Saturday, June 28, 2014

From the Kitchen: Homemade Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Okay, y'all. This is our new FAVE.

Some say, "Yo quiero Taco Bell."
At the Thomas House we say, "Yo quiero los taquitos de Molly." Because we're awesome like that.

You see that? It's crispy, cheesy, flavorful goodness.

Both of us remember eating these frozen chicken taquitos when we were younger, and while they taste so good, they also taste....fake. Because they are. But these, these glorious taquitos are homemade, all natural. And we are in love!

The recipe comes from Chef in Training. Click the link and it'll take you right to it!

recipe from: Our Best Bites and Pennies on a Platter

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup green salsa
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons sliced green onions
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded Mexican flavored cheese
small flour or corn tortillas
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, ground cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Once combined, stir in the cilantro and green onions. Add the chicken and cheese; mix thoroughly.

Spoon 2-3 Tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the lower third of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can and place on a greased baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas and make sure to leave space between each taquito.

Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crisp and golden in color.

**To freeze:  Before baking, flash freeze the taquitos in a single layer on a baking sheet then place in a labeled freezer bag and store up to 3 months.  To bake a frozen taquito (no need to thaw first): Preheat oven to 425˚F and bake for 20 minutes.  (Flash Freeze means freezing the taquitos in a single layer for 15-20 minutes (until hardened) so that when you add them to the freezer bag, they will not all stick together).

Try it- and tell me you're not addicted to these too!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

From the kitchen: Applesauce Muffins

A love that has developed in our 2 years of marriage is cooking! I LOVE to cook. I love trying new (and old) recipes, and making my dollar stretch at the grocery store, as I discussed in this post. So, I figured, why not share some of our favorite recipes. It's good practice for my food photography, which is quite limited. And, it forces me to archive some of the recipes that I refer to from websites or my pinterest board.

Early on in our marriage, Spencer developed a "rating system" that would make judging new recipes more fun and less...discouraging for me when it doesn't turn out so great. Here's the rating scale:
1-5: Probably don't make again
6-7: Make again but not when we have company
8-10: Definitely make again, and make it when we have guests!

Whenever I make a new recipe, at the end of the meal I ask, "What's the rating?!" And based on that, I decide if I should save it to make again or not. Trust me, after spending an hour (or more) in the kitchen making a meal, it's way better to hear, "It's a 6.5." than "This wasn't that great, but you could make it again just for us if you want."

So as I share recipes, I'll give y'all OUR rating, and you can see if you think the same!!

This particular recipe has been in the family for a long time. It's Spencer's mom's recipe, but my mom has made these since we were little. Spencer had been requesting these, so I finally made them this past weekend with WHITE flour. Gasp! I've slowly transitioned back to white flour for some baked goods. They're just simply not as good with wheat, even white whole wheat.

Okay, here's the recipe:

Julie's Applesauce Muffins:

1 c. butter softened
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c .applesauce
3 t. cinnamon
2 t. ground cloves
2 t. all-spice
2 t. baking soda
4 c. flour

Mix the butter, sugar, eggs, and applesauce together. In a seperate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. And if you're really patient, you can sift them all together. I don't have a real sifter, and I get way too bored. So I just make sure the spices are mixed in well.

Dump the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, blend, and spoon into muffin tins.

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from centers.

Then, sprinkle with powdered sugar (or dip the entire thing in the powdered sugar bowl. Not saying that I would do that but you could). 


Monday, June 16, 2014

Musings of a seminary wife: Finding Community during Transitional Seasons

When we moved to seminary, I was so excited to be entering into what I thought would be a more "settled" season, that would feel like a "semi-long-term" move. We'd just graduated from college and had said many good-byes in the past year. Little did we know that we would be entering into a season of even more transition than before.

We live in a little culdesac of seminary families, and it is a tremendous blessing. But what they don't tell you about is the constant cycle of families moving, leaving, coming, and going. You get used to their car being parked in a certain spot, waving at them as you both let your dogs out at 6:45 in the morning, clad in pajamas and slippers. You grow accustomed to their kids running past your door, or asking if they can "help" you in the garden. You take for granted that you can just walk up the road to ask them a question, borrow some flour, or have dinner.

I have worked 3 jobs since coming here (can someone say transition?!). I have met people at each workplace who I grew to enjoy. They were a constant face everyday, and I found security in that. Until I was called away to a different job and had to start over.

There are a lot of people that we come into contact with- seminary folks, seminary neighbors, church members, co-workers. It just takes time to establish a stable group of friends. And we only have 3 years left here. I wonder to myself often, can we build a community of people in that time? Is it worth it to grow attached to people when we know they may graduate in a year, transfer to a different job? Is it worth it to offer myself when I know that we won't be here permanently?

The answer is yes. Because permanence is subjective. Feeling "settled" and "rooted" isn't something that God promised us when we said yes to ministry. We may be placed in college ministry where students come and go every semester. We may work within a church where our friends decide they must go elsewhere. It will hurt, our hearts will ache. My eyes sting with tears now just writing this. Life is raw, friends, and it just doesn't seem to get easier. Having a permanent home after this life, though, is an affirmative promise of YES and AMEN. I cling to that hope, the hope that there will be a bigger community of Believers in Heaven than I can even fathom. More bonfires, worship sessions, chats over coffee than I imagine. More feelings of permanence, acceptance, contentment, and peace than my heart can measure.

But in pondering these things, I have been immensely encouraged by the realization that I have learned a little something from every person that has left. I have the lessons and friendships from college to demonstrate this. But we have learned so much from the families that we barely knew here at seminary who have graduated. It is beautiful, really. I have grown in the Lord just from observing some of the families I barely knew. It has shaped my visions of how I want to parent, things to work towards as a wife.

I started blogging as an effort to support other seminary wives, or women who may be planning to go into ministry with their spouse. So, today, if you are wondering if building community is worth it, I urge you yes. It is worth it. It is worth it to spend your few years here surrounded by friends than alone. It is worth it to be learning valuable lessons from others that you can take with you into ministry.

And for those who may be peacefully settled, thank the Lord for your community. And pray for your pastor's wives, pray for friends who may be in seminary. We covet your prayers and support.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Musings of a seminary wife: it's Hebrew time around here!

How do I know that Hebrew has started?

The stacks and stacks of flashcards sitting around my house! 
On the bookshelf, table, kitchen counter, ottoman, bathroom sink, and bedside table. It's everywhere! 

Murmurings of a foreign language come up from the basement, and I try to keep busy around the house so I don't distract him. It's inevitable- when he's within ear shot I keep talking to him! 

So proud of my Hebrew scholar! 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Musings of a seminary wife: Speaking Sweetly

I've been reminded this past week the importance of words.
They have a great impact. With every sunrise, you have the opportunity to make or break someone's day through your words.

Proverbs 16:23-24 says the following:
"The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction.
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

Let that sink in a bit.

The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent. My words are a reflection of my heart. When I speak harshly to someone, or speak slander about them, that is a reflection of my black, sinful heart. It is a reflection of bitterness, anger, hurt.

But there's an opposite to that. When words are spoken in love, they are like honey. Think about how much better your toast tastes when there's honey on it. It is the same with your speech. I spend a great deal of my workday on the phone, and when someone speaks gently and patiently to me it makes my whole morning go better. But when a customer speaks condescendingly, impatiently, and angrily, it makes me feel like a loser, and it can set a discouraging tone for the rest of my day.

Coating words with honey is often an act of service and obedience to Christ. When spoken harshly to by someone, it is not my first instinct to respond with respect and love. But we must. Because Christ did.

He was questioned condescendingly by the Pharisees. He was betrayed by his own disciple. He was yelled at by the masses. Scoffed at by doubting people.

Do you think you would want to respond in loving words? And not only that, but do you think you would want to die for the sake of those people? I certainly wouldn't.

But I've realized....every day I can choose live as Christ by extending love to those who hurt me. Every day I can offer a healing balm through words of honey. Every day, I can demonstrate hope by words of truth and encouragement. I want to be that for people. Christ has called us to be that for people.

Speak selflessly, with love,  to your spouse, your family, your friends, your coworkers, and strangers.
Will you join me in the quest for speaking sweetly?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dear momma

Dear momma,
I'm sorry for waking you up at 4:30 AM with my burst of energy. I promise I won't do it again if you'll just throw my goose for me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Musings of a Seminary Wife: I wouldn't have it any other way...

   We went to a friend's house for dinner last night. They are a seminary couple too, and we really like them. But I digress.

      After dinner we entered into a more thought-provoking discussion about why our culture does not grieve or mourn very well. We all shared different thoughts, and several times during the conversation one of the guys said, "Well, in my Ref. and Mod. class we discussed..." or " my Old Testament class we learned.." And it hit me in a big way, so much so that I thought I might start crying, which would be ironic considering that our conversation during dinner had been about the wives' increased comfort level in crying in front of their spouses.

    As I sat and listened to these two men talk about what they're learning in their classes, and apply it in such a real way to life, I was struck by the realization that if Spencer decided he wanted to drop out of seminary and pursue an average career, I would be sad. I felt convicted that I spend more time lamenting the fact that we still have 3 more years until we're done than I do praising Jesus for the chance for us as a couple to be shaped by Covenant Seminary. I spend more time wishing that I was a SAHM with a beautiful baby than I do thanking God for the chance that Spencer gets to be a student for 4 years and sit under such wise and Godly men. I spend more time wishing away my days of working a full-time job rather than being grateful that I have the means and opportunity to support us in the professional world. Despite all the time I spend "wishing" things were different, I would truly be sorrowful if this precious season was over.

     We are learning so much about ministry, work, and marriage. We are learning what it means to practice community in the midst of a busy busy life. We are learning what hard, slow work it is to build relationships and grow friendships. We have much yet to learn, and harder seasons ahead. But we are learning again and again that the Lord provides, and that He has a beautiful plan for us even though we can't see around the bend. Yes, our future hopes may have to wait. But all of this is so worth it, and I wouldn't have it any other way.