Saturday, April 16, 2016


George recently subscribed me to a daily lectionary which has made my daily Bible reading way easier. This site emails me an Old Testament passage, a passage from the Gospels, a passage from one of the epistles, and a passage from the Psalms every day. As a horribly indecisive person, the fact that the passages have been chosen for me is glorious. I don't have to decide where to go next when I finish a book, I don't have to decide when to stop reading each day or remember where I was reading the day before. Even cross references are given to me for reading the following day- which has been a cool and unexpected.  And then of course, I don't often forget to read when I have an email come straight to me.

My friend Jessie sent me a link to a sermon series a little while ago that has really blessed me. I have since passed links on to many friends, and become a "fan" of the pastor. The pastor's name is Greg Thompson and he is at Trinity Presbyterian in Charlottesville, Virginia and the sermon series is called Streams in the Desert.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

An Easter Tradition

Apart from the yearly shopping trip for Easter dresses, one of the only Easter traditions we really had in my family growing up was lemon cake for dessert. It just seems so springy and refreshing, doesn't it?! Of course, in those days, we bought a box of lemon cake mix and a can of lemon frosting. Since I have graduated to being able to make cakes from scratch, I have made several types of lemon cakes, and not just at Easter. I have posted the recipe for a favorite in the past.

I first made this recipe about four years ago when we went down to Alabama to stay with our good friends at their house on the Black Warrior River. So I was surprised not to be able to find it here when I looked to make it again for Easter this year. George has requested it several times but I guess I went back to my Barefoot at Home cookbook for the recipe. Barefoot at Home has a version that calls for yogurt and oil, but this version from the Food Network calls for butter and buttermilk which to me is preferable.

Lemon Cake

1/2 lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 c. sugar, divided
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/3 c. grated lemon zest- from about 5 large lemons
3c. flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4c. freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4c. buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract

- Preheat oven to 350. Grease two loaf pans and line with parchment (allow overlap on sides to lift cakes out later).
- Cream butter and 2 cups of sugar in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy, about five minutes.
- With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time and the zest.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
- Combine buttermilk, 1/4c. lemon juice, and vanilla in a separate small bowl.
- Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.
- Divide batter evenly into loaf pans and bake for 45-60 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan on wire racks for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, lift the cakes out of the pans and place on a cooling rack inside a rimmed baking sheet, then spoon syrup over top.
- To make the syrup, combine remaining 1/2c. sugar and 1/2c. lemon juice in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves.
-Spoon syrup over tops of warm cakes and allow cakes to cool completely

2c. confectioner's sugar
3 1/2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

- stir confectioner's sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl until smooth
- drizzle glaze over top of cooled cakes and let drip down the sides

Monday, February 29, 2016

Cookie of the Month

So already this month, the kids have gotten used to there being a new batch of cookies every week. I even bought my first cookie jar (it's just a basic 1 gallon Anchor Hocking glass jar- but I have the 2 gallon jars for my sugar and flour so it "goes")!

And speaking of jars, the first week this month, I just made a mix from a jar someone gave us as a gift for Christmas. It was a gingersnap mix and all I had to do was add the butter and eggs and bake. I don't know what was in the mix, but I do have a great recipe for gingersnaps.

The second week of the month started with Superbowl Sunday. Amabel had liked the last M&M cookie recipe so much that her request was for monster cookies which I had not made in years.  We had some good friends over to watch the Superbowl and the peanut butter-oatmeal-M&M- chocolate chip cookies were a hit! They're one I really need to stay away from because I have absolutely no self control when they are around. Just to be clear, I don't put raisins in mine. Why would I do that? I just add more M&M's and chocolate chips to make the difference.

The third week of the month Amabel made another request - chocolate crinkle cookies. This recipe comes from the Williams Sonoma Kids Baking cookbook that I got a few years back when Borders went out of business. It's out of print, but I just love that it has basic recipes for basic baked goods. I use the recipe for pizza dough often. And this recipe is great too-- no chilling the dough or rolling out dough-- I think I've even made it on Sunday morning before church.

The last week of the month I was out of sorts. I just couldn't find any inspiration. Amabel was also out of sorts and really just wanted cookie dough. And the best kind of cookie dough, in both Amabel's and my opinions is chocolate chip cookie dough. Still slightly unsatisfied with the Nestle Tollhouse recipe and with no M&Ms on hand, I searched for a new chocolate chip cookie recipe and did find one that I liked, but the dough wasn't quite what we wanted. It lacked enough salt for one thing, and the inclusion of cornstarch in the recipe weirded me out a little. The recipe was fairly similar in many ways to last month's cookie of the month- down to the pre-chill (though only for 20 minutes in the fridge- I'm starting to think some sort of chill time is a must) and the two teaspoons of vanilla. However, the cookies themselves were also not quite salty enough. They were great though, and we all enjoyed them. However, I think the search continues for a new go to.

And therefore, the cookie of the month is chocolate crinkle cookies- simple, easy, soft, chocolatey, and delicious. I can't believe I've never posted them before now!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

1/2 c. butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 2/3 c. flour
1/2 c. Dutch processed cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar

- Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
- Scrape down sides of mixer and blend in vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
- Mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together in a separate bowl.
- Mix the flour mixture into butter mixture
- One at a time, scoop out rounded tablespoons of dough and roll into balls, then roll each ball into confectioners' sugar to coat.
- Place balls on a parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart and bake until crackled and puffed, about 10 minutes, at 350.
- Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet set on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before removing cookies to cooling racks to cool completely

Friday, February 26, 2016

More Fun With Sausage and Kale

This is going to sound like I am just crazy for kale. Which, okay, I kind of am. But this is another soup with kale and also Italian sausage. I actually have been meaning to post it for about a year but it's one that I make a little different every time and have been waiting to get everything clear in my brain to be able to make it sharable. I figured I might as well go ahead and get it up so that the two kale and sausage soups are right in a row. This one was born from me having various ingredients I really wanted to use together and wasn't sure how- namely, quinoa, kale, and black beans. I found a vegetarian soup recipe online and changed it up for our carnivorous family. I made it for the first time for my family last February and was able to build the leftovers back up for my coworkers for our Valentine's Day potluck (kind of a tradition at the flower shop where we work long hours at Valentine's Day and don't have time to have a proper lunch break). Everyone wanted the recipe and I didn't quite know how to tell them what to do apart from listing the ingredients (amounts of each vary and it seems to need more liquid upon reheating). I've tried it several times again and honestly make it a little different every time, but here it is, the basic gist.

Kale, Quinoa, and Black Bean Soup with Italian Sausage and Chicken

-1/2 lb. Italian sausage
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1.5 T Italian seasoning
- 2 bunches of kale, rinsed and chopped (or one larger bunch- depends on the store)
- 8-12c. chicken broth
- 1-2 15 oz. can(s) petite diced tomatoes
- 1c. quinoa
- 1-2 15oz. can(s) black beans, drained and rinsed
- chopped roasted chicken, optional- I would normally use the meat from the legs of a 3.5 pound fryer because our family prefers the white meat and I need good ways to use the dark meat, but a chicken breast would also work

1) Brown Italian sausage in a Dutch oven.
2) Add sauté onion, carrots, and celery for several minutes
3) Add garlic and kale and sauté several more minutes
4) Add 8c. chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
5) Reduce heat to a simmer, stir in quinoa and let simmer for about 20 minutes
6) After quinoa is ready, decide if you need more chicken broth and the second can of tomatoes, especially if you are adding a lot of chicken (my vote is yes, just to stretch it), and then add in beans and roasted chicken and heat about 5-10 more minutes.

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