Thursday, July 31, 2008

Take a peek in the pantry

I laughed the other day when a dear friend requested a picture of the inside of my pantry. She was moving into a new home and wanted to see how I organized mine. Granted, mine isn't anything to be coveted, but she saw something she wanted to copy. My youngest son commented that she probably just wanted to see what type of groceries we buy. That made me roar with laughter. Anyway, why do we like to look in people's fridge or pantry? Is it because we think we are missing out on some delicious grocery store find? Are we just all nosey? No, I propose it is because we like the person so much we want to know everything about them, even down to what they eat. Maybe we admire them and want to emulate them. OK, maybe we are all a little nosey too! Well we can take a peek in God's "pantry" too. It's the Bible. It tells us what he likes and doesn't like. There are nuggets of wisdom and slices of mercy. Dive right in!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cake and Ministry


I love to have tea/coffee at my house. I just enjoy entertaining. I know, I'm weird or if you are being nice, old fashioned. Tea/coffee often goes hand in hand with ministry time at our house. I'm not just talking about me ministering to others, but they also minister right back to me. It is a time of building up and encouragement. We always linger over just one more piece of cake or another cup of coffee. We always say, "We need to do this more often."
My dear Grandmother who passed away this year had tea every day. She was from Holland where it is just routine. Anyone that just happened to be in town or needed to talk could pop in. Now this dear lady had 12 children and still found time to minister to others. She had a deep abiding faith and a huge chalkboard in her kitchen where she would jot down those that needed prayer. She was an amazing woman. I strive to be like her. I don't know that I'm at the point where I can open up my home on a daily basis but I am staying sensitive to when others need some time to visit. I fix some of my Spice Cake and a pot of Community Coffee or Tea and open myself up to what the Holy Spirit wants to do that day.

I have one in the oven right now for just such a day tomorrow. Maybe you will fix a Spice Cake and call over a friend or two and open up your heart.

Spice Cake

¾ cup shortening or unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs
¾ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 ¼ cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 cup milk

Icing – 1 ½ cups confectionery sugar to about ¼ cup water. (I’m guessing on this one, I usually eyeball it) It should be pretty runny so that it goes into the cake.

Preheat oven to 350° Grease and flour 33 x 23 x 5 cm pan
Cream together shortening/butter, sugars and eggs
Sift together dry ingredients
Alternate adding dry ingredients with milk into creamed mixture
Don’t overmix.
Bake for 35 minutes. Test with toothpick. If toothpick comes out clean, it is done.
Poke holes with fork over the top of the cooled cake.
Dribble a mixture of confectionery sugar and water on top of the cake. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lasagna on the sly...

I found an awesome recipe for Lasagna at http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Worlds-Best-Lasagna/Detail.aspx Of course I made some modifications, but basically, that's it. But it does take some work and I wanted a good recipe for a crockpot lasagna for those days we are at practice. All of the ones on the Allrecipe site looked gross. Well, I threw together this recipe and it turned out great. It made a lot and we had leftovers. That's what the boys are having tonight. Greg and I have to skip it because of the pasta.

CROCKPOT LASAGNA

1 box Rotini (we like Barilla plus)
8 oz Mozzarella Cheese Grated
¾ Cup Parmesan Cheese
Leftover spaghetti sauce (with meat sauce or meatballs)
½ teas. Fennel seeds (this really adds to the taste)
1 teas. Italian seasonings
16 oz ricotta cheese
Dash of nutmeg
1 egg

· Boil Rotini
· Spray crockpot with Pam
· Mix Ricotta, egg & nutmeg. Set aside.
· Heat up sauce (cut meatballs in half if meatball sauce)

Layer the ingredients in this order:
1. Sauce (use ½)
2. Parmesan Cheese (use ½)
3. Noodles (use ½)
4. Ricotta Cheese (use ½)
5. Mozzarella (use ½)

Start again until all ingredients are used up.
Top with Mozzarella cheese.

3-4 hours low in Crockpot. Or High for 2 hours.

Here is our favorite spaghetti sauce recipe (it too can go into the crockpot on low for 4 hours):

Meatballs:
1 lb. ground beef (lean)
2 eggs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon crushed oregano
1 teaspoon sweet basil
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
bread crumbs (enough to make firm balls)

Sauce:
1 medium yellow chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
½ teaspoon crushed oregano
1 teaspoon sweet basil
1 can Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes or 1 large tomato chopped up

Meatballs - Combine meatball ingredients and mix well. Form small balls. Brown slowly in 2 tablespoons of hot olive oil.

Sauce – Cook onion and garlic in hot oil until tender but not brown. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and add four tomato paste cans of water. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Serve over hot spaghetti noodles.

Option: Meat Sauce Recipe
Brown 1 pound of lean ground beef in
2 Tablespoons of olive oil. After it is browned add:
1 teaspoon crushed oregano
1 teaspoon sweet basil
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
Then make the sauce same as above.

Gluten/Dairy Free Option:

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce 
Brown 1 pound of lean ground beef in
2 Tablespoons of olive oil. After it is browned add:

1 medium yellow onion chopped
1 clove garlic minced
Saute the onion and garlic. Add the following:
1 1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano

2 teaspoons sweet basil
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
1 can Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes (found at Kroger and Wal-Mart) or 1 large tomato chopped up

Simmer for 30 minutes. 
Use Gluten Free Pasta from HEB (pictured here)

Taming the Laundry Beast


Yes, I used to be one of those people that had mounds of clean laundry on the sofa to fold. Which we just ended up picking through and finding the least wrinkled thing to wear. Well, I've tamed the beast. Here's how:

First, I do at least one load of laundry every day. I get up in the morning and the first thing I do after I make my bed is throw a load in*. By the time I'm done fixing my face and getting breakfast underway, it is time for load No. 2. When we are done with breakfast, picking up after breakfast and doing a little tidying around the house it is time to fold and put away Load No. 1. I have trained myself to sit there and fold and hang straight from the dryer. No putting a pile around for folding later. Do it right there. Then I call the boys to put away their clothes in the closet. Then put Load No. 2 in the dryer. Sometimes I forget about Load No. 2 until the afternoon and I have to run it on wrinkle release for a few minutes. Then load No. 2 gets folded and hung right from the dryer.

Another trick is I purchased a different brand of underwear and socks for each child. I also buy only one style of sock and underwear for each child. No more sorting out whose sock is whose and finding a mate. I just pile all the socks in one stack for each child. They are responsible for putting two together, rolling in a ball and sticking in their drawer. They have done this for years. I also tell them if there is a hole, throw the sock away. With all the same style, it isn't a problem.

I am also using Soilove which you can get at the 99 cent only store. It is cheap and it works for tough stains, even perspiration stains. You can also get it at http://www.soapsgonebuy.com/ Quick treating of stains is the key. Get something on that stain right away or at least rinse in cold water.
That said... off I go to fold Load No. 2.

*If you can purchase a washing machine with a delay start feature, GET IT! I can load the washing machine before I go to bed and set the delay timer so that it starts early in the morning. By the time I get up, the first load is ready for the dryer. It is so awesome to wake up ahead of the laundry game! 

Monday, July 28, 2008

BBQ tonight...

In keeping with our diet, we are having BBQ tonight. I'm sorta cheating a bit since our homemade BBQ sauce has brown sugar in it. I probably could have substituted honey, but I was on automatic pilot and just dumped the sugar in. Here is our family recipe.

BBQ Sauce

1 large chopped yellow onion
1 garlic clove, minced or through garlic press
1/4 c. olive oil
2 c. water
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1 Tbl. Raw Sugar
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 Tbsp. prepared mustard
3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbl. vinegar

Chop onion & garlic in food processor. Saute in oil (in microwave for 5 minutes at full power). Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Simmer 30-45 minutes (in microwave cook for 25 minutes at half power; stop every 10 minutes to stir). Add water if it gets too thick. Run everything through the blender when done. Makes 3 1/2 cups.

Hot French Bread


I just started our family favorite French Bread. It's a great recipe from my favorite cookbook "Talk About Good". If you don't have this cookbook, get it. On p. 32 is "Pain Ordinaire" or French Bread. It makes three loaves so we usually eat one and freeze two. I'm cooking a meal for the crew of the movie "Building Bridges" being shot here in Houston. I've already made three pots of gumbo and frozen them. Now this bread will go with the gumbo. I'll make a few batches and freeze them.

The boys and Greg usually hang around in the kitchen when it is baking. I have to "shoo" them out. I don't like to trip over people while I'm in the kitchen (unless they are helping). They can't wait until the bread is out of the oven and then they beg for some and I oblige. They love it fresh out of the oven and we usually wolf down a whole loaf with a meal.

Jesus said he is the Bread of Life. That got me to thinking. People loved being around Jesus. They couldn't get enough of him. If Christ truly dwells in us, then we should be attractive to people. They should always want to be around us, spending time with us as we pour into their lives the love of Jesus. I don't think I live up to this ideal. Sometimes I think I walk around town with a "sour" face on. That doesn't attract people. I constantly remind the boys when we are in public that they are an example of Christ, our family, and homeschooling, so they need to be mindful of their words and actions. I think I will include myself in the next reminder.

John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

FRENCH BREAD (Pain Ordinaire) from Talk About Good

2 c. warm water (64 seconds in microwave)
1 pkg. dry yeast (2 1/4 teas. bread yeast)
3 Tbsp. shortening
1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
6 c. sifted flour

TOPPING (do not add to bread maker):
1 egg white
2 Tbsp. water

Throw everything into the bread maker. Put on "dough" setting. When it is done. Punch it down one more time and let it rise again for at least 30 minutes in the bread maker with the lid closed (this is an important step, don't skip). Divide the dough into 3 parts. Shape into loaves, tapering the ends. Put on parchment paper on 3 cookie sheets. Make several gashes about 1/8 inch deep on each loaf. Do not cover. Let rise about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For crisp crust, place shallow pan of water on bottom of oven (I use a foil container). Beat egg whites slightly with water; brush tops of loaf just before cooking. Bake for 20 minutes. Freeze to maintain freshness and reheat in foil.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What's Cookin' Good Lookin'?

Tonight it is grilled steak & artichoke. A little splurge. I just came back from HEB grocery store and had $40 to spend. I came out with three little bags. It is disgusting. I didn't even buy anything big. I bought a chicken, some itty bitty steaks, Yogurt, coffee creamer, Sour Cream, Honey, Ezekiel Bread, salad, and 3 tomotoes (is the danger passed?). I stuck to the outside rim of the store except for the honey and I didn't have an coupons for anything I needed today. When we got home I showed Greg what we bought for $40. He wanted to know what the big ticket item was. There wasn't any. I think he is finally getting the picture that groceries are expensive. We noticed gas was going down. I hope groceries follow this trend. I do Angel Food Ministries www.angelfoodministries.com but we missed it this month as we were out of town during the delivery. Boy do I miss it.

Fabulous at 40

I can't believe I'm going to be 40 next month. I still feel 16. After losing the baby last year I found out that my hormones were way out of whack. I've been on bio-identical hormones for about 6-8 months now. I can't believe the difference. This is not the junk made from horse urine causing cancer and mass panic. This is identical down to the last atom to what your body makes. It comes from natural sources such as yams and soy. No side effects.

Right now I'm working on the weight loss side of it. I indulged a little too much during vacation last week and I'm trying to get back on track. Detoxing from sugar was a major trip. Headaches, feeling achy. The worst. I've already lost 3 pounds and my pants feel better. Greg's on it with me and he's already lost 4 pounds. We've only been on it since Thursday. Wow! Basically we are avoiding carbs and sugar. Eating lots of protein and veggies.

I'd like to look fab for my 40th birthday. I don't know why. It just seems like it would be great. I'm seeing a super nutritionist here in town who is so sweet. She got me on some great supplements. I'm also taking L-Theanine for my mood. I've passed info. on that supplement to many of my friends. It is amazing. Really relaxes you without making you drowsy. Helps with brain function. Negates the effects of caffeine. All this from a natural supplement taken from green tea. No side effects, not addictive, can take it with any medication. Awesome! I do take a handful of vitamins and supplements in the morning and my pee glows in the dark, but it is worth it. I've missed a day of supplements and boy did I feel it.

I also read a pretty great book called "Ageless" by Suzanne Somers. I didn't think I would like a book written by "Crissy", but it was really good. Lots of good information to help you make an informed decision.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Welcome to my blog...

Hey, this is going to be fun! My most ask question is... "What's for dinner?" I hope to answer that here along with recipes. If you are really curious, check out my Twitter account to see what's happening between blogs. I'm a homeschool mom to a 4th grade son and a 7th grade son. I'll post the blow by blow accounts here.

Well... What's for dinner:

Sticky Chicken with Basmati Rice 

1 chicken cut up in pieces
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 yellow onion chopped up
1 tablespoon of Argo cornstarch
1 clove of garlic finely minced salt,
black and cayenne pepper to taste
1 Tbl. chopped parsley
2 Tbl. of green onions (optional)
Rice (we use Basmati rice)

Put oil in a heavy pan and use a medium flame. Once oil is hot, put the chicken pieces in until they turn golden brown and flip them over to brown the other side. The browner the better. This is the secret to a fragrant and brown gravy. After they are browned, put in the yellow onions and garlic. Cook until the yellow onions have turned clear. Stir the cornstarch into a little water. Add. Add about 3 cups of water. Add parsley. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the browning up into the gravy. Add salt and pepper and let the chicken cook for about 30-45 minutes. You want the chicken to be almost falling off the bone. Check during the cooking process to see if you need to add more water to ensure enough gravy. Make your rice. Add green onions if you like. Serve the chicken and gravy on top of the rice.

Crockpot adaption: You can brown your chicken (or not) and then add all the ingredients to your crockpot. Cook on High for 4 hours.

Gluten/Dairy Free Option:
Same as above. Argo cornstarch is gluten free.

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