Finding God in the Fall – Part One

If I’m being completely open and honest, I’ve always struggled in the fall.  Depression hits pretty hard for me starting about middle of October and then comes and goes until April-ish.  It’s a tricky thing for me.  For those of you who know me, I’m a person of faith.  I rely pretty heavily on my relationship with God to get me through difficult times.  However, the funny thing is that as my depression gets bigger and closer, God seems to get smaller and farther away.  So it’s a downward spiral generally.  The weather turns, I get depressed, then I lose my connection with God, and it makes me more depressed.

So, this year, I decided to try to shift my perspective on the fall.  Usually, I see fall as a time of death and decay as plants are going dormant for winter.  I see fall as a time when the vivid colors of spring and summer morph and fade into dull browns and grays.  The fun filled activities of summer lull into a slow drawn-out trudging monotony.  However, over the next three posts, I’m going to show how to shift perspective to redeem all these things and to use them to keep my connection with God.

Let’s start with the first, death and decay.  It’s true.  During the fall, many plants die.  The beautiful flowers that are planted in the spring whither and die, the vibrant green grass goes dormant into a grayish brown, and the trees stand lifelessly still.

However, I think the way to change perspective on this issue is to look at fall not as a season of death and decay, but also as a season of harvest.  Yes it is true that plants are dying, but that death is part of the harvest.  It is the completion of what was begun in the spring with the planting.

We can connect with God through this by remembering that He is a god of completion.  God finishes what He starts. This is true in plants but it is also true in us.  Every one of us was put on Earth for a reason.  We are not accidents.  We have purpose for being here and God will bring about that purpose in our lives.  He is going to finish what He started in our lives.  Focusing on that and dwelling on the harvest is the first way that I am shifting my perspective this year.  God is not a god of death and decay.  He is a god of harvest and completion.  I choose to trust in that.

As always, thank you for reading.  If you want to receive and email notification whenever I post something new, click on the “follow” tab in the lower right hand corner of your screen.  Tune in next week for the continuation of how to shift focus in the fall.

 

(This is an abridged version of a piece that I wrote for my church, Northside Christian Church’s, website.  If you want to read the original piece, head to www.northsideweb.org/blog)

 

You Have A Voice. Use It

Hey Everyone,

So, first of all.  I realize it has been a very long time since I last wrote a piece on my own blog.  There are several reasons for this.  First, I’ve been struggling through some issues in my life dealing with anxiety and depression and just the all around manic pace at which my life happens.  Seconds, I’ve begun doing some freelance writing for other blogs.  It’s been super challenging but fun and interesting at the same time.  Last, I’ve actually been doing something that has been exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.  I’ve been working on self-publishing my own book.

I can proudly say that as of about a week ago.  My book is live on Amazon.com to purchase.  Shameless plug, you can get it for 9.99.  Head to Amazon.com and either search for my name, Erik Steidl, or for the book, The First Ostrich to Fly.  If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might have read a poem I wrote a while ago called What is No One Ever Told the Ostrich.  If you want to go back to read the poem again, the link is here . The book that I wrote is based on that poem.

So, you might wonder how publishing a book can be terrifying.  I mean, all in all it’s kind of simple.  You write it, edit it, add illustrations (if it is a picture book), and upload it to Amazon.  Then people can buy it.  However, it truly is terrifying for someone like me.  Publishing a book is putting yourself out there.  A lot of emotion and feeling goes into a book and by publishing it, you’re exposing those emotions and feelings to the world.  For an introverted person, that is a very daunting thing to do.

However, I want this post to be an encouragement to you out there if you are like me and you like to keep things close to the vest and safe.  If you have something, an idea, a book, a poem, etc. in your head that you feel would benefit people, then put it out there.  You have a voice and you’ve been given that voice for a reason.  Someone out there needs to hear what you have to say.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and books by an author named Rob Bell recently.  He is a Christian author and one of the things that he says a lot is that “God is constantly looking for people to join Him in the ongoing creation of the world.”  That is something that I have taken to heart.  Bell talks about how the world is still being created, that we have an opportunity to help shape this ever evolving world into how we want it to look and feel.  We all have voices and we all have passions.  If you see something in the world that you think needs changing, voice that.  If you just want to add positivity into the world, do it!

Like I said, I realize that this can be frightening.  For me, it was terrifying.  I constantly second guessed myself as I went through the process of self-publishing.  Thoughts kept jumping into my head telling me that my book was stupid, that I was dumb for thinking that it was actually something people would want to read.  However, after about a week of having my book out there, the response has been so positive.  The number of people who have reached out to me telling me how much they loved the book has been truly overwhelming.  I think that the same will be true for you as well.  People need to hear what you have to say.  Your words, thoughts, and voice have worth and value.  You have a voice.  Use it.

 

The 5 Jedi I Would Take on My Team

Sometimes, I nerd out and ask myself hypothetical questions.  Then I make lists and answer them.  So, As I’m going through the Star Wars saga for like the 11th time in my life, I asked myself, “If you had to assemble a team of any five Jedi to take with you on a mission, which five would you take?”  It took me way longer than I thought it would to answer and the visions of the distraught faces of the Jedi that I left off still haunt my dreams.  However, here are the five Jedi I would take along with my reasoning.  I won’t go super into my nerdness for those of you who aren’t as into Star Wars as I am.

#1 Yoda

Yoda Soundboard

I know. I know.  This one seems almost too easy.  Yoda is one of the most powerful, if not the absolute most powerful Jedi in history.  His skill with a lightsaber is unrivaled as is his knowledge of the Force.  He is extremely wise and quick to see when he is wrong and change course.  He is also very old and has more perspective of the galaxy than anyone else.  Another reason I would take Yoda is that he is always looking for opportunities to teach and train those around him.  This is seen all throughout the Star Wars saga.  Last, Yoda is very small and can fit into very small places if the need should arrive.

#2 Mace Windu

This one was a somewhat difficult decision for me as Mace Windu is not exactly an extremely likeable character throughout Star Wars.  He is brusque and comes off as somewhat arrogant.  Many times he seems closed minded and set in his ways.  However, being so set in his ways brings with it a firm sort of consistency that I think would be invaluable on any given mission.  The one thing that made me choose Mace Windu however, is that he is simply a fighter.  The guy is seemingly always kicking someone’s butt.  He would have even killed Darth Sidious (Something that even Yoda failed to accomplish) had Anakin not interfered leading to Windu’s death.  Also, if you read the novel Shatterpoint, you will discover that Mace Windu has some very unique abilities with the Force.  His chemistry and friendship with Yoda make him an excellent choice for the second spot on my team.

# 3 Kit Fisto

Kit Fisto, even more so than Mace Windu, is somewhat of an oddball to make a list of top five Jedi to take on a mission.  However, I believe he would be an excellent addition for a number of reasons.  First, he is a Nautolan, which means that he can survive and actually excel in water as well as on land.  During the Battle of Mon Cala, he was integral in protecting Prince Lee-Char as well as winning the battle itself.  He is a fierce fighter who survives a duel with General Grievous and always seems to make the right decision.  He also has a good mix of humor and wisdom.  There are many times that he gives sage advice but just as many times that he laughs wholeheartedly.  Did I mention that he can stay underwater without any breathing apparatus?  I think Kit Fisto would make a fantastic third member of the team.

#4 Ahsoka Tano

Ahsoka Tano

I’ll admit that this one is a stretch.  Ahsako never officially moves past the rank of Padawan during the Clone Wars before she leaves the Jedi Order and strikes out on her own.  However, Ahsoka has several traits that I believe would make her a perfect member of the team.  First, from the time she first became a Padawan, she has always been faced with some kind of adversity.  All throughout her Jedi career, she is constantly in the mix of one conflict or another.  She, strangely enough, is at the center of some of the most consequential events in the Star Wars Universe.  Her experiences, give her invaluable wisdom and know-how that would be an addition to any mission and any team.  She also has a penchant for quick thinking and creative problem solving.  She consistently thinks of outside-the-box solutions to many problems.  She is wily and crafty with her enemies, and warm and selfless with her allies and friends.  She is courageous and spunky and knows when to obey orders, and when to think for herself.  Also, she duel wields lightsabers which is pretty BA.

#5 Obi Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi Wan is a Jedi who is hard to predict.  At times he is wise and level headed, giving wise advice and teaching those around him the deeper ways of the Force.  Other times he is foolish and brash, acting on instinct and whim.  However, I think that this is something that serves him, and would serve the hypothetical team, well.  I find him to be one of the most all-around likeable characters in the Star Wars Universe.  He is witty and charming, both with allies (Duchess Satine) and enemies (Asajj Ventress).  He is a more than capable fighter pilot and is powerful in the Force and with a lightsaber.  He beat Anakin in a duel, beat Darth Maul in a duel, and was the one to kill General Grievous.  Although he is unconventional and awkward at times, Obi Wan would be the perfect fifth member of the team.

Now, here’s a quick list of Jedi who were on the bubble but didn’t quite make the cut

#1 Luke Skywalker

Why I almost put him on the team.

Luke Skywalker is one of the most pure characters in the Star Wars story (at least until Rey comes around that is).  He is extremely powerful in the Force and quickly gains skill in lightsaber combat.  He blows up the Death Star and defeats Darth Vader while pulling off some other cool hero stuff along the way.

Why I didn’t put him on the team

I found that I was putting him on the team mostly because I felt I had to out of respect for the original trilogy.  In truth, he only blows up the Death Star because Han Solo saves him.  If not for that, he would have ended up like the rest of Red Squadron.  He defeats Vader sure, but to be honest, Vader makes a living in the original trilogy by choking out non-Force-sensitive dudes and cutting down people who have no lightsaber.  I dunno, I just felt that there wasn’t enough to put him on the team.

#2 Anakin Skywalker

I know that it seems blasphemous to have a team of Jedi assembled without a single Skywalker amongst them, but Anakin misses the cut too.

Why I almost put him on the team

Anakin is obviously extremely strong in the Force.  His mother even claims that he didn’t have a father and was actually conceived by the Force itself.  (If you get into the novels, it’s kind of suggested that this was a response to Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious messing around with resurrecting the dead).  Anakin is very skilled with a lightsaber, a quick and critical thinker, the “best star fighter pilot in the galaxy,” and a natural leader.

Why I left him off the team

Despite all those accolades, Anakin spends much of the prequels and Clone Wars getting beat.  He seems to be really good at chopping up battle droids and choking people, but never really beats a strong opponent until he kills Count Dooku.  I mean am I wrong in saying that half of his lightsaber duels end with him being reconstructed?  I feel bad leaving him off because I really like him, especially in the Clone Wars, but just feel like others were better for the team.

#3 Qui Gon Jinn

Qui-Gon Jinn

I really really like Qui Gon Jinn.  I know it’s not a huge snub to leave him off the list as he only plays a major role in one of the prequels and is killed in it.  I just wanted to talk about him so that he gets kind of an “honorable mention” award type deal.

Why I almost put him on the team

Qui Gon is strong and wise.  He is a large and powerful Jedi and is willing to take risks and trust his instincts.  As Obi Wan says, he would have been on the Jedi Council had it not been for his stubbornness.

Why I left him off the team.

He obviously wasn’t that strong as Darth Maul kills him in Episode One.

 

Well, I hope I didn’t bore you too much with my nerdiness.  As always, thanks for reading.  If you enjoyed the blog and want to receive emails whenever there’s a new post, please click on the “follow” link in the lower right hand corner of your screen.

All images courtesy of Starwars.com

 

25 Bible Jokes

I decided to combine my love of dad jokes with my love of Jesus and write some jokes based (loosely) on the Bible.  Some of them are really bad.  Be ye warned.

Why didn’t Joseph wear a necktie?  He always wore a coat of mini collars

What did Jesus say to the Mexican Jumping Beans?  Peas! Be still.

Why was Peter’s writing so lyrical?  When he was in prison, he was bound with Two Chainz.

Why don’t Jamaican Christians cut wood?  Their pastor says that God is one but He be made of tree parts. (Read in a Jamaican accent or it doesn’t make sense…it might still not make sense.)

Why did Moses want the Chief Wahoo logo gone?  He was always partial to the Red C.

What did Jesus say when T got too close to V?  I’m going to prepare a place for U.

What did Jesus say to the acorns that fell too fast?  Have faith and just be leaves.

Why did the disciples quit Black Lives Matter in the Garden of Gethsemane? They couldn’t stay woke,

Why did everyone think Jesus was a big gambler?  He was always talking about a pair a dice.

Why are beans the holiest vegetable? Jesus said “Blessed are the peas makers.”

Why did 3 John put pants on Jude?  He didn’t want any more Revelations.

When did Jesus get involved in the NBA? When he stopped James and John from fixing the Nets. (No wonder they’re so bad each year)

What would Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob name their football team? The New England Patriarchs.

What does Mike Tyson think is the hottest underwear in the Bible?  The Thong of Tholomon.

What did Festus say when Paul asked to go to Caesar? “Seize her? I didn’t even think you knew her!”

What did Jonah say when the fish asked if he wanted to be spit out? “Yes! For shore!”

When are bartenders mentioned in the Bible? When Jesus said “Blessed are the pouring spirits.”

Why did Jezebel want Naboth’s Vineyard so bad?  She thought it was just grapes.

Why do Christians drink soy protein? They believe Jesus is the only whey.

Why was everyone so happy that Saul missed when he threw the spear at David? If he had hit him, I’d could have been truly harp breaking.

What did Mary say when Jesus’ room was messy? “What were you, born in a stable?”

What is Jonah’s favorite spot in Jerusalem? The whaling wall.

Why wasn’t Noah good at math? He could only count two by two.

Why did Solomon have to be so smart? To remember all his anniversaries.

Why do Christians eat so much cheese? Jesus was always talking about having a grater love.

 

As always. Please follow the blog by clicking on the link that pops up in the lower right hand corner of your screen.  Happy reading!

Interview with Doris Zigler – Jesus Prom Organizer

One of my favorite and most worthwhile nights every single year is a night called Jesus Prom.  It’s a really cool event hosted by Northside Christian Church in Wadsworth, Ohio that I am proud to call my home church.  Today, I sat down with Doris Zigler, the event organizer and spoke with her about the event; what it is, and how much it means to many people.  Here is a transcript of that interview.

I’m here with Doris Zigler, one of the organizers for Jesus Prom. How long have you been involved with Jesus Prom?

Since the beginning when Seth Amerine was here and got it all started.

What exactly is your role with Jesus Prom?

I guess I’m the leader of all the leaders.I just keep things organized, plan the meetings, make sure everything is where it’s supposed to be, and answer questions.

Has that always been your role since the beginning?

Well I’ve done several things. The first year, I led the decorations team and then the next two years, I did hospitality. Those were the three years that Seth was here. He started looking for someone that third year to take it over for him since he knew that he was going to be leaving. He asked me that third year if I would interested in this. So for the last three years, I’ve been doing this.

If someone who had no idea what Jesus Prom was asked you what it was, what would you tell them?

Well, it’s a night where our church just celebrates and parties with people with special needs. It’s all about them. Everything we plan, we plan for them. It’s to give them a night to just be themselves and be free to wander and do what they want to do in a safe environment. It’s a good time for our church family to be around others who aren’t just like them and to come out of their comfort zone and meet somebody new.

So can you just describe what the night is? Like take us through the night as if you were a guest or a guide. How does the night go?

When they come in the front doors they are met with a group of people who are clapping for them and cheering for them and welcoming them. There is a red carpet spread out for them. This year they will be directed to an announcer who is going to announce them and their guides name. Then their guide will step forward out of the group and come and get them and help them to sign in at the hospitality table and then for the rest of the evening they will be free to do anything they want to do. We’re doing something different with the banquet this year. Instead of having everyone eat at the same time, there is going to be staggered times. So when they come in if they want to eat right away they can go see if the table is ready. If there are no tables ready, we’ll kind of do it like a restaurant. We’ll write their names down and how many is in their party and they can check back in. We’ve outgrown our banquet hall. So we decided to do this so that we could accommodate more people.

Speaking of that, How many guests do we have this year?

Today we have 176 signed up and we’ve decided that we are going to cap it at 200. So we have room for 24 more because not only is that 24 guests but it’s also parents and caregivers. So right now we’re at like 319 dinners.

Do you have anything for the parents and caregivers throughout the night?

Yes, if someone is in a condition where they need constant care and looking after, some of the parents who are caregivers will stay with them and eat with the in the banquet hall. We ask that there only be one so that we can accommodate more guests. The rest of the overflow go upstairs to the youth rooms upstairs and they set up tables up there. When they are done with the buffet, they can go next door amd we have a chiropractor that comes and does neck and shoulder massage for the parents. We have a nice relaxing meal upstairs for them away from the chaos downstairs.

How are we doing on volunteers?

We need a lot more volunteers. The smaller teams fill up. The kitchen team, servers, and paparazzi. But what we really need are guides. As of today, we probably need about 100 more guides.

What’s your favorite part of the whole thing?

Well, I love it all, but when they start walking in on the red carpet, I just cry. When they are all waiting in the parking and we go to open the doors, all the car doors fly open because they just can’t wait to get in here. And you can see them just rushing up here with the smiles on their faces. Some of them just love that red carpet because they can just dance and show off.
So one thing that I love about Jesus Prom is just how much the church comes together, especially inter-generationally. Have you noticed this and can you talk about it a little bit?

Yes, even just within the planning teams. We have 18 different teams and each one has their own leader. And we’re all different ages, men, women, a mixed group. And we probably wouldn’t have become as good friends as we are in any other setting because we all would go to a certain class or group on Sunday and they’re all based on age or whether you have children or not but yeah, I see that in all the teams. There’s older people and younger people and they all work together so well.

That’s awesome. As a high school leader in the church, I love Jesus Prom because we can tell our high schoolers that this is a way that you can be involved in the church and actually be the church. Have a lot of high school kids signed up this year?

Yes! Quite a few. I think that sometimes they wait til the last minute. It seems that November is forever away.

How many man hours would you estimate go into planning Jesus Prom throughout the year? Not just the night of but all year?

Oh golly. I don’t even know. I know how many I put into it. I would say probably 500 throughout the year. I know each team leader does their own thing like decorations meet throughout the year to plan and make the decorations.

So 500 is a conservative estimate?

Yes

So minimum 500 hours planning to go into a 3 hour event. Do you think it’s worth it?

Yes.

Why?

Because it just brings so much joy. You see the result of it. People who have never been to Northside before. Every time I see one of our special needs guests come forward to get baptized I just think that happened just because of a party. You know God can do amazing things in all situations. I think it’s also good for the parents to be loved on upstairs. Having a brother-in-law and sister-in-law that deal with this on a daily basis, I know that as much as they love their son, they get tired. I mean his constant energy and not being able to fully communicate with them. This night is a good night for them to be able to talk to other parents that are going through some of the same challenges.

What options are there for people still wanting to volunteer?

Well guide is the big thing. There are also still a lot of openings for people wanting to help decorate the building. Or people wanting to help with passing out the dresses that we’ve collected for the girls. There’s just two people signed up right now to do that. People are coming in on Thursday night to set up the tables and chairs and then that same group is going to put the tables and chairs away on Friday night since they already know where everything goes.

So the big need is for guides. Can you describe that job a little bit?

It is just being with the person and letting them do what they want and making sure that they’re safe. Some of them want to communicate more than others. You just let them lead the way. You tell them what’s available. Really the guide just needs to make sure that they get their picture taken and that they eat.

Some people might be hesitant to sign up to volunteer because working with special needs individuals can be uncomfortable if you’re not used to it. What would you say to someone who feels hesitant in that way?

I would say that if you haven’t been to Jesus Prom and you are uncomfortable with the whole idea, the first year you should come and just go to the karaoke room. You don’t have to really communicate with anyone, you just come and cheer for them. Or come and just walk through the hallway during the night and I think you’ll realize that it’s not nearly as difficult as you thought it was.

 

 

A huge thanks to Doris for her time to sit down and talk with me about Jesus Prom this year and for her time throughout the year planning it.  As she said, Northside still needs a lot of volunteers for this.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a member at Northside or have never set foot in the door.  If you want to do something to help someone else out and bring joy into their lives, please sign up as a volunteer.  Go here to sign up or just to find out more about it.  I can guarantee you won’t regret it.  As always, thank you for reading.  Please take the time to click on the link in the lower right hand corner of your screen to follow the blog.

25 Signs Your Child is not a Toddler Anymore

I get to spend a lot more time with my kids over the summer.  It hit me the other day that the boys are really not toddlers anymore.  It was kind of a sad and surreal moment for me.  Like how did this happen without me realizing it?

20180721_101604

It’s something that I want and yet don’t want at the same time.  I mean, things are a lot easier with them being less dependent on me for everything but at the same time… I don’t know, it’s just weird.  I don’t think that it was any one thing that led me to the conclusion that they are out of that phase.  It was more of a mix of different things.  So here are 25 signs that your child is not a toddler anymore.

  1. When you let them help you with the dishes or other chores, it actually saves you time instead of adding more time to the task.
  2. When they run up to you crying and you ask them what happened, the story that they tell you is intelligible and coherent.
  3. When they brush their teeth on their own, you walk away believing that their teeth are in fact cleaner than when they began.
  4. Their drawings actually resemble what they say they drew.
  5. They can buckle themselves into their own car seat.
  6. They stop constantly eating things that are not food
    (i.e. crayons, rocks, spiders, socks, etc.)
  7. The people they mention in their prayers at night include people outside their immediate family.
  8. They don’t cry for haircuts anymore.
  9. They stop growling at strangers in Wal-Mart/Aldi, etc.
  10. They stop caring as much about what color plate they get at lunch.
  11. They don’t use their spoon to drink water out of their cup anymore.
  12. They can actually sit through an entire 30 min episode of a show.
  13. You can let them eat their lunch on the couch.
  14. They realize that it doesn’t make sense that the characters in Veggietales pick things up when they don’t have hands.
  15. When they can sit still enough that cutting their fingernails doesn’t feel like you’re going to dismember them.
  16. There are several activities you can no longer do indoors because too much stuff gets broken. i.e. soccer, kickball, wrestling, coloring, eating anything spherical, etc.
  17. They understand your sarcasm and respond in kind.
  18. Having them clean up their own spills, messes, toys, etc. does not take significantly longer than just doing it yourself.
  19. You can trust them to get dressed and remember all the essentials.
  20. If they’re in a different room and you don’t hear them for 15 seconds you don’t automatically assume something has been destroyed (Again, with Izaiah, this doesn’t actually apply…we always assume something has been destroyed).
  21. They can actually chew gum without just swallowing it after 10 seconds.
  22. When you pitch the wiffleball and then flinch because that sucker might be coming back at you pretty fast.
  23. When they just climb over the baby gate so you leave it open.
  24. When naps become an “if” not a “when.”
  25. When they remember medications that they need better than you do.

Like I said, it kind of a bittersweet feeling that at least two of my kiddos are no longer toddlers.  I’d like to here some of the things that your kids did or signs that you saw to show you when you knew yours weren’t toddlers any longer.  Please leave any stories in the comments section.  As always, if you enjoyed this post, please follow the blog by clicking in the lower right corner.

Mexican Chicken Cornbread Casserole

So let me start by saying that I had to look up how to spell the word “casserole.”  Spelling has never been my strong suite.  If you have ever come over to have dinner at our house, chances are pretty good that you’ve had this dish.  It’s a staple of our family so I thought that I would do my first recipe on the blog.  This is one our favorites.  It’s a little spicy but not so spicy that the kids don’t eat it.  I’ll throw in some modifications to it at the end so that if you make it, you can adapt it to fit your own tastes.  Let’s start out with what is in the dish.

Ingredients

2 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 can of black beans (drained)

1 can of cream corn

1 12oz bag of frozen corn

1 4oz can of fire roasted diced chiles

1 can of diced tomatoes (drained)

1 package of taco seasoning

1 package of sliced mozzarella cheese

1 8.5oz box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix

1 egg

1/3 cup of milk (whichever milk you want. I use whole milk)

 

Step One

Preheat the oven to 250.  Boil the chicken breasts in a large saucepan until they are cooked thoroughly and then pull them apart using two fork.  The chicken should separate into small stringy pieces.  Place the pulled chicken into a large mixing bowl.

Step Two

Add the beans, cream corn, frozen corn, chiles, tomatoes, and taco seasoning into the bowl with the chicken. Mix it all together thoroughly.

Step Three

Spread the mix into a 9″ x 13″ glass pan.  Place the slices of mozzarella cheese on top of the mixture.

Step Four

Prepare the Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix according to the directions on the box.  Add the mix, egg, and milk and stir together.  Usually, I use a fork to do this and it works pretty well.  Spread the mix on top of the cheese slices.

Step Five

Bake the casserole at 250 for 45 min.

Step Six

Increase the oven temperature to 400.  Bake the casserole for an additional 15 min or until the middle of the cornbread mix is baked through.  If the edges start browning too quickly, decrease the oven temperature to make sure that the cornbread is cooked all the way without burning.  Stick a fork into the middle of the dish.  It should come out clean.

Step Seven

Eat the food Tina!

 

Here are some additional options.

Vegetarian (Not absolutely Vegan)

Substitute 2 cups of brown rice for the chicken.  Brown rice and black beans in combination with each other provide all the essential amino acids to create a complete protein.  When preparing the brown rice, try adding lime juice or lemon juice to water for a citrusy flavor.  I’ve found flavoring rice by adding things to the water can go a long way in creating unique tastes without adding a lot of additional calories.  If you are a strict vegan, then use a vegan cheese and a vegan cornbread mix.  I have never used it, but Jiffy does have a vegetarian cornbread mix with directions on how to and what to substitute to make vegan cornbread.

More Spice?

If you’re like me, you like a little heat in your meals.  You can add some heat to this one pretty easily.  You can simply add red pepper flakes to the casserole mix.  You could add some fresh diced jalapenos to the cornbread mix.  Or you could substitute a hotter pepper for the fire roasted diced chiles.  One time I made this, I added diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce because ALDI doesn’t have the fire roasted diced chiles…I liked it a lot.  The rest of my family couldn’t eat it.

More Cheese Please?

Because who doesn’t like more cheese in their life?  You can add a cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the cornbread mix before you spread it on top.  It adds more cheese and more flavor but also more calories and more expenses.

 

Well, that’s all for the first recipe.  If you actually try it at home, please comment and let me know how you liked it or if you needed to make any modifications (i.e. cooking times and temps, etc.)  If you did anything else to change the recipe with ingredients or something, please comment as well with what you did and how it turned out.  Hope you enjoy this.  As always, please follow the blog by clicking on the link in the lower right hand corner of the page.  Thanks for reading.

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