Sunday, April 28, 2013

Amazing sugar cookies!

I came across a recipe for Swig sugar cookies on Facebook last week and decided to veganize them.  Oh my gosh they were amazing!  I wanted to post the recipe with my modifications, but the woman who posted it asked that it not be copied.  So, you can find the original recipe here, and just know that I used vegan butter, sour cream, egg replacer and milk.  Oh, and I used yellow food coloring rather than red.

the week in review :)

Cora and Thalia have continued to recover from their surgeries and were able to go back to school on Wednesday.  They were both very excited to get back into their normal routines, but it was kind of bittersweet for me to have them go.  I had gotten used to having them around during the day.

Maizie went to the orthodontist on Thursday after losing her last baby tooth only the night before, and was told she can start her braces any time.  I'll be scheduling her appointment on Monday.  She'll be the last to get braces for a while because we have to finish paying for Jonah and Ethan's before we can add another.

Thursday was also the 3-month anniversary of my mom's death.  I miss her so much.

On Friday, Zoe got into a car wreck and totaled our little white Saturn.  Thankfully, she and the other couple involved were OK, but it's going to be hard for us to be without this car.  It was the car that was supposed to be going with Joshua to BYU after his mission.  There's no room in the budget for a replacement, plus our insurance will go up, so we're just going to have to make due for now.

Friday was really a bummer day, but Curtis and I went out with some friends to plan Zoe's and their son's joint graduation party, and then Curtis and I went to volunteer at Bountiful Baskets.  We had a really good time and it was just what we needed to take our minds off the events of the day.

Here are a few pictures:

Thalia, after Zoe brought some goodies to the hospital

Thalia back at school

Our Saturn :o(

weekly menu

This is the menu for the coming week.  A bunch of us (including me) are sick with some awful stomach bug, so there's nothing planned for today.  I've had a cup of white rice in the last 24 hours.  ;)

Creamy black bean taquitos (We make these all the time and they are yummy!)
Warm fingerling potato salad (I'm adding broccoli and tempeh bacon to make it more of a main dish.)
Cheesy mushroom quinoa (I chose this because it will use up my kale, mushrooms and bokchoy, plus it sounds tasty!)

Here's what we got from Bountiful Baskets this week, and there are a few other things I already had on hand:

oranges - lunch
mandarin oranges - snacks
mangoes (small and large) - snacks, later
strawberries - lunch
watermelon - lunch
pineapple - Tuesday
grapes - lunch
bananas - later

bok choy - Wednesday
green peppers - lunch
kale - Wednesday
green onions - Tuesday
red potatoes - later
rainbow carrots - Thursday
baby carrots - lunch
snow peas - lunch
mushrooms - Wednesday
broccoli - lunch and Tuesday
spinach - Thursday
romaine lettuce - Thursday
green leaf lettuce - Thursday
asparagus - Wednesday
tomatoes - later
roma tomatoes -Thursday

Monday, April 22, 2013

weekly menu

Sorry there are no recipes for this week.  With all we've had going on with Thalia and me being gone for so many days, this is the best I can do.  I will confess that the falafel balls are coming from a mix this time, and I plan to bake them rather than fry them.  I'm making the tzatziki sauce from plain almond yogurt.  I have some really yummy soft pita bread I got at Costco that we'll stuff everything into, along with some lettuce.  Okonomiyaki are Japanese pizza-like fried pancake-type things.  There are a few vegan recipes out there, but I'm thinking I'll use a traditional recipe and just replace the eggs with flax meal.  It's my favorite egg replacer for things that need a good binder.  I'll be mixing napa cabbage, green onion and maybe bok choy into the batter, then topping with mushrooms and bacon (which get fried into the pancake).  Then we'll top with nori flakes, mayo (Kewpie is the traditional kind, but we'll use Vegenaise) and homemade okonomiyaki sauce.

For the pizzas, I have pre-made brick oven flatbreads for the base.  I'll use the white cheese sauce that I often use in recipes and have posted many times here before (use the search box and look for baked ziti for the recipe).  Then we'll top with arugula, mushrooms and asparagus, all of which we have in ample supply this week.

My lettuce wrap sauce is a little different every time, but usually it's soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, red pepper flakes, garlic, sugar, Sriracha, and a little corn starch to thicken.  This time I may make a peanut-y sauce, but I always have to make separate sauce for my peanut-allergic Zoe when I do that.  Anyway, even though we don't like to use too many processed vegan "faux meats" in our meals, I'll be using Boca veggie crumbles for this.

Catching up...

The past week has been a whirlwind.  After throwing together a surgery date for Cora and Thalia to get their tonsils and adenoids out (and for Thalia to get tubes) in Billings, we ended up having to do three pre-op appointments, including a cardiology visit for Thalia in Billings.  We learned that although her medical reports from China said her heart was healthy, she actually has mild leaks in her aortic and mitral valves.  Ironically, these leaks have nothing to do with Down syndrome, but are probably due to her having had rheumatic fever at one point.  :o(  She'll have to be seen yearly, and at some point they'll have to be surgically managed.

The T&A surgeries went well.  We stayed overnight in Billings in a hotel just to make sure all was well, and then headed home.  Unfortunately, Thalia completely quit eating and drinking, and what little we were able to get into her she threw up.  That night (Tuesday), Thalia also threw up a surgical sponge!  We have no idea how she swallowed it, but we called the ENT and he speculated that it had come from the anesthesiologist since all of his sponges have a blue radiographic thread in them.  He asked us to save it and bring it to him at our follow-up appointment, but I also called the manager of the surgery center to let her know about it.  She said she would investigate it and would start with the anesthesiologist as well.  We'll see what they find out.  I'm just grateful Thalia didn't choke on it or something!

Anyway, Thalia got so dehydrated that we had to take her in for IV fluids on Wednesday.  On Thursday she was no better, so she was admitted and didn't leave until Saturday.  She absolutely would not eat or drink, and she was super lethargic!  I was really starting to worry, so our bishop and Curtis gave her a blessing on Friday night.  Miraculously, within one hour, she was eating, drinking, smiling, and using the bathroom.  I know that she was healed by this blessing.  We were able to take her home the next morning and she's been doing great since.

Cora, on the other hand, has done well with the after care, but is now facing the real possibility of having to have another surgery.  She had such enlarged tonsils and adenoids (her tonsils TOUCHED in the middle!) and snoring/apnea that we really had no choice but to remove them, but now she's left with a significantly hyper nasal voice.  She is unable to build up any oral pressure for sounds like p/b and t/d, so they come out sounding like m and n, and all of her speech sounds resonate in her nasal cavity.  She sounds they way a child with a cleft palate does.  I'm just sick over it.  She doesn't need one more problem in her life or one more thing to make her different.  I'm going to call the ENT's office today and ask if we can do endoscopy at her follow-up to determine whether she's got enough structure to work with (and therefore therapy might be helpful) or whether she'll need surgical management.  My gut tells me it will be surgery.  Dang it.

Joshua emailed today and is doing great.  I can't wait to talk to him via Skype on Mother's Day!  He's such a great kid and I miss him a ton.

Teffy is going prom dress shopping tonight for her Job Corps prom next month.  I'm excited for her.

Zoe is busy planning her graduation activities.  I'm ordering her announcements today.

Ethan is doing great with soccer.  He had two games in Livingston over the weekend which they lost, but he had fun.

Jonah has been sick but went to school today.  He, Zoe and Ethan also had district music festival over the weekend.  They find out today what their ratings were.

Loundia is busy with track and tried out and made it on the high school dance team for next year.  We're really proud of her.

Lily is also busy with track.  Her IEP is coming up and we're hoping we can FINALLY get them to commit to get her a full-time interpreter.

Maizie is doing great and enjoying all the new skills she's learning in gymnastics.  The gym is expanding soon and she's thrilled about all the new space and equipment, plus they're getting ready to start competing around the state.

Sofie is big into gymnastics right now too.  She's doing well in school and generally happy these days.  :o)

Thalia and Cora should be going back to school in a couple of days, and I know they're looking forward to that.

Jackson is kicking hiney all over the soccer field.  He gets goals in every game they play.  It's so fun to watch him!  We've never had such a sports-inclined kid!

Beck is counting the days until he is no longer a kindergartener.  He's enjoying his hip hop class and wishing he could be on Jack's soccer team.

All the kids just had their piano recital last weekend.  I'll try to get some video uploaded soon.  They did great.  :o)

Joshua's email - 4/22/13

DANG! Time flies!!!!!!  This week went by crazy fast!!

Elder M and I have been working HARD! We're trying to find new investigators so we're working with members, and we've been doing some tracting, and contacting potentials.  We've got a few people that seem pretty promising that we're trying to work with, so that's exciting!!

We're still working with A!!! We had a lesson with her last week and it was actually one of the best lessons we've had in a while!!  She read 12 chapters of the Book of Mormon a couple nights prior to our lesson and she LOVED  Lehi's Tree of Life vision!!!!!  We talked all about that and about how she's been feeling the Spirit SO STRONG when she reads the Book of Mormon.  We invited her to come to church, and she said she works on Sundays.  So we talked to her about how Heavenly Father blesses us with miracles when we show our faith.  We shared 1 Nephi 3:7 and talked about all the difficult things Nephi and his family were asked to do, but how Heavenly Father helped them to be able to work through those difficult times and challenges.  She liked that a lot! So she's planning on talking with her boss to see if she can get Sundays off so she can come to church!! WOOHOO!!

I had a ridiculously awesome exchange with a missionary by the name of Elder L this week!  He's been out 19 months and he's been a Zone Leader more than half of his mission.  He taught me A TON!!!!!!!!!!!  The funny thing is that I google searched "Wisconsin Milwaukee mission" before I came out, and I found a video on youtube of two missionaries playing and singing a song about P-Day on Youtube.  When I came out, I asked my trainer, Elder G, if there was a missionary named Elder L in the field, and he said, "yes, but it's probably not the same one."..... So the other day when I was on exchanges with Elder L, I asked, "So, this might be a really weird question.... but did you ever record a video of you and your companion playing and singing a song about P-day?"  His eyes widened and he exclaimed, "YOU SAW THAT?!?!?!?"   HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! It made his day to hear that I had seen that video! So that was pretty cool.  He turned out to be an incredible missionary and I learned so much from him!! I enjoyed that exchange more than any other exchange I've been on!

Anyway I love you ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Also, I keep forgetting to mention that I think the youth of the ward (and anyone else who would like to) should make profiles!!!!!!!!!!!!  Everyone in Utah has 'em! All the cool kids are doin' it!!!!  Write me and hopefully I'll see you guys on sometime soon!!!! Yay!


Elder Whicker!!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Joshua's email 4/15/13

Dang!! This week has definitely had its ups and downs, but things are definitely looking up! We were supposed to have a lesson with the Cs!! We were planning on extending a baptismal date! But they had to cancel because they've been having some family struggles.  They asked if we could just not meet with them "for a few weeks" and so we were pretty bummed about that.  Elder M and I, and some of the members prayed HARD and fasted for them, and I called them and talked to them about how important it is to keep making good choices, ESPECIALLY when we're faced with opposition.  And as long as we rely on the Lord, he'll take care of the rest.  They really felt that was true, so eventually they agreed that they should keep meeting with us, so we now have an appointment with them this Wednesday!!! I really hope we can finally reset a date for them... They're SO READY to be baptized!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday we had Zone Training Meeting, which I always enjoy because Elder C is one of our Zone Leaders.  His companion Elder H is just like him too, so I love 'em!!!!  Elder C is definitely one of my favorite people I've ever met, hahahahaha! He's hilarious and always brightens up the day! Haha.  He's coming home this year and going back to MCC in Miles City, so make sure to give him a warm welcome this Fall!!!

Afterwards, we had some lessons with some partmember families, that turned out pretty well.  One of the families isn't really progressing much, but the other one is, so we'll keep working with them.  We invited them to begin having Family Home Evening! So we'll follow up on that with them soon!!!

We came into contact with R and L again! They've been gone a couple weeks looking for a home that they can move into near Chicago I think.  We invited them to come to church, and asked about them reading the Book of Mormon.  They said they'd love to come to church and they've been reading the Book of Mormon!  They say it doesn't make much sense to them yet, but we're trying to set up an appointment to teach them the Restoration so that they can more fully understand where the Book of Mormon came from and why it's important.

We found a few new potential investigators from tracting and doing prayer surveys!  One guy, named H, let us in his home and we talked to him about prayer and strengthening our relationship with God.  He's a trucker, so he's gone a lot, but he said he'd come to church whenever he gets a chance!  We also found a girl named J who we gave a Book of Mormon to and prayed with.  She started crying!  So we invited her to read the Book of Mormon and she said she would start.  Way cool!

That has pretty much been our week!  Areli cancelled our appointment, but hopefully we can get something set up with her again.  She's just been busy with work.  R and L are way cool, so hopefully we can set baptismal dates with them too.  I love watching when investigators start reading the Book of Mormon and they can feel the Spirit and they catch that glimpse of the Glory of God! Just gotta keep it up and can't lose that focus! Same goes for missionaries, and pretty much every one of God's children as well!

Love you all!

Elder Whicker!

Friday, April 12, 2013

weekly menu

This week I got only organic baskets, and I think that's what I'm going to be doing from now on.  I like the variety we get when I get half conventional and half organic, but the organic is such a good price (compared to what I can buy around here), and I've read so much scary stuff about conventionally grown produce that I really want to keep it to a minimum.

So, with 4 identical baskets, we ended up with a TON of spinach and asparagus!  I had to come up ways to use those things up, and I'm really looking forward to our meals for the week.  :)  I'll be gone on Monday and part of Tuesday because Cora and Thalia are having their tonsils and adenoids out in Billings, so I picked easy things for Curtis to make.  He's capable of making anything, but I know those two days will be crazy for him.  

Here are the recipes for the week.  On Wednesday, I'll steam a bunch of rice and roast a boatload of veggies (zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, asparagus) with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  We'll top the rice with the veggies and "Yummy! Sauce" (see recipe below).  All the other meals have recipes below.

Spanakopita (this is supposed to serve 8, but I'll cut it into 12 pieces)
½ cup, olive oil
2½ pounds fresh spinach, cleaned and de-stemmed
6 green onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh dill, chopped
2 pounds firm tofu, drained
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. dried oregano
Dash of nutmeg
¾ cup walnuts, ground
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 package frozen phyllo dough, thawed overnight

1. Preheat oven to 375º.
2. Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat, and then add spinach, green onion, garlic, and dill, and sauté, stirring frequently until spinach is limp and the liquid that sweats out has boiled away. Set aside until the mixture fully cools to room temperature.
3. Meanwhile, drain the tofu (press out excess liquid). Place the tofu in a bowl and use a whisk (or your hands) to mash it. Add the (cooled) spinach mixture, lemon juice, oregano, nutmeg, walnuts, ¼ cup olive oil, yeast, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings, as needed.
4. Lay out a sheet of phyllo in the baking dish. Brush with oil, lay another on top, brush with oil, and repeat for a total of 8 sheets.
5. Gently spread half of the spinach mixture over the dough. Prepare another 8 sheets of phyllo as above and lay on top of the spinach mixture. Spread the rest of the spinach on top. Layer with the rest of the phyllo sheets.
6. Brush the top layer of phyllo with oil and tuck the edges of the phyllo sheets into the pan.
7. Score the top layer of dough into eight pieces.
8. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes, until golden-brown and crispy – be careful not to let the phyllo burn!

Zucchini brownies

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched. To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.

Green and Gold salad with Citrus-Ranch dressing (serves 8-12)

6 cups chopped fresh broccoli
3cups diced mango
2 large navel orange, sectioned and chopped
1 cup pecans, toasted
2 (6-ounce) packages fresh baby spinach
4 cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Toss with citrus-ranch dressing.

Citrus-Ranch dressing

1 cup vegan mayo
1/4 cup soy milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp fresh chopped dill or 1/4 tsp dried
4 tsp orange zest
6 tbsp fresh orange juice

Yummy! Sauce

1/2 cup canola oil (preferably cold pressed)
1/2 cup almonds (for a creamier sauce, use almond flour)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup chickpeas or 1/2 cup garbanzo beans, cooked
1/4 cup silken tofu
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 -2 garlic clove (small to medium size)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried cilantro

In a blender or food processor blend almonds beans and oil.
Add all other ingredients and puree until creamy smooth.
Cover and let stand in the refrigerator for one hour.
Don't cover too tight, remember the yeast.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

upcoming surgeries

Thalia was scheduled to have surgery (tubes and tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy) today, but after going to her pre-op appointment yesterday, the ENT decided he wanted to do it in Billings.  Miles City only has nurse anesthetists and he felt it would be safer to have an anesthesiologist.  We rescheduled the surgery for this coming Monday, and he also moved Cora's tonsillectomy up to the same day.  It will be nice to get them both over at the same time.  He also asked us to take Thalia to the cardiologist to check her heart before the procedure.  We weren't sure how reliable our China records are, but according to her file, she has no heart issues - only slight thickening of a valve.  Still, I didn't mind having an accurate baseline to start with, so I drove her to Billings today to see the pediatric cardiologist there.  I was so saddened to learn that there is absolutely nothing wrong with her heart that is related to her Down syndrome, but that she has leaking aortic and mitral valves - probably due to rheumatic fever.  It seems almost cruel that she could escape the heart problems typical of the majority of kids with Down syndrome, only to have something else damage her heart.  :(  The good news is that the leaks are mild for now.  The bad news is that she'll have to be checked each year, and that no one knows how long those valves will last.

Here's a picture of Thalia waiting for the doctor.  She had an exam, EKG and echocardiogram.  Thankfully she got to watch Finding Nemo during the echo, but I'm always amazed at how compliant she is with medical and dental procedures.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Joshua's email 4/8/13

DANG this week has been NUTS!!

 Last week we had a great P-Day!  We went out and had lunch with the ladies and T from the food pantry.  That was enjoyable..... hahaha.  We had a lesson with Areli again!! We taught her half of the Plan of Salvation.  That was a really good lesson and she said she's been praying about baptism and about the Book of Mormon!! Woohoo!!! Still working with her towards May 4.  We also had a lesson with the Cs!  They had to work over the weekend, so they weren't able to watch conference with us, but they did record it so they can watch it this week!

Tuesday we had a lesson with our potential investigator J.  Not sure what his intentions are at this point, but he's a very nice, religious guy, so we'll see where it goes next time we visit him..  We also had a lesson with a partmember family - The H family!  They're doing pretty well.  They're beginning to read the Book of Mormon and we're trying to reactivate the dad, and he's progressing, slowly but surely!  I love their family!

Wednesday, Elder P and I drove to the Stake Center and went to our New Missionary Training Meeting for the trainers!  It was a really good meeting and it helped me feel better about training.  Then some time later, they announced our new companions!  My new companion is Elder M, from Spanish Fork, Utah! Woohoo! He's 18, he's a serious runner, and he's a great missionary.  We're working hard and enjoying the work, so everything's great!  We've just been getting familiar with the area together and finding potentials and formers to teach.  We've also done a little bit of tracting, yay!

General Conference this weekend was AWESOME! It was weird not being home with my family watching it, but the ward is so good here, that we were both comfortable and enjoyed Conference a lot.  I especially enjoyed the Priesthood session!  Tim was supposed to come with us, but he had some family visit, so he wasn't able to come. :(  Oh well.  We have a lesson planned tonight and we're planning on extending a baptismal date for T and J!  I'm way excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DANG!

That's pretty much our week!  I love you all and hope you all enjoyed conference!! Talk to you next week!!

Elder Whicker

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cora's birthday

Cora is officially 8-year-old #2.  Jack will be 8 next month, and then we'll have 3 of them!  Yikes!  She's pretty excited about her upcoming baptism, and as I'm typing this, I'm realizing that I have to find baptism dresses quickly!  

Every year on Cora's birthday, I can't help but reflect on her arrival in our family.  She got such a rough start in life; she didn't have good care in her orphanage, and when we first visited in Haiti, she was extremely delayed.  She was 12 months old, but she couldn't hold her own bottle, couldn't pull to stand or cruise furniture.  She was just a limp little noodle.  She could get up on all fours, but did more rocking than crawling.  She cried and cried every time we went outside because of the bright light, which made it very difficult for us to even leave our hotel room.  She was used to being stuck in a crib, all day, every day.  Thankfully, she gave us little glimpses of the person she was inside her neglected body.  She smiled and laughed and snuggled with us, and that helped quell some of the fears we had about her future.  But the real help came from a blessing from Curtis in which we were assured that she was our daughter, and that whatever challenges might exist, we could manage them.  We were also reminded that this life is very short, and that even if she had to live in an imperfect mortal body, she would live into the eternities as a perfect being.  After this blessing, every concern I had about how she would do and how we would manage was gone.

A few months later, when she was escorted home by some friends of ours who had traveled to Haiti to see the kids they were adopting, our friends were kicked off of an American Airlines flight because a flight attendant thought Cora was too sick to fly.  After a very expensive trip to a clinic and then the emergency room, plus a flight for me to Dallas/Ft. Worth to meet our friends, we learned that she had an ear infection.  That was it.  

What sticks out in my mind, though, is that our friends told me that before I arrived at the hospital, the attending physician told them that he hoped that we realized that the child we were getting was "mentally retarded."  He cited her nystagmus (which is a feature of albinism that almost everyone with albinism has) and her lack of interaction as the reasons for his "diagnosis."  I've always been annoyed that someone would make such a statement in such a callous way, and with nothing to base that opinion on.  Our friends tell us periodically that they wish that doctor could see Cora now.  So do I!  Although she struggles academically because of her visual impairment (20/400 vision), she is one smart cookie and can do anything she wants!  She dances, she plays the piano, she does gymnastics, she reads, she's independent with her equipment in her classroom, she has friends, she can sing beautifully, and she's hilariously funny!  I'm so grateful that we didn't let our fears interfere with bringing such an amazing blessing into our lives.

Happy birthday, Cora!  We love you!

Cora on 4/6/13 - her actual birthday

And finally celebrating on 4/7!

Her favorite Legos!

Cora's phone o' ponies

Thalia's crown o' ponies

Zoe gave Cora and Lily a "spa treatment"

Saturday, April 6, 2013

random photos

Thalia lost her first tooth!
The other one is really lose too!  
Listening to General Conference
Cora and Thalia right after school
Walking home from school
Ethan goofing off before his first game of the season 
Again with the goofing
Thalia's reading

Cora and Thalia
Cora's 8th birthday (we're celebrating tomorrow).  And new hair!  
Me and Thalia

weekly menu

It's been a while since I posted a picture of my Bountiful Baskets haul, so here's one for old time's sake.  :o)

As you can see, there's a LOT of of zucchini, so even though we just had roasted veggie burritos last week, I'm doing it again for this week.  I also grated a bunch so I could make zucchini bread, and some of them are going to my friend.  She's also getting the fennel and some celery.

I still have quite a bit of strawberry jam from the last batch I made, so I think I'm going to cut and freeze most of the strawberries for smoothies and stuff.

Here's what came in our baskets:


rainbow carrots
leaf lettuce
roma tomatoes
cherry tomatoes
swiss chard
mini sweet peppers

And here's what I still have from previous weeks, plus a couple items from the grocery store:

sweet potatoes
butternut squash
acorn squash
spaghetti squash
apple slices
mandarin oranges

I forgot to put it on the menu, but on Wednesday we're having roasted asparagus with our BLTs.  And by BLT I mean tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado and Daiya havarti cheese.  SO yummy!

The grilled veggie burritos from last week link back to the original recipe, so look there if you're dying for instructions.  I'll be using zucchini, mushrooms, frozen red peppers, and onions.  For the curry, I'm using a new organic jarred sauce I found at Natural Grocers, and I'll add chard, potatoes, frozen cauliflower, and carrots and serve it over Basmati rice.  I have some naan in the freezer, but I think I'll save it for another time.  So the only real recipes are these two:

Coconut rice with black beans, plantains and mango salsa  This is a recipe my friend Heidi turned us on to.  It's DELICIOUS!  We use pre-made salsa, with some fresh diced mango sprinkled on top.

Pizza Casserole  (This is not even remotely healthy, but as you know, we don't very often eat a bunch of processed fake meat stuff like this.  Once in a while is OK in my book.)  :o)

1 (13-16 ounce) package uncooked rotini pasta
1 lb soy Italian sausage
1 (24 ounce) jar pasta sauce
1 (16 ounce) container vegan ricotta cheese
1 (2 1/4 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained (optional)
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
12 ounces shredded Daiya mozzarella cheese
2 (3 ounce) packages sliced veggie pepperoni

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13 casserole dish.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place pasta in the pot, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until evenly brown, drain if needed. (Simply slice if not using the type with removable plastic casings.)  Mix in the cooked pasta and pasta sauce. Pour into prepared casserole dish.  Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms in a little water in a small pan until soft, drain.

In a bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, olives, mushrooms, peppers, and mozzarella cheese.

Spoon the cheese mixture over the sausage and pasta mixture. Top with pepperoni slices.

Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until bubbly and lightly browned.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Joshua's email - 4/1

This might be kind of short because I forgot my old planner at the apartment! (which means I can't look back over my last week and write what happened)!....

Anyway, last Monday we set a baptismal date with A!!!!!!! Woohoo!!!! I can't remember if I talked about her last time or not, but basically she's a 19 year old *** girl that we met about a week and a half ago. She asked us if we could come back and teach her!  We taught her the Restoration and invited her to be baptized!  She said yes, so she's got a date for May 4th I believe.  I'm so excited!!! Woooo!

Tuesday we had a lesson with the H family again.  We taught them the Restoration, and it went really really well.  We're trying to get the father to come to church, and the rest of the family will follow.  He's kind of stubborn, but very very nice and he loves the missionaries!

We also had a lesson with another investigator, M. He accepted a baptismal invitation, but no date yet.  He's extremely sincere, so we're hoping we can keep working with him too.

We had a funeral for a lady who passed unexpectedly this past week, so we attended and helped out at that on Saturday.  The bishop's words were really profound and I think everyone felt comfort by them, so that was way cool.

Other than that, not a whole lot went on this week.  We've got another lesson with T and J tonight, and we're going to try to extend another baptismal date.  We've almost taught them everything!  Also, we got a phone call last week and found out that Elder P is finally leaving Elkhorn (his first area), and he's opening a new area with a new missionary, AND he's going to be district leader!  Awesome!  President also talked to me and he told me that I'm going to be training a new missionary these next two transfers!!! I'm sooooooooooooooooo excited to train a new missionary!!!!! I hope I can teach him and help him become familiar with missionary work and what our purpose as missionaries is.  I'm suuuuuper excited.

Hope you all had a great week and a wonderful Easter!  I love you all!

Elder Whicker