Roasted Red Pepper #HummusMadeEasy Falafel (recipe)

Disclosure: This blog is compensated by The Women Bloggers and their advertiser. All opinions and words are my own. #HummusMadeEasy

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Have you ever heard of falafel? I hadn’t until a certain ’90s movie with Freddie Prinze Jr. came out and even then, I didn’t really get what falafel was. Fast forward about 10 years and I finally got a chance to try this fried delectable treat made with chickpeas or fava beans. I’m incredibly excited to offer my first original falafel recipe using the #HummusMadeEasy product from Bush’s Beans. I thought making Middle Eastern food would be hard but with this product, it was crazy easy and even more delicious.

I’ve tried various forms including the traditional balls (they look like hushpuppies) and patties that were a vegetarian option in a sandwich I purchased. When I started thinking of ways to use the Hummus Made Easy product, I at first thought I would use the hummus as a dip for falafel or perhaps homemade chips. I then figured out that falafel is made of most of the same ingredients as hummus; it’s just in a different form! Oooohhhhh, this was going to be good. Continue Reading →

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The whirlwind that is GiveCamp NWA

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About 50 people gathered recently during GiveCamp NWA to fix or create websites for local nonprofits.

It usually takes a few weeks to produce an entire website from scratch but at GiveCamp NWA, we do it in a weekend. GiveCamp is one of my favorite activities each year and I am already looking forward to next year.

So what is GiveCamp NWA? It’s a weekend where technology professionals from the region gather to create, fix or somehow alter websites for nonprofit organizations. The organizations have to apply and get approved then they are assigned to a team.

GiveCamp Logo

Last year, the team I was on created an entire website for an animal rescue called Rosco P. Coaltrain’s Community Outreach. This year, my team was assigned to work with the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter. The first year, I was just a writer and this year, I worked as a project manager.

As you can imagine, the shelter already had a website but it was in drastic need of updates both behind the scenes and the way it worked for the average user. We made many updates, gave them a whole new look with better function, and made many other changes. They had several needs that we were not able to fulfill in a weekend, but were able to refer them to someone who can.

Here is a post from the GIveCamp Facebook page that shares a photo of our team working

I really enjoyed this experience and think it’s great that the NWA technology community is willing to give like this to such great organizations.

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Sweet meets savory: Southwest Black Bean Hummus Brownie Snack Bars (recipe)

Disclosure: This blog is compensated by The Women Bloggers and their advertiser. All opinions and words are my own. #HummusMadeEasy 

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Have you ever made hummus? Better yet, have you ever considered hummus as anything other than a yummy dip? I hadn’t done either until a few weeks ago. I was completely intimidated by what I perceived as a complex and messy process. And tahini? Is it just me, but doesn’t that sound kind of like a tropical island and not a fancy ingredient?

Well then, I heard about this new product from Bush’s Beans that you can find at Walmart. Hummus Made Easy is just that…you add the contents of a (drained) can of beans and the Hummus Made Easy pouch then blend. I just use my hand blender but others use a regular blender or food processor. Not only is it easy to make, the blend has no preservatives. I have more and more sensitivities to that kind of thing so no preservatives is important to me.

#HummusMadeEasy comes in three varieties: Classic, Roasted Red Pepper, and Southwest Black Bean. Most people use black beans with the Southwest and Garbanzo (Chickpea) with the other two. Feel free to use any variety or combination you like.

#HummusMadeEasy comes in three varieties: Classic, Roasted Red Pepper, and Southwest Black Bean. Most people use black beans with the Southwest and Garbanzo (Chickpea) with the other two. Feel free to use any variety or combination you like.

It’s crazy inexpensive, too.

Hummus Made Easy is less than $2 at Walmart and the Bush's canned beans are less than $1 per can. One recipe makes about two cups of hummus. That's two cups of fresh hummus for less than $3 and about five minutes of your time.

Hummus Made Easy is less than $2 at Walmart and the Bush’s canned beans are less than $1 per can. One recipe makes about two cups of hummus. That’s two cups of fresh hummus for less than $3 and less than five minutes of your time.

I bought all three varieties and have enjoyed them immensely. I know I’m being compensated to talk about this product, but there is no compensation for my honest enthusiastic opinion. I would take this hummus over the more expensive brands any day. I really do love it. It’s also inspired me to figure out ways to use hummus in other ways besides “just” dip.

That’s where today’s blog comes in. Yes, I made brownies out of hummus. I figured if more folks are liking Southwest or spicy chocolate (not my favorite flavor profile but many, many people love it), and if using black beans to make brownies a bit higher in protein and healthier overall is a popular thing, why not make Southwest Black Bean Hummus Brownies? Continue Reading →

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Oven baked hamburgers stuffed with peppers and cheese (recipe)

Oven_Baked_Pepper_Cheese_Stuffed_Hamburgers

We love burgers at our house and we also love peppers and cheese! We got the not-so-wild idea to infuse cheese and peppers in our burgers. Not just stuff, infuse. As in the cheese and sweet peppers are throughout the burger patty, not just a big lump in the middle.

We tried grilling and then tried pan frying but each time, the cheese would burn and make the patties fall apart. We then decided to try one more method and like many situations, the third time was the charm. We baked the burgers and the end result was delicious!

The measurements and time on this are not exact because it really is to your preference. Here is what we did: Continue Reading →

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Beef and olive enchilada casserole

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Beef and olive enchilada casserole is a family favorite around the Smith household. It started with my original beef and olive enchilada recipe and I when I realized you could make the enchiladas into a casserole, I went back and added the instructions to the original blog.

We’ve gotten to where we rarely make the enchiladas unless we’re making (sponsored) Cheesy Pork and Green Chile Enchiladas because we love making the beef enchilada casserole so much! It’s perfect for potlucks or to take to a friend’s house if they are sick. And if you’re not into olives, no problem. Just leave them out.

At the risk of sounding braggy, my husband’s coworkers request I make this every time they have a potluck at work. There have been times that it gets eaten before my husband even reaches the casserole!

Every time I mention on Facebook that we’re making this enchilada casserole I get asked for the recipe. I usually share that old blog post but decided the casserole deserves its own post. So, here you go. As is my usual method, I share all the words of the recipe then share the steps in pictures.  Continue Reading →

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Sharing my God story … my journey of faith

My God story Journey of Faith

I recently was blessed to have my friend Vickie Henderson interview me on her online radio show, My Journey of Faith.

You may remember Vickie when she shared her story of living with Myasthenia Gravis for my Living with Chronic Illness blog series.  Continue Reading →

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Easy Cheesy Taco Meatloaf

Easy Cheesy Taco Meatloaf
We love meatloaf at the Smith house. We sometimes get pretty creative, such as when we made Asian Apple Spiced Meatloaf and All-Day Breakfast Sausage Meatloaf.

When I make John’s week of meals on Monday nights, he often asks for what I call “Meatloaf medley.” It’s three pounds of beef separated into three different loaves and each one has a different topping and in some cases, different ingredients in the mix.

We recently made up a “recipe” (in quotes because it’s hard to call a five-ingredient meal a recipe) and we both love it! Every time I mention making Easy Cheesy Taco Meatloaf, I get friends from all over who want the recipe.

I’ve finally gotten around to taking pictures of this recipe and you’ll see just how easy this is! As is my usual practice, I share the recipe then a picture tutorial after that. Continue Reading →

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What is a leader?

IMG_20160121_162430I was recently the contest chair for a speech contest in my Toastmasters club. I was so discouraged by the end of it that I just knew I had failed. I didn’t even want to claim it in my Competent Leadership manual because I felt like I had not done a good job.

The truth is, the contest got done. It was done by the rules. The more experienced people in my club helped me get through it, and it all turned out fine. It gave me a lot of experience to learn from next time I have to chair a contest.

So why didn’t I think it counted? The president of my Toastmasters Club reassured me that although it didn’t go as smoothly as I planned, it still “counted” for my CL notebook.

That says a lot, doesn’t it? I think it’s easy to get this idea that a leader always gets things right the first time. In reality, nothing is further from the truth. A real leader learns from her mistakes and does it better next time. She keeps her head about her when she really wants to stomp around and cry because things aren’t going as planned.

This whole idea of “what is a leader” seems to be cropping up in other parts of my life. I’m part of a group creating a women’s empowerment center in Northwest Arkansas. In one of our focus groups, the idea of “what is a leader” was part of the discussion.

In my head, I know a person doesn’t necessarily have to be in charge of something to qualify as a leader. On the same token, just because someone is in charge of something doesn’t mean that person is a leader. At least not an effective one.

So what qualifies a person as a leader? What are qualities of a good leader? Share your thots in the comments.

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Celebrating the little things, the simple joys

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I recently guest posted on the Arkansas Women Bloggers website. I wrote about celebrating simple joys and the little accomplishments in life. 

Here is an excerpt:

Life is filled with big moments. Major birthday milestones, graduations, new jobs, major goals met.

I think it’s easy, in fact too easy, to get caught up in those big moments and let a lot of great little moments pass without notice.

I’ve often been told and even encouraged others to celebrate the little things in life. Life events in the last year have driven this home for me.  Anyone who keeps up with me on Facebook knows I started battling health issues last spring, and while I’m doing better, I still struggle.

I would love it if you would hop over to the blog and read the rest of this!

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Guest post: Living with Crohn’s disease – a caregiver’s story (chronic illness series)

A note from Jamie: This blog is another guest post in the chronic illness series. Suzy shares her story of being a caregiver to someone with a chronic, incurable disease. Please read and share her story!

Guest post: Living with Crohn’s disease – a caregiver’s story (chronic illness series)

By Suzy Taylor Oakley, blogger at Suzy & Spice and To Well With You

Suzy Oakley is a blogger and freelance writer/editor based in Batesville, AR. She blogs at Suzy & Spice and To Well With You.

Suzy Oakley is a blogger and freelance writer/editor based in Batesville, AR. She blogs at Suzy & Spice and To Well With You.

My husband was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease just shy of our first anniversary.

We spent our first Christmas as a married couple in the hospital, husband tethered to a TPN line, wife battling bronchitis and keeping fretful watch while trying to work her own full-time job and part of his. (We both had editing jobs at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where we had met five years earlier.)

As a new wife, I hadn’t known how to read the signs that Bruce was seriously ill.

A man with extremely high pain tolerance, he had been insisting that he could hold out until his upcoming colonoscopy appointment (after several inconclusive appointments with his general practitioner). Had it not been for a wise and bold co-worker, who didn’t know me well but cared enough to intervene one mid-December afternoon in 1998, I would have soldiered on at my desk that frigid Tuesday instead of going home to bundle him up and head for the ER. (Rhonda, I’ll never forget your kindness and concern; you possibly saved Bruce’s life.)

With an expedited scope of his digestive tract the next morning – after an awful night of drinking a salty solution to clean him out (as if there was much in his stomach to start with) – Bruce and I heard a phrase neither of us was familiar with:

Crohn’s disease. Continue Reading →

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