Cowboy Caviar

I was craving something fresh and tasty for a snack, so I went hunting in the fridge and pantry. It’s one of our favorite things to do. When it’s just about time for a grocery trip, we like to make something delicious out of whatever is left over from the shopping trip before! It’s challenging and it’s also kind of fun to see what we come up with. Brendan was out-of-town and I didn’t feel like cooking, so I threw this together!

This is my version of a cowboy caviar. I believe the original recipe was black-eyed peas, but I’m a big fan of black beans, and honestly, that’s what I had in my pantry, so here’s how I made it!

What I used:

1 can of black beans, drained

1 can of sweet corn, drained

1 sweet onion, diced

3 ripe (but firm) avocados, cubed

3 fresh tomatoes, cubed

2 fresh garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (or red wine, but balsamic is all I had)

1 Tbsp olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients, toss and enjoy! Serve with tortilla chips or anything else that sounds good with it!

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“All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” – Proverbs 15:15

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Maple-Glazed Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

For Brendan’s birthday this year, I decided to make him something special. I searched for the best recipe for bacon chocolate chip cookies, and I found this one. I wasn’t sure about the combo of flavors, but I knew he’d love them! He truly believes anything is better with bacon. Surprisingly, they are delicious! I took them into his work to surprise him, and it didn’t take long for them to be gone!

I’ll share the recipe with you, it was fairly easy and the outcome was better than I’d hoped for!

What you’ll need:

2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 lb package of bacon strips- cooked until very crispy and cut into small bits (I sprinkled the bacon with brown sugar before cooking

Maple Glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar and maple syrup

Preheat oven 325°.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Mix flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.  With a hand mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined.  Beat in the egg, the yolk, and vanilla.  Add flour mix and beat at low-speed just until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips and 1 cup of the bacon bits.

Roll about a half-cup sized ball of dough.  Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull apart into two equal halves.  Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball.

Bake approximately 11-14 minutes, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy.

Transfer to a wire rack  to cool cookies after they’re able to lift without breaking. Sprinkle with bacon bits and drizzle with maple glaze.

*To make glaze –  in a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup to the powdered sugar and stir. Add more maple syrup as needed until the glaze is a good, thick drizzling consistency. Sprinkle with remaining bacon bits.

Happy baking!!

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:6-7

Best Brussels Ever!

If you are a fan of brussel sprouts, this is a recipe you cannot pass on trying this Fall!  We have a favorite restaurant in our area called Tin Roof Bistro, where we’ve fallen in love with their amazing brussel sprouts appetizer. They were so unbelievably delicious the first time, that we have returned many, many times to enjoy them again. We love bringing out-of-town visitors to this place, for more reasons than just the brussels, but my mouth is watering just thinking about them! One day, I decided to google the recipe and came across this website that offers the ingredients and directions to make them, so I tried it out and they turned out amazing!! It’s so easy and so few ingredients, I just had to share.

What you’ll need: (I tweaked a few measurements from the recipe I found online, but I’ll tell you what I used)

about a pound of fresh brussel sprouts (cut in half long-ways)

extra-virgin olive oil

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

3-4 cloves of fresh garlic (minced)

About 1 oz minced anchovies

1-2 lemons (depending on size and taste)

2-3 Tbsp whole capers

salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400° then rinse and cut brussel sprouts. Toss in a large bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Begin roasting brussels, it takes about 20-30 min. I like mine nice and caramelized, so I move them to the broiler for about 5 minutes after they’re roasted.

While the brussel sprouts are roasting, begin by melting butter in a small sauce pan. Add minced garlic and anchovies, let them brown and soften. Then, add juice of lemon and capers. If you’re like me and you really like strong flavors, go with 2 lemons and 3 Tbsp of capers… otherwise, try just 1 lemon and 2 Tbsp of capers and see how it tastes to you.

When the brussel sprouts are perfectly caramelized, pour into serving dish, then add the amazing sauce you’ve just created. Toss and serve immediately!

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! Happy Fall!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Sunday Afternoon Guacamole

As long as I can remember, tradition in my family growing up was something we called “Sunday Sandwiches”. When church would let out, we would head to the store, get fresh deli meats, delicious baked bread rolls, and the  ingredients needed to make a fresh batch of homemade guacamole.  The recipe has evolved some over the years, but has certainly continued to be a tradition in my own family as an adult. With the best local avocados available at my fingertips and farmer’s markets offering the  juiciest  tomatoes, sweetest onions, and the most crisp cilantro out there, how could I not?

It’s summer time, which is when the avocados are ripe and abundant here in Southern California, which, for that reason alone, easily makes summer one of my favorite seasons. Although it’s a simple recipe with simple ingredients, I thought I’d share with you for no other reason than to celebrate God’s wonderful gift to us of the fruits and vegetables of  His earth!

What you’ll need: (all of the measurements I use are approximate, I never actually measure when I make it)

4-6 ripe avocados ( you can tell if an avocado is ripe (but not over-ripe) by flicking the stem off to see the color of flesh under, see here)

3-4 roma tomatoes very coarsely chopped (I like a lot of texture in my guac, you can chop more finely for smoother over-all texture)

1/2  large sweet texas onion chopped to your preferred consistency (sometimes I’ll use 1/2 large purple onion instead)

2-3 fresh garlic cloves finely chopped (almost minced)

1- fresh jalapeño finely chopped (optional if you’re not into heat)

1/2 bundle of cilantro (remove all stems and coarsely chop remaining leaves)

Juice from 1 lemon

Salt & Pepper to taste

Most (ok, all) of the work is in the prep… lots of chopping, but it’s worth it!! If you have some kind of chopper, go for it! I like to chop all the ingredients individually for consistency, myself!

Start with mashing the avocado in a large mixing bowl first, so when you add the other ingredients, the avocado will be distributed consistently with the rest of the ingredients.

Then add the chopped tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro and lemon.

Salt & Pepper to taste, then enjoy with tortilla chips or whatever else sounds good at the time! Perfect for a warm, sunny football Sunday!

FUN FACT! Did you also know that you can halve and store ripe avocados in freezer bags to prolong avocado season in your household? Who would’ve thought?!

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31