Sunday, September 29, 2013

A FOREVER FEAST, YOU BIKE, I'LL WALK



It was a lovely kind of week ... blue skies and fluffy clouds.
The kind of week that bears repeating.


I was not buffeted like this little tree literally bent
from the onslaught of today's ferocious wind.


With glad heart I enjoyed dappling sunshine on the remaining
moss roses.
I had big answers to little prayers.

For some this week was rough and the day to day experiences
rough and rocky ... even terrifying.


In parts of the world this week, Christians faced hostility of enormous
proportions and were mowed down like this fallen flower.


We are not promised straight paths and neat rows.
But they can come.


I rejoice with happy news from
another cook and fellow blogger.  Preparing her heart for
the expected parting with her daughter, she experienced a 
reversal that set her soul soaring.
Instead of plans for a funeral, she made plans to bring her child home.


God has those wonderful moments for when we need them most.


'Let's go for a walk', I suggested to my granddaughter one evening.
She had spent the week with me and we loved to round out the day
with a stroll down the lane.
'You bike and I'll walk', I said to her.
The plan was .. we'd walk, then she would bike on ahead and circle back.
After chatting a bit, she would bike off again while I continued my
leisurely walk.
But that didn't happen.
We walked and talked and walked some more.  She holding on to 
the handle bars.
'Honey, don't you want to bike', I asked, repeatedly.
'No, I don't'.  'I like it this way', she laughed.
'I love to talk with you!'


'You bike and I'll walk'.  
That has gone round and round in my thoughts.
How does it apply to myself as a follower of Jesus?


Am I walking close beside my Lord?
More importantly, do I like it that way?
Do I crave the fellowship?
Or do I bike off and circle back when I feel the need?


Gracious God, you are so merciful!
Arms outstretched!
When I wake in the morning to the setting of the sun,
You show yourself, the Great I Am!

'Father, I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am, 
and to see my glory.
the glory you have given me
because you loved me 
before the creation of the world.
Righteous Father, though the world does not know you.
I know you, 
and they know you have sent me.
I have made you known to them, 
and will continue to make you known
in order that the love you have for me
may be in them
and that I myself may be in them.'
John 17:24-26 NIV



Thursday, September 26, 2013

CHICKEN PASTA BAKE


My daughter made this delicious casserole for me the last time
she visited.  I thought it was one of the best!  This week I made
it so I could take pictures and blog the recipe. My version is adapted
from the original recipe in a Southern Living magazine.


I chose to bake the chicken breasts with olive oil and
seasonings.


After baking, slice and cube the chicken.


While the chicken is baking, saute the onions, red peppers
and garlic.  The next step is preparing the sauce.


The recipe calls for cheese-and-spinach tortellini which I
could not locate so I used a three-cheese variety.


I love a casserole where the ingredients pretty much retain their
original identity.  They compliment each other rather than
dissolving into a blend.


A gentle mixing of chicken, tortellini and blanched broccoli with
the tasty sauce ... already yummy!


Spoon into a deep casserole baking dish, making sure the
tortellini is submerged.  Some of mine that were at the top
got a bit crisp.  I might try layering it next time to solve that problem.


Buttery crackers used in the topping  gives it a perfect covering.


Spread the crumble evenly over the top.


Not everyone in the family enjoys nuts ... easily solved ...
sprinkle only on one half.


This is wonderful but I must confess, my daughters'
was a wee bit tastier!  Must have added a secret spice
when I wasn't looking. Actually it was probably because
I loved eating someone else's cooking.

CHICKEN PASTA BAKE

1/3 cup butter
½ cup chopped sweet onion
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced

Melt butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high
heat; add onion, peppers and garlic.  Saute 5 - 6 minutes or until tender.

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
1½ cups half-and-half
1 tbsp. white vinegar (or dry white wine)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground red pepper

Add flour to butter mixture, stirring until smooth.
Whisk in broth, half-and-half, and vinegar.
Cook, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.
Remove from heat; add cheese, salt and red pepper, stirring until cheese is melts.

1 (20 oz. or 350 g) pkg. refrigerated cheese-and-spinach tortellini
4 cups broccoli cut into bite size pieces, blanched
4 cups cooked chicken, cubed

Stir tortellini, broccoli and chicken into sauce.
Spoon into a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

20 round buttery crackers, crushed
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. melted butter
½ cup chopped pecans, optional

Mix crumbs, cheese and butter, sprinkle over casserole.
If desired, sprinkle with pecans.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 50 - 60 minutes or until bubbly.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings



Sunday, September 22, 2013

A FOREVER FEAST, OF FLICKERS AND FLOWERS


This past week was a glorious reminder that summer was fleeting.
For most farmers, the wheat harvest was wrapping up
followed by a lovely rain that watered the dry earth.
Though sunny and clear, the days are much cooler and the
nights getting rather chilly.


Every Fall I wonder ... will I see them?
Yes!  Just a couple days ago I spied the colorful flicker.
They will hang around for a while and I will keep my eyes
glued to the windows.


I try to creep up on them whenever I can but they are wary
and off like a shot when they spy me.


Three were huddled in various places on this pole. When the wind
ruffled the feathers the bird seemed textured onto the wood.


I brought some sunflowers inside to enjoy and brighten 
my kitchen with their sunny disposition and bright colors.
They look so cheerful and happy .. a feeling I could not help but absorb.


Alas ... after a few days .. the branches droop ...
 heads bowed, they look so sad.
Whatever is the matter?


I took a lesson from these pretty blooms.
While they remained on the stock they thrived.
After I cut them off they began to lose their vital nourishment
and could not survive for long.


From the words of Jesus ..

'I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself;
it must remain in the vine.
Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.'
John 13: 1, 4





Wednesday, September 18, 2013

PEANUT BUTTER AND OATMEAL COOKIES


Soft and chewy, this good little cookie is a perfect after school snack.


I like how quickly this dough can be mixed, formed and ready to bake.


Oatmeal and peanut butter ... how well they pair together!
I found them to be rather addicting.



PEANUT BUTTER AND OATMEAL COOKIES

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugars and peanut butter together
until fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.

1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1¼ cups quick-cooking oats

Blend flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture.
Stir in oats.
Use a cookie scoop or drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheet.
Flatten slightly with glass dipped into flour.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until
golden brown.  


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

STRWBERRIES AND CREAM PIE


I am so delighted to share this dessert recipe with you today!
Firstly, I spent a lot of time exploring a new method of
exporting my pictures since the usual method would not work
no matter how many times I tried.
Secondly, of all the many dishes and desserts I took to the
harvesting crew, this was the only one that got raves and
a request for the recipe.
So there you have it ... it's got to be yummy, yummy!


Didn't seem complete without the addition of chocolate!


The servings I took out to the field crew had been in the freezer.
I thought perhaps we would have to discard the strawberries but
they were just barely thawed and therefore not soggy.
Perfectly wonderful was the consensus!


Here is how it is made .. break 6 or 7 chocolate sandwich cookies
(Oreos) into coarse pieces.  Arrange in the bottom of 9-inch pie pan.
No need to make into crumbs or add butter.


The recipe calls for 8 oz. cool whip which is not available where
I live in that weight. So I used my scale to get the right amount.
You can use whipped cream but my daughter insists cool whip
in this recipe creates a superior mellow filling.


Since the recipe is from her I decided to heed her advice.
I must say I was amazed when I folded the cool whip into the 
cream cheese.  It seemed to expand and become very fluffy
and airy in the process.


Spread the filling over the chocolate crumbs and refrigerate.
Garnish with strawberries in a any way you wish.


We are fortunate here to have a huge u-pick patch that is
bearing wonderfully sweet solid-red berries.  I picked this week
and they will be available until the frost arrives.



STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM PIE

7 - 8 cream-filled chocolate cookies (such as Oreos)
Break cookies into coarse pieces and spread onto the bottom 
of a 9 or 10 - inch pie pan.

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz.) container cool whip

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and vanilla;
beat together until well blended.  Fold in cool whip.
Spread over cookies in pie pan.  Chill until set, several hours
or longer.  Serve with strawberries or your choice of other
fresh berries such as raspberries or blackberries.
Serves eight.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

A FOREVER FEAST, SEPTEMBER'S CALL


It's happening ... little changes in the air.


... a shifting away from the glory of summer ...


...  the watering can sits idle for longer periods of time ....


...  the color wheel is heading toward autumn ...


... harvest is paused .... just briefly ..


...  we see a powerful symbol and wait for dry days  ....


... migration is soon to follow ...


....  a rest will happen ....


....  some things end .... others just beginning ..
like the new school year. 

A busy home-school mother had made the weekly trip to the grocery
store with her young family.  After selecting the needed items they proceeded 
to the checkout and continued on to their vehicle.  Mom and the older child 
were intently unloading the purchases when a tall stately
lady approached the car.  
'I think this is yours', she said, as she handed
the mother a bill.  
'No, I don't believe it is', the mother replied.
The stranger persisted and assured the mom it belonged to her.
After completing her tasks the mother prepared to leave.
She glanced at the bill and saw with a start that it was a large denomination.
She hastened back to the kindly stranger.
' Excuse me mam, I know this does not belong to me', she insisted.
'Yes it does', the lady said as she pressed the bill into her hand. 
'It's yours. God bless you!'
'You are doing a wonderful job with your family.
Some things just make my day!'


This act of spontaneous kindness will have far-reaching consequences
Like a deposit in the offering box, it will keep on growing.
The mother will remember .. and take courage when discouragement comes ..
the children will remember and be encouraged to keep on ..
 the kind stranger  .. hopefully she can treasure the powerful moment she inspired.
I will remember ... and look for opportunity.

In response to all 
he has done for us,
let us outdo each other 
in being helpful and kind
to each other 
and in doing good.
Hebrews 10:24 LB