Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Garlic Encrusted Pork Tenderloin

I am all about easy recipes, especially if it they are really YUMMY and relatively quick to make. Sweet hubby and I sampled this gem on Saturday evening, and then he ate the leftovers again on Sunday night and again on Monday for lunch because he loved it so much. I loved it too, but I didn't have a chance with him scarfing it down!

We made this recipe in the oven, but we're looking forward to throwing it on the grill when it warms up a bit. We also made a tossed salad with a Romaine/Spinach bed, mandarin oranges, some shredded mozzarella, crispy chow mein noodles, craisins (infused with pomegranate), and a light balsamic vinegarette dressing. I used my other FAVORITE kitchen appliance:
Its the little things that make my heart sing! Salad spinner makes it possible to rid your freshly washed leaves of water for a crunchy salad. Such a fun little gadget with some serious results. I use it every chance I get- love it! :)

Garlic Encrusted Pork Tenderloin is another Pintrest find. I love that site, you can organize plans for future experiments.

You will need:
4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pork tenderloins (about 1¼ pounds each)
2 tablespoons canola oil (if preparing in oven)

*Stir together garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl.
*Rub the paste all over pork. If you like or have the time, marinate overnight.
We aren't good at planning ahead, so we marinated it right before we cooked it and it was excellent!

Oven preparation:
*Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
*Heat canola oil in a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, add pork, and brown all over, about 4 minutes.
*Transfer pan to oven (don't change pans, you don't need more to wash).
*Pour leftover marinade over pork in the pan.
*Roast pork, turning occasionally, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees, about 20 minutes.

Grill preparation:
*Sear the tenderloins on all sides, then grill for about 20-30 minutes, rotating every 10 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.

*Transfer pork to a cutting board, and try to let it rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Thanks Pintrest for directing me to this great find at Kitchen Confidante.

Hope you enjoy!

Today I am thankful for: an unexpected evening at home. :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Managing Monday: I heart books!

From the moment I learned the names of letters and how to string their sounds together to make words, I fell in love with reading. I vividly remember that the first book I read from cover to cover was "Max the Cat." It was one of those super thin, simple plot, floppy books with the big font and the repetitive phrases. Anyone else remember your first book?

Learning to read gave me a key to the whole world. Through the mind's eye one can be in Paris climbing the Eiffel Tower and behind the next cover you find yourself with Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets. I love that books stretch your imagination with knowledge, emotion, experience, dreams, questions, and best of all--understanding.

Need to escape from your life? "Take a look, its in a book!" You guessed it, I was glued to the TV during Reading Rainbow, and if you click on the previous link be prepared to take a trip down memory lane, fellow bookworms! My childhood aspiration was to be one of the kids who got to recommend a book at the end of the show, and I was a ready with my selection of favorites just in case LeVar Burton gave me a call.

My love of reading has lasted throughout my life (except for the short break post-grad school, seminary = tons of reading) As a result, I am a bedbookworm junkie. Books are under my bed, beside my bed, and behind the bed. In fact, if you went in my bedroom right now, you would find the tower-like stack of books against the wall. For this week's "Managing Monday," I found a wonderful solution for all of you bedbookworms out there. I love it and I want to make it happen! Check it out:

Its an organized (yes...) trendy (even better!) way to make my "need for read" (ha) available at my bedside. The best part is that it incorporates something I love into our room decor, giving the illusion that I intended a book tower for a lovely bedroom accent. Hmmmm. What do you think?

Today I am thankful for: an energizing morning workout.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fitness Friday

Oh, exercise... I do not have time for you, but without you in my life I will not have much time. So, yeah...

Growing up I played competitive soccer, on a year-round traveling team and also on our high school team. I was an alright middle-of-the-road player, nothing special, and in pretty good shape because of the fitness demands for playing a competitive sport. Side note: even then I had body image issues. Par for the course for some of us, I suspect. Good fitness does not fix body image issues, those run deep and have to be dealt with accordingly. Phew, let's not go down that road today, shall we?

Since my soccer days, fitness became an uphill battle until eventually it was virtually non-existent. Last Fall I started to run/walk, I haven't lost much weight, but I feel so much better about myself, and the best part of all is that I feel myself growing stronger.

I don't have time. I make time. Sometimes successfully and sometimes I realize that its been a week since my last run. I even made a work out mix on my ipod nano so that I don't have to hear myself breathing like a some sort of possessed wheezy machine (that's the worst part)! SO, I turn the music up and I can't hear myself breathing, I feel strong in my legs and my heart starts pumping and before I know it my feet are in sync with Taio Cruz... "I want to dance, dance, dance, dance!" Don't hate on the music. Upbeat music is essential to an awesome and fulfilling run.

Maybe next time I'll imagine my T-Rex friend is on my heels and pick up the pace a notch!

Today I am thankful for: friday lunches with sweet hubby.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Theology Thursday: Reflections on Call

Raised by a generation of public school teachers encouraging their students into the workforce girded up with the mantras: "You can do anything," "the sky is the limit," and "you can change the world," I had to find the perfect fit so that I could do my part in this great big world. At some point, I got into a rhythm looking for the best possible fit and along the path I began stumbling into God's plans for me at a pace I could digest.

I didn't always know I would become a pastor. I sort of grew into it, like a little girl awkwardly grows into her Momma's once over-sized heels. Mostly I am a story-teller, a lover of people, an embarrassingly bold mistake maker, and an ethical wrestler. In my case, those knit together loosely in an old fashioned knot quilt...and in the quirkiest way possible, it works together.

Looking back, I can see the nuances of that call developing in my life, in soft and subtle ways at first. I can remember playing preacher as a little girl and copying the verbal ticks of my beloved pastor Charles as he would say "hold your bible in readiness." The nuances grew with intensity as they kept me awake on many restless nights wondering where my gifts, passions, experiences, education, and convictions would line up to form a vocation.

Throughout college I used any opportunity to find out the "how" in the lives of people in careers that interested me. How did they find their way? How did they know for sure it was the right path? How did they choose school? Did they ever mess up on the path and take a detour? How? How? HOW? Its not easy trying to discern the best path, especially when deadlines require that you be holding a plan in your hot little hand.

The best advice is to start with what you know. I have known God and been in love with the church as long as I can remember. So, as a lover of studying bible, seminary occupied my curiosity like an untouchable fountain. I applied with the approach: "if I get in, I'll go; if I don't, I'll take it as a providential hint." I got in, they gave me money, and before I knew it I was sitting in my first class.

Eventually, I slipped my wobbly foot into my own shoe and here I am, serving as a pastor. God surely has a sense of humor.

I hope that you can find the shoe that fits. I hope that if you're already wearing it, that you will have a humble spirit as you notice and guide the set of footsteps on the soft ground just behind you.

Today I am thankful for: a much needed day off tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wildcard Wednesday: The Essence of a Name

Sometime during college, a friend of mine shared that in her culture, newborn babies are given their names in a very intentional way. At the moment of her birth, the baby is cleaned and the Father carries her away from the crowd to say her name out loud for the very first time with only the fresh ears of the baby to hear it. That is beautiful, and profound, and mysterious. There is power in a name--given and called, assigned and painfully branded.

Names often shape who we are, positively or negatively. Often, the meaning of the name, and even the person for whom the name represents can leave pause in us. For example, every Haley that I met in my early life had a tendency to be snobby, in my humble elementary aged opinion. If your name is Haley, bear with me a minute. The Haleys of my elementary days were probably no different than others, it was just my feeling about them--or maybe they felt I was cold and returned the favor, who knows. The name Haley has totally changed meaning in my life, as it is now the name of my baby sister. Now, I cannot hear that name without associating it with the love and admiration I have for the baby of our family. Names have a way of shaping our prejudices, and of assigning us meaning.

Sarah is a common name and generally associated with the wife of Abraham who bore a child at a very old age. In the Hebrew it means "a woman of high rank" or "princess." HAHA. (this is not helping my point, but I'll get to it). Also, Sarah is an old sanskrit word that means "essence." Essence, I associate that with raw, open, real, authentic... one can only hope to be so honest.

Probably the most profound piece of my name is that I am named after my Great Grandmother, Sarah Byra Gray. I never knew her, she died from an illness shortly after giving birth to my Papaw (you need to know that my Papaw's version of "Sarah" is "Say-rah," a pronunciation that is music to my ears).

Thanks to my Aunt, I have a copy of a journal from my Great Grandmother when she was 17 years old. From what I can gather in reading her words she was... educated, a romantic, a supporter of women's liberation, a devout Christian, a wordsmith and poet, a lover of fashion, interested in music, a writer, and someone who enjoyed wrestling with a challenge. From the moment I first began to read her journal, I felt a strong kinship to her... to hoping I was like her. Let me share a snippet from her words...

Love is just a very short word
But to me its more’n sea deep
And the waves that sweep the ocean—
Are like the deepest love I keep.

Sweet words from long before my time, but they speak to me. I hope they speak to you.
What's in your name?

Today I am thankful for: the understanding of a dear friend.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken

As we prepared to be married, sweet hubby and I registered for things that we thought we could use in our new home together. At first we registered for the basics: plates, cups, towels (we're simple)... and then we moved on to gadgets that we had heard tale of and felt we could benefit from (we're hopeful)... and then we got slap happy with the scanner and registered for things we had no idea how to use (we like adventures). Fortunately, our friends and family really spoiled us with some incredible household gifts and among the many incredible gifts we received was a crock pot.

If you do not know the joy of cooking with a crock pot, drop whatever you're doing now and go buy one! Seriously! They are worth every penny, especially if you lead a busy or unpredictable life (like us). Generally, if you want to eat really good food, cooking takes time. If you can make the time to cut up the ingredients, set a timer and press start... Crock pot is a miracle worker--she cooks all day sans supervision and welcomes you home after a busy day with the smells of heaven on a biscuit, with homemade dinner waiting for you, hot and ready to enjoy it.

Crock pot is my favorite kitchen appliance, and it has a permanent spot on our counter.

For Tasty Tuesday, I am going to share a Pintrest find, my most recent favorite (and super easy) crock pot meal:

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken

You will need:
3 lb. pack of chicken breasts (thawed)*
*my friend says thaw it in the fridge, not on the counter
1 bottle Frank's Wings Buffalo Sauce (this brand is essential)
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dip Mix
2 TBSP butter

Step by step:
1. Put chicken (thawed), wing sauce, and ranch dip mix into crock pot.
2. Cook on low 6 hours.
3. Using two forks, shred chicken in crock pot (it will shred easily).
4. Stir well and add butter.
5. Cook on low for an additional hour.

You can serve it on a toasted hoagie roll, in tacos, on top of nachos, inside quesadillas, or even on top of your salad...we loved it every way that we tried it! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Sweet hubby and I HIGHLY recommend it! Try it and let me know what you think. :)

Today I am thankful for: my homemade quilt (made by my Mamaw Sue) at the end of a cold day.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Managing Monday: Clothing Challenge

In the last few years, as I have turned to dressing more professional in my daily life, I have become interested in fashion. Fashion that this simple girl can pull off and look sharp. I love putting outfits together using complimentary colors with little splashes of individuality. Which leads to...

Weekly I have what my husband calls a "clothing crisis." Weekly. Not an exaggeration. A clothing crisis (if you're not familiar) consists of me saying something like: "I don't have any clothes!" and then trying on several ensembles that I have worn together before with nothing working to my satisfaction. As you can imagine, this creates a huge mess in our bedroom, and then more stress at the end of the day when I have to clean it all up again (or depending on how much time I have-- I may throw it in the closet floor, also NOT good).

We have a modest walk-in closet. Sweet Hubby's portion is about 1/5 of the whole closet and I have the rest. Ridiculous.

Every year that I can remember in my childhood, my Mom insisted that I try on all the clothes in my wardrobe and get rid of things I haven't worn in months. As an adult, I have continued this practice, but I still manage to have WAY more than I need. Part of my problem is that I will buy something (for a good deal) that I really like, but will not have a plan for how or with what to wear it. So, it sits. This has to stop. I meet people everyday in my work that do not have enough, and my cup runneth over. Not to mention, I waste money on retail therapy that could be spent in more effective, useful and loving ways.

My friend and fabulous wedding Photographer, Sarah wrote about the clothing challenge in her blog here. It struck a chord with me, and so I am taking the challenge and adding a piece to it. In short form it is this:

For a whole year, I will resist the urge to buy new clothes unless I have a gift card (currently I'm looking at $50 to Old Navy thanks to my awesome twin-in-law and $20 of Kohl's cash). Thrift store shopping is something I used to do and I need to get back to taking advantage of other people's cast off styles. I'm going to add to the challenge that if I do bring a new item home to my closet under the rules, I will take something out. So, I have to love the new-to-me piece more than I love my least favorite thing in the closet. This will require some serious thinking and planning on my part. Its about time.

Today I am thankful for: this sleepy puppy curled at my feet. She blesses me.

New Beginnings

Its a New Year and I want to do a better job documenting my life: growing places, thoughts, impressions, experiences, feelings, political leanings, theological revelations... you name it, I'm going to do my best to blog about it. Most likely, this blog will not be controversial (no need), it will just be life according to me. A pattern will help me do this best: Managing Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Wildcard Wednesday, Theology Thursday, and Fitness Friday.

Overall, I would say that I am in a good place in my life right now.
I am happily married to the sweetest hubby in the world, serving God in my occupation (gainfully employed), healthy for the most part (a little squishier than I should be, always a work in progress), I have wonderful friends that I admire (I need to do better job keeping up) and I adore my precious family (in-laws, and out-laws). Over the next few years I anticipate growth as we start having children (someday, not today) and as we go on adventures (big and small). Don't get me wrong, I have struggles, but every day I have some wonderful things that swell my heart with gratitude. This blog is dedicated to the beauty that is all of life: ups and downs, pain and love. I want a record of these memories and all that is in-between.

Some challenges (not resolutions) for me in 2012:
1. clothing challenge issued by a friend (will explain more later)
2. I will run the Turkey Trot (5k) in 2012.
3. As always, manage the squishy (lose weight, get healthy).
4. Daily Blogging. Should be a fun journey. :)

Today I am thankful for: my Momma- its her birthday!