The Good List

10.  I am now the owner of a red dragon onesie. Please don't even act like you're not jealous, because it is definitely as awesome as it sounds.

9. This little gem we picked up at Half Price Books a couple weeks ago on vinyl. So fun!

8. Dole Whip. I finally tried the "just like at Disneyworld" recipe posted all over the internet ('cause I mean-- the internet is always right, right? :-P) I wouldn't say it's *exactly* like the ones at Disneyworld, but it's awfully close and super delicious (and probably much healthier than the DW version.)

7. Surprise packages in the mail. Recently my friend Jess sent me what is possibly the most random (and hilarious) combination of items I've ever received in the mail. First, a box of Beanboozled Jellybeans (Do y'all know what these are? Those weird beans with half normal flavors like fruit and cotton candy, etc. and half nasty flavors like ear wax and toothpaste.) My kids LOVE these things, and they're always trying to get me to taste the nasty ones. NOPE! ;-) But also, a pair of Sasquatch yoga pants. I'm not sure why such things even exist, but they make me giggle. A lot. :-D

6. Growing happiness right in the back yard! I love this!

5. After a summer full of uncertainty (so much so that the first day of school had to be delayed by a week), Macy and Grace's school is now getting settled into a new (significantly larger) location. I am so grateful for this school and the impact it is having and will continue to have on the girls, and I'm thrilled to see the growth they are experiencing.

4. This little dude has been hanging out with me a lot lately. So cute! But his favorite place to be is all up in my lavender (even when I'm watering it.) I tried to tell him to step aside for a few minutes, but he didn't listen. And then I got some serious attitude as he dramatically dried himself off after. :-D

3. The Biggest Story -- such a great book. And such GORGEOUS art!

2. Macy auditioned for another CYT production Friday night, and she NAILED IT! I LOVE it when that girl sings!

1. "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. --Isaiah 54:10

Fruit Whip

I don't really know if throwing 2 ingredients into a blender can be considered a recipe. And even if it could, I wouldn't be able to take credit for this one. It is merely a result of me googling "Dole Whip" (yeah, you know like the ones from Disneyworld?) and finding at least 25 websites all saying the same thing about how to recreate them. So I did. And while the texture wasn't quite perfectly the same, the flavor was exactly right!

BUT. My youngest daughter doesn't care for pineapple (poor kid--missin' out), so I made her one using a beautiful nectarine, and it was just as delicious!

And now I plan to try strawberries and blueberries too. I bet those might even be my favorites!

Hope you enjoy this simple, sweet treat!


2 cups chopped, frozen pineapple or other fruit (must be frozen solid) 

1 cup lite coconut milk

Note: You can certainly adjust the ratio of fruit to milk depending on how fruity vs. creamy you like your whip. There is no need for precision. Just keep a bit of each ingredient aside so that you can taste and add as you blend.


1. Throw ingredients into a blender, Ninja, or food processor and process until smooth. (You will probably need to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl or pitcher occasionally to make sure all of the fruit is well-incorporated.)

It's just that simple! I'm thinking I might try adding a splash of heavy cream next time just to see if it affects the texture in any significant way. But this is incredibly delicious just as it is, even if it is just a hint different from the Disneyworld version. Enjoy!

Your Friday 4-Course Meal

Appetizer (a quick bite): This sounds so perfect. Rosemary Chicken Salad.

Entree (something to chew on for awhile): The Attributes of God. So, so good. Thank you, Lore, for posting this list and thank you, Anne, for writing it.

Dessert (just for fun): Who knew it was so complicated? I'm suddenly ashamed that I take for granted all of my favorite bold and bright colors. World's Rarest Colors

Coffee (sip and savor slowly and repeatedly): 

[God] will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said. ~ C. S. Lewis

The Good List

10. Pickled red onions. They add just the right zing and blast of flavor to so many dishes. Salads, sandwiches, soups, tacos, eggs...  Ok, I'll stop now, but you get the idea. 

9. Proboscises! Yeah, I know that's weird. But I am ever fascinated by God's creation and his incredibly creative designs in nature. I must have watched these guys for at least an hour. Crazy how they are so intricately designed with just the right tool to retrieve their nutrients from deep inside stems and flowers without disturbing them in any way. If you look closely, you can actually see a little drop of nectar in the second picture. So amazing!

8. PETE'S DRAGON!!! The original was one of my all-time favorite movies as a kid. We went to see the new one last weekend, and it was very different, but still really good! Elliott is one of the reasons why I have always wanted a pet dragon. (Still do! ;-) )

AND. Every time we go to a vintage store, I try to find the original Pete's Dragon on DVD, which is difficult. Since it's so old, I usually only find it on VHS. But Jared surprised me with a brand new Blu-ray earlier this week! (I guess Disney re-released it because of the new one. He said he just ordered it from Amazon. I didn't even think to try that. :-P)

7. The sound of a good, long, ground-soaking, nature-feeding thunderstorm. I love it.

6. I'm accidentally growing a beanstalk in my back yard. I only meant for it to be a sunflower. ;-)

5. This guy, who likes to hang out around our koi pond. His EYES, though!!!

4. The list of Kindle deals Tim Challies features on his blog each week. I've lost count of how many incredible resources I've purchased for much less than $5 (usually $.99, $1.99 or $2.99). Last week's additions to my library included Core Christianity by Michael Horton and Seeing Christ in All of Scripture: Hermeneutics at Westminster Theological Seminary (both $2.99).

3. Powell Gardens. A beautiful place within about an hour of our house with all sorts of beautiful gardens and water features. And a BUTTERFLY house! So cool!

2. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi. Easily one of the most engaging books I've read in awhile. 

1. This truth. If I were a better wordsmith, this is exactly what I would say when people ask me why I love photography so much. It's those thumbprints. I'm always in search of those thumbprints. (And I find they're EVERYWHERE when I take the time to look!!!)

Shrimp Tacos

I don't think that title really needs much more description, am I right? I mean. Tacos! With shrimp! I'm sold! :-D

For real, though. These are quite delicious and much easier to put together than one might think. There are quite a few ingredients, but the prep is pretty simple, and the result is well worth the effort. These tacos cover every flavor your tastebuds understand--sweet, savory, salty, sour and bitter. And the combination is YUMMY! Enjoy!


2 pounds medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere's seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 very generous splash Sriracha or garlic pepper paste (or even Gochujang if you prefer)

drizzle of olive oil

10-12 tortillas, whatever kind you like (I usually provide a variety and include at least one low carb/gluten free version for those who need it)

1 cup purple cabbage, shredded

1 cup green cabbage, shredded

1/2 cup jicama, julienned (optional, but I like the hint of sweet-tartness it adds to the flavor mix)

generous squeeze of orange juice (optional)

1 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coconut sugar

juice and zest of one lime 

salt to taste

cilantro for garnish (optional)


1. Add shrimp to medium bowl. Season with garlic, cumin, chili powder, Old Bay, Tony Chachere's, salt and Sriracha. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.

2. Make sauce by combining sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, coconut sugar, lime zest and juice and salt. Stir and refrigerate until needed. (This will be used to dress the cabbage slaw and also as a finishing sauce for the tacos.)

3. Add both cabbages and jicama to medium bowl. Dress lightly with sour cream mixture. Just enough to lightly coat the veggies. You don't want them to become soggy.) Splash with fresh squeezed orange juice if you like your slaw a bit sweeter. Combine ingredients well and refrigerate until ready to serve.

4. Warm tortillas by wrapping groups of 3-4 in aluminum foil and placing in 250 degree oven while shrimp are cooking.

5. When almost ready to serve, heat cast iron or nonstick pan to medium high heat and drizzle with olive oil or coconut oil. When pan is nice and hot, add shrimp. (Don't crowd the pan. If you need to cook in batches, do so. Otherwise, they'll steam instead of getting that nice yummy brown sear.) Cook for about 3 minutes on one side, then flip and cook for another 3 minutes or so. (These will cook very quickly, so keep a close eye on them.)

6. I usually like to serve these buffet style, but if you'd like to build them yourself, put a generous handful of cabbage slaw in each tortilla, add shrimp, and then top with sour cream sauce and cilantro if desired. And they're extra delicious with some black beans and homemade guacamole on the side. Enjoy!

Your Friday 4-Course Meal

Appetizer (a quick bite): Shredded Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad with Bacon and Avocado. Sounds like a perfect summer treat to me!

Entree (something to chew on for awhile): Stirring. Haunting (in the best way possible). Stare Unflinchingly Into True Hopelessness.

Dessert (just for fun): So interesting.

Coffee (sip and savor slowly and repeatedly): 

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.  ~ Psalm 5:11-12

The Good List

10. Stranger Things. Strange is the understatement of the year, but somehow it is simultaneously sweetly nostalgic and amazingly creepy. 

9. Early morning workouts. To be clear, I'm not trying to lie to y'all and pretend like I can't wait to wake up early and work out every morning. Rather, I enjoy the days that I have the motivation to get it done early so that I don't even have to think about it the rest of the day. ;-)

8. This week we've been watching the Bourne Trilogy with the girls in preparation for a night out with some friends to see the new one Friday night. Fun.

7. Yesterday I saw my first ever metallic green bee! Crazy!

6. The Secret Life of Pets. Super cute.

5. New friends who almost instantly feel like old friends (in the best way possible). God has been good to give us a whole host of these in our new home in Missouri. So grateful.

4. Macy and Grace think I'm crazy, but I wanna steal their textbooks. :-D

3. There are BUTTERFLY EGGS on one of my sunflower plants!!! I am a crazy amount of excited about this!

2. Macy and Grace got the results of their standardized test scores in the mail late last week. Both were well into the 90th percentile when compared to other kids their ages. I'm so grateful for their GOD-GIVEN GIFTS of intelligence. I know it comes straight from Him, and I'm thankful that that is at least one less thing they'll have to struggle with in life. (I can't even imagine how difficult it would be to be a teenager these days, no matter how smart you are.)

1. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.  ~Titus 2:11-14

How amazing that grace would give us not only pardon for our sins but also the power to overcome them.

Pretty Much Guiltless Blueberry Crisp

I have a sweet tooth. Big time. I wish I didn't, but I do. And unfortunately it's not the kind of sweet tooth that is easily satisfied by delightfully healthy options. I mean, I love fruit as much as anyone, but I don't get the people who act like eating a few grapes or apple slices will be just as satisfying as a warm, gooey brownie. Sorry. Nope. Not the same.

However, I'm smart enough to know better than to indulge in said warm, gooey brownie too often, so I am finding more and more ways to create scrumptious desserts without consuming ALL OF THE CARBS AND SUGAR in every single bite. 

Here is one dessert that doesn't feel like a compromise in any way. It's hearty, rich, fruity, sweet, crunchy, salty, nutty, and YUMMY! And if you top it off with some homemade whipped cream or coconut cream, it adds another whole level of awesome. Enjoy!


4 cups blueberries (or any fruit really. Also, preferably fresh, but frozen works too)
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup raw, unsalted pecans, chopped
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
1/4 cup butter or coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
healthy splash of vanilla (about a teaspoon)
additional sprinkle of coconut sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix together oats, pecans, almond meal, salt and 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar.

3. Add syrup (or nectar), butter (or oil) and vanilla. Incorporate well.

4. Spray or butter baking dish and add fruit to the bottom. Spread oats mixture evenly over top.

5. Sprinkle more coconut sugar over the top. (This is really optional, but it does add a nice added hint of crunchy texture and caramelization.)

6. Bake 30-40 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and topping is evenly browned. (If using frozen fruit, you may need to increase the time a bit. If the crust is browning too quickly, but the fruit needs a little more time, just add some foil over the top until the interior of the dish is fully heated through.)

Your Friday 4-Course Meal

Appetizer (a quick bite): Roasted Beet Salad. I agree with what she says about beets not being for everyone, but I'm one of the ones who happens to LOVE them! ESPECIALLY paired with blue cheese and balsamic reduction. YUM! I can't wait to try this, except that the one thing I don't love is walnuts, so I plan to replace those with pine nuts. I predict a new favorite. :-)

Entree (something to chew on for awhile): Why Hospitality Beats Entertaining. Yes. Every time. Always.

Dessert (just for fun): I love the artistry of this. So creative!

Coffee (sip and savor slowly and repeatedly):

[The devil] always sends errors into the world in pairs--pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them. ~ C. S. Lewis

Oven "Fried" Pickles

Sometimes I really want to eat something that feels like junk food but doesn't make *me* feel like I ate junk food. These work well for me. I wouldn't exactly call them "healthy" from the standpoint that they don't carry much in the way of nutrients, but they are certainly far less egregious than some of the other deep fried, carb-filled options I could reach for. Super snackable and fun to share!


32 oz sliced oval dill pickles (you want pretty large pieces, not the small discs)
1/2 cup of whole wheat Panko crumbs
1/4 cup of cornmeal
1/4 cup of coconut flour
1/4 tsp of paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp Tony Chachere's seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
olive oil or butter spray 


Drain liquid from pickles and place on paper towels to dry out a bit.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place baking sheet(s) or stone(s) into oven to preheat.

Mix bread crumbs, flour and 1/2 of the chili powder and all other spices in a bowl.

Whisk eggs in a bowl and season with remaining chipotle powder and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Dip pickles in egg mixture and then into the crumb mix, pressing down on the crumbs.

When the oven reaches 450°, remove baking sheets and spray with olive oil spray; place pickles on the baking sheets and spray the tops of the pickles with more oil. Bake 8-10 minutes, turn and spray if needed and cook an additional five minutes. Remove pickles from cooking sheet and serve hot with your favorite dip (something cool and creamy like buttermilk ranch works great).

The Good List

10. Toasted coconut. My new favorite one-ingredient snack. That's all it is. Coconut flakes dry toasted in the oven for about 5 minutes. Simple. Healthy. Crunchy. A little bit sweet. So good.

9. Groupon. If you haven't tried it, you definitely should. There's zero obligation. If you don't like any of the offers, you can just ignore them. But I have found some amazing deals with just a few mouse clicks. Well worth the little bit of time it takes to browse through the offers every now and then.

8. Science experiments with Macy and Grace. I'm pretty sure I enjoy them way more than they do, but they're good sports and play along nicely. ;-) Recently we made elephant toothpaste and grew some geodes. Pretty fun.

7. Ok, kind of a long story, but... Several weeks ago, Jared used a new kind of "cleaner" for our koi pond, which very clearly stated that it was safe for all kinds of fish. The next day all 3 of our koi fish were dead. (!!!!!) I suppose we can't really prove that it was the cleaner or that we didn't use too much or whatever, but that will be the last time we use that stuff for sure. Anyway... we have hesitated to get more fish before we do some research just because we want to make sure this doesn't happen again. BUT--just last week, I noticed FOUR BABY KOI FISH in there! At LEAST four! It's super loaded with lily pads right now, so there may even be more, but I've seen 4 all at the same time swimming around the edges, so I know for sure there are at least that many. I guess the eggs survived whatever killed the big guys. Happy!

6. A few weeks ago, I had to go on a scavenger hunt to find a dragonfly or two. But they are EVERYWHERE now. And I love them.

5. Morning sunlight. There's nothing quite like it.

4. Red-tailed hawks circle around in the sky above the golf course behind our house all the time, but this massive dude landed right in my back yard about a week ago. I couldn't believe he was so close. Amazing!

3. It's just a little at a time at the moment, but we have all sorts of fresh produce coming soon right from our back yard. It ALWAYS tastes better this way.

2. Ok. I know I'm weird, y'all. But I'm SO EXCITED about this! One day last week I was outside watering my plants, and I noticed that they all looked really good and healthy except for one, which was almost completely leafless. (Weird.) But THEN I found THIS DUDE:

And I am perfectly happy to sacrifice that one plant in order to get to watch his metamorphosis. So cool! Fortunately, it was a potted plant, so I just brought the whole thing inside. I've been covering it with a mesh hamper at night so he can't run away, but it's fun to be able to watch him during the day. Mostly, for the first few days, he just ate and ate and ate. He was SO HUNGRY! ;-)

While he spent his days eating and eating and then eating some more, I did some research to make sure I was giving him everything he needed. I learned all kinds of things about these crazy little creatures. Right before they become ready for pupa stage, their aortas start working so hard, you can actually see them pulsing in their backs. I tried to capture it in this video. You can see it if you look closely:

Another thing I learned (which I had never ever heard of) is that these particular caterpillars actually burrow underground for their pupation process. Which he did. Shortly after I took this video, he started digging in. So now we wait. If my research is right, he should emerge as a massive moth in about 2 or 3 weeks. Pretty cool.

1. I believe this with all of my heart, and some days I'm so impatient for it, I can hardly stand it.

Spiced Almonds

It occurred to me recently that I rarely make spiced nuts any time other than during the holidays. And then it occurred to me that that is really silly. All of the ingredients are readily available all year long. They're perfectly delicious all year long. And they're just the right amount of crunchy, spicy, salty and sweet to keep me away from all of the other more sinful options that fall into those categories. ;-)

So. I've decided that these are now an all-the-time snack in my house instead of just a holiday treat. Try them and see if you think that's a good decision.


1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (plus more for dusting)
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 pound raw almonds (or really any nut. Pecans or cashews would be delicious, I bet.)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons water


Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Mix the salt, chili powder, cayenne, cinnamon and orange zest together in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the nuts in a 10-inch cast iron skillet and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes until they just start to brown and smell toasted. Add the butter and stir until it melts. Add the spice mixture and stir to combine. Once combined, add coconut sugar and water, stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the nuts, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer the nuts to the prepared sheet pan and separate them with a fork or spatula. Allow the nuts to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container for storage. Dust with a little extra cinnamon if desired to keep them from becoming too sticky. Can be stored up to 3 weeks.

Gochujang-Glazed Meatballs

STOP! Before you scroll down to see how many ingredients are involved in this recipe and then immediately skip it because there are too many (yeah--I know the trick. We all do it sometimes...), let me say this first:

The meatballs themselves are pretty involved (but worth it if I may say so), BUT the glaze is super simple, so rather than skip the recipe altogether, just use the glaze on store-bought meatballs (or really pretty much any protein). That way, this whole situation becomes delicious AND super simple! But if you're so inclined, the combination of the homemade meatballs AND the crazy amazing glaze is kind of magical. So. Do as you wish. You have several options here. :-D

For the meatballs:


1 pound ground beef (80 - 85% lean)
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg, beaten
4 slices bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled (not gonna lie, I usually use a little more than this)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
2 tablespoons onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground chile powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoond ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and combine well. (Get a cheap pack of kitchen gloves, 'cause it's really best to do this with your hands.) Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to allow ingredients to bind together. This will keep your meatballs from falling apart as they cook.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet. You can just spray it with non-stick cooking spray, line it with parchment paper, or line it with foil (and spray with non-stick cooking spray.) I prefer that last option just because it makes for much easier clean-up.

3. Roll meatball mixture into 1-1/2 inch balls and place on baking sheet about 1 to 2 inches apart. Bake 12-15 minutes, depending on size. 

For the glaze:


1 tbsp gochujang
2 tsp mirin
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp coconut sugar
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated


1. Add all ingredients to small sauce pan and cook over medium heat until well-combined and slightly thickened.

2. Brush liberally onto meatballs as soon as they come out of the oven and serve warm.


The Good List

10. We're taking the girls to see the original Ghostbusters on the big screen tonight. Should be fun.

9. The girls and I made a lava lamp!

8. These little guys are everywhere lately:

7. This will never not make me giggle. I fill it up every single day to get my daily amusement.

6. Our back porch faces due east. This is a detail that I had no idea was of any importance to me until recently. Here's why-- in the late afternoon and evening, even on the hottest days (high 80's yesterday), the house creates the perfect canopy of shade so that the entire deck is perfectly cool and breezy, but still wide open to nature. I love that so much.

5. This is simultaneously one of the coolest and creepiest things I've ever seen. But certainly interesting. Coquina clams apparently hide just under the surface of the sand until it's time to come up and feed. And then....

4. Jared made plans for a little Friday afternoon adventure this week. He says I should bring my camera. Sounds like my favorite kind of adventure! ;-)

3. There is so much yumminess underway in my back yard right now (and even more that isn't pictured). I can't wait!

2. This dude literally walked right up to our front door step Saturday morning. So crazy! (But also awesome.)


1. This quote from Elyse Fitzpatrick, which I read often, and it never gets less awesome.

Not Your Childhood Grilled Cheese

Well, this all started with my new food crush. It's this: 

Super Grain Bread. 

And now I have to offer a bit of a confession. I'd like to think I'm not a weirdo or fanatic when it comes to the way I eat (and feed others). I believe in healthy eating. I think it's incredibly important, but I try not to be ridiculous about it. I also believe in splurging *occasionally*. I think that is every bit as good for your heart and mind as good nutritious is for your body. But the most important thing I believe in is figuring out what combination of rules work best for each of us as individuals. We're all different. And here's where the confession part comes in-- I don't eat sandwich bread. Like literally almost never. Not even the whole grain stuff. I know that's weird, but my body just doesn't handle carbs well, and I don't trust the labels on packaged bread. Even the ones that try to tell me they're loaded with whole grains and free of all the processed stuff, etc.-- I don't know. I just don't believe 'em.

Until now. I believe Alpine Valley about their Super Grain Bread, because I can SEE actual whole quinoa grains and sunflower seeds, etc. right in the bread. And it's DELICIOUS!

So. As you can imagine, this recent discovery opened up a whole new category of food to me just in time for summer. That of the simple sandwich. The thing most people enjoy several times a week that I have avoided for years (which I'm still not saying is normal behavior, btw, but avoiding bread has worked well for me).

Anyway, on to the good part. I decided that my very first adventure with this bread would be a grilled cheese. But not just any grilled cheese. Let's load that bad boy up! Here is what I came up with:


Super Grain Bread (or whatever is your favorite)

Butter (my favorite is Land o' Lakes light)

Mozzarella cheese, sliced

Sharp cheddar cheese, sliced

Thinly sliced tart apples

Crisp bacon

Caramelized onions

Baby spinach leaves

Sea Salt


1. Make sure all of your ingredients are ready so that you can build the sandwich after placing the first piece of bread into the pan. This is easier than trying to build and transport a fully loaded sandwich.

2. Heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet to medium heat.

3. Butter first piece of bread crust to crust and place butter side down in pan. Add a slice of mozzarella, then layer other ingredients, keeping in mind how to strategically order things to make sure everything melts together well. I did this: After the mozzarella, I added apples, then spinach, then a little bit of cheddar to work as "glue", then bacon, then onions, then another thin slice of mozzarella.

4. Finally butter second piece of bread for the top of the sandwich. Place on top. Allow all cheeses to begin melting, then flip sandwich to brown other piece of bread. When cheese is nicely melted and bread is nicely browned, sprinkle with just a tiny bit of sea salt while sandwich is nice and hot. Enjoy!

The Good List

10. We picked our first strawberry out of the back yard a couple days ago! Grace says it was delicous. I hope there will be many more!

9. When Grace and I got home Sunday night, this dude was sitting right in the middle of the driveway and would NOT move. I didn't want to run over him, but even when I pulled right up to him, he wouldn't hop away. Thinking something was wrong, I finally just got out of the car and picked him up so I could check on him. Turns out he was fine. Just super chill. ;-)

8. Summer has started for Grace! (Macy still has some finals to take, but she's getting close too!)

7. Our zoo got some koalas! And they are adorable.

6. On Sunday afternoon, I took Grace and her friend Gracie (I know, right? ;-) to the LEGO KidsFest. It was a lot of fun, and I am still amazed by what people are able to do with those simple little toys. Nothing short of brilliant.

5. Macy and some of her friends have been working really hard on a production of Beauty and the Beast with CYT here in Kansas City. There is a family sneak peek tonight and then shows every day Thursday through Sunday. I'm excited to get to see the results of all their hard work!

4. I accidentally discovered a whole list of live webcams featuring some of my favorite animals (which, of course, is pretty much every animal). Some of my favorites are the hummingbird nest (with 2 tiny little eggs in it), the African watering hole, the giant pandas, and the coral reef. But there are so many that are so much fun to watch. I'm gonna have to practice A LOT of self control to get anything done around here now that I know these exist. ;-)

3. Grace finished the school year Magna Cum Laude with a 4.0 grade point average. That's a lot of hard work! Good job, Grace! So proud of you!

2. Jared started writing his third novel about 10 years ago. He got about 1/3 of the way done and then had to set it aside for other (good) reasons. But he started working on it again last week. Last time, I was reading as he wrote. This time, just to make sure--I'm not reading until he's done. ;-) But I really want to know how it ends, so I really hope he has time to finish it in less than 10 years this time. :-D (The first part is really good.)

1. This is another kinda long story, but it's pretty awesome, so... On Easter Sunday morning, the Sunday School class Jared and I attended was taught by a man who is quite possibly one of the most thorough apologists I've ever met. He handed out a 4-page document listing all sorts of detailed historical evidence of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It was incredibly well-done and helpful. Just a few days later, Macy (randomly) asked me if there were any Sunday School classes at our church that focused on apologetics. I told her we would certainly look into it (I LOVE the idea of her wanting to study apologetics!) THEN on Sunday at our church picnic, we were told that they are getting ready to divide the youth group and put the older kids (including Macy) into a separate class taught by none other than our new apologist friend, Jeremy. Thanks, God! :-)

Uncarbtastic Breakfast Casserole

Does anyone else wonder when 99.875% of all breakfast dishes became a big fat pile of carbs and sugar? I see link after link promising me "the perfect quick and easy breakfast," and most of them are some version of sweet rolls or giant muffins or biscuits or breads. All of which look delicious. But all of which would make me weigh 700 pounds and feel like a giant sloth if I ate them regularly.

So in response to all of this, I decided to come up with my own version of a quick and easy breakfast. But also: BONUS! This doesn't have to be only for breakfast. I served it for dinner when I made it. So really it's just a nice, simple, low carb, no sugar recipe you can serve for ANY meal! I hope you enjoy!


3 Tablespoons light butter

1 large onion, finely diced

1/8 cup coconut flour

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

3 cups milk

3 lbs. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and moisture removed (The best way to do this is to place it in the center of a large lint-free cloth, twist it up and squeeze until spinach is nice and dry.)

3/4 cup shredded Parmesan 

1 Tablespoon salt, plus more for topping eggs if desired

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more for topping eggs if desired

1-2 pounds cooked, sliced ham (great for using leftovers after Easter or Christmas)

8 oz. shredded Swiss cheese

4-6 eggs


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. In large skillet (preferably oven-proof), melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 10-12 minutes.

3. Add flour and nutmeg. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring pretty consistently, until flour begins to brown a bit. Add milk and cook until it begins to thicken, about 5-7 minutes.

4. Add spinach (again, making sure it is as dry as possible) and Parmesan and stir until cheese begins to melt. Add 1 Tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and mix well. (Taste to see if you prefer a bit more seasoning.) If you are using an oven-proof skillet, spread the spinach mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan. If it isn't oven-proof, pour into a baking dish.

5. Add a healthy layer of ham over the spinach. Top with Swiss cheese, creating a shallow well for each egg.

6. Crack an egg into each well and sprinkle each egg with salt and pepper if desired.

7. Bake at 425 for 10-14 minutes, until yolks are cooked to desired doneness. (I cooked mine for 12 minutes total for nice firm whites and warm, runny yolks.)


Bacon and Quinoa Crusted Shrimp with Dijon Cream Sauce

This recipe calls for pre-cooked bacon, so I need to make sure we understand each other before I go any further here. Please know that I don't expect any of you to ever have LEFTOVER bacon in your house. I don't really know what that means even. What I am suggesting is that the next time you cook bacon, you cook enough extra to set aside a half cup of crispy bacon bits and HIDE THEM before anyone can get their grubby little paws on them. I just felt like that was an important clarification. We can move on now. :-)

I made this for dinner last night, and it might be my new favorite recipe. It's all about the crust, which I put on shrimp this time, but I think it would be equally delicious on pretty much any protein, especially as a way of making chicken or pork a little more "special." I'll let you know how those work out, because I definitely plan to try them. For now, here is the recipe with shrimp:


1 pound shrimp

1/3 cup Sriracha

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1/2 cup crispy cooked bacon

1/2 cup cooked quinoa (any color)

1/2 cup seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs

4 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons corn starch

1-1/2 cups milk

1 Tablespoon mustard (I used Dijon, but any kind should work.)

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere's seasoning

salt and pepper to taste


1. Peel and de-vein shrimp. I like to peel down to the last tail joint and leave that on for presentation, but it's a little more tedious to do it that way. If you're pressed for time (or just impatient), just peel them down completely. I promise they'll taste the same. ;-)

2. Combine Sriracha and white wine vinegar in a bowl and place peeled shrimp in the mixture. Toss to coat well.

3. In food processor or blender, process together cooked quinoa and bacon bits until it becomes the consistency of coarse meal. Dump into a shallow pan and add bread crumbs. Mix well.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

5. While oven is preheating, dredge shrimp in bacon-quinoa mixture and place on lined or sprayed baking pan, or preferably stoneware if you have it.

6. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

7. In medium saucepan, melt butter and add corn starch. Stir over medium heat until well combined and beginning to pick up some golden color. Add milk and simmer until it begins to thicken, stirring regularly. (It is not necessary to bring this to a vigorous boil. It will thicken pretty quickly over moderate heat.)

8. Once sauce begins to thicken, add mustard, Worcestershire, Old Bay and Tony Chachere's seasonings. Cook and stir until desired consistency. (If it gets too thick, you can add more milk to loosen it up.) Taste and add salt and/or pepper if desired. (I didn't think it needed any with the Old Bay and Tony Chachere's.)

9. Serve by spooning sauce onto plates and placing shrimp on top. So delicious!

The Good List

10. Captain America: Civil War. It always gets on my nerves a little when the heroes fight *each other,* but it was a really good movie and a lot of fun to watch.

9. Jungle Book. The movie was so good, but even if it wouldn't have been, I was sucked in by the scenery in the first 5 seconds. I kinda wanna live in that movie.

8. Some of our new friends brought over this beautiful bamboo tea box at a recent get-together we hosted. They said they remembered that we had SO MUCH TEA the first time they came over for dinner. :-) I love it!

7. Macy and Grace got me a shiny new juicer for Mother's Day. Probably because they were sick of my old one spewing juice at them every time I used it. (It had seen better days for sure.) But whatever the reason, I love it!

6. This scruffy little dog, who desperately needs to be groomed. But I love his floofy little face, and he is the sweetest thing ever.

5. We caught our first unicorn yesterday!!! Grace got me this for Christmas, and we've been waiting patiently for our little squirrel friends to return. And I probably shouldn't admit how much this makes me giggle.

4. Yesterday Macy came downstairs while I was working out to let me know she wanted to make herself some lunch and ask if I wanted some too. Duh! I said, "Sure!" And this is what she served. And I spend a lot of time wondering how many ways I fail my children, but this made me feel like I'm doing something right. :-D

3. Jared sent manuscript #14 to the publisher last week. Tentatively titled Crumbs from the Table: Discipleship for the Rest of Us. And I'm currently proofreading! :-)

2. And book #13 released the next day! Unparalleled: How Christianity's Uniqueness Makes it Compelling

1. Ok, I have to tell a short little story here. I always have such a hard time coming up with the perfect gift for my Mom, not because she's difficult to please (at all). If I gave her a $3 magnet for every occasion (or even just a phone call), she would be perfectly happy. But I like finding special gifts for people. And I rarely find things that seem special enough for my Mom. Recently Mom and Dad have been working on their back yard, doing some landscaping and gardening. And I remembered that one of my favorite things about my Memaw's yard (my Mom's Mom) was her always healthy and vibrant, always LOADED with fruit kumquat tree. Probably a strange memory, but I never claimed not to be strange. ;-) Anyway, I thought 2 things-- 1. That if that little tree is so big in my memories, maybe it is in my Mom's too, and 2. That if I loved that tree so much in my Memaw's yard, maybe my Mom's grandkids would love that tree in their Grandmom's yard. (And my Mom is never so happy as when her grandkids are happy!)

So. I ordered her a kumquat tree with a note that her gift probably wouldn't make sense when she first saw it, but that she should call me as soon as she received it so that I could explain.

She called me the minute it arrived. But instead of waiting for me to explain, she practically shouted, "Oh, Beck, it was like Memaw and Pepaw were right there in the box with it!" (My plan worked.)

I'm so happy! :-D


Sweet and Spicy Stir-Fry

Here are my two favorite things about this recipe: 1) It's perfect for when you have been too busy (or otherwise distracted) to make much of a dinner plan, because you can pretty much just use whatever you have in your fridge/pantry and make it work, and 2) You can throw the whole thing together in one skillet, which makes for quick and easy clean-up (never disappointing, even for those of us who like to be in the kitchen.)


1-2 pounds protein, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used lean pork)

3-4 cups fresh veggies, cut whatever way you like (I used 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized chunks; 1 large onion, cut into strips; and a big bag of sweet peppers, cut into strips) Other excellent additions would be snow peas, broccoli, baby corn, carrots, zucchini, squash, green beans, etc. Honestly, I would have liked mine better with something green in it, but green veggies don't last very long around here, so I didn't have any.

olive oil, for coating pan

4 cloves garlic, finely minced (I just use my garlic press and press it right into the skillet)

1 knob of ginger, about the size of the tip of your thumb, freshly grated

salt and pepper

3/4 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed if you can)

1/4 cup chili garlic sauce

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons coconut sugar

1 tablespoon corn starch

basil for garnish


1. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Throw in your prepped veggies just long enough to get the tiniest bit of color on them, only about 2 minutes. You don't want them to cook down too much. You just want to add a bit of flavor. When they are still crisp but have some color, remove from the pan and set aside.

2. While veggies are cooking, stir together in small bowl the orange juice, chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, coconut sugar and corn starch. Have ready to deglaze pan quickly.

3. Add a bit more oil if needed, and add protein to pan. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until nicely seared and almost cooked through. Add garlic and ginger and stir until nice and fragrant and beginning to brown. Don't burn the garlic! This can happen quickly, so have your sauce mixture ready.

4. Pour sauce mixture into pan to deglaze. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan to free up all of that flavor. Simmer until sauce begins to thicken.

5. Add veggies back into the pan and stir or toss to coat well. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes until sauce is desired consistency and all ingredients are warmed through.

6. Garnish with basil and/or a few splashes of Sriracha to serve.