Saturday, December 31, 2016

Honey-Glazed Hens with Fruit Stuffing


Closing out the year 2016 with a recipe post! If you're looking for a festive, easy, and very delicious recipe for a special day, here is one: Honey-Glazed Hens with Fruit Stuffing! 

After our very wonderful, memorable Family Christmas on Sunday, Dec. 18, with 23 dear family members in our home, my hubby and I had a quiet Christmas Day on Sunday, Dec. 25 - just the two of us. We absolutely love both: our family home, filling our home with love and joy ... and also, a quiet house, just the two of us. 

I chose this recipe to serve on our quiet Christmas Day. It was the second time preparing this recipe, as I had made it several years ago. And it was even more special than I had remembered ... we loved it! (I halved the recipe, a perfect "dinner for two".)

This menu would be great for a variety of special holidays ... Christmas, New Years, a wedding anniversary, and for any "date night" ...

To print the recipe, click on the "Source" link below ...

Honey-Glazed Hens with Fruit Stuffing


Course: Main/Chicken
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 30 min
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 12 cup butter cubed
  • 14 cup chopped onion
  • 14 cup chopped celery
  • 4 cups cubed day-old bread
  • 12 cup dried fruit bits
  • 12 cup water
  • 18 teaspoon ground allspice
  • CORNISH HENS:
  • 4 Cornish game hens (20 to 24 ounces each)
  • 14 teaspoon salt
  • 18 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and celery; cook and stir until tender. Stir in the bread, fruit bits, water and allspice; cover and cook for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.
  2. Loosely stuff hens with stuffing. Tuck wings under hens; tie drumsticks together. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place breast side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Combine butter and honey; drizzle over hens.
  3. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until a thermometer reads 180° for hens and 165° for stuffing, basting occasionally with pan drippings. Cover loosely with foil if hens brown too quickly. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 4 servings.

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The setting was perfect - we moved our little "cafe table" right close to the Christmas tree, and had Christmas music playing softly ... a relaxing, memorable time with the one I love most. I am so thankful for my dear hubby, and for another year that God has given us, together.

- - - - - - -

Thank you for visiting my little online home during this past year! It always gives me great joy when I have the time to write here, and also it gives me great joy when I meet up with someone (either in person or online) who has been blessed or encouraged by what I have shared here. 

Thank you for blessing me with your friendship!
And have a very memorable New Year's Eve today!


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!


I love Christmas!

For a wife and mom and grama, it's a most busy time of the year. And it's also the most wonderful time of the year! There are gifts to buy (for me, for 20+ family members), there are goodies to bake, food to prepare, a house to clean, and most of all - a heart to prepare ... 


It is for the heart, that we need Him most of all ~
and it is for the heart
 that God gave us the Greatest Gift of all ...


Immanuel: God with us


Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call Him Immanuel,
which means 'God is with us!'
(Matt. 1:23)

- - - - - - -

Thank You for Your great GIFT to us - Immanuel: God with us! Not a gift that is far away, out of reach, but a Gift with us. You came to our messed up, dark world to be with us. With us as we live our days, with us through all the trials that are part of living in this world. With us as we serve and love those around us, as we prepare for a special Christmas with our families. With us as we become overwhelmed at times, as we are weak, as we are in need. You came - to be with us. Your Spirit within us. A Gift to our hearts. 

Thank You for forgiveness, for peace, for joy. For family and friends, for home and food, for health and all that we have. For love, for 23 precious family in our home, around our table, a week ago today when we celebrated our Family Christmas! All gifts from You ...

And the Greatest Gift - 
Immanuel: God with us!





Thursday, December 22, 2016

Chocolate-Covered Cheesecake Squares


A very festive and very special Christmas treat that I have made for quite a few Christmases ... Chocolate-Covered Cheesecake Squares! The best of both chocolate, and cheesecake ... we love this recipe!

Click on the Source link below to print the recipe ...

Chocolate-Covered Cheesecake Squares


Course: Cookies & Snacks
Prep Time: 55 min
Cook Time: 35 min
Total Time: 1 hr 30 min
Serves: 49

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 14 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 14 cup butter melted
  • FILLING:
  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese softened
  • 12 cup sugar
  • 14 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 12 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • COATING:
  • 24 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped
  • 3 tablespoons shortening

Directions

  1. Line a 9-in.-square baking pan with foil and grease the foil. In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, pecans and butter. Press into prepared pan; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and sour cream until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour over crust. Bake at 325° for 35-40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack. Freeze overnight.
  3. In a microwave, melt chocolate and shortening; stir until smooth. Cool slightly.
  4. Using foil, lift cheesecake out of pan. Gently peel off foil; cut cheesecake into 1-1/4-in. squares. Work with a few pieces at a time for dipping; keep remaining squares refrigerated until ready to dip.
  5. Using a toothpick, completely dip squares, one at a time, in melted chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Spoon additional chocolate over the tops if necessary to coat. (Reheat chocolate if needed to finish dipping.) Let stand for 20 minutes or until set. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Yield: 49 squares.
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Press graham cracker mixture into prepared pan.

Mix cream cheese mixture, pour into pan, and bake. Cool on rack; then freeze overnight.
Foil-lined pan in background is this recipe ...

After cutting into squares, dip into melted chocolate.



This recipe takes a bit of effort to make, but it is so worth it! Chocolate and Cheesecake - the perfect combination! 


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Holiday Brownie Bars


These brownie bars are super easy to make, so if you're looking for a fun quick Christmas treat to make this week, here's one! I made these last Christmas season for the first time (photo above), and I was not disappointed - they are festive-looking, and so delicious.

You can print the recipe by clicking on the Source link below ...

Snow-Topped Holiday Brownie Bars


Course: Cookies & Snacks
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Total Time: 35 min
Serves: 20

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg. 13 x 9 family-size chocolate brownie mix
  • 1 23 cups (10-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Holiday Morsels divided
  • 1 (12 oz.) container whipped fluffy white frosting
  • Flaked coconut (optional)

Directions

  1. PREHEAT oven, grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan and prepare brownie mix batter according to package directions.
  2. SPREAD batter into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with 1 cup morsels.
  3. BAKE according to package bake times for 13 x 9-inch pan size. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
  4. SPREAD frosting over brownie. Sprinkle with remaining morsels and coconut, if desired. Cut into bars. Store covered in cool place.

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I made this brownie recipe again this Christmas season, but had trouble finding the Holiday Morsels, which is one of the ingredients that the recipe calls for. After looking several places without any success, I opted for buying Nestle's Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels (see photo below) - and I think that we maybe like this choice even better than the other that we used last year. Both make for a fun, and delicious brownie recipe during the holiday season!



Monday, December 12, 2016

A Heart-Check During this Busy and Wonderful Season of Christmas Preparations


How are things going with your Christmas prep? Do you sometimes need to stop, pause, and check your heart? As a wife, mom, and grama, I often need to do so. Our days, and our lives are often filled to the brim - all year - and most surely, as we prepare for Christmas with our families. 

I have gift-buying, gift-wrapping, cooking, baking, cleaning, and more ... all amidst my usual weekly responsibilities. My days can turn into a series of to-do lists to be checked off. The joy can turn into stress, and worry ...

And when the joy turns into stress, that is when my eyes open, and I see the "red light" flashing again. It is time to STOP, to pause, and to recheck the attitude and intention of the heart. To pull aside, and to listen, to be reminded.

The attitude of the heart really does matter. It matters to God, it matters to those around us, and it matters to our own joy. 

Several mornings recently I was in a place where I needed to stop, pause, and listen. And I was reminded that I cannot do everything. There are some things that will need to remain undone as I prepare for 24-25 family members home for our Family Christmas. I absolutely love the holidays, I love most everything about the preparations for Christmas; it is one of my most favorite times of the year. 

But my attitude makes a difference. I cannot strive for perfection, I cannot make all the goodies that I would love to make, I cannot buy everything that draws my attention, I cannot do everything that I would love to do. I cannot do it all, for if I try, it brings me to stress and exhaustion.

But what we can do, can be done with a humble heart, a heart seeking to serve and love God, and to serve and love those around us. Depending on God to transform our to-do list into a to-love list. Each task, even the ones most routine and even sometimes burdensome, can be turned into expressions of love. Of serving, and of giving ourselves away for those we love ...

If eucharisteo, giving thanks,
slows down time ...
then can being broken
and given in communion
break time by actually multiplying it?
Maybe time gets broken and multiplied
and made into something more
whenever someone breaks
and gives herself or himself away.
(Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way)

Being broken and giving ourselves away, these reminders of what is our true motivation as we prepare for Christmas ... these reminders of our heart attitude and our motivation are of most importance.

Loving Lord,
will You make us more like You
this Christmas season,
and all through the year ...

Will you break our hearts
for the things that break Your's,
will You help us to live
broken and yielded to You ...

And just as You gave up Your life for us
may we join with You in communion,
giving our lives, in love,
to You, and to others ...

May our to-do lists
be transformed into
to-love lists,
loving You, and loving others ~
an overflowing, multiplying love.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Wheaty Thumbprints


Out of all the many, many Christmas cookies that there are to bake, there are two that are my husband's favorites ... these Wheaty Thumbprints, and Date Pinwheels

I'm not sure where I first came across this recipe, but it is so good - I love it, too. I probably adapted it from the original, as I wanted to use honey as the sweetener, and also wanted to use whole wheat pastry flour. It's a tender, tasty cookie, rolled in chopped walnuts, with delicious raspberry jam in the middle. And it looks beautiful on a cookie plate!


Print Recipe

Wheaty Thumbprints


Course: Cookies & Snacks
Serves: 24

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 23 cup honey
  • 2 eggs separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 12 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 12 - 3 cups walnuts chopped
  • raspberry jam

Directions

  1. Cream butter and honey. Add egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat.
  2. Stir in flour and salt. Chill.
  3. Form into balls. Dip into beaten egg whites, then nuts.
  4. Place on greased cookie sheet.
  5. Press thumb slightly in center.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
  7. Fill with jam.
  8. Yield: 4 dozen cookies.

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I used to be sure to make both of my husband's favorites - Wheaty Thumbprints and Date Pinwheels - every Christmas, but a few years ago, I started to alternate  ... one year it's Wheaty Thumbprints, and the next year it is Date Pinwheels. Not sure why I started to do that, except that each one requires a bit more work than other Christmas cookies. It was actually a joint decision with my hubby, as he knows how busy the Christmas season can become for me with our growing family ... six grown children, four sons-in-law, and ten grandkids! So with my husband's blessing, last year it was Wheaty Thumbprints, and this year I am making Date Pinwheels. Delicious Date Pinwheels - a very special recipe passed down to me from my mother ... click here for the recipe.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Entering into December


Closing out November ...

It was a lovely month ~

One of many favorite months for me, filled with: unusually warmer weather than normal, mixed with some crisp fall days; caring for grandkids, including an overnight stay for two; sweet connections with our CityGroup (small group from church); joining friends for a Thanksgiving meal at a church we served at 40 years ago; spending hours each week helping with Cru ministry; helping at a fun hayride event for Cru students; attending a Citylight Harvest Party; caring for my 95 year-old father; enjoying our Family Thanksgiving Day on the 25th, with seven precious family around our table (much smaller than usual, but our big family gathering will be for Christmas this year); and much, much more. It was a lovely month.

It was a difficult month ~

As with many families across our nation, there were times of confusion and difficult discussions. It is strange how an election can bring out things that are usually kept quiet. With a variety of political and policy persuasions in our big family, it was an interesting and tense month at times. But by God's grace, we are navigating the turbulent waters that our country is in, and we are held together as a family. And we pray the same for our country ...

And it was a month of learning and growing ~

I will always keep on learning ... each day brings new opportunities. November gave opportunity for me to take more steps in learning how to pray more consistently and more passionately. With so many things and people to pray for, I am finding that writing out my prayers helps give me focus, and keeps me on track ... sometimes it may be writing out a paragraph, or a sentence, and sometimes just a word or two. Recording it in my journal, making it real and fervent, keeping a record so I can go back and record His answers. Focusing more consistently on writing my prayers, and in bringing everything to Him ... praying instead of worrying. Praying for family, friends, happenings, news that I hear on tv or read about, praying for our leaders, etc. Every day there is much to pray for.

And entering into December ...

Gifts from God at the start of this magical month ~

Several "firsts" for me at the start of December, all things I desired - and all gifts from God! I am so thankful! Our home is all decorated already for Christmas! Our tree is up, and all the decor is up (except for the greens on the banister, which will hopefully happen this Sat.). All done in November - so thankful!

Our Christmas/end-of-year mailing for Cru was mailed yesterday, the last day of November! Another first for us - it seems that I am always working on it amidst all the preparations for Christmas in December. Such a gift to have it done now!

Christmas gift shopping began in November, and at the start of this month I am realizing that I am maybe about 3/4 of the way done. This is another first for me - I am so very thankful!

A month of preparations ~

This will be a month of preparation for our Family Christmas - baking and cooking in the kitchen, finishing up the gift buying, wrapping gifts, preparing our home for our Family Christmas.

It will be a month of preparing my heart each day, continually tuning in to what is most important ... loving GOD, and loving others. I'll continue with reading through Luke (First 5), and also reading various Advent readings. Desiring to pause and make time for what is most important.

I am looking forward to learning and growing my heart by reading through The Broken Way, by Ann Voskamp. I started this book the last part of Nov., and am only reading a few pages at a time, pausing to soak in the truths, underlining and underlining, and recording key thoughts in my journal.

A month of Christmas ~

Our Family Christmas comes early this year - there will be 24-25 precious family members here to celebrate together on Sat., Dec. 17th! (One reason why I needed to start earlier with preparations this year!) Always a highlight of the whole year, and a gift from God.

There will be other Christmas celebrations and parties with friends, Christmas programs for grandkids, and a quiet Christmas Day on the 25th with my dear husband. All, gifts from God. And the greatest gift: Immanuel - GOD with us!





Blogging in December ... we will just see what happens! I will need to be completely flexible. But at this point, I am hoping to post a number of recipe posts. There are numerous holiday recipes that I would like to post, so that they are here, online, for family and friends, for years to come. So, if all goes well, look for some recipe posts this month! And maybe some other posts, as well ...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!



Thanksgiving Day ...


A day to remember,
with thanks, 
and to be reminded 
to make thanks 
a part of our everyday.


It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
It is good to proclaim
Your unfailing love in the morning,
Your faithfulness in the evening ...
(Psalm 92:1-2)


Wishing you a 
Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Every Detail, Everything



Beautiful words for today
and for our every day ...

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
(Psalm 37:23)

Letting this sink into our hearts ...
He cares about e-v-e-r-y detail.




And these words ...

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

He wants us to pray about
e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.




Grateful for these words ...
Needing to remind myself each day -

All through the day ...
Whatever my task at hand,
or whatever is on my mind -

Busy days, full of decisions ...
As wives, moms, grandmas,
and with jobs, and friends -

Joy-filled days, days with trials ...
In our homes, in our country,
always needing God's help -

Filled with cares and concerns,
Some big, some small,
and with e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g;
just pray.

Thank You, Lord ...
You delight in e-v-e-r-y detail.

* * * * * * *

Sharing my heart with a few extra thoughts ...

Is it easy to bring everything on our minds and in our hearts to God, to talk with Him about all things? Sometimes it is, and sometimes it is not.

Sometimes we are so heartbroken, we cannot even verbalize our thoughts into a prayer. I found myself in this situation last week ... so heartbroken over something, unable to hardly even function, think, or put my thoughts into words. It was at that time that I knew I needed extra help, and I contacted a few friends who would pray on my behalf. They did. And God heard my prayers through them. And I know that His Spirit within also brought the cries of my heart to God the Father on my behalf.

It is also in those times of heartbreak, or in times when I am in great need of strength or of understanding, that it is very helpful for me to write out my thoughts and my prayers, bringing all of it to Him, filling my journals with the cries of my heart. Spilling out and writing out the good and the sometimes ugly. It is in the process of bringing e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g to Him, all of my confused, or heartbroken thoughts - it is through the process of bringing them to Him that I experience His love, His presence, and His help. 

Maybe it is in the process 
of bringing everything to Him, 
that we find that He really does care 
about every detail of our lives. 
And in realizing that He cares, 
we find the comfort and the help 
that we so desperately need.



Thursday, November 3, 2016

Recipe Organization / Menus


Things have changed in recent years with my recipe organization. It has been a process, and over this past weekend, I took some more time to pretty much finish up the process of change.

The big change was switching over from collecting recipes on 3x5 cards, to collecting them on full-size paper (8 1/2 x 11 inch). I've been adding my recipes to Plan to Eat, an online resource where I store my recipes. From there, I can print them out, and also can freely copy and share them here on my blog, as well. 

But regardless of whether they are stored online or not, it is so much easier to have them printed out on full-size paper. I slip each recipe into a plastic sleeve, and store them in my various three-ring binders. 

I have one binder for my main dish and sides recipes ... and these are the label categories I use at the time:
Poultry
Beef
Pork
Fish/Other
Grilled
Slow Cooker
Soups
Sides
Salads
Beverages
Breakfast
Lunch
Breads/Rolls

And another binder for these categories of recipes:
Appetizers
Snacks/Parties
Cookies
Pies/Cheesecakes
Desserts
Thanksgiving
Christmas

And one more binder, with similar categories, for NEW recipes to try ... you can get a glimpse of this binder in the photo below. I like to print out recipes that look fun to try, and keep them in this notebook. I usually try to pick about one new recipe from this collection each week to prepare. Though I have many recipes collected in my two main notebooks, all favorites - I always love to try new recipes. It's what makes it fun for me to be in the kitchen and prepare meals ...


Each week I gather these notebooks and choose the recipes that I want to try to use during the coming week. (Occasionally I do several weeks at a time.) Sometimes it's a bit of a process, as I have collected so many recipes over 45 years of marriage! I took some time this past weekend to simplify my collection, removing those that I don't use anymore (even removing NEW recipes that I've collected and don't plan to use after all) ... and this should make it easier to plan menus in the future. 

In the photo above you see the recipes that I have pulled out of the various notebooks to try to use this week. I say "try" because I am very flexible with my menu plans for the week, and more often than not, change things around as the week goes on. 


Having my recipes easily accessible in my notebooks, and a menu plan made out for each week is a life-saver for me, and keeps me more consistently preparing nutritious meals. Maybe even more so in these empty nest years, when it is just too easy to grab food, or even pick up fast food more often than is good for us.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Welcome November


As far as blogging goes, I'm not sure what happened here last month - only one post the whole month! It was a month filled with family, Cru ministry/responsibilities, and many other things. A good month, but I just did not get to blogging ...

A sweet memory from October ...

My hubby and I had a lovely trip to Colorado in October - for a Cru regional conference in Colorado Springs, followed by a few days as a couple in beautiful Breckenridge. We loved it all - our time at the conference, listening to the speakers, and the connections we had with other staff fed our souls ... and the few days away as a couple was just we wished for! 

Sharing two of my digital scrapbook pages from our trip ...




And as always, a brand new month brings fresh opportunities to follow God each day and to focus on the people and responsibilities He has for us!


Sharing my heart at the beginning of November ...

For me and probably most of us, the beginning of November means a focus on preparing for special holiday times during these next two months. I love the holidays! And at the same time, I am very aware of my need to completely depend on God to accomplish all that needs to be done to prepare for family being home. This year, we anticipate having 24-25 family members here in our home for Family Christmas!! The preparations need to start early, as we all know as moms and grandmas. 

And I am very aware that I cannot do everything that I would love to do. And more importantly, I am very aware that the things of most importance - relationships and love between family - are gifts from God. 

So my main focus as I enter into the holiday season is to enter in with an attitude of prayer and dependence on God. He alone can do the things that we long for most of all. And I desire to choose present over perfect, being available to listen and love our family and friends - above trying to do everything perfectly. 

We need to keep our priorities right, even through the holidays - and this involves choosing carefully to focus on what is most important ...

But you can't have yes without no. Another way to say it: if you're not careful with your yeses, you start to say no to some very important things without even realizing it. In my rampant yes-yes-yes-ing, I said no, without intending to, to rest, to peace, to roundedness, to listening, to deep and slow connection ... (From Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist) 

Just sharing a few things that are on my mind, things that I need to be reminded of, things that I need to keep before me at the start of this holiday season. And maybe you are the same?

Maybe I'll be able to keep in touch here a bit more this month - sharing ways that God encourages me during this busy season, also sharing some recipes, and quotes from a few good books I've read recently.