Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pancake Nights

Robert does not like breakfast for dinner.

So when he works late doing some contract work, I meet up with a good friend of mine at I-Hop. And we have pancakes. And eggs. And bacon. And girl time.

There is something about a friend that you can laugh with and bare your soul to all at the same time. A friend that when you randomly sing a line from an obscure musical, she can complete the verse. Another person that watches the Oscars - the entire show. A friend you text a prayer request to in the middle of the work morning, and she prays for you all day long. When you say what is making you lose your mind, she finds a way to hand your sanity back on a platter. A pancake-filled platter.

Aren't you glad we aren't doing this alone? Friends are such a gift. Especially friends that like breakfast for dinner.

Oh, and I know that Robert was working really, really hard last night while I chowed down on blueberry oat pancakes. However, our waitress messed up our original order, so we both wound up with an extra plate of food to take home.

So technically, I brought home the bacon last night. Pancake night for the win!

 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 
1 John 4:11-12

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The every day missionary

Everyday I walk through the hospital, and I see a huge banner with IU Health's logo.

The strength it takes.

Everyday I laugh at this, because I think of how helpless we are.

Helpless against theft. Pride. Disasters. Test results. Accidents. Job losses. Conflicts. Crushed dreams. Bad Republican candidates. Dogs who hate their crates (ok, that's just me).

Today, I had a revelation. A friend said to me, "God put you right where you are to love, support and encourage these people in your life. It's awesome." I don't always think it's s awesome, but I realized that she right. I realized, I need to change my perspective on this strength issue.

I don't have the strength it takes. But I'm finding it, one day at a time, one friend at a time, one, Lord now what? at a time.

It's amazing to me that not only is God so much bigger than me, but that He chooses to manifest a tiny, tiny portion of that power in using me. I just have to be willing to serve and to let go of my own fear.

I'm seeing that I don't need the strength it takes to fix all these things. I just need to lean on His Strength, the strength that allows us to face each issue with compassion, love, and hope.

Hope will not disappoint.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you may go. Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What's cooking

Have I mentioned Robert and I are both dieting, and I that I have had to
bake
like
a
madwoman
lately?

It's an unfair world, people.

I made these layered cookie bars when we had friends over for dinner. The leftovers were brought to the monthly cousins' dinner. They were obviously a hit...

I made a new chicken dish for that dinner, too. It was adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe. The flavor was good, but the chicken did dry out quite a bit. Our guests were running late so I left it in the oven longer than I should have, but maybe if I didn't do that and basted it some it would have been better. I liked it overall, though. (the photo below is not mine, it is from Martha)

Pan-Roasted Lemon Chicken with Green Beans and Red Potatoes

Preheat over t 400. Line a heavy or cast iron pan with aluminum foil. Mix together the lemon juice, all seasonings, and oil. Individually coat the chicken breasts in the liquid mixture. Place in pan. Quarter potatoes and coat in mixture as well. Arrange potatoes around chicken breast in pan. Pour vegetable broth into the pan. Bake the chicken and potatoes for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, clean and cut the ends of the green beans. Soak the beans in the flavor mixture. After the 20 minutes are up, add green beans to the pan in the oven. Bake for another 20 minutes.

Here is the blog I followed for the cookie bars...

http://www.recipegirl.com/2011/09/29/gooey-chocolate-chip-sandwich-bars-cookies-for-kids-cancer-cookbook/

To even out the layers, I used my ever-favorite trick of placing a Ziplock baggie on my hand, spraying it in cooking spray, and then patting down the dough until smooth. If that grosses you out, all I can tell you is that it works like a charm. Every time. I use this trick for rice krispie treats and special k bars, too (before I dump the chocolate layer on top). Try it, you'll thank me.

Well, I'm off to workout. I made some peanut butter cookies, too, for Robert's friend who is having surgery this week, and of course saved some for us. They aren't going to burn themselves off.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day & Dark Confessions

Happy Valentine's Day! I love Valentine's Day. What's not to love about, well, love?! {And pink}

I have a dark confession this Valentine's Day. I decided to make Robert a blubbery crumble pie for the day, as blueberries are one of his favorite things. And well... I have never, ever, not-even-once, made a pie entirely from scratch by myself.

I know what you are thinking. You have eaten my food. You have seen my kitchen a mess after some homemade treat was formed. You have had my own recipes, seen the experiments, loved what I have cooked... but it was never a homemade pie, I can tell you that.

So, for this Valentine's, I set out to make Robert a completely from-scratch pie, all by myself. A true labor of love.

This resulted in a phone call to my sister about ten minutes later.

However, I did do it. She didn't come over and rescue me. She coached me with a couple of tips and told me that I could do it.
This, my friends, is my pie, my blueberry crumble pie. It wasn't perfect, it was only sort of pretty, but it turned out okay! It was a ton of work, but I was very, very proud of myself.

I will say, though, that there was one huge disappointment. Robert and I are both watching what we eat and counting calories. So, after I worked hard to make us this beautiful treat, I realized that neither of us had enough calories left in the day to really have any. I starved all day on Monday to be able to eat a full piece (with only half the crust and half the topping). It was pretty worth it.

Next time, I'll modify it to make it a little less terrible for you (which will not sacrifice this being delicious, I am sure). Enjoy!

Pie:
http://www.asweetpeachef.com/pies/blueberry-crumble-pie/
Crust (this recipe makes 2 pie crusts):
http://www.asweetpeachef.com/sweets/pie-crust-recipe/


Friday, February 10, 2012

The Cook-a-thon, Part III

The cooking never ended last week. Here is what I made for our Open House / Superbowl Party.

Homemade Meatballs
I had never made a meatball, so I went for simple. They sat in the crockpot with BBQ sauce and spicy ketchup.

Homemade Twix Bars
For real, how would I have done anything without pinterest?

Soft Cut-out Sugar-Cookies
I know my drop sugar cookies are a favorite and known as the "crack cookies" for their addictive quality, but I really, really wanted to do pretty cutouts. This recipe is amazing (also from pinterest). I was very excited to use my new circle biscuit cutters from Pampered Chef to make these.

Besides pinterest.com, my other big help was Costco. Everything else came from Costco! It made the party was easier and way less expensive to throw. They provided the cheese plate, crackers, chicken empanadas (which were so. good.), tortilla chips, and drinks.

The best part is the leftovers. I have cooked once this week. It's so nice! I will note the meal I cooked was a salad, because all this stuff around the house has kind of made us eat a bunch of junk.

I was also able to share the leftovers with friends who were having a baby and some co-workers. It's nice to give, right? It made me think I should make more stuff and freeze it, because it's a really easy way to help someone else out who is having a tough time.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Are you hungry yet? - Cook-a-thon, Part II

I am glad that I only cook for 2 people most days. This turns out to be a lot of work!

We had family/friends over on Wednesday for dinner. We had 6 adults and 4 children (all under the age of 4). It was crazy and crazy-fun. It was also really, really good to catch up and connect to friends who live far away.

I made a lasagna soup I found on pinterest.com, from the blog here: http://www.afarmgirlsdabbles.com/2011/03/24/lasagna-soup/

I did use a chicken and pork sausage for a healthier, lighter feel to the soup. I made a 1.5 recipe for us, and we only had one serving left! It was served with a French bread (thank you, Costco), a spinach salad (from our guests), lemon bars (from my sister), and Special K Bars. Everyone said they liked it, and the kids ate it, too.

For our small group dinner on Thursday night, I made lemon bars, too. I didn't know ahead of time my sister was bringing some on Wednesday. We have a peanut allergy in the group, so these were a safe dessert to bring. This recipe is the one my mom made growing up from her Charlie Brown/Peanuts Cookbook. They were a much bigger hit than I anticipated!

The original recipe only makes an 8x8 pan, which I could probably eat in one sitting... The baking time for the crust may depend on your oven. The original recipe calls for 30 minutes, which is way over done in my oven! You want it to be a light, golden crust when it's done, which is 15 minutes for me. Keep in mind that it browns more the second time you cook it. The second bake is right about 22 minutes for me.

Lucy Lemon Squares
1 cup flour
1/2 butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar (I recommend Domino's if you can)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8x8 pan (I recommend a light color or glass). Sift flour and sugar into bowl. With fingers, mix in butter. Spread and flatten out in 8"x8" pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

Whisk together...
2 eggs
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
Dash salt

Pour over baked crust and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Sift and sprinkle powdered sugar over top. Cool on rack. Cut in squares.

The cook-a-thon is NOT over yet, guys. More to come!