Creamy Yam Bake with a Healthy Twist

If I was asked to choose one of my favorite dishes at any Thanksgiving table, it would be the sweet potato or yam dish. I actually have never tasted a sweet potato casserole that I do not like. Since the recipe I usually make tastes as much like a dessert as a dinner side dish, I decided to try a new recipe this year that was a bit healthier. I adapted a recipe that was given to me by my sister’s SIL (sister-in-law) and the end result was delicious and nutritious.

Ingredients

8 yams or sweet potatoes
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 Tablespoon grated orange rind
1 cup greek yogurt honey flavored
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions
1. Wash and wrap yams in foil, sealing tightly on ends. Place in 400 degree oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, until soft and tender to touch. I place my yams on a baking sheet with sides in case they leak a bit from the sealed ends of the foil-this helps prevent a sticky mess in the bottom of your oven).
2. Remove from oven and allow to cool until easy to handle-30-60 minutes.
3. Peel yams by making a slit in the skin length-wise. The yam flesh should slide right out into your medium sized mixing bowl.IMG_5535

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4. Mash yams slightly with a potato masher while adding the yogurt, tahini, ginger and orange rind. You can continue mashing by hand or whip in kitchen aid until fluffy. Transfer to ovenproof serving dish and heat for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees.
5. While yams are baking, toast your chopped pecans in toaster oven for 3-5 minutes watching very carefully because they get done very quickly.
6. Sprinkle toasted pecans on top of yams and serve.
7. I make this dish the day before and refrigerate until 2 hours before serving. I pull them out of the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature and then bake them right before we eat. Don’t for get to sprinkle the chopped toasted pecans on top.IMG_5552I could not get a picture of the dish fast enough as people scooped the yams onto their plate faster than I could click a picture.

.IMG_5554What is your favorite Dish on your Thanksgiving table?

Kerry Signature48

Turkey Headbands

Here is a fun and easy craft for bringing some creativity to your Thanksgiving Holiday season.
All that you need is
Glue gun
Scissors
Ribbon
⅝ inch polka dot or plain brown and yellow
¼ inch polka dot or plain orange and red
Wiggle googley eyes
Stretchy headband

Cut one strip of brown ribbon 2 inches long, fold wrong sides together and glue ends together.
Cut three strips of brown ribbon-one 4 inches, one 4 ½ inches and one 5 inches-glue by placing a drop of glue on the right side of each ribbon and fold over creating 3 separate loops.IMG_5518 IMG_5519

Place first 2 inch folded ribbon inside smallest loop and glue together. Place the second and third loop one inside the other to form the body of the turkey. IMG_5521 IMG_5522

Cut one more brown piece of ribbon 3 inches and make one more loop for the head. Attach the head to the top of the body.IMG_5523

Create the feathers by cutting 3 yellow ribbons 5 ½ inches long, 2 red and 2 orange ribbons 5 ½ inches long. Glue feathers by forming loops.IMG_5524 Attach feathers to the back of the turkey, arranging them in any order that suits you.IMG_5525 IMG_5526

Glue a small triangle of yellow ribbon onto the Turkey for a beak. Glue on two wiggle googley eyes.IMG_5527

Glue your turkey onto a stretchy headband and wear for your Thanksgiving celebration.

What fun Thanksgiving craft idea have you tried?

Kerry Signature48

10 Day Challenge: Thankfulness in Action

Today is November 20th. That means you have ten more days to focus on Thanksgiving and the beauty of being thankful before life is all about the hustle and bustle of Christmas. So I think it is time for a little challenge. I challenge you to take the last ten days of November to live out your own blessing of thankfulness. Show people you are grateful for them. Pay attention to circumstances that are blessing you. Realize how the Lord is weaving his blessings throughout your life. Live blessed. And live to bless others. But first, I want you to read a devotional I came across this morning that really resonated with where my heart has been lately.


Thanksgiving

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16

Thankfulness is foundational to the Christian life. Thankfulness is a conscious response that comes from looking beyond our blessings to their source. As Christians, we have been forgiven, saved from death, and adopted as God’s children. There could be no better reason for a grateful heart!
Lepers in Jesus’ day were social outcasts. Their highly contagious condition ostracized them from those they loved. When ten lepers encountered Jesus, they desperately implored Him to show them mercy. Jesus sent them to the priest. As they obeyed, they were healed! These ten men had been forbidden to enter their own villages, to live in their own homes, to work in their own jobs, or even to touch their own children. Imagine what unrestrained joy must have filled them as they ran back home again!
One of the lepers, a Samaritan, stopped and ran back to thank Jesus. Samaritans were normally shunned by the Jews, but Jesus had healed him! Jesus asked him, “Where are the others?” Ten lepers had been healed. Ten lepers were reveling in their new found health. Ten men were joyfully rushing to share the good news with those they loved. But only one considered the Source of that blessing and stopped to thank and worship the One who had given him back his life.
We, too, have been healed and made whole by the Savior. We are free to enjoy the abundant life the Savior has graciously given us. Could we, like the nine lepers, rush off so quickly to glory in our blessings without stopping to thank our Redeemer? God looks for our thanks. Our worship, prayers, service, and daily life ought to be saturated with thanksgiving to God (Phil. 4:6). (Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby)

The leper that ran back to Jesus took action. He back to thank Jesus. It made a difference. He stopped the busyness to recognize the blessing, and the source of the blessing. He went out of his way to say thank you. Do we recognize where our blessings come from? Do we take the time to say thank you to our Savior who has given us everything?

So here’s the challenge. Be active in your thankfulness. Make a difference. Don’t just ponder on your thankfulness in your heart. Say thank you. Pay it forward. Pass the blessing along so that others may share in the gratitude or the blessing. You can do ten different things for the next ten days, or choose one to do every day for the next ten day. Find a way to incorporate it into your life. Integrate gratitude into your family, your marriage, your parenting, your work, your church, your friendships, your hobbies, your everyday tasks, and your social life. Take the challenge. Here are some ideas to spur you on to coming up with your own ideas.

  • Call a friend to say thanks for their friendship
  • Go out of your way at work to thank you for something specific. Be Specific
  • Bake something with your kids to take to a friend to say thanks
  • Reach out to someone in your family
  • When you are in the drive thru line buy the food for the people behind you
  • Write a letter to a friend
  • Buy someone coffee
  • Show up to a friends house with groceries
  • Do something for your kids teachers
  • Open up your home for people to come by for coffee
  • Send someone a Bible Verse
  • Have a thankful wall for your kids to write things on
  • Start a gratitude journal
  • Pray with someone
  • Volunteer to serve meal at a shelter
  • Help with something at your church
  • Reach out to your pastor’s wife
  • Tell your husband every day why you love him and why you are thankful for him
  • Take your child on a special date to tell them you are thankful for them
  • Put a note in someone’s lunch
  • Send a text with a Bible Verse
  • Have people write on place cards why they are thankful for people at the thanksgiving table
  • Have everyone share things they are grateful for and blessings at the dinner table
  • Say thank you with eye contact to people who serve you/check your groceries/ etc.
  • Give a gift without expecting anything in return
  • Listen to someone
  • Pay attention to the little things
  • Compliment someone with something you appreciate about them

What are your ideas? Can you take this challenge?

Bethany Signature48

Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Soup

I like to have a few super easy recipes ready to make during the Thanksgiving week. When I spend day after day, planning, decorating, shopping and beginning my food preparation for the holiday meal, the last thing I want to do is stress over what to cook for dinner the few nights before Thanksgiving. So having an easy throw together slow cooker meal that is this delicious is wonderful!! Ingredients 2 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice 1 (10 oz) can salsa verde 2 medium yellow onions chopped 2 cloves garlic minced 1 cup chopped cilantro 2 cups water 1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth 1 Tablespoon concentrated chicken stock 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon chili powder ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon black pepper 1 teaspoon oregano 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (2 large) 1 (10 oz) can corn 1 (10 oz) can black beans Place all ingredients in Slow Cooker and stir. Cook on LOW for 6 hours or HIGH for 2 ½ hours. Before serving, shred the chicken and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve in big bowls with optional toppings-shredded cheese, tortilla strips, sour cream and salsa. Nutritious and delicious!!!IMG_5500 Bekah Signature48

Thankful for Magical Moments

Watching the world through the eyes of a child brings a magical perspective to every situation.  I am not sure at what age that magical perspective and sense of wonder begins to fade, but when I am spending time with my grandchildren it can be rekindled in a matter of moments. This weekend I was blessed by one opportunity after another to participate in many magical moments. I came away with a renewed sense of thankfulness for imagination and make believe.

Our first event was a “Pinkalicious” birthday party complete with pink decorations, a pink paper cupcake craft, make-your-own ribbon twirlers, PINKALICIOUS cupcakes and a table full of green food. (If you have not read the book “Pinkalicious” you MUST read it-the green food is the antidote to the troublesome dilemma that the pink cupcake loving little girl gets herself into). Bright eyed children  looked with wonder and there was lots of laughter and joy!IMG_5302 IMG_5309

Our second activity, the following day, was an early morning trip to the Disney Store. My grandchildren love everything Disney! My daughter learned from a friend about the special Unlocking Ceremony where children are able to “Unlock Imagination!” This opening ceremony takes place every single day at every new Disney Store. (Check your local Disney Store to make sure they participate in this awesome ceremony)  We arrived about 30 minutes before opening and our birthday girl was the lucky child chosen that day to take part in the opening ceremony and officially “Unlock Imagination” at her Disney Store with an oversized lock and key. Magical moments abound in the Disney Store as we watched the girls look with awe and wonder at all the beautiful toys, clothes and stuffed animals in the store. The highlight was the big screen that lit up with colors and characters as the employees sang “Happy Birthday” to our princess.10390973_10152409776225872_6333848227653733067_n

Our third experience filled with magical moments was the next day when our birthday girl was visited by many of her aunties and uncles and three more of her grandparents. We had a day full of make believe, tea parties, dancing and dress-up. I am so thankful for the refreshment, laughter and joy that spending time with my grandchildren brings. I am thankful for family and for the opportunity to watch young minds develop and young hearts soak up these magical moments.IMG_5469 IMG_5478 IMG_5484

This Thanksgiving season, take time to celebrate the magical moments created when family and friends gather. Spend time sharing your hearts and encouraging one another to reflect on all the blessings you have in your life.

What Magical Moments will you watch and wait for this holiday season?

Kerry Signature48

Quick Quinoa Medley Meal

I am so grateful for the beauty that surrounds me every day. I am blessed to live in a town that bursts forth with all my favorite colors every October and November. On these cooler Fall nights, when you feel like a warm meal, it is fun to be creative with what you have in the refrigerator. A few nights ago, I decided to try a warm Quinoa meal that you can make with almost any vegetables and add meat if you want to. Here is the Quinoa medley I whipped up and both my husband, Rick, and I thought it was delicious.IMG_5240

Ingredients

1 cup dry quinoa which yields 3 cups cooked (cook as directed on box)
2 cups butternut squash peeled and cubed (1 medium or ½ large squash)
2 cup brussel sprouts trimmed and cut in half if large
4 cups power greens chopped a bit (any combination of kale, chard, spinach)
4 cloves garlic smashed
½ cup chopped cilantro
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Season pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala seasoning
1 chicken breast cooked and cubed

Cook Quinoa as directed on package to yield 3 cups. Set aside while preparing vegetables and chicken. Toss butternut squash and brussel sprouts in 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt pepper and Garam Masala. Place foil on cookie sheet and spread vegetables out in a single layer and roast at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes until fork tender. Set aside. Saute garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add power greens and stir until tender and cooked through about 5 minutes. Toss together quinoa, sautéed power greens, roasted vegetables and ½ cup chopped cilantro. Add cooked, cubed chicken and stir until combined. Serve warm with hummus and pita bread and a nice green salad. It is also tasty to pour a few tablespoons of Coconut Milk Curry sauce over your bowl of Quinoa.

COCONUT MILK CURRY SAUCE
1 can coconut milk
1 Tablesoop curry powder
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons Braggs Liquid Aminos
Serves 4

What is your new favorite throw together quick meal?

Kerry Signature48

The Discipline of Being Thankful

It is very easy to go about our lives not even thinking of how blessed we are. It’s one thing to the next to the next.  Our minds are filled, our lives are filled, our stomachs are filled, and our schedules are filled.  We don’t understand what it really means to be in need. Which I think really affects our ability to be grateful and give thanks. We live in a culture filled with entitlement and survival mode and excess. But… it is the month of thankfulness, so maybe we are paying a little bit more attention to being thankful, but I am almost sure there is some room to grow. So it’s time to take a look…

What were you thankful for today, this past week, this past week? And not just what, but who are you thankful for? How does that thankfulness impact you, and what does it compel you to do? Do you say thanks? Do you return the favor? Do you pay it forward? Do you live blessed?

I received a letter in the mail (REAL MAIL, not email) a few days ago from a friend telling me how thankful she is for me.  She said she is taking the month of November and writing a letter to a different person every day to tell them she is thankful for them. HOW COOL IS THAT!

Let’s not only take November to focus on being thankful.  Let’s change our perspective with hope to change our lives so we are filled with gratitude.  Practice the discipline of being thankful this November, and hopefully it will overflow as habit into the rest of the year. And I call it a discipline, because it may take discipline to change your mindset or perspective.  But disciplines cause lasting change. So not only will November be a month of thankfulness, it will be a month to intentionally reflect on our thankfulness for the rest of the year.  And your discipline to be thankful doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. Take some time to get to know your heart, stretch yourself, and do something that will help you refocus. It can be as creative as writing a letter to a friend every day, or you can just choose one thing every day you are thankful for and write it down. It can be once a day, once a week, one big change. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, just do something! Give thanks.

Colossians 3:15-17 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

So my desire for you this week as you try to look outward to find areas of thankfulness and live inwardly blessed, is that you see that the true gratitude and thanksgiving goes to our Lord. He has given us more than we can even ask for or imagine. He deserves all our praise and our worship, and our thanksgiving. So give thanks to God by giving disciplining your heart, mind, and soul, to be thankful.

Bethany Signature60

Communication-Being an Effective Leader

Today Bethany and I spent our Veteran’s Day at a fantastic Leadership Conference called Catalyst. Catalyst is a one day or two day event where a community of like minded people who LOVE the church and want to become more effective leaders in every aspect of their lives gather for encouragement and teaching.IMG_5275 Everyone of us has a leadership role somewhere in our lives-we might lead people in our job or in our family, in our community or in our church. Being an effective leader involves communicating clearly and learning how to motivate people to join in.

One of the speakers, Craig Groeschel, talked about the four qualities of effective communication. He began with a quote from George Bernard Shaw- “The single biggest problem in communication lies in believing that it has taken place.” Craig challenged us to remember that just because we say something, doesn’t mean the people we are saying it to are hearing or understanding us. We need to  bear in mind that often times people do not think like we think, see what we see or care as deeply as we care. But in light of that, we can become better leaders if we recognize our responsibility and are willing to do our part. Here are the four qualities of effective communication that I learned today. They can be applied to our lives in our leadership roles as well as in our day to day lives.

Be CONSISTENT in my values, my vision and my direction. Be true to my values in how I live my life because values communicate what I stand for. My vision is expressed in my purpose and works itself out in my life as I discover what I am here for. My direction is demonstrated in my life by where I am going. If I am communicating effectively, people will be able to follow my lead because they will experience consistency in my values, vision and direction.

Have a specific STRATEGY because general communication does not usually get the results you want and general ideas do not usually result in specific actions. If I want to see results I need to communicate effectively by letting those I am leading know my specific strategy about WHAT I want us to be doing, WHO is going to do it and WHEN it will get done.

Craig went on to teach us that “Truth trumps all” so he challenged us to be AUTHENTIC! When I make a mistake I need to own it. If I let my pride creep in and try to pass off the responsibility of the mistake, I lose my credibility. When there is a problem, I must acknowledge it. When I am not sure about something I must admit it. “People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who’s always right.” In our family we have a truth that we remind each other of often-It is better to be kind than right!

We were given a title today that we must all embrace-each one of us can consider ourselves to be the CRO of our family or the CRO in our sphere of influence as a leader. The CRO is the Chief Reminding officer. It is my job as a wife and mother to remind my family of our Values, Vision and Direction and that it is important to have a specific strategy and to be Authentic!

My challenge is to be PASSIONATE about my role as a leader in my family, in my community and in my church. If I take my passion of being a “light to the world” and an encouragement to those I can influence and I communicate my values, vision and direction to them, I believe I can become an ambassador of change. For me, my passion is generated by my faith in Jesus and my vision is to share my heart with those I love and those I can influence to move people forward in their search for meaning and purpose in life.

Do you have values, vision and direction? How are you communicating these to those in your circle of influence?

Kerry Signature48

Gratefulness-A Reflection on Family and Friends

The nights are getting colder, crisp and clear and fall leaves are changing.IMG_5243 Thanksgiving Day is in 2 ½ weeks. Families are making holiday plans, menu ideas are in the works, grocery lists are being written, decorations are filling our homes with autumn colors of red, orange, yellow, green and brown. I want so desperate to stop time and really appreciate all that fills my life-but I find myself racing against the clock every day during the months of November and December. My ‘ToDo List” seems endless and my desire to make homemade gifts for everyone I love buries me deeper in my quest to somehow find more hours in my day. So this year I am trying something new……I am putting people ahead of my agenda….I am taking a bit more time to reflect on the blessings of family and friends and actively making sure they know how important they are to me. I am making it a priority to spend quality time with them to communicate my love in my actions . The gift of TIME with the ones I love, gives me the opportunity to grow deeper in my relationships with them and be an encouragement.

And an amazing thing is happening…..by opening up my heart to the needs of my family and friends, my time seems to be multiplying. I feel a deeper sense of peace and joy and I have an eager anticipation for what opportunities await me….. to give and love and serve. Having an attitude of GRATEFULNESS and a desire to express it in tangible ways to the ones I love has freed me from being chained to my “Must Do-ToDo” list. It might be a phone call just to check in or to give a bit of advice or encouragement to a friend or to one of my daughters. Maybe a surprise visit from a friend I haven’t seen for months which turns into an afternoon of catching up and sharing our hearts and I am still able to get all the things done that were necessary that day. Just being present and attentive to the needs of the moment is bringing a richness to the start of my holiday season. Instead of panicking at the many things I need to get done I am trusting that making memories is more important. I invited my husband, daughter and son-in-law to be helpers in the homemade gift making process and we accomplished the task and had a blast together.IMG_5256 IMG_5255 IMG_5259 IMG_5258 IMG_5257I am focusing on all the people I am thankful for and it has changed my perspective. Gratefulness becomes a manifestation of my willingness to express my attitude of gratitude and acknowledge those people I deeply appreciate. So for the next few weeks, I am going to commit to people before projects and take opportunities to serve and work side by side with loved ones enjoying the process as much and the end result. I challenge you all to do the same.

Are you willing to put aside your holiday agenda and allow people to be your priority? Take some extra time to express your gratefulness for your family and friends. You will be truly blessed!

Kerry Signature48

Passion Perspective Giveaway Winner

And the winner is…

BRIANNA LYDING

Congratulations!
You will receive an email within the next few days to find out how to receive your prize! Thanks for being a part of our Passion Perspective Week!

Didn’t win but want Julie’s devotional book, “Real Life is Like Sports”? You can buy it on Amazon today…

Don’t forget to check out some of Julie’s favorite books which can also all be found on Amazon! Click on each book to see the Amazon price and description!

Favorite books – Fiction: Anything by Joel C. Rosenberg, The Ezekiel OptionThe Copper ScrollDead HeatThe Twelfth ImamThe Tehran InitiativeDamascus Countdown.

Non-fiction: Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves

THE WEISSER WOMEN