Friday, March 6, 2015

Love Simply, Love Completely, Eat Naturally

I've been sharing most of my daily moments recently over at my Facebook page, come check out what has been going on!
Live, Love, and Eat Simply

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Conflicted Chef- 3 Sisters Making Healthy Lasagna

One thing I’ve never been conflicted about is the time my family spends in the kitchen. I grew up in the kitchen. The smell of  garlic sautéing, the bubbling of roasted tomatoes, the way the kitchen light bounces off the countertops, it speaks to my heart. Happiness could always be found in the kitchen.
I’m not sure what I would have done if my children didn’t like to cook. I’m glad I didn’t have to find out. My three daughters are amazing in the kitchen. The dishes may not always turn out, but they are still a joy to watch. They are making memories that they may not cherish now, but some day they will.
They’ve been known to tackle dishes such as Kim chi right alongside good ‘ole chocolate chip cookies. So when a call went out for a more healthy lasagna, that they would still eat, they tackled it. And they started with the pasta.
A whole wheat pasta will really help cut the calories and we usually use whole wheat in our dishes. But I have to confess, they didn’t on this day. My husband is the main pasta maker and he’s a little bit of a purist at times. He had bought a big bag of Semolina flour, which is the way it is traditionally made, so the girls used that. They are good kids like that, trying to appease both Dad and Mom. But I’ll include a recipe for whole wheat pasta so you can decide which you’d rather use.
This is a pasta machine that was given to us one Christmas by my sister. We get very excited around here with gifts that center around the kitchen, imagine that. Anyway, they are wonderful fun and make the pasta making very easy. You can make pasta without a machine. Check out Sugarlaws blog to find an awesome machine free recipe (and it’s whole wheat too).
Here the pasta is drying on cooling racks. I love seeing my countertops covered in fresh pasta.
Next is the filling. One great way to cut calories here is to add bulk by not using lots of meat, but by using veggies. You could even do all veggies, but again my girls want their Dad to eat it so they compromised. They used turkey sausage, and lots of mushrooms in the filling. You could add spinach, caramelized onions, eggplant, zucchini, whatever sounds good to you.
Cheese, yummy cheese makes a lasagna. If you use cheese made from skim milk or 1% milk you can further cut calories. Or you could use less cheese. But please don’t use the fat free cheese, it doesn’t melt and then you have a crispy, crunchy layer to your lasagna. Moderation is the key when cooking and eating. You knew I was going to say that right? I just get so frustrated when people get crazy with the no-fat foods, no sugar foods, unless medically you are on a special diet. Just eat a smaller piece of lasagna and a bigger bowl of salad dang it. Whew, okay my lecture is over.
I’d show you a piece of cooked lasagna, but it got eaten before I could get the camera. Yes, it was that good. My girls did a great job cutting calories, but not taste on this dish. It received 5 smiles and a few extra, as we made an extra pan to give away when we made this batch.
This recipe we adapted from Eating Well for the filling:
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat lasagna noodles
  • 1 pound lean spicy Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (see Variation)
  • 4 cups sliced mushrooms, (10 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, preferably chunky
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound part-skim ricotta cheese (2 cups)
  • 8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups), divided
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. 
  1. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and water; cook, stirring occasionally and crumbling the sausage more, until it is cooked through, the water has evaporated and the mushrooms are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Mix tomatoes with basil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
  3. To assemble lasagna: Spread 1/2 cup of the tomatoes in the prepared baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, trimming to fit if necessary. Evenly dollop half the ricotta over the noodles. Top with half the sausage mixture, one-third of the remaining tomatoes and one-third of the mozzarella. Continue with another layer of noodles, the remaining ricotta, the remaining sausage, half the remaining tomatoes and half the remaining mozzarella. Top with a third layer of noodles and the remaining tomatoes.
  4. Cover the lasagna with foil and bake until bubbling and heated through, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove the foil; sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is just melted but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Since our noodles were fresh we didn’t need to cook them before assembling, also there are noodles you can buy that you don’t have to cook before hand. I think it just makes things easier to not have to cook the noodles.
For a good pasta recipe we like to use the one from Bob’s Red Mill, since we like his flour.
So tell me what is your favorite type of lasagna? And do you like whole wheat pasta at your house?

Happy Eating,
The Conflicted Chef

Monday, July 23, 2012

Yes, I’m “Just” A Mom


I was a child of the late 70’s and 80’s, when women were making great strides in having careers outside of the home. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone by saying my biggest aspiration was just to be a wife and mother.  The question was always asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. I’d always reply with a very professional answer, vet or nurse, or best-selling author and then at the end I’d tag on “and a mom”.  And truth be told, I did have dreams of becoming something big, like the first woman fighter pilot, or NASCAR driver, or travelling the world meeting dignitaries while representing my country, or manning a gun on a big battleship.  Problem was, even as a child, I was trying to figure out where I’d stash my children on that battleship or if wearing your child strapped to your back would be distracting while socializing with the Prime Minister of Australia. It was a small glitch that needed working out, one I would ponder for the next 20 years or so.

Fast forward to the birth of my first child. I was a teacher. I couldn’t ever figure out the logistics of my other career choices and having kids  as well, so it was no wonder I found teaching. The schedule was perfect for working and having a family, and I loved , loved teaching. Perfect solution. The problem was I never thought about where the kids would go when they were too small to be in school. I had a summer to find a place for my baby to go before the next school year started.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”, seemed to be the question that kept running through my head as I researched, interviewed, and prayed over who would be best to take care of my child while I was working. There were some wonderful, loving places my child could have stayed while I worked.  I felt I needed to work.  My husband and I were used to the money two incomes provided, and weren’t sure if we could make it without my salary. Plus, I loved teaching. I was good at it and I didn’t want to leave my school. The problem was, I didn’t want to leave my child either.

One night the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up echoed through my head for the millionth time and suddenly I knew the answer, “just a mom”. That’s it, nothing else. That’s all I’d ever wanted. I knew it when I was 4 and held my baby sister and pretended to be her mom. I knew it when I met the man of my dreams and walked down the aisle. I even knew it when I got my first teaching  job. So I tearfully called my principle the next day and told him I wouldn’t be coming back. I also cried on the first day of school, because even though I knew being a stay-at-home mom was my choice, I couldn’t help but be sad over a chapter of my life that was closing.

Can you be a mom and work? Absolutely! Could I be a mom and work? No. Just so you know, I worked for a short period of time when both my oldest girls could attend the school I worked at. As much as I loved my job, I once again found myself wanting to be “just a mom”. And then God blessed us with the surprise of being pregnant with my third and I knew I would be hanging up my working shoes for good.


I have three daughters who dream of being doctors, chefs, and horse trainers. They are smart and caring and hard workers. They have years to figure it out. But one thing I do know is that if they decide that someday they want to be “just a mom”, I’ll be as proud of them as I would be if they decided to be  just a neurosurgeon. arriedoc

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.”

-Henry David Thoreau

What about you, are you living the life you imagined?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lemon Rosemary Turkey Meatballs- Conflicted Chef

I know I promised this recipe about a month ago, but I they are worth the wait!
When my daughter, Em, decided to make these I had visions of dry turkey meatballs that no one would like. In fact, sometimes with my husband we have to hide the fact that he is eating ground turkey, instead of ground beef. I’m not sure why, but my Dad is the same way. Real men eat beef and not turkey, unless it is Thanksgiving seems to be the battle cry. So we are constantly sneaking in ground turkey and then when they like it we declare, “Victory”! Actually, my girls and I have found this whole game fun and try to fool them whenever we can. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But it is always entertaining.
So without further ado here is the recipe we adapted from Eating Well:
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or substitute more chicken broth)
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Place onion, garlic and lemon zest in a food processor. Add 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried) and pulse just until the mixture is finely and evenly chopped (but not mushy).
  2. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and gently mix in turkey, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper until combined. Use a generous 2 tablespoons each to shape the mixture into 12 meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter). Place flour in a shallow dish and roll the meatballs in it to lightly coat. (Reserve the remaining flour.)
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add meatballs and cook, turning once, until brown, 3 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Add wine (or 1/2 cup broth) to the pan, increase heat to medium-high and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until almost evaporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Add the can of broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and return the meatballs to the pan along with the remaining 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or 1/4 teaspoon dried). Cover and cook until the meatballs are cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs to a serving bowl.
  5. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to 1 cup, 4 to 8 minutes. Whisk lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the reserved flour in a small bowl (discard any remaining flour); whisking constantly, add the flour mixture to the sauce along with butter and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer, whisking, until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve. Serve the sauce over the meatballs.
We served this over rice and with our Asparagus with Lemon Zest and Pine Nuts.
I think it would be yummy served over whole wheat noodles or pearl couscous as well. Em wasn’t thrilled with the gravy. I think when we make this again we will try to tweak the gravy to make it thicker. I thought it had a  delicious flavor, she felt it was too runny.

My family gave it 3 smiles and 2 so so’s, because of the gravy.

Do you like to sneak turkey into your menu?
Happy Eating,
The Conflicted Chef
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Monday, July 2, 2012

Inspirational Monday- Interview with Paint This Town Red Co-Founder C.J. Frazier

I apologize from being absent from the blogging world for a bit. Circumstances, mostly out of my control, have been keeping me from blogging, mostly technical issues. I’m keeping my fingers crossed they are solved!

C.J. Frazier and I met when I worked at a private day school. He was my boss and young enough to be my little brother. I am a cradle Catholic, he is the son of a pastor and had found Christ again as a teenager. We were working at an Episcopal school and even though all of those could have spelled disaster it worked. Some of our greatest conversations took place over green chili-cheeseburgers at 10:00 in the morning  as we took a quick break from the craziness of the day. He taught me a lot about faith, about having a burning passion for the Lord and doing His work. C.J. eventually left his work at the day school to pursue his dream of being a youth pastor at a local church in our small town. I would eventually move over an hour away to prepare for the birth of my third child, but thanks to technology I have had the privilege to follow C.J. as he continues to do the Lord’s work. He has started a church, ministry, service project all wrapped into one amazing concept called Paint This Town Red. The following is an interview I had with him:

Give us some background on how Paint This Town Red, or PTTR, came to be.

I have had the privilege of working at three different churches since becoming a pastor. All of these churches had great vision and intentions for the city they lived in. The hard part was "convincing" people that we needed to get out of the church and serve more. It was a great blessing that I was in a church that encouraged me to dream and believe God for the impossible. Because of that liberty, I was able to really ask God to use me to do the impossible. Little did I know that the impossible would take place away from the beautiful beaches of Florida, and back to the flat, dry, dusty, windy land of Pampa Texas. But, because my heart was ready, I fell in love with this small town that I had left only 2 years prior.

So when I felt the Lord tell me it's time for this vision to be birthed I honestly wasn't sure what it looked like. And maybe it's just how my mind works, but I can't really get vision for something until I have a name for it. A name says a lot about something. So one day I was laying down praying and a song came on called Paint The Town Red, by Delirious. This song made some great statements in it that caught my hearts attention.

"You know I feel there's something 'bout to break now.
You know I feel there's a city here to take now.
And it's not so tough for these ordinary hands,
When we trust someone with extraordinary plans."

"You give us hope where hope is gone,
You fill the streets with a holy song,
We’re gonna paint this big old town red."

"Miracles run from street to street
Rise up Church for a holy meet
We’re gonna paint this big old town red
We’re gonna paint this big old town red
With the blood of Jesus!"

These lyrics voiced what my heart was dreaming for. So...that's how the name came to life in my heart. Once the identity of who we were came to life in our hearts, the rest was pretty easy.

I can identify with that as a writer because often I am inspired by song lyrics for a story idea. I always have to have a working title before I can sit down and start writing and I can spend days figuring out the title!

PTTR is unique in which the people are the Church. You have fellowship times, but your mission is to serve the people of the community and their needs. You have projects in which you “makeover” peoples houses and support them in any needs they have. What are your main goals?

PTTR's main goal is pretty simple. We want to always bring HOPE to the hopeless, encourage DREAMS for the dreamers and give LIFE to the lifeless. HOPE, DREAMS and LIFE. Whatever we do, however we do it, those three things are the back bone of who we are.

And from the many projects you have already done, it looks like you are definitely making these goals a reality.

Every town, whether big or small can present many challenges to starting anything that is new. What challenges have you faced?

To be totally honest, we've experienced a lot of challenges on this new journey. We thought the hardest thing in all this would be selling our homes in faith, quitting our high paying jobs in faith, moving to a place where we didn't know where we would live, and doing all this without any promise, or plans, of being paid. It turns out that was the easy part... The spiritual battles that have come about since arriving in Pampa May of 2011 have been enormous. Small towns have so much charm and beauty to them. The simplicity can be intoxicatingly wonderful. But in the same turn, small towns are not to open for change, especially when it comes to churches. We've taken on quite a bit of persecution from some churches who aren't supportive of us. And not just our church, but me in particular. Because of this, it's been hard to feel accepted by a lot of the community. But honestly, the people we came to serve are beyond excited that we're here. We didn't come to Pampa for the healthy, but for the sick. We're just trying to take our lead from Jesus on this one. Instead of detouring our dreams for Pampa, these issues have only solidified our heart for the people here. And of course, I OFTEN feel so unqualified to be leading something like this. But the reality of it all is this:God used the foolish things of this world to bring His glory to earth. I just want to be part of the solution, and not the problem.

And I think you are doing an amazing job, even when faced with such obstacles. I loved my 10 years in Pampa and I love small towns, but I also know how difficult it can be to introduce something new to such a small, tight-knit community. It’s a challenge, but you’ve captured the hearts of so many people who live there. It’s awesome to watch the difference you are making in so many people’s lives.

In the months since you started this journey, can you describe a moment that just blew you away? Gave you that confirmation that this is where you were meant to be?

From the very first Project Red we did, we were "ruined" from that point on to go back to life the way we knew it. To see the HOPE in the eyes of people that we were so blessed to serve was breath taking. Typically the hardest part about being a church that wants to serve people in their homes is finding someone to let us into their home. Our private way of living can be very embarrassing and shameful at times. Especially when you show me the river of sewage running from under your home because you haven't had plumbing for almost a year. All that to say this, we know we're right were we need to be because people are GIVING us the keys to their homes. They are asking us to come in and see what they won't show the public because of their desperation for help. From day one we HAVE NOT asked anyone to let us help them. They have called us by the hundreds to help them. If that's not confirmation I don't know what is. Either way, we love what we are here to do.

You are an inspiration to me! But I’m curious as to what inspires you?

My inspiration can come from a lot of areas in life. I'm very moved by music, movies and people who have gone before me and paved the way for guys like me to live my dreams. But honestly, it's the single mothers we encounter that face so much opposition and adversity that really inspire me. They somehow sacrifice everything to see that their children are taken care of.

One great example is a women we helped Easter morning. Her name is Donna Williams. She's a single mother and grandmother. She takes care of over 13 children and grandchildren...13!!! And what's amazing, is that they aren't all hers. She's adopted two young ladies who have children of their own and she became a mother and grandmother to them. She has taken it upon herself to bare the responsibility of others who weren't able to, or decided not to. On top of that, she lost 2 sisters and her mother to cancer. This kind of courage is so overwhelming to me. Great speakers and leaders encourage me daily, but women like Donna Williams inspire me to push the limits and boundaries of every day life.

Donna sounds amazing and very deserving of PTTR’s help! But with all this good you are doing I know there is tons of work behind the scenes, not to mention the everyday stress of running such an organization. I hope you make time for some fun. What do you do to relax?

I have to have time for fun. If I don't, I'll burn out quickly and be useless to everyone. Including my most important ministry, my wife Micki. I really do love to spend time on my bed with Micki and our 4 dogs watching movies. I workout 4 days a week. I LOVE good food with friends and family. Really it's simple things in life that keep me happy and recharged.

I agree, it is the simple things that keep you happy. You have a very blessed life, my friend.

I know many people will be inspired by your ministry. What can people do to help you?

We think anyone and everyone can be a part of PTTR in some way. For those that aren't in our area, we covet your prayers like nothing else. We believe the authority and power of prayer can change anything. We also are a non- profit ministry, which means we aren't funded by anything else but donations. Any donations are considered charitable donations by the state and are tax deductible. If you would like to help financially in any way, we would greatly appreciate it. We started PTTR in June of 2011. Since then we have done 7 large Project Reds. (since the time of this interview they have completed another project and are working on number 9.) Multiple Mini-Project red's. We gave out 500 gifts to anyone who needed a present for Christmas. Gave away a 2005 Toyota mini van to a single mother. As well as thousands of dollars in weekly assistance with people's utilities. We don't boast in this, but want you to know that your money goes to serving the people of this community. And we'll help anyone who needs it, but love to focus on widows and orphans. Thank you for any help you can be in serving our city.

Thank you C.J. for everything you are doing and for taking the time to do this interview with me. You are such a daily inspiration and I love watching what you are doing.

Please visit PTTR’s website, follow on Facebook and get inspired daily by all they do.

I want to leave you with the video introducing Donna’s Project.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Asparagus with Lemon Zest and Pine Nuts


My mom has always been wonderful about buying in-season, local foods. She was hip, before hip was cool.

As a kid we’d eat fresh vegetables either out of our garden or someone else's. And when spring rolled around there were always plenty of asparagus to go around. Mom would generally steam the stalks just long enough for them to turn a bright green, then she would drizzle with butter and toasted bread crumbs. Yum!

Did you know that the proper way to eat asparagus stalks is with your fingers? Yes siree Bob. I learned this little tid bit from Elizabeth Taylor. I’m not sure what the interview was about or why asparagus came up, but she taught me that it was okay to use my fingers. And as a kid, that was just one more plus for the green veggie. So whether you are at a fine dining establishment or sitting around your family dinner table you can use your fingers. Now if the stalks are not firm, or cut into pieces in a messy sauce, I’d advise you to use your fork, but otherwise dig on in with your hands.

Soph made the above asparagus one night as a side to some yummy turkey meatballs that Em made. Okay, I’ll admit it I cooked nothing. I sipped my wine and watched my girls do their thing and thought, “You are one lucky lady to have not one, but three awesome daughters who like to cook.”  I pretty sure I cleaned the dishes, but the dinner was so wonderful I didn’t mind that one bit.

Sophie’s Asparagus

Line a cookie sheet with foil. Set the oven temp to 350. After rinsing asparagus pat dry and lay in one layer on cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, or if you have it Meyer Lemon Olive Oil (this to me is heavenly). You can pour some oil into a bowl and brush it on if you want a more even coating. Sprinkle with pine nuts (a handful) and zest some lemon peel over the top. Place in the oven for about 8 to 12 minutes. You want to take it out as it turns a bright green. The stalks should be somewhat firm, but not hard.



So easy, and so good. Next week I’ll give you the recipe for Em’s turkey meatballs. They were melt in your mouth good.

This dinner received 4 smiles. We are working on the five year old, that for some reason won’t even look at asparagus. She doesn’t want to talk about it, so I don’t ask.

What is your favorite way to eat asparagus?


The Conflicted Chef

Monday, May 7, 2012

Inspirational Monday- Kim Osborne and Hope For Savannah


This post has been a long time coming. I interviewed Kim right before I started dealing with some health issues. I have to apologize to Kim for it taking me a few months to get this up. But I am so thrilled I have the opportunity to share with my readers such an inspiring lady and her organization!

First I’d like to tell you that I got to know Kim through a dear friend of mine. Before I became friends with her on FB I had heard amazing stories about her from our mutual friend. I ended up buying some homeschool curriculum from her and friending her on Facebook. What a gift it was. I’m able to keep up with all she does, especially Hope for Savannah, the organization that helps not only cancer patients, but their entire family. Their mission is:

“ to provide hope and comfort to cancer patients and their families through an intentional outreach driven by our web site and support programs”.

When Kim and I talked one of the first things she said was, “This organization is not about me. It’s about what we can do as Christians.” She went on to say that she didn’t set out to start this organization but that “God ignited a passion in her heart. And when He does that, it changes everything.” Kim will be the first to tell you she has no prior experience with a non-profit organization, no business training. But, as I've watched this organization grow and have seen all the outreach programs they have established it is hard to believe Kim has never done this before. One of the reason she inspires me is that it is easy to see that she is doing what God intended for her to do. She has followed her passion faithfully.

That passion was born from her best friend who was diagnosed with, and eventually died from ovarian cancer. As she watched her friend suffer she wanted to help, but had no idea what to do. She credits this experience with bringing her to Christ. Years later her young son would be diagnosed with cancer. She describes this time as “horrific”, but was amazed by the ways God was constantly speaking to her and her family.

As I speak with Kim I am touched and inspired by her strong faith. She works everyday with families that are suffering terrific burdens, she sees children suffer and die from a terrible disease, and yet her faith remains strong. She hopes others will see God reflected in the work that Hope For Savannah does, and I have no doubt that as you learn all they do you will see His amazing grace at work.

I could go on and on about everything this organization accomplishes, but instead I’d like for you to go to their website and see for yourself. I can not do it justice.

I asked Kim what someone  can do to help, even if they are not in the Savannah area. She told me one of her passions is to create pages on Hope’s website where people with all different kinds of cancers can go for resources. So if you or a loved one  has been diagnosed with cancer she would love for you to share any resources you have gathered about the disease and treatment. Also, if you can share the YouTube videos they have created. They, in themselves, are inspiring and fill you with hope.

I’m going to leave you with one of those videos. Thank you Kim for having the courage to follow God’s plan for you. Hope for Savannah is making a difference in so many peoples lives!