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My update

Happy Friday everyone! It’s been unusually quiet around here lately and I apologize for that.  Life forced me to take a much-needed break from many things I’d been focused on and this blog just happened to be one of them.  It wasn’t intentional but it happened.  It started off with a surprise pregnancy and horrible morning sickness, add in two toddlers, commitments made to my previous job, a bunch of bumps in the road and a whole lot of distractions and you have the recipe for my extended absence.

This forced absence has caused me to do some real housecleaning in my heart, y’all.  It’s made me re-access everything I thought I knew and wanted for my life.  Am I really cut out for a life as a wife, mom, entrepreneur, active church volunteer and all-around encourager or is it better for me to drop everything and just be focused on one or two things? Do I postpone pursuing my dreams because life has gotten tough or do I push through because that’s what makes for a great success story?  These are all things I’ve been asking myself lately.

Thankfully, I finally feel like I’m on the other side of the crisis and while I can’t announce that I’ve got it all figured out, I can say that I have a clearer path on how to proceed.  In the words of Dory from Finding Nemo, if I’ll “just keep swimming”, I’ll get where I need to be.

My hiatus hasn’t been all bumpy roads and life re-assessment, not at all.  I’ve had a healthy pregnancy and some really good times with my family.  I’m currently 31 weeks pregnant with my 3rd little Ridgeway boy!  An ultrasound in early April revealed that despite everyone’s girl guesses, I am indeed housing another member of the male species. Because of this, the MRE offices will be closed starting August 4- September 20 so I can enjoy some time with my new little guy.

There are also some REALLY exciting things on the horizon that I can’t wait to share with y’all.  Be sure to sign up for the Love letters newsletter if you haven’t already to be the first to know about the new happenings.

If you’ve been struggling with something, I’d love to know so I can keep you in my prayers and encourage you.  Leave a message in the comments and I’ll send you a little something special.

Make-it-Monday: Bang Bang Shrimp

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Today I’m starting a new, weekly series called Make it Monday.  I’m extremely excited to share some of my best and most, delicious recipes with y’all.  Many of the recipes I’ll share are family recipes I’ve become well-known for making while some are unique ones that I’ve picked up along my cooking journey.

I’ll start the series with a recipe I waited years to find, bang bang shrimp.  I originally tasted this luscious, appetizer dish when my husband and I were visiting friends in Indianapolis and we ate dinner at Bonefish Grill.  On suggestion from our waitress, we ordered the bang bang shrimp which she told us was a customer favorite.  It was so good, we ended up ordering a second batch!  That night and every time after that I visited a Bonefish Grill, I would ask for the recipe.  One waitress had a little mercy on me and gave me some of the basic ingredients but not the entire recipe.  I carried that little slip of paper with me for at least a couple of years before pinterest came along.  Cue the angels singing!  I searched through a plethora of recipes at first but none of them came close based on the bit of information I had from the waitress until one day I happened upon one recipe that had all the ingredients except one.  I could work with that.

I must say, this recipe tastes incredibly close to the real deal and you will not be disappointed.  Trust me.  Serve this up at your next get-together or super bowl party and you’ll be the hit of the party.  I find it’s best to serve this dish hot, right out the pot.  If I’m going to someone else’s house, I call ahead and see if it’s okay to bring the prepped shrimp with me and cook them there.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

 Bang Bang Shrimp  serves 2-4 as an appetizer

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined and cleaned (I’ve used fresh and frozen)
8-12 cups vegetable oil for frying
 
Sauce:
1/2 c  mayonnaise
4-5 tsp chili garlic sauce (I use Sriracha)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp rice vinegar
lemon juice (this is the part of the recipe I had that was different from the pinterest version I found.  I usually add maybe 1/2 tsp or so)
 
Egg mixture:
1 egg
1 c milk
 
For the breading mixture:
½  c panko bread crumbs
½ c all- purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp dried basil
(note:  I sometimes double this part of the recipe if I’m using larger shrimp. It helps to make sure you’re able to adequately bread the shrimp)
 
Topping:
Scallions, chopped (optional)
 

Mix together the ingredients for the sauce. Cover and set aside. Beat the egg and milk together in a shallow dish and set aside. Mix together the ingredients for the breading in a shallow dish and set aside. Cover a baking sheet or large plate with parchment paper.

To bread shrimp, dip shrimp in breading then dip in  the egg mixture, then back in breading. Place the breaded shrimp on a covered baking sheet. Once all shrimp is breaded, place the baking sheet in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. This will help the breading stick to the shrimp when they’re frying.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a fryer or skillet to 350 degrees.  Fry shrimp in batches for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Once all the shrimp are fried, place them in a large bowl and add in about 1/2 of the sauce. Gently stir shrimp and sauce together to coat shrimp. Add more sauce as needed. Top with chopped scallions (optional) and serve over a bed of lettuce.
Warning:  This recipe has a bit of a kick to it so if you’re sensitive to or don’t like spicy things, you might want to go lightly on the chili garlic sauce.
I’d love to know if you try the recipe!

Making change happen

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Change can be hard, ya’ll and I’ve been finding myself right smack in the middle of some major changes.  Many I’ll share with you soon here on the blog, one I’ll share with you today.

One of my goals for 2014 was to cut back on social media. I’ve done this social media “fast” before but honestly, I’ve never been as completely committed to it as I am this time.  In the past, I’ve given myself a week or two where I would limit my internet usage to just “work” or certain times of the day but I’ve never set a goal in my HEART to focus on what matters more and permanently limit my time on social media & the internet.  Much like starting a diet and depriving yourself of certain foods, I started craving the internet even more once I limited myself.  It’s been hard y’all, then I remembered this quote from John Maxwell

If you want to see change in your life, change something you do daily

It reminds me that change isn’t always easy and sometimes you have to take it one day at a time and make those small changes.  If that seems overwhelming, take it one hour or even one minute at a time.  The biggest thing is to stay consistent with pressing towards your goals. Remember that

consistency is the key to the breakthrough

 Frankly, there are days when I don’t reach the mark and I want to give up but I remind myself there is too much riding on me staying the course.

So…. I keep at my goals to limit my social media and internet time and focus on promoting and building my business, becoming a better wife, mother, friend and person and reconnecting with the important things in life; God, people and love.

I’m sharing my struggles here, not only to stay accountable but to also let each of you know that you’re not alone in wanting positive change for your life and not always reaching the mark for that goal each day.  We’re in this together.  In the words of Dory from Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming”!

P.S. Join me later this week as I unveil a few surprises including a new series for the month of February.