Friday, September 29, 2006

More complementary protein recipes

Here are a few more of our favorite recipes which utilize complementary protein. I hope others enjoy these as much as we have.

MEATLESS TAMALE PIE

Filling:
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely chopped green pepper
1 Tblsp. olive or canola oil
2 Tblsp. tomato paste (or use ketchup)
1 heaping tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup water
3 cups cooked, mashed beans (kidney beans or pinto beans)
1/4 cup green salad olives
Parsley flakes (or use chopped fresh) and black pepper to taste
Crust:
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal (I use Hodgson Mill brand)
1 Tblsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 Tblsp. canola oil
2 Tblsp. chopped green chilies (may use more, to your taste)
-----------------------------
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese for topping

Saute´the onion, garlic, and green pepper in the oil in a large nonstick skillet until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the tomato paste and chili powder, then add the remaining filling ingredients. Simmer the mixture, stirring, until it is heated through. Pour the bean mixture into an even layer in the bottom of a greased 9-inch square casserole or baking dish.

In a medium bowl, sift or stir together the cornmeal, flour, salt and baking powder. Add the egg, milk, oil and chilies, and stir the mixture just until the ingredients are combined. Spread this batter over the bean mixture, top with the cheese, and bake, uncovered, at 400ºF. or until the dough rises and the crust is golden brown.

This tamale pie is a great meatless main dish that our kids even enjoyed. I’ve changed a couple of things, but the recipe originally came from JANE BRODY’S GOOD FOOD BOOK.


VEGETABLE-BEAN SALAD WITH ORZO

3 cups cooked orzo (a rice-shaped pasta, for those not familiar with it)
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 to 2 cups cooked broccoli cuts
1/2 lb. sugar snap peas (frozen ones, thawed under cold water, work great)
8 oz. thinly sliced mushrooms
1 red or green pepper, cut in 1/4-inch strips
3 to 4 green onions, thinly sliced (scissors work best for this)
Greens to serve the salad on
Optional: 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes for garnishing
DRESSING:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tblsp. lemon juice
3 Tblsp. vinegar
2 large cloves garlic, crushed (or just use granulated garlic to taste)
1 tsp. dry mustard
3/4 tsp. tarragon, crumbled
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper (freshly ground if possible)

In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients. Put all of the dressing ingredients in an 8-ounce jar. Cover the jar, shake thoroughly, and pour the dressing over the pasta-vegetable mixture. Toss the salad well to mix it thoroughly. Refrigerate the salad until ready to serve.

Arrange a bed of salad greens on a large platter. Spoon the salad atop the greens and surround with halved cherry tomatoes if you like.

Yield: 4 hearty main-dish servings. This is another great recipe from JANE BRODY’S GOOD FOOD BOOK. I’ve adapted it slightly.



LENTIL FILLING FOR TACOS

3 cups water
1 cup lentils
1 Tblsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup chopped green onions (scissors are the best tool for this)
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
3/8 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tblsp. chili powder
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
1 Tblsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tblsp. molasses

In a large saucepan, bring the water and lentils to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pan, and simmer the lentils for 25-30 minutes or until tender but not mushy. While the lentils cook, heat the oil in a medium-sized, preferably nonstick skillet. Add the garlic, green onions, green pepper, cumin and chili powder. Saute’ these for 2 minutes, stirring, until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in the tomato sauce, vinegar, and molasses, and simmer the mixture for 1 minute. When the lentils are cooked, add the vegetable mixture to them, combine well, and heat this mixture through. Serve hot in taco shells or on top of crumbled taco shells, corn chips, tortilla chips, or rice. It’s also good over baked potatoes. Add any favorite toppings you enjoy on tacos: shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, etc. Yield: 4 servings.

This recipe brings lentils out of the health food store and into the mainstream! We have enjoyed this over crumbled taco shells and also over baked potatoes. I found the recipe in Jane Brody’s GOOD FOOD GOURMET.

And one last recipe for now:

CHILI-CHEESE BAKE

3 cups cooked rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 (15 to 16-oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. oregano
1 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided use

While the rice cooks, put the garlic and onion in a small micro-safe bowl with a tablespoon or so of water; cover lightly with plastic wrap. Cook in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes or until softened. Combine all ingredients (except the cheese) in a large bowl, mixing well. Transfer to a greased 2-quart casserole dish and top with 1 cup cheese. Bake, covered, at 350º for 25 minutes. Remove cover and top casserole with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 10 more minutes. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

This casserole is so easy and a wonderful use of complementary protein. I found this in a 1992 COUNTRY WOMAN magazine and adapted it to our tastes.

A few more pages from my prayer journal

Here are a few more pages from my prayer journal, for those who are interested.

Here is another page from the “Adoration” section of my prayer journal:

****************************************************
God, You are SOVEREIGN

“He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, what doest Thou?”
(Daniel 4:35)

God does according to His will in the heavens and the earth, and no one can stop Him or question His motives.

“But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.”
(Psalm 115:3)

God is in control of all things and does what pleases Him.

“Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.” (Psalm 135:6)

“I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me,
“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”
(Isaiah 46:9-10)

* God, I thank You for Your sovereignty! It is a comfort to me as Your child to know that You are in control of all things and that You make no mistakes.
**************************************************

In my prayer journal I also have an “Agreement” section in which I agree with God about the sin issues in my life and ask for His help in growing in these areas. At the beginning of this section I have pasted in two quotes written on lovely little pieces of decorated note paper. These are good reminders to me as I consider the areas that need work in my life. They are:

1. “I’m not what I ought to be, but I’m not what I used to be. And, by God’s grace, I’m not what I’m going to be.”

2. “TRUTH: I am ABLE to accomplish God’s will for my life because of His gift: the Holy Spirit.”

I would like to share two pages from this section. Maybe they will be an encouragement to someone else dealing with these same issues.

***************************************************
Character Flaws
1. PROCRASTINATION

“He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.” (Proverbs 10:5)

“In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.”
(Proverbs 14:23)

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” (Proverbs 31:27)

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard: consider her ways, and be wise:
“Which, having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
“Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.”
(Proverbs 6:6-8)

*Procrastination is not pleasing to God, because He wants us to do all things decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). I do tend to put things off, and I need to work on sticking to a schedule, especially for housework.
**************************************************

Character flaws
6. EASILY IRRITATED

“[Charity] ... is not easily provoked.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” (James 1:19)

“He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly.” (Proverbs 14:17)

“He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.” (Proverbs 14:29)

“Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.” (Proverbs 29:20)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is... longsuffering.” (Galatians 5:22)

* God is longsuffering, and He has given His children this quality as part of the fruit of the Spirit. He does not want me to have a “short fuse.” Instead, He wants me to grow in longsuffering.
***************************************************


At the back of my “Asking” section, I have a list which I try to review every day. It represents my goals as a homemaker. Some days I fall far short in many areas, but I believe goals are so important. As we all know, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” So here’s my list:

****************************************************
MY GOALS AS A HOMEMAKER

1. I will get up early, in order to prepare myself for the day physically and spiritually.

2. I will consult my husband every day to see if there is anything special he needs me to do for him.

3. I will keep a neat and orderly home.

4. I will make use of planning tools to make daily and weekly schedules for homemaking tasks.

5. I will stick with the homemaking routines that work for me.

6. I will keep a positive attitude.

7. I will be at home as much as possible.

8. I will prepare special, good food for my family.

9. I will do all that I can to make our home a peaceful, comfortable refuge from the world.

10. I will grow daily in the areas of: my walk with the Lord; marriage; family; and homemaking.
************************************************

And there you have a few pages from my prayer journal. I hope they will be an encouragement to someone else today!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A page from my prayer journal

I thought it might be neat to post the contents of one of my prayer journal pages. This is from my “Adoration” section on the attributes of God.

********************************************
God, You are FAITHFUL

“Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.” (Psalm 36:5)

“But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.”
(2 Thessalonians 3:3)

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering: (for He is faithful that promised).” (Hebrews 10:23)

“And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins.” (Isaiah 11:5)

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O most High:
“To shew forth Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness every night.”
(Psalm 92:1-2)

“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)

* Father, how I praise You for Your faithfulness. I may fail you over and over, but You are abidingly faithful. Teach me to be faithful, and You would have me to be.
********************************************

Some thought-provoking words...

This quote has been such a challenge to me, and yet a great encouragement as well, to keep on keeping on and to grow in the many areas where I need to. Maybe it will be a help to someone else out there.

"Let us not be Christians as to the few great things of our lives, and atheists as to the many small things which fill up a far greater space of them. God is in both, waiting for the glory we can give Him in them."
-- Dwight L. Moody

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fall Cleaning Challenge, Update #2

Well, after a very busy weekend in which I didn’t get any cleaning done, and after a busy Monday which took a different turn than I expected, I’m here to report that I’ll have to continue my fall cleaning for Challenge #1 into this week.

I did accomplish a couple more things toward the end of last week. I moved both dressers away from the wall, vacuumed the backs, and cleaned them with Murphy Oil Soap. While they were moved out, I swiffered the wall behind each dresser and vacuumed and washed the floor beneath them.

I thoroughly cleaned and dusted the objects on the dressers, too -- although, thanks to FlyLady, there are far fewer objects on the dressers than there used to be! My husband had a couple of small containers on his dresser where he would deposit keys, tie clips, wire nuts, lumber crayons, change, and other miscellaneous stuff from his pockets. I emptied those out and replaced them with one larger, more appropriate container -- a small ceramic bowl decorated with cattails. His mom had made this for me years ago. Now it has come into its own and is serving a most useful/decorative purpose. I tend to be very sentimental about things my kids have made for me, so one of the objects on my dresser is a small wooden tray. My son made it when he was probably 5 or 6 -- just took a piece of scrap lumber and glued popsicle sticks on it to form compartments “for your earrings, Mom.” Naturally, I still use it! I don’t keep all of my earrings there, just the ones I wear most often. They do get dusty after awhile, so I took this opportunity to give them all a bath in jewelry cleaner. Now both of our dressers are gleaming!

Another task I did last week was to change the display of “paper treasures” under the glass top of the desk I use as a sewing table. I have a nice collection of old postcards & greeting cards, newer cards given me by my kids or other family or friends, and other fun or interesting art I’ve clipped from calendars or magazines. I have these sorted out by seasons/holidays, and I change the display on my desk top seasonally. I admit it -- I find a great deal of fun and enjoyment in these “little things” that many people would probably never bother with. To me, such things are the “grace notes” in life that God gives us to add sparkle and enjoyment to every day.

This week I need to dust and declutter 2 nightstands, vacuum & wash the floor under the bed and elsewhere in the room (areas I haven’t done yet), dust the remaining furniture, and deal with an area of flat surface clutter - a bookcase top. I’d also like to declutter 2 totes of craft materials that live in this room. (And I’ve barely thought about the closets!) We’ll see how far I get!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Basque Soup

Here is a soup I made Friday night and served with freshly baked Seven-Grain Bread. We loved this!


Basque Soup

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage (either links or bulk -- I used bulk)
1 cup chopped onions
2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes (don’t drain)
3 medium potatoes, cubed, skins on
1 cup chopped celery (include some celery leaves)
1/4 cup snipped parsley (or use 1 Tblsp. or so parsley flakes)
4 cups water
2 tsp. beef bouillon granules (or use 2 beef bouillon cubes)
1 Tblsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Slice or crumble the sausage -- slice it if it’s in links, crumble it if it’s bulk sausage. (I often have trouble finding bulk Italian sausage when recipes call for it, but my supermarket sells Italian sausage patties which can be used the exact same way.) Brown the sausage and the onion together in a Dutch oven. Add all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer the soup for 1 1/2 hours. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

This recipe comes from my favorite cooking newsletter, COOK & TELL (see link in sidebar). It was in the September 1998 issue and is just delicious. I am not sure whether or not it’s completely authentic, but it does taste reminiscent of some Basque food we have had, and we absolutely loved this soup. Last summer in Nevada we had the opportunity to enjoy some authentic Basque food. We had dinner at a Basque dinner house and also ate lunch at a restaurant in a Basque hotel. In both cases the soup we had with our meal was a Basque vegetable soup. It was good, but this is even better!

Menu Plan Monday

Well, here goes with another menu plan! As usual, there are some repeat menus due to some that didn't get used last week. Tonight's menu is soup made from Sunday's leftovers, with bread leftover from Friday's supper.

MONDAY: Creamy Chicken Vegetable Soup, Seven-Grain Bread

TUESDAY: Meat Loaf (from freezer), Baked Potatoes, Zippy Cauliflower

WEDNESDAY: Pizza Loaf, Artichoke Bean Salad

THURSDAY: Sweet & Sour Pork Cutlets with Vegetables, Walnut Apple Rice

FRIDAY: Broccoli Hash Brown Quiche, Baked Squash, Ruby Pears

SATURDAY: Pasta with Greens 'n' Beans, Cole Slaw

SUNDAY: (potluck dinner at church) Meatball Stew, Herbed Dinner Rolls, Luscious Apple Trifle

And there you have it! Happy menu planning and cooking, everyone!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Picnic by the River for September 20

I’m a few days late reporting on this week’s picnic, but it was another nice time of relaxation and fun for us. This week was cooler and a bit overcast; in fact, there were sprinkles on the windshield as we drove to our picnic spot. But they didn’t last, and we managed to enjoy our picnic without getting even a tiny bit damp. In view of the damp cool weather, I was glad I had chosen a soup and homemade bread for this week’s menu.

The bread was the Whole-Wheat Bread from my August 25 post “A Whole-Wheat Bread Success Story”. (Sorry, but my finicky computer does not allow me to make links here. You can access the recipe in the August 2006 Archives, however.)

The soup was a new recipe from a 2002 QUICK COOKING magazine. For once, I didn’t make very many changes in a recipe! The only change I made was to use maybe half a cup less cheese than the recipe called for. (I routinely reduce the amount of cheese in recipes; I always cut extra fat calories when I can, and with a sharply flavored cheese one can use less and still have a flavorful dish.) Here it is:

PARMESAN CORN CHOWDER

2 cups water
2 cups diced peeled potatoes
1/2 cup sliced carrots (oh, yes, I did use more carrots -- more like 1 cup)
1/2 cup sliced celery (and probably more celery, too)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 cups milk
1 (14.75 oz.) cream style corn
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine the first 5 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Do not drain. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth; gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir into the vegetable mixture. Add corn and Parmesan cheese. Cook 10 minutes longer or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings.

We transported the soup right in the Dutch oven. The pot was only a little over half full and the soup was nice and thick, so it traveled perfectly that way. We had set it on newspaper and also placed a layer of plastic wrap between the pot and the lid, but neither precaution was necessary. It didn’t leak at all. I brought along a ladle and we just served the soup from the pot. I brought large plastic soup bowls and also a box of oyster crackers. For the bread, only a small cutting board, a bread knife and a dish of butter plus a butter knife were needed.

It was so refreshing just to sit and enjoy this simple meal beside a tranquil, rippling river. We’ll be sorry when cold weather and the removal of picnic tables bring an end to our Wednesday evening picnics -- but will definitely plan to make them a part of our summer again next year.

A slow cooker Sunday

As I’ve surely mentioned before, I often use my slow cooker for Sunday’s lunch. I have a sort of “rotation” of crockpot meals which we really like, but I’m always looking for new ones. This recipe, which I tried for the first time today, became an instant favorite.

CREAMY COUNTRY CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES

2 1/2 lbs. (or more) bone-in chicken breasts or thighs*
4 medium potatoes, skin left on, cut in 1-inch cubes
1/2 lb. baby carrots
3/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
2 pkg. chicken gravy mix**
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning or sage
1 tsp. seasoned salt◊
1 cup light sour cream

In a large slow cooker, place potatoes, carrots and onion. Top with chicken. In a small bowl, stir together the gravy mixes, water, thyme, and seasonings. Pour this mixture over the chicken and vegetables. Cover and cook 7 hours on low or until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender. Remove chicken and vegetables to serving dishes; cover and keep warm. Whisk sour cream into liquid remaining in slow cooker. You can either pour this gravy over the chicken & vegetables in the serving dishes OR pour it into a pitcher and serve it alongside. Yield: 6 servings.

* The original recipe called for thighs. I used breasts and the result was absolutely wonderful.

** I only had one packet of gravy mix on hand (I decided to make this on the spur of the moment), so, after consulting my MAKE YOUR OWN GROCERIES book I adapted a recipe and came up with the following substitute: In a snack-size ziplock bag, place 2 Tblsp. cornstarch, 1 Tblsp. instant chicken bouillon granules, and a generous dash of pepper. Seal the bag and squish it around to mix the contents well. Use in place of 1 pkg. chicken gravy mix.

◊ I used 1/2 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning salt and 1/2 tsp. celery salt.

This was such a comforting, satisfying meal for a dreary rainy day. Hope others enjoy it as much as we did!

For Monday's supper, I'm turning the leftovers of this meal into a soup. I've cut the meat off the bones and added that, cut the carrots into smaller pieces, and combined it all. Tomorrow I may cook some sliced celery and maybe some frozen peas (if I have any) and add those as well. We'll have this meal with leftover Seven-Grain Bread which I baked Friday.

Friday, September 22, 2006

My 100th post!

Wow, I just simply can't believe this is my 100th post! And, that being the case, I just can't use this one to write my update on the fall cleaning challenge.. I would like it to be a bit more special than that.

I've been thinking about my whole purpose in blogging. I started because my daughter encouraged me to... it sounded like fun, and a good way to get some of my thoughts down in print. I especially wanted to get some of my childhood memories in print before they escaped me. I also thought it would be a good place to stash recipes where I wouldn't lose them, and to share some of my devotional thoughts. I felt as if I just wanted to share the sorts of things women would share across a kitchen table -- memories, thoughts, recipes, encouragement, etc.

And I have been blessed beyond my wildest expectations through blogging. It has been a wonderful reminder to me that our daily lives are to be a testimony for the Lord -- bringing glory to Him and encouragement to others. I have been so amazed to see how He has used my blog to bless others and to help meet particular needs in their lives. Truly, He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think!

Since this is my 100th post, I've also been wondering just how many readers I have. So, if you're reading this -- whether this is your first visit, or you only stop in once in awhile, or if you visit here often, please leave a comment and let me know you've been here at my kitchen table. And please come again!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Cleaning challenge update

Well, this afternoon I spent a couple of hours on the fall cleaning challenge. Here's what I accomplished:

* Washed bathroom light globes.

* Washed bedroom curtains.

* Washed 3 windows, including vacuuming and washing sills, etc.

* Replaced curtains.

* Decluttered desk in bedroom. This desk is under one of the windows, so I had to move it out to wash that window. While it was out, I vacuumed and washed the floor under where the desk belongs.

We'll see what the rest of the week (which looks somewhat busier) brings. So far, so good!

Fall Cleaning Challenge, Part 1

I'm going to try and take up Carrie's Fall Cleaning Challenge (from over at Life on a Back Road -- see link in sidebar) with a few goals mostly for the master bedroom this week. Here are my goals:

* Wash bathroom light globes

* dust bedroom furniture thoroughly

* wash bedroom windows (3)

* wash bedroom curtains (2)

* clean under the bed

* detailed vacuuming in bedroom

* declutter flat surfaces in bedroom

* declutter 2 totes of craft materials

* declutter 2 desks -- 1 in bedroom, 1 in computer room

The last two goals also fit right in with my crafters' challenge goals over at Organized Christmas. Ready, set, go!

*

Monday, September 18, 2006

A lakeside picnic

We spent almost all day Saturday at our church picnic. It was supposed to go from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. -- but some folks (my husband and me included) were having so much fun they didn’t leave until nearly 7 p.m.)!

The picnic location was a new one for us. A couple who recently joined our church live near a lake. As part of the association for the development they live in, they have access to a beautiful lakeside recreation area. In addition to a beach and dock area, there is also a large field for games and many tranquil spots where one can just sit and enjoy the view. Chairs, picnic tables, etc. are all available. This dear couple invited the whole church to join them for a picnic. What a lovely day it was!

God gave us an absolutely perfect September day for the picnic. Sunny, with blue skies and temperatures in the 80s, it was even warm enough to go swimming.

My plan for the day involved nothing more than reading, sitting, chatting with other ladies, catching up on some needlework, and recharging my batteries. My husband's plan was simply to have a good time! He went swimming and canoeing, played croquet and bocce, and enjoyed all the great fellowship and food that was available. He also participated in a men’s dessert contest and won 1st place in the “most creative” category. (He made Apple Crisp Pizza -- recipe available here on my blog in a post concerning my favorite apple recipes.)

The scenery was simply incredible. I put my chair under a large pine tree and didn’t move it all day except to move in or out of the sun. The lake and mountains were spread out before us. A few of the distant trees are beginning to turn color -- spots of red or yellow are appearing here and there. The lake was dotted with boats but it was not a very busy day on the water. Several times we saw loons swimming or diving.

The food was wonderful too. The idea was for each family to bring their own lunch, but our hosts grilled enough hot dogs for everyone, and several others brought food to share as well. Baked beans, pasta salad, potato salad, and grilled sausages with peppers and onions were among the foods that were shared. And, of course the dessert contest entries were for all to share. Our pastor brought a delicious Caramel Apple Cheesecake, and another man brought a wonderful Layered Pumpkin Dessert. Several boys also took part, and one of them won a prize with a spectacular brownie treat he had invented. M & M’s were baked into a brownie mix. The baked brownies were then frosted with peanut butter frosting and topped with neat rows of milk chocolate kisses! As his mom explained, he just figured out a way to put all of his favorite things in his dessert. It really was very good! And we didn’t need to eat again until Sunday morning!

All in all it was truly a day overflowing with blessings -- a tiny foretaste of heaven.

Menu Plan Monday

Here is my menu plan for the coming week. I have several repeat menus from last week because we didn't use them for one reason or another, and some are using up leftovers.

MONDAY -- Boston Subs, Tangy Potato Salad (left over from Saturday's church picnic)

TUESDAY -- Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups, Mixed Vegetable Salad, Italian Bread

WEDNESDAY -- Parmesan Corn Chowder, Homemade Whole Wheat Bread

THURSDAY -- Orange Cashew Chicken, Rice, Colorful Mixed Salad

FRIDAY -- Basque Soup, Homemade Whole Wheat Bread

SATURDAY -- Microwave Mexican Manicotti, Fruited Cole Slaw

SUNDAY -- Hearty Pasta Tomato Soup, Herbed Dinner Rolls

This is fun! I'm looking forward to seeing others' menus.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A fascinating opportunity

Yesterday, as is our custom, my husband and I took a walk during his lunch hour. We have a “loop” that we usually walk. If the weather is good and we have time, we try to walk this two-mile loop. Yesterday we might have been able to do so, but -- something sidetracked us!

Our route takes us over a little bridge spanning a brook. As we neared the bridge, we noticed something small and dark in the road, near the edge of the pavement. It was a baby turtle! Not only that, but it was still covered with sand, so we knew it had only recently emerged from its nest. Neither of us will ever forget the time a few years ago when we saw many dead baby turtles flattened in the road by passing cars, so my husband gently picked this one up and moved it out of the road. He pointed it toward the brook, and it began to amble off in that direction. That’s when we noticed three more little turtles in the roadside gravel. And then -- we noticed the hole in the sand where yet another baby was emerging into the daylight. It was simply incredible. As we watched, more little turtles came out. It was funny to watch as three tried to exit the nest at once. The topmost turtle was taking his time, looking all around and not hurrying, but the ones underneath were nudging him and pushing on his shell as if to hurry him on.

I ran home (or, more accurately, walked very fast) and got the camera while my hubby stayed there and stood guard -- they wouldn’t come out of the hole when he was standing close to it. He saw several already tumbling down toward the brook. We counted at least ten little turtles in all. We got some great pictures. I only wish Photobucket would let me post some. It is truly amazing to look at these pictures and see the detail in these miniature turtles. What an awesome Creator designed them! We were so blessed to have been in just the right place and at just the right time to observe this little miracle.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Picnic by the River for September 13

Last night, in spite of threatening skies, we decided to try and have our picnic by the river again this week on the way to prayer meeting. God graciously allowed the rain to hold off -- the first sprinkles fell as we returned to our car. This week, some friends met us at the picnic area and we enjoyed a nice time of fellowship along with our picnic suppers!

It was a bit chilly this week, so along with our sandwiches -- instead of the pasta salad I had planned, I decided to bring along a Thermos of soup. I found a very simple recipe that just served two and brought along styrofoam cups to serve it in, along with a snack-size ziptop bag of oyster crackers and a little container of shredded cheddar. The soup really hit the spot on a cool evening.

Here are the recipes:

SALMON DILL SANDWICHES

1 8-oz. pkg. light cream cheese, softened
1 pouch of salmon (approx. 7 ounces)
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s Light)
1 Tblsp. lemon juice
1 Tblsp. chopped chives
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp. dill weed
Dash of salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
6 wheat sandwich buns, split
1 cup shredded lettuce

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Stir in the next 8 ingredients and combine thoroughly. Divide into 6 equal portions and spread over the sandwich buns. Top with lettuce and replace bun tops. Yield: 6 sandwiches

This recipe (which I have changed a lot) was intended to be used on croissants. That sounded like it would be just too rich for my tastes, and indeed it would have been. I think the next time I make these (and there will be a next time -- they’re delicious!) I’ll add some chopped celery and shredded carrot to the filling and use baby spinach leaves instead of the shredded lettuce.

SPICY TOMATO SOUP

1 can tomato soup
3/4 of a soup can milk
1/3 cup medium salsa
Shredded cheddar cheese

In a small saucepan, combine the soup, milk and salsa until well blended. Cook and stir over medium heat until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese (and oyster crackers if you like) when serving. Yield: 2 servings.

The original recipe called for a 4-oz. can of chopped green chilies rather than
 salsa. I happened to be out of green chilies, but decided to substitute salsa. It worked beautifully. A great warming soup for a chilly night! You could easily double or triple the recipe for more servings.

And that was this week’s picnic!

Some of my favorite quotes on prayer

Patty asked if I would share some of my favorite quotes on prayer. I’m just going to share all the ones I can think of. I apologize in advance if any of them are repeats from other posts. Hope these encourage others as much as they have me.


“Saints have never yet reached the limit to the possibilities of prayer. Whatever has been attained or achieved has touched but the fringe of the garment of a prayer-hearing God.” -- Dr. A.T. Pierson


“Because you prayed --
God touched our weary bodies with His power
And gave us strength for many a trying hour
In which we might have faltered, had not you
Our intercessors faithful been, and true.

“Because you prayed --
God touched our lips with coals from altar fire,
Gave Spirit-fulness, and did so inspire
That, when we spoke, sin-blinded souls did see;
Sins’ chains were broken;
Captives were made free.

“Because you prayed --
The dwellers in the dark have found the Light;
The glad good-news has banished heathen night;
The message of the Cross, so long delayed,
Has brought them life at last --
Because you prayed.” -- Charles B. Bowser


“THANKSGIVING must be personally applied! A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue; it is the fountain of every other virtue.” -- Author Unknown


“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us -- and He has given us everything.” -- Thomas Merton


“Someday we shall understand that God has a reason for every NO which He speaks... How often when His people are worrying and perplexing themselves about their prayers not being answered, is God answering them in a far richer way! Glimpses of this we see occasionally, but the full revelation of it remains for the future.” -- STREAMS IN THE DESERT


“Beware in your prayer, above everything, of limiting God, not only be unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, ABOVE ALL that we ask or think. Each time you intercede, be quiet first and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, of how He delights to hear Christ, of your place in Christ, and expect great things.” -- Andrew Murray

“[Prayer] is the bridge that spans every gulf and bears us over every abyss of danger or of need.” A.B. Simpson


“Are you in sorrow? Prayer can make your affliction sweet and strengthening. Are you in gladness? Prayer can add to your joy a celestial perfume. Are you in extreme danger from outward or inward enemies? Prayer can set at your right hand an angel whose touch could shatter a millstone into smaller dust than the flour it grinds, and whose glance could lay an army low. What will prayer do for you? I answer: All that God can do for you. ‘Ask what I shall give thee.’ (1 Kings 3:5).” -- Farrar


“The best prayer comes from a strong inward necessity. By human security systems, we often protect ourselves from a dynamic prayer life. Why do we do ourselves this wrong?” -- William MacDonald


“It is a throne set up on purpose for the dispensation of grace and from which every utterance is an utterance of grace. The scepter that is stretched out from it is the silver scepter of grace. The decrees proclaimed from it are purposes of grace. The gifts that are scattered down its golden steps are gifts of grace, and He who sits upon the throne is grace Himself. That it is the throne of grace that we approach when we pray is a mighty source of encouragement to all of us who are praying men and women.” -- Charles Spurgeon


“When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it. Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished. Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible’s idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.” -- Oswald Chambers


“So we are permitted to apply to God in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, because God in Him is well pleased, and because we are the friends of His Son He answers our requests.” -- Albert Barnes


“The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, gives wisdom to our ignorance, turns ignorance into wisdom, and changes our weakness into strength. The Spirit Himself does this. He helps and takes hold with us as we tug and toil... He pleads for us and in us. He quickens, illumines, and inspires our prayers. He proclaims and elevates the matter of our prayers, and inspires the words and feelings of our prayers He works mightily in us so that we can pray mightily. He enables us to pray always and ever according to the will of God.” -- E.M. Bounds


“To sum it all up, if you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ... So be filled with God’s Word. Study what Jesus has said, what the Holy Ghost has left on record in this divinely inspired book, and in proportion as you feed on, retain, and obey the Word in your life, you will be a master in the art of prayer.” -- Charles Spurgeon


“I do not believe that there is such a thing in the history of God’s kingdom as a right prayer offered in a right spirit that is forever left unanswered.”
-- Theodore L. Cuyler

“In every circumstance of life, we should go to the Lord in prayer. When in trouble, we should approach Him with earnest entreaties. In times of rejoicing, we should lift our hearts to Him in praise. He wants to be brought into all the changing moods of our lives.” -- William MacDonald


“Lord, if what I ask for does not please You, neither would it please me. My desires are put into Your hands to be corrected. Strike the pen through every petition that I offer that is not right. And put in whatever I have omitted, even though I might not have desired it had I considered it... ‘Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.’”
-- Charles Spurgeon


“Anyone who finds his prayers ineffective should not conclude that the thing which he asks of God is not according to His will, but should go alone with God with the psalmist’s prayer, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me’ (Psalm 139:23-24) and wait before Him until He puts His finger upon the thing that is displeasing in His sight. Then the sin should be confessed and put away.” -- R.A. Torrey


“Prayer does not fit us for the greater works: prayer is the greater work.”
-- Oswald Chambers


“Study may make a biblical scholar; but prayer puts the heart under heavenly teaching and forms the wise and spiritual Christian.” -- Charles Bridges


“God will hear prayer, but He may not answer it at the time which we in our minds have appointed; He will reveal Himself to our seeking hearts, but not just when and where we have settled in our own expectations.” -- Charles Spurgeon


“Whether we praise Him for His unfathomable majesty or petition Him for daily needs, prayer is the expression of our dependence upon God, our whole-souled reliance upon His power to sustain us, His mercy to forgive us, His bounty to supply us, and His glory to overwhelm us as we reflect on who He is.” -- C. Samuel Storms


“Lord, make me sensitive to the promptings of your Holy Spirit’ is a constant prayer of mine. Whenever someone is laid on my heart or brought to my mind, I need to be an intercessor. Often I don’t know exactly what to pray and that is why it is good to study Paul’s prayers and the Lord’s prayer in John 17....
“How little we realize what impact our intercession has in the kingdom of God. God is gracious to give us the privilege of prayer that allows us to participate with Him in ministering to others.” -- Cynthia Heald, in BECOMING A WOMAN OF PRAYER


“The strong man of prayer when he starts to pray for a thing keeps on praying until he prays it through, and obtains what he seeks. We should be careful about what we ask from God, but when we do begin to pray for a thing we should never give up praying for it until we get it, or until God makes it very clear and definite to us that it is not His will to give it.” -- R.A. Torrey


“Certainly, if we are to have a quiet hour set down in the midst of a hurry of duties, and to keep that time inviolate, we must exercise both planning and self-denial. We must be prepared to forego many things that are pleasant, and some things that are profitable. Let no one who can find time for vanities say that they do not have enough time for prayer. We have to reclaim our time. It may be from recreation, or from social events, or from study, or from works of benevolence. Wherever it comes from, we must find time every day to enter into our closet, and having shut the door, to pray to our Father who is in secret.” -- David M’Intryre


“And so we can just pour out the fullness of our heart, the burden of our spirit, the sorrow that crushes us, and know that He hears, He loves, He understands, He receives; and He separates from our prayer all that is imperfect, ignorant, and wrong, and presents the rest, with the incense of the great High Priest, before the throne on high; and our prayer is heard, accepted, and answered in His name.”
--- A.B. Simpson

“Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God.” -- STREAMS IN THE DESERT


I realize there are quite a few quotes here, but I hope these will bless your heart and encourage you in your prayer life!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Prayer Journal Kit to give as a gift

I have enjoyed my prayer journal so much that I got the idea to make up a prayer journal kit as a gift for a friend. I didn’t want to give it to her all assembled, because putting the journal together is half the fun. Here’s what I did:

1. I bought a small binder with the clear “view pockets” front and back. I made cover inserts for both pockets. For the front insert, I used scrapbooking stickers to spell out “Terry’s Prayer Journal” and to decorate it, as this would be the cover. For the back insert, I wrote out some of my favorite quotes about prayer and added stickers to this also.

2. Since I was using a small binder, I cut card stock sheets in half and punched holes in some and placed them in the binder. The rest, I put into a ziptop bag which was going to hold all of the other prayer journal kit materials. I cut sheets of plain white paper in half and added them to the bag, along with a hole punch. I added anything else I could think of that might enhance my friend’s prayer journal -- lots of stickers, some double stick tape, clear photo corners, pictures and quotes that might be useful, some of those cute “Pass it On” cards with Scripture, etc. I also included a nice scrapbooking marker with a fine point. You may well think of other great stuff to include.

3. Now I had a binder for the journal itself and a bag full of materials, but I needed some sort of container to keep them all together. I looked at various plastic containers and even some tins, but nothing seemed right. Since Terry’s full-time home is an RV, the container needed to be compact so she could stash it away, but had to look nice for times when she might want to leave it out.

What I ended up with was a photo/video storage box. It worked perfectly! I paid less than $3 for it. They come in all sorts of colors and prints. Mine (which I already had on hand, having previously bought three of them for another purpose) was just a plain brown papier-mâché box -- exactly right, since Terry’s motor home is decorated in earth tones! To decorate the box, I sort of half-followed some directions I had for decorating a Christmas memory box. Those directions called for making a color copy of a Christmas card or postcard to decorate the top. I thought I might make a copy of some fall cards I had on hand, but nothing seemed right. I ended up using some clip art I had gotten off the internet of a cup & saucer full of flowers. I cut this out -- there was a “dried flower” perched on the saucer and I cut around that so I could thread a charm on it. I glued the picture to the box using a glue stick, but when I threaded the charm on, I hot-glued the charm in place. (I used a neat little metal heart that says “made by hand with love”. I bought these from the Home-Sew catalog.) I also made up a couple of little signs in the word-processing program on my computer, one saying “Terry’s Prayer Journal Kit” and the other reading “Prayer Changes Things.” (You could also use Scripture verses, or any other sayings about prayer you like.) The finishing touch was one I borrowed from the Christmas memory box idea. I took a little frame (I had a package of 4 of these I’d bought at the dollar store -- the perfect size!) and took it apart and cleaned the glass. I cut a piece of scrapbooking paper to fit and glued it to the inside of the frame backing to make a background. Then I took some alphabet stickers made to look like typewriter keys (bought these at Jo-Ann’s) and arranged them on the backing to spell T-E-R-R-Y. (Wish I had thought to use some of those “Pop Dots” to make them more 3-D, but maybe for the next one!) Then I put the whole thing back into the frame, replacing the glass, and hot-glued the whole thing to the top of the box. It looked so cool! I added a few more stickers here and there, and voila! The box was finished. I was very pleased with the result, and my friend absolutely loved it. A couple of ladies she showed it to now want to make some prayer journal kits for gifts, and perhaps some of my readers here would enjoy doing so as well. It's a simple enough project that one could complete several before Christmas!

Monday, September 11, 2006

A crisp September morning...


Graphic by CrossCards.com
This morning has been a reminder that fall really is on the way! It was only 35º when I got up at 6 a.m. We heat our house completely by way of a wood furnace. It has ductwork just like a regular furnace and is a forced hot-air system, with registers throughout the house, but of course we haven’t yet fired it up for the winter. Sooooo.... you can imagine that it was pretty cold INSIDE the house at 6 a.m.! By the time I got downstairs, my hubby had a nice fire crackling in our kitchen woodstove, which we use to “take the chill off” on mornings like this in spring and fall. I actually kept the fire going until 9:30 or so, but it’s warm enough now to let it go out.

I haven’t done much fall decorating as yet, preferring to wait until the actual beginning of fall on September 23. But I celebrated this morning’s fall-like feel in a few little ways: I put flannel sheets on our bed; I have a “Caramel Apple” jar candle on the candle warmer; and I made Pumpkin Spice coffee to drink with breakfast. This is made by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and is yummy. I can’t imagine using up an entire bag of it, but for an occasional autumn treat I buy one of the small sample-size bags.

Throughout the morning, I have remembered another beautiful September morning five years ago. I was at my mother’s house with my daughter, preparing to put down some new rugs for my mother. A friend was due to arrive to help with the task. She rushed in with the news that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. We immediately turned on the radio and heard the unfolding drama as it happened. We ladies all sat down and spent time in prayer for the situation. At that moment I just remember being overwhelmingly thankful that I know the God of the universe, and that all events are under His sovereign control -- even when they appear out of control. I remember thanking God that even though these events were a terrible shock to us, that they were no surprise to Him, and that somehow He would bring good out of this national tragedy. I found that He increased my faith during those dark days, and I trust that others experienced this also.

The very next month, my husband and I drove to South Carolina to visit our daughter and her husband. There were still flags and patriotic signs everywhere, and National Guardsmen stationed at bridges, etc. On our return trip, we were to catch a ferry in Delaware to go visit friends in New Jersey. I will never forget this incident, because of how God used it to strengthen me. We stopped at a scenic overlook and somehow managed to lock both of our sets of keys in the car! It was scary, because we had a ferry to catch and there would not be another until morning. We stopped and prayed about our dilemma. Eventually, a police officer came and helped us get into the car, but it all took time and we were almost sure now that we would miss the ferry. We started off anyway, feeling more despairing by the mile. As we drove by one business -- it was a little auto-body or mechanic shop or something of the sort, out in the middle of nowhere -- there was a sign out front with an inspiring message, just like many other businesses posted in the fall of 2001. But this one -- well, here’s what it said: “Keep your focus on God... He can be trusted.” A message for our country -- yes, but a message for us as well! Yes, we were still late for the ferry -- but guess what? The ferry was running late also. We got there in time to board and to arrive at our friends’ home as planned.

So --- Keep your focus on God. He can indeed be trusted!

Menu Plan Monday

I’m back again with my plan for this week’s menus. It’s great to have this accountability -- it forces me to get my menu planning done early in the week. In the past, I would aim to get it done before Thursday -- the day that I shop for groceries -- but it seldom happened. Thinking it about it on Monday is very helpful. As usual, I have at least one holdover menu from last week because we ate leftovers, etc. instead of using menus I had planned. Here we go:

MONDAY -- Stuffed Peppers, Southwestern Rice Bake, Sliced Tomatoes

TUESDAY -- Broccoli Hash Brown Quiche, Baked Squash, Ruby Pears

WEDNESDAY -- Salmon Dill Croissants, Tricolor Pasta Salad

THURSDAY -- Fish Fillets with Spinach, Mashed Potatoes, Fruited Coleslaw

FRIDAY --Vegetable Shrimp Toss, Herbed Dinner Rolls

SATURDAY (our church picnic at a lake) --Italian Subs, Tangy Potato Salad

SUNDAY -- Hearty Pasta Tomato Soup, Herbed Dinner Rolls

Looking forward to seeing others' menus for the week!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Friday night supper

Last night I prepared a very simple meal to cap off a difficult week. I made so many changes in the recipes I chose -- Cheese Ravioli with Veggies, and Fruit and Nut Tossed Salad -- that I simply had to write them down before I forgot them. The ravioli recipe in particular is extremely versatile, and I recommend it for anyone who’d like to serve their family an easy, inexpensive main course. Both recipes originally appeared in QUICK COOKING. Here they are:

CHEESE RAVIOLI WITH VEGGIES

1 16-oz, pkg. frozen vegetables (we like the asparagus stir-fry blend from Walmart, but use whatever you like)*
1 25-oz. pkg. frozen miniature cheese ravioli
1 to 2 Tblsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. seasoning of your choice**
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Fill a large saucepan or Dutch oven with water and bring it to a boil. Add the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the ravioli and cook for 5 to 7 minutes longer, until the vegetables and ravioli are tender. Drain the mixture in a colander, then return the veggies and ravioli to the saucepan. Gently stir in the olive oil, then the seasoning and Parmesan. Yield: 6 servings.

* I usually use an entire package of one vegetable blend as called for here, but this time I had leftover veggies I wanted to use up. I didn’t think the two kinds of veggies I had left over -- some green beans and some asparagus blend -- would be quite enough, so I reached into the freezer and found some lima beans and some chopped onions to add. I cooked these in the boiling water as the recipe directs, but of course the leftover vegetables were already cooked. So I just heated those in the microwave and stirred them in with the olive oil and seasonings.

** Seasoning could be whatever you like -- Mrs. Dash®, garlic pepper, lemon pepper, Italian seasoning or whatever. I used a McCormick Grinder -- the pizza blend, and it was wonderful.


FRUIT and NUT TOSSED SALAD

1 large or 2 medium bunches romaine, torn in bite-size pieces
1 can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (I toast nuts in the microwave -- quick & easy)

Dressing:
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tblsp. vegetable oil
3 Tblsp. sugar

In a large bowl combine all of the salad ingredients and gently toss together. Put all of the dressing ingredients in a small jar. Cover securely and shake to combine. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat ingredients with dressing. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

This is a delicious salad! It’s also very good served with a Mexican meal -- the light, fruity taste is a nice contrast to the spicy hot flavors.

Along with this meal I served seven-grain bread. Hope others enjoy these recipes as much as we do!

September 6 Picnic by the River

We had another lovely evening for our picnic by the river on Wednesday on the way to church. All day the weather had seemed to threaten rain, but by evening things were clearing and quite pleasant.

This week’s menu was Caesar Chicken Wrap sandwiches and Broccoli Salad. The plan had been to have an Artichoke Bean Salad (made with kidney beans) but I had some broccoli that needed to be used, so we went that route. The only problem that created was that everything on our plates was basically green, since I had used spinach wraps for our sandwiches. But it all tasted yummy anyway, and it was relaxing to just sit by the river and enjoy a few tranquil moments as we enjoyed our supper.

I’ve shared the broccoli salad recipe in a previous post, so will just share the wrap recipe here. It came from a QUICK COOKING magazine, but I made a couple of changes to suit our tastes and to use what I had on hand. (I often change recipes, even the first time I prepare them, so it’s best if I write the changes down somewhere before I forget what I did. If you’d like to try the original recipe, I suggest you check out TASTE OF HOME’s online Recipe Finder.)

CAESAR CHICKEN WRAPS

1/2 cup Caesar salad dressing (I used the fat-free variety, from Kraft)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened (I use the lower-fat Neufchatel)
3 cups shredded romaine (I just shredded up a medium head of romaine; didn’t measure it)
1/2 cup salad olives, drained*
1 3/4 cubed cooked chicken
5 spinach sandwich wraps
Additional Parmesan if desired

In a measuring cup combine the first 4 ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add half of the salad dressing mixture and mix well; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the romaine, olives and chicken. Add the remaining salad dressing mixture and toss to coat. Spread about 1/5 of the cream cheese mixture on each wrap. Top with about 1/5 of the romaine mixture. Sprinkle with more Parmesan if desired. Roll up; cut in half to serve. Yield: 5 servings.

* The recipe called for 1/2 cup diced red pepper and a small can of sliced ripe olives, drained. I had neither on hand, but I did have salad olives in the fridge and they worked admirably. I think these would be good either way.

To picnic on these wraps, I wrapped each sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and took along a small cutting board and a sharp knife. They were really delicious and I will be making them again. We had enough left over for lunch the next day, too!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Some of our favorites...

I promised to share a few of our favorite recipes for complementary-protein type meals, so want to get started with that today. I mentioned corn chowder as one of our favorites, and indeed it would be hard to find a more economical meal. I assume most people know how to make this soup, but in case you aren’t familiar with it, here’s how I make

CORN CHOWDER

Use a heavy kettle or Dutch oven that will hold enough soup to feed your family. Chop 1 or 2 onions and, if you like (though these aren’t “traditional” ingredients) you can also chop a couple of celery ribs and shred a couple of carrots. Saute´these in your heavy kettle in some butter or (my choice) canola or olive oil. You won’t need much -- maybe a couple of tablespoons. Cook and stir until the vegetables are tender. Now, peel and dice as many potatoes as you need to feed your family. I would probably use at least four medium potatoes. Now add hot water to nearly cover the potatoes. Add a few shakes of salt. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Add 1 (15 oz.) can of whole kernel corn, undrained, 1 (15 oz.) can of cream style corn, and 1 can (13 oz.) evaporated milk. If you have a large family or a large kettle, you can add one more can of each. Heat through and add salt & pepper to taste. If you enjoy the flavor of herbs, a sprinkle of thyme and/or marjoram go nicely with corn chowder. Sprinkle with paprika before serving.

This would be great with whole wheat or multigrain bread. If you are feeding even heartier appetites, you could serve the chowder with grilled cheese sandwiches or tuna melts.


Here are two more “soup suppers” which utilize complementary protein and are just wonderful, especially for fall and winter meals.

LENTIL SOUP

1 to 2 Tblsp. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, shredded
3/4 tsp. crumbled marjoram
1/2 tsp. crumbled thyme
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
7 cups beef broth (I use the beef bouillon granules with water)
1 1/2 cups dried lentils, picked over, rinsed
1/2 tsp pepper
Shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy kettle. Add the onions, carrots, marjoram and thyme. Saute´, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the onions are tender. Add the tomatoes, broth and lentils. Bring the soup to a boil; reduce the heat, cover the kettle, and simmer the soup for at least 1 hour or until the lentils are tender. Stir in the pepper. Serve soup with shredded Cheddar sprinkled over each portion. (Or put a bowl of shredded Cheddar on the table for people to add at their own discretion.) Yield: 8 servings.

The cheese completes the protein in the lentils here, but you could also serve the soup with corn bread or some other bread to serve the same purpose. I nearly always serve corn bread with lentil soup.


SPLIT PEA SOUP

1 pound dried green or yellow split peas
6 cups water
4 cups chicken or beef broth (I use bouillon granules with water)
1 cup chopped celery
1 large onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups diced potatoes
2 large carrots, peeled & diced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Dash of hot pepper sauce

In a heavy kettle or Dutch oven, combine the peas and water. Bring the water to a boil, and let boil for 2 minutes. Remove the kettle from the heat, cover it, and let the peas stand for 1 hour. Add the broth, celery, onion, potatoes and carrots. Bring the soup to a boil; reduce the heat, cover the kettle, and simmer the soup for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The peas will disintegrate. If the soup seems to be overly thick (and it is supposed to be fairly thick), you can thin it to your taste with additional broth. Stir in the seasonings and serve. Yield: 6 servings.

I had always seen pea soup as a real production, usually involving a ham bone and starting the day before. This recipe proved to me that it doesn’t have to be that way. You could add a small amount of diced ham or bacon bits if you wanted to, but it is by no means necessary. The soup even has a sort of smoky flavor without them. It is delicious just as it is. Corn bread is traditional with pea soup in New England.

Both the lentil soup and the split pea soup recipes were adapted from JANE BRODY’S GOOD FOOD BOOK.



RICE, CORN AND CHEESE CASSEROLE

3 cups cooked white or brown rice
1 15-oz. can whole kernel corn, drained (may use 2 cups frozen corn if preferred)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper (freshly ground if possible)
1 4-oz. can chopped green chilies, undrained
1 small jar of chopped pimiento, drained
Paprika

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the paprika and mix them well. Pour the mixture into a greased 2-qt. casserole. Sprinkle with paprika and bake at 350º for 40 to 45 minutes. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

This wonderful recipe comes from JANE BRODY’S GOOD FOOD BOOK. The only change I made was to use less cheese. The original calls for 2 cups rather than one. This is a casserole we ate a LOT during our “meatless weekdays” years ago.



COMPANY RICE WITH BEANS

1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 medium tomatoes, finely diced (OR [my choice] 1 can diced tomatoes)
1 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 16-oz. can beans (kidney, black, or garbanzo) drained and rinsed
Salt & pepper to taste
3 cups hot cooked rice (start it cooking before you begin the sauce)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat the oil in a large skillet; add the onion and garlic and saute´them until they are soft. Add the tomatoes, zucchini and oregano. Cover the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes or until the zucchini is crisp-tender. Add the beans and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally until it is nicely heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 4 servings.

To serve, spoon the rice into a large serving bowl (I use a large pasta bowl) and spoon the vegetable mixture over the hot rice. Sprinkle with cheese.

This dish is absolutely delicious. I almost always use canned diced tomatoes in this recipe, believing it almost a sin to use fresh tomatoes in a cooked dish. This also comes from JANE BRODY’S GOOD FOOD BOOK.



I also mentioned in a previous post that baked beans and brown bread is a meatless meal we often used. Baked beans are traditional Saturday-night fare here in New England. The following is my grandmother’s recipe for baked beans. (Note: You must start the night before by soaking the beans.)

GRAM’S BAKED BEANS

1 pound dry beans (Gram’s choice was either soldier beans or yellow eyes)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 large onion
2 Tblsp. sugar
1/3 cup molasses (or you can use pure maple syrup)
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp, pepper
2 1/2 tsp. salt
If desired, pieces of bacon or salt pork or even a dribble of oil

Soak the beans overnight in cold water. (Be sure to use plenty of water and use a large container, because the beans are going to swell as they soak.)

In the morning, drain off the water and place the soaked beans in a large kettle or saucepan. Add hot water to cover and stir in the baking soda. Bring the beans to a boil and simmer them until the skins of the beans break when blown on.

Place the onion in the bottom of a bean pot or large (at least 3-quart) casserole dish. Drain the beans and pour them over the onion. Now combine the sugar, molasses and seasonings -- I usually mix them in a measuring cup -- and drizzle this over the beans. You can add the bacon, or whatever, at this point, but it isn’t a crucial ingredient. Now pour hot water over everything to cover the beans. Cover the pot or casserole and bake the beans all day (6 to 8 hours) at 300ºF. Check beans every couple of hours and add more hot water if the top looks dry.


Maybe you would prefer to “bake” your beans in a slow cooker, and I have a great recipe for this type of beans as well. An elderly lady in our church would always bring these to covered-dish dinners, and they were always a favorite. (Note: these cook for 24 hours, and you also need to soak the beans for several hours or overnight prior to cooking. So plan accordingly!)

HAZEL’S BEANS

3 cups dried Jacob’s cattle beans (these are speckled and ringstraked!)
1/2 lb. salt pork (totally optional. I never use it.)
1 to 3 tsp. salt (to your taste)
1 1/2 cups sugar (I personally only use a scant cup)
2 Tblsp. molasses
1 onion
Dash of ginger
Dash of dry mustard

Soak the beans for several hours or overnight or in water to cover. Then drain them and place in slow cooker with all of the remaining ingredients. Add water to the level of the beans. Cover and cook on High for 2 hours, then on Low for 22 hours.


Brown bread is wonderful with baked beans, but corn bread is also good. I’ve shared my corn bread recipe here in a previous post, so here is the brown bread recipe I’ve always used. (Traditional brown bread is steamed in cans, so the slices come out round and moist. This is a quicker way and quite delicious.) My kids always enjoyed this.

QUICK BROWN BREAD

Beat 1 egg in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup molasses, 3/4 cup plain yogurt, 1/4 cup water (you can substitute 1 cup buttermilk for the yogurt and water if you prefer), and 1/4 cup canola oil. In another bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt. Add to the egg mixture. Stir in 1/2 cup raisins (my kids preferred chopped dates) and stir all together quickly but thoroughly. Pour into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and bake at 350º for 45 minutes or until the loaf tests done. Remove from pan to a wire rack immediately. Yield: 1 loaf.

The original recipe (which I have adapted) came from COOKING WITH WHOLEGRAINS, by Mildred Ellen Orton.

Hope others enjoy these great meatless meals as much as we have. More to come...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Complementary Protein 101

We all know that we need quality protein in our main meals (and I have noticed that meals low in protein don’t “stay with” one as long), but not everyone realizes that this protein need not come from meat. Combining other foods -- either milk/dairy foods and grains OR legumes and grains -- will also produce high-quality proteins. I’m going to attempt to give you a mini-course in complementary protein that may be a help to some of the frugal cooks out there. I must hasten to add that I am neither a scientist nor a nutritionist, but I can only share what I’ve read and what has worked for our family.

I’m going to start by quoting some helpful information concerning protein from the MORE-WITH-LESS COOKBOOK, by Doris Janzen Longacre. I appreciate the way she has brought this technical information down to where ordinary people can understand it. She writes:

“Twenty amino acids make up the proteins our bodies use. Of these twenty, eight must come directly from the food we eat. These eight are called the essential amino acids. The rest our bodies can synthesize.

“All the essential amino acids must be present simultaneously and in proper proportions for our bodies to utilize them. If one is lacking, even temporarily, the body’s ability to use protein will fall accordingly.

“Complete protein foods contain all eight essential amino acids. Animal products -- eggs, milk, and meat -- provide all eight amino acids in the proportions our bodies require. Eggs most nearly match the ideal pattern. Milk is a close second, and meats follow. Soybeans and whole rice come close to meats in protein quality. Other grains, the legumes, seeds, and nuts are also good sources of protein, but each lacks one or more of the essential amino acids.”



And so these good, but not-quite-good-enough-on-their-own protein foods can be combined to make great sources of protein. For complementary protein, remember this simple formula: Milk products should always be served with grains; legumes should always be served with grains.

Here are some examples of the milk-grain combinations:

Cereal with milk
Grilled-cheese sandwiches
Macaroni & cheese
Lasagna
Pizza
Corn chowder (or any milk-based soup) served with bread or muffins
Greek spinach pie

And here are some examples of legume-grain combinations:

Peanut butter sandwiches
Lentil or split-pea soup with cornbread (or any other bread)
Baked beans with brown bread or cornbread
Lentil-based taco filling in taco shells
Pinto beans with rice

No doubt you will think of more of your favorite foods that actually fall into the category of complementary protein. Later this week I’ll try and share some of our favorite recipes for this type of main course. In the meantime, I hope that this information, elementary as it is, may be a help to someone out there!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mushroom Crab Melts

Last Saturday night I tried this recipe, and we enjoyed these fabulous melts along with canned vegetable soup. The original recipe came from QUICK COOKING, but I made a good number of changes, so will share it here as I prepared it.


MUSHROOM CRAB MELTS

8 ounces sliced Baby Bella mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 to 2 Tblsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped imitation crabmeat
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tblsp. real bacon bits ( I use Hormel)
1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s Light)
6 wheat English muffins, split
Paprika
Cayenne pepper

In a skillet, saute´the mushrooms and onion in the olive oil until tender. Stir in the imitation crab, cheeses, bacon bits and mayonnaise. (You may find the lesser amount of mayonnaise to be enough to hold the mixture together well.)

Arrange the English muffin halves on a foil-lined baking sheet; spread the mushroom mixture evenly over each muffin half. Sprinkle the muffin halves with a dash each of paprika and cayenne. Bake at 400º for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Getting started with meatless main dishes

I promised some time ago to share some of my thoughts on meatless meals. This morning I just want to share a few simple ideas to get you started, so here goes:

For a period of time we needed to be very frugal indeed. My husband and I made a decision that we would not eat meat for our main meals during the week, but would only serve meat meals on the weekends when the kids were at home. This was a lot easier than it might sound, and I’ll share some other practical ideas for doing so, hopefully this week.

However, for some time before that I had been serving several meatless meals every week, and the kids never realized it. Here are a few ways I did that:

1. Macaroni & cheese. Many people view this as a side dish and serve it alongside hot dogs or meat loaf. There is plenty of protein in mac’n’cheese. It makes a fine meal all by itself accompanied by green beans and applesauce, or by some other green veggie and coleslaw or a salad.

2. Lasagna without the meat. Whether it’s an actual vegetable lasagna, or just a regular lasagna with the meat omitted, this is loaded with protein and flavor. All you need is a salad and bread.

3. Homemade baked beans. My kids thought homemade baked beans and brown bread were such a treat. They never even missed the hot dogs! With beans, brown bread or cornbread, coleslaw and maybe applesauce you have a great meal.

4. Corn chowder. This inexpensive but very tasty milk-based soup can be served with either bread or grilled cheese sandwiches for a meal that will provide plenty of protein. Some baby carrots or other raw veggie on the side would be a great addition. I often added carrots and celery as well as onion to my corn chowder, too.

So there are just a few ideas to spark your thinking! Hope these thoughts are helpful!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Menu Plan Monday

Here is this week's menu plan:

MONDAY -- Greek Pasta Salad (with chicken; leftover from Sunday); Seven-Grain Bread

TUESDAY -- We're going out for dinner with friends.

WEDNESDAY -- Chicken Caesar Wraps; Artichoke Bean Salad

THURSDAY -- Pork Chops with Fruit Stuffing; Green Beans; Raspberry Applesauce Salad

FRIDAY -- Cheese Ravioli with Veggies; Fruit 'n' Nut Tossed Salad (menu not used last week)

SATURDAY -- Vegetable Shrimp Toss; Herbed Dinner Rolls (menu not used last week; I did try the dinner roll recipe for Sunday, however, and they were fantastic.)

SUNDAY -- Italian Wedding Soup (in slow cooker); Cornbread or Seven-Grain Bread

Looking forward to seeing what others plan for this week!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Picnic by the River -- August 30

The Lord gave us another beautiful evening for our picnic by the river on the way to prayer meeting this week. It was sunny, yet cool and breezy, a reminder that fall is on the way. From here on out we’ll need a sweater or jacket on our picnic nights.

This week I planned a more picnic-type meal -- Cashew Chicken Wraps and Ranch Pasta Salad. Both were very good, especially the wraps. I made some changes to the recipes, which were both originally from QUICK COOKING, so I’ll share them here. (I tend to make changes to recipes without noting down what I did -- then next time I make that recipe, I can’t remember what I did!)

Here are the recipes:

CASHEW CHICKEN WRAPS

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s Light)
4 Tblsp. Dijon mustard (I used the pub-style, with mustard seeds)
1 Tblsp. honey
1 Tblsp. apple cider vinegar
Onion powder to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 to 3 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped cashews
4 flour tortillas (6 inches) or 3 of the larger wraps made specifically for this purpose -- I used spinach ones!

In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, honey, vinegar and seasonings. Stir well until a creamy dressing forms. Stir in the chicken, celery, and cashews and mix well. Spoon a fourth of the mixture down the center of each tortilla ; roll up. If you are using the larger wraps, use one-third of the mixture in each. Yield: 3 to 4 sandwiches.

For picnicking, I rolled each wrap snugly in a large piece of plastic wrap. I brought along a small cutting board and sliced the wraps in half to serve. For children, you might prefer to slice them in thirds.

RANCH PASTA SALAD

3 cups uncooked tricolor rotini
1 cup finely chopped fresh broccoli florets
3/4 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber*
1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/2 cup chopped green pepper*
1 cup ranch dressing**
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. In a large bowl, combine the pasta and vegetables. Drizzle with ranch dressing; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

* I didn’t have a cucumber, so I used chopped green pepper instead. But I think it would be good with both!

** I made my own ranch dressing; just stirred it up in the salad bowl before adding the other ingredients. I mixed together: 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1/2 Tblsp. dried minced onion, 1/2 tsp. dill weed, and 2-3 drops of hot pepper sauce.

Hope others who try these recipes enjoy them as much as we did. They would taste just as good at a dining table as they did by the river!