I hesitate to even share this dish so early into our journey because it is undoubtedly my most requested recipe. And so, I'm fearful that after this post, my readers will softly close the door to this Food Freak Friday shop and quietly tip-toe away because they've already received the motherload. HOWEVER, if you promise never to leave my side, then I will share the yummiest piece of my heart with you. This is my go-to brunch offering, my blue ribbon potluck dish, and my favorite appetizer. Oh, and I almost forgot, it is unfairly easy to make. So easy, in fact, that you will almost feel guilty when people compliment you on how delicious these rolls are. Almost.
Without further ado,
Heavenly Ham Rolls
1. Preheat the oven to 375. Using a bread knife (or your longest serrated knife) carefully cut the rolls in half. Expert Tip: DO NOT tear apart the rolls, but rather treat the entire package like one big loaf of bread. You'll safe yourself a headache later. Promise.
2. Spread a light coat of mayonnaise on each side of the rolls. If you are one of those odd ducks who HATES mayo, please DO NOT, under any circumstances leave the mayo out. I promise you will not even taste it, and I also promise that if you DO leave it out, you will regret it for the rest of your life. Lightly grease a 9X13 pan and squeeze the bottom half of the rolls into the pan. You may be thinking "But they don't fit!" Just tell all of the bottoms to "suck in" and I can assure you they will fit.
3. Top with the ham and cheese, and cover with the tops of the rolls. Once again, just give the tops of those rolls a gentle reminder to "suck in!
4. Now for the heavenly part! Melt the stick of butter in a small bowl. Whisk in mustard, worsterchire, onion salt, and poppy seeds. Stir until combined and then spread over tops of the rolls. Be careful not to let any of the buttery goodness leak out of the pan, but instead pinch those cute little buns, so that it can run into the sides and bottoms of the rolls. I promise you'll thank me later for this.
5. Cover the rolls with some foil and bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes. Take off the foil and cook for another 3-5 minutes until the tops of the buns are slightly browned. DO YOU SMELL THAT? That this the smell of an award-winning dish, my friend. You will be invited back to every party, if for no other reason than the fact that YOU DELIVER DELICiOUSNESS.
Wishing you kudos in the kitchen,
“They grow up too fast,” I mumbled to myself as I watched my four year-old write his name for the first time. I swear just yesterday he thought green was the only color, and I was certain he would make it to high school without knowing the sky is in fact blue. Was I not up late rocking him to sleep just last week? And wasn’t it a few days ago when I had the painstaking task of potty training him?
That’s parenting for you. It’s like Groundhog Day for months and then in one instantaneous moment your kid sleeps through the night, or takes his first steps, or walks out the door to board his first school bus. In so many ways it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for, but in the same fleeting breath you’re trying desperately to hold on to the precious moments being left behind.
There is a twinge of angst that accompanies each new stage—a pit, a vacancy, a longing for one more taste of those sweet moments past. Like I wrote a few weeks ago, that twinge can often feel like guilt. It feels like I missed something or didn’t cherish every moment sweetly enough, because I will never again hear my son say “capapilla” for caterpillar or “black baby” for blackberry. (That one’s probably for the best though, because nothing is more offensive than when your two-year-old says, “I eat black babies.” You can imagine the looks.)
When the seasons have passed, my mom guilt sends absurd thoughts through my head, like: “I should have stared at him sleeping for one more hour” or “I should have recorded him saying ‘capapilla’” or “I should have read Good Night Moon 10 more times”. In these instances, I believe that if I had completed those tasks, my parenting appetite would be satiated, my cup would over flow and I would enter this new stage without an ounce of remorse.
But this can’t possibly be true, can it? Is it ever possible to get our fill of the sweet moments – especially if we must endure the difficult ones alongside of them? If God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11 is true that God “knows the plans He has for you, plans of good and not of evil, plans to bring you hope and a future” then who am I to feel guilty about leaving behind precious seasons when He is promising me hope and a future?
After deeply wrestling with these feelings, I’ve discovered the vacancy that accompanies a new season is not one of guilt, but one of grace. It’s not that our kids are growing up too fast, but rather they are growing at a rate that keeps us perfectly satisfied and not overstuffed. As I analyzed this new discovery, I began to consider a world where kids didn’t just grow up too fast, but rather didn’t grow up at all.
Imagine parenting a two-year-old for forty years. The two-year-old never gets any older, but rather stays two F.O.R.E.V.E.R.—never learns another word, gains another ounce, or successfully accomplishes a new task. We would have enforced hundreds of time outs, changed millions of diapers, watched marathons of Peppa Pig, received thousands of two-year-old hugs, and heard the word “capapilla” countless times. There were certainly cherished moments, but would we not be painfully overstuffed from this stagnant forty-year season? I don’t know about you, but I would deeply desire a transition. After all, some of the most cherished moments are witnessing the ‘firsts’. And since every ‘first’ comes at the expense of a ‘last’, would we be willing to sacrifice all newness just to hold on to the moments we love? I don’t think I could.
You see, dear reader, time is both a burglar and a benefactor—kidnapping our children’s ‘lasts’ while granting permission for dazzling ‘firsts’. It can’t be one without the other. So, could it not be that this pit in my stomach is a sweet sign of grace? An endearing protection from feeling overstuffed of a season. A plan so perfect that only a loving and merciful God could create it so beautifully. Because of this twinge of grace, we are given the glorious opportunity to leave every parenting season with a sweet taste lingering in our mouth, perfectly satisfied with the amount of love and hardship the season required.
In the meantime, we will experience all the flavors of a season - Sour days and sugary minutes. Moments of bitterness and Candy-coated hours. Bland weeks that will be expunged by the sweetness of the years. Our parenting stomach will always have room for one more sweet taste, but this is simply God-inspired portion control to prevent us from becoming overstuffed. Soak up the sweetness that each season has to offer, but don’t let your desire for one more taste turn into paralyzing guilt. Our kids aren’t growing up too fast, mama, they are simply growing up according to the Master’s plan – the sweet plan He promised us in Jeremiah – and that is eternally satisfying.
I don't know what it is about spaghetti night, but I haven't ever been a fan. I don't know if it's the lack of originality behind it or my ambivalent feelings about twirling tomato-covered noodles around a fork, but it's just not my jam. HOWEVER, when a mom at the playground says, "It's spaghetti night at our house tonight!" there is a small part of me that wants to tackle her because we all know that Spaghetti = SpagEASY. I don't want to make spaghetti per se, but I want to make something that is spagEASY. Is that too much to ask? And so, if your Spaghetti night needs a little remix, I've got the perfect new jam for you...
Braised Chicken & Orzo
1. Bring a large part of water to boil. Chop the garlic and thyme. (That's right! Only 2 things to chop - it's a Christmas miracle!)
2. If you want to trim some of the fat off of the chicken thighs, go ahead, but DO NOT perform full-on liposuction. Rather treat them like you would the thighs on a chubby 10 month old baby. The chubbier, the better. Say yes to the chubs and yes to a little chicken thigh fat. And then, season those thighs liberally with salt on both sides.
3. Heat 1 Tbsp. Olive oil in a heavy saute pan over medium heat. Brown the chicken thighs on both sides, about 5-7 minutes per side or until browned. Depending on how many thighs you have, they might have to take turns as to not overcrowd the pan. Once browned, transfer to a plate. (Don't freak out that they aren't fully cooked, they will get more stove time.)
4. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic to the same pan you cooked the chicken in (There should be some fat renderings left in the pan, so LEAVE THEM THERE.) Stir the garlic constantly until it massages your nostrils with its heavenly scent. Then add the tomatoes, 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 chicken stock concentrate. Turn up the heat, stirring constantly and scraping up the delicious brown bits on the bottom of the pan until the sauce starts to simmer.
5. Add the thyme & oregano and then snuggle those little thighs down into the sauce until they are partially covered by the sauce. They can all fit in the pan at this point even though it's a tight squeeze. Turn the heat down just slightly so that the sauce is simmering GENTLY. Partially cover the pan (if you don't have a lid, you can cover loosely with tin foil, just be careful not to let the foil touch the burner). Cook for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
6. While the chicken cooks, add the orzo to the boiling water with a tablespoon of salt and cook for 6-8 minutes or until al dente.
7. Once the chicken is cooked, you can either shred it or just leave it as is. You do you. Put some orzo in a bowl and top with chicken and a ladle-full of the sauce.
If you want to go crazy, you can thrown on some parmesan or serve with bread or make a vegetable because HEALTH. But don't judge me, I"m counting the thyme and tomatoes as a veggie here and I don't need any lip about it. After all, I just needed something spagEASY, ok?!
Wishing you kudos in the kitchen,
I am a lover of people, a child of God, and a laugher at jokes. I write words, cry tears and smile at strangers.