Strawberry Cake

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There comes a time when you break down and listen to that voice in your head that is screaming for cake. That day, my friends was this past Monday. This weekend I made a trip to the farmer’s market and made off like a bandit on one of my finds. 8 containers of strawberries for $6. I almost ran to my car after I paid for the berries before Mr.Seller dude changed his mind. I flash froze more than half of them for smoothies and shakes, but the other berries sat in the fridge for a day or two taunting me every time I cracked the door. I kept dreaming of a cake with big chunks of fruit inside. It simply had to be done!

After perusing through my share of strawberry cakes that claimed to be from scratch but had gelatin (gasp!!) I found the winning one on one of my favorite blogs, smitten kitchen. It is a simple unassuming batter topped with a ton of berries, and sprinkled with sugar to help the strawberries turn into jam. It is simply perfect! The recipe called for a cup of sugar in the batter,  but I cut it down to 3/4 cup so the sweetness of the strawberries would be the star. I’m so glad it did. It was just the right amount of sweet for me.

I will give a firm warning though…. do not bake this cake, pull it out of the oven with just enough time to set it on the counter and snap one picture and assume it is safe to take more pictures when you return home in a couple of hours. Especially not if you have two daughters and a husband prowling around. I present exhibit A.

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This is what I found. The culprits were all in bed, with full tummies, I presume. The cake lasted less than 24 hours at my house, and we shall miss it dearly 🙂

Adapted very slightly from Smitten Kitchen.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound (450 grams) strawberries, hulled and halved

-Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan ( I used a 9-inch spring foam pan). Do not use a 9-inch regular pie dish because it will overflow.
-Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 3/4 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.
-Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle-remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

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-Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream. (I totally forgot to turn the temperature down, and baked mine at 350 Degrees F for 48 minutes).
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Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely covered, but clearly it didn’t survive that long at my house!
Devotion For The Day:
Two years ago, my family started planting potted plants. It is a fun project for my older daughter because she actually gets to see the plants change over time, and there’s the added bonus that when she’s off school for the summer, she gets paid to water the plants. We do flowers all year round in some pots, and herbs in some for the spring and summer. This year we were late in starting her off with her job, and we ended up with VERY dried out rose bushes. It was remarkable how quickly they went from blooming in the spring, to bone dry a few weeks later. I felt terrible, because I was sure they were gone for good. I was actually getting ready to pull them out and toss them, but my husband pruned them off and insisted that if we water them consistently for a few weeks, they will survive. I will be honest and say that I was extremely skeptical, but figured we might as well try.
Well, they are back! A week or so ago, green new leaves started breaking through, and we were so excited about it. Walking past them the other day, I had this thought that has stayed with me. I thought of all the times that I have been in such a dire situation that I thought all was lost, or when I have watched someone and thought that there is no way that they can get out of the jam that they are in. Except with God, nothing is impossible. He can breath life into a situation that looks totally dead, and bring life to it. I have seen too many lives changed to doubt any more.
Two verses come to mind. John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. The second is Matthew 19:26, Jesus looked at them and said, “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”.
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Banana Oatmeal pancakes(with Peanut Butter)

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It’s funny how things change with time. I have been a huge hater of oatmeal over the years, but now here I am posting my second oatmeal related recipe. I think it all comes down to the texture, for me. I have since come to accept that I like the nutty flavor of oats, and I definitely like the health benefits, yet even these reasons are not enough to make me commit to a bowl of mush every morning. My new challenge is now to figure out how to re-purpose this wonderful grain. My hubby started grinding uncooked oats into flour and adding it to his protein, banana and peanut butter shakes. (Not half bad, actually…), but there’s not a chance I’m committing to that. Yet again… it’s the texture. I will say though, that his smoothie inspired these pancakes. I wanted something wholesome and high protein, tasty and easy to make ahead for busy mornings. Three tries later, I finally tweaked the recipe to fit my liking. Not too sweet, and totally yummy! This is a breakfast that I can be happy to feed my kids, without compromising flavor or nutritional value. I was pleased at how well they reheated in the microwave days later. My next project is to test whether I can flash freeze them and zip lock them for later. Maybe reheat in the toaster? I will update if this works out.

Yields 12 4-inch pancakes (4 servings)
Ingredients:
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
2 bananas
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted butter (or cooking spray)

1. Put the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a blender bowl. Blend until the oats are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

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2. Now add the bananas, peanut butter, egg, milk and honey to the blender bowl. Blend until smooth, scraping off the sides (the peanut butter has a tendency to stick the sides). Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Some lumps are OK. (Over mixing leads to dense, chewy pancakes).

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3. Heat a griddle or non-stick pan. Brush lightly with butter (or use cooking spray). Spoon your batter leaving about 2 inches between pancakes.  I use a 1/4 cup measure. Cook on medium-low for about 3-4 minutes, when the bubbles start to form on top, and the edges are dry. Flip the pancakes and cook for another 4 minutes.
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Serve with some sliced bananas and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Enjoy.
Note: I like to warm my oven to 200 degrees F to keep the pancakes warm as I cook off the whole batch.  I also doubled the batch the last time I made them to reheat for a quick breakfast during the week. My husband loved them!
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Devotion for the Day:

Today I’m reading from proverbs 22. There are 29 verses that cover a bunch of topics, from parenting, to laziness, friends we should avoid and warnings against exploiting the poor. Today though, I’m going to highlight the passages regarding finances. I am no financial guru by any means, but I will direct you to one. His name is Solomon. I think if there had been TV back in the day, every station would be dying to interview him. It’s not every day you meet a man who’s yearly income not counting revenues from outside merchants and traders amounted to 25 TONS of gold. And this was well over 2,000 years ago! No doubt his wealth was legendary, but he was also the wisest man alive, since he had pleased God by asking for wisdom instead of material things. This is a man whose words command my full attention. And what does this extremely wise and wealthy king have to say to me regarding wealth and good stewardship?

Proverbs 22:1-2

A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord is the Maker of them all.

Proverbs 22:4

Humility is the fear of the Lord;
its wages are riches and honor and life.

Proverbs 22:7

The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Proverbs 22:26-27

26 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge
or puts up security for debts;
27 if you lack the means to pay,
your very bed will be snatched from under you.

Baked Ranchero Eggs with blistered Cheese and Avocado-Lime Cream

Yesterday was one of those days I was really floundering around trying to decide what to make for dinner. As I mentioned earlier, taking meat off our diet for 21 days has really thrown a kink in my meal ideas. I casually picked up a cook book I had borrowed from the library, and then…. IT HAPPENED! Dinner hit me right across my face, in form of a mouth watering picture. Now we really had a problem. It was only 3.30, but I was ready to have dinner! What was I going to do for the next two and a half hours? After I wiped the drool of my face and talked myself out of adjusting all my clocks a couple hours forward and making my family eat a REALLY early dinner, I settled down and twiddled my thumbs till 5 PM.

The cook book I had picked up from the library is one that I have been waiting on for over a month, and I am so excited to have my hands on it. It is the new cookbook: the Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman from the Smitten Kitchen blog. She has a fantastic blog, and I could not wait to see what the book had to offer. I quickly went to work putting sticky notes on all the must try recipes. Conclusion: Her book did not disappoint! I’m not big into buying cookbooks, especially ones that I can borrow from the library. I find that I usually will borrow a book, but can only find 2 or 3 recipes that are compelling enough for me to try. This one is totally different. I have at least 10 sticky notes. I am going to HAVE to buy this book. The pictures are beautiful, and the ingredients are easily accessible, and the combinations fun and exciting, yet unfussy. I highly recommend it.

Back to dinner. I’m really loving the idea of breakfast for dinner these days. I used to be all hard core against doing that, but truth be told, I love brunch. Now I can get away with having brunch food for dinner, which works great for my kids, who never met an egg they didn’t like. I tried to stay pretty true to Deb’s recipe, but I did make a couple substitutions based on what I had on hand. I used pickled jalapeno, which are much milder, since that was all I had. I also used colby-jack cheese instead of all jack. The last thing I did different was to mix my lime and sour cream with a smashed avocado, since I had one on hand that I wanted to use up. It all came together without a hitch, and dinner was delicious. We used 9 eggs, which was enough for dinner, and packed lunches. Please don’t let the break down of the cooking steps discourage you. Start to finish, it took me no more than 35 minutes.

Enjoy. I can’t wait to blog about some of the other recipes in the book.

Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman

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Ingredients

Ranchero sauce:
1 Jalapeño
3 cups (28 OZ can) whole Tomatoes- I used 2 14 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed and peeled
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
15 oz can ( or 1 3/4 cups) cooked black beans (optional)
Crispy Tortilla Strips:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 small (6-inch) corn tortillas
Salt, to taste
12 large eggs
1 1/4 cup shredded Jack cheese – I used a Colby-Jack mix
Garnishes
2 Tablespoons lime juice (from 1 lime)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Avocado (my addition. She used a 1 cup sour cream in original recipe)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons green onions
Make the ranchero sauce:
Preheat oven to 450 Degrees F. Taste your jalapeño for heat. Some are hotter than others. Based on that, determine what amount to put in your sauce.
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Toss the jalapeno, tomatoes, onion, garlic, some salt and pepper in the blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a 12-inch oven proof skillet and add beans (if using them). Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, or until it has reduced slightly.
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Make the tortilla strips:
While the sauce simmers. brush a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cut the tortillas into 1/2 inch wide strips, and arrange them on the oiled tray. Brush the tops of the strips with the other tablespoon of oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 3-6 minutes, or until they are brown and crisp, turning over once if needed. Remove the strips from oven.
Turn the oven dial to broil to preheat.
(Please don’t be like me.. I totally forgot about my strips, thus the charred deep brown).
Make the cream:
Mash up an avocado. Add half cup of sour cream, and the lime juice. Add salt to taste.
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Cook eggs:
Once the sauce has thickened slightly, remove the pan from the heat, and break the eggs across the surface of the sauce. distributing them as evenly as possible. Return to the heat, cover the pan, and simmer eggs gently in the sauce for about 10-12 minutes, until the whites are nearly but not completely opaque (you will finish cooking them in the oven). Sprinkle the surface of the tomato-egg mixture with cheese, and broil until the cheese is bubbly and a bit blistered- just a few minutes.
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To serve:
Garnish with a dollop of the avocado-lime cream, broken-up pieces of tortilla strips, and cilantro (I threw in green onions too). Serve immediately.
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Devotion For The Day:

Reading from Proverbs this morning made me think of this verse. 2nd Timothy 3:16 says “all scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness“. I can’t help but think of Proverbs as a book written by my loving coach to instruct me on how to live a free, fulfilling, purpose driven life. My Heavenly Father and Coach is trying to teach me how to avoid the common pit falls that lie waiting ahead of me. I think of it as a loving instruction letter, and boy is it packed with wisdom as practical today as it was the very day that it was penned. Thousands of years later, this advice is solid, having been tested by many before me. God’s word is alive, and active. I truly believe that.

Here was my Proverb for the Day. It was Proverbs 19. I would recommend that you read them all if you have time, but this were the ones that really stood out for me today.

Proverbs 19:23 A foolish child is a father’s ruin,
    and a quarrelsome wife is like
    the constant dripping of a leaky roof.

Proverbs 19:19  A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
    rescue them, and you will have to do it again.

Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept discipline,
    and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the Lord leads to life;
    then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

Sweet Rolls (Lemon Blueberry, and Orange-Marmalade)

A little over a week ago, I conquered my Everest.. or maybe it was my Kilimanjaro, and I’m totally elated. I made not one…. but TWO different flavor combinations. Yay me! You see, I have been deathly scared of making cinnamon rolls, or any other roll for that matter. There is something about using yeast that intimidates me. I have watched a few shows where they are making cinnamon rolls, and as envious as I was of the outcome, it just looked WAAAYY to intimidating to me. Whenever I use yeast, I am always so nervous that the dough will not rise!

If you are wondering what changed, I blame it on Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. In the last few months, I have been following the pioneer woman blog a lot, and I’m convinced it is her calling in life to assault me with beautiful sweet roll pictures that make me drool on my keyboard. It seems like every time I turn around, she has a new flavor combination rolling out. Well… she finally got me a few weeks ago when she posted her blueberry and lemon sweet rolls. I HAD to make them. It was as if my mind would not rest until this task was accomplished. However, I had another little hurdle to overcome. The fact that her recipe makes 48… and I repeat 48 sweet rolls. Yikes…. In a house with 2 grown ups and 2 kids, there is no chance we could make a dent in those rolls. The perfect opportunity presented itself as we were thinking of “random acts of kindness” ideas to do as a family for the holidays, and the thought came up to bake for our neighbors. My oldest daughter had the best time ever delivering warm rolls on that Saturday morning. And the good news was that the rolls were not as hard to make as I had feared. I made the dough the night before and refrigerated it, so that the work the next morning was a breeze.
I decided against the traditional cinnamon roll for no other reason, except that I love citrus flavors, and wanted something different from the usual. If you want to do cinnamon rolls, just substitute a cinnamon and sugar topping for the other flavors that I used. Here are a few things I learned in the process. Definitely generously flour your rolling surface. I had a few issues with the dough sticking to my surface on the first batch. It was easy enough to fix by pinching the dough together, but I will for sure use more flour the next time. I also figured out to keep the roll as tight as possible. I had a little trouble with the marmalade roll since I didn’t roll tight enough, but once they rose and baked off, they were fine. Oh yeah.. and feel free to half the recipe if you do not have an army to feed. I ended up with 6 trays (the 9inch round disposable trays) with 8 rolls each. I guess you could freeze left overs. I haven’t tried, but I assume it’s a viable option for what to do with the left overs.
If you have time, I would recommend making the dough the night before. That way, you will be able to finish the other steps and bake them in less than an hour. Just in time for breakfast! Nothing beats a sweet roll fresh out the oven and a cup of coffee! Both flavors were really good, but the lemon blueberry was by far my favorite.

Lemon Blueberry Rolls

Ingredients

FOR THE DOUGH:
  • 4 cups Whole Milk
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Canola Oil
  • 2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets
  • 8 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup (additional) All-purpose Four
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
  • 1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 3/4 cups Sugar
  • 2 whole Lemons, Zested
  • 2 cups (Heaping) Fresh Blueberries
  • FOR THE GLAZE:
  • 1 whole Lemon, Juiced
  • 2 whole Lemons, Zested
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 cups Whole Milk, Or As Needed
  • 1 dash Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Melted Butter

Preparation Instructions

Makes 24 rolls.

For the dough:
Mix milk, 1 cup sugar, and canola oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Heat over medium heat until very warm but not boiling. Remove from heat and allow to cool until warmer than lukewarm but not hot.

Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the liquid, then add in 8 cups flour. Stir gently until totally combined. Mixture will be very wet and sticky. Cover with a tea towel, keep in a draft-free place, and allow to sit for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, add in an additional cup of flour, as well as the salt, baking soda and baking powder. Mix until combined. Refrigerate dough, covered, until you need it. (Refrigerating the dough helps make it easier to handle.) I put my in fridge overnight

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a large baking dish (or a couple of smaller dishes) generously. you could use a 9×13 or two 9-inch pie pans which is what I did.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted remove from heat.

Divide dough in half. Store one half in the fridge for another use (another batch of these, a batch of cinnamon rolls, a batch of dinner rolls). Turn the other half of the dough onto a floured surface. Roll into a large rectangle, about 30 inches wide by 10 inches deep. (Clearly I have issues with shapes. My rectangle leaves a lot to be desired…)Roll as thin as possible! Drizzle melted butter over the dough, using your fingers to spread evenly.

Using your fingers, mix sugar and lemon zest so that it’s a nice, light yellow sugar. Sprinkle it all over the butter. Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the surface.

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Beginning at the side furthest from you, roll dough toward you until it’s in the shape of a tight log. Tuck as you go so the roll stays tight. Pinch the edges to seal the seam shut. With a sharp knife, slice into 1/2 thick rolls and lay the slices, cut side down, into the buttered baking dishes.

Allow to rise for 20 minutes, then place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until deep golden brown on top.

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To make the glaze: Add lemon juice, lemon zest, powdered sugar, milk, and dash of salt in a bowl. Add melted butter and whisk together until smooth. Taste it and add more of whatever it needs.

Remove rolls from oven and drizzle the glaze all over the rolls. Be sure to get it all around the edges and covering the surface so they’ll be nice and moist!

Lemon Blueberry Rolls

Serve warm or at room temperature.
Orange-Marmalade Rolls:
Makes 24 rolls

Ingredients

FOR THE ROLLS:

  • The other 1/2 of the dough from above.
  • 8 Tablespoons Orange Marmalade
  • 1/2 cup Melted Butter
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • _____
  • ORANGE GLAZE:
  • 2 pounds Powdered Sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons Melted Butter
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 dash Salt

Preparation Instructions

Roll out dough into a long rectangle. Spread marmalade over the top. Pour on butter, and then sprinkle on the brown sugar evenly. Sprinkle with salt.

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Beginning at the long side farthest from you, roll the dough in a long roll toward you; begin careful to keep it tucked tightly. Pinch edge to seal.

Cut rolls into 1 to 1 1/2 inch rolls and place into buttered pans. Allow to rise for at least 20 minutes.

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Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown (but not overly brown).

While baking, mix together the ingredients for the orange glaze, thinning with more milk or orange juice to make mixture thin enough to be pourable.

Immediately drizzle orange glaze over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Orange-Marmalade Rolls

Devotion for the Day:

A friend of mine shared this chapter with me this week, and it’s been on my mind a lot. Especially with it being the holiday season, family strife sometimes seems to get the best of families. A time that should be filled with love and joy as we spend time with family is sometimes overshadowed by the pain of relationships. This is my prayer for my family as well as yours. That harmony will prevail.

Psalm 133

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

How wonderful and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
that was poured over Aaron’s head,
that ran down his beard
and onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing,
even life everlasting.

Blueberry and Peach Baked Oatmeal

Blueberry and Peach Baked Oatmeal
Blueberry and Peach Baked Oatmeal


I cannot believe December is here. It has been a year with many changes for us, but a truly great year. I’m filled with gratitude this time of year when I look at where I was January 1st, and where I am now. My kids have grown so much! It’s amazing the things I have heard from them this year. That alone would be blog material to last me a lifetime. My youngest turns 2 in a few days, and she is a spit-ball of fire. Her newest phrase is “oh-my-nooness!” since we say “oh my goodness” a ton around here. My sweetie has had some major challenges in the business this year, and I’m so proud of the way he has taken to all the transitions. Our family has had to ask ourselves some pretty important questions. We took a family identity class this summer that really made us start charting out a path for who we are and what we want our legacy to be. I would encourage every family to do this. Truly life changing.
One of the more exciting things for me has been to finally be able to have this blog up and running, and to have you come and check it out. I have talked myself in and out of doing this many times this year, because I was so scared of the unknown. I’m terrible with pictures, and even worse when it comes to anything tech related, so this has been a challenge to say the least. I’m so glad I did it though! It has been fulfilling to challenge myself and grow a little every time. I look forward to seeing where this journey takes me.
Back to recipes though. (This time of year always makes me a little reminiscent). We are generally not big breakfast eaters. In fact, my sweetie and I will often skip breakfast, which I know is terrible! Now that we are trying to take better care of ourselves, we have become religious about our breakfast. It has been oatmeal on most days. I will admit though, that after a few days, it’s starting to get old. I think it’s mostly a texture thing for me. Over the last few years, I have seen a few baked oatmeal recipes flying around, but I had not really bothered to try them. It’s been on my mind for a few days now, so I figured I would try it out. I’m so glad I did! It was DELICIOUS! I love the crispy edges of the oatmeal mixed in with the smooth and creamy texture of the filling ( I added a little milk into my bowl). I really could eat this every morning. It was yummy and filling too! I will be trying different combinations here soon, and hopefully report back to you. This time I had some frozen peaches and blueberries, so that is what I thawed and used. I also lightened it up quite a bit by using fat free yogurt and milk, and mostly egg whites. You can use regular and I’m sure it would be really good too. I can’t wait to warm up a bowl tomorrow morning. I think next time I will make a double batch.
I also worked up the nutrition facts in a recipe calculator, and it came up to be 236 Calories, 42 Carbs, 4 g Fat, 11 g Protein. (It will be 276 Calories with 1/2 cup Fat Free Milk added). I was shooting for a 300 Calories for breakfast, and this is perfect.
Makes 6 servings.
Ingredients:
2 Cups Rolled Oats (Old Fashioned Oats)
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/3 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
3/4 Cup Milk (I used Fat Free)
3/4 Cup Yogurt (I used Fat Free Vanilla)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 Eggs (I used 1 whole and 2 egg whites)
1 Cup Blueberries
1 Cup Peaches, diced
1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Spray a baking pan (I used an 8 by 8 Inch) with cooking spray, or lightly grease the pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, baking powder, salt, brown sugar (I reserved 1 tablespoon to sprinkle on top) and cinnamon. In another bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, vanilla and eggs. Add the wet ingredients into the oat mixture.
3. Add in the blueberries and peaches and combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish, Sprinkle the top with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and a little cinnamon. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve warm.
-The oatmeal is great for make ahead breakfast. You can reheat the whole pan at 250 Degrees F for about 20 minutes, or individual portions in the microwave. I plan to add about a half a cup of milk to my bowl, since I like the creamy and crunchy contrast.
-If you use plain yogurt, you may want to add a little more sugar, or even try apple sauce. My yogurt was sweetened, so there was no need for more sugar.
Devotion For The Day:
Godly Wisdom.
Today’s devotion is from James 3. I love the book of James. It is a short book, but probably one of the most practical ones in the bible. James calls us to act, not merely say we are Christians, but truly live it out. It’s a powerful book. The beginning of Chapter 3 talks about taming the tongue, and the power of our tongue. The last part of the chapter though, is what I really want to talk about today. Maybe it sticks out more to me now, having just finished off with the US elections, and now following the Kenyan elections. Looking at the leaders running for office, I can’t help but wonder how each of them compare with these verses. Chapter 13: Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. It hit me that those words are so contrary to what we usually consider as worldly wisdom. Chapter 17 summed up the comparison perfectly: But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. I’m not trying to make a political statement here. These verses just made me ponder though, about what we consider as wisdom from a worldly sense, verses what Godly wisdom looks like.
1. Godly wisdom is willing to yield to others, while earthly wisdom is unyielding.
2. Godly wisdom is gentle and generous, while earthly wisdom is arrogant and self seeking.
3. Godly wisdom is full or mercy, while earthly wisdom is critical and dismissive.
4. Godly wisdom is peace loving, while earthly wisdom is confrontational.
It challenges me to keep my eyes on God, and seek what his wisdom is, not that of the world.


Apple Stuffed French Toast

Apple Stuffed French Toast

Ladies and gentlemen…. I have another one of “THOSE” recipes for you! You know those recipes that you would not make except for special occasions? I have another one to add to your list. Those recipes that fall in the category of “it definitely took more time than I would spend on a regular breakfast but sooo worth it!“, or in the “I would totally be as big as a house if I ate this everyday” or the “I’m so glad I have no idea what the word calorie means, and please do not explain it to me“. Yup! It’s one of those recipes. In my defense, it was a holiday at my house this past Saturday morning. What holiday?? I’m so glad you asked! It was “the kids are going to their Aunt’s, and I have two whole days to myself” holiday. See…… I knew you would all understand why we had to have a special breakfast. Because it was only fitting that I pump my precious beloved daughters with all the nutritious sugar and goodness that I could get them to eat before I sent them to her house. It is my duty as a loving, diligent mother 🙂 Seriously though… as a stay-home mom, there is no better gift that you could give me than the gift of a few quiet moments to myself. I’m truly grateful for my family who are so mindful to create those moments for me. Of course the kids love it too, so it’s a win-win.

Anyway, now you see why we HAD to have a special breakfast. Despite the fact that I was battling a cold, I willingly trudged into my kitchen to make these (much to my hubby’s amusement). They were just what the doctor prescribed! Sweet, crunchy, a little creamy, and since apples were involved, totally healthy 🙂 I knew the doctor would approve. I got rave reviews from the family, and I definitely plan to make this again sometime. I’m excited to try out a few other combinations, such as bananas and cream, peaches and cream, blueberry and lemon, strawberries and cream…… The options are endless.

Here we go…..

Ingredients:

Ingredients for the apple stuffing
Other ingredients (Phase 2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Apples, peeled, cored and sliced

3 Tbsp Butter (divided)

1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon(divided)

4 Tbsp Brown Sugar

3 Tbsp Cream Cheese

2 Eggs

!/2 Cup Heavy Cream

1/2 Cup Milk

1/2 Loaf French Bread, cut into 4 Pieces (end piece removed)

Confectioner’s Sugar for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat Oven to 375 Degrees F. In a pan over medium high heat, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add in the apple slices, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and the brown sugar.  Stir and let cook for 7-8 minutes until the apples start to soften. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add in the cream cheese. Set aside.

Cook the apples, cinnamon and sugar in butter
Cook apples until they start to soften

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. In a rimmed dish (a 9 by 13 dish works best) beat together the eggs, cream, milk and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Take each slice of bread (they were about 2  inch thick) and cut a slit into one side of the bread, only going about 3/4 of the way through it. You want to form a pocket with the three sides of the bread still intact.

Apple Mixture and bread with pocket cut into it

3. Take the apple/ cream cheese mixture and stuff  into the bread pockets. Put the bread into the egg mixture and soak for 3-4 minutes. Turn the bread occasionally to let both sides soak in the liquid.

Bread soaking

4. In a pan (I used the same one for the apples, just rinsed off), melt a Tbsp of butter. Remove the bread from the egg mixture, draining off the excess liquid. Cook the toast on the pan for about 3 minutes per side ( till brown). I did my toast two at a time. Once browned, transfer to a cookie sheet and cook the rest of the way in the oven. The extra cooking time in the oven allows the liquid to cook off, which makes the toast nice and crispy. This took 10 minutes.

Fry both sides of toast until brown
Transfer to cookie sheet and bake for 10 min

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and drizzle with some maple syrup if you are like me, and are totally in party mode. Enjoy!

Devotion For the Day:

The Bread of Life:

I actually thought it was a little ironic that right after stuffing myself to the gills with the french toast, I retreated to my corner to do my devotion and the reading was about Jesus: The bread of life. I have been reading through the book of John, and one of my favorite things about it has been that to this point, a lot of the verses are red letter words.. the actual words of Jesus.

I was reading John 6, which has 71 verses. It starts off with Jesus feeding the great crowd of 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and two fish. Needless to say everyone was totally astounded and amazed at the miracle of him not only feeding them to their fill, but also having 12 baskets of left overs. After this encounter, Jesus separates himself and retreats to the mountains alone, but  the crowd sought after him because of the miracle he had done. In verses 26-27,when they found him, this is what Jesus had to say “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God theFather has placed the seal of approval”. He later continued on in verse 35 to declare “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty”.

This reading ties in with a series at my church we have been doing for the past few weeks, titled “LEGACY” (click on the link to view). It has centered around what our legacy as a person is, as well as our legacy as a church. To say it has been life changing is an understatement. I feel like God has been challenging me as far as what my legacy to my children and the future generations will be, but more so what my legacy is as HIS child. I so easily forget that my legacy is to shine my light that others can come to know the saving grace of Jesus. This reading and the series remind me that we can meet the physical needs of others all day long, but if we do not point them to the God who will fill the deepest yearning of their soul, our work is not eternal. Jesus first saw the physical need of the crowd. They were hungry. He didn’t teach them first, he FED them. But he also didn’t stop there, he offered them the bread of LIFE.  What a model to emulate!

Apricot White Chocolate Scones

Apricot White Chocolate Scones

I wonder if you are like me. You make grand plans on Saturday night to sleep in Sunday morning. The kids have been given the ” you’re sleeping in tomorrow” talk. Aaah.. we are all set. Until 7 AM Sunday morning rolls around, and you are WIDE awake. That was me yesterday. After staring at the ceiling for half an hour, I started day dreaming about scones. A nice… hot-out-of-the-oven scone. It had to be done. I have a recipe for cranberry orange scones by Ina Garten that I use often, but yesterday, I was in the mood for something new. A quick sweep of my pantry yielded some dried apricots and white chocolate. SOLD! I mean…. everything tastes better with chocolate!

Scones sound really intimidating to make, but they are really not hard at all. Some basic rules apply, though.First, unlike cake baking where you want to use room temperature ingredients, with scones, the colder the better. This helps make them flaky, not dense. The other trick is not to mix in the butter completely. You want pea size pieces in the dough. This also helps make them soft and flaky. The easiest way to make the dough is using a food processor if you have one. A few pulses brings the dough together. A large stand mixer works well too, but since I’m still kicking it old school with a small stand mixer, I chose to use a pastry cutter. It is an awesome tool to have around if you are thinking of making pie crust or scones by hand. It cuts the butter into the flour without warming it, which you would do if you used your hands. (As a side note, I have made the scone dough by hand before. Just use your finger tips not your palms, and work quick. I also put the dough in the freezer for a few minutes before rolling out since I was worried about melting the butter with my hands. It worked out perfectly). Note that the steps I use are for dough by hand using a pastry cutter, so if using an electric mixer or food processor, click the link below for Ina’s recipe.

I’m using Ina Garten’s cranberry orange scone recipe as a base, and just changing some of the ingredients and steps. The dough produced 15 scones, so I cut the shapes out an only baked 7. I lay the other 8 on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze them. Once they are frozen, I transfer them to a ziploc freezer bag. That way, when we need scones in the future, I just thaw them out for about half hour, and then bake them. They actually seem to taste better than the first batch that was never frozen.

Ingredients:

4 Cups, plus 1/4 cup All- Purpose Flour

1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling

2 Tablespoons Baking Powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 Poud Cold Unsalted Butter, Diced

4 Extra Large Eggs

1 Cup Cold Heavy Cream

1 Cup Chopped Dried Apricots

3/4 Cup White Chocolate chips

1 egg beaten with 2 Tablespoons Water or Milk, for eggwash

1. Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F.

2. In a bowl, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the cubed cold butter and use the pastry cutter (or fingertips) to mix until the butter is the size of peas. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl, and add the heavy cream. Mix egg mixture into the flour mixture until JUST blended. The dough should be lumpy. Combine the apricots and the white chocolate with the 1/4 cup flour (this keeps the pieces fro clumping up when you add to the dough). Add them to the dough and mix until blended.

Pastry Cutter
Add in cold cubed butter to flour mixture
Mix Apricots & Choc with flour. Add to dough

3. Dump the dough onto a well floured surface, and knead into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin, and roll the dough 3/4 inch thick (I actually just patted it out with my hands, and skipped the rolling pin). You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough around so it doesn’t stick. Cut the dough into desired shapes. (I like triangles and used a pizza cutter, but Ina uses circles). You should get 14-16 scones.

Roll out (or pat with hands) and cut.
Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops of scones with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully cooked. The scones will be firm to the touch.

Enjoy!

Devotion For the Day.

Bad Company Corrupts:
Please don’t glaze over on me. I know you might read this title and go.. DUH! Anyone with kids have told our children a million and one times to pick their friends wisely. We have probably wagged our finger at the trouble making kid on the block and asked our child to stay away from them. If you don’t have kids, just think of the many times as a teenager that you got the “speech” from your folks. Why, because bad company corrupts (I think I heard a few people say it aloud with me). It’s funny though that sometimes as we grow older and (ahem) wiser, we forget that the same truths that apply to our kids also apply to us. I think I have caught myself a few times thinking that even though some “chick” I am hanging out with is probably not the best company, I am mature enough to not let her get to me. Well, today’s bible reading put me in my place. Solomon, son of David was the wisest man in history. When he took over as king from his father David, his love and dedication so pleased God that the Lord asked him to name whatever he wished and it would be granted. Solomon asked God to give him wisdom that he may rule the people of Israel well. In 1st Kings 3:12, God responded “I will therefore give you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has never been anyone like you before, and there will never be again“. Solomon in his lifetime did amazing things that had people coming from far and wide to witness. Israel prospered so much under his reign that other countries were in awe. Even the Queen of Sheba had to travel all the way to Jerusalem to witness for herself this wise king everyone was raving about.
I’m sure you get the picture. This man was out of this world wise. Discerning beyond anything the nations had ever seen. Yet even he is recorded in the bible as having been corrupted by the company he kept. It is recorded in 1st Kings 11 that even after all the years of serving the Lord, in his old age, Solomon became unfaithful to God because of the foreign wives that he had married that were worshiping other gods. Even though God had strictly warned the Israelites not to intermarry with the other pagan worshiping nations, Solomon loved these women and took them as his wives and concubines (700 wives and 300 concubines). 1st Kings 11:4,  these foreign wives “seduced him to follow other gods. His heart was not completely with the Lord his God as his father David had been“. He built alters for these foreign gods, which greatly angered God. As a result, God told Solomon that the kingdom would be torn away from his son’s hands.
Reading this today reminded me that I am not above being influenced by the people I surround myself with. As wise as I may think I am, even the wisest man in the world turned his eyes away from God due to the bad company he kept. It’s a slow fade. Let’s surround ourselves with people that have the same values we hold, and are headed in the same direction we hope to go. Seriously, bad company does corrupt.