Posted on: Sunday, July 24, 2016
The perfect summer dinner –
If you can’t cook and you’re looking for a way to impress your guests (or if you can and you love caprese like every other normal person) try out this suuuuuuper easy recipe with heirloom tomatoes and balsamic glaze.
And because you’re dying to know about heirloom tomatoes and why you should spend extra money on them when “they’re all just tomatoes,” here’s a brief recap on what these crazy looking things are:
An heirloom tomato is a variety that has been passed down through generations for valued characteristics. The variety of heirloom tomatoes historically available has been gradually reduced/ replaced by a few varieties of hybrid tomatoes, bred for their commercially attractive characteristics. In the process of specialization, much of tomato diversity and variation of taste has been lost. An example of quality lost in the standardization of the tomato is a genetic mutation that gives tomatoes the classic uniform red color. This mutation sacrifices the fruit’s ability to develop a sweet taste. Because of this, many heirloom tomatoes have a better and more unique taste.
So try something new and pick up some heirloom tomatoes while they’re in season this summer!
- 2-3 large heirloom tomatoes
- Mozzarella cheese
- 2 bunches of basil
- ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Pour the vinegar into a sauce pan; heat on medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer on medium for 4-5 minutes until reduced and slightly thickened.
- Let cool; vinegar will thicken as it comes to room temperature.
- If you want a variation, try throwing 4-6 blueberries in the simmering vinegar and let the fruit boil down with the reduction. The addition of fruit increases the sweetness of the balsamic glaze and adds some interest to the dish, also it makes you look like a legit chef. ;)
- Slice tomatoes and cheese into rounds.
- Stack the tomato, cheese, and 2-3 basil leaves.
- Drizzle cooled balsamic and olive oil over the top.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Pair with naan bread, heated over the stove top in a buttered saucepan. Drizzle the naan with honey and sprinkled with salt and pepper for the ultimate summer dinner.
- Reducing the glaze increases the sweetness of the vinegar and changes the texture so that you can pour it over the top of your caprese without it running off. It should taste sweet-tart. I’d really recommend springing for high quality balsamic vinegar as it will really make a difference! Here’s an interesting article on choosing the right vinegar: http://rouxbe.com/tips-techniques/332-how-to-choose-balsamic-vinegar
Posted on: Wednesday, July 20, 2016
The team behind Naknek are good friends of mine who have a vision for creating exceptional content. This is what they have to say about the series:
The Sweat of Thy Brow series is about honoring the people who live by conviction, integrity, and endurance in all areas of their life. These are the people that have truly paved the road we are to walk on.
This series is our attempt to honor the people that have set the example of perseverance while fighting the uphill battle that comes with pursuing entrepreneurship.
We acknowledge there is a dying breed of men and woman in the world that simply have grit and integrity. We hope that this series captures that grit and integrity in a way that will encourage others to respect it, pursue it, and live by it.
My dad is the best guy I know. In a world of talkers, he is the real deal. He serves people from our church to the baseball and soccer teams he coaches to the many kids in our area who he has taken under his wing (in addition to 8 of his own!) and who consider him a father figure. He loves his family and cares about his clients. He is a true outdoorsman who has traveled the world and he is the most intelligent and well-read person I’ve ever met. I am thankful for my dad and this video is something I’ll always cherish. I’m thankful to the team at Naknek for doing such a beautiful job telling his story. Check it out here:
Posted on: Sunday, June 5, 2016
The church is an unlikely group, but we have Jesus Christ in common. We are called to accept one another when it comes to things that don’t matter. Instead, we often condemn others for trivial things and isolate ourselves, either by forsaking community or by living in false conformity. We avoid vulnerability in order to protect ourselves, but as a result we are deprived.
In a TED talk on Vulnerability, researcher Brené Brown said:
“Shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, I won’t be worthy of connection?”
The gospel is unique. We are called to live in community, but also in private communion. Not “on display”–with special uniforms, dietary restrictions, and other marks of religiosity–but in quiet holiness. Not in performance–with loud public prayers and declarations of fasting–but in truth; praying and giving in private, loving truly, acting in the interest of others instead of in the interest of self-promotion.
There are two extremes: Separatism, and total immersion. We’re not supposed to escape the world in safe communities, hiding our light under a bushel. At the same time, it’s foolish to pretend that being salt and light in a dark world is easy. Out here, we need the church more than ever.
It would be easy for believers–both those who are strong in conscience and Christian liberty and those who are not–to block out dissenting voices. With the unprecedented accessibility of the Internet comes unprecedented imperialism over our social groups. With the click of a button, we can excommunicate people from our own little kingdoms.
But if everyone decided to protect their lives from intrusion by cutting out dissenters, we would create pockets of sectional, isolated living, and we would all be stagnant and prickly in our own little comfort zones, surrounded by yes men. Flannery O’Connor said, “Conviction without experience makes for harshness.” If I only socialize with people who think just like me, I’ll never be challenged and I’ll never be changed. And neither will the people I’m avoiding.
Brené Brown points out that the word “courage” comes from the Latin word for heart. The original definition of courage is: “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” This reminds me of James 5:16:
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
It is easy to play a role, to give an appearance of following rules, to say what you’re supposed to say and do. It’s much more difficult to be honest about your failings and to let people love you when you’re weak, lonely, or struggling.
It is easy to subscribe to a set of strict, manmade rules–rules that sound like those mocked in Colossians 2:21: “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch.” (That passage goes on to say that these human, “religious” regulations have the appearance of wisdom, but are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.) It is much more difficult to live a prayerful life of faith and obedience, trusting God’s guidance through the gray areas of life, looking to Him every day for the wisdom and strength we need to make our way in a dark world.
There are no shortcuts to holiness. Our private prayer lives inform our public walks. When we live in openness and transparency before God, we are able to live in openness and transparency before others. When we understand that we are forgiven and free in Him, resting in His righteousness, our shame disappears, and we can experience true community.
I think if every Christian took Romans 14 to heart, many of our problems would disappear.
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:4
Shame keeps us from community, but Christ came to abolish shame. In Him there is no pretense–we are all sinners who need a Savior–and in Him there is no condemnation. It takes courage to be honest about our failures, and it also takes courage to allow others to stand and fall before their Master without our permission. It feels good to judge; it lets us give ourselves a pass. Legalism and separatism are the easy way out. Rules are easy. Private obedience and trust, public honesty and vulnerability, a love that believes the best of others (1 Corinthians 13:7)–this is the radical life of a transformed person.
Where the Bible is clear, we must be clear. For everything else, there is grace–the kind of grace that kills shame, brings joy, and can only exist in God’s house.
Posted on: Tuesday, May 10, 2016
There’s just something about a warm hearty meal that is impossible to beat… In the quest for healthy options it’s easy to replace a lot of “bad food” with equally satisfying healthful choices. But, some things just aren’t the same! As delicious as zucchini “pasta” is…I’m sorry it doesn’t always cut it. This sweet potato gnocchi dish is one of the best I’ve EVER come up with. And while it does contain white flour, swapping out the potatoes and potato flour for sweet potatoes does lower the carbohydrates significantly. Also…brown butter + crispy sage leaves? Just wait till you smell and taste that combo.
**I’m currently working on a gluten free option for this dish. I thought it would be easy, but my almond/coconut flour version disintegrated in the boiling water :( but stay tuned for an update!!
- 3 sweet potatoes
- ¾ - 1 cup flour
- 1 egg
- ½ cup butter
- Salt & pepper
- Sage leaves
- Wash and peel the sweet potatoes.
- Place in microwave safe bowl, cover, and microwave. Check every 5 minutes with a fork until tender, but not mushy. Don't overcook.
- Remove from microwave. Let the sweet potatoes cool and then grate them using a food processor grating attachment, or cheese grater.
- Add sweet potato to a large bowl and make a hollow in the middle. Crack an egg in the hollow and sprinkle the flour over the egg. Whisk the flour and egg together with a fork and then, using spoon or hands, mix the mixture until the flour/egg mixture is fully incorporated.
- Turn dough onto flour countertop and kneed in reserved flour. Add more if needed until the dough has stopped being sticky.
- Start a large pot of salted water boiling. Using floured hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the gnocchi dough at a time into balls.
- Drop the gnocchi balls in the roiling boiling water 15-20 at a time and cover. Let boil 1-2 minutes until the gnocchi float to the surface.
- Remove gnocchi into an ice water bath, drain and transfer to a large clean boil, add 1 tablespoon over vegetable oil.
- Brown the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the butter is hot, but not brown, add the sage leaves. Let the butter brown and crisp the sage leaves. Immediately remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Add one tablespoon of the browned butter to the hot skillet and then add the gnocchi and cook at medium high heat until browned. Salt and pepper cooked gnocchi to taste.
- Remove the gnocchi from the skillet and serve with the browned butter and crispy sage leaves.
- Italian sausage, sliced thin and browned over the stove top
- For a vegetarian option, serve with a large vegetable salad