fabulous friday #52

Hi friends, and happy Friday! It’s been far too long since I’ve done a Fabulous Friday post… I’m excited to bring this back today! Hope you’re up to something fun this lovely autumn weekend. 🙂

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Being in Lake Tahoe! This is my first time traveling to this gorgeous vacation destination that so many people rave about, and I must say it has lived up to my expectations and then some! It is a beautiful time of year to be here, with crisp fall weather and so much greenery. I snagged a postcard for you guys!

Lake Tahoe postcard

I am loving being part of the Tahoe WordWave Festival. There are so many talented, creative writers and artists all around and it has been a privilege and pleasure to attend the workshops and events. Additionally, I am SO excited for the premiere of my one-act play “Woman, Running Late, in a Dress” tomorrow night at the Valhalla Boathouse Theatre! The cast of my play took a selfie for you. {How adorable are they??}

my cast

2. Backing up a little bit, this past Tuesday Dana and I attended the Taste of Walnut Creek, a fundraiser for a variety of local organizations, including my church! Each attendee got a little booklet of coupons and you would walk around downtown and stop at various restaurants to get a sample.

taste of walnut creek booklet

Each sample was quite small, but at the end of the night we were definitely full! {And we didn’t even make it to all of the restaurants offered!} If your town offers something similar, I would for sure recommend attending. Here is a list of the different eats & drinks we enjoyed:

I had an absolute blast strolling around downtown Walnut Creek, eating and chatting with beautiful Dana! I feel so blessed to have such amazing people like her in my life.

me and dana taste of walnut creek

3. I can’t get enough coconut butter lately! Have you guys tried this before? I first had it smeared on my morning bagels at Key West when I was there for the Key West Literary Conference a couple years ago, but I kind of forgot about it because I never see coconut butter in the grocery store, just coconut oil. But coconut butter was on sale at Swanson’s Vitamins last week, so I bought a tub.

coconut butter

You guys, I can’t get enough! My favorite thing of late is to prep a slice of toast with half coconut butter, half almond butter. Mmmmm I could eat this all day.

coconut almond butter toast

Aaaaand I am pretty sure my love for avocado toast will never die. Bring on the healthy fats!

avocado toast

4. I recently discovered Susan Hyatt {thanks to my girl Alex Franzen} and I am loving her short weekly “GO!” podcasts. Susan releases a new episode each Monday, with the goal of helping you get your week off to a great start. Topics range from your finances to your family to your business/career. I love how these are short enough to listen to as I’m getting ready for the day, and they never fail to give me a burst of inspiration. Susan is like that funny, no-nonsense, motivating friend who gives you the honest kick-in-pants you need. I binge-listened to all of her episodes last week, and now I am kinda bummed I have to wait each week for a new one!

5. Allyn and I got our pumpkins! Fingers crossed they last till Halloween; we are planning to have a pumpkin-carving party with Allyn’s sister on Halloween day. Since I like to name EVERYTHING, I of course had to name our pumpkins. Let me introduce you to Harold and Maude! {Have you seen that movie? Such a great one.}

our pumpkins

Questions for the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What do you have on the agenda for this weekend?

mid-week meditation #13

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to our new subscribers! {I’m especially loving Kiley’s blog, Food Friends, which I just subscribed to… I’m already eying her sweet potato & sausage skillet as a possible dinner recipe for tonight!}

Yesterday I spent the whole day with Allyn which was such a treat! We pretty much just worked side-by-side on our computers for most of the day, but it was so nice to have some company during the workday. Sometimes those ordinary “routine” days are the best, ya know? Plus, my sweetie is the best thing for my productivity because he inspires me so much! He is extremely diligent and driven, so I tend to stay seated at my computer, booty-in-chair, writing writing writing, for longer periods than I might otherwise if I was on my lonesome. {I am the queen of snack and tea breaks when I am writing on my own at home! Anyone else the same way?}

For dinner we made BBQ baked chicken + herbed wild rice + a tomato, corn, avocado salad that I threw together without a recipe. It turned out delicious!

corn avocado tomato salad

I know that photo is kinda bad, but trust me, it was a goodie! All I did was boil an ear of corn, cut the kernels off the cob, and mix it up with one diced tomato and half of an avocado. {A whole ‘cado would probably be even better, but we only had half.} Then add some salt and pepper, mix it all up, and you’ve got a great side dish. Quick, simple, healthy = three of my favorite things when it comes to cooking!

Today Allyn had to take his car into the shop for a check-up, and I had some errands to run and laundry to do, so we are back to working separately. I’m hoping to get a lot of random items that have been languishing on the old to-do list finally CHECKED OFF today. We shall see! I’ve got my workstation going on the dining room table. And a bowl of oatmeal for lunch! Sometimes you just gotta give the body what it wants, and mine wanted oatmeal. 🙂

workstation

This week’s meditation comes from one of my favorite writers, Louisa May Alcott. Whatever you are up to today, I hope these words come at a good time for you and your beautiful aspirations:

aspirations quote

 Question of the day:

  • What are your highest aspirations?

crock pot chicken with black beans & corn

Happy Wednesday, everyone! How is your week going so far? We are having gorgeous weather here in Lafayette and I am trying to soak up as much of it as possible, especially now that I am both feeling loads better from that darn cold bug.

I’ve been going for long walks around the neighborhood and eating lunch outside at school. I also have been trying to take advantage of crock-pot cooking to have dinner ready and waiting when I get home. Who wants to spend extra time in the kitchen when the weather is so nice?

Here is a recipe for crock-pot chicken with black beans and corn. I made it without tomatoes, so this is a great recipe for people with heartburn or sensitivity to high-acid foods. However, you could also easily add a can of diced tomatoes or some tomato salsa to this recipe if you would like that extra flavor!

crock-pot chicken with black beans & corn

– 1 package chicken breasts {I typically use 3-4 chicken breasts so I have leftovers for lunch the next day}
– 1 can black beans
– 1 can corn
– 1 onion
– 1 tbsp minced garlic
– 1 can diced tomatoes {optional}
– 1 package taco seasoning {I use the low-sodium kind}
– 1 avocado
– cheese and/or sour cream for garnish

1. Dice the onion. Saute for 3-5 minutes on low heat with the garlic.{I think this helps bring out the flavor of the onion and garlic. If you are short on time, you can omit this step and just dump the diced onion and garlic in the crock pot without pre-cooking.}

2. Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of the crock pot. Top with black beans, corn, onion/garlic mixture, and tomatoes.

3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

4. About half an hour before serving, add taco seasoning and mix well. Use a knife to shred the chicken.

5. If mixture is too liquidy, take the lid off and turn setting to “high” and cook for about 15 minutes more.

6. Serve topped with chopped avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, of whatever your favorite toppings are!

My go-to staple is to serve this dish over rice. If you have a little more time on your hands, it is also delicious served over fried potato slices; I got the idea from a local restaurant that serves a dish called “Irish nachos” that uses fried potatoes instead of tortilla chips as a base. It was easy, relatively quick, and the potatoes complemented the dish nicely. It’s a good change if you’re looking for something other than rice or tortillas to serve this dish with.

fried potatoes {aka “irish nachos”}

1. Slice a potato thinly. I like to leave the skin on, but you can certainly peel if you wish.

2. Spray a pan with olive oil. Fry the potato slices until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes per side. Top with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, or whatever else your heart desires!

3. Let cool on a paper towel to soak up any extra oil before serving.

4. Top with shredded chicken/black bean/corn mixture. A delicious twist on classic nachos!

This is a great recipe to make on a busy weeknight. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do. And hope you are getting a chance to enjoy this lovely autumn weather!

What are some of your favorite quick, easy weeknight meals?

Till soon,
Dallas

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-Time spent: 15 minutes preparation & 15 minutes for potatoes
– Cost: about $8.00

You might also enjoy:

crock-pot chicken & veggie stew
ground turkey enchiladas
tilapia with pineapple salsa

the pantry challenge + white chicken chili with corn muffins recipe

Confession: my pantry is a bit of a jumbled mess.

I’ve tried organizing it multiple times, but no matter how I sort through all of the cans, jars and boxes, it always looks messy. I finally realized the problem is that I simply have too much stuff crammed in there! So many cans and boxes and mixes that it’s impossible to even know everything that I have. So when I go to the store, I inevitably buy new cans and jars of stuff that is already buried in the back of my pantry. What a waste!

So, inspired by this post by Jill at the lovely blog Reini Days, I’ve made a resolution to use up all the food in my pantry that I already have. I’m not going quite so hardcore as Jill and her family did — I am still giving myself permission to buy new food and ingredients that I don’t currently have if necessary. But I will make an effort each week when doing my meal-planning to make recipes centered around ingredients that already live in my pantry before I go out and buy new things at the store.

The other night, I got my new pantry challenge off to a great start when I made a big batch of chili! I had friends over for Labor Day dinner and I made two big pots of chili. Look at all the cans & boxes from my pantry that I used in this single night:

Count ’em! That’s eight cans and two boxes for a total of ten items that were languishing in my overstuffed pantry! Perfect way to kick off the challenge I’ve set for myself.

Since I had seven friends over, I made two big pots of chili. In one pot, I made a tomato chili recipe from my mom that I am looking forward to sharing with you in the near future. In the other pot, I made a white chicken chili that was delicious and is perfect for anyone who is sensitive to high-acid foods such as tomatoes or suffers from heartburn because this chili is tomato-free! This is the recipe I’m going to share today. I call it “California-style” because I think it’s best served with sliced avocado on top!

california-style white chicken chili

– 1 package chicken breasts or chicken breast tenderloins
– 1 green bell pepper
– 1 orange or yellow bell pepper
– 1 tsp mixed garlic
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1 can white beans {I used organic great northern beans}
– 1 can corn
– 1 package white chili seasoning
– 1/4 cup water
– 1 medium avocado

1. Pour the olive oil and garlic into the bottom of a large pot. Turn heat on low. Dice the bell peppers and pour into the pot. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until pepper begins to soften.

2. While pepper is cooking, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

3. Drain the can of beans and corn and pour both into the pot.

4. Add the chicken, water and white chili spice packet and bring chili to a boil.

5. Turn heat down a little and simmer the chili for 20-30 minutes {or longer if you have the time … the chili gets more and more flavorful the longer you cook it. YUM!}

6. Before serving, top chili with diced avocado if desired.

My friend Xun who came over for dinner absolutely loves cornbread, so I served the chili with corn muffins, which were super easy to make. I just used a Jiffy boxed cornbread mix and poured the batter into muffin tins instead of a bread pan.

jiffy corn muffins

– 1 package jiffy cornbread mix
– 1 small can corn
– 1 egg
– 1/3 cup milk or buttermilk

1. Preheat over to 400 degrees.

2. Combine cornbread mix, egg and milk.

3. Drain can of corn and add to the batter. Mix thoroughly.

4. Pour batter into paper-lined muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Each box of mix yields about six muffins. For our get-together, I used two boxes and doubled the ingredients.

These were fantastic! We had a bit of each kind of chili left-over, but the corn muffins were all gobbled up by the night’s end!

It was a really fun night, and chili is such a relaxing meal to cook — all you really need to do is plop all the ingredients in the pot and let it simmer until you’re ready to eat. Perfect for having people over and wanting to spend your time visiting rather than slaving away in a hot kitchen.

So, does anyone else want to join the challenge with me? I’m excited to update you on my progress as I try out new recipes to clear out my pantry!

Have a great day–
Dallas

——————————

-Time spent: 1 hour {including cook time}
-Cost: about $10 {though I had almost all the ingredients in my pantry already, hooray!}

MPM-Winter
This post is linked up to Menu-Plan Monday at I’m an Organizing Junkie!