Today was a busy but wonderful day. We spent it at a Christian Leadership Conference at a large church here in New England. What a spiritually prosperous day we had! We were especially blessed by the general sessions with Dr. Sam Horn. What an encouragement they were!
We were also challenged and encouraged by practical, helpful, edifying workshops we attended. The congregational singing was a blessing, the special music was a treat, and the fellowship was wonderful.
All in all, a truly blessed day. Nothing got done on my writing challenge, but that's okay. This was a day well spent, recharging our spiritual batteries.
Today was busy, with people stopping by for various reasons. I spent the entire afternoon cooking & baking to share a meal and some goodies with friends who recently had a baby. Some of the muffins and cookies I baked will be consumed by Mr. T, of course!
I did manage to accomplish something on this challenge, though:
* Wrote 3 daily devotional pages
* Decided on the next 3 pages I'll write, and selected Scriptures to use
Here are the dessert recipes I used last night when we had friends over. The Apple-Cranberry Crisp would be great with vanilla ice cream, but we didn't have any on hand. What I did have was some homemade Caramel Pecan Ice Cream, so I used that. The flavors were very nice together.
APPLE CRANBERRY CRISP
3 cups chopped unpeeled apples 2 cups raw cranberries (fresh or frozen) 3/4 cup sugar
TOPPING: 1 1/2 cups quick or old-fashioned oats 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed 1/3 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour 1/3 cup chopped pecans 1/3 cup canola oil
Combine the apples, cranberries and sugar in a 9” square baking dish or a 2-qt. casserole dish. Mix thoroughly to blend; set aside.
Combine topping ingredients until crumbly; spread evenly over fruit layer.
Bake at 350º for 1 hour or until the fruit is fork-tender. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
Yield: 4-6 servings.
This is a wonderful dessert to make in the fall when apples and cranberries are both fresh. But it tastes good anytime! I’ve adapted this recipe from the original to make it healthier and lower in fat and sugar.
CARAMEL-PECAN ICE CREAM
14 caramels -- Kraft®, Brachs®, or whatever 1 cup miniature marshmallows 1/2 cup milk 1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Melt the caramels and marshmallows in the milk. (Original recipe said to use a double boiler. I don’t have one, so melted them in a bowl in the microwave. It worked fine.) Set aside to cool.
Gently but thoroughly fold the cooled caramel mixture into the whipped cream. Add the pecans and mix gently. Pile into a plastic container (I used a Rubbermaid® Take Alongs™ bowl with cover).
Freeze 8 hours or overnight. The original recipe didn’t specify how long to freeze it before serving, but I found that 4 hours wasn’t long enough. The ice-cream was still delicious but definitely more like soft-serve.
Yield: 1 pint.
I doubled the recipe to make a quart and it worked just fine. This is a very delicious, easy homemade ice cream. We love the fact that you don’t need an ice cream maker to make this!
Combine the cabbage, parsley and onion in a salad bowl.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour dressing over veggies, toss well, and let stand, covered, in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
* Original recipe called for a medium sweet onion sliced in rings. I only used a couple of tablespoons of quartered, thinly sliced sweet onion. I just don’t care for completely raw onion in salads (not even sweet onions) so I poured boiling water over the onion pieces in a small bowl and let stand for 10 minutes or so, then drained off the water and rinsed the onion with cold water before adding to the salad bowl. The onion flavor is important to the recipe, so I didn’t want to leave it out entirely.
This is a very delicious cole slaw! The parsley adds such a fresh-looking and fresh-tasting element. I found the original recipe in Cook & Tell, my favorite cooking newsletter.
For our guests last night, I planned a 'comfort food' meal which we all enjoyed so much. I thought others might enjoy trying these recipes. I'll start with the main course:
PRIZE-WINNING CHICKEN POT PIE
1 3-lb. chicken OR 3 lb. chicken breast (I usually just use 3 large bone- in chicken breasts) 1 onion 2 stalks celery 1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen peas and carrots, cooked 1 c. frozen baby onions, cooked 2 large potatoes, cooked and cut in cubes 1/3 c. margarine 1/3 c. flour 3 c. reserved chicken broth juice of 1/2 lemon salt and pepper to taste Pastry for 9” 1-crust pie
Place chicken, 1 onion, and celery in a large pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour until meat is tender. (Tip: When using the bone-in chicken breast, I often just throw them in frozen and the cooking time is still plenty for them to get done--I usually simmer for the full hour.) Note: This time, I cooked the chicken breasts a day ahead in the crockpot -- didn't add water, celery or onion, just sprinkled with Montreal Chicken seasoning and cooked on several hours on High.
Strain off broth into a bowl and place in refrigerator until needed. Remove meat from bones in large chunks. Discard bones, onion, and celery.
Place meat in a 13”x9” pan with cooked peas and carrots, baby onions and potatoes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In medium saucepan, melt butter. Add flour; stir until bubbly. Gradually stir in 3 c. reserved broth (with as much fat as possible skimmed off) and cook, stirring, until thickened. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Pour gravy over meat and vegetables in pan. Top with pastry which has been rolled out to fit top of pan. Cut several slits in pastry.
Bake 35 to 45 minutes at 350º.
The following recipe is for a 1-crust pie and is the recipe I always use for pie pastry. Many people don't think they would like a pie crust made with oil. But we love it and it's much easier as well as healthier -- I use canola oil.
MOM’S OIL PIE CRUST 1 1/3 c. flour 1 t. salt 1/3 c. oil 3-5 T. milk Stir together flour and salt in a small to medium. bowl. Measure oil into glass measuring cup, add milk to oil. Pour milk and oil into the flour/salt mixture. Combine with a fork till it forms a nice ball of dough.
Take a wet dishcloth and wash off a section of your counter. Lay a large piece of wax paper on the wet area (so it’ll stick). Put the dough on the wax paper and lay another piece of wax paper on top. Roll out the dough to desired size and shape between the 2 pieces of wax paper. This works really well and saves you having to flour the counter!
Along with the chicken pie last night, I served squash, cole slaw, and cranberry sauce. For dessert we had apple-cranberry crisp with homemade caramel-pecan ice cream. Later on (maybe even today) I'll share the cole slaw and dessert recipes.
Today was a busy day. We had friends over for supper and the evening, so of course I spent some time this afternoon preparing a nice meal and spiffing up the house a bit. I zeroed on on my writing this morning, though, and accomplished quite a bit. Here's what I did:
* Wrote 3 daily devotional pages.
* Did some Internet research.
* Planned what Scriptures I'll use for the next 3 pages I'll write.
I'd planned to make split pea soup for supper with those cheddar drop biscuits. Then I remembered I'd bought broccoli crowns last week, so quickly changed my plans. Split peas will keep for quite awhile, but broccoli will not. So here's what I made instead:
CREAM OF BROCCOLI SOUP
3 cups chicken broth 1 large bunch broccoli, chopped 1 large onion, chopped 3 bay leaves 6 Tablespoons butter 7 Tablespoons flour 3 cups milk Salt & pepper to taste
In large saucepan or dutch oven, bring broth to a boil. Add broccoli, onion, and bay leaves. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until broccoli is tender.
Meanwhile, in another pan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and gradually stir in milk. Return pan to heat and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until mixture is hot and thickened. Add 1 cup of the broccoli mixture to the milk mixture, stirring until well blended. Gradually add all of the milk mixture to the broccoli mixture in the dutch oven. Stir to combine well. Heat and stir until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves before serving.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
This is our family’s favorite broccoli soup. I like it because it’s a little different from most broccoli soup recipes in not calling for cheese. That makes it a little bit healthier, too. The bay leaves in this recipe make all the difference to the flavor!
I have recently found that I can make this soup nearly fat-free by omitting the butter. I just put the milk in a quart jar, add the flour and shake until smooth. Then slowly stir this mixture into the boiling broth/vegetables and continue to cook, stirring often, until the soup is thickened.
This soup was yummy with the cheddar drop biscuits alongside. I don't think I've ever served them with this soup before. It made a great combination!
Hurray -- I found I had already posted this soup recipe sometime ago. A quick copy & paste, and it's back here for others to enjoy without taking the trouble to hunt for it. Happy soup sipping!
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, chopped2 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.
I adapted this recipe from one in Jane Brody's Good Food Book.
Melissa asked for this recipe, along with the one for Dutch Split Pea Soup. I already had the biscuit recipe in a word processing file, so could easily post it here. Enjoy!
CHEDDAR DROP BISCUITS
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese 1 1/2 cups flour 1 Tblsp. baking powder 2 tsp. sugar 1/2 tsp. salt 1/3 cup vegetable shortening (may use oil) 3/4 cup cold milk
Preheat the oven to 425º. Sift the dry ingredients -- flour, baking powder, sugar and salt -- into a mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the cheese, then the milk. [I prefer to use canola oil instead of shortening. If using oil, do this: Stir the cheese into the sifted dry ingredients in the bowl. Then combine the oil with the milk and stir the combined liquids into the flour/cheese mixture in the bowl.]
Drop the biscuit dough by heaping tablespoons onto an ungreased (or parchment-lined) baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake at 425º for 12 minutes, until pale golden brown. Serve warm. Yield: 15 biscuits.
These yummy biscuits are a great, easy way to fill out a meal that seems a little skimpy, be it soup, stew, chili, a main-dish salad -- or even breakfast.
Another Monday! I have lots of repeat menus this week because they didn't get used last week. I was sick all week and so we either ate takeout or I made easier meals that sounded better to me than what I'd previously planned. Here goes for this week:
MONDAY: May eat with friends; if so, I'm bringing Lemony Artichoke Salad. (If we don't eat with our friends, we'll have leftover Chicken Chop Suey from Sunday.)
TUESDAY: Dutch Split Pea Soup, Cheddar Drop Biscuits
WEDNESDAY: Leftover soup & biscuits from Tuesday
THURSDAY: Pork Chops with Scalloped Potatoes, Country Carrots, Coleslaw
FRIDAY: Fusilli con Carciofi, Salad, Italian Bread
Watching what I say is an ongoing challenge for me. I pray about this often -- that the Lord will help me to stop and think and weigh my words (and sometimes even pray) before speaking.
Proverbs 10:19 is a good reminder.
"In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise."
Concerning this verse, Charles Spurgeon wrote:
"How common is the fault of talkativeness. Men talk so much because they think so little. Drums make a great noise because they are hollow. One attribute of a wise man is within the reach of us all -- we can be quiet. Let us try it."
Annie had asked for this recipe, and I finally found a moment to type it up. Enjoy!
CHILES RELLENOS CASSEROLE
2 to 3 cans (4 ounces each) whole green chilies, drained 4 flour tortillas (6-inch size), cut in 1-inch strips* 1 cup (or less) shredded mozzarella cheese 1 cup (or less) shredded cheddar cheese 6 eggs 3/8 cup milk Garlic powder to taste 1/4 tsp. ground cumin 1/4 tsp. pepper Paprika Salsa
Grease or spray a 9-inch square baking dish. Cut along one side of each chili and open it up so it will lie flat. Place half of the chilies in the baking dish. Layer with half of the tortilla strips and then half of the mozzarella and half the cheddar. Repeat the layers. In a bowl, beat the eggs, garlic powder, cumin and pepper. Pour over the layered items in the baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika.
Bake uncovered at 350º for 40 to 45 minutes, our until puffy and a knife inserted 2 inches from edge comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve with salsa.
* I had larger tortillas on hand so I used 3 10-inch ones. I cut them in half before cutting into 1-inch strips. I’m sure everyone knows that the easiest way to cut tortillas is with scissors.
This is adapted from Light & Tasty magazine and is most delicious! The two of us polished this off at one sitting. I had 2 1/2 squares of it (I had cut it in 9 squares to serve) and, well... you know who ate the rest. You may double the recipe and bake it in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish instead.
I'm very thankful to the Lord for a productive day today, even though I'm still fighting a bad cold and had many other things to do as well. Praise the Lord, I did get my quota of 3 pages written, and even had time to do some further Internet research as well.
Wow, a lot of days have gone by since I started this challenge! And not a lot has been accomplished. I've been sick for a week with a bad cold/flu, and just haven't felt like spending a lot of time trying to think. My head has felt stuffed with cotton. However, I simply must get on the ball. 48 days left and 140 pages to produce means that I must now come up with 3 pages each day -- no excuses! Here's what I did today:
* Installed AppleWorks on my computer. Great improvement!
* Finished writing my first daily devotional page.
* Did a bunch of Internet research for more pages.
* Got an idea for the next page I'll write.
That's about it, but I feel as if I have a handle on this project now.
Just a note to say I haven't done much of anything with any of my challenges the past few days. A nasty cold has really hit me hard, and I haven't felt like doing much. I did complete a couple of handmade birthday gifts and got a really good start on a third one, and I think I have completed all I want to for the March decorating challenge as well. And that's about it! We have company coming on Sunday -- sure hope to be feeling better by then.
Today was a fairly good day as far as this challenge is concerned:
* Had a wonderful devotional/prayer time.
* Ate healthy all day.
* Accomplished Kelly's Mission for Zone 2 -- the kitchen.
* Finished outlining this week's Sunday School lesson.
* Did some ironing.
* Wrapped some birthday gifts.
* Got my grocery list made for the week.
* Kept up with my daily routines.
There may be more, but I have a cold and it's been a busy day going to and from the hospital for Mr. T's testing, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that not more got done. Still, life is falling back into order, so I'm happy about that!
This evening after supper (which I ate by myself, Mr. T being restricted to liquids for the next few hours) I had a few minutes to work in Zone 2, the kitchen. After all, how many dishes need to be washed in a situation like that -- liquids for him and microwaved leftovers for me? I had them done in no time and still had a sinkful of nice soapy water to use for Kelly's Mission -- the one where she has you cleaning the countertops and moving things like microwaves, coffeemakers, etc.
While the small appliances were away from the walls, I also cleaned the backsplash (which in my kitchen is made of mirror tiles). Then I scrubbed the canisters with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and cleaned a large glass churn (full of white lights) with Windex. Things are looking nice in Zone 2 tonight!
Monday again! This is a very special Monday -- March 5 -- for it is the birthday of two of my grandchildren! Sarah is turning six today and Sam is turning three.
This looks like a very different week, menu-wise. Mr. T is eating a clear liquid diet in preparation for some medical tests tomorrow, so I'm not planning much of anything for supper for Monday and Tuesday. Friday we may be having supper guests or maybe not, and Sunday we'll be having friends come for a visit of a few days and haven't decided yet whether to use the crockpot or take them out to a favorite restaurant. But here's my attempt at a menu plan:
MONDAY: Potato Cheese Soup (leftover from last Friday), Cornbread (leftover from Sunday)
TUESDAY: Maybe leftover soup and cornbread; depends on how Mr. T is feeling
Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to a women's Bible seminar at a church in Massachusetts. What a wonderful time it was! Wonderful Bible teaching from several different speakers, incredibly edifying music, and great fellowship with other ladies made it a special, special day. I was blessed to be able to reconnect with some dear friends while there. It was very uplifting and a great encouragement.
Often after a day like this, I'll come home with no idea what supper will be. This time the Lord inclined my thoughts toward leaving something all ready in the crockpot. That worked out so well! It was such a blessing just to have a hot meal all ready. Then after supper I quickly prepared ahead what I would need to take for today's potluck lunch. The kitchen was clean by 7 p.m.!
Today was a busy day at church... teaching Sunday School, then attending the morning service and enjoying a potluck lunch together. After lunch, we had our "evening" service at 2 p.m. We do this the first Sunday of every month and it's always a highlight of the month to have that precious fellowship together over a meal.
A busy weekend meant I got very little done on any of my challenges, except that this afternoon after church we did finally get the Valentine/winter tree taken down. It looks odd without the tree in the living room now! My daughter pointed out that it has been there a quarter of a year, so no wonder it seems funny without it! We also got some better storage in place for the many toys that were threatening to overtake the living room.
Today I found quite a few helpful websites for the research for this summer's kids' devotional book. I also began the actual writing of the first devotional page. It's always an encouragement to actually get this far and begin the actual writing.
Here is a bit of poetry that speaks to me every March when I post it on my ribbon board:
from The First Spring Day
I wonder if the sap is stirring yet, If wintry birds are dreaming of a mate, If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun And crocus fires are kindling one by one; Sing, robins, sing; I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring...
The sap will surely quicken soon or late, The tardiest bird will twitter to a mate; So spring must dawn again with warmth and bloom, Or in this world, or in the world to come; Sing, voice of Spring, Till I too blossom and rejoice and sing.
I forgot to post this last night, so I'll do it now. Yesterday was another wonderful day for this challenge. Here's what happened:
* A great time of devotions
* Good time spent on Sunday School and writing project preparations
* Some journaling on the Body Clutter mission for the chapter I'm in
* Healthy eating all day long
* A nice long walk
* Drank plenty of water
And probably more, but that's all I can think of right now. I'm giving myself some added incentive with this challenge -- for every day I do well in these important areas, I'm allowing myself to post on my Christmas blog. It's something I really enjoy and wouldn't otherwise take time to do, so it makes a great reward!
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.