Monday, February 28, 2011

Mediterranean-Inspired Beef Stew

Howdy friends!  I hope that you had a great weekend!  

If you're not sure what to make for dinner tonight, here's a delicious and healthy recipe you can adjust to your family's tastes... Mediterranean Inspired Beef Stew.  YUM.  Guess what?  It's healthy, too.  Under 300 calories a serving. 
Becky Luigart-Stayner
 While taking pics for this recipe, I wanted you to check out my fruit bowl.  Full today but two days from now, it will be empty.  My son eats like 2 apples a day!   I digress.
Here's some of what you're going to need...
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1 1/2  pounds  beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2  cups  halved mushrooms (about 8 ounces) (no one except me likes these so I just added more carrots and celery as well as a cup or so of green beans)
  • 2  cups  diagonally cut carrot (Let's make it easy and just throw in the baby carrots whole, shall we?)
  • 1 1/2  cups  coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2  cups  sliced celery
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced

 In a big soup pot, heat up the oil.  Add the beef and cook for 5 minutes until browned.  This picture looks kind of gross.  I'm not a skilled food photographer like that Pioneer lady.
Remove from pot.  Add veggies and cook for 5 minutes until tender.
 Put the meat back into the pot and then add the water (I used beef broth), wine, stewed undrained tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, ground black pepper and kosher salt.
 A note about kosher salt.  It comes in those big awkward boxes that when you try to pour out a tablespoon you end up with more on the table than where you want it.  I poured the box of salt into this large ball jar and just scoop out what I need.  Makes life a little easier.
 Mix it all together.  Cover and let it simmer.  I let mine simmer all afternoon.  The house smell great!
 The original recipe says to serve with mashed potatoes.  How Mediterranean is that?
 It's not.  So I serve it with couscous.
Right before serving you're supposed to add some black olives, red wine vinegar and fresh parsley. 
I will be adding only the red wine vinegar as I don't have black olives (I'm the only one that would eat them anyway) and dried parsley works just as well...

 To make this even easier, just throw all of the ingredients in a crock pot in the morning.  It will be all ready for you by dinner. 

Mediterranean Beef Stew
from Cooking Light
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups)


  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1 1/2  pounds  beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2  cups  halved mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
  • 2  cups  diagonally cut carrot
  • 1 1/2  cups  coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2  cups  sliced celery
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2  cups  water
  • 1  cup  Cabernet Sauvignon or other dry red wine
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 1 1/4  teaspoons  kosher salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2  (14.5-ounce) cans no-salt-added stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 2  bay leaves
  • 1  (2 1/4-ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained
  • 2  tablespoons  red wine vinegar
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef; cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Add mushrooms and next 4 ingredients (mushrooms through garlic) to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return beef to pan. Stir in water and next 6 ingredients (water through bay leaves); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Stir in olives, and cook for 30 minutes or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaves. Stir in vinegar. Sprinkle with parsley.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wise In Your Own Sight- or the Mom-Judge-Monster

You've done it.  I'm sure you have.  Because I have, the thought that you have makes me feel better.  Selfish I know.
You see a child misbehave and watch how a mom responds and think, "what that child needs is a good ___________." (Fill in the blank).
Perhaps you overhear someone talking about how their baby still gets up for a feeding at night and the baby is 6 months old!  You are dying to jump in with your advice on how to get that baby to sleep through the night because a baby should NOT be getting up at 6 months...
Or maybe you say, "I would never let my kid do _______." "I would NEVER say that to my kid."

Whether you're a parent or not, the mom-judge-monster can rear it's ugly head.
A couple of years ago.  Trying to take a Christmas pic.  E-gads.

My first born was a super easy baby.  He slept through the night at 2 months, fed regularly, ate most of the food I put in front of him.  I assumed, because he was my first, that all baby's were like that.  When I heard other moms complaining, or sharing about how their kids had a hard time with something, my mind immediately thought, "why don't you just do what I did?  It worked for me!" 

My eldest as a baby.  Eating whatever green stuff is all over his mouth. 
Some of my friends have shared how they would let the mom-judge-monster into their thought life, only to be faced with the SAME exact issues that they were judging in other moms.  You quickly realize that every situation is unique, every child is different and that, eek, gasp, choke, perhaps God is trying to do something in that family and your projections aren't welcome.
Check out this verse.  Romans 12:16...
6 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Are you wise in your own sight?  Be careful.

Romans 2:1-3
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 

True wisdom... James 3:17.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

Replace those thoughts with mercy and love. 

Love, a recovering mom-judge-monster.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fabulous Find Friday

And now for the second edition of fabulous find Friday!
I have three things that I think are fabulous finds this week...
I love the Land of Nod.  I don't love the prices.  While at Target last week, I was perusing the kids room decor and happened upon this amazing canvas wall art! Land of Noddish if I do say so myself.  It was half off (paid 12.50).  It's big, too.  Measures 20x20.  It looks great with the moon lamp from Ikea!

Have you been to Michael's lately?  They have a really cute aisle of home decor that I just love.
I purchased this adorable birdcage for 5 bucks.  It looks great on my entry table!  Love.

These glasses are my third find.  I got them while in California.  Nordstroms.  Mens section.  10 bucks.
Can you say Ferris Beuhler? 
I tried to take some pictures of myself modeling them.  Not sure I'll wear them again after seeing myself in these pictures.  Pay no attention to the yucko hair.  I just got home from the gym.

Yes, I'm intentionally a dork.  And no, my bed is not made.

Can't do a modeling shot without the lips.  Notice my taking the pic of myself in the reflection of the glasses?
Tee hee.

Anyone else?  I want your finds.  Would love to have pics to post, too!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Things That Make Me Go "Hmmmm"

There are some things about my kids that make me go, "HMMMM".  Yes, a loud hmmm.  Not a quiet hmmm.  Actually, it's more like a "what the!!!!" but then the title wouldn't be as catchy.
The kids that make me go "hmmmm"

My idea for this post came this morning.  My eldest son came downstairs dressed for school.  He wears a uniform.  The pants he put on had HOLES IN THE KNEES.  I have bought TWELVE PAIRS OF PANTS this year and EIGHT, EIGHT, EIGHT of them have holes in the knees.  I got rid of round one (the first set of four).  I am in bewilderment at what he could possibly be doing in the gym to bust the knees out in such a short amount of time.  It makes me say "what the!!!!"
Three of the latest victims of gym class
These he wore once and somehow the clip to close them is missing...
Next up is my girl.  I have a closet and dresser full of adorable clothing and she chooses to wear the outfit in the second picture.  She chooses between these leggings and another pair of brown almost every day.  I'm so perplexed.  But you know what?  If that's what she wants to wear, that's what she wants to wear.  I wouldn't let her go to church in that, lest you think I'm a horrid mom, but at her age, she's allowed very little freedom to choose things and if she's really into a hot pink swimsuit with leggings, fine.  I do make her wear a sweater.

Now for the youngest.  I took this picture of his bed just now.  I didn't add anything to it.  How the HAY does he sleep with all these animals?  I'm so scared that they're going to suffocate him or something.  He's 2.5 and a big boy, so I think he'd be able to wrestle his way out of Strawberry Bears evil grip. But still.

 Lastly, we have this amazing, large, playroom upstairs for them to play in.  They spend maybe 10% of their playtime in there.

 90% is with this basket of toys in the family room.  WHAT THE HECK!?
How about you?  Anything that your kids do that make you go HMMMMM????

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What kind of a friend are you, anyway?

“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.” - Tennessee Williams

 It is so easy to fall into a trap of being dissatisfied with our friendships.  
"She doesn't call me enough", "she calls me too much", "she never listens", "she only talks to me when she needs something,"...

Friends will always fail us.  We're human.  We make mistakes. Except for you and me.  Right? ;)
Believe it or not, we've failed friends too, and we probably will never know that we've done it.

Are you in a cycle of always trying to find new friends in order to replace your current friends?  Do you constantly feel discouraged by how your friendships are going?  Then perhaps you are putting too many expectations on your friend(s).  Not every situation is this way, but it is all too easy to feel sorry for ourselves when our friends don't live up to OUR expectations. 
Not every friend we have is going to be our best friend.  Consider yourself VERY blessed if you have a close friend.  
Me and my faithful friend ;)
Faithful friends are a rare treasure.
Proverbs 18:24 (ESV)
24A man of many companions may come to ruin,  but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Loyal and reliable friends are hard to find.

Proverbs 20:6 (NLT)
Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?

Maybe you desire this for yourself!  Pray about it.  
Here are some verses to help YOU become the kind of friend that you desire in others.

Speak the Truth in Love, Even When it Hurts
Proverbs 27:5-6  (ESV)
5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love.6Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Provide prayerful, heartfelt counsel
Proverbs 27:9  (ESV)
9Oil and perfume make the heart glad,and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
Shape and sharpen one another
Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (ESV)

Help Your Sister Out!
Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 (ESV)
9Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
And for the hardest one of all...  Be a sacrificial friend
John 15:14 (ESV)
13Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus! What a friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tutorial: Boy Messenger Bag

I searched the internet, high and low for a tutorial on a cool boy messenger bag.
Alas, there weren't any that fit what I wanted... A cool, medium sized bag, to house my boy's Bible and binder that he brings to church each week.
Here is a picture of what he WAS using...

And here is what I ended up with after this fun project...
So, I thought that I would create a bag and  share how it was done so that you, too, can have a way cool messenger bag for your boy (or girl-you can use whatever fabric you like!).

I think that if you buy 3/4 a yard of each outer fabric, inner fabric, and lining, you'll have more than enough.

Here are the cuts:
bag body:  2 outer fabric, 2 lining, 2 fleece=14x10.5
flap: 1 outer, 1 lining, 1 fleece=14.5x12
strap fabric: 34x5
strap padding: 34x2
I used blue fleece for the flap just so that it's easier to reference!
Let's start with the flap.  Layer the fleece on the bottom, the outer fabric right side up, and the lining fabric right side down.  Pin three sides and sew with a 1/4" seam allowance.
Cut the corners.
 Flip right side out.  I used a knitting needle to poke the corners out.  Topstitch.
Bag body... Take the fleece pieces and the outer pieces and face the outer pieces right side up.  Then sandwich them together so that the outer pieces are on top of each other.  Pin and sew three sides together.

 To make the base of the bag...  At each corner, you’ll need to push the side seam down to meet the bottom seam, creating a triangle.  Measure down 2 inches and make a mark or a line.  
Sew across on both corners.
Cut off the point around 1/4" from the sewn line.

For the liner-Repeat the steps above. Except leave a 5 inch opening at the bottom.  This is where we will flip the bag right side out when we're finished sewing the bag.

Now for the strap.  Iron your strap in half.  Then fold the sides to the middle and iron again.
Here's what it will look like.
Slide your fleece into one side.
Top stitch both sides approx. 1/4" on both sides.
Take the body of the bag and turn it so that it's right side out. Pin the bag flap to the bag body so that the outside fabrics are touching.  Then pin the straps so that they are right up against the flap.  The straps should also line up with the side seams of the bag body.  Baste the strap and flap to the bag body.

Get er' done... With the outer part of bag right side out and liner inside out, insert outer into liner.  Line up the side seams and pin all the way around the top.

Pull the bag through the 5 inch hole in the bottom of the liner.  This is one of my least favorite parts because I always make the hole too small ;)  Sew up the hole inside the bag.  I usually just iron the seams down and topstitch.
Drumroll please....
This is what your bag should look like!

I added the way cool star wars patch later courtesy of Ambrosia Girl.
She uses stenciling, I did it a little differently but it still turned out WAY COOL.  My son thinks I'm the greatest.  Or he did the day I made it.  For 5 minutes.
Please let me know if you make a bag like this!  I would love to hear from you!  Tutorials are a lot of work!  Phew.

Email me with any questions!

As seen on CraftGossip.comTotally Tutorials Blog

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