Thursday, August 25, 2016

In the Kitchen: End-of-Summer Recipes


I love summertime recipes, and had the urge to try out some new ones this summer! Here are a few of the new recipes that have made it into my growing collection of favorite recipes in the past few months!

Click on the links in the captions to print the recipes, if you are interested in trying them out, as well. We loved each of these recipes ...


Loaded Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad 

Fajitas in Pitas

Grilled Herbed Chicken & Potato Foil Packs

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Very Essence of Prayer



Prayer - that word that draws us, but also eludes us. Like we have it figured out, and yet it can feel out of reach. And sometimes we even slip into the default of thinking of it in terms of lists and obligations, when it really is so much more.


Prayer is awe, intimacy, struggle -
yet the way to reality.
There is nothing more important,
or harder, or richer, or more life-altering.
There is absolutely nothing as great as prayer.


For prayer is our connection with God. Over six years ago when I started up my blog, prayer was one of my main topics that I wrote about. I chose to label one of my sections on the "pages" tabs of my blog for this topic:




If you click on the Heart Connect tab above, you'll find links to multiple posts that I have written over the years on this topic. And I continue to write about prayer; not because I have it all figured out, but because I continue to long to learn more ...

Prayer is a connecting of hearts -
ours to God's, and His to ours.

It's not reading or reciting through a list, 
though keeping a list of important things on our heart can be helpful as we talk with God.

It's not limited to a set, designated time on our schedule,
though having set times of concentrated communication with God can be very beneficial.

It's not one-way talking,
but is two-way communication.

It is not always easy,
but is often difficult as communication can be very hard at times.

It is not a waste of time, 
but is the most life-giving avenue to build a deep relationship.

It is one of the easiest things to be distracted from,
for it is one of the most important things we can focus on.

It is the sharing of hearts,
of growing in intimacy and knowledge with our Creator and God.

Prayer is continuing a conversation
that God has started
 through His Word and His grace ..."


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Our Anniversary Dinner for Two


Sometimes when a very special day comes around, you celebrate with a very fun and memorable trip, which we did ... our amazing Pacific Coast Trip last month!

And sometimes when that special day comes, you take the whole weekend to relax and celebrate, which we did this past weekend. Our weekend included a day-trip to nearby Lincoln this past Friday, where we found the cutest little restaurant in the Haymarket, complete with outdoor seating, which we love.

And then sometimes when the very actual special day is here, you choose to celebrate quietly at your own home. Which is how we celebrated our 45th Wedding Anniversary on August 14, with a meal-for-two on our own patio ...


And if you're blessed with a loving, caring husband as I am, he'll wait patiently while you take photos of the special meal that you have prepared together as a couple ...

Grilled Spiced Salmon
We love salmon! I buy my salmon fillets in a 3-pound package at Sam's. It is perfect for the two of us, as the pieces are wrapped individually, and we can pull out just two pieces at a time to prepare. This recipe is our favorite way to prepare salmon ...

Grilled Potatoes
This is also a favorite way to grill potatoes. For this meal, I tried something new, and added some slices of summer squash and zucchini to the sliced potatoes. It was a success, and I'll be doing that again in the future ...



The Corn & Black Bean Salad was a new recipe to add to our plate. I picked it because my husband likes dishes with black beans. It turned out to be maybe my favorite salad so far with black beans. Here's the recipe if you are looking for a good black bean salad dish ...


Click on the Taste of Home link (below) to print recipe.

Corn and Black Bean Salad



Course: Salads
Prep Time: 20 min
Total Time: 20 min
Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper chopped
  • 1 medium tomato seeded and chopped
  • 6 green onions chopped
  • 12 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped, optional
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 34 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
  • 34 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 12 teaspoon chili powder

Directions

  1. Directions In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. In a small bowl, combine the salad dressing, cilantro, lime juice, hot pepper sauce and chili powder. Pour over corn mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve with a slotted spoon. Yield: 6-8 servings. Editor's Note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. 
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And as we enjoyed our anniversary meal together on our patio, we shared and talked about sweet memories from 45 years ago! How can time go by like this, and it can already be 45 years?! 

As I am very s-l-o-w-l-y trying to put our memories into scrapbook form, it was so fun to be able to pull out the scrapbook from our honeymoon days, 45 years ago. To remember together, and to thank God for the great, priceless, wonderful gift He gave us in each other. 

Celebrating and thanking God for 45 years together!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Grilled Chicken with Teriyaki Marinade


I was surprised recently when I noticed that I have not yet posted this recipe on my blog! This is probably my favorite marinade recipe to use when grilling chicken. I found it quite a few years ago in a cookbook of mine, The Occasional Cook, by Cyndy Salzmann. 

It's a great recipe to prepare ahead of the day you will be grilling. I like to purchase a 6 lb. pack of boneless, skinless chicken breast at Sam's, and then divide up the chicken breast into meal-size portions and place in freezer bags. Next, I prepare enough marinade for 6 lbs. of chicken breast, and divide it up, adding the right portion to each bag of chicken breast. That way, the chicken marinates as it freezes, and also as it thaws. (Of course, you can put it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight to use the next day, but you can also freeze it for later.) So delicious!

Print Recipe

Grilled Chicken with Teriyaki Marinade


Source: The Occasional Cook
Course: Main Grill
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breast
  • 13 cup soy sauce
  • 13 cup water
  • 14 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tablespoon green onion chopped

Directions

  1. Whisk all ingredients together. Place in a 1-gallon freezer bag; add chicken.
  2. Put in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
  3. Drain; reserving marinade.
  4. Grill, brushing occasionally with marinade during first half of cooking.

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We were blessed the first week of July to have about 15 family members home! For one of our meals, I served Grilled Chicken with Teriyaki Marinade. Perfect for a summer meal, along with homemade potato salad, and corn-on-the-cob! And having this recipe already prepared and in the freezer ahead of time, made the prep so much easier. Giving more time to focus on enjoying our family when they were home!



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Continuing on with Prayer



Do you have an unending desire, a yearning to learn more, to grow deeper in prayer, as I do? I keep circling around and into other topics, and usually find myself being drawn again and again to learn more about this thing, this practice we call prayer.

We somehow can feel so very inadequate, and so inexperienced in prayer. And even guilty, for we are led to believe that it must look a certain way, for everyone.

I have just finished reading through Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson, for probably the 3rd or 4th time. And each time I am so challenged and encouraged by reading it. This time was no exception - it is hard to explain, but God has used this season to draw me to be more intentional and motivated in prayer. It really starts in our hearts, with a perspective of faith and trust, and a longing to connect deeply with God.

Also, the little booklet in the photo above has been a great help in remembering and recording specific prayer needs as I pray for others ... A Lifestyle of Prayer Guide. And I will now be continuing on with reading words of encouragement on prayer, and have started to read Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller, a book I recently ordered and just arrived a few days ago! 

Maybe we have an undeniable and unending thirst for prayer, because this thirst and desire is really a thirst and desire for knowing God more intimately. And one of the main ways He has given us to know Him ... is through prayer. 

With His Word in hand,
and His Spirit in our hearts,
we are given the greatest, most awesome privilege
we could ever dream of:
to communicate with, to be heard by,
and to hear the heart of our Savior, our Lord.

So our longing to grow deeper in prayer, is really a longing to know Him and to be part of what He is doing - not only in our own lives but also in the world - in deeper ways than ever before.



"Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things He has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life. We must learn to pray. We have to."  (Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)