A Brave New Year

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“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”  Nelson Mandela

With the stroke of midnight, came a clink of glasses and the sweetest kiss from my husband. The excitement of the new year began to bubble over as I thought of the possibility of starting fresh. A new beginning, and a new chance to try again, always sound appealing. But this year, I felt a longing for something deeper than the usual “make yourself a better person” resolution. It was more a stirring to think bigger than “get in better shape,” or “organize my house in ten easy steps.” It’s something that has been building quietly over time, waiting patiently for the right time to finally crescendo loudly upon my consciousness.

A few days earlier, we gathered around the Christmas dinner table, in between bites of food, each sharing highlights from the year, what we learned, and what we hoped to do differently the following year. When it was my turn to share what I wanted to do differently in 2013, I blurted out that I wanted to take more risks. I couldn’t believe what came out of my mouth. I hoped it was the wine that was talking because I try my very best to avoid risks at all costs. For too long, I have carefully lived my life, safeguarding every area I can.  I am a self-proclaimed worrier and have the biggest fear of failure. I feel ill when things get too far outside my comfort zone. I am happy when things are predictable and routine. But predictability and routine are boring and uneventful ways to live a life. I know I am being called to do more than occasionally peek over the walls I have built around myself. I was made to venture completely outside those walls – further than I am comfortable.

I often let fear have the best of me, keeping me from living a rich life. I label fear as caution and keep myself from loving others well, giving as I should, or fully sharing my life. I am committing myself to living 2013 as a year of taking risks and living beyond my comfort zone. I aim to love my husband more sacrificially, giving more of myself, without asking what I will gain in return. I am committing to being present in the moment with my children without constantly thinking about what needs to be done. I desire to care for my friends and family with greater love. And to push past what I am comfortable with here, knowing, that growth will come. To take bigger risks and bigger jumps in every area, even if it means falling 9 out of 10 times, is what I hope this year will be about. And when I do find myself hiding back in those comfortable walls, I hope to extend myself ample grace, and a little kick to get back out there.

With a new year on the calendar, I am happy to be back in this space with you. Happy to be here sharing a small piece of my life with you, wishing we could all gather around a large table eating, drinking and laughing together often.

So if you see me pale, looking like I might vomit, know, I am following my “New Years Resolutions” to take more risks. ;)

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This recipe is me slowly coming out of my comfort zone and creating something unexpected. And I couldn’t have been more excited to see those hours in the kitchen working with lots of different ingredients finally paying off. These tostadas are slightly sweet followed by a smoky heat. The topping of goat cheese adds a perfect finishing creaminess to complete the dish.

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Spicy Sweet Potato Cauliflower Tostadas 

2 pounds of sweet potatoes (this was 4 large sweet potatoes)

1 head of cauliflower (approximately 1 pound)

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 medium yellow onion

2 cups of cooked black beans

3 teaspoons of coriander

2 teaspoons of smoked paprika (regular paprika can be used here)

1teaspoon of cayenne pepper

4 teaspoons of ground cumin

1 tablespoon of cocoa powder

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

½ c. water

salt and pepper to taste

corn tortillas

goat cheese and cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Chop the sweet potato into ¼ inch pieces. Chop cauliflower into similar sizes. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place on a roasting pan and cook for 25-30 minutes until the potatoes are soft and cauliflower have a few brown spots on them. **While the potatoes and cauliflower cook, dice the onion. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, cook onions until soft, approximately 8-10 minutes. Add in the black beans, coriander, paprika, cayenne, cumin, cocoa, and cinnamon. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes until well combined. Add the water and cooked potatoes and cauliflower. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Serve over crisped corn tortillas (see note below), garnishing with goat cheese and cilantro.

**Five minutes before the potatoes are done cooking, I usually place the corn tortillas on the bottom rack to warm. They become crisp and hot and perfect for topping.

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