pounds of pinto beans
  • 10 cups water (or enough to cover over night!)
  • ham hock or a couple of strips of bacon
  •  2bay leaves
  • 1 diced onion, 3 diced garlic cloves.
  • Dry garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dry leaf oregano
  • 1 tsp. whole cumin seed, crushed a bit
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Several teaspoons of beef base or several cups or beef stock.  
  • 1-2 tablespoons ground chile powder
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • salt 
1. Wash and clean beans thoroughly and then soak them overnight.
2. Rinse the beans well, add enough water back to cover.
3. Sauté onion and garlic, add to beans. 
4. Add bay leaves.  
5.  Heat ingredients until they are at a medium simmer. Simmer for several hours.
6.  Add garlic powder to taste (usually about a teaspoon), oregano, cumin, peopper, and beef stock.  Simmer for several hours until beans are tender.
7. Add water as needed during this time. Water should cover the beans. Add Chile powder, vinegar, sugar and salt. Simmer until beans are thickened and flavor really blends.  You can take ½ cup of beans out, mash, and add back into bowl if need be.  This helps to made the whole dish heartier. 
8. The beans may be eaten as a bean soup, used as a side dish, made into refried beans, or added to chili.  I like to freeze left over’s to be able to use in other recipes.  Thus this recipe makes a large amount of beans at one time.


Put an 8 to 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven and heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • 2 – 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups corn meal (use amounts to your taste; the point is to have 4 cups of flour and meal)
  • ½ cup sugar (or less, if you prefer; we prefer sweet cornbread)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or less, if you prefer)
  • 2 cups milk (we prefer low-fat or skim, but you might not)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil (we prefer canola) (**Meg uses coconut oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ - ½ cup chopped green chile (to your taste; fresh is best but frozen is fine)
  • ½ - 1 cup corn kernels (to your taste; fresh is best but frozen is fine)
  • Some fresh, chopped onion can be good
  1. Take the hot skillet out of the oven, coat it with oil.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  5. Pour the mess into the skillet, put it in the oven.
  6. Cook until top is golden brown, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean—usually about 30 to 45 minutes, mas o menos. I always cut into the middle to see if it’s done because it will be thick and might not be done in the middle. If top is brown before middle is done, wrap foil around the edge of the skillet to decrease browning while middle is baking.

Makes at least eight servings.
Serve with frijoles, chile, chile stew, soup, stew, or by itself.  

12 December 2012

A few of my favorite things...

1. Warm Nights
2. Peaceful Moments
3. Glowing Twinkle Lights
4. Childlike Wonder

06 December 2012

My life, my day, and my amazing dinner.

Everyone’s life is different.  We are all called to different things, we have different talents, and well – life throws us all different curveballs!  One of my curveballs is that I have never really been a full-time stay-at-home-mom.  I think that I think I would love it. 

What I would love is the time to do all the things I love and want to try.  More crafts with kids, regular dinner’s completely from scratch, and just more time to sit and read to my kids.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love my life.  I have been so VERY blessed to help provide for my family while doing things I love to do! From being a barista and learning more than you would ever want to know about coffee to teaching art {LOVED that one!} and being able to work from home on graphic design jobs.  My favorite by far is working with Brad in ministry – whatever form that takes. 

Working from home is a blessing – one that brings with it many challenges.  The funniest to me is that many people don’t seem to think it’s really “work”.   I may have more flexibility {at times} but I also have to figure out how to watch my sweet lil’bits while making sure I’m on top of my projects.  This has been a learning curve – one that I am blessed to have had friends help me with!  I have several friends that have been amazing. They give me extra time to regularly catch up and work on projects.  I also utilize nap time – most of the time.  Sometimes utilizing nap times means napping myself.

I say all this – to be able to have a day completely focused on home is a always exciting.  Today was just this – I have several projects I’m working on, but I wanted to just be mom and wife and focus on home today.

Thus said, I decided that it would be fun to make gingerbread houses with the girls.  A bit of research on royal icing {made me thankful for the ginormus container of meringue powder I bought last year!} and we were off and running.  We will finish decorating them tomorrow.  

But my biggest surprise today was our dinner.  I had found a couple of recipes that looked promising.  I wanted to add a few things and play with them some – but they looked like good base recipes.  Surprisingly my family couldn’t stop talking about the chicken!  Sometimes I really bomb at dinner – not often – but sometimes.  I like to try new recipes and well, it’s funny to hear them talk about the ones they remember really stinking.  I’m always glad when a new recipe doesn’t make that list!  Hopefully you get to try it too! 

Chicken Medallions in Honey Cream Sauce

  • 4 chicken breast, cut into medallions
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon butter {or 2 tbsp coconut oil}
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • ½ cup dry white wine or 2 tbl wine vinegar
  • 2 cup half and half {or evaporated milk}
  • 2 tablespoons honey


  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Mix salt, pepper, and thyme for sauce.  Use more of all three to liberally season chicken. 
  • In a skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.
  • Brown chicken medallions, for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Turn and brown other side for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Transfer chicken into baking dish and roast in oven for about until well browned.
  • Heat skillet again, reserving any butter and brown bits.
  • Add onion and remaining salt, pepper and thyme and cook, stirring constantly until onion is softened.
  • Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits stuck to pan.
  • Stir in cream and honey, stirring often, until sauce is thickened.
  • Pour sauce over chicken in dish and roast until chicken finished cooking.

Roasted Pumpkin

  • 1 red onion quartered
  • pumpkin,cut into wedges
  • ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon roasted ginger
  • 1/8th cup coconut oil {we use virgin, unrefined}, melted
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3rd cup red wine vinegar


  • Preheat oven to 400º
  • In a roasting pan toss together onion, pumpkin, chili flakes, ginger, oil and sea salt.
  • Bake 40-50 min or until cooked through.
  • Meanwhile bring honey and vinegar to the boil in a small pan, simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Place roasted pumpkin and onion in a serving dish, drizzle with honey mixture.

04 December 2012

Asking for Grace and Motivation

I’m sitting in my completely silent house – which is surprisingly noisy.  There are these birds outside – loud birds.  Must be hundreds of them – all enjoying this late fall rain.  I just finished exercising but I have to admit that I did it only because Brad asked me to.  He said it would help my day start out on the right foot.  He asked me to because I asked him to ask me.  I like to exercise, but I also find myself distracted with the busyness of my day – kids, food, laundry – not to mention work, design, editing – all those little things that eat up a day. 

Regardless, I asked him to help me remember this too is important.  And, you know what?  He did.  He asked me and so I did – even though {honestly} I didn’t want to .  But who wants to go back and say, naaa, I just didn’t.  It’s amazing what accountability can do!

Speaking of accountability – I joined an social media accountability group to help me prioritize eating well, working out, and even drinking enough water!  Sounds crazy – but as a mere human I find that I do better with accountability.  On the other hand I got sick a bit ago and missed two weeks of the accountability – and with my all or nothing personality I wanted to quit.  I really wanted to just give up – but I have an amazing husband.  He encouraged and also challenged me – and well, I’m back up on this horse!

As I move in various social circles I am amazed to hear a couple of different things this Holiday season.  One is that many people have become more away of the joy in giving and NOT receiving.  Times when silly Santa gifts were once taken have now changed to times when money is gathered and sent to such deserving organizations to “buy” gifts for other people.  I have missed much of my prayer group meetings over the last few months.  But this morning I was delighted to find that they had gathered money to buy chickens and goats for families across the world.  What a joy! My father received the gift of giving rabbit’s and chickens to families across the world from my girls two Christmases ago.  The girls loved picking out Papa J’s gift and knowing it was helping a special family.

Secondly, I hear people struggling with GRACE.  Grace for themselves, grace for others.  Because of the lack of grace we find disappointment difficult to manage.  This seems to compound during the Christmas season.  Perhaps it is the busyness and all the “extras” we are fitting into our already over crowded schedules.  We can become bitter, tired, and angry.  We don’t work out of love – but out of a twisted version of what God wants for us.  When I struggle with grace I don’t give myself the ability to make mistakes and continue on.  I get frustrated and quite!  What do you do when you find yourself needing grace?  I’m not sure why I find it much harder to have grace for myself than for others.  Regardless, there are times I need to have grace for myself as well.  Brad is amazing at helping me see this.  He helps me see myself through the eyes of God.  Loved and safe and given permission to make a mistake and keep going.

So, although most people don’t discuss exercise and such until January; I am thinking of it today.  Today is a great day to start taking care of the inner you again.  Giving yourself permission to start over, to have Grace, and to know you are loved.  I’m thankful for my husband and my friends who provide accountability and kindness.  So, here’s to today – a day to work hard and to put other’s first!  To find grace for myself, so that I can find it for others. 

02 December 2012

My thoughts… on tea, cream, and saying good-bye.

I’m sipping a cup of tea – “real” tea - freshly brewed without a bag.  I discovered a while ago that my “extra” French press was excellent for making a nice pot of tea.  So today I came home from church and wanted a cup of tea, for a couple of reasons. 

First, I drank buckets of coffee this morning.  Our church brews Starbucks on Sunday morning – a delightful thing.  For which I am most thankful.  I sit, cradling my mug – much more able to focus and enjoy the service knowing I’m continually able to enjoy another freshly brewed sip.  But {more importantly} I am saying good-bye to a sweet friend today.  A kindred tea drinker.  Our friendship mostly enjoyed over creamed tea.  I am thankful for this friendship. 

But this brings me to a rabbit trail.  Cream.  I love creamed tea.  But, at the moment my tea is floating with bits of flotsam and jetsam.  Ewww.  It doesn’t change the taste of the tea – as long as I don’t look at it!  I brewed a cup of cherry black tea – and then added cream.  Forgetting that cherry, even in flavor, is apparently a FRUIT.  Breaking a cardinal law of tea drinking.  Don’t ever add cream to fruit teas.  I promise – you don’t want to try!

Ok.  Back to my friend.  My friend R and her lovely family were some of the first to welcome us to Wilmore.  She reached out to me and I found myself discovering a kindred spirit with whom I never actually spent enough time.  We both have children, school, work, housework, and ministry time – WOW.  It seemed as though every couple months I would get to sit with her for a bit – just enough to realize what I was missing out on.  Do you have friendships like this?  Bittersweet.  Both of us have young daughters.  Our youngest girls were not quite the same age and just couldn’t seem to figure out their friendship so perhaps this made things a bit more difficult as well.  Regardless, I so enjoyed our moments together – brief and fleeting.  Again, I found myself assuming there would be more.  But, I forgot an important lesson. 

This lesson is seen in the lives of Abraham and David, even Ruth and Jesus.  I’m sure each of them had family that loved them – and assumed there would be more time together.  Each of them had a community that assumed their time together would naturally happen again.  But, each of these men had answered to God about a calling on their life.   We see God’s words to Abraham echoed again and again throughout the old and new testament.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12:1)

My life for the past 15 years has been much of this “leaving”.  I’m used to being the one who leaves.  Isn’t that a strange thing to say?  It’s nothing great about me – I just want to be obedient.  I want to run and say “YES – CHOOSE ME!  You need a home for that baby? YES!  You need someone to help here?  YES!”  In fact, I want to say yes so much that sometimes I say yes too much!  I am learning that I need to make sure that request was coming from the heart of God FIRST and before I say yes!  Sometimes we are called to be the one staying and waiting – and working in the mean time!

But, what happens when you are on the other side?  What happens when someone else says “Yes” and they have to leave, to leave you?  To walk ahead and move on in their adventure with God?  For me, this is H-A-R-D.  I’m not jealous – I am excited for them!  I can’t wait to hear about the new adventures, life, loves, and ministry opportunities they have!  What’s hard is this:  I had my time with her and let it slip by. 

Do you ever do that?  Do you ever find yourself at a crossroads in life and realize that life moved on – with or without out you?  Even with good intentions – and even REAL reasons for being busy, my heart is heavy.  There was much R taught me about life, God, and ministry – in her quiet sweet way!  I wanted to learn more – so sit and drink tea more.  But I can’t change that – but I can learn from it!
  • I can learn to not live life expecting another chance.
  • I can learn to listen to the spirit of God on what is GOOD to say yes to – and not just be busy.
  •  I can learn to continue to be ready.  There are days that God asks you to go – and we must always be ready to say, Yes God! Send me!  BUT for now – rejoice with others when they say yes!
So, today, as I sip my tea, I am so thankful for social media and the friends it allows me to keep in touch with.  I will hear about her new life, her new adventure.  But I am also thankful that God is teaching me something new every day – to remember not rush this Holiday season!   There are people who need you, there are people who God needs to show His love through. Please allow yourself to be used!  Stop, listen, and say YES to the right things!  We can all be busy.  Life is busy.  But let’s make sure it’s the right busy!  

30 November 2012

Naps, toddlers, and a parental reprieve...

I've tucked my bitty girl back in for nap time multiple times now.  I love that little stinker! I think she's finally relaxed and is nearing sleep.  I wish I could relax!  I sometimes wish I could read her mind as well.  Children are like little puzzles - a temper-tantrum isn't alway {perhaps never really is?} fully JUST acting out.  

I believe that most of the time it's a silent message.   My girls seem to react negatively in predictable patterns.  Many have to do with me.  {No pressure there!!}  If I'm short, grouchy, "pmsy", tired, irritated, or overall not smooth and gentle than they are more likely to be sensitive and emotional.  They feed off of us!  So, if I am doing well and they are still sensitive - well, I've still found it to be more than just a case of the crankes.  

Then, this afternoon, I found this poster!  It's amazing!  Perhaps it slightly over simplifies our kids.  BUT as a whole it's a good reminder that there is more going on than meets the eye.  I know that with both my girls - but sometimes I need a reminder. 

For your intellectual and viewing enjoyment: {Isn't it beautiful as well!!}

{You may need to "click" on it to be able to see the full width}

28 November 2012

A year later... still cooking!

Well, hello there!

Haven't been around for a while.  I miss writing - I miss having an outlet to be snarky, silly, rambling - and well, not really caring who reads because I know my mom will.  :)  Regardless, I felt like it was time for Easley Park to have an updated look and to be dusted back off.  So, here we go.  Back to blabber some more!  :) 

What do you write when you are christening a blog update?  Especially one that has been coming for - nearly a year?  How about food or kids?  Which brings me to today.  Tonights dinner was a success - or so I considered it.  J ate more than three bites on her own {she's over three now - and well, a bit strong willed} {HEY - I'm being nice - remember that I haven't written in a long time?!}  Well, I thought I would share my dinner with you.  Because - I can't believe how EASY the core part of this is!  It's nuts easy....  So here's our dinner - Green Chili Enchiladas!  

There are a number of green chili enchilada recipes floating on pintrest.  Most look similar to me - and probably taste similar.  Several suggest using a rotisserie chicken.  Well, we didn't have one - and living in our tiny town - it's not a five minute drive to go get one.  Entering option number TWO!  Easy crock pot shredded chicken.  This is good for SO many meals.  From chicken tacos, to the base for taco soup, to the chicken enchiladas we had tonight!  YUM!

Here it is:  

Shredded Chicken 
{originally for shredded Taco's}

  • One pack of chicken
  • Once jar of Salsa {I usually make my own right before I make this, today I was lazy - it tasted just the same and yummy!} 
  • 1/2 pack of taco seasoning.  

  • Place Salsa in Crock Pot.  Place Chicken on top.  Sprinkle taco seasoning over chicken.  
  • Cook on high for around four {4} hours.  
  • It is done when it shreds easily with a fork!  Try NOT to eat it from the Crock Pot.  
  • (Obligatory warning...  Don't be dumb.  Raw chicken isn't good for you.  It also needs to cook quick enough to NOT spread bacteria.  Act responsibly and don't get sick...
We do this basic recipe regularly!  This is the link to the original blog posting about this.  {http://pinterest.com/pin/100486635405935283/}There is an amazing soup below to use up left over chicken.  BUT tonight we wanted enchiladas.  Well, over at the Joyful Mama she whips up a mean chicken enchilada.  My girls love them - I just like to turn up the heat a little bit more.  

Here is the Enchilada Recipe.  I made a few adjustments - and am still playing with making it a bit MORE spicy.  But right now the kids love it - and so does Brad.  

Chicken Enchilada's
  • 10 corn taco shells
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken {I use the above crock pot chicken here!}
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese {OR whichever cheese I have on hand!} 
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chillies

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 pan
2. Place a bit of chicken and some cheese in each tortilla. Roll up in tortillas and place in   pan.
3. In a sauce pan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 1 minute.  Add broth and whisk until smooth.  Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly.  
4. Stir in sour cream and chilies.  Do not bring to boil, you don't want curdled sour cream.
5. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
6. Bake 22 min and then under high broil for 3 min to brown the cheese.
7. Top with chopped tomatoes. 

Much thanks to the Joyfull-Momma's Blog for this yummy dish! Here is the original blog posting: http://pinterest.com/pin/100486635407265051/

19 November 2012

Meg and Brad