Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Favorite Mexican Casserole

My sister and I were chatting the other night on the phone.  Our conversation often turns to food because...well, we're cooking a lot...as well as the rest of the mommys!  Sometimes it's so hard to figure out what to cook.   Anyway, this recipe is one in our church cookbook and all but one of my children love it (although if your young children don't like spicy this might now be the best choice).  I don't think it's for everyone (esp. if you don't like lots of things mixed together), but I like the fact that it uses minimal meat and has lots of great veges and beans in it...and it is very flexible to whatever you may have on hand.  You can also make it ahead.  It's also flexible with little kids because you can work on getting the filling prepared a little bit at a time.So here it is, Esther.


1 1/2 c. crushed tortilla chips
1 lb. shredded, cooked chicken meat (I have used ground beef and shredded turkey too)
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained
1 (15-oz.) can kidney beans drained (I have often used just one or the other type if I didn't have both)
1 (15-oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained (I usually use frozen corn)
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
1 c. prepared salsa
1 c. chopped red onion (I've used yellow onions quite regularly, but I think red would be great!)
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I usually omit this because I don't have it on hand)
1 T. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. each, salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste (I go easy on the pepper..prob. 1/4 tsp)
6 oz. grated Monterey Jack Cheese
6 oz. grated sharp Cheddar cheese (I normally use grated mild cheddar because it's what I have)


2 c. ripe tomatoes, diced
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves  (I usually serve salsa and sour cream)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 13 x 9-in. baking dish, then scatter crushed tortilla chips evenly on the bottom.  Combine the chicken, beans, corn, tomato sauce, salsa, onion, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, salt andepepper in a bowl.  Place half the mixture evenly in the baking dish.  Combine the cheese, then sprinkle half over the chicken mixture.  Cover with the remaining half of the chicken mixture and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.  (I sprinkle the top with extra crushed tortilla chips and then sprinkle with cheese).  Bake for 30 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with garnishes in bowls, so guests can top their portions with diced tomatoes, sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.  Serves 8.

Esther, when you make this this week, maybe you could take a picture so I can post it! :)  Thanks.


Levi handed me an object today saying, "Mommy, here is a hazard."  It was a marble.  :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Grandpa, Grandma, and Abraham Lincoln

Last month we loaded our present family of eight (Alyssa's at college) into our van and headed to Grandpa Bud and Grandma Vineta's for a weekend.  Sometimes it's really nice to get settled in for a car ride and knwo there are no meals to cook, no dishes to wash, nothing that really has to be done. 

 I had packed a dinner in the car of wraps.  This is our traditional "meal on the road"...flour tortillas, filled with your choice of meat, cheese, pickles, green peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and even horseradish mustard, although I'm the only one who likes that last item.  Well, up until dinner time I was enjoying this car ride with nothing to do.  I browsed my Taste of Home Magazines for hours, marking recipes I thought might be a go.  This little activity proved to be a problem.  You see, I just didn't feel like wraps.  I was hungry and pregnant and wanted a hot meal.  I keep laughing at myself because I'm so much not like myself right now.  I think about food often and am not as content and satisfied with "whatever."  I went ahead and ate my wrap and decided to put those magazines away!!

Along with some wonderful meals around Bud and Vineta's table, we enjoyed an outing to see some Abraham Lincoln History.  2009 had been the 200th anniversary of his birth so the whole state had been celebrating for quite some time.
This was our first stop.  The boys really liked his hat!

Daddy and Kade enjoy cuddling in the chilly air as the rest of us look around the war memorial.  We actually took some time and found Kent's dad's name and Bud's name.  DJ thought it was cool to see "his" name!These beautiful flags were flying above the memorial.

Then Bud and Vineta treated us to a wonderful restaurant which had some interesting Lincoln stuff outside.  There were these amazing peacocks...but I'm not sure what they had to do with Lincoln.  We enjoyed them immensely...especially their screech.
Can you guess what everyone is standing in front of?

It was this amazing statue of Abraham Lincoln.  It was massive and reminded DJ of the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had built.  Wow!

The history center was just closing when we arrived, but those wonderful people turned the lights back on, played the 15 minute movie for us and let us walk through their gallery.  They said they felt bad for visitors to drive all that way and miss the visitor center. 

What a restful and fun time together.  We played games, looked at old pictures, shared the news of the coming baby, played with the puppy, learned more about hunting, made cookies together, and loaded back up in our huge white van and headed for home.  That time...we stopped for a hot meal at Perkins. :))

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Media Choices: Part 3

This topic has been something I've been mulling over a lot lately.  Sometimes I want to run from it.  It's controversial.  Sometimes I wish I lived 100 years ago...then I remember that we'd be dealing with different issues but still the basic human sins.  It's a topic that comes up frequently with our children.  They constantly are faced with decisions in this area.  I struggle with the fact that Christians can come up with such different practical applications in this area.  I want to understand God's heart in this area and not just make up my own rules or live by what I'm used to or comfortable with. 

But I think this topic is relevant and it matters.  It matters...because the way we live isn't isolated from the fact that we've been bought with a price....from the fact that we no longer live our own way. 

Some Scriptures I've encountered while reading the bible and have jotted down in regard to this:

Proverbs 4:23  Above all else (Wow!  I'm stopping here to let those three words sink in for me), guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Psalm 101 :2-4 I will be careful to lead a blameless life - when will you come to me? 
I will walk in my house with blameless heart. 
I will set before my eyes no vile thing. 
 The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me. 
Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; 
 I will have nothing to do with evil.

Psalm 141:4  Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil,
to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers;
let me not eat of their delicacies.

Romans 13:12-14  The night is almost gone, and the day is near.  Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

I Cor. 14:20 Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.

Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

One thing that can seem difficult is that there weren't movies and tv and such back when the bible was written.  But we know that the principles written and God's heart and His holiness are the same today as then.  The following verse actually speaks to the mind and I think it's pretty powerful!

Ephesians 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Of course, reading the verses around these specific verses paints an even clearer picture.  Pretty incredible when you stop to think about it!

Ephesians 5:3-12  But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among the saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks...Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth, trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.  Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;  for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 

I do think that verses like these can help us gain a perspective as to what the attitude of our heart should be towards evil and ungodliness.

 I don't think these verses tell us everything.

For example, one verse says, "I will set before my eyes no vile thing."  Now wait a minute!  The Bible itself speaks of many vile things, even many stories describe hideous sins.  If you can think of a sin, it's probably in some story in the Bible...sexual perversion, violence, occultism, and the list goes on.  There are some Bible stories I'm uncomfortable sharing with my young children because of the content. 

Furthermore, how can a story (be it a novel, movie, or tv show) be developed without a villain...without some "bad" fighting "good."

What I do believe is that there needs to be some struggle and tension as we read these scriptures, examine our lives, and observe the modern media trend.  How can me make these all line up to be pleasing to God? 

How can we use the Bible as the most excellent and supreme model?  I certainly don't believe the Bible contradicts itself when it has scriptures such as the above ones and at the same time having stories of Tamar and Judah (II Sam. 13), David and Bathsheba (II Sam. 11), or the murder of Amasa (II Samuel 20).  In fact, using the Bible as a model for how good and evil are shown in our entertainment has been a huge help to me.

So instead of saying, "If there's anything bad, I won't watch/read/listen to it" doesn't quite make sense.  We'd have to stop reading the Bible.  And that's obviously not the answer!!  So how can we use the Biblical examples of evil as a guide to how evil and sin are shown in entertainment today? 

Still thinking on this myself...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Media Choices: Part 2

I think we have three basic choices in regard to media.

1.  Avoid it altogether

2.  Use modern media but do so with Godly discernment

3.  Accept any or all modern media

My objections to number 1... avoiding media is practically impossible...we would miss many of the good things we can gain through media....we would fail to teach our children how to live honorably in the midst of using media

Number 2 is obviously the "right answer" :) but it's not without its challenges.  Using Godly discernment and scriptural principles doesn't make our decision-making an easy task.  This path will take us down many difficult struggles as we try to makes sense of what God desires and how to apply that practically to media.  But if this is the path we've chosen, I believe we must struggle with this, we must seek God's Word and principles to make our decisions.  It's not a road for laziness or apathy.

Number 3 is an option that I believe many of us have chosen without even realizing it.  We may mentally have the "right answer" but in practical living we've chosen the easy way...taking in whatever is popular, exciting, well-done, or entertaining without considering what God would think about it, without considering that we are to have the mind of Christ and put off the old man of flesh.

Okay...so I haven't exactly answered the questions in my last post.  I still want to do that because I think it's an important foundation and God's Word does address these questions.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Media Choices Part I

My husband taught a teen class once with an opening question he believed would be a no-brainer, with an obvious answer, an easy-to-start-with opener for class: "Should the fact that we are Christians affect the choices we make in our movies, music, books, magazines and other media?"

What he was confident would be common ground for all and would certainly garner a "YES" actually became a point of debate and disagreement.

While this happened in a teen class, I don't think this mentality is necessarily isolated to teens.  I believe we as Christians are suffering from a culture immersed in media that has a primarily ungodly mindset.

Should the fact that we belong to Christ affect our choices?  Does the "stuff" we take in mentally actually affect us?  Does it really matter if we partake of impurity in our media choices?  Can't we just decide which parts we agree with and which parts we don't like?  Isn't that enough?  Isn't it enough that we know right from wrong and can discern it in any movie or music?  Or maybe it does matter?  Maybe what I put into my heart and mind, even with the realization that it's wrong, does affect me...does it? 

(Here's my ponderings for now...will write more tomorrow.  Feel free to comment.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My kids' "toys"

My brother Levi and I are just not quite sure why adults think all these colorful, plastic toys are more exciting for us than their stuff.  I'd take their stuff over mine any day.

And there must be one for each hand!

The untensil drawer is the best.  We unload it for mom nearly every morning after breakfast, waiting until she shows us just the two we wanted.  Then we scatter them around the house and when it's lunch time she has to have everyone gather the spoons and ladles.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Thanks for the well-wishes from all!  We're excited about this baby...I can't imagine having given birth to eight children myself, but I'm excited about welcoming this little one around the middle of August. 

I'm safe to say that this will be the eighth and not the eighth and ninth!  We had to have an ultra-sound at 9 1/2 weeks due to some unexplained bleeding, but we were very relieved and thankful to see that all is well and that there is just one (unlike my husband's co-worker who is first-time pregnant with identical triplet boys and no fertilty drugs...I'm in awe and asking for weekly updates and hoping she blogs....but I'm glad it's not me!)

I haven't felt much like blogging until last week when I felt like I'd turned a corner.  Life suddenly started to feel like more than just survival.  I don't have much to complain about but knew that if I blogged that's what it would sound like.  We were sick a lot and I felt nauseous and lived for a daily nap!

Now to one of my favorite subjects...FOOD!  This is a new dimension to pregnancy.  The last two times it was more about food aversions and just trying to find something that sounded good.  This time I find myself thinking a lot about food and trying to figure out just what it is that I must eat right now!  One night at 11 I was "starving" and trying to decide between sleep or a grilled cheese sandwich with a little extra salt, lots of butter and dipped in some Trader Joe's Greek dressing (that's what it had to be exactly) and the grilled cheese sandwich won.  Kent laughs at me.  Fortunately, I'm enjoying huge leafy green salads, juicy oranges, and lots of frozen fruit too! 

We told DJ yesterday about this new one and his response was, "I can't decide if I want it to be a boy or a girl.  I want a boy because then we'd be even and the girls wouldn't be winning, but I'd like a little sister to find out what that's like!"  Either way he's excited.

The girls were happy too.  I hoped they'd be, but also was concerned they might have a slightly different view on little ones than they'd had with the other two.  I mean, you find out that these little people disrupt life, make messes and take lots of time from mom and dad.  But they were wonderful and happy too.

So here goes another exciting adventure! 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Christmas Past

We did have a wonderful Christmas holiday, we did take lots of pictures, we did have lots of family here, and we did eat lots of good food. I just didn't get around to blogging about it...until almost Valentine's Day! :) So if you're in the mood for hearts and sweet little things to make, you won't find it here...until the 4th of July...maybe! Yes, Alyssa's gift to DJ was this handy apron and chef's hat. DJ does love to help out in the kitchen and can't wait to make pancakes all by himself. that's right,

Malia made a stuffed pig friend for Kade. She picked out the pattern herself and used felt scraps from around the house. It was pretty cute and he loved it! we

Kalai and Malia were pretty creative in regards to my gift that Kade is holding. This glass jar is full of folded stars (3 dimensional). The outside of the jar said "One Hundred Reasons We Love You." This gift has totally made the last 40 days or so (as I only allow myself to open one a day). I love their sweetness and thoughtfulness...especially because I know I'm not always that lovable! are

The gift of family being with us was the best part of Christmas. My parents, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew all spent several days/weeks with us. This is my 4 year old niece who was a welcome playmate to all! expecting

We do the whole artificial thing and it's really totally okay with me! We turn on the music, pop some popcorn, and make it a family affair. The color-coded branches are a challenge every year to get in just the right spot. another

DJ made this puppet for Grandpa Stacy and Grandma Carol. He spent quite a bit of time painstakingly cutting out pieces and hot gluing them on. baby

These girls make the holidays especially fun. They're very thoughtful in their gift choosing and giving and they helped make some yummy stuff for Christmas dinner. so

This was DJ's gift to Levi (with some assistance from daddy and sister artists). This little house ended up being in our living room for about a month and was the absolute favorite place to play! that's

One of our family snapshots together one morning. why
Here's my sweet nephew that just loved this sparkly stuff. eight is great