Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Welcome, Ryan Clayton Vega!

Hi everyone! Just wanted to share the good news with you all--Ryan Clayton Vega was born Sunday, November 22 at 4:50 am, weighing in at 6 lbs. and 10 oz. He's doing well, as is our family as we settle in with a new baby. More details soon, and thanks for all your prayers!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nourishing Menu Plan for Baby

After recently posting on the importance of a whole-foods diet for babies and children, I thought I would share with you a typical week in my 10-month-old son Henry's diet. There is certainly a LOT of conflicting information available on how a mother should go about feeding her baby...I find a traditional, whole-foods approach the best and would love to share with you how I implement this in my home:


Eggs, scrambled in butter with a bit of cream and salt

Soaked oatmeal with fruit, cinnamon, maple syrup, butter and cream

Scrapple, a cornmeal mush that is fried in coconut oil and topped with maple syrup-yum!

Waffles or pancakes, sometimes french toast, again with butter and maple syrup

These are typical breakfasts served in my home. I don't fix special breakfasts for the baby; he just eats what we eat in small pieces. I don't puree anything. Typical sides are potatoes fried in coconut oil w/onion and garlic, sausage, bacon, fresh fruits and toast.


Chunks of cheese

Fresh fruits

Yogurt or smoothies

Peanut butter or grilled cheese sandwiches


I keep lunches pretty simple for Henry, as he usually eats a large breakfast and is not very hungy at lunch time. He drinks fresh fruit juice, water or milk with his lunch.


Like breakfast, I do not prepare a seperate dinner for the baby, he just eats whatever we are having. Here are some of his favorites:

Avacado slices with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt

Chilli and cornbread with honey butter (yes, I give him honey, and no, it's never been a problem)

Spaghetti with meatballs

Garlic mashed potatoes

Garlic bread

Acorn Squash with maple syrup and butter

Soft beef, like roast or my braised short ribs

Chicken livers with pan gravy

The list could go on and on! My little guy is definitely not picky. I do not shy away from giving him spices...for example, he loves chilli and it does have cayenne pepper in it. We just adjust the amount of spice for his tastes. He really loves the taste of fresh garlic and onion, as he has been eating it since he turned 6 months old. We also add plenty of fresh steamed/sauteed veggies and fresh fruit to his diet, as well as the occasional sweet treat (he loves cheesecake and tirimasu!) I also ensure that Henry gets plenty of good fats in his daily diet (olive oil, coconut oil, avacado,butter), and he takes a daily dose of Cod Liver Oil as well.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays at

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Super-Simple Handmade Hand Soaps

This is my third contribution to "A Handmade Christmas" over at Abbi's blog, Proverbs 31 Living Today I am sharing a very simple scented handsoap recipe. Besides the fact that it is so easy to make, I like this soap because it uses gentle, natural ingredients and is easily customized to suit the personality of the recipient--color or shape of the bottle, scent, etc...

Here is a list of things you will need to make this soap:

8 oz. soap dispensing bottle ( I have found some really nice ones at Bed Bath and Beyond)

7 oz. liquid castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Formula, since it's not scented)

4-5 drops essential oil of your choice, depending on how strong you want the scent

decoratives of your choice--find them in craft stores. Examples are small plastic flowers, sports balls, snowflakes, etc... This is a great way to really personalize the soaps!

Fill soap dispensers with decoratives first; add soap and then the essential oils. Replace cap and shake well to mix. It's that easy!!

Here are some ideas I have used in the past:

For my oldest son and nephew, both 5 years old: Tinted the soap blue with 1 drop of blue food coloring (any more would probably make for blue hands!), added assorted sports balls mini-decoratives, and didn't add any scent.

For the guest bathroom: Made a Christmas soap to put out during the holidays using plastic snowflake mini-decoratives, a pinch of white glitter and cinnamon and vanilla essential oils.

For my niece, 3 years old: Tinted water pink with a bit of red food coloring, added a pinch of gold glitter and heart-shaped mini-decoratives. Used a clear plastic soap dispenser and afixed a Barbie princess cling to the outside of the bottle.

I hope you will join me in having a handmade Christmas this year! Aren't these personalized gifts so much more fun to create?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Real Food for Mom and Baby

I have just finished up reading a great new book, Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck. This book explains the benefits of feeding our children a traditonal, whole-foods diet from the time of conception and on through adulthood. Unfortunately, many children today exist on poor diets full of processed, sugar-laden and nutrient-void foods. By the age of 1, many children have already eaten a Happy Meal and are even able to identify the "golden arches" as the symbol of McDonald's!

So, what does the author suggest that children eat? Instead of that Happy Meal, how about a meal of scrambled egg with sea salt and avacado drizzled with olive oil? Your children like to snack on crackers? Replace them with good-quality cheese and fruit! The point is to replace all the over-processed, refined foods with fresh, high-quality ingredients that are as close to their natural state as possible, for example a piece of fresh fruit instead of sugar-laden fruit juices, or butter instead of man-made margarine.

The author refutes several mainstream practices for feeding babies and children, including introducing meats/proteins as on of the first foods for baby, not pureeing foods for baby (let them try small bites of what you are eating), seasoning baby's food with salt and allowing so-called "no no" foods such as fish, shellfish, citrus and honey before baby's first birthday.

She encourages moms to feed their babies lots of high-quality fats, meats, fruits and vegetables, cheeses and cultured dairy, organ meats (especially iron-rich liver!), even fish roe! She also reccomends raw milk rather than pasturized.

The book also has sections on eating a whole-foods diet to increase fertillity, eating well during pregnancy and the importance of mom's diet while breastfeeding.

This is pretty much how I am feeding Henry, and how I will feed the new baby as well. (Unfortunately, I wasn't so informed about the benefits of whole-foods nutrition when Brett was a baby!) I allow Henry to feed himself small pieces of meat, cheese, fruit, bread, etc... If he is eating something very messy or that requires utensils to eat, then I help him: for example, soup or mashed potatoes. I like that when he is self-feeding, he simply stops when he is full. A baby will often eat way more than they want or need when being spoon-fed, just opening their mouth automatically to accept the spoon! I have no reservations about feeding him a high-fat diet, because his developing brain and body need the fat, and I also know the fat he is consuming is high-quality (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, butter, etc..) We don't use refined sugars, but instead sweeten with maple syrup, honey or rapadura. We try to avoid artificial flavorings and colorings.

I will definitely be following the author's suggestions for the breastfeeding mom with my new baby! As a first-time nursing mom, I want to make sure that my little one recieves optimum nutrition from the start.

I highly reccomend this book for any mom, be it her first baby or her fifth!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mommy Mix

I just wanted to share with you the recipe I use for trail mix. I especially like to snack on this trail mix while pregnant and in the postpartum period, when the body desperately needs to replinish it's vitamins/mineral stores. I hope to be nursing this time, so I will be incorporating more healthy snacks into my diet due to increased calorie needs. I like this mix because it is high in healthy fats, has a bit of salt and sugar to increase electrolyte balance, is high in vitamins and minerals, and just plain tastes great! I hope you will enjoy it too:

Mommy Mix

2 c. whole almonds

1 c. dried cranberries

1 c. raisins (high in iron, crucial for pregnant mamas and recovering mamas!)

1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds(stay away from the roasted ones--use bad fats!)

1 c. dark chocolate or carob chips

dash of sea salt

Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Store in container of your choice. I usually store it in Mason jars, and have one ready to go in my bag for the hospital--makes for great post-labor snacking, especially if the cafeteria is closed!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Preparing for Labor/Delivery--Naturally! Part 3

In this third installment of my preparing for a natural labor/delivery series, I will be sharing with you a recipe I have created for "Labor-Aid", an all-natural Gatorade, if you will.

Staying well-hydrated and energized during labor is critical! Sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade, will do the job, but I prefer not to use them as they are full of artificial flavors, dyes and too much sugar. So, I have created my own concoction to sip on during these final days of pregnancy and while in labor. I find the taste of this labor-aid more refreshing than any of the conventional sports drinks. It provides lots of electrolytes, potassium and a bit of glucose from the honey.


3 c. fresh-squeezed orange juice, or substitute with 1 can juice from concentrate

4-5 c. water

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tbsp. honey

powder from 3 calcium/magnesium capsules or 3 tablets, finely crushed

Place all ingredients in blender; blend on high one minute. Store in a pitcher in the refridgerator. Best served very cold.

I think you could probably make popsicles with this recipe as well, which would be great for a summertime birth!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Braised Beef Short Ribs and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

We had such a great, comfort-food dinner last night that I just couldn't wait to share it with you today! I had some beautiful grass-fed beef short ribs in the freezer, and was completely at a loss as to how to prepare them. I decided to just throw together some pantry staples, and ended up creating a new family favorite! I cooked the ribs in the crockpot all day, making them tender and juicy, and added some raw garlic mashed potatoes that we covered in the delicious beef drippings from the ribs! Even Henry, 10 months, ate his fair share, and will be eating more of the garlic mashed potatoes for lunch today! I am trying to incorporate both garlic and bone broths into our meals right now, as they are known to boost immunity. (lots of flu going around here in Southern Indiana!)

Braised Beef Short Ribs

2 lbs. beef short ribs, preferably grass-fed

1/4 c. organic apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. rapadura

1 tsp. ground mustard

1/4 c. worcstershire sauce

1 small tomato, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 c. chopped onion

1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in crockpot; cook on low for 6-7 hours, or until meat is tender. If you prefer a thicker sauce, remove about 1 c. of the drippings from crockpot and mix with enough cornstarch to make a slurry; add slurry to crockpot, stir, and cook about 20 min. more on high.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

8 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and quartered

8 cloves garlic, well-minced

1 c. butter

1/2 c. milk or cream

salt to taste

In a large stock pot, bring potatoes to a rapid boil; cook until tender. Drain the potatoes well, then add to a mixing bowl along with butter, salt, milk and raw garlic; use mixer to whip potatoes until smooth. Serve with short ribs and drippings.

I don't cook the garlic, but add it raw right before mixing--this ensures that we recieve the maximum health benefits of the garlic. Mincing it very fine keeps the potaoes smooth, not lumpy. I like that this meal contains lots of good quality fats, as well as garlic, very beneficial in the prevention of colds/flu.

This post is part of Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Handmade Christmas Thursdays!--Week 2

Today I am sharing another recipe from our family's Christmas feast--empanadas, small, meat-filled pastries from Peru.

The combination of ingreedients in empanadas may sound a bit strange to our American pallete, but I assure you, these are delicious! I think I ate about one dozen of them myself last year at Christmas. To my defense, I was nine months pregnant with Henry!

Peruvian Christmas Empanadas


5-6 c. flour (white works best--I tried with whole-wheat--BAD!)

2 sticks of butter, softened

About 1 1/2 c. hot water, enough to make a firm, pie-crust-like dough

1 tsp.salt

Pour flour onto a clean, dry working surface--I always use my table. Make a well in center of flour pile; add butter and one half of water into the well. Add salt, and began to hand-knead the dough, slowly incorporating in more water until the dough has the consistency of pie crust. Cover dough with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour. Roll dough to about 1/4 in. thickness; use a drinking glass or a small biscuit cutter to cut out round discs of dough.


1 lb. ground meat of your choice--we like beef, but have used chicken as well

1 anaheim chilli pepper, chopped

1 1/2 c. thinly-sliced green onion

pinch of cumin

1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper

3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1/2 c. raisins

Brown the ground meat in a large frying pan; add chilli and cumin, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add onion, egg and raisins.


Place about 1 tsp. filling in each dough disc; fold in half, turnover style, and seal edges with the tines of a fork. Place empanadas on a greased baking sheet; brush with beaten egg yolk. Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, or until well-browned.

This post is part of "Having A Handmade Christmas" at Proverbs 31 Living,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Looking For Healthy Fudge/Christmas Treats Recipes!

With the holiday season quickly approaching, I have gotten the urge to start preparing my family's favorite Christmas goodies. However, this year I am in the process of revamping all of our favorites into treats with more wholesome ingredients...whole-grain flours, natural sweeteners, etc...

A few of these switches have been easy--for example, swapping out regular white flour for whole-wheat pastry flour for quick breads and cookies. It's also fairly easy to swap rapadura or honey for sugar. The one recipe I am having a particularly hard time swapping is fudge! My family loves fudge, and in preparation for the holidays, I began tinkering with my tried and true fudge recipes about three months ago. With the exception of a peanut butter-maple fudge, not one single fudge I've made has been acceptable to the family!

I am asking for my dear readers to please help me with this issue. If you have a healthier way of making fudge, please send me your recipes! I am also looking for recipes for other types of holiday goodies as well...send 'em my way!

Our family especially likes these types of fudge:

Orange cream

Old-fashioned fudge w/pecans or walnuts

Peppermint white chocolate

Peanut butter

Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Take the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge!

Revive Our Hearts Ministry is hosting a brand-new challenge, the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge. The purpose of the challenge, according to their website, is "to cultivate a heart of gratitude and begin your journey to joy!" What better time than the holidays to focus on being gracious! It is our tendency to become so wrapped up in ourselves and what we want than express gratitude for what we already have.

Participating in the challenge is easy--simply sign up at Revive Our Hearts website, and an e-mail will be sent to you daily for the next 30 days. Each e-mail is a scripturally-based lesson on gratitude.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss has also written a book on the topic of gratitude entitled "Choosing Gratitude; Your Journey to Joy". Revive Our Hearts Ministry is offering this book all November long to anyone who makes a donation to the ministry.

Please join me in taking the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Making Your Home A Haven--Muffin Tin Lunches

Over at one of my favorite blogs, A High and Noble Calling, Stephanie is hosting a weekly series named Making Your Home a Haven. There you will find posts from different women bloggers about what they do to make their families feel special and how they create a warm and loving environment in their homes. I am really excited to be part of this event!

My contribution to Making Your Home A Haven today is Muffin Tin Lunches, something I like to do for my children. The concept is simple--I pull out a couple of my muffin tins and fill each well with a finger food. Sometimes we use a theme, for example, "Ocean Day", in which I made a mini-octopus out of a hot dog (I'm sure you have seen that before!), fish-shaped crackers, cookies in the shape of shells, and mac and cheese with shell pasta. (Conincidentally, we do not eat a very healthy lunch on muffin tin day...just fun!) Sometimes, we don't even use a theme, I just fill up the tins with assorted finger foods. Here's what we have used in the past:


Rolled up slices of turkey or roast beef

Cheese cubes

Tiny triangles of grilled cheese or peanut butter sandwiches

Carrot sticks w/ dipping sauce, usually ranch



Apple slices

Bannana slices

Almond or cashews (for the older one)

We are currently planning some holiday themes and even "Mexican Day" per my oldest's request--I am trying to figure out how to make tiny tacos!

It's pretty easy to adapt muffin tin lunches to fit any age of child since it's pretty much ala carte. My 10 month old enjoys muffin tin lunch day as well!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pregnancy Update--3 Weeks Left!

No, that is not my belly...wish it were! Would you believe that both our webcam and our digital cam are both broken! At least we have the camcorder.

I can't believe it's almost time for sweet blessing #3 to be born! I am definitely ready, especially with Henry's birth still fresh in my mind (it was, afterall, only 10 months ago!). I have alternately been bitten by the nesting bug and the lazy bug this last few day very productive, the next logging a lot of time on the couch. This is a combination of what I experienced with my previous two pregnancies, having been really ran down and tired with Brett and super-spry and productive with Henry. Right now I am just finishing before baby tasks such as getting the layette washed and ready, preparing and freezing meals for the first few weeks after Ryan's arrival and moving Henry in with big brother Brett, as they will now be sharing a bedroom. We are also turning our spare bedroom into a playroom/schoolroom.

I definitely suggest preparing freezer meals to any new mom! This is going to be a lifesaver for us. Here's what I have done so far, and what I have yet to accomplish:

Pizza Dough x2--finished

Italian Sausage, browned, ready for pizza--finished

Batch of Dinner Rolls--finished

Chicken Broth--finished

Blueberry Coffee Cake--finished

Corn Tortillas--finished

Chicken Enchiladas x2--one down, one to go!

What's Left

Refried Beans

More Dinner Rolls

Cookie Dough--Snickerdoodle, Cinnamon Chip and Mint Chip (seasonal, ready for holiday)

Farmhouse Chicken (chicken and stuffing casserole)

Spaghetti/Pizza Sauce x4

Ground Beef, portioned into 1lb. dinner portions, cooked and ready to go

Pot Roast w/carrots, potatoes and onions

Italian Beef x1 for sandwiches

That's just what I have planned...I am sure I'll come up with more:)

As for my post-baby blogging plans, of course I will need ample time to rest. I'm also planning on nursing for the first time, so it will be a time of adjustment for me, as I really don't know what to expect. I plan on posting at least twice a week, and would love to have some guest posters, if any of you are interested! I will announce Ryan's birth, pictures and all, as soon as he is born!

If anyone would be interested in guest posting on my blog while I'm on break, leave a comment and let me know. You can also e-mail me at Hope to hear from you!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Preparing for Labor/Delivery--Naturally! Part 2

For this go-round of my Preparing for Labor/Delivery--Naturally! mini-series, I would like to introduce you to a wonder product by the name of Dr. Christopher's Pre-Natal 6 Week Formula.

During the first two trimesters of pregnancy, I use Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins. I like that they use natural ingreedients, contain red raspberry leaf and have added ginger to help with nausea. I find them much more gentle than any other prenatal I've used. However, I do not think that using a prenatal should take the place of good nutrition. I try to get the bulk of my vitamins/minerals through high-quality, whole foods. During the last six weeks of pregnancy, I switch from Rainbow Light to Dr. Christopher's Pre-Natal. These are not a prenatal vitamin, but rather a proprietary blend of herbs designed to promote optimum uterine function and prepare the uterus and cervix for delivery. It is important to note that since this is not a regular prenatal that it is important to eat well to ensure you are getting the proper vitamins/minerals that your still-growing baby needs!

Here is a list of the herbs that Dr. Christopher's contains:


Blessed Thistle

Black Cohosh


False Unicorn Root

Red Raspberry Leaf

Marshmallow Root


Used in conjunction, these herbs are said to have a powerfull effect on the uterus' and the cervix's ability to work together as a team to aid in a more productive (possibly faster!) and less painful delivery. Who wouldn't want that?:)

The recommended schedule for this product is to begin taking one capsule daily for the first week of the last six weeks of pregnancy, then two capsules daily for the second week, finishing with two capsules three times daily for each week hereafter. I personally take one capsule daily the first week, two daily the second week and four capsules daily for the rest. (Six just seems like an awful lot to me!)

I have never seen this product in a conventional pharmacy, nor at my health food store. I have seen it in various natural pharmacies on-line, and even on The best deals I've found have been at and

Friday, November 6, 2009

Teething Problems Solved!

Last week, I wrote a post imploring my readers to send me their suggestions on helping a fussy teether. I came to the conclusion that the only thing that could relieve my little guy's pain was infant Tylenol, which I am not opposed to using when necessary, but it was CONSTANT!

Yesterday, while slicing apples for an apple pie, Henry began to fuss for a snack. Well, I plopped him down in his highchair and put a slice of apple into his Munchkin mesh feeder, hoping he would munch on that while I finished the pie. Well, munch he did! I noticed that the cold apple slice was doing more than quelling his hunger, but was soothing his gums! He was much less fussy and we actually had a pretty pleasent evening. When he started to fuss again in the early evening, I put a cold slice of pear in the feeder, and it worked again! I had previously tried using frozen grapes in the mesh feeder to help with teething pain, but he didn't like it too well...maybe he just doesn't like grapes!

Our particular mesh feeder is made by Munchkin. We bought it at Babies 'R Us for about $4.00, and I think it was definitely a good little investment! I have also seen this product at Wal-Mart and Target. It's also good for letting babies new to solids get a taste of fruits and veggies that would otherwise pose a choking hazzard to them. I like to give Henry slices of tangerine or orange, as he would not be able to handle that white membrane or the seeds.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Handmade Christmas Thursdays!

In honor of the first official "Having a Handmade Christmas" over at Abbi's blog, Proverbs 31 Living, I am submitting our family's favorite recipe for panettone, a Peruvian-style Christmas fruitcake. This is absolutely delicious, with a texture more like a bread than the fruitcake we eat here in America. It has a light citrus flavor and is really good when smeared with fresh butter. Peruvians traditionally celebrate their Christmas feast at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve. The menu features this cake, spiced hot chocolate, roasted pork, empanadas(meat pies) and champagne. My husband absolutely can't celebrate the holidays without panettone! He was planning on traveling to a city 2 hours away to purchase an authentic panettone this year, but fortunately, I found and tried this recipe, and it's dead-on to the original if not better. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!


2 tsp. active dry yeast

1 c. hot water

2 eggs

1/4 c. melted butter

3 1/4 c. flour (does not work with whole-wheat flour)

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

zest of 1 complete orange and one complete lemon

2 tbsp. sugar(I use rapadura)

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. milk

chopped, dried mixed fruits, about 1 1/2 c., but depends on you!

Proof the yeast in 1 c. hot water with a little honey or sugar for 5 minutes. Add all other ingreedients to the pan of your bread machine, if using one, or else combine in a large mixing bowl and mix until well-blended; slowly incorporate the yeast. If using the bread machine, let it run through on the normal bread cycle. If doing by hand, prepare just as you would a normal, yeasted loaf of bread. Allow to rise 2x and bake in a angelfood cake pan at 375 for 30 min.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Preparing for Labor/Delivery--Naturally!

This is the first in a mini-series of posts on what I will be doing to prepare for a natural childbirth/post-partum period. I desire to give birth and heal as naturally as possible, with minimum medical intervention. I will be giving birth in the hospital, as there are not any midwives available here where I live for homebirth:(

My first preparatory herb I would like to share with you is Red Raspberry Leaf. I am currently using this herb in tea form, drinking about 3 cups daily of Traditional Medicinals Organic Pregnancy Tea. Red Raspberry Leaf has been used by pregnant women for years as an aid in toning the uterus, thus producing stronger, more effective contractions. I used this same tea during my second pregnancy and noticed a HUGE difference than with my first. Brett was much smaller at birth than Henry, but the labor was significantly more difficult with Brett. Of course, this could be because he was my first, but I was a lot younger and in better shape, so I feel like the tea had something to do with it! I definitely felt that my contractions were more productive, and a lot less painful.

Red Raspberry Leaf is also available in a supplement form. I've never tried it this way, only in tea form. I would suggest the Traditional Medicinals Organic Pregnancy Tea, as it has a lovely, herbal-sweet flavor, kind of like spearamint. I do know that you can also buy the leaves in bulk at to make your own tea. I suppose that this would be a more frugal option, though I've never tried it. I find the TM tea a bit on the pricey side (about $5 per box of 16 tea bags) but I like the taste and the results.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Aji De Gallina, aka, Chicken with Chili

As promised in my meal plan post, I am featuring the recipe for Aji De Gallina, a really delicious Peruvian chicken stew. As you may know, my husband, Henry, is from Peru. The food of his country is a little different than things that we eat here in America, but I find that it's pretty good, very simple and hearty.

This particular recipe is my favorite Peruvian dish! It features a rich chicken stew served over a bed of rice (traditionaly jasmine rice) and served with steamed potatoes and hard-boiled eggs. Sounds a bit strange, but I promise you it works! I feel I should add that this dish is traditionally prepared with a chili by the name of "aji amarillo", but it is impossible to find here! It is a small, orangish-yellow chili pepper that resembles the scotch bonnett chili, only much less heat! Do not try to use the scotch bonnett as a replacement. If you are fortunate to live near an ethnic market, you might try to see if they carry this chili in a paste form. The best replacement I have been able to find when I don't have the chili paste is anaheim peppers.

Aji De Gallina

2 chicken breasts, bone in and w/skin

4-5 anaheim chillis, seeded and chunked

10 slices of white bread, crusts removed

pinch of cumin

pinch of turmeric

olive oil, enough for frying

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 c. evaporated or fresh whole milk

In a large stockpot, cover chicken breasts with enough water to cover; add whatever aromatics (onion, celery, carrot, etc...) you like to make broth. Bring to a boil and cook until chicken is cooked through. Reserve 2 c. broth. Remove chicken from pot and allow to cool; shred chicken and discard bones and skin; set aside. Place chunks of chili in a food processor with enough water to blend, about 1 tbsp. Blend until completely smooth. In a frying pan, fry onion and garlic in olive oil; add chili and continue to fry, about 6 minutes. Add bread and milk to the pan; cook on med-low for about 10 min. Add chicken to chili mixture and simmer on low about 10 minutes, until thickened. Add cumin and turmeric, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a bed of rice with halved steamed potatoes on the side. Halves of boiled eggs are traditionally served atop the chicken mixture.

There you have it! Maybe this will be the first time you have ever tried Peruvian food--I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

What Our Family is Doing to Celebrate the GIVING in Thanksgiving

I LOVE Thanksgiving. I love the food, the fellowship with family, the anticipation of the approaching Christmas season and I love the opportunity to express thanks and gratitude for all the blessings my family and I have recieved over the year.

Thanksgiving is definitely a time for expressing thanks, but this year it has become clear to me that there are two words that make up this holiday's name: Thanks and Giving! So, as a family, we have decided to put a bit more focus on the giving part of the holiday this year.

Currently, we are putting together a very large box of food for the local food panty. This box just keeps growing and growing! It really saddens me that many people don't have a Thanksgiving meal each year because they just can not afford it. I hope that in some way we can contribute to a needy family's being able to enjoy a warm holiday dinner! I am also searching for a local organization or church that may be serving a free Thanksgiving meal to those in need. My hope is that we could, as a family, spend part of our day serving to those who are less fortunate than us. Of course, I am making plans loosely, as I am due to give birth on the 28th!

We are also keeping a journal of both our thanks and our giving an using it in our devotional time.

What are your Thanksgiving plans this year? How are you keeping this holiday intentional?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Winter Menu Plan

The cold weather has officially arrived, and although it's not quite winter yet, we are craving classic winter comfort foods! I've decided that it's time to start with my winter meal plan. Here's a look:


Eggs and Bacon or Sausage, Bread x2

Oatmeal x2--soaked, then prepared the next day w/ fruit, cream, butter and honey--yum!

Pancakes or Waffles--seasonal flavors, like pumpkin or gingerbread!

Scrapple or French Toast w/ Butter and Maple Syrup, Bacon

Coffee Cake and Hard-Boiled Eggs


Lunch is flexible, provided we have leftovers from the previous night's dinner. If not, we usually eat one of these:

Chicken Caeser Wraps

Baked Potato w/ Toppings


Peanut Butter and Jam Sandwiches


Of course, we leave room for special evenings or requests, but during the colder months, our dinners alway seem to revolve around these favorites!

Chicken Enchiladas

Aji de Gallina (Chilli w/ Chicken), a spicy Peruvian Chicken Stew (recipe in a later post)

Soups--looking for new recipes, especially ones using lentils.

Beef Roast/French Dip Sandwiches--two meals, one roast!

Pizza--this is on each season's menu plan!

Hearty Pasta Dishes--Spaghetti w/ meatballs, Lasagna, Rigatoni w/ Italian Sausage

Pork Roast

Roasted Chicken

Of course, with each dinner I like to round it out with fresh bread and some sort of veggie side: our favorites are baked sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, broccoli with garlic and butter, tossed salad, braised cabbage with bacon or butter and winter squashes. We have been blessed with an abundance of bitter greens, especially kale, but we are VERY tired of it--no more kale, please :)