Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Weekend in the Land of the Delta Blues

Andy and I headed up Hwy 78 to Memphis this past weekend. It was a short trip (just over 24 hours, really), but we were able to pack in some good time visiting with my parents and some dear friends from high school that I hadn't seen in a while. My friend, Cari, hosted a sweet baby shower for our friend Liz. It was so fun to catch up with these girls and celebrate this special time in Liz & Matt's life.

We also celebrated my mom's (very belated) birthday. Can't have a birthday celebration without some Muddy's!

Miss all you guys already, and we can't wait to see you again soon! We also can't wait to meet Miss Ellie Grace in October! Congrats, Matt & Liz!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Southwest Lettuce Wraps

Andy absolutely loves Mexican food. He could eat it pretty much every day of the week. Since most of what we eat at Mexican restaurants is not so healthy, I wanted to come up with a healthier take on southwestern food that we could make at home. This is what I came up with. The sauce is actually a recipe that I've used before for a chicken marinade. It tastes great that way, too. Don't be overwhelmed by the long ingredient list! This is a pretty flexible recipe, so you can throw in what you have on hand. Just don't skimp on the sauce!

Southwest Lettuce Wraps

Iceberg, bibb, or butter lettuce
1.25 lbs ground meat (turkey or beef)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ green bell pepper, chopped
¼ c red onion chopped
½ c corn (fresh or frozen)
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
Salt & pepper to taste

(inspired by thesisterscafe.com)
2 T soy sauce
2 T honey
1 T olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
1 clove of garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded
1/2 c cilantro

Optional Toppings
Sour cream

Brown meat in skillet. In separate skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute garlic until fragarant (about 1 min). Add onions and peppers, sauté until soft.  While meat and veggies are cooking, make sauce.

Combine all sauce ingredients in food processor (*if you want a little less heat, use ½ jalapeno). Pulse until completely combined.

Add corn and black beans to peppers and onions. Drain meat. Add to veggies. Pour sauce over meat and veggies. Simmer 2-3 mins.

Spoon meat and veggie mix into lettuce leaves. Top as desired. Roll it up, and enjoy!

(*makes a bout 4 servings...or fewer if you're really hungry!)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How we ended up in East Lake...

Since this blog is called "East Lake Livin", I wanted to spend a little time sharing how we ended up in East Lake in the first place. It all started while we were a part of the Church at Brook Hills. Being a part of that church taught us so much. One of the things that really took root in our hearts was how God created us with a mission and a purpose. He sends us out with that mission in Matthew 28:18-20.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

One Sunday in March 2010, a family from Brook Hills shared how God was leading them to move into an impoverished area of Birmingham and plant a church. They wanted to reach out to their neighbors by living life alongside them. This family asked for anyone who was interested in joining them to let them know. Andy looked at me that Sunday and said, "what do you think?" I wasn't so sure about this plan, but I told him I would go along to meet with the group.

To be honest, I was scared. I was scared of moving to an area I saw as "dangerous". My idea/dream of my first home was not on a street where most of the homes were run down and some were even burnt out. I never dreamed of living in a place where there were houses painted every color of the rainbow and people had giant sculptures of lions and bees in their yards. A place where trash is in the streets and half the homes are in foreclosure.

Downtown East Lake

"Lion of Judah" carved into tree in front of East Lake home

But what I'm learning is that the Lord's dreams for me are often not the same as the dreams I have for myself (thankfully!). And thankfully, the Lord is patient with me as I learn these things. He slowly worked on my heart and began to show me that his dreams for me had much further reaching rewards than what I could imagine. He reminded me that he has commanded me to GO. Go and teach and share with others the good news that Christ has come to set the captives free. Go and serve others and show them Christ’s love even in places that aren’t always comfortable for me. 

As we began considering moving to this neighborhood, there were definitely some glaring obstacles in the way. We weren’t in a place yet where we could buy our own house. And there really weren't any feasible options for rentals in East Lake. But we just kept praying that if this was really what God wanted for us, that He would make a way for it to happen.

After a few months of praying, the Lord brought some special people into our lives who helped make it possible for us to move to East Lake. We were totally floored by the way the Lord created a way for us to be in East Lake, and despite our fears, the knowledge that this was His plan for us gave us the courage and the faith to move forward. It still took several months of praying, looking at houses, and negotiating for us to make to EL, but we finally moved in just in time for Christmas.

That's the abridged version of how we got here. I can't wait to share more with you about what God has taught us since that move. Thanks for sticking with me this far!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Andy's Favorite Corn Salad

I saw this recipe on Pinterest a while back and knew that Andy would love it. His absolute favorite veggie is corn, so pretty much any way you fix it, he's going to like it. It has several of my favorite ingredients too (tomatoes, olive oil, onion, and basil!), so how could we go wrong with this dish?

This week I doubled the recipe and made it for our house church potluck. Most of you who read this blog probably already know that Andy & I are part of a church plant in East Lake. We meet in the homes of our members who all live in the East Lake neighborhood. Every Sunday we eat a meal together before or after church. I'll have to do another post some time about our church plant.

Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad

(*I adapted some of the amounts of ingredients to our taste)

5 ears fresh sweet corn
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 cup sweet onion*
1/2 cup fresh basil**
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

Bring large pot of water to boil. Boil corn for 7 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Halve grape tomatoes. Chop onion and basil, and cut corn off of cob. Mix all ingredients together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve. It's even better the 2nd day!

*Sometimes I sub red onion and just use a little less
**Fresh basil is a must in this recipe. Trust me, it's worth it!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lemony Green Beans with Tomatoes

Last week we got a big bunch of green beans at the East Lake Farmers Market. I was wanting to make something light and summery with them, so this is what I came up with. We ate this for dinner with Pioneer Woman's BBQ Chicken. It was great!

Lemony Green Beans with Tomatoes

6 cups or 1.5 quarts fresh green beans
2 cloves garlic
1 medium yellow tomato
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
2 tbsp olive oil

Bring a pot of water to boil on the stove. Wash green beans and trim the ends off. Chop yellow tomato and cut grape tomatoes in half. Mince 2 cloves of garlic. 

Add green beans to boiling water. Allow to cook for 3-5 mins, until green beans become soft. Drain beans.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for about 1 minute, until it becomes fragrant. Add green beans and tomatoes to skillet. Saute and add juice of 1/2 lemon, salt, lemon pepper, and herbs. Toss for 4-5 mins, until tomatoes soften. Serve, and enjoy!

Makes about 4 servings

Thursday, July 5, 2012

First Post

I have toyed with the idea of starting a blog for a while now, so I am finally going to do it! I'm hoping to use this as a place to stay connected with friends and family who are spread out all over the place, and a place to share recipes and projects. Thank you for reading!

The hubs is out of town right now, so this guy is keeping me company. Can't wait to join him and the in-laws at the river this weekend. Stay tuned for my first recipe post!