Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In the Kitchen


It's great to have Freezer Meal Days (as I had recently with 3 daughters and 1 son, who all live nearby), and it's also good to have some shorter sessions In the Kitchen. Taking a portion of a day to focus on preparing some baked goods, some mixes, and even a few freezer meals.

It just makes sense. Especially when there are so many other things that call our attention each day, making it difficult to spend much time cooking on a daily basis. Having some prepared dishes and mixes makes life so much easier.

Last Thursday I spent about four hours In the Kitchen. And this is what I prepared in that time:

stored in the refrigerator, they are great to have on hand for breakfasts

6 loaves of Honey Whole Wheat Bread 
prepared with my Bosch machine; and stored in the freezer for the month ahead

2 batches of this Pizza Dough recipe
  my first time to make this (dividing the dough into small rounds for eight 12-inch pizzas); 
I mixed up the dough with my KitchenAid, and let it rise 30 minutes before freezing
I'll store these in the freezer for Friday nights when we often have pizza

 one for supper that day, and three meals (for the two of us) in the freezer for future days
 (I also have some bags of cooked rice in the freezer - I pulled one out for our meal last Thursday)



Whether one is in "empty nest" years (where there are many others things to focus on besides cooking), or one has a houseful of children (where we are busy with our kids from morning till night) - it's always a good idea to have some prepared-ahead meals to be able to pull out when needed. I am finding that I prefer to have periodic sessions In the Kitchen, rather than spending a lot of time cooking each day.

Linking up with:
Tasty Tuesday
Time to Sparkle
Live Laugh Linky
Saturday Show and Tell

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring is Here!


We've waited awhile for spring weather here in our part of the world, and it finally has come!

So thankful for: spring, warm weather, daffodils, purchasing some veggie seeds, planting a row of potatoes in our garden, helping a son start up his own veggie garden, watching two four-year-old grandsons play soccer, making summer vacation plans, eating outdoors on the patio with my hubby, and a walk together in our little town.

Thanking God for
beautiful, refreshing, wonderful spring - 
my favorite!

(Credits for digital scrapbook page: Frame Template: Scrap Girls - MRE_Windowpane; Paper & Embellishment: Sweet Shoppe Design - You Are My Happy; Fonts: DJB Jenna and DJB Tara)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

My Weekly Findings #2


My second post of sharing a few online findings from the past week! I am having fun with this - and hope you enjoy it, as well! And hope you enjoy a refreshing, relaxing weekend - warmer weather has finally come to our little corner of the world! It has been feeling like spring the past few days - so thankful!

A Place of Your Own


I loved reading this post by Melissa on the (in)courage blog. We are so blessed to be able to connect with God wherever we are and whatever time of day. And also, it's a blessing to have a place for extended, quiet meetings with our Creator - whether it be a special, comfy corner of our home, or outdoors in His beautiful creation, or sometimes even as we are driving in our car. A place where we can quiet ourselves, really listen, and share our hearts.


How to Add a Signature to Blogger Posts


Angela's blog is filled with good tips, and I also love her recommendations of fonts to download. This particular post caught up my attention, as I've been wondering about adding a signature to my blog posts. Am considering trying this out.


Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus


Once in awhile I visit Janelle's blog, and really, I should go there more often. She has some great recipes, and also lots of good ideas of serving others through providing meals for them. This recent recipe caught my attention, as I have been wishing to try some asparagus recipes. I admit that early in our marriage I tried a recipe with asparagus that was definitely not the best, and all these years, I have avoided asparagus. I think that I have been missing out ...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Garlic Beef Enchiladas


We love this recipe! It takes a bit of time to prepare, but it is so very delicious. My favorite beef enchilada recipe ...

I am also trying out a new feature which will enable printing directly from Plan to Eat, which is the menu planning site that I use. Hopefully, the "print" tab will work for you (if you choose to print this recipe)(Also, if you change the font size to "10 pt" on the next screen after you select PRINT, it should print out on one full page.)


Print Recipe

Garlic Beef Enchiladas


Course: Main Course
Serves: 5

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (or use 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or use 3/4 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes
  • SAUCE:
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 4-6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 can beef broth 14 1/2 ounces
  • 1 can tomato sauce 15 ounces
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder (used 1 tablespoon)
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground cumin (used 1 teaspoon)
  • 1-2 teaspoons rubbed sage (used 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 flour tortillas (6 inches) warmed
  • 2 cups Colby-Monterey Jack cheese (8 ounces) divided, shredded

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 6-8 minutes or until beef is no longer pink, breaking up beef into crumbles; drain. Stir in flour and seasonings. Stir in tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°.
  3. In small saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute or until tender. Stir in flour until blended; gradually whisk in broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in tomato sauce and seasonings; heat through.
  4. Pour 1-1/2 cups sauce into an ungreased 13x9-in. baking dish. Place about 1/4 cup beef mixture down the center of each tortilla; top with 1-2 tablespoons cheese. Roll up and place over sauce, seam side down. Top with remaining sauce.
  5. Bake, covered, 30-35 minutes or until heated through.
  6. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, 10-15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
  7. Yield: 5 servings.

Powered by
Plan To Eat



Using the Plan to Eat PRINT feature is new for me, and please let me know if it works okay for you (if you choose to print this recipe). I'm happy to have discovered this method of sharing my recipes, as I am in the process of importing all my recipes to Plan to Eat, and this will be an easy way to share them here on my blog.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Never Too Small {Heart Connect}


A little quote, with great wisdom ... take even the smallest concern, and turn it into a prayer.

"Don't worry about anything;
instead,
pray about everything."
(Philippians 4:6a)


Click here for previous posts in Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer.

Linking up with:
Faith Filled Friday

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Freezer Meal Day


It's always a fun day when it's Freezer Meal Day at our house. A busy day - when we're exhausted at the end of the day - but a very fun, productive day. And sharing the day together as family is the best way to have a Freezer Meal Day. Usually I am blessed to have my three grown daughters who live nearby join me for the day (and we miss another who lives in TX), and this time we were so happy to have a son, who also lives nearby, join us as well! (And we missed our other son who is in CA.)

Saturday, April 20, was the day! We shared a lunch meal of Cheesy Chicken Subs together, followed by about five hours in the kitchen, and finished off with a pizza meal together! And in those five hours in the kitchen, three daughters and a son and I prepared 30+ dishes for the freezer! And my amazing hubby helped out with our grandkids - a five year-old girl, three four year-old boys, and a one year-old little girl! We all took our turns helping him out with the kids, especially our son who has a way of making life fun for the three little boys!

Here are the steps that we followed for our Freezer Meal Day:

STEP ONE

Each of my daughters picked a main dish recipe to use, including an additional side dish for one of them, and I provided two main dish recipes. We each provided all the ingredients for the recipes we picked, purchasing enough to make multiple dishes of each recipe. Enough for one of each recipe for five households.

Crescent Chicken Bundles
Hot Taco Pockets
Baked Ziti
Meat Loaf Miniatures
Freezer Mashed Potatoes
Cilantro Lime Chicken with Corn and Black Beans


STEP TWO

Using ideas from blogs and freezer meal cookbooks that I have used over the years, I then made a Prep List chart (chopping, mincing, etc.).


STEP THREE

Next, I prepared a Cooking Plan, to help us keep on track as we worked through all the various recipes together. We checked off each line as it was completed. I also typed up a little label for each dish for the freezer, with cooking instructions for the actual day of using the dish.


STEP FOUR

Our cooking marathon began right after we finished up our lunch together: first completing the items on the Prep List, and then proceeding through the Cooking Plan. A lot of fun - a lot of little breaks to put kiddos down for naps, get them back up, help them in their play - a lot of cleanup in the midst of the cooking - and such a good feeling to have meals for each of our freezers!


Eventually, especially as the little children grow a bit older, we will likely try to increase the number of dishes that we prepare on our Freezer Meal Days. We're learning of more possibilities of easy-to-prepare dishes, as well, such as the Cilantro Lime Chicken recipe (above), which simply involves putting all the ingredients together in a freezer bag, then using the slow cooker on the day you use the dish. Some of the recipes we used took a bit longer, as they also involved some steps of cooking to prepare them for the freezer.

Such a fun way to spend time together as family, and so great to have some homemade meals in our freezers. I am often on the lookout for new ideas for freezer meals - please feel free to contact me (through comments, by email, or on my Pursuing Heart facebook page) if you have ideas to share, or if you have a question about our day.

Linking up with:
Tasty Tuesday
Time to Sparkle
Your Creative Timeout
I'm Lovin' It
Saturday Show and Tell

Monday, April 22, 2013

Choose Joy


Unusual for April - snow, cold and cloudy days. Tomorrow - more snow in the forecast, and a high of 39. And the clouds across our nation and our world continue - people hurting, and in pain. Even in our own little corner - a granddaughter diagnosed with a serious eye disease, in addition to her diagnosis last month of a rare genetic kidney disease.

And, above the clouds and the cold - there is still JOY. 

"Trust in Me.
Do as I say each moment and all indeed shall be well ...
Have no fear, go forward.
Joy - radiant Joy must be yours.
Change all disappointment, even if only momentary, into Joy."
(God Calling)

Thanking God, for JOY, amidst the snow and the pain ...

Students responding to Jesus, choosing Him, needing Him
Our Cru High National Director here for assemblies at high schools
A young woman, mom of three at 21 years, finding the answer to her emptiness

The love of friends as we heard the difficult news of eye disease
Her trust and her response of surrender
Your love and Your grace holding our sweet granddaughter

Time spent with a son, home from a three-month job at sea
Dinner with my father, now 92 years
A fun and productive Freezer Meal Day with 3 daughters and 1 son

The fog, rain, and clouds viewed through the window
Joy and Peace secure within

"I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
For He has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
and draped me in a robe of righteousness."
(Isaiah 61:10a)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My Weekly Findings #1


A new place here that I'll be trying out - not sure if it will stay, but will see how it works. A place to collect and share some of the things I have found online throughout each week, or also maybe some things discovered in real life. Not wanting to lose them; and maybe they'll bless you, too?

I wasn't online as much as usual this past week, as life was filled to the brim with other things. But I did come across a few things that just grabbed my attention.


What a Christian Writer Does With Self-Doubt

The first time I visited Michele-Lyn's blog, I knew that I had found someone who I really connected with. I love her heart for God, and her authenticity in sharing from her life. Here she posts on the Allume blog about some of the struggles that writers deal with, even small bloggers like me. I appreciate her thoughts and encouragement.


8 Tips for Beginning Writers

Kris is another blogger whose writings I really connect with. She gives some good tips and insight into writing in a life that is filled with other things, as well. Tips on finding the time, and keeping priorities right. She shared her thoughts on the Allume blog, just as Michele-Lyn did this past week.


Copycat KFC Coleslaw

I have collected a lot of recipes over the years, but I don't have a coleslaw recipe that I love. So this one caught my attention - I will have to try it soon.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Just One Step {Held Secure}


When life is overwhelming, and we don't know if we can go on - all we need is, one step. Just take one step, and hold on.

That is what Abraham did, when God asked him to take up his family and all his possessions and travel to an unknown destination.

"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place 
he would later receive as his inheritance, 
obeyed and went, 
even though he did not know where he was going." 
(Hebrews 11:8)

And I am completely overwhelmed with a journey that God is calling our family to travel. To leave our safe place, and travel to a destination that is unknown. This journey has a name - Juvenile Nephronophthisis (JN) - and Retinitis Pigmentosa - Senior Loken Syndrome" (RP-SLS). (A rare genetic kidney disease, and a very serious eye disease.) But we do not know the specifics of where this journey will take our sweet 14 year-old granddaughter, and all of us who love her so deeply.

It is unknown. And it is overwhelming - and we're not ready. Is anyone ever ready to take a journey with an unknown destination? I find that my heart is longing for the clock to stop - just please let time stand still - giving space and quiet to calm my pounding heart, and prepare my mind, and soul for this journey. We are not ready for this. We have not been trained in this. We are faint, and we are helpless.

Our sweet granddaughter, in some unexplainable, supernatural way, does not seem troubled or fearful; somehow she is equipped, prepared, and strengthened for this journey. For God gives grace in our times of need. And we are blessed by her simple faith and trust.

But I am in need - her mother is in need - all of us as family are in need. And by God's grace and mercy, I am reminded ... one step. Just take one step.

"If you take the first step,
God will reveal the second step ...
He gives us just enough revelation,
just enough grace, just enough strength. Why?
So we will live in daily dependence on Him.
He doesn't want us to rely on the revelation;
He wants us to rely on Him."
(Draw the Circle)

And a journey into the unknown - with Him, 
is more secure than a single step without Him. 
We don't need to know the destination - we just need to know Him. 

Thanking Him for this encouragement on the day after we learned the very difficult news that our granddaughter not only has the rare genetic kidney disease of JN, but also has the associated eye disease of RP-SLS, which occurs in only ten percent of JN cases. (Yes, loving Lord, we will take one step. Today. And one step tomorrow. And we will trust, and we will follow.) 

Click here for previous posts in this new series:   Held Secure: His Love in Times of Trial

Linking up with:
Faith Filled Friday
Fellowship Friday

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Light in the Darkness


How many around us are looking and scanning the horizons of their life - for Light? They may not know the source from where it comes, but there is a yearning, and a longing inside for Light. An emptiness of darkness engulfs our world, our cities, and our hearts.

We don't have to look far or search long to see this darkness. There is darkness all around. And those in darkness are living as those in darkness live. They are living the part well.

But what about those in the Light - we who are followers of the Light - are we living our part well? Is our light visible in the darkness? Do those searching for the Light have to look far?

"No one lights a lamp
and then covers it with a bowl
or hides it under a bed.
A lamp is placed on a stand,
where its light can be seen 
by all who enter the house."
(Luke 8:16)

What would our schools and our neighborhoods, our cities and our towns, look like - if we as followers of Jesus placed Love on a stand. Letting it's light beam into the darkness. The hurting around us, those who are scanning the horizons of their life for Light, would be drawn to Jesus.

Thoughts I have been pondering as we have been on campuses these past few days, seeking to be Light where there is much darkness. My heart broken, praying for students who are searching for Light, longing for them to find Him.

Linking up with:
Thought Provoking Thursday

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spring/Summer Menus


The most difficult part of meal prep for me is the deciding of what to cook. Partly because I have accumulated so many recipes over the 41 years that I have been married. So, menu planning is essential for me; otherwise, my mind is in a daze as to what to cook!

So my present plan is that twice a year I set aside some time to pick out recipes to use. It just works better for me to do it this way now. It was one of those times the beginning of this month, and I took a few hours to pick from my notebooks of recipes, and choose those which I will most likely want to use in the coming Spring and Summer months. I listed those recipes in categories for April/May, June/July, and Aug/Sept.

Now, when I make out my menus (hopefully, one or two weeks at a time throughout the spring and summer) with the use of Plan to Eat, I will have my Spring/Summer charts to help me pick which recipes to use. This is a great help to me, and is actually fun for me to do. It may not be appealing for some to do it this way, but for me it's a great help in narrowing down which recipes to pick from.

I should add that I am very flexible with menu planning, even with these charts. I love to try new recipes, and will change things around from what I have on the monthly charts - but doing it this way gives me something to start from. And makes menu planning easier.

What is your preferred method of menu planning?

Linking up with:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Giving Up to Gain


"If any of you wants to be My follower,
you must turn from your selfish ways,
take up your cross, and follow Me.
If you try to hang on to your life,
you will lose it.
But if you give up your life for My sake,
you will save it."
(Matthew 16:24-25)

"I tell you the truth,
unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains only a single seed.
But if it dies, it produces many seeds."
(John 12:24)

Needing to be reminded - again, and again - to follow His example. Each day. With our time, with our thoughts, as a wife, in our mothering, grandmothering, with our desires and dreams - laying everything down. Letting go. And experiencing Life. The process - difficult and impossible on our own. But made possible by His Spirit within.

Thanking Him for another week of His Gifts: a sweet lunch date with a son before he returned to CA, His comfort and help in this wonderful but sometimes tearful role of mothering, phone calls from another son in Seattle completing his fish processing job, connections with a daughter in TX as God holds her heart together during days of kidney disease and kidney failure with her own sweet precious daughter (and my loved granddaughter), cell phones that connect over the miles, twin grandsons turning four years old, memories of the miracle of adoption, celebrating these two boys, spring days, life with my hubby in our "empty nest", diagnosis of his torn rotator cuff and therapy bringing relief from the pain, and daily reminders of His Love and Presence.

Thanking this generous blogger for sharing the quote and artwork (above).

Ultimate Blog Party 2013And linking up with other bloggers for the 2013 Ultimate Blog Party.
Thanks for your visit! I've been blogging since the spring of 2010, and share from my heart as I pursue God, and all things related to the heart, family, and home. Click here to read about the topics I write about, which include a series on prayer: "Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer"; a series on mothering: "Forever Close: The Heart of a Mother"; and a new series encouraging those going through trials: "Held Secure: His Love in Times of Trial".

Also linking up with:
Multitudes on Mondays

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Prayer for You {Held Secure}


"I pray that from
His glorious, unlimited resources
He will empower you
with inner strength through His Spirit.

Then Christ will make His home in your hearts
as you trust in Him.
Your roots will grow down into God's love
and keep you strong.

And may you have the power to understand,
as all God's people should,
how wide, how long, how high,
how deep His love is.

May you experience the love of Christ
though it is too great to understand fully.
Then you will be made complete
with all the fullness of life and power
that comes from God."

(Ephesians 3:16-19)

My sweet granddaughter, Crystal Mae, (and also dear Cristy Andra, Crystal's mother and my daughter) ~ and all who walk through this trial of kidney disease with you (including me as your "grama") - this is my prayer for you, for me, for all who love you. That we will grow so, so deep into God's love, which is deeper and wider, and longer, and higher than we even can imagine. I pray that you will be held closer to His heart than you ever dreamed .... and that you will be filled up with Him. Even, and especially, as you journey on this path that is ahead of you ... and as we journey together with you.

Linking up with:
Legacy Leaver Thursday
Life in Bloom
Faith Filled Friday

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Infinitely More {Heart Connect}


Sometimes we try to hold on to our dreams, trying to make them happen on our own. Thinking that we are the ones who can fulfill them. But becoming discouraged, because our efforts are not working. For our view is limited, and we are only able to see things from a human, earthly perspective. And then we are reminded ...

"Now all glory to God, who is able,
through His mighty power at work within us,
to accomplish infinitely more
than we might ask or imagine."
(Ephesians 3:20)

And we are reminded to ask for His help, to trust in His mighty power. Not using fancy words, or eloquent speech - but with humble hearts, asking for His help. Knowing that we cannot accomplish what we wish for on our own. But acknowledging that He knows best, and His way is higher than our own. And He is ... the Giver of desires, and the Fulfiller of dreams.

"Prayer is the way we let go and let God."
(Draw the Circle)

Thanking Him for reminding me to let go, and to let Him, for He desires to give infinitely above what I can even imagine.

Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer
Click here to read previous posts on this series.

Linking up with:
Thought Provoking Thursday

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spiced Pineapple Cooler


For brunch, or for breakfast - this is a tasty dressed-up fruit juice recipe. We recently enjoyed it for a family brunch - so refreshing for a springtime meal.

Spiced Pineapple Cooler

1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
12 whole cloves
1 can unsweetened pineapple juice (46 ounces)
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 can ginger ale (12 ounces), chilled
Additional cinnamon sticks, optional

Directions

In a small saucepan, bring the water, sugar, cinnamon and cloves to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain. Cool to room temperature.

Pour into a large pitcher; stir in juices. Refrigerate until chilled.

Just before serving, stir in ginger ale. Serve over ice.

Garnish with additional cinnamon sticks, if desired.

Yield:  13 servings (3/4 cup each)

Click here to print the recipe from the Taste of Home website.

Linking up with:

Monday, April 1, 2013

New Life and a New Month


Starting out a new month quietly, with a photo and some words. Reflecting on the life and love that Jesus offered up for us. Offering us freedom from self; giving us the opportunity to live for Someone and something higher than ourselves.

These words are what captured my heart in a deep way while I was in my teen years (many years ago!). And I was reminded, again, over Easter, what life-giving words they are. As the years go by, I become even more aware of how much I need Jesus. How much I need His grace and mercy. Yes, received initially when we place our trust in Him. But also, needed every day. Every. Single. Day. And to think that He loves us, and desires to give us all we need to live for Him, instead of living self-centered lives - that is worth celebrating at Easter, and all through the year. And it is only by His grace and mercy that we can walk in this New Life.

I am thankful ... for New Life, for this new month to walk in His grace and mercy, for the gift of family, for four grandkids here overnight on Friday (helping their parents out), for a little grandbaby girl walking now (so cute), for a Family Easter Brunch Saturday morning (beautiful, delicious food - and time with our family, the sweetest company in the world), for a son home from CA (so blessed to have him here), for a phone call from another son (nearing the end of his fish processing job), for the last two episodes of "The Bible" that we viewed yesterday (so very powerful), for a short visit with my 91 year-old father after church, and for time to relax over the weekend with my sweet husband.

And looking forward to a new month of New Life ...

Linking up with:
Multitudes on Mondays