Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Spicy Southern Shrimp and Grits

I had a box of left over quick grits in my pantry that I was dying to use for a recipe other than breakfast. Being from the South, husband and I both love shrimp and grits. I found this recipe and tweaked it slightly- YUM. This would be great for brunch or dinner like we had it.

- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup quick-cooking grits
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound peeled and deveined small shrimp
- 1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
- 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
- A couple shakes of Cayenne pepper (optional)

1.  In a large pot, bring chicken broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in the grits, return to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, and continue cooking for 20 minutes (or 5 minutes if you use quick grits like I did), stirring frequently. 

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a separate skillet over medium heat. Stir in the green onions, bell pepper and garlic; cook until the peppers have softened or about 5 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and cook until they begin to firm.

3.  Once the grits have cooked, stir in the Monterrey Jack cheese, Cheddar cheese, canned tomatoes (well drained), shrimp and onion/pepper mixture. Mix in a few shakes of Cayenne pepper to your liking.

4. Stir until everything is heated through and serve immediately. You can top it with some more cheese, fresh green onion, sour cream and chopped bacon if you'd like. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

One Year Later

One year ago today, I was almost 13 weeks pregnant and we were on our way to my OB appointment. I imagined that by now our blog would be inundated with baby pictures as we lived life with an active six month old. My daily thoughts included what he or she would look like and what color to decorate the nursery. The only uncertainties that ever crossed my mind included choosing between the BOB or the Bumbleride and picking the right pediatrician. I imagined our summer beach trip involving a little less peace and quiet and a lot more luggage. I trusted God and knew that He was in control, but I don't think I recognized what it really meant to live that out.

Today, I have a different list of daily thoughts and nowhere on that list is finding the right shade of grey for nursery walls. The uncertainties that float around in my head have less to do with choosing a stroller and more to do with when God will choose to bless us with a healthy baby. You see, one year ago today when we saw the stillness of our little one on the ultrasound screen, God was really calling out to us to trust in Him at all times and know that He is fully in control all of the time.  I used to look at people who have gone through the most heartbreaking of trials and wondered "how do they even make it?" Today, after going through the loss of not one but two little ones, I know the answer. The fact that I have managed to put one foot in front of the other for the past year is not a reflection of my strength but my Creator's. His grace is truly sufficient and His power is the greatest when I am at my weakest (2 Cor. 12:9).

So while we don't yet have the perfect happy ending to our story- I don't doubt that it's there; we just haven't gotten to that page yet. In the mean time, we trust that God is still God and God is still good- always.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lemon Cake

When we were in Aiken for Memorial Day weekend, mom made this for dessert and it was delish! It's the perfect summer dessert as long as you can overlook the two sticks of butter- hey everything in moderation?

Lemon Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- grated zest of 1 large lemon
- 1 cup sour cream

Lemon Glaze
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Generously butter and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.

2. Into a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In a mixing bowl with hand-held electric mixer, cream 1 cup butter and granulated sugar; beat at high speed until mixture is very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

4.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down side of bowl frequently. Blend in lemon zest.

5. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, adding each in 3 additions. Scrape sides of bowl frequently.

6. Pour batter into prepared cake pan; bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden pick inserted near the center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, combine lemon glaze ingredients in a bowl, blending until smooth. Carefully turn cake out onto a platter; drizzle evenly with glaze.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Our Kids

This is something that I have wanted to do for quite some time and I'm honestly not sure why we haven't done this sooner. I'm talking about sponsoring a child through Compassion International. It's no secret that Dustin and I have a huge heart for kids. You can just look at what we do for a living to see that. Compassion is probably the most respected international sponsorship ministry and it's been around for quite some time. If you're new to this concept, I would highly encourage you to visit their website. With a payment of $38/month, you can sponsor one child internationally and provide food, clothing, education, biblical teaching and healthcare all given in the name of Jesus. You can be a part of giving that child a future he or she would probably not have otherwise and show them that they are loved by someone thousands of miles away and most of all loved by their Heavenly Father. You are sent pictures of your child and become a pen pal. You can send birthday cards and Christmas cards and the kids will often write back as a part of the Compassion program. If you visit the website, and look at the faces of all these children it's hard to not want to sponsor all of them. I did the math and for a little over $70,000/month all 1,800 children can be sponsored. While we would love nothing more than to sponsor every single child, it's just not possible- but what is often spoken at our church, we wanted to do for one what we wish we could do for many.

 Like I said before, this is something I've always wanted to do and I really do not have a reason why we haven't done this sooner... until now. You see, we are approaching the one year mark since we lost our first baby. Last night, as we were looking through the faces of all of these children, we knew exactly what we wanted to do. We know that our sweet babies are with their Heavenly Father now so while we wish more than anything that they were both here with us, we wanted to choose two of His children to sponsor with birthdays on both of my due dates.

Meet Umwizerwa. 
She's 6 years old from Rwanda and her birthday is January 4.

Meet James. 
He's 5 years old from Kenya and his birthday is August 24.

They are now our "kids" overseas. Once we get our sponsorship packet in the mail, we'll be able to send them letters and cards. Maybe one day, we'll be able to plan a trip over to Africa where we can meet them both. If you are the least bit interested in sponsoring a child of your own, I would encourage you to go to their website and take a look. There are children all over the world that need a little love and would love to be chosen just as your Heavenly Father chose you.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Backyard Adventures

If you know anything about me at all, you know that I am not the most outdoorsy person in the world. The only place I like to sweat is sitting poolside and my idea of a hike is walking back to your tailgate after a Clemson football game. I hate bugs and have a fear of any woodland creatures that don't look like they belong in Bambi. Husband thinks all of this is hilarious given that my new title is Camp Director. Nonetheless... my new favorite spot in Atlanta is Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co. There are three locations around the Atlanta area and the one right by our house happens to sit on the shores of the Chattahoochee.  Not only is their coffee great and serves a great cause but the view is pretty amazing too. Here are some pictures from our relaxing afternoon spent enjoying the pretty day. Keep in mind, this place is about 10 minutes from our house and the heart of Atlanta...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Funday

So I know that "fun-day" really rhymes with "Monday" but honestly, with the exception of the Bachelorette- what is really fun about Monday? Here are few funnies to take you into the weekend...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"The" Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ok, so here's the deal.  This post is long overdue. Every time I make these chocolate chip cookies, people tell me how star-gazing amazing they are and they never last long. The truth is, they are not any different than a traditional chocolate chip cookies recipe except they do contain a secret ingredient. See for yourself...

Chocolate Chip Cookies 
*Recipe makes approx. 6 dozen. I typically halve it unless I need to make a lot of cookies.

- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
*Don't make the actual pudding; but rather mix in the dry mix just like it is.*
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

2. Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. 

4. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. 

5. Blend in the flour mixture. 

6. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. 

7. Drop any remaining dough that you haven't eaten by the spoonful cookie dough by rounded spoonfuls onto un-greased cookie sheets. 
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown. Mine are perfect after 11 minutes.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The one with all the beach pictures

This past week, husband and I went to Hilton Head with his side of the family.When we weren't dodging the rain storms, we were able to relax on the beach, play some games, swim in the pool, ride our bikes to get breakfast and ice cream (not together), listen to some music outside and really just have a great time. Here are some pictures from the week.

The view from our room looking towards the beach
Looking over our balcony at the pool

We got to celebrate Reese's 5th birthday party at the beginning of the week

The girls performed a birthday show for Reese and she got up to participate towards the end. This picture was taken right before Reese said "I can't believe I'm doing this in front of my whole family!"

Our house was within biking distance to Coligny Plaza, so Monday night we headed up there to check out the magician... let's just say the girls loved it and that's all that counted.

After the show, we got some ice cream and watched Todd play at Steamers. Dustin and I have had this tradition every time we've gone to Hilton Head for the past 10 years.

Let the dance party begin...

Husband and I were able to sneak away a couple mornings for a bike ride to breakfast.

And a date night at one of our favorite restaurants, The Boathouse

And of course the night concluded with ice cream while listening to Todd.

This little guy hung around on the balcony outside our bedroom during the week.

We headed out for Harbour Town one night for dinner and for the girls to listen to Greg Russell.

And Brooke fell asleep in mid-sentence on the way home...

On our last full day at the beach, the girls made some friends and played together the whole day.