Here's what I made for supper tonight. It was easy and very tasty. I adapted the recipe from a Light & Tasty cookbook.
BAKED ZITI CASSEROLE
16 ounces ziti or other small tubular pasta 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese 1 egg Granulated garlic (or garlic powder) to taste Italian seasoning to taste (I used about 1 Tblsp.) 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 jar (26 ounces) meatless spaghetti sauce 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese or to taste Additional grated Parmesan cheese to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, granulated garlic, Italian seasoning and 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Spread 1 cup of the spaghetti sauce in a greased 13x9-inch baking dish. Top with a third of the pasta, half of the ricotta mixture, 1/3 cup of the mozzarella, about 1 Tblsp. Parmesan, and 1 cup sauce.
Repeat the above layers.
Top with remaining pasta and sauce; sprinkle with 1/3 cup mozzarella and Parmesan to taste. Cover and bake at 375º for 45 to 50 minutes or until heated through.
Yield: 12 servings.
This will make several meals for the two of us. It is very good and is relatively low in fat. I served it with salad (“Classic Romaine” from a bag) and multigrain ciabatta rolls from the Wal*Mart bakery.
* Health & energy -- ate fairly healthy all day, but a birthday party meant a little bit of cake and ice cream! Also printed out some helpful forms from Flylady and kept up with the BCI (body clutter investigator) all day. Exercised, but didn't go for a walk. Drank plenty of water.
* Bible study -- did a bit toward next week's Sunday School lesson.
* Homemaking -- did some dusting in Zone 4; managed to stick with my routines.
* Creativity -- designed some bookmarks and tea bag holders to use as favors at a ladies' luncheon. Designed a title page for the devotional book I've just finished writing.
Today was an OK day as far as this challenge goes. It was a very busy day, with people calling, coming by, and then in the evening we drove to visit Mr. T's uncle who has recently entered a health care facility for rehab. He is about an hour away from us and we wanted to make a brief visit. I spent the afternoon baking cookies to take to him, and also calzone to take along for an in-transit supper.
So most of my achievements today were partial ones.
* I started the Bible study for next week's Sunday School lesson in Judges.
* I stuck with almost all of my daily homemaking routines. I dusted about half of the bedroom (zone 4).
* No walk today -- it was raining -- but I did eat healthfully all day, exercised, drank plenty of water, etc.
* Guess my creative pursuits today were limited to baking cookies and calzone. But cooking is a creative activity, too!
In my ladies' Sunday School class, we're currently studying the book Cultivating a Life of Character, a Bible study by Elizabeth George. It covers the books of Judges and Ruth. I did this study on my own back in 2002, so it's been interesting to look back at the way I answered some of the heart response questions and see how God has worked in my life in those areas.
For example, in this week's lesson, we were asked to think about how we can fine-tune our attitude toward God and our reverence toward Him and our worship of Him.
When I did this study on my own in 2002, I noted that in my daily prayer time, I needed to get back to the worshipful aspect of prayer. I had noticed that I tended to do more interceding than anything else, and I wanted to put more praise and worship into my daily quiet time (while continuing to intercede, of course). When I reread my answer to this question this time around, I was so thrilled to see how God has honored that desire over the intervening years. Since then, I’ve done much more work on my prayer journal, and a time of worship and praise now precedes my prayer time each day. Another thing I’ve recently begun doing is to spend some time each morning asking God to cleanse my heart of anything that does not please Him or bring Him glory. (Of course, I did spend some time in confession in my prayer time, but I find that this new way of starting my time has made that much more meaningful.)
I’m sure there are many more ways I can fine-tune my attitude toward God and my reverence toward Him and worship of Him, but it’s exciting to watch Him work in my heart in these areas.
It's been a huge encouragement to me to look back and take note of how God has worked in my life over the past 5 years. Praise the Lord!
Today I did quite a bit more proofreading and started printing out some pages. Other than that, it was a busy day from beginning to end. On Thursdays I cook for my parents and then, in the evening, do their grocery shopping. Lots of other things were going on today, too.
After nearly a month of not feeling well, then weeks of pressing on with my writing project, I feel as if I've really slacked off on the house and my health. So I'm starting a new challenge today; I'm calling it the "Back on Track" challenge. (Okay, I guess weeks of writing a kids' devotional book with a railroad theme has taken its toll.) I want to get back on track with:
* Bible study (though I've kept up with daily Bible reading and prayer times and have studied for these devotional writings and my Sunday School lessons, there hasn't been time for any other study.)
* Health & energy -- eating right, exercising, walking, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, etc.
* Homemaking -- keeping up with routines and zones a la FlyLady, and continuing to declutter as I go.
* Nurturing creativity -- as important to me as breathing. I want to do more with my writing and spend more time with decorating and craft projects.
Since it ostensibly takes 3 weeks to build a new habit, my challenge will go until May 17. Anyone care to join in? You may have other areas you prefer to work on, or maybe you want to choose one or more of these.
"Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly." -- Julie Andrews
Today I began proofreading all the pages that I've written and getting things a bit more organized. It was a busy day and I was out of the house the entire afternoon, so there wasn't time to do more. But it sure is great to have all of the actual writing done!
I made this delicious dish on Monday night for supper. We loved it. Mr. T suggested making this a regular! I served it with salad and ciabatta rolls (Wal*Mart bakery) so it is a very easy meal as well as being tasty. I adapted the recipe from one in Simple & Delicious magazine.
SPINACH FETA FRITTATA
6 eggs 1 Tblsp. water 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper 1/4 tsp. salt 1 small onion, chopped 1/2 tsp. minced garlic 1 to 2 Tblsp. olive oil 2 medium red potatoes, diced in 1/4-inch cubes 1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used the reduced fat type) 2 tsp. dried basil (recipe called for 2 T. fresh, which would be better, but I used what I had)
In a bowl, beat together the eggs, water, pepper and salt; set aside.
In a 10-inch skillet, saute´the onion and garlic in the oil for 2 minutes. Add potatoes; cook and stir until almost tender, about 10 minutes. (I simply covered them and cooked for about the same amount of time, stirring twice during that time.) Reduce heat; sprinkle with spinach, cheese and basil.
Pour egg mixture over the potato mixture in the pan. Cover and cook for 7-8 minutes or until eggs are set. Let stand 5 minutes, then cut into wedges to serve.
I need to go over everything I've written with a fine-tooth comb for any typos -- spell check, of course, doesn't catch any errors that are actual words (but which may be the wrong words). Because this is a daily devotional book, I write down the Scriptures and topic for each day on the corresponding calendar page as I write, so as to avoid any duplication. I need to make a clean copy of that, as it helps when putting the book together.
I also need to print out a first page with the title, copyright info, etc.
Monday again! I have some menus that weren't used last week, so there may be some repeats. Today is sunny and predicted to be in the 80s, so I may revise today's menu to wraps and pasta salad, but I'm not sure yet. It's supposed to get cooler again tomorrow. Hard to believe that just last Monday we were in the grip of a snowy, rainy northeaster! Here's my plan:
Today was a really busy day -- several unplanned trips out of the house, and company for supper. I did manage to get some writing done. I finished writing the play for the Patch Club closing concert this morning, in spite of some really quirky things going on with my word processing program. Toward the devotional book, I :
"When we have had the most comfortable communion with God, and the clearest discoveries of His favour to us, we may expect that Satan will set upon us (the richest ship is the pirate's prize), and that God will suffer him to do so, that the power of His grace may be manifested and magnified." -- Matthew Henry
What a busy day! I had really hoped to get a lot accomplished today, but I sure didn't get as much done as I'd hoped. Lots of phone calls, among other things. We're having friends over for dinner tomorrow night, so one thing I did today was to make an ice cream cake for dessert. A good make-ahead thing. I also made a broccoli salad (for tonight's supper) and a quiche-y crabmeat dish (also for tonight's supper).
I spent much of the afternoon working on another, more urgent, writing project. In addition to the summer devotional book, I had also promised to write a skit for the Patch Club's closing concert. I managed to get that nearly finished this evening, as I want to have it for the leaders on Sunday. They plan to start practice for the closing concert on Wednesday.
As for the devotional book, here's all that got done:
Today was a busy day. My mother-in-law's home is still without power, so she came here and spent most of the day with me. I still managed to get a bit of writing done before she came and then after supper. I also went over the pages I've written and discovered I was a bit off in my page count -- I'd written more than I thought! A delightful discovery!
I didn't spend a lot of time on the computer today as I was afraid the power would go out again. We had outages overnight, and many people in the surrounding towns are still without power. But I did spend enough time to...
Today was a pretty productive day. We had time to go out for breakfast at our favorite place and later on we went for a 2-mile walk. I got quite a bit of cleaning done and also have my Sunday School lesson for next week almost completed! In addition, I had time to write!
* I wrote 3 daily devotional pages.
* I produced a neat coloring page.
* I planned out the next 5 devotional pages I'll write and chose scriptures for them.
Wow, today was a busy day, between the sunrise service & breakfast at church, teaching Sunday School, morning & evening service, and Easter dinner here at home. Not surprisingly I didn't get much writing done, but here's what I did do:
* Wrote 1 daily devotional page and started another.
Well, this was not a super-productive day for writing. I finished up next week's Sunday School lesson this morning -- I'm trying to stay a week ahead with that to allow for more writing time daily -- and spent the afternoon in the kitchen, working on food for the Easter sunrise breakfast at church and then Easter dinner here at home. We managed to fit in a 2-mile walk too; it was a nice day, but very cold. I got a little bit of writing done:
* Wrote 1 daily devotional page and started another.
* Did a bit of research.
* Planned 1 more page & scripture -- I have 5 pages planned ahead now.
I'm still on target with my daily goals because I did 2 extra pages yesterday. So...
Carrie, over at Life on a Back Road, has been doing a spring cleaning/decluttering challenge. She has planned this to last 5 weeks, working in FlyLady's zones each week. This week is Zone 1. I've joined the challenge despite being pretty busy with my writing project. It's been a test of my in-progress time management skills to fit in some cleaning time in Zone 1 each day, but I've been doing it! Here's what got done yesterday:
* Swiffered the dining room walls.
* Finished a thorough cleaning/decluttering/rearranging of the corner cupboard.
* Washed down the dining room table/chairs with Murphy Oil Soap.
* I have a small wooden bench under a window where I keep catalogs/store flyers etc. I thoroughly washed the bench (Murphy Oil Soap again) and washed the floor under it, then thoroughly sorted through the piles of stuff -- threw a lot away and found other homes for most of it. Things look much better there!
That was a lot for me to accomplish along with 5 pages on my writing project and some good work on next week's Sunday School lesson. Thank you, Lord!
And thanks to Carrie for coming up with this challenge!
Today was a good day for this challenge. (I must add that I still have "real life" going on each day -- housework, meal preparation and planning, working on each week's Sunday School lesson, etc. so I typically only have 2 or 3 hours to spend writing.) Anyway, today, I:
* Wrote 3 daily devotional pages.
* Did some Internet research.
* Prepared a coloring page.
* Prepared an activity page.
* Planned the next 2 devotional pages I'll write.
I've included activity and coloring pages in my total number of pages needed, so I can count those toward what I need to finish.
Here's a favorite dessert of ours that just says "springtime" to me with its pretty yellow and white layers. I think it might be nice for Easter dinner, especially if one put pastel sprinkles or Easter sprinkles on top of the last layer. Enjoy...
LEMON PUDDING DESSERT
1/2 cup margarine, melted 1 1/2 cups flour 8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I use the lighter Neufchatel) 1 cup confectioners sugar 8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided use (the light variety works fine) 3 cups cold milk (skim works fine) 2 boxes (3.4 oz. each) instant lemon pudding mix
In a bowl, combine the margarine and flour. Mixture will look crumbly. Press crumbs evenly into an ungreased 13x9-inch baking dish. (A glass dish shows off the pretty layers of this dessert.) Bake at 350º until set, about 18-20 minutes. Cool completely.
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Fold in 1 cup of the whipped topping. Spread this mixture over cooled crust.
In a large bowl, beat together the milk and pudding mix. Let stand 5 minutes or until thickened. Carefully spread pudding over first layer.
Carefully spread remaining whipped topping over the pudding. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Yield: 12-16 servings.
This is still a rich-tasting dessert, but I’ve lightened it up a lot. I cut the butter in half from the original recipe, and use light dairy products and whipped topping. This has a nice refreshing taste after a meal. I found the recipe in an older issue of Taste of Home magazine.
I promised Arlene I would post this. So here it is, for Arlene and anyone else who may be interested. Enjoy!
GARLIC LIME CHICKEN
1/2 cup lime juice 1/4 cup cider vinegar 6 garlic cloves, minced (or equivalent amount of jarred minced garlic) 2 tsp. dried oregano 1 Tblsp. dried coriander 2 tsp. pepper 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. paprika 4 to 6 bone-in chicken breast halves 1 to 2 Tblsp. vegetable oil
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the first 8 ingredients. Add chicken; seal bag and turn to coat chicken with marinade. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Discard marinade. In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil and brown the chicken on all sides. Transfer to a greased 15 x 10-inch baking pan. Bake chicken, uncovered, at 375º for 30 to 35 minutes or until the juices run clear.
I love the practical ways God allows us to minister to one another. In our church we always try to help out by preparing meals when people are recovering from surgery or when a family has a new baby, etc. When I do a meal for someone, I try to take it a step farther and try to go above and beyond. I enjoy thinking about what might taste good to people in a given situation and coming up with a menu to use. Sometime I’d like to do another post on this topic -- there is much more to be said and many helpful ideas that could be shared. I’m far from being an expert on this (or any other) subject, but it’s something I truly love doing.
On Tuesday evening, I prepared a meal for some friends who have a new baby. I prepared Walnut Chicken, rice, and asparagus stir-fry vegetables, with Apple Cranberry Crisp for dessert. I recently posted the crisp recipe, but thought I would share the chicken dish here now. This is a very easy, very different chicken stir-fry. The toasted walnuts give it a unique, absolutely wonderful flavor.
3 tsp. cornstarch, divided
3 Tblsp. soy sauce, divided
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/4” strips
1 Tblsp. water
1 1/2 tsp. vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
Dash of hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup walnut halves
3 Tblsp. vegetable oil
1 medium green pepper, cut in 1” pieces
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
In bowl combine 1 tsp. cornstarch and 1 Tblsp. soy sauce until smooth; add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl combine next four ingredients with remaining cornstarch and soy sauce; set aside.
In skillet, sauté walnuts in oil until toasted. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. In same skillet and same oil, stir-fry chicken until juices run clear. Add green pepper and ginger to skillet; cook and stir 3 minutes or until pepper is crisp-tender. Stir reserved cornstarch mixture and add to skillet. Bring to boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Stir in walnuts.
Serve with or alongside rice -- either plain white rice or fried rice. Makes 4 servings.
This wonderful recipe is from a Quick Cooking magazine of some years ago. We love it!
Our friends were also expecting a houseful of company -- faraway family members were coming to make little Daniel’s acquaintance. I thought it might be helpful if, in addition to the meal, I would provide two kinds of muffins for quick breakfasts and a batch of cookies for snacking and for the new dad’s work lunches. Here are the recipes I used:
OATMEAL JAM MUFFINS
1 cup quick or old-fashioned oats
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup real margarine, melted
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup raspberry jam
Heat oven to 350º. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups. Combine oats and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Let stand 2 minutes; stir in egg, brown sugar and margarine. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; add to oat mixture and stir just until combined. Divide batter among cups. Top each with l teaspoon jam. Bake until done, about 18 minutes. Turn out, cool slightly (the jam gets very hot) and serve. Yield: 1 dozen muffins
Years ago, when I cooked at an inn, I often baked a variation of this recipe. I think this version is even better. If you like, another type of jam may be substituted for raspberry.
RASPBERRY ALMOND MUFFINS
2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup raspberry jam
36 whole almonds or 1/4 cup chopped almonds
Sugar for tops
Heat oven to 400º.
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, combine milk, butter, egg, vanilla and almond extract.
Grease 12 muffin cups and fill each half full of batter.
Place 1 teaspoon raspberry jam in center of each batter-filled cup; top with remaining batter to cover jam.
Top each muffin with 3 whole almonds or 1 teaspoon chopped almonds. Sprinkle tops with sugar.
Bake at 400º for 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before removing muffins from cups; serve immediately. Yield: 12 muffins.
I copied this muffin recipe off a radio cooking show years ago, and it's been a favorite with my family. When all of our children were home I baked muffins at least once a week. These yummy muffins taste fancier than you'd think from their quick preparation.
HUGS and KISSES COOKIES
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tblsp. milk
2 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips
9-ounce bag chocolate kisses or hugs, unwrapped
Heat oven to 350º. Beat together butter, sugars, and vanilla until blended. Add eggs and milk; beat well.
Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, blending well. Stir in chocolate chips.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake 11 minutes.
Cool 1 minute; press a chocolate kiss or hug into the center of each cookie. Cool another minute before removing cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
Yield: About 4 dozen cookies.
I copied this recipe out of a cookbook belonging to a good friend, some years ago. It’s been a favorite with my kids and their friends. This time around, I used the almond Hershey kisses.
That’s all for now, but at the very least you might find a new recipe you want to try. At best, you’ll be inspired to minister to someone by way of a meal!
And .... for even more inspiration, I am adding in this link from Christa at Brown Sugar Toast, a mom with lots of experience on this topic: 6 Tips for Taking Meals to Others . Christa has some unique and practical ideas in this post, so it's well worth clicking over to take a look!
Well, I did skip yesterday, but writing 4 pages each on Thursday and Friday and an extra page today kept me on track with this challenge. Today was our afternoon service at church (which we do once a month instead of our evening service) so I managed to fit in some writing today. Here's what I did:
* Wrote 4 daily devotional pages.
* Planned the next 2 devotional pages I will write.
* Brainstormed a bit about what the cover of the book will look like.
I live in scenic northern New England with my handsome husband. We're empty-nesters with a bunch of adorable grandchildren. We love (tent) camping and traveling, but don't get away as often as we'd like to.