Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: "When The Soul Mends"

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for doing a book review. I got about a chapter into it and realized that I really need to read the first two books in the series to get the back story. So, I checked out "When the Heart Cries" and "When Morning Comes" from the library and read both of them over the course of two days (so what if the sink was full of dirty dishes and laundry needed to be done...)

I finally got back to picking up this book, eager to finish the story of Hannah Lapp. She had been shunned by her community and family, and had created a new life for herself in another community when she was called home because of a tragedy in her close circle of friends.

I found myself drawn into the story, yearning for Hannah to find healing, love and acceptance. Throughout the book, I wondered how the story would resolve. I found myself saying, "Oh, please, don't let her end up with him..." (not necessarily in regards to Hannah). There were enough plot twists to keep me up late in the night, eagerly reading "one more chapter."

This series of book deals with a pretty heavy subject (Hannah was the victim of a rape in the first book), so they may be too intense for somebody who's looking for a lighthearted read, but I thought that the overall series was well-written. They make you think about what's really important, about really listening to people and understanding what makes them tick. I hope to read more of Cindy Woodsmall's books in the future!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gluten-Free Stuffed Pork Chops!

Earlier this week, I was sitting with the week’s store flyers, trying to make up a meal plan & shopping list for the week. I asked my husband if there was anything he’d like me to make for dinner. He thought for a while and said, “You haven’t made stuffed pork chops in ages.” That’s true… I probably hadn’t made them in over a year, since I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. It’s tough to make meals that I can’t eat… like tonight, when Ron & Bethany were oohing and aahing over how delicious their chicken pot pie was. I haven’t mastered a gluten-free pie crust yet, so I just ate my salad…

Well, I decided that I would try making my own gluten-free stuffing. I had half a loaf of Rudi’s gluten-free multi-grain bread in the freezer, so I figured it was worth a try.

On Wednesday, Ron came home from work to find stuffed pork chops, squash, and applesauce on the table for dinner, and I got to sit down and eat with him. It turned out very well, and I will definitely be making this again, especially through the winter months, when it warms up the kitchen to have the oven on for an hour!

It turned out so well, I knew I wanted to share the recipe. Sorry, I didn't take a picture... we just dug in and enjoyed! 

1 small onion, minced
½ c sliced mushrooms
½ c minced celery
½ c shredded carrot
¼ c butter
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp poultry seasoning
4 c cubed Rudi’s multi-grain bread
¼ c chicken broth

Sauté onion, mushrooms, celery and carrot in butter until soft. Add salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and cubed bread. Mix well. Pour chicken broth over top and mix until all broth is absorbed.

Slit the side of 6 boneless pork chops and put 2-3 tablespoons of stuffing into each pork chop. If you don’t want to bread your pork chops, you can just put them in a pan now and bake for 45-60 minutes at 350˚

If you like breading on your pork chops, beat ½ cup ranch salad dressing with an egg. Coat pork chops with ranch mixture, then coat with breading mix (recipe below). Bake 45-60 minutes (depending on how thick the pork chops are – a meat thermometer should register 170˚ when done).

If you have leftover stuffing, bake it in a covered dish, so it doesn’t dry out.

Gluten-Free Breading Mix
1 c gluten-free panko bread crumbs*
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy Seasoning
1/8 tsp pepper
¾ tsp thyme
¾ tsp oregano
½ c cornstarch
½ c sorghum flour

I use this mix and the same ranch dressing/egg mixture to make baked chicken.

*I had Gluten-Free Panko bread crumbs on hand for another recipe (Connie’s Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes… I’ll have to share that recipe next), but you could use any gluten-free bread crumbs. If you use Italian-Style gluten-free bread crumbs, don’t put in the onion powder, Italian Seasoning and salt.

Excuses are a dime a dozen... Ditch the excuses, keep the dime!

It seems like everywhere I turn, the subject of Excuses comes up.

This season's Biggest Loser is all about "No More Excuses."

I was reading an excellent book, Made to Crave, by Lysa TerKeurst, and the subject of excuses came up rather often.

Then I was reading another excellent book, "Fat Family, Fit Family", and they had a chapter on common excuses and overcoming them.

One of the excuses and their response hit me pretty hard. It's my favorite excuse... "I don't have time." The Morelli family's response to that: If your doctor told you had cancer and needed to have chemo treatments for one hour a day in order to live, you'd find the time. That made me really think about my schedule and how I waste time. Yesterday I told myself I didn't have time for exercise, between work, Mom's taxi service, shopping, and working on a freelance puzzle assignment that's due next week. But guess what? When I looked back over the day, there was time when I was just sitting in my chair reading. I could have been reading on the elliptical, or my exercise bike. I had time to work out. I just didn't make it a priority.

So, this is my goal for the coming week :

I will find the time to exercise. I will find the time to track my Weight Watchers points. I will make time to live a healthy lifestyle!

Review & Giveaway: A Mile in his Shoes

This week, we got to watch a great family movie: A Mile in his Shoes. It's based on a true story, about a young man with Asperger’s syndrome (a form of autism) who ends up on a baseball team and ends up changing the lives of all around him: his teammates, his family, and himself. I wondered how much my daughter and I would like a sports movie, but we both loved it. Luke Schroder did a great job of portraying Mickey Tussler, a high-functioning autistic boy who feeds the pigs by hurling apples into a basket and letting the smashed apples drop into the feeding trough. By chance, a baseball recruiter sees him "feeding the pigs" and talks his parents into letting him try out for The Rats, a semi-pro baseball team that hasn't been doing all that well lately. This was a real "feel-good" movie, as you got to watch Mickey grow as a person, overcoming opposition from several sides (I don't want to give away too much of the plot!).

The movie stayed very clean and family-friendly. There was only one objectionable word... when the coach started to say "bulls..." but slurred the end of word. There's a party, but the drinking isn't shown in great detail. A guy gets beat up, but they don't dwell on it. There are characters who express their belief in God, and they openly mention the Bible and pray. There was one prayer scene toward the end that was so powerful it brought tears to my eyes.

I really enjoyed this movie, and want to see if I can find the book it's based on (The Legend of Mickey Tussler), so I can read more about Mickey! You can see more about the movie here or check them out on Facebook.

I would highly recommend this video for everyone! 

 The Giveaway! 

I have the chance to give away a copy of  "A Mile in His Shoes" to one of my readers. 

There are two ways to enter: 

1. By leaving a comment below (leave your e-mail address if it doesn't show up in your Google profile, so I can contact the winner)

2. Or, if you would rather not post your e-mail on a public blog, you can send me an e-mail at FreeCellPenguin@gmail.com - with the subject line "Mickey"

Giveaway ends on Monday, February 6, 2012 at 11:59 PM. Limited to U.S. residents only, age 13 and up. Limit one entry per person per day. 

 “Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or
services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it 
on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally 
and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance 
with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the 
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Winner is: wallindeb