Kielbasa Recipe.

In Peru, we were a long ways away from the nearest fast food joint. We did have a hamburger stand and a chicken restaurant up the street, but we didn’t eat there often. So, basically, even when I didn’t feel like cooking and just wanted take-out, that wasn’t an option. I have learned the art of fast meals and normally, they’re pretty healthy as well since we also didn’t have tons of unhealthy options either. Frozen, canned, and precooked didn’t really exist.

Now we’re back in the States and our schedules are just as crazy, if not more so, and our budgets are just as limited – again, if not more so! Take Out is a wonderful commodity reserved for Sunday after church only. So even if I’m dead tired, I have to cook.

Our “go-to” quick meal each week is something I’ve kind of made up from scratch. We eat this once a week and Brian will actually ask for it if he knows we’ve had busy days. So, here ya go:

  • 1lb turkey keilbasa (one package)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 bag of frozen corn (about 2 cups)
  • 2-8oz cans of no-salt added tomato sauce
  • S&P
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • smoked paprika
  • Italian seasoning
  • 2Tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • brown rice and/or tortillas
  • shredded cheddar

Saute the kielbasa and onion together. Season to taste with the salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and Italian seasoning. Once the kielbasa is beginning to get browned, add in the black beans, garlic, and corn, with more seasoning (especially salt). Once they are basically warmed through, add in the tomato sauce cans with additional seasoning, this time including the smoked paprika and the sugar. Smoked paprika is my new favorite thing, but a little goes a long ways, so don’t over-season. This can be used as a sauce over brown rice, or you can put it in tortillas like a wrap filling.

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If you want to use it on the rice, start the rice before you begin the sauteeing; instant brown rice will take about the same length of time as the entire meal while regular brown rice will take longer.

When the rice is about done, whisk two eggs in a separate bowl and then add them in. Stir continuously until the eggs are cooked completely.

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The eggs will not make the dish taste “eggy” nor should they turn out looking scrambled. They really should almost melt right into the dish and simply make it creamier and thicker.

Melt the cheese on top. Also good with sour cream and salsa.

30 minutes, feeds a family of 4 easily – with leftovers. Enjoy!

Be {All} Here.

Sometimes, there’s just a resounding theme in life. Everything will just kind of point to one, particular lesson that God wants to pound home. Right now, that theme for me is to Be All Here.

It hasn’t been a secret that I’ve had a tough time adjusting back to the States and being content living here. Yes, God pulled us out of Peru and yes, we are confident that we should be here and yes, we are at peace in the ministries we have and the life we are living. But, after spending most of my growing up years thinking I would be a missionary overseas and then I came back after just a few short years, in many ways, I have felt like a failure.

[Just to be bluntly honest.]

I have struggled with being all here. I have spent a lot of time thinking about Peru and wondering what was happening there and almost feeling guilty for leaving, yet knowing that was irrational and not from the Lord. I compared everything to South America at least in my mind even if I never verbalized a thing.

And then, a couple little kids walked into our Wednesday night program a few weeks ago. Their background is horrid; I really can’t even share it online. The things they are living through at this moment are unimaginable. No child should ever experience the life they are living right now.

I have always been a fan of “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath; I’ve even written about it before. Normally, when I hear this song, I picture being on the plane, landing in either Montreal or Lima, and seeing the city laid out before me. My heart just aches for the lost children in these cities. A couple weeks ago, though, as I was listening to this song on the radio on my way into the office, the picture in my mind was not these giant, sprawling cities. It was these two little kids with the saddest eyes I think I have ever seen.

It hit me then: I need to Be All Here. These kids have one of the worst back stories that I have ever heard, here in the States or overseas. They are right here. They’re not in some exotic, foreign country; they’re down the street from our church. They’re not slum kids in South America; they’re suburban children from Pennsylvania.

This week, we were representing our board at a missions conference and the speaker was Paul Borthwick. He was phenomenal to listen to and I hope the college kids took full advantage of this opportunity to hear him. But one of the things he kept bringing out was the fact that the “world” is right around the corner in our neighborhood anymore. He made the statement, “Since we wouldn’t go to the world, God brought the world to us!”

He kept bringing out how we can reach the world through reaching out to our communities here in the States and it just kept bringing home to me the fact that I need to Be All Here.

I don’t need to be overseas to be used by God. I don’t need to be in a third world country to reach children who are utterly hopeless and lost. I need to be wherever in the world God has planted me now. He doesn’t need to use me, but He chooses to, so I need to let Him and I need to do what He has asked me to do!

So, here’s my commitment to Be All Here. To love the kids in my life Here as much as I loved the ones in my life There. To serve the Lord whole heartedly where He has me. All Here.

Packing.

We just got back from a short trip and I’m already unpacked with just two loads of laundry to do – phew! I talk with a lot of people and many have asked how we do the packing and traveling frequently with young children. Here is our little “how to” on especially packing for a family of four for a trip of any length:

  • The first thing I do is make a list. A lengthy list. I detail everything out, even sometimes down to the outfits each person (except my husband – if he can’t pick out his own clothes by now we have a problem) will be wearing. My mom freaks out because I don’t normally pack until the night before, but the list really does center my thoughts and helps it go that much faster.
  • I find out what the weather will be like wherever we’re going during the time we’ll be gone (including if there are any stops along the way). This helps us make more informed decisions when it comes to clothing and outdoor gear.
  • I try to use the smallest bags possible for each of us. We have learned the hard way that large suitcases may feel more convenient, when you’re in a hotel or a small room in someone’s house, a large suitcase or two takes up precious room for much needier items – like a pack ‘n’ play and a mattress for E. So, we use carry-on sizes as much as possible.
  • If we’re going to be gone for a week or more, I find out about laundry facilities and only bring 3-4 changes of clothes for each of us. Yes, we repeat outfits. But, it’s easier to do laundry a few times than to try to pick out and pack a week’s (or more) worth of clothing. The most I will ever bring is six days of clothes – this normally will get us through travel to SD and a day there before needing to do wash. But, as a general rule, I try to stick to 3-4 days of clothing per person.
  • I pack in outfits, especially for the children. Each day has its own outfit, every item packed together. I’ve seen some put them in plastic baggies and that’s not a bad idea for when they’re a bit bigger and will dress themselves. This avoids the morning meltdown of my 3 year old picking out her own clothes, it helps us move faster when we’re getting ready, and it helps my husband not worry about “picking out the wrong thing” if he gets one of them dressed for me.
  • We invested in a good backpack with 3 zippered pockets years ago and it’s still working well. All of our shampoos, toothbrushes, deodorants, hair stuff, etc, goes on this bag. One pocket for toothbrushes/paste, etc, one pocket for medicines, and one for shampoos, body wash, etc. Everything is together; it can just sit in the hotel bathroom if need be; and it’s a backpack – if something breaks or spills, it’s easily washed out.
  • The kids get one extra outfit in the suitcase and one extra in the diaper bag. Baby J currently gets two extra outfits in the suitcase and extra jammies.
  • We take an extra bag that is specifically for dirty clothes. This helps the laundry issue when we get home. I just have to open and dump – I don’t have to wash everything that’s left over in the suitcases and I don’t have to wonder if something is dirty or not. And.. nothing else gets.. “contaminated.”
  • I also keep extra plastic bags in the car and in the diaper bag in case of emergencies (which was a lifesaver when the kids were newborns and they had unexpected blowouts in rest areas!!).
  • If we are staying a night or two in a hotel, I pack a backpack that is solely for the hotels. I take out just the clothes we need for the night and the day(s) we’ll be traveling and then cosmetics. We normally only need to bring in a diaper bag, two backpacks, and a pack ‘n’ play. This saves room in the cramped hotel rooms and allows us to just have to make one trip from the car to the room. It’s so much more convenient, I can’t even describe how much I prefer this method to the “Oh, we’ll just take everything in – it’s only one night” method we used to use!
  • Before leaving, I make sure the house is clean. I wash the bedding, do all the dishes, clean out the fridge, make sure all the laundry is done and put away. I will even clean the bathrooms, vacuum, and dust. I make sure there’s food in the freezer for our return. I love being able to walk into the house, set our bags down, and go right to bed if need be. I passionately hate walking into a messy home with rotten food in the fridge after a long trip. Worst thing on earth.

The key to a good, stress-free trip is all in the planning and packing. With a good list and a good plan of action, you will be able to actually enjoy your trip instead of just worrying about the packing details.

February 2014
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