The Queen of Leftovers and Lasts

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will [her]self be watered.

Proverbs 11:25

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One thing most people probably don’t realize about us mamas is this: we are Queens of the Leftovers and the Lasts.

We thrive on the left behinds that no one else wants, like the the burnt toast, the black jellybeans, the half-eaten bananas. We typically care for ourselves last, which means we’ve learned to persevere with cold dinners and wrinkly clothes. And, we don’t skip a beat when we are the last to get a break, the last to take a shower, or the last to hit the pillow at the end of the day.

It’s called Mamahood… and there is no place for selfishness, whining, or feeble knees.

If we have the right perspective, however, not all the ‘lefttovers and lasts’ are a bummer. Take today, for example. I fed the kids, fed my man, made lunches, and got everyone out the door. When all was quiet, it was time for me to get a bite; and, as I surveyed my kitchen to spy what had to be salvaged so as not to waste, here’s what I was left with:

About a half cup of quinoa at the bottom of the pot

About a half cup of quinoa at the bottom of the pot
About a handful of edemame and half an alatufo mango

About a handful of edemame and half an ataulfo mango

Hmmm…

Well, with these random barely-there ingredients, this Queen of Leftovers did this:

  • Put the 1/2 cup of precooked quinoa in a bowl.
  • Diced up the 1/2 of the ataulfo mango (aka ‘Manila mango, or champagne mango) and shelled the 1/2 cup of edemame.
  • Drizzled a bit of EVOO, squeezed a little fresh lime juice, and topped the whole thing with a sprinkling of Furikake, which is a Japanese ‘condiment’ of toasted sesame seeds and nori.
quinoa, edemame, mango salad

And lookie lookie: a beautiful, colorful quinoa, edemame, mango salad

Let me tell you: my ‘leftovers and lasts’ turned into something spectacular I probably never would have thought to throw together otherwise. It was beautiful. It was light. It was fresh and fragrant and exactly what I needed to start my day. Yum. Yum. Yum. (NOTE: This would be an AMAZING lunch for work, or even a side salad for a bbq.)

So, today, as we mamas do what we do best – serve, and love, and serve, and lay down all that we are for our little tribes – let’s do it with heads held high, joy in our hearts, and determination to be a bright light in our homes. Why? Because there is beauty in the leftovers and the lasts… the question is: are we creative enough to see it?

A Real Woman’s “PB&J”

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches… a childhood staple for every one of us, I bet. Grape jelly was always my favorite – a burst of sweet against the rich creamy peanut taste. I can still recall the whiff of peanuty air bursting from inside my Wonder Woman lunchbox…. pure joy and pure comfort in the middle of a school day.

While my kiddos still enjoy traditional PB&J’s, this mama doesn’t do the sandwich thing anymore. Not only am I not a big bread fan (which you know), a traditional PB&J just doesn’t power me up. Furthermore, traditional PB&J’s make me feel 12 when I eat them… and, um, let me be honest: I want to feel like a woman! You know what I mean?

So, what to do? Well, look at this:

A Real Woman's "PB&J"

A Real Woman’s “PB&J”

The flavors of a PB&J… but ooohhh, this little concoction will satisfy a real woman’s discerning taste palate!

DSC03758

DSC03759 Start with 1/2 greek yogurt and a 1/2 cup quinoa… the add a handful of whole grapes, a small handful of spanish peanuts, and a drizzle of honey. Stir it up, present it to yourself in a beautiful bowl… and then close your eyes while you’re whisked back to the sweet innocence and simplicity of elementary school.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Rebel on,
Elisha

 

 

Power Up: A Quinoa Tuna Lettuce Wrap

Whew!

Yesterday we celebrated my big girl’s 12th birthday.

Twelve. She is TWELVE. Oh, how this girl has captured my heart! I look at her today and she is a mini-me. Dark skin; dark, curly hair; deep emerald green eyes. I am in awe at God’s hand – how He weaves to create such uniqueness from the inside out.

My little girl is the same today as she was on the day she was born:

  • She’s got her own agenda. (Her due date was January 1st – she arrived on January 15th.)
  • She’s strong. (She fought hard to stay in the warmth of my belly and made me work for over 18 hours before she finally made her appearance.)
  • She’s opinionated. (She cried for three days straight in the hospital, just to be sure we knew she was tired of people messing with her.)
  • She loves her mama. (The only thing that could quiet her in the hospital was laying skin to skin against my chest.)

Anyway, this year she wanted nothing more than a room makeover. She’s been talking about it for months, and for months we’ve been saying, “yeah, right”. What she didn’t know, however, is that for months I’ve been ‘collecting’. I’ve been buying little things here and there as I found them on sale so that we could do what’s she’s been dreaming about in one fell swoop. (I mean, a pre-teen girl has real tastes!)

The result?

Before...

Before…

After...

After…

She is beyond thrilled.

Let me tell you, though: it was work for 8 straight hours! I left to take the kids to school at 7:30am and my man got straight to work. Painting, vacuuming, dusting; she has a pig collection of dozens of tiny little pieces and that alone took 30 minutes to clean and organize. In the midst of the work, however, I made something that was so yummy – so filling – so perfect to power us for our mission, I just have to share it:

A quinoa tuna lettuce wrap:

Quinoa Tuna Lettuce Wrap

Here’s what you do:

For the salad: Using a large bowl, add 1 cup of quinoa, 1 can of tuna, a handful of cherry tomatoes (chopped into quarters), 2 diced green onions, salt and pepper to taste, and a small drizzle of olive oil. Stir it all together and then squeeze the juice of 1 large lemon over the mixture. (NOTE: Lemon is the KEY.)

To make the wrap: use large, washed green or red leaf lettuce. Spoon enough of the tuna salad into the leaf so that you can roll it up. If you like it spicy, top the salad with some crushed chili peppers – and enjoy! (You can also just eat this out of a bowl if you don’t have the lettuce.)

 

Gorgeous salad!

Gorgeous salad!

Light. Tart. Savory. The perfect meal to keep you running through your day.

Thanks for being here with me…

Rebel on,
Elisha

 

 

The Sunday Catch Up: Chicken No-Noodle Soup

On Sunday evenings I love being home. Technology goes off, kids play, bags get packed for school, and we ‘catch up’.

Catch up on laughs with friends and family that live far away.
Catch up on reading minutes that need to be put on the reading logs that are due on Monday.
Catch up on laundry, on sports, on down-time in front of the fire.
Catch up on, well, just being.
Being still… being quiet… being safe within our four walls.

What do I like to cook on a leisurely Sunday evening, you wonder?

Chicken No-Noodle Soup: a wonderful homemade chicken broth soup I always serve  over a hot, fresh serving of cooked quinoa.

Ohmygoodness.

Typically come Sunday, new groceries go in (Sunday is my big grocery day) and, therefore, leftovers need to come out. One of our most typical leftovers is a rotisserie that has been deboned.

Chicken bones,” you say?

Yep.

But, you know what? No matter how well I debone a rotisserie, there’s always enough meat left on the bones to make a great chicken soup.

Here’s what I did:

  1. I put approximately 6 cups of water in my soup pot and turned the heat to high.
  2. I pulled out the remains of the rotisserie chicken I used a couple nights ago for dinner.
  3. I used my fingers and removed all the fat/skin I could – then I put the bones in the pot and brought everything to a rapid boil. (I also always add whatever has settled in the bottom of the rotisserie tray – the natural ‘bullion’, if you will.)
  4. I turned the heat down to medium and let it boil uncovered for about 25 minutes.
  5. I used a slotted spoon to remove all the bones from the soup, and then picked off any remaining meat before discarding the bones. And, voilà! I had perfect, homemade chicken broth. (I ended up with over two cups of chicken meat from my bones!)
  6. With the bones removed, I threw in: (1) a diced onion; (2) three chopped carrots; (3) two stalks of chopped celery; (4) two garlic cloves diced and crushed; and, (5) a cup of frozen peas.
  7. Once the carrots were soft (about 10 minutes), I drizzled in about 1/4 cup of soy sauce, black pepper to taste, and then – then! – I served up the yummy, savory chicken soup over a piping hot serving of fresh cooked quinoa.

Simple, wasn’t it? Look how beautiful…

DSC03114

And, oh, pure warmth for the tummy.

So, next time you buy a rotisserie, make sure you save the bones and make a simple broth… then, turn it into a ‘superbowl’ chicken no-noodle soup by using quinoa instead of noodles or rice. You’ll LOVE it, I promise. (Oh, and if  you like a little ‘kick’, top it off with some chili paste.)

Hope you had a wonderful weekend… hope YOU got some time to ‘catch up’.

Rebel on,
Elisha

The Perfect Start to My Morning

When I wake up in the morning, I literally open my eyes to, first and foremost, offer my time for my kids and my man.

I gently rouse everyone from bed with a little back rub, a little neck nuzzle, a little “good morning, Love, it’s a new day.” If they jump up fast enough (which is before I make my rounds through all three rooms), I’ll typically return and give them a little treat by making their bed for them while they dress. I’ll shout out a couple more “hurry now, let’s not be behind this morning…”, and then I’m off to 45 minutes of multi-tasking.

I’m the first one downstairs to bring life to the sleeping home. I put on the coffee, begin making lunches, and wait for my little chicks and my big man to wander down the stairs for their breakfast. We’ll chat as they eat. I’ll stuff sandwich bags, remind them to eat their fruit, refill water glasses… and then at 7:35 – they are off. Out the door they go; my house is quiet.

I breathe deep. I clear the kitchen counters and load the dishwasher with breakfast dishes. I refill my coffee cup and then – then! – I get to make my own breakfast.

I spend my days working from home mostly. It seems ‘luxurious’ to think about… but let me tell you: being self-employed requires more discipline than you think! There’s no one telling you what has to be done; no one keeping you on track. Nope – my time is my own, which is why it’s even more vital that I keep my mind sharp, I stay on task, and I use food to nourish and power me.

My food choices impact how I perform. So, what do I choose as a perfect start to my day?

This:

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  • 1/2 cup precooked quinoa.
  • A handful of fresh, raw spinach.
  • One fried egg on top. (When the egg is hot it wilts the spinach, so I like to lay the egg right on top of the greens for a few seconds before I cut it all up to eat it.)
  • A drizzle of soy sauce and a dash of chili pepper paste.

It takes me less than two minutes to make… and it’s satiating, empowering, delicious. I lay it all in a bowl and then, with a fork and knife, I cross-cross cut through it all until it is a big bowl of easy-to-eat goodness.

I eat this almost every morning – and, let me tell you, it gives me energy I need to get off on the right foot.

I hope you’ll try it…

Rebel on,

Elisha

Something to think about today: You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12

 

 

Coconut Chicken Corn Soup

When I was growing up, one of my favorite fiesta dishes was always the coconut chicken corn soup. It’s such a sweet memory for me: walking in on the nanas in the outdoor kitchen boiling the chicken off the bones, fanning themselves with paper plates and talking about the neighborhood gossip. When it was ready for the party, they’d bring it out in big pots and all us kids would gather round to fill up our cups. It may have been 95 degrees outside, but there was something about a hot cup of corn soup that made us all feel happy.

Now, on days like today where it’s drizzly, cold and the kids are bouncing off the walls from a full day of “indoor activities”, a big, hot pot of soup seems more than appropriate. So –  here’s my recipe for the most delicious coconut chicken corn soup you’ll ever – EVER – eat. And you know the best part? You can pick up a Costco rotisserie and make this in less than 15 minutes… so it’s the perfect “quick and easy” homemade meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 rotisseri chicken, deboned
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup coconut milk (be sure when you buy coconut milk the ONLY ingredient you see is “coconut milk” – I love the Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • black pepper to taste
  • soy sauce to taste (I usually use about 1/8 of a cup)
  1. Sauté the onion in a large pot with just a little olive oil. When onions are translucent, add in the chicken meat, the broth, the water, and the frozen corn. Bring to boil then turn heat down to medium low.
  2. Allow the pot to simmer for about 10 minutes then add in the coconut milk, the black pepper and the soy. Turn off the heat and cover until ready to serve. (NOTE: If you like it more “soupy” than it turns out, just add some extra water.)
  3. Serve over cooked quinoa – and, if you like it HOT, top it with chili paste.
Enjoy!
P.S. Now, I know the american thing is to serve everything with bread. REBEL FROM THIS TRADITION! I add quinoa into each bowl before I serve because it gives extra substance to the meal and makes bread unnecessary.
P.S.S. Sometimes I’ll make this by boiling down the bones of a rotisserie that we’ve eaten at a previous meal. There is so much meat left on the bones no matter how good we try and clean one off… and it stretches my $5.00 rotisserie purchase into TWO full meals. I share this way with you, however, because it’s something you can do on the fly.)