Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Crockpot Salsa Chicken Soup

          I love soup. Judging by the plethora of recipes on the internet, I am not the only one, especially during this time of year! And if it can be made in my crock pot, well then it becomes irresistible!

     I found this recipe several years ago on a blog that is now unavailable. I made some changes and I also took the liberty of replacing the name. It was called chicken tortilla soup, but I take issue with that name. It doesn't have any tortillas in it (Although it is delicious served with chips!) and I don't feel like that is a great description. However, it has all the components of my favorite salsas: tomatoes, chilies, corn and onions. So, I feel like "Salsa Chicken and Bean" soup is a much better moniker!

    This soup is so easy, and it is pretty healthy all things considered. Slow cooking makes the chicken literally fall apart, and everything is so flavorful because it has had time to marinate in the spices. It isn't really hot (My kids eat it with no problem, even the one who is afraid of anything that might be hot).

Crockpot Salsa Chicken and Bean Soup
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 cans Ro*tel diced tomatoes and chilies (I use original because it has just the right amount of heat!)
1 can black beans (low sodium)
1 can kidney OR pinto beans (low sodium)
2 c. frozen corn, thawed or partially cooked
1 white onion, diced, about 1 cup
3 cups chicken broth (I dissolve this bouillon base into boiling water, and add it straight to the crockpot)
1 cup water
3/8 c. taco seasoning of choice

    Rinse and drain the beans. Place the chicken in the crock pot and add Ro*tel, beans, corn and onion. Thoroughly mix the taco seasoning into the chicken broth and add both the broth and water to the crockpot. Cook on low 5-7 hours. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Return chicken to pot, stir in. Cook for another 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serve with sour cream (Tillamook is the best, if you have it!), cheese and tortilla chips if you like. Serves 6-8.

   This recipe freezes beautifully. I usually serve it the first night, and then freeze the remaining portion flat in a gallon Ziploc. To reheat, place frozen soup in a large stock pot, and pour 1/2 c. water over it. As it thaws, continue to break it down into the pot. Once it has reached a boil it will be ready to serve. You won't know it isn't freshly made!

Linked up:
"Hearth and Soul Blog Hop" at April J. Harris
"Thrifty Thursday" at Living Well, Spending Less

Monday, January 12, 2015

Achieving Godly Goals

All Scriptures from the New International Version
        I don't share much about health or fitness on my blog. While I definitely see the importance in those things, they aren't my area of expertise. I have a sweet friend who has been a great encouragement to me, and keeps me involved in various Facebook groups that help me stay on track when it comes to eating right and staying active. A group that I am part of right now challenged each participant to create a "vision board". I tend to roll my eyes at those type of buzzwords. I am not inspired by models in swimwear or cliched quotes. I'm too "hip" for that stuff. (Or something!)

    So, I dragged my feet, feeling like a kid with a dreaded homework assignment. Until I realized that I could do a board with what never fails to motivate and inspire me: Scripture! Using my fav (FREE!) program, Picmonkey, I put together the collage above. I don't make "resolutions", but I do always have areas of my life that I am striving to improve. And none of those areas function in isolation. Each choice that I make should be filtered through the most important goal of all: honoring Christ with all that I say and do. Everything must pass the test: Does it bring me closer to Him? Does it help me accomplish His will?

    These Scriptures, some of them as familiar as John 3:16, others less well known, will all help to keep me on track, not just with eating and exercise, but with Scripture study, mothering, marriage, church, friends, and anything else that will come up this year. I wanted to share my "board" with you, because it will help keep me accountable. And maybe, it will inspire you.

    What challenges are coming this year that you need to find a verse to help face? What goals do you feel the Lord leading you towards? Perhaps, you can find just one passage that is especially meaningful, or maybe you can make an entire collage as well. Either way, don't move ahead with any goal or resolution that you haven't tested through prayer, Bible study and the Holy Spirit. If you have made goals, do a keyword search through a site like Biblegateway to see if you can find a verse that will encourage you. Or maybe you should spend time in the Word and prayer and then set your goals. Perhaps I should have added Proverbs 19:21
"Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails." 

Linked up:
"Motivation Monday" at A Life in Balance
"Hearth and Soul" at April J. Harris
"Thrifty Thursday" at Living Well, Spending Less

Friday, December 26, 2014

Day 26: "Boxing Day" (Bonus)

  I debated doing today, since it is technically not a true "carol". I added it onto the printable at the last minute, because I 100% adore this song (I'm a huge Relient K fan, and their Christmas album, "Let it Snow, Baby, Let it Reindeer" is my absolute favorite) but I couldn't decide if I wanted to write about it. Now, that the day is almost over, I have decided I will! So many people talk about the "after Christmas letdown" but it is actually one of my favorite times of the year. I love to take down my tree, usually the day after Christmas, it has never stayed up past the 28th. I have friends who think that is crazy, but there is something so alluring to me about starting the New Year with a fresh, clean slate. In my house *and* in my heart. There isn't anything magical about the 1st of January, but it is easy to use it as a turning point. I don't really make New Year's resolutions, but it just feels like such a lovely beginning. The craziness of the holidays are over, life returns to a more regularly scheduled program and it just feels like anything is possible. I love to use it as a point of renewal, reminding myself to focus on what is really important, continuing to work towards a stronger faith and love in Christ, and eliminating everything that isn't completely what He wants. Christmas *does* make way for spring-when all things are new. Don't despair because Christmas is over-it is just the start of love and light. This is the year to do whatever you do in word or deed for the Lord. That's a good thing!

Lyrics: "Boxing Day" by Relient K

Questions for thought and discussion;
1. What are some ways you can continue to channel the "Christmas spirit" through the New Year? Why do we limit our love for peace and joy to just one month?

2. New clothes for a New Year: what can you do *today* to put on garments of "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience...and love"? What about all year? Don't restrict the Christ of Christmas to December!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Day 25: "O, Holy Night"

   The day is finally here. All the holiday planning and preparing is about to come to fruition. Just like the night Christ was born. God carefully constructed His redemption story from the very beginning, and now He would set it all in motion. His lovingly wrapped Present didn't come in colorful paper or have a photo-worthy bow. But He had chosen it with the utmost care and He would give His very best...His One and Only Son. Don't skip today's song, please? I found out  an interesting fact: the original French version of the poem on which this song was based was written by a professed atheist. He was a noted poet and so the parish priest of his town asked him to write it to celebrate. That makes it clear: you can celebrate Christmas without celebrating Christ, you can give beautiful gifts, and sing lovely songs, and do all the right "things" and still not mean it. We can redeem this though by having hearts of true worship-we give the day its due value and meaning when we sanctify it by having our hearts and minds centered on Christ. Today of all days, the one the world has chosen to celebrate the Most Important Birthday Ever, we should take some time and add prayer and worship to the top of the list, don't you think? He gave His all, so that we can truly have all. Today is the day! Sing of His birth!

Lyrics: "O, Holy Night"
(You won't find this one in the 1991 Baptist Hymnal, either)

Questions for thought and discussion;
1. Why do you think a posture of kneeling or bowing is repeated so often in Scripture? Is there merit to that? Or is it just an ancient tradition we no longer need? Perhaps you would kneel in prayer today, maybe even bow down, face to the floor. Does that humble you?

2. Christmas night: when the Divine met the earthly as had never been seen before. Truly, the created had a first time opportunity (since Adam and Eve) to bow before the Creator. Do you see the beauty in this? What is your favorite character in the story? How did he or she demonstrate reverence and awe? How can that instruct your own worship.

3. Make plans to worship today, corporately or own your own. Expect to meet God the same way the  Magi did. I think you will be surprised.

Looking for the printable? Find it here. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Day 24: "We Three Kings"

   I remember loving this song as a child. It seemed dark and mysterious, exactly the way I pictured the Magi. There are only a few sentences about their arrival. And once I realized that pretty much they were *not* at the manger, I focused on correcting every nativity I ever saw. This was accomplished by placing all three "kings" as far away as possible from Jesus and His parents. The shepherds could be close by, but those impostors didn't belong at Christmas! I apologize now, because clearly I was caught up in my misplaced sense of justice. Those "kings" (who weren't really kings at all, they were an elite group of exceptionally learned men) definitely earned their spot in the Nativity story. And I love them so much more, now. They were the ultimate seekers, feeling their need for Jesus so strongly it drove them to leave everything they knew, their own wealth and stature, their homes and families, behind in search for the Greatest Gift. Those kings, they humble me, shame me with my insecurities and grasping at worldly treasures, when I already have everything, and the Only One I will ever need. So, if you are judgmental like I was, don't overlook this one. See what it is really saying.

Lyrics: "We Three Kings"

The Baptist Hymnal (1991): #113

Questions for thought and discussion:
1. The Magi recognized the kingship of Christ, in part because they themselves were in positions of authority. They could see the similarities in the prophecies of Christ's coming and the responsibilities their own jobs required. What "Kingly" responsibilities do we see in Christ's life? Are they all "high and mighty"?

2. We sometimes use the term "come to Jesus" when talking about a person's acceptance of salvation. How did the Magi illustrate that for us? When they "came to Jesus" what did it mean in terms of their posture and attitude? How can we continue to "come to Jesus" after we are saved?


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