Monday, February 27, 2012

Letter to Myself

When I was a senior in high school, I wrote a letter to future me as a class assignment. I wrote about my relationships at the time and how I hoped they would change or stay the same in the future. I wrote about my anxieties about college and my hopes for the future. I wrote about how I hoped to grow in my faith over the years. My parents gave me this letter several months ago after they got it in the mail, and I read through it quickly before we went out for dinner and didn't give it a lot of thought. I was going through some drawers over the weekend and picked up my letter. I gave it more thought, and I was really happy.

In the letter I explained my reasoning for no longer wanted to go to med school, as if I needed to convince myself that I was making the right decision. It was funny to read this now because I know that I absolutely made the right decision, no convincing needed. I also wrote about how I was nervous about picking the wrong college major. It was just like my 18-year-old self to worry about making the "right" choices all of the time. I wrote about my relationship with Luke and the hopes I had for our future. I was a little bit turned off by the way I described our relationship at the time; I wrote in a very idealistic way and described the love I had for Luke in a very "young love" way. I wrote about how I worried about finding the right group of friends in college. I was so blessed with such wonderful friends prior to college that I was afraid I wouldn't meet anyone like them. My biggest hope for my future self was that I would mature in my relationship with God. I didn't go into much detail about this part, but I vividly remember the sentiment being there.

As I think about all of the things I had hoped for my future self, I couldn't be happier with the way things turned out. It turns out that I did pick a great major in college, but I added on an even better one half way through. The 18-year-old me would have been so ashamed by this; not making the right decision the first time would have been embarrassing. But at some point, I learned that being happy is more important than always getting it right. I also realized how much I have grown in my relationship and love for my husband. Of course it is to be expected that there will be growth and change in a relationship over time; I am so happy about the ways in which it has changed. I am still completely in love with my husband, but that isn't all. I respect him so much, and this respect has taught me about a completely different kind of love that I have for him. In college, I met the most amazing people, and I could not imagine my life without so many wonderful women. I have really been so blessed and encouraged by my friendships with the ladies I met, and I continue to learn from each of them.

When I think about all of these amazing blessings and lessons I've had since I wrote that letter 4 years ago, I know without a doubt that I would not have had any of these without pursuing my relationship with God. In my pursuit of the Lord, I have learned and been shown what loving with Christ-like love means. I learned that my own desires were nowhere near as important as His desires, and when I let go of mine, His became easy. I still struggle, but I know that He will continue to teach me and show me how to make my heart match His. I am so thankful for the ways in which the Lord has taught me since I wrote that letter to myself. I feel satisfied in knowing that He will continue to teach me, love me, and show me how to pursue His desires instead of my own.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tomato Tortellini Soup

Our typical Sunday post-church habit has been to head to Panera for lunch with the masses. Today instead of spending $25ish on soups, sandwiches, and salads, we had that at home for way less. And my husband said he thought it was better than Panera, but I know he was just being nice. I'll take it! We've had roller coaster weather here in VA since "winter" started. We spend a week the 60s, then have one day in the 30s and we're back to 60s. Today is our token 30-degree weather day, so I thought it would be a perfect day for some soup. I threw this stuff together, and it turned out pretty great!

1 package of tortellini, cooked (I used my beloved pasta boat!)
2 cans crushed tomatoes
4 tbsp butter
1 can diced tomatoes (or dice them yourself! ours had gone bad)
2 chicken bouillon cubes + 2 cups water
2 cups skim milk
2 cups half and half
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp salt

Cook tortellini as directed on the package. Meanwhile, bring the water and bouillon cubes to a boil and blend. Add the crushed tomatoes and butter and let boil. Reduce to med-low heat. Add milk and half and half gradually, whisking the whole time. Add diced tomatoes, garlic powder, basil, and salt, stirring to blend. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. When the tortellini is done, add it to the soup mixture and stir. Serve with shredded mozzarella on top if you want. We had mozzarella grilled cheeses with ours!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fettucini Chicken Alfredo

This year instead of going out for Valentine's Day, we decided to stay home and make dinner together because let's face it, we're on the 2nd Lt with a wife in grad school budget. And it was delightful. I was just going to make plain old fettucini alfredo until Luke said, "Aren't going to put meat in that?" So we thawed some chicken. 

Here's the stuff I used to marinade the chicken:
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1 pinch dried sage

3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water
2 tbsp low-fat sour cream
a little bit of nutmeg
a lttle bit of pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Other things of importance:
1 box fettucini
1 large zucchini, shredded

Slice chicken into thin strips and marinade for about an hour. In a small saucepan, bring the broth and garlic to a boil. After it begins to boil, reduce to medium heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. After those 10 minutes have passed, cook fettucini. Add the cornstarch + water mixture to the sauce and stir with a whisk until blended. Mix in sour cream, nutmeg, pepper and cheese, stirring frequently. Reduce to low heat and do not let it boil. Add the zucchini to the fettucini for the last 2 minutes of cooking. While the fettucini and sauce are cooking, cook sliced chicken in a skillet until done. On a bed of fettucini, add chicken and top with sauce.

Mom's Chicken Tetrazzini

This is my mom's recipe and one of my favorites. it's great comfort food. And it's one of those that even better the second day. When I made it last week, it smelled like home. One batch should make around 8 servings, unless your feeding people who eat like my husband, in which case, maybe you'll get 5 servings out of it...

1 package of spaghetti noodles (I like it with capellini too!)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
2 10-oz cans of cream of chicken soup
1 cup water
4 cups cooked chicken, cubed (I just boil it)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 10-oz can peas
2 tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup parmesan cheese for topping

Break spaghetti into third and cook it like you normally would (I've been using my Pasta Boat a lot lately - it's a really good infomercial find!). While the spaghetti is cooking, sauté mushrooms in the melted butter. After these are done, drain the butter (or you could leave it in... I just like to cut down on some fat here). In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except parmesan cheese until thoroughly mixed. Transfer it to a rectangular casserole dish and top with parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.