Chicken Stew

I made an awesome meal tonight. It is from my favorite healthy mom cook book, The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeovers This book is part book, part cookbook. It is full of the reasons why we need to feed our families healthier food, and ways to get our families to eat such food.

Now, my good friend Esther over at Mommy Diaries has a different approach, she follows the Sneaky Chef school of thought, and she knows that I don’t. I’m a meaner mom, and that is OK. I figure I want my kids to know that they are eating their self proclaimed “yucky stuff” and that they either can eventually grow to like it, or at least respect it. The Moms’ Guide authors are not against drowning food in ketchup if needed, at least it has lycopene.

So anyway, I was pondering dinner tonight and I had some boneless skinless chicken breasts to make something with. The problem is that I made garlic and herb marinated baked chicken last night, and I needed tonight’s meal to seem different somehow. I went to my favorite cooking website, allrecipes and found no inspiration. So, as I often do when I need new inspiration, I turned to my gigantic stack of cookbooks. Some of my cookbooks are more well-loved than others, this particular book has survived a coffee spill and more than one tomato sauce splatter. I paged through and found this gem of a recipe, a take on Chicken Fricasee. This is healthier than it’s traditional counterpart because carrots and mushrooms are added for vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts and I fried them in a moderate amount of healthy olive oil, and I added very little salt.

Chicken Stew with Baby Carrots

  • 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each cut into three pieces
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • 1 10 oz package presliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp bottled crushed garlic
  • 1.5 cups all natural chicken broth (I use Kitchen Basics)
  • 1 16 oz bag baby carrots
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce (I was out, so I left it out...tasted great anyway)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives coarsely chopped, or 1 2.25 ounce can sliced olives, drained, optional
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper

Place Chicken and flour into a bowl and toss to coat chicken evenly. Shake off excess flour.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over med-high heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about three minutes.

Add the mushrooms, garlic and a few tablespoons of the broth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. If the chicken sticks to the pan, add additional broth, loosening brown bits from the bottom.

Stir in the carrots, the remaining broth, the tomato sauce, olives and Italian seasoning. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat ans simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Remove the cover and simmer until the carrots are tender and the stew thickens, an additional 10-15 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Serve with Polenta or Pasta (we had wagon wheels!).


Time Management

I am starting to feel the critical load of motherhood, and all of my other vocations.

In my old life, when the Rev pastored a large congregation, I could melt into the background, bake an occasional pan of bars, teach Sunday School when I felt ready to do so, and make an occasional pot of lenten soup. Now, we have this fledgling mission congregation. I feel a lot more stressed now as a PW. I’m not whining, or complaining, I’m just putting the facts out there. When we have such a small group, my absence leaves a gaping hole if I skip out of something. For the past two weeks I have taught Sunday School for kids ranging from age four to age 10…too big of a range…I need to ask for help, but then I feel guilty because it takes someone out of Pastor’s class, and to me that seems unfair.

Now I’m working. I’m only working a few days a week, but they are long days leaving me selfish for time with the boys when I am not working. I am getting my first real taste of mommy guilt. At the same time it is nice to say yes to a few more things that were no in the past. And I can’t lie, I enjoy my job. And, truth be told, it would have to happen sooner or later, we have four boys that will want to go to college, and that is coming up QUICKLY.

We have consciously limited the boys’ outside activities. They are pretty much focusing on Boy Scouts, which offers them all the variety and adventure a boy could want or need. But with three scouts now, that is three different scout schedules, which is one more thing to balance between church, school, and work.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my life, I think that we have what many people long for, and I am thankful for what we have. Through it all I am still very adamant about family dinners together, and time together doing fun things, balancing out the work of being in a family. I think sometimes I secretly long for the days when the boys were little, but back then I could not wait for them to grow up and be self sufficient…how fickle we women are!

I need to constantly remind myself that I daily sin much, and I am in daily repentance. I am thankful for a forgiving Father!

On Not Being A Screamer

I get a lot of feminine wisdom from this blog. Last week there was a blog post written, entitled Screamers. It began as a caution against raising screaming children, but ended as chastisement against women being “screamers”, or as my dear sweet Rev would so kindly put it, “over reactors”.

It hit a bit close to home. Not only do I come from a long line of screamers in the sense that yelling at the children comes naturally, but complaining and overreacting seem such a great big part of my sin nature. My house is not quiet. My house is not calm. I do not sweetly tell my family that dinner is ready, instead I yell down the basement stairs “DINNER SINNERS!!!!”.

I want more for my family. I want peace in my home. I think I am going to make more of an effort to be a milder woman.

I started today (I start again every day). The Rev had to hit the road to speak at an LWML event. I made him a pot of coffee, and he took most of the pot. Something odd happened when I made the second pot. I set the coffee maker up just so, but for whatever reason (lack of coffee perhaps?) I forgot to put the coffee pot under the drip basket.

I went downstairs to start a load of laundry (not an uncommon event). When I returned to the kitchen to pour my cup of sweet comfort, I found coffee, and water, and wet coffee grounds ALL OVER THE KITCHEN COUNTER! (ooops, I just screamed again). I have a slightly fancy coffee maker, it has a pause feature. This is a great feature, unless you forget to return the coffee pot. If you forget to place the coffee pot under the basket the basket overflows from the top, instead of out of the drip hole.

My friends, here is the important part. All of my inmost being wanted to go into full out scream mode and inappropriate pastor wife language wanted to come out and I wanted to turn red and stomp my feet and blame the boys. Instead, I calmly turned off the machine, grabbed some kitchen towels and began wiping up MY mess. I did not snap at the young one who came in in the middle of the clean up and tell him to get out until I was done. I did not bark orders at the big one.

And now, my friends, that fresh new pot of coffee is ready, and I am going to grab a cup, and enjoy my progress.

Sign Number 6,751 That School Needs to Start Soon:

The boys are beginning to get extremely possessive of Legos. It is to the point where I would like to go in their rooms in the middle of the night, break all of their creations and find their secret stashes of valuable pieces and put them in my underwear drawer…where I keep my girl stuff…eeew.

I really don’t care that some of those sets were purchased with their “own” money. Most of that “own” money, is my “own” money, which, much like the children’s money, was not earned by me. Which technically makes all of the Legos the sole property of the Rev.

Of course, in our home, Legos are not for building. They are for battling. They battle against each other. They often cause each other to cry. The oldest boy child often has a far superior army, and he tends to make up battle rules as he goes, along with having multiple invisible weapons on his battleships. The middle boy child has been known to “disarm” these ships at night, by shutting down all of the computer security systems and removing a crucial Lego brick. Of course, oldest boy child denies that such modifications are possible, leading middle boy child to cry and quit. This somehow leads to the two youngest boy children to screech and whine and leaves me threatening total Lego annihilation!

Of course, I took all the Legos away once…huge mistake. Four boys without Legos are forced to only watch TV or play video games, becasue nothing else in the whole wide world is fun and everything else is boring. And some boys never, ever, ever share, and life is so incredibly tough, perhaps they would prefer to walk to school uphill both ways because that would make life oh so much easier.

This is why I drink a glass of wine every night. In case you wondered.


I’ve been thinking about vocation lately. Martin Luther’s view on vocation is that we serve Christ, by doing what we do, doing it well, and therefore serving your neighbor. This view of vocation has been especially comforting to me in my journey of motherhood. I have a college degree, yet I have not worked full time outside the home since Andrew was born in June of 1996. Am I of less use to society than a woman who runs a successful business AND gets dinner on the table (all organic) for her family as well?

Admittedly, I do not fulfill my vocation of wife and mother even close to the best that I can, and perhaps I fail a bit in the serving God and serving my neighbor as well. I have the best of intentions, but my human failings are an obvious blemish.

I’ve been pondering vocation a lot lately because of a classmate of Andrew’s, named Taylor. She just found out that she is battling cancer a second time. I am seeing so many people living out their vocations and serving Taylor. From the doctors that treat her with such knowledge and wisdom, both at the Mayo, and right here in Bismarck, as well as the nurses who help and comfort. To the media professionals who have helped give a face to Taylor’s story, showing the world what a blessing Taylor is to so many people. The teachers and staff at Martin Luther School who are working tirelessly to make Taylor’s dream of performing as Annie come true this weekend, are also living out their vocations, serving Christ, and Taylor as well.

As for me, I’m excited to see the sneak peek of Annie this Saturday night, and giving Taylor a night to remember.