Henley at 2…Amy Beckley Photography

Henley, Mom and Dad met me at the MS Ag Museum Saturday for her 2 Year Session.  I’ve been photographing Henley since she was a newborn so it’s always great to see how much she’s grown.  It was a beautiful but HOT day and Henley was a typical two-year old, running everywhere and exploring the museum grounds.  We had to sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” several times but I did get a her still for a few shots!  It’s hard to be 2!

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This is my FAVE!!

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And the best part of the session is that Henley will be a BIG SISTER in February!  Congrats to Mom, Dad and Henley!

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Crack Slaw and Fried BBQ Wonton Wrappers

 

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First of all the “Crack Slaw”.  It really is THAT GOOD!  I got this recipe from a fellow Foodie (thanks Kristen!!) and I tried it for the first time tonight.  I LOVED it!  The hubby turned his nose at it a bit because of the ground turkey (he has an aversion to healthy meats) but he ate it!  This will definitely go in my “Cook Again” file.

The recipe does come from All Recipes. I did tweak it a bit for what I had on hand though.  The original recipe is http://allrecipes.com/recipe/253157/weeknight-crack-slaw/

First of all I LOVE the colors!  Fresh is always the BEST!
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The finished product! YUMMY!

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Weeknight Crack Slaw:

Ingredients:

  • 1 T Chipotle Hot Sauce (I used regular hot sauce; just a dash)
  • 1/4 C  Rice Vinegar
  • 3 T Soy Sauce
  • 1 1/2 t minced ginger ( I used more, I love ginger)
  • 1 T Agave Syrup
  • 3 T Olive Oil
  • 1 T Sesame Oil
  • 1 Lb Ground turkey ( I used less)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 Ground Pepper
  • 1 16 Oz Coleslaw Mix
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper Diced
  • 2 Green Onions
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 T Sesame Seeds

Directions:

  1. Mix Hot Sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and agave syrup together in a small bowl to make sauce.
  2. Heat Olive Oil and Sesame Oil in wok or large skillet over medium heat.  Add ground turkey;cook , stirring to break up clumps, until juices run clear, about 6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a bowl,  reserving juices in the skillet/wok.

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  1. Combine coleslaw mix, red bell pepper, green onions and garlic in wok/skillet and heat until slaw is wilted, 1-2 minutes.  Add sauce, mix to combine, about 1 minute.  Return turkey to the wok/skillet and stir until heated through, 2-3 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Now to one of our fave meals!  For years, the local High School comes around Thanksgiving and Easter selling Boston Butts for a fundraiser.  Now that my daughter plays ball, she now has to sell them as well.  Let’s just say…we have a few in our freezer.  I heated up one in the crock pot earlier this week on a ball night and had lots of leftovers so tonight I made Fried BBQ Wonton Wrappers with the remains.  This has become our favorite way to eat BBQ in our house!  The recipe is SIMPLE:

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Ingredients:

  • Leftover (or not leftover is you’re not making this from leftovers) BBQ Pork or Chicken.  (You could even buy the BBQ chicken/pork from the store). Chop it fine.

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  • Won ton Wrappers.  You find these in the refrigerated section in the produce.
  • Oil for Frying
  • BBQ Sauce.  Bottled is fine; I always add vinegar to bottled BBQ sauce..it’s just my thing!

Directions:

  1. Take a warm spoonful of BBQ, place in won ton wrapper and fold.

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  1. When all are prepared, drop wrappers in frying oil and fry until crispy (just a few minutes)

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  1. Serve with warm BBQ sauce and INHALE!  They are THAT GOOD!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patterson Twins July 2016

I am in LOVE! Payton and Piper were perfection for their first official photography session. And I’m happy to know that there will be MANY more with these 2 angels. I loaded up my own 3 girls last Friday for a road trip to Sumrall, MS to meet these 2 angel babies.

Mom, Mary kept my own sweet angel while I went back to work her first year and she became a very special friend to me in that time. I was beyond excited to hear that she and Brett were going to be parents with not one but TWO sweet babies. Lots of prayers and thoughts have followed this family and it was so wonderful to see them again. Big sister Breckyn fit right in and took charge immediately. She’s going to be a great help!

Anyone who has experience with twins know that especially getting them calm and sleeping at the same time for photos can be extremely daunting but these two were perfection. Hopefully they will stay that way for mom and let her get some solid sleep in the coming weeks. So here they are….

Introducing Piper and Payton Patterson….

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Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls..Perfect for Meatless Mondays

I love this recipe for summer.  It’s light, quick, healthy and doesn’t weigh you down.  I came upon this recipe several years ago and we eat it several times a year.  The hubby isn’t a big fan because there is ‘”no meat”  but the girls and I LOVE these!

First of all the colors are amazing!  I’m a very visual person, so if it looks good and is colorful, I’ll try it!

Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls
Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls

E loves to help mommy in the kitchen!

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Egg Rolls are simple and kinda fun to make.

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Baked Southwest Egg Rolls

The finished product!  I still had my Blender Salsa in the fridge and I added some sour cream!

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Baked Southwest Egg Rolls
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Baked Southwest Egg Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz Can of Corn, drained
  • 15 oz Black Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 10 oz Package of frozen, chopped Spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 C Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend
  • 4 oz can diced Chiles, drained
  • 4 Green Onions (I skipped this)
  • 1 t Ground Cumin (I use more..I love cumin)
  • 1 T Chili Powder
  • 1 t salt ( I typically use more)
  • 1 t Pepper (Again, I typically use more)
  • 1 Package of refrigerated Egg Roll Wrappers

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except egg roll wrappers in large bowl.  Taste and add more spices to your liking.
  2. Lay an egg roll wrapper on your work surface with one corner facing you and place a spoonful of filling in the center.  Fold the tip closest to you over the filling, roll a bit, fold tips pointing outward into the cemter and continue rolling into a egg roll shape. Dip a finger in water and seal the roll.  Finish rolling and press seal closed.  Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
  3. Preheat over to 425.  Lightly oil a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place the sealed egg rolls seam-side down and spray the tops of the egg rolls with cooking spray.  Bake for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through.
  4. Serve warm with salsa and sour cream.

 

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

 

This is a family fave and is so easy to put together.  Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, is my HERO!  Everything she cooks is a winner!

Here is a link to her recipe.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/sour-cream-noodle-bake/

I modified mine a bit.  That’s the beauty of cooking, you can always change things up a bit to your liking! I LOVE fresh and I raided my garden for something a little extra!  Fresh Bell Peppers, Basil, Oregano, Parsley and Tomatoes always make things better.

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I chopped all these babies up and added them to my tomato sauce.

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The sauce looks amazing!  LOVE the colors!

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I even had my “helpers”

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Sour Cream, Cottage Cheese and FRESH cracked Pepper mixture!

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The Pioneer Woman’s Sour Cream Noodle Bake:

Ingredients:

  • 1-1 1/4 Lb Ground Beef
  • 1 Can 15 OZ Tomato Sauce ( also added some fresh tomatos from the garden)
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 8 OZ Medium Egg Noodles
  • 1/2 C Sour Cream
  • 1-1/4 C Small Curd Cottage Cheese
  • 1/2 C Green Onions (I was out, so I skipped the onions)
  • 1 C Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese ( I added some Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheese)
  • Optional:  Fresh herbs if available, I added basil, oregano and parsley.

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Brown ground beef in large skillet, drain fat, the add tomato sauce, salt, and lots of freshly ground pepper.  This is when I added my herbs and chopped tomatoes.  Stir and simmer while preparing other ingredients.
  3. Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese.  Add plenty of fresh cracked black pepper.  Add cooked noodles and stir.  Add green onions and stir in.
  5. To assemble, add half the noodle mixture to the baking dish.  Top with half the meat mixture, the sprinkle half the cheese. Repeat with noodles, meat and then a final layer of cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

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Living With Defiant JOY

Defiant Joy

I’ve been following Good Morning Girls Online Bible Studies for about a  year and a half now.  You can find their website at  http://womenlivingwell.org/goodmorninggirls/ . These studies have been life changing for me.  The whole premise of these studies is taking books of the Bible and studying them chapter by chapter a day at a time.  Being able to really dig deep into the Word this way works for me. It’s also become a creative outlet for me since I get to use my colored pens, my highlighters and even crayons!  By marking scripture in my Bible, I’ve been able to really see what God has planned to reveal to me each and every day. I’ve learned also that if I give Him some of my time, He GIVES me more of HIM!

Currently, Good Morning Girls is studying the book of Ecclesiastes and for the first time, I’ve ordered the workbook that goes along with the study.  On Wednesday of this week the author of the study wrote:

“If this world has dealt you a royally bad hand, hang on, it won’t be long now until you stand face to face with the King of Kings! Take hope and courage from this truth and LIVE WITH DEFIANT JOY.”

The phrase “defiant joy” has been on my mind ever since.  I have two teenagers in my home as well as a toddler so believe me, I know the word defiant well! When I think of the work “defiant” I get lots of negative images, especially when it comes to children but the author of the study meant the work defiant as a positive word.  Defiant means being boldly resistant or challenging.  Synonyms include insubordinate, rebellious, insolent, daring, open disregard and contempt.

So what is DEFIANT JOY?  To me, it’s CHOOSING to live my life joyful no matter the circumstances, no matter the season! Be defiant, telling Satan and any JOY stealers in my midst to get out!  When the dishes are piled up on the counter and the laundry room floor is covered in knee high piles of dirty clothes…I will choose JOY! I will see the blessing in it all. And that is hard, isn’t it!

So this morning, I researched the word JOY and found that JOY is not dependent on our circumstances. Joy is simply total acceptance of the present moment with conscious intent. It does not mean feeling happy all the time and floating around the house like Mary Poppins.  Joy is NOT happiness.  Happiness is an emotion and  is based on circumstances, JOY is a love posture. Happiness is dependent on something good happening.  JOY cannot be taken away.  JOY is something that is chosen and sought after.   In fact, the Greek word for JOY is “chara” which is closely related to the word “charis” which means grace. JOY comes when we are aware of His grace and favor.

I also found that JOY is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, coming second after love.  JOY is a gift from God produced only by His work in us.  A GIFT! It’s there for us to take hold of.  He is standing right beside us with JOY in His hand waiting for us to take it!

So how do I find JOY in this season of life?  One way I found in my reading today is becoming more mindful of the present.  Stop focusing on the past or future.  Think of it like a calculator, after pressing buttons and adding, subtracting, multiplying dividing…simply pressing the C key clears out all the equations.  Many times during my day I need to press the C key. By pressing the C key, I can slow down and become simply in the moment and begin taking things one task at a time.

Another way is to simply focus on God. Dwell in Him not only when things are difficult or our circumstances bleak. Focus on Him in the good times. Develop a thankful spirit.  Pour your heart out to Him and give our troubles to Him. Praise Him, acknowledge His presence and PRAY! I love Philippians  4:4-8.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Psalms 19:8 tells us,

The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

Thirdly, JOY comes when we rely on a community of believers.  I truly believe that the company you keep heavily influences your life.  Those coworkers at work with a bad attitude can influence your attitude at work as well.  Negative people are poison.  Spend even just a small amount of time with a negative person and they will suck the JOY right out of you.  Try to find positive people to put into your life.  Our friendships should build us up, help us carry our own burdens and should strengthen us.  If you are around people who don’t do this for your life, maybe you should step away.

Rick Warren wrote:

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”

So today, I choose JOY! I choose to be present and open to the day!

 

 

 

 

Protein Packed, Quick and Easy Chicken Dinner (5 Ingredients!!)

So I came home today after work and the kids were STARVING!  Teenagers…!!! Leftovers and frozen pizza were not satisfactory so I pulled out one of my quick and easy meals.  I keep these ingredients on hand for such “emergencies.”

First, I used the thin cut chicken cutlets.  These cook quick and easy to thaw out in a pinch as well.  These packs usually come with 4 thin,  trimmed chicken breast slices.

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Heat up Olive Oil (a few Tablespoons) in a skillet on medium high and add salted (don’t be afraid of the salt either) and peppered chicken breasts.  Lower temp to medium and cook through (takes just a few minutes).

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When chicken is cooked through, remove chicken and chop into bite sized pieces.  Add about 1/4 C White Cooking Wine and then 1/2 C Chicken Broth to the skillet.

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Take a whisk and scrape up all those drippings (“goodies”) off the bottom of the pan left from the chicken.  Let it come to a bubble and simmer a few minutes.  You’ll now have a delicious sauce..pan sauce! Believe me, it tastes delicious!

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While cooking the chicken, place a bag of Birds Eye Protein Blend Steamers in the microwave and cook.  These are great!  High in protein and will definitely fill you up! Super cheap too.  I bought several bags a few weeks ago when Kroger was selling them 10 for 10! They have several different flavors.ABP_8051Asprinkleofgrace

All that’s left to do is combine the Steamer bag, chopped chicken and pan sauce and LUNCH IS SERVED!  Total time to cook: 15 minutes!

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I haven’t tried this but I would imagine these would make good filling for soft tacos.  I know it’s great with tortilla chips!

Ingredients: This fed 3 of us!  If you have a big family, I would suggest 2 bags of the Birdseye.

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper ( I don’t count this as an ingredient..everything needs salt and pepper, right?)
  • White Cooking Wine
  • Chicken Broth
  • Birdseye Protein Blend Steamer Bag

Amy Beckley Photography..Sneak Peeks

Not only did I get the pleasure of photographing one newborn this week..I got the pleasure of photographing TWO.. and I have another next week!  I’ve really missed getting behind the camera and it was fun to get to see two of my favorite families this week.  With the birth of Elizabeth, I decided to take a step away and focus on my family but I have missed photography and am so thankful that I’m able to do it a little more as Elizabeth gets older.

Tatum was a dream!  I have been photographing this family since they became a family of 3, then a family of 4 and now a family of 5! Seems like yesterday! They have a full and crazy household and it was fun hanging out with them yesterday!  With 2 big brothers, Tatum is definitely the princess of the house! I can’t wait to watch her grow!

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Game Night Dinner… Hamburger Sliders

Our Softball game for tonight was cancelled because of rain but this is what I had planned.  It is quick and easy and can be made ahead of time!  Perfect for crazy game nights.

FYI: I bought a 3 lb pack of ground beef and cooked the entire thing at one time last Sunday and divided into 3 parts.  On Sunday after church, I added taco seasonings (cumin, onion, chili powder) and used 1/3 for nachos.  Tonight I’m using 1/3 for Hamburger Sliders and tomorrow or Thursday I’ll use the remaining 1/3 for my Sour Cream Noodle Bake.  By cooking the entire 3 lbs at once, I’ve cut other cooking times for other recipes in half!

So tonight it’s Hamburger Sliders.  A good friend of mine shared this recipe with me last year and it’s become a staple in our house.  Add some oven baked fries or chips and dinner is served!

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Ingredients:

  • 12 Pk Slider Buns (Kroger had these 10/10 this week!)
  • 1 LB Hamburger Meat
  • Sliced Pickles
  • 1/4 C Mayo
  • 1 C Shredded Cheese
  • Mustard
  • 1 Pk Onion Soup Mix ( I love the Beefy Onion)
  1. Brown meat with soup mix and drain
  2. Mix in Mayo and Cheese
  3. Spread mixture on slider buns and top with pickles and mustard
  4. Wrap in foil and bake at 350* for 30 minutes.