My three-year-old daughter, Peanut, thinks that a Cold Draft is a scary monster. A few weeks ago, she asked me why I had closed my closet door. I explained that there was a cold draft coming from the closet and I needed to keep the door closed so the draft didn’t come in the room and make my bedroom cold. She stared hard at the closet.
My childhood memories of Christmas revolve around the decorations. Our family had many traditions and fun activities we did, but they all take place in my mind against the backdrop of the decorations and ornaments we would pull out every year after Thanksgiving. My mom made our house magical and beautiful at Christmas.
I know it’s not necessary, but I love using decorations to mark this time of year as something special. I don’t want to make too much of it—after all, it’s the event that we celebrate, not the decorations, that make it special. But nonetheless, they have their place and I love how Peanut is already starting to remember particular ornaments, books, and toys, and take note of the changing seasons and holidays.
With the birth of my first child, the heaviness of God’s sorrow over the sin and brokenness of our world came sharply into focus for me.
There was only a faint light through the window of the dark nursery, but I could still clearly see each tiny curve and chubby wrinkle of my infant daughter’s hand. I gently rocked back and forth as I held her warm little body against my chest. But, as I sat there—the perfect image of maternal contentment—I was overwhelmed by a recognition of the tender fragility of life and the tremendous magnitude of evil.
I was delighted with my daughter, and marveled at every little wonderful thing about her, but the beauty and wonder and joy and glories of life stood in heart wrenching contrast to how far short our world falls from God’s good plan.
for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
So then, as we have opportunity,
let us do good to everyone,
and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
I’ve been feeling weary lately. I don’t know if I would say I’m weary of doing good, as much as it is I’m weary and don’t feel like doing good.
There are multiple reasons for this, none of which are particularly important or substantial: tired of a messy house; tired of wrestling with perplexing issues; tired of trying to be understanding; tired of cooking; tired of solving the world’s problems. Nothing big. 😉 That and a 15 month-old who only naps 1.5 hrs a day and I’m tired.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I know people serving as missionaries on distant islands. I have acquaintances teaching in inner city schools. My friends volunteer at an at-risk youth center in the city. I know people opening halfway houses, teaching in prisons, fostering children, and on and on and on.
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Do you ever get this vision in your head for just how you want something to look, but you can’t really put your finger on why? That’s how this project started out for me. I wanted BEAUTIFUL BRIGHT RED chairs for our kitchen table.
Oh, I had reasons, I suppose—I thought it would look nice, be fun and colorful, etc. But then an old memory came back to me and I realized that the rustic red look was more than just a fashion statement.
I’ll admit it—I love eating pumpkin anything in the fall. However, the ways to eat pumpkin narrow a bit when you aren’t eating any grains, dairy, caffeine, or sugar.
As crazy as this food combination sounds, it is SO GOOD. (Remember what I said about no food is sacred? It still applies.) Pumpkin Fish Curry is an awesome way to have a little pumpkin in your fall menu, while still enjoying a warm, hearty, spicy soup that’s perfect for a cold day.
“Nothing is sacred when it comes to food; as long as it tastes good, any combination goes.” At least, that’s what I say! When you think this way, you end up with some awesome collisions of cultural cuisines—like this! (Just a disclaimer, though—there is absolutely nothing authentically “enchilada” about this. That’s the closest thing that this dish reminds me of, so… Enchilada Pie it is.)
Basically, this is a shepherd’s pie with a Southwestern twist—ground beef in a spicy tomato sauce topped with creamy sweet potatoes. Yum!
My favorite thing about this recipe is getting multiple meals from it. I cook three pounds of ground beef or turkey; half of that is for this meal and the rest I save for another meal, like taco salads, burritos, or Chipotle Breakfast Bake. You can also just double the amount of potatoes and make two pans of enchilada pie; it freezes well and you can just pop it in the oven another day. (Gotta love killing multiple birds with one stone. I really am depressed by meals that produce no leftovers; seriously, I feel like I wasted my time for nothing. Leftovers = Awesome.)
Start by throwing a pot of water on the stove with some sweet potatoes and potatoes. I like to use both, but sweet potato is the dominant flavor, so you can just use sweet potatoes if you prefer. I wash them up and throw them in the water with the skins on. Once they’re boiled and super soft, I hold them under cold water and rub the peel off. Easy-peasy. (Note: this method works well on white potatoes, and I’d imagine it would on gold or red potatoes as well, but I’ve never tried it with Russet. No promises there.)
For the meat, I usually use an equal combination of ground beef and ground turkey, but you can do either individually or in whatever combination you prefer. I won’t go into too much detail here; I’m assuming you can follow a recipe. I do want to explain about the flax meal, though. If you so choose, you can dissolve a couple tablespoons of flax meal in a cup of hot water and add it to the meat mixture. This gels a bit and gives the sauce more of a gravy texture (not much, really, but a bit). If you don’t have flax meal around, not a deal breaker AT ALL. It is totally optional, but I like to offer the option.
Once you’ve added all the tomatoes and spices to the browned meat, throw in some finely chopped kale and let it cook until tender. To make sure it is evenly distributed and cooks, it really should be chopped finely. If you’re starting from a bag of washed and cut kale from the store, you may need to chop it a bit more. I find the easiest and least messy way to do this is to throw it in a bowl and use my kitchen shears to cut it up. Kale in dishes with chili spices adds a nice variation in the taste and texture and complements it very well. I suppose you could use other greens, like spinach, instead but I prefer kale.
Spread out half the meat (remember, the other half is for another pan of this or a different meal- yippee!) in a casserole dish. For this amount, I like the proportions when I use a 12×18 inch casserole but you can use any size. Just adjust the amounts and do whatever seems good. Everything is already cooked, so it’s not like you need to worry that you’ll eat something raw because you layered it too think.
Throw the peeled potatoes in a bowl (or blender). An immersion blender or blender works best in whipping up the sweet potatoes because they are so stringy. You could use a mixer, but you’ll end up with a bunch of sweet potato fibers twisted all around your beaters (I once found that one out too late). Add the oil and spices and blend. Spread the mixture over the meat, sprinkle on a little chili powder, pop it in the oven, and you’re done! I hope you like this recipe as much as we do 🙂
Sweet Potato Enchilada Pie
Basically, this is a shepherd's pie with a Southwestern twist—ground beef in a spicy tomato sauce topped with creamy sweet potatoes. Yum!
Boil sweet potatoes and potatoes until fork tender and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375°.
(Optional: mix the flax meal and water and set aside.)
Saute onions, then peppers and garlic.
Add the ground beef and/or turkey.
Once all the meat is browned, drain off the fat.
Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, and spices.
(Optional: stir in flax gel.)
Stir in kale.
Allow the meat and tomato mixture to cook until most of the liquid is gone.
Add half of the meat to a 12x18 inch casserole dish and spread evenly.
Place the potatoes under cold running water and rub the peels off.
Place all the potatoes (both kinds) in a blender or in a bowl.
Add coconut oil, chili powder, and salt.
Blend or use an immersion blender until smooth.
Pour the potato mixture over the meat and spread evenly.
Sprinkle the top with chili powder.
Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
As explained in the post, this recipe is designed with double the amount of meat needed for this dish. If you don't want extra meat, just cut the meat measurements in half.
Also, this recipe calls for a 12x18 inch casserole dish, but that's just because I like lots of leftovers. If you'd rather make it in a 9x13 inch dish, just use a bit less meat (probably 1 pound would suffice) and cut out a sweet potato and potato.
For most people, answering the question “Why do you eat the food that you eat?” involves a complicated explanation; my explanation is a story for another day. This is just a brief summary of my culinary priorities and what types of recipes you can expect here.*
Okay, so I know apple butter isn’t exactly going to blow anyone’s mind, but I love this recipe. It’s easy, almost effortless, tastes delicious, and makes my house smell like everything I love about fall.