Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Favorite...Tex Mex Style

Like most Texans, our weekends usually consist of Mexican food at some point.  Growing up, I was not a fan of Mexican food; instead I became a chicken tender connoisseur at every Mexican restaurant my parents drug me to.  Then in high school, Mamacita's (in San Marcos, Texas) came into my life...and the rest is history.  Well, except it's not.

The first seven months of our marriage, my husband and I lived on the Texas Mexico border.  I learned real fast that Mexican food was not Tex Mex.  Anytime we came back to the Metroplex to visit family I was craving Mexican food...Tex Mex.  Apparently, sour cream chicken enchiladas are not authentic Mexican food.  Who knew?

On my Trim Healthy Mama journey I have discovered many ways to keep Tex Mex in my life, yet keep the carbs down.  If you're at a restaurant, you can always order the Taco Salad (minus the shell, of course), or you can order nachos over a bed of lettuce instead of chips, one very sneaky friend of mine (you know who you are) even sneaks her own low carb tortillas into restaurants to eat with fajitas.

Last winter, our Ladies Ministry did a Kelly Minter Bible Study.  It was called a "living room" series and each week's lessson included a recipe.  One of the recipes I immediately tried was black bean and quinoa.  This is a variation of that recipe, but I incorporated a few more ingredients into it, including ground turkey, to make it a complete meal.


Let's address the elephant in the room.  Some of you are afraid of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah).  I understand, I'm fairly new to it, too.  It is high in fiber and was named one of the healthiest foods.  In order to spare you a nutritional class, click here for more info on quinoa.  If you're searching through Pinterest, you find it in a variety of recipes, including oatmeal-inspired dishes, smoothies, and casseroles.  I like to use it as a substitute for rice, as I did in this recipe.

If you're ready to have a Tex Mex fiesta with me; here's what you need:  Fresh Cilantro, Salt & Pepper, Quinoa, Ground Turkey (feel free to try it with ground beef or shredded chicken), Cayenne Pepper, Cumin, Rotel, Coconut Oil, Garlic, Black Beans, Chicken Broth (or Bouillon), and Shredded Cheese (not pictured).


The worst thing about quinoa is washing it and rinsing it first.  It's important, though, so don't skip that step.  After that, heat 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a pan and saute 3 cloves of garlic (chopped) until lightly browned.  You can use olive oil, I love the subtle flavor of the coconut oil in this dish.  After the garlic is ready, add 3/4 cup of uncooked quinoa to your pan and pour in 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth.  Season with 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.  Stir it all together and bring mixture to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.  In the meantime, brown your ground turkey.


Once those are ready, drain and rinse a can of black beans and chop approximately 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro.


Now, mix your browned ground turkey with your quinoa (you'll know it's ready after 20 minutes, if the liquid has been absorbed), black beans, cilantro, and Rotel together.


Pour into a casserole dish.  Top with shredded cheese, I used half cheddar, half Monterrey Jack, but use whatever you have on hand.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, or until everything is heated thoroughly and the yummy cheese is melted.


You can top it with sour cream, but I like to make my own concoction of Nonfat Greek Yogurt, a little lime juice, and a little salt.  Just mix it all together to your liking.  


There you have it...Tex Mex Quinoa!  I hope you will try it out.  Even if you are a little skeptical of quinoa.  As always, if you try it, let me know what you think!


Do you have a favorite recipe that uses quinoa?  Share it with me!

Have a great weekend!  Adios!

Emily 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My Husband's True Love...Spoiler Alert...It's Not Me!

Today I am sharing my husband's favorite meal.  I hesitated doing this, because it may be the reason he keeps me around.  If he learns how to make this, my gig is up!  We affectionately call this dish Carolyn's Cream Cheese Chicken.  It's amazing!  For those of you following Trim Healthy Mama or eating low-carb, you can totally eat this.  But, this is the furthest thing from a diet food, so please don't be afraid. 



The first time I tried this dish was in 1992, and it was made by one of the sweetest ladies you'll ever meet; Carolyn!  She made dinner for my family and the committee that was looking to hire my Dad (aka a pulpit committee aka pastor search committee; and yes, they're as scary as they sound).  My Dad was visiting our church in Wimberley "in view of a call."  If you're not a preacher's kid, like me; let me break down how Baptist preachers are hired in familiar terms.  You know when you see some boots at Dillards and you really like them, but you're not quite sure you should invest in them yet, so you stalk them, try them on a few times, read the reviews online, go back and try them on ONE more time before you decide on them?  That's kind of how it works for Baptist preachers, too.  So, we were visiting Wimberley one last time before they decided to "invest" in us.  Carolyn made this chicken and it was perfect!  In fact, it was so good that I made it for my husband on our first Valentine's together.  The rest is history!

Here's what you need:  One Chicken Breast per person, Cream Cheese, Bacon, Butter, Lemon Pepper, Onion Powder, Salt and Pepper.  (On a side note; it's hard for a teen of the 90's, like myself, to say Salt and Pepper without wanting to say Salt N Pepa, then breaking out into a rap.  That's my jam.)


Let's continue...Start off by placing your chicken breasts in between saran wrap and hammering it out until each chicken breast is about 1/2 inch thick.  I sweet talked my handsome husband into doing this for me, because...ugh, splattered chicken juice, gross!


Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with lemon pepper, onion powder, salt and pepper.



Spread about 1 teaspoon of butter on one side of your chicken breast.  I forgot to soften my butter ahead of time, so I improvised with dots of butter; but it all worked out!  You can't really go wrong with butter.


Place lots of cream cheese on the middle of each chicken breast.


Roll the chicken up and wrap a piece of bacon around it.  Secure with a toothpick.  Add a little dollop of cream cheese on the top.


Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until chicken and bacon are done.  I ate this with green beans, but the care-free 1992 version of me would have devoured that with some creamy mashed potatoes!  Yum!


Seriously, this is Sunday supper, stick to your ribs, delicious!  If you are planning a Valentine's dinner in, this is the perfect choice to wow your sweetie!

Enjoy!  XoXo!

Emily

P.S. I'm linking up this recipe with Delicious Dish Tuesday, Buns In My Oven and Rattlebridge Farm, go check them out, too!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Seven Steps To Successful Step Parenting Written By Someone Who Is Not A Step Parent

Today I am going to answer the question I have been asked the most over the past 12 years.  What is the key to Mark and Kendall's relationship?  I mean, people don't actually phrase it like that.  More like, "Wow, have they always had a good relationship?" or "How did you get him to do so much for her?" or "That's not Mark's real daughter?  I would have never known."


My daughter, Kendall, is almost 16 years old (ugh, I can't believe I just wrote that).  Mark and I have been married a little over 10 years, and dated for 2 years before that.  Kendall does not remember life without Mark in it.  Before I get started let me clarify; Kendall is blessed to have a "real" Dad in her life, too, as well as an adorable little brother, amazing grandparents and great-grandparents, supportive aunts and uncles, and lots of fun-loving cousins on that side of her family.  They play a huge role in her life and I am incredibly thankful for them.  Mark does not try to be her dad.  She already has one, but I feel like the more people you can have in your child's life to love on them, the better off your child will be.  Can I get an Amen?

From the first time Mark and Kendall met they have had a connection.  I didn't have to teach him how to buckle her in the car seat.  He learned on his own, because he wanted to be involved.  When he came into my life, he came into Kendall's.  We're a package deal.  She's not baggage; she's my heart and soul.   


Just for fun, I came up with the Seven Steps Mark took to become a Successful Step Parent.  It's **EMportant to note, I am not a step parent, so these are just my opinions based on my observations of how perfectly my husband accomplishes this daily.  



Step 1: Spend Quality Time Together
Mark and I got married right before Kendall began Kindergarten.  A few weeks into Kindergarten, Kendall developed a habit of getting her color changed on Fridays.  Kendall is usually a well behaved child, but I think she just couldn't contain her excitement for the weekend; so every Friday she came home with a little note that she had been "warned" of excessive talking.  Mark and I came up with a plan.  She absolutely loved Mark's truck, so if she stayed on green the whole day on Friday (Side note: Kendall went to half-day Kindergarten, so the whole, half-day.  Do you follow that math?) her and Mark would go on a Frosty Date to Wendy's in his truck.  She was over-the-top excited!  Sure enough, it worked!  After school she proudly exclaimed that she had stayed on green all day (the whole, half-day).  I was so proud, until her teacher told me secretly, Kendall actually needed her color changed, but she had told her teacher about the special date night with Mark, and the teacher could not bear to break her little heart.  Whether you're a step parent, a real parent, or a grandparent; kids love special one-on-one bonding time.  


Step 2: Bend The Rules Occasionally
I am not adventurous.  I wish I was, but I'm not.  Thankfully we have Mark in our lives to encourage us to be adventurous.  Crazy things like white water rafting and parallel parking (parallel parking with Kendall driving is an adventure y'all).  Occasionally he even takes her for ice cream at ten o'clock at night.  I draw the line there.  You're a step parent, not a grandparent, Mark.  


Step 3: Laugh
Mark and Kendall have always had their little inside jokes.  They love to make fun of yours truly and watch those cheesy comedy movies that I just don't get.  I'm thankful that Mark doesn't take himself too seriously.


Step 4: Take On Their Responsibilities  
Mark is the definition of a hands on parent.  That guy has cleaned up puke, stayed up late studying for Biology tests, spent a weekend making helping make an Alamo project, driven across the state for volleyball and color guard performances and MY favorite, driven Kendall to school almost every morning of our marriage.  She loves him because she knows she can count on him.   



Step 5: Love Them As Your Own  
As easy as this sounds, I am sure it is not.  That's why not all of us are meant to be step-parents.  I know Mark loves Kendall because he wants what is best for her.  Somedays that means disciplining her.  Somedays that means hugging her.  Somedays that means pulling me to the side to tell me I've been too hard on her.  But, everyday that means praying for her, accepting her and being proud of her.  To this day, one of my proudest mom moments was the day she was baptized.  All of Kendall's family was there; my family, Mark's family, her Dad's family, and as I looked teary eyed up at the baptistery where my little girl was, I glanced beside me to see a little tear in Mark's eye, too.  He took ownership in the moment, because he knew he had a part in that decision.


Step 6: Family Matters
Not only has Mark loved Kendall since first sight; his family has, too.  Did I hit the jackpot or what?  As a single mom, I use to worry that I might find a great guy, but would his parents be accepting of me AND Kendall?  I am so thankful that Mark's parents love Kendall as their own, too.  They show up and support her and encourage her in all her activities.  Like I said previously, the more people to love my child, the better.  

Step 7: Love Her Mom
I have always said, I hope Kendall and Jentry find a man just like Mark when they grow up; and I hope Jess becomes a man just like Mark.  Mark is modeling how a husband should treat a wife, and I hope Kendall sees this and expects nothing less.  Are we perfect?  Absolutely not, but marriage is not about perfection.  It's about loving each other, forgiving each other, and striving to be your best each day.   


I hope when Kendall is all grown up with her own family, she looks back on her time in our home fondly.  I hope she remembers the laughs, the snuggles, the vacations; and I hope she realizes it was possible because Mark took a chance on a single mom with a beautiful, blue eyed little girl that completely stole his heart.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to see what I have to say!

Emily 

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Friends Reunion...Could we BE any more excited???

Where were you the evening of May 6, 2004?  I was glued to my television saying good bye to my Friends.  I spent many Thursday nights with Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe and Joey and their finale was the perfect ending.  But, it wasn't the end. WE WERE ON A BREAK (Friends quote)!  Beloved Friends fans got some long awaited news this week; Friends is coming back.The Friends reunion is set for February 21st.  Could we BE any more excited (in our best Chandler Bing voice)?


I thought it would be fun to do some predictions on what our Friends have been up to the past twelve years.  Here's how I think it's going to unfold:

Ross and Rachel

They have to make it this time!  They have to, he's her lobster (True fans, get that reference)!  Their breakup was the worst TV breakup ever.  Ok, second worse, Zack and Kelly on Saved By The Bell, was THE worst.  Am I right?  We last saw Rachel after she ditched her dream job in Paris to be with Ross.  I have a sneaky feeling, after the curtains closed; Rachel changed her mind.  Not about Ross, but about the job.  I think before calling to turn down the job, Ross and Rachel decided to relocate to Paris.  Rachel has her dream job and Ross now teaches science courses at the Universite de Paris.  Emma is bi-lingual and keeps up with her American family via Facetime and Social Media.  Ross and Rachel are finally happy.  They have come back to New York City for the reunion to tell "the gang" that they have decided to relocate back to NYC in time for Emma to attend college in the city.  They will buy a house near Monica and Chandler and all will be right in the world.

Monica and Chandler

Unfortunately, it has been reported that Chandler will not be present at the reunion.  But, we shouldn't be shocked.  He has a busy job as a Transpondster (one of my favorite lines ever), so he is busy traveling for work.  Monica is an over-the-top mom.  She decided to become a full time mom after the birth of the twins, but has a successful wedding catering business on the weekends.  The twins, now twelve, stay busy raising Chick and Duck and playing Foos Ball.

Phoebe and Mike

After falling in love with the Bing twins, Phoebe and Mike immediately started a family and currently have seven children.  They wanted to start a family business, so they bought Central Perk and have managed to make it even more successful.  Each of the kids has one night to perform live.  Phoebe takes over the microphone occasionally for the familiar version of Smelly Cat.

Joey

Joey discovered about ten years ago that he has a son named Lucas.  Lucas is sixteen years old...ironically the same age as sweet Emma.  Joey's life changed when Lucas came into it and he became a devoted father.  Lucas and Joey spend quality time learning life lessons.  When Lucas meets Emma for the first time, he steals his father's famous pick up line, "How you doing?"  

Of course, the Friends will catch up over coffee at Central Perk.  I have a feeling there may be a few cameos, including Janice and Gunther.  Just please, no Marcel, the monkey episodes were always my least favorite.  I wouldn't be sad though, if someone needed to move a couch on this reunion.  #pivot

These are my predictions.  I guess we'll see what our Friends were really up to on February 21st.  Do you have any predictions of your own?

One more thing before I go.  Thank you again to Hanky Planky for the $25 gift certificate!  The winner was chosen at random and is....


Congratulations, Michael S.  I will get with Jenny and email you the code to be used in the Hanky Planky Etsy shop tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Emily 
  

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Favorites: A Few Quick & Healthy Lunch Ideas

Are your days busy? Are your nights full of work you brought home, practices, church activities and laundry?  Sometimes you just need a quick and easy lunch or dinner idea.  That's exactly what I'm giving you today.  Two quick ideas that basically use the same ingredients, but in a different form.  These are healthy, yummy, low-carb and of course, Trim Healthy Mama.

Option #1:

I can only eat so many salads before getting bored, so why not throw it in a Joseph's Pita and call it a Greek Pita.  YUM!  I do the same with a Chicken Cesear Salad and call it a Chicken Cesear Pita...I know, I know, I am so creative naming things.  Anyone want me to name their baby?

For the Greek Pita, I used a bagged salad (from Trader Joe's), jarred sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and of course; Joseph's Pita Bread.  I remembered I had some leftover grilled chicken after I took this picture, so I threw that in, too.  


**EMportant Info:  Oil and vinegar are something we all have in our pantry.  You can find it at your local grocery store and it's perfectly fine.  While out Christmas shopping, Mark and I decided to splurge and buy some "fancy" oil and vinegar from the shop Oil & Vinegar.  Let me tell you, this will never be a splurge again.  It will forever be a staple in our home.  The flavors at that store are insane.  We settled on Blood Orange Reisling Grapeseed Oil and Fig Balsam Vinegar.  Wow!  Good news, they have tons of flavors "on tap"  covering a whole wall of their store for you to sample before making your selection.  If you have not been to Oil & Vinegar, take a field trip!  Local friends, you can find Oil & Vinegar at The Shops of Legacy and Watters Creek.

Mix your salad up and top with your favorite oil and vinegar as salad dressing.


The next step is very complicated (insert sarcasm).  Shove the salad in the pita.  As bad as I wanted this to be a pretty picture.  It just wasn't happening.



Option #2:

Let's make pizza!  As your crust, I recommend either Joseph's Lavash flatbread or Flatout Light Flatbread in Italian Herb.  I usually buy these at WalMart, right under the deli counter.  You can also use a Joseph's Pita as your crust, but I prefer a thin and crispy crust.

Speaking of a thin and crispy crust, I like to brush some olive oil on my flatbread and pop it in the oven for just a few minutes while I'm getting the other ingredients out of the refrigerator.


I just place it directly on the rack.  Be careful, it doesn't take long to burn.  Stop judging my dirty oven.


After the crust has turned a nice golden brown, I add my pizza sauce.  Great Value from WalMart has the lowest grams of sugar that I've found.


Then you add your cheese...


And whatever other toppings you desire.  I'm sticking with the Greek theme on this one and adding grilled chicken, red bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives and feta cheese.  I LOVE the combination of kalamata olives and feta cheese.

Pop it in the oven at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes.


Now, because I think I'm fancier than I really am, I drizzle mine with a bit of balsamic vinegar.  Perfect...and guilt free.


For the traditionalist; here's a pepperoni, jalapeno and olive pizza.  You can't go wrong topping a pizza!


Like I said in a previous post, my ideas aren't life shattering, but sometimes people just need to see a fresh idea.  I hope you'll try it out.

Don't forget, you still have time to enter to win $25 at Hanky Planky.  Go check out Wednesday's post for more details.

Thanks for reading!

Emily


P.S. This post contained affiliate links, which means if you clicked on a link & made a purchase, I may have received a little commission.  Thank you for reading and supporting my blog.  


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Meet My Friend, Jenny From California

When I first started brainstorming ideas for a blog, I immediately knew I wanted to feature some of the local businesses that I love.  I have lived near Dallas most of my life, spent my junior high and high school years in beautiful Wimberley in the Texas Hill Country, spent a little time in the West Texas town of Abilene doing a little college, lived my early 20's near Fort Worth, moved way out to Del Rio after I married the love of my life, made a pit stop in the Waco area (before Chip and Joanna made it cool), then finally settled close to the metroplex to raise our family.  I love Texas and look forward to sharing some of my favorite places and people with you!

A few months ago I met "Jenny from California" through my monthly Bunco group.  I call her Jenny from California because we live in Small Town, Texas; and people from California rarely move here.  Years from now, when locals refer to her, she will probably still be Jenny from California.  With that said, Jenny we are thankful to have you here in Texas and hope you stay...forever!

Jenny and her husband, Adam, own Hanky Planky.  They are so talented, and I knew I wanted to feature them on Simply A Rough Draft ASAP!  Below is a little interview I did with Jenny.  Let's all give her a hearty Texan, Howdy!


How did Hanky Planky start?

My husband Adam and I run this business together. Adam has always been an incredibly handy person who has fixed and built things for our family over the years. So when my jewelry collection became a bit too abundant for the holder I had been using, I asked him to make me a rustic jewelry holder. I showed him some pictures from Pinterest and basically gave him an idea of my needs and wants. Adam happened to have a very cool pallet that he'd been "saving" (for what I don't know!) and he told me he was going to use that to build my jewelry holder. 


 So he built my jewelry holder and the finished product blew me away! We showed it to our friends and family and they were all so impressed and told us we should sell them. So we did! We started slowly just advertising locally on Facebook exchanges/garage sale sites and when they began selling, Adam suggested we start an Etsy store. Since he's the builder, it became my job to create and run our Etsy store. And once we started getting busier, I began helping him to sand, paint and collaborate on product ideas. 


What kind of products do you make? 

Hanky Planky has such an array of rustic home d├ęcor. All of our products are made from reclaimed wood (primarily pallets) because we love the idea of being able to reuse an old piece of wood and turn it into a new favorite.


Of course we started off just by making jewelry holders, but soon we branched off into different items. Currently our store carries mail carriers, coat racks, towel racks, knife blocks, hand painted signs, key racks, state silhouettes and other items. 


We also have done a variety of large projects such as building and installing pallet floating shelves, coffee tables, end tables, entry tables, shoe racks, benches, a dining table, entertainment center and a coffee cart. 


What are your best sellers? 

This fluctuates so much because one month, we'll sell a lot of one item. And the next month, it'll be something different. But for the Christmas season, our most popular products were our jewelry holders, knife blocks and coat racks. 


Where can people find/order your products?

You can find our Etsy store at www.etsy.com/shop/hankyplanky
On Facebook at www.facebook.com/shophankyplanky
And on Instagram @hankyplanky


What is something you haven’t created yet, but would like to? 

A pallet wall in a home!!

What’s the biggest difference in moving from California to Small Town, Texas?

The people! People in Small Town, Texas are down to earth, mannerly, friendly and welcoming. Southern hospitality is a real thing and we've been so fortunate to experience it. 


Thank you so much, Jenny from California, for your time!  Please check out Hanky Planky on their Etsy site, Facebook and Instagram.

I am so excited to announce that Jenny has graciously offered to give away $25 to be used towards a Hanky Planky product of your choice (not including shipping), to one of you!  All you have to do to enter is follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter, and comment on the blog below (not on the Facebook link, but below).  The winner will be randomly chosen by Rafflecopter.  I will announce the winner on Monday and email the winner their code to apply to Hanky Planky's Etsy shop!  Thank you Hanky Planky for your generosity! 

Good luck!

Emily 


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