Tag Archives: recipes

Thursday Picks Edition #4

Summer is in full swing, kids are sleeping in late, but not that late, breakfast happens sometime between 6:30 and 10 am, and there is a bit of unrest among the tribal harmony in our home. Sound familiar?

We are in the part of summer where we spend tons of time in the mountains and are perpetually packing and unpacking suitcases. This is the part of summer I absolutely LOVE because it is filled with lots of extended family, friends, and adventure!

So here’s a few snap shots of what that looks like for us!


Hiking every chance we get!  This day Max did 2 of our 3 mile hike and then I packed his 36 lb little wiggly body into the backpack for the last mile!

4th of July Fun

Traditionally this includes an incredible small mountain town parade including getting to see the Deer Valley Ranch Wranglers (including this stud –my nephew– in the photo below) on horseback, candy, flags, and freeze pops being thrown at children; and (my favorite) Aunt Sharon and Uncle Bob’s annual (33 years running) 4th of July Picnic. The picnic is full of great grilling, incredible side dishes, pie, homemade ice cream, and lots of all-American games like the egg-and-spoon race, softball, and (my personal favorite) the cherry seed spitting contest.


Here (photo below) you can see how proud my parents are that they raised two 1st place champion cherry seed-spitters! Hey, when you grow up as the only girl among three boys, one skill you learn to master is spitting. I knew all that practice would pay off someday! Look at those beaming parents over my “little” brother and me; they couldn’t be prouder, I’m sure.


That’s been the excitement here lately and before I head off to our day’s adventure (which today includes shopping with three children) here are this week’s Thursday picks! To see previous weeks picks, simply either click the recommended link or the “tags” link under Thursday Picks at the bottom of this post.

Happy Thursday! Hope you get to practice your cherry seed spitting today, the cherries are in season and so yummy!!


ANYTHING by Jennie Allen

ANYTHING is  a book I read for the first time four years ago and it rocked me to the core.  Jennie has just released Anything in an updated version with an 8-week book/bible study included in the back section and I could not be more excited to be journeying once again through this book, this time with several other friends at 5am on Wednesday mornings!

I would attempt to wrap words around this book, but Jennie has provided a trailer that will give you a better picture than I could ever paint as to what Anything is all about.

If you choose to pick this up and read it, you can read it alone, but could I encourage you to find a friend, or two, or 12 and read and discuss it together?  This has been on my top 5 all-time favorite non-fiction reads since the first time I laid eyes on it and it is new every time I re-read it based on where I’m at in my journey of life on this planet.

FOR THE LOVE, Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards                    by Jen Hatmaker

for the love book

For the Love is a compilation of essays by a woman who is both deep and hilarious! Here is a great description of what the book is about by and advanced copy reader:

Reading this book is like sitting down to coffee with a friend. Jen pulls you close and whispers in your ear, “You are not failing. You’re doing great!” And because of Jen’s authenticity and her gift with words and with people, you actually believe her, breathe a sigh of relief, and feel empowered to go out and be a little gentler with everybody else, too. Jen moves effortlessly (and hilariously!) between the profound and the practical, sharing everything from how God shook up her neatly-tied-up theology to helpful advice on how to restore sanity to your schedule, build lasting friendships around your table (recipes included!), and make Jesus’ love real enough to your kids that they won’t walk away from the church. For The Love helps us set aside the impossible standards we use to evaluate ourselves so that we can breathe in Love, and breathe it out again.                                                                            Jennifer; Writer, Counselor, and Community-Builder. Chicago, IL

The book is not even out in real print yet, but Jen and her publishing team are doing something that is just awesome!  You can pre-order For the Love here  and while you wait for your hardcover book, you can read it in free downloadable pdf form!!!  If you order by July 15, there are a bunch of other freebies they are offering as well!  I just ordered mine last night and can not wait for a quiet moment to begin reading!


Shauna Niequiest- Episode 318

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m slightly obsessed with Shauna Niequist words (both written and spoken) right now. Since her newest book Savor has come out, she’s been a guest on several podcasts I love, but I think my favorite interview was the one she did with the Catalyst Podcast and you can listen here or via iTunes on the Catalyst podcast.  There you will find it under Episode 318.

Shauna shares about her new book, new convictions, and a bit of her journey to where she is today as a writer, wife, mom, cook/hostess, and partner in a ministry called The Practice alongside her husband.


There are some weeks you just need some new tunes. This is pretty much every week for me. I’m that girl who loves a song and plays it until the shiny wears off (6 months later).  There are some you may know in this list, but I’m hoping you find a new tune to carry with you from this list this week!

& More…

In the spirit of helping you save money, eat healthy(ish), and simple preparation I bring you the most yummy breakfast (or dessert, if you’re one of those who “splurge” on yogurt for dessert).

Chocolate Dust Vanilla Greek Yogurt

My kids LOVE the Chobani Greek Vanilla with chocolate dust yogurt that only comes in the individual sized servings (more trash/waste) that typically cost $1.25 each so I decided to come up with my own more economical/less landfill waste version.


I know, it looks so complicated, doesn’t it?

Vanilla yogurt + Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips + (optional) Raspberries (or whatever is on sale–these were 10 for $10) + (optional) Mint Garnish = Yummy

Pulverize 1 cup of chocolate chips in a food processor and store in a mason jar or other air-tight container.
Add to bowl of Greek Vanilla Yogurt or yogurt of your choosing. Add berries (optional).

Complicated, right?  This has been such a great breakfast go-to for us both for the ability for the kids to make it themselves, as well as a great quick on-the-go breakfast if we’re heading out for a day of adventure.

Personally, I believe every breakfast should contain chocolate in some form, so this meets that criteria for me!

Happy Thursday to you! Would love to hear what it is you’re loving this Thursday!!

Blanca’s Crock Pot Carnitas & a Pep Talk

Spring Sale

I love coffee. I love it in an unhealthy, obsessive, like if coffee was a person it would have a restraining order against me, kind of way.

I like chocolate and refined sugar and white bread. Can I get a witness?

I know, I know…useless calories, cancer, gut health, et cetera, et cetera.

Here’s the thing, the idea and reality of clean eating is really appealing to me, but there have to be exceptions. Ok, so maybe I make a lot of exceptions.

You see, I’m a fan of healthy living. Physical health, Mental Health, and Spiritual health are all high values that govern the way I prioritize my life and my time. Having said that, I also don’t tend to be an extremist. I like to have M&Ms for dessert after my salad. I drink water all day so that I can drink more coffee than I should.

Ok, so coffee may be an area of extremeness. I’m also ok with that.

The point is this: here in this space where I get to write things (I hope are helpful to you) I plan to share with you encouragement for healthy LIVING. I plan to bring you recipes. Some will be yummy and healthy, some will be more on the yummy side and less on the “healthy” side.  We’ll talk about physical fitness and routine and what I’m finding is currently working for me, in hopes that it will be something that may also work for you.

Healthy living, I am finding, is a combination of physical, mental, and spiritual discipline with a tablespoon teaspoon of “live a little.”

It would be the best thing ever if you would provide feedback with what you are finding works for you in these Healthy Living posts so that you all might also learn from and encourage one another and so that I can learn from you too!

My dream for this writing space is that it would fuel your passion, assist you in growing deeper in relationship with Jesus, make you laugh, and provide resources for you to become more healthy in all areas of your life.  May it also be a place where you meet friends and feel seen and welcome always.

Are you with me?

Ok, without further adieu, I introduce to you, your new favorite dinner dish from my dear friend, the best Mexican food cook I know, Blanca.


My friend lost her mother much too soon,

In order to truly keep the memory of her mom alive and to honor her, she prepares the most amazing foods she learned to make growing up cooking alongside her Mamacita. This is one of my personal favorites because of how easy and versitile it is.  It has few main ingredients and is a healthy meal option.  My family enjoys the carnitas served in warmed Corn tortillas.  Usually there is enough left over for another meal, and since we don’t do well with left-overs, I freeze it and next week make it into Pork Green Chile which is also easy and super yummy.  The leftover carnitas can also be transformed into bbq pulled pork sandwiches!  There are so many options!

Dislclaimer: I realized I should have taken photos of the plated carnitas, but we were so darn hungry that we just dove in and ate without a care for your need to see a photo of the finished product.  How selfish of us.  I should be ashamed of myself, but they were so incredibly yummy….

Blanca’s Crock Pot Carnitas


Pork Tenderloin (2-3 lbs.)

1 Bottle of Corona

1/3 Cup Orange Juice

2 Tbsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning

Corn tortillas

Fresh chopped Lettuce

Fresh diced tomatoes

Shredded cheddar cheese


Sour Cream

Fresh Cilantro

Can of warmed Black beans (optional)

Fully Cooked Short Grain Brown Rice (optional)


Trim any excess fat off of the pork loin.  Place the trimmed Pork Loin into the crock pot and set crock pot to low.


Pour entire Corona over pork.


Pour 1/3 cup Orange juice over pork.


Sprinkle on the 2 Tbsp. or Montreal Steak Seasoning, and then cover.  Set your crock pot on low and forget about it all day.

After approx. 8 hours remove pork from crock pot.  Set it on a cutting board and shred it (not too finely though) using two forks.  Place shredded pork back into juices in crock pot.


Serve with warmed tortillas (corn or flour), and all the fixins!!  This is a fairly lean and healthy meal AND it’s a crock pot meal!!

So, you’re welcome.  You’ll thank me later!