Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vegetarian Options and Homemade Taco Seasoning

So, I have mentioned a few times that my 18 year old daughter has chosen the vegetarian's diet, and this often requires some creative thinking on my meal-planning-part.  It doesn't bother me at all that she has decided meat needs to be omitted from her life.  In fact because of it, we have all cut down on the amount of meat we consume.  We don't think it is wrong to eat meat, not at all, but we have noticed that many of our stomach woes were a direct result of certain kinds of meat... namely the ever delicious red meat.

And while I still adore a medium rare, thick cut, filet mignon...It happens more like once or twice a year instead of once or twice a month.

As a result, I have reworked some favorite meals and added new ones with my daughter's input to my repertoire of recipes, and I thought there might be a few friends who could use some good ideas for great tasting, easy to make, vegetarian (not vegan) meals.

Note: All of these vegetarian dishes have a distinct "Mexican" feel to them or at the very least a "Southwestern" theme.  Because I use these spices so frequently together, I make my own Taco Seasoning... and I'm terrible at measuring.  Basically, I use an empty Parmesan Cheese bottle and fill it with:

Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • one bottle chili powder
  • one bottle ground cumin
  • plenty of diced onions
  • enough garlic powder
  • a show of paprika
  • salt
  • pepper
Looks a little like sand art.  Now shake it all up and there ya go.  Handy dandy Taco Seasoning.

Southwestern Egg Rolls and Avocado Dip

Mix the following ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 1 boxed package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • half a small onion finely minced (or a small palm full of dried minced onions will work)
  • 1 small can diced green chilis
  • 1 TBS lime juice (more if you like)
  • 1 TBS cilantro from a tube... you're welcome to cut up fresh, but I always have this on hand and it is easy!
  • Taco Seasoning to your taste.
  • 1 package of egg roll wrappers.  I get mine in the veggie section of the produce aisle.

You can make this ahead of time, but if you refrigerate it... just remember to adjust your baking time to compensate for cold filling.

Fill egg roll wrappers and roll.  The package should show how to fold. Spray your cookie tray with Pam and put your egg rolls on as soon as you make them.  I like to spray the egg rolls a little with the Pam spray.  You could also use oil from an oil spritzer (like from pampered chef).
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Flip, then cook another 10-15.
 If refrigerated, flip and cook another 10 minutes.

Avocado Dip

  • 1 Avocado mashed
  • 1/4 cup Ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • A shake or two of taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2  tsp agave nectar

I use my immersion blender and mix all this in a small bowl.  It can be done with a sturdy whisk, I would imagine.

TIP:  I usually serve this with some Lime and Cilantro Basamati Rice.  Basamati Rice smells like popped corn as you cook it.  It is our favorite rice. Just cook the rice as the package says, drain, then add about a TBS of lime juice and as much cilantro as you can handle :).

Emily's Favorite Rice Dish

This was discovered while being the guests at a friend's home in Colorado.  She made this and we all fell in love with it.  Especially the Basamati Rice.

Bring to boil 6 cups of water.  Add 1 cup of Basamati Rice and reduce heat to low boil/simmer.  Let this simmer uncovered for 12 minutes. The rice will not absorb all the water, so you'll need to drain it.  Set it aside and let cool.


  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 Avocado cut into chunks
  • 1 ripe mango peeled and cut into chunks (sometimes we just use canned pineapple chunks or canned mandarin orange slices)
  • 1 TBS lime juice
  • 1 TBS cilantro from a tube (told you I used this a lot)
  • pinch of salt
  • Basamati Rice

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  That's it.  Serve as a side or as a light meal.

Black Bean Burgers

  • 1 can black beans drained, but not rinsed
  • 1/2 can garbonzo (chick peas) drained but not rinsed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced pepper
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 TBS cilantro from a tube

Put all ingredients into a bowl and use either a potato masher or a pastry utensil to mash together.  Sometimes I reserve a few of the black beans to stir in whole.  Shape into "burgers" and fry in a pan on med. high heat with a couple TBS. of hot oil.  A few minutes on each side should do the trick.  I also wrap these individually and put them in the fridge ahead of time.  Just add a few minutes cooking time to ensure they are heated through.

TIP: Really great with some hummus spread on a toasted ciabatta roll.  Add a thickly sliced tomato, some sturdy kale and voila!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Proverbs 5 on September 5

It is my goal to read a chapter of Proverbs everyday for a month.  I have been attempting this for the past 13 years... and I have yet to get a month perfect.  But even in my failure to do this simple task, God is faithful.  His Word is faithful, even when I am not.

This morning I opened my Bible to Proverbs 5... after all, it is September 5th.

Proverb chapter 5 is a warning against Adultery.
 It begins:

My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge.  

For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.

Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.

I stop here because I've read this before.  Many times.

Yes, adultery is bad.  Stay away from adultery.  Okay, so that's one way of seeing this; the obvious.  But I know God's word is layered, and it often works in a circular pattern, revisiting themes.  So, other than the clear warning against having intimate relations with someone who isn't my husband, what am I reading here?

What am I being warned about (other than marital adultery?).  Well, I know that God's people, Israel, were often described as an "adulterous people" because of their unfaithfulness to God, worshiping other gods.  So this is adultery:  The breaking of the first Commandment, "You shall have no other gods before Me."

And I am guilty of this.  When I exalt something or someone to a higher place of authority than God and His Word... I am committing adultery against my God.

My son,  Well,  I know that even though I am a woman... I can include myself in the "My son".  I am a child of God, therefore, I am being spoken to here.  This Proverb is a warning to me, a child of God.

Be attentive to my wisdom;    Look alive! No sleeping in class.  God has something important for me and as my Father, he cares that I retain it.  He isn't speaking just to hear His own voice.  He has something for me and I need to be aware.

Incline your ear to my understanding,  We must purpose to hear God's Word; read God's Word; study God's Word.  It is in the Scriptures that we find HIS understanding.

That you may keep discretion,  When we seek to know the mysteries of God, to understand His Words to us, we gain wisdom.  Discretion.. the act of being discreet.  Discretion is knowing when to shut your mouth.  It's like humility and wisdom combined.

and your lips may guard knowledge.  If discretion is knowing when to shut up, this portion teaches us when to speak up.  Your lips... those two little pieces of flesh from which sound escapes, they stand guard at your mouth and make sure nothing comes out but that which is supposed to come out.  They are the bouncers at the nightclub of your brain. Knowledge is God's Word.  I should be speaking God's Words.

For the lips of a forbidden (strange) woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil  God's wisdom is often unsavory to us sinners.  I mean, He isn't very politically correct, ya know.  In fact often His Words can be intolerant and, dare I say, harsh.  Why does He have to call something sin?  Can't we just refer to it as "an alternative lifestyle"... "a woman's right to choose?"... "cohabitation".  Honey and oil.  Sweet and slippery.

but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,, sharp as a two-edged sword.  So what sounded sweet and sleek is often revealed to have horrible consequences.  If we haven't paid attention, if we haven't listened, if we haven't guarded God's knowledge, understanding and wisdom... we easily fall prey to the words that "sound good" and adopt them as our truths in place of God's Word. Adultery. Sometimes we don't even realize that's what we are doing.  We talk about dead family members as being angels that watch over us... awww, sweet (honey).  No! It contradicts God's Word.  It isn't truth.  When our loved ones die in the faith they are immediately present with God.  This is our glorious Hope. This is God's Word.  To take comfort or refuge in lies, no matter how sweet or easily digested at the moment, is dangerous. It is adultery. The damage is great... it is wormwood, a two edged sword.

Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol:  This adultery, this listening to lies is leading me somewhere.  There is a destination.  It starts by leaving that narrow door which was opened by God.  We stop listening...stop going to church, stop receiving from God.  We hold up our hand to God, and say... "Yeah, I'll be right back, I just want to see what this is.  I'll come back, don't worry."  It's like saying we're just going to check our facebook "real quick".  And before you know it... you're lost.  Unsure of where you ended up.  But it happened one step at a time.  One step away, followed by another, and another.  One acceptance of a lie, then a justification of that lie, then defense of it, then total acceptance of that lie. Then a rejection of truth: Sheol, Hell.

She does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.  There is confusion in lies;  disorientation away from the clear path of truth.  Contradictions and inaccuracies because everyone has their own version of what is right, what is true.  But with God's Word, we are centered, focused, oriented, and sure of our way.  For Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father, except through Him.  There is ignorance in adultery.  When we feed our minds on Christ and His wisdom, our minds are transformed, renewed and developed.  But lies, deception, and a life absent of God's clear Words, causes us to become stupid.  But even worse than that, we aren't even aware of our stupidity.

This Proverb goes on and there are SO many things to pull from it; to ponder and to rest in.  This is why I strive to read this book every month.

Remain in Him and He will remain in you.  Daily ingest His truths.  There is no other way to be faithful (to be given faith).  Outside of His Word, we would all be destined to an adulterous life.  God protect my heart, protect my ears and guide my mouth.  Amen.