Quick Dinner: Brown Sugar Spiced Salmon

This brown sugar spiced salmon was so delicious and will become a staple in our weekly/monthly. Such a great way to get the family to eat fish: thanks to Katie Lee for yet another simple & amazing dinner inspiration.

Just mix a 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, a tablespoon of chili powder, sea salt and pepper together in a bowl. Pat the rub generously into each filet and bake in the oven on 400° for 10-15 minutes.  The sugars caramelize and whenever that happens, it’s like a party on my plate.

So, so good- Porter loved the “chicky” too 😉

Shades of White

I’m not the best decision maker. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I might be the worst.
The worst, as in, one of my husband’s least favorite things to do in the whole world is ask me what I want to do for dinner. It sparks a full-on mind-numbing mental meltdown on most days (for both of us).  

“I mean… do I want sushi? Spicy tuna kinda sounds good. Do YOU want sushi? I mean, I guess I should have salad. But you know what sounds REALLY good, though? Mac and cheese… wait. We had mac and cheese yesterday for lunch and I feel like I wouldn’t be happy if I had it again. Steak? Eh, no, I don’t want to spend $60 on dinner. Maybe we should just have cereal…”

I don’t mean to. Truly, I don’t. But, I’m reading a book right now called “The Best Yes” and I’ve come to realize that my difficulty doesn’t come from not knowing what I want. It’s from my fear of being wrong.
Paint is (somewhat) permanent. Once we paint our new house (!!!), we can’t go back. Well, some people could. We can’t… we’re getting an amazing deal from a family contact that enjoys working with us on our home (he’s the nicest guy!), but I’m sure he won’t be thrilled if we call him back in two weeks and tell him that “Swiss Coffee” is actually too yellow, and I think that “Cascade White” might look better.
I would kill me, too.
So, Paul brought home these swatches yesterday, and laid them out for me. I started sweating. As if it wasn’t scary enough, he told me he’s already decided on his “top two”, and he wanted to see if we were on the same page.
Um, ok. So now not only does my house color depend on my decision, but now my decision is going to decide whether or not my husband and I were on the same wavelength in our wants and desires?
Too much.
But. I just bit the bullet, and pulled out the two that I felt I liked without any further analysis. One of them was his favorite. *FIST PUMP* One decision down…
Now I just need to figure out dinner.

My Iron

You know those friends that just make life easier? That would be these guys.

As I get older grow up, I become continuously more grateful for the relationships that just work. Sure, relationships take work, but I’m a firm believer that the best relationships are also glaringly natural. Personalities compliment, weaknesses are compensated for, and there’s a whole lot of grace and assuming the best. If I am upset, I tell them. If they are upset, they tell me. We’re so different, but we appreciate the quirks and traits that each one of us brings to the table.
Jessica is so easy going. I used to feel like she just didn’t care sometimes, but I’ve come to realize that she has experienced a lot in her life and she’s just decided to spend her energy on what is truly important. She is refreshing; the epitome of “ain’t nobody got time for that”. She does what she wants, she rolls with the punches. She doesn’t care who rides in what car (that’s me that cares about weird things like that), or if we miss our dinner reservations and have to move locations (cue hives, Jen). If she doesn’t get a seat with the best view of the water fountains whilst on vacation (hehehe), she’s over it in like three seconds. If she accidentally spends part of the mortgage payment on Bath & Body Works candles, it’s whatever (ok, she’s gotten a bit better at this). She has three kids, a husband, is a business owner and boss lady at her normal 9-5 and just AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT (that = pretty much anything that is dramatic or exhausting without purpose or goal). I don’t think you could offend her if you tried (trust me, I’ve tried. When I pointed out her poor driving skills, her response was a shrug and a “but did you die?” So. There’s that.) 
I don’t want to make her appear like she just doesn’t care about anything. She’s also the one that dropped EVERYTHING while we were on vacation in Portland over Labor Day to make sure her kids had everything they needed for their first day back to school this week. She temporarily hated me when I teased her for contemplating going vegan. She is a fiercely loyal wife and friend: if someone hurts me, she holds the grudge for me (even if it’s over the silliest thing) until I tell her its ok to move on. If I have an idea, she humors me because it’s clearly important in my head (even if she could care less). She’s confident and comfortable in her skin and makes friends everywhere she goes (one time, she made friends with a girl at the Applebees in Idaho, because the girl was maybe a little drunk and told Jessica they could be sisters because they both were part Korean. They might even still be Facebook friends? Anyway… yeah, Jess is just that girl).
Jen is pretty much the total opposite in every way. She cares about everything, big and small: about plans, about planning, about making the people she loves happy, about the details. She wants us to be on time for dinner reservations, and if we have to move locations, she is quick to organize a Plan B. She’s not one to wing it. She is a hostess, a caretaker, a leader, a mother, and someone that I would seriously hand over the keys to my life and just say: ORGANIZE ME, PLEASE.
That being said, I don’t want her to appear rigid or boring. Jen brings life to whatever she touches. And she would seriously do anything for me, anytime I needed her, no questions asked. She is selfless and always all in. Her love language is quality time, and she isn’t shy about letting me know this. She is also isn’t shy if she disagrees with me, which I love (maybe not at the time, but in hindsight). If she feels distant from Jess and I, she takes the initiative and make plans. She doesn’t wait for us to realize we’re slacking… she tells us. I absolutely love this about her (so much so that it’s making me a little teary to write it out). She knows what she wants, she knows what she needs, and she makes it happen.
Do you know how much I appreciate having these two total opposites in my life? I feel like I can be a perfect mixture of them both- but I probably err on the side of being a hot mess and desperately needing them both to keep me walking a straight line. I’m the codependent people pleaser, so my colors can change (which I don’t like). I love that they are who they are, and they inspire me to pick a lane and stay in it.
Fight for the relationships that take some work, because God wants you to push yourself beyond where you’re comfortable, but revel in the relationships that don’t take much from you and that allow you to just be.
I’m grateful for many relationships like this in my life, but I felt like writing a special blog dedicated to these two in particular, because they’ve been there for me through some of the most intense, emotional, ridiculous and amazing parts of my life, and they’ve never faltered in who they are. No matter how crazy I get 😉 And THAT’s inspiring.

The Best Yes

Last night, we started our “book club”.

Jen, Jess, Savi and I are reading The Best Yes together. We are only a few chapters in, but already I can tell that this book is going to help me (us) immensely. I am a  “yes” girl. I have the “disease to please”. So thankful for Lysa TerKeurst for writing this book, because not only does it speak to me, but I truly believe it speaks to a majority of women out there.

We met at our favorite local coffee shop, got amazing coffee and tea, and started talking. We closed the place down, which resulted in some leftover pastries from the case, too. SCORE.

It was only two hours, but it seriously felt like we’d just invested a full day into ourselves and our friendship. I left feeling so refreshed and thankful for the relationships in my life: ones that challenge me and inspire me to do better, each and every day.

I strongly encourage those of you reading to connect with your best gals, pick a book, read it together, and meet up once a week to discuss what you got from it. Don’t check your phone, or talk about what happened with your kiddos that day, or what you thought of last night’s episode of your favorite show. Stay focused, stay purposeful. It pays off in ways you never expected.

Quick Weeknight Dinner (Trust Me, You Want This Recipe On Hand)

Make this next time it’s 5pm and you realized you forgot to plan anything for dinner. (Like, daily for me)

I just made it for lunch because I had everything on hand, and omg… it was so good.

Some healthy substitutions I did:

  • Use coconut aminos or organic tamari instead of soy
  • Use less brown sugar. I did barely 1/4 cup; some versions of this recipe call for up to 1/2 cup… just don’t, it’s too sweet (in my opinion).
  • Use ground turkey instead of beef

Maple Dijon Pork Chops In The Crockpot

This was seriously the easiest dinner!

• Boneless pork chops (how many ever you want- I used my whole pack of small, boneless pork chops and then doubled the recipe I was following)
• 1 large yellow onion
• 3-4 tbl of pure maple syrup
• 4 tbl of dijon mustard
• 1 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
• Salt & Pepper

To thicken your sauce:
• 2-3 tbl of real butter
• 1/2 cup flour

I seared a bunch of boneless pork chops in a hot pan. They were pretty small, so I think I did like 12 of them, haha- the whole pack I got at the store. The original recipe I was following called for two large bone-in chops, so I adjusted the recipe a bit to accommodate my massive pot of chops.

Season each chop with sea salt and cracked pepper. I seared them about 2 minutes per side. As they’re done, add them to an empty crockpot.

Then, in the same skillet, chop 1 yellow onion and saute until it starts to soften. Add salt, pepper, about 1 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar, pure maple syrup (not the sugary breakfast Mrs. Butterworth kind) and dijon mustard. Stir it up, and cook for about 2 minutes. Taste the sauce and see if it needs more of anything: a little more maple syrup to make it sweeter, a little more dijon for bite, etc. Once the sauce is mixed and heated up a bit, pour the sauce over the pork chops in the crock pot.

I cooked the sauce/chops on high for like 2-3 hours, or until they fall apart when you take a fork to them. SO TENDER!

I removed the chops when they were done, and then melted my butter and added that to the flour in a little bowl, and mixed it all up until it was smooth. I added that to my sauce to thicken it up a bit. (To thicken, add the flour/butter mixture to your sauce in the crock pot once you’ve removed the pork chops, cover the crockpot and turn up the heat to high until the liquid comes to a slight boil, then it’s done!)

Serve over mashed potatoes (fresh!), brown rice, or brown rice pasta. It felt like a cheat meal, but it really wasn’t!

Adapted from Eat Live Run.