Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What I did with my weekend...

Some card making...

Arranged a fall decoration using fresh cranberries, a pie plate and some fall scented candles (including apple cider and gingerbread... yum!!!)

Watched the irresistible Roxanne while Caleb and Carmen got to enjoy the Bahamas

Of course I had my weekly girl time over coffee on Saturday morning.

Jeremy and I also got to enjoy some delicious Thai food that our friend Crystal prepared, and a night of Phase 10 between us, Dan, Crystal, Jarred and Tara.

Sunday will merit a post of it's own one day, complete with pictures, but Jeremy and I picked up some goofy 80's outfits and accessories... more details on this to come.

Once today is over I have a whole new 5 day weekend thanks to some stored up vacation time. I'm looking forward to time with family and friends, good food, decorating for the holidays, baking Christmas cookies and more.

What did you do last weekend? What are your plans for this one?


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weekend Cooking

These are the items that I made last weekend when we had our friends Randy and Meggan over, both recipes were delicious!

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownie Cups

Cheesecake Batter

-1 pkg. (8 oz) reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
-1 egg
-1/3 c. sugar
-1/2 t. vanilla
-1/8 t. salt
-1/2 - 1 c. chocolate chips

Brownie Batter

-1 c. water
-1/3 c. vegetable oil
-1 T. vinegar
-1 t. vanilla
-1 1/2 c. flour
-1 c. sugar
-1/4 c. baking cocoa
-1 t. baking soda
-1 t. salt

1. Beat together the cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, stir together the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Combine remaining ingredients and stir in to the liquid. Whisk together until smooth, or mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Batter will be thin.

3. Grease two muffin tins, or use paper liners, and fill each with a 1/4 c. batter. Put about one tablespoon of the cheesecake mixture in the center of each cup.4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before eating. Store in the refrigerator.

These also freeze really well and can be defrosted in the fridge, or in the microwave for 30 seconds. I also like them warmed by heating in the microwave for 30 seconds prior to enjoying.

Shepherd's Pie

-4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
-1 T butter
-1 T finely chopped onion
-1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-salt and pepper to taste and milk to desired consistency
-2 cups frozen mixed veggies, thawed (I used peas, corn, carrots and green beans)
-1 onion, chopped
-1 lb lean ground beef
-2 T flour
-2 T ketchup
-1/4 cup worcheshire sauce
-a pack of brown gravy mix
-1 cup water
-few dashes of paprika

1. Bring a large pot of salter water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash. Mix in butter, finely chopped onion, cheddar cheese and desired amount of milk, salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Heat oil or spray in large pan. Add onion and cook until clear. Add ground beef and cook until well browned. Add 2 T of flour and stir to coat. Stir in ketchup, worcheshire, brown gravy mix and water. When sauce starts to thicken stir in veggies. Simmer until thickened.

3. Spread beef and veggie mixture on the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Lentil Stew

I made this recipe for dinner on Tuesday and it was delicious! It’s not nearly as exquisite, elaborate or impressive as some of the recipes that I make (like Asian Lettuce Wraps or Thai Chicken Curry), but it is very good. Especially this time of year, when it’s chilly outside, I love to warm up with a warm bowl of soup or stew for dinner. This recipe calls for simple ingredients and preparation and combines them to form a healthful and delicious dinner. The leftovers were even better for lunch the next day. I will definitely be adding this into the rotation of easy yet pleasing weeknight dinners.

-2 cups dry lentils, rinsed
-2/3 cup brown rice
-1 box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess juice in a dish rag
-3 cans chicken broth
-4 cups water
-2 carrots, chopped
-1 yellow onion, chopped
-1 package turkey kielbasa, sliced on a diagonal
-1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (I used 2 and that was medium spicy in my opinion, at the limit for Jeremy, I would start with 1 if you’re not big on spicy food)

Heat oil or cooking spray in large pot over medium heat. Add sausage and cook a few minutes, until brown. Add carrots and onion and sauté until soft. Add red pepper flakes and stir. Stir in rice, broth, lentils and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in spinach and cook 5 minutes longer to heat through. Serve and enjoy.


Friday, November 7, 2008

What's Your Mission Statement?

This morning at the Institute we had guest speaker Lloyd Reeb come and speak to us. It was quite a pleasure. In the short time that we had with Lloyd it became obvious that the Lord is using him to encourage, and motivate Christian leaders. Lloyd asked those in our class if any of us had personal mission statements. He encouraged us to ask ourselves questions like; “What is my purpose?”, “What are my skills/ abilities?”. He encouraged us to use these answers to form a mission statement that is specific. That the mission statement should include “Who”, “How” and “The Expected Result”. That once we’ve shaped our mission statement we can use that to become more effective for the Kingdom.

Here’s an example format he gave for thinking through and processing this: I’m trusting God to use my ______________ to serve ________________ so that ________________________.

He suggested that we should have a way to track our results, and evaluate if we are effective. That we should continue in efforts that produce results, and eliminate those that don’t.

Lloyd suggested that we make a chart of everything that we spend our time on and rate the level of value equated with each. That we should eliminate the activities of low value and find ways to overlap as many activities of high value as possible. His example was that he rides his bike to overlap times of prayer, exercise and solitude, by combining these he saved three hours a week and was able to reinvest those hours into other activities of high value within his mission.

Lloyd’s main point was that by having a clear mission we can free ourselves from the things that are not within our mission and those yokes that we tend to take upon ourselves that seem burdensome, overcrowd our schedules, and make us feel weary. In order to stay clear and focused we will have to say no to opportunities that are not in line with our mission.

All of this got me thinking…
1. What is my purpose?
2. What are my skills and abilities?
3. What are the things I highly value spending time on (and does how I use my time reflect that)?
4. What can I cut out (these may be good things, just not in contributing to my purpose)?
5. What can I overlap?
6. How can I be more effective for the Kingdom?
7. What is my mission statement?
8. How can I track my results?

Here’s my rough draft so far, I think this is going to be a prayerful process as I see how God is at work through and around me and where He’s producing fruit.

1. to build women up in Christ
2. encouragement, administrative/ attention to detail/ planning/ organizing, service, hospitality, cooking, crafting
3. time alone, prayer, journaling, study of Scripture, reading, connecting with my hubby, spending time with family, investing in friendships, exercise, serving others, time to be creative
4. time watching TV, classes at the Institute
5. go prayer walking, go for a walk with hubby… or prayer walking with hubby, go for a walk with friend or family… or prayer walking, crafting time with friends, crafting ministry opportunities
6. ?
7. ?
8. ?

Just for kicks and inspiration here are some mission statements from different organizations that I’ve been a part of;
-Your Next Step: Bring them in, build them up, send them out
-Christ United Methodist Church: Bringing People into Growing Love Relationships with God and Others.
-Kelly Services: To provide the highest quality service and solutions to our customers, employees, shareholders and communities.
-CarMax: To provide our customers great quality cars at great prices with exceptional customer service.


Cranberry Spinach Salad

Jeremy and I enjoyed this salad for dinner last night and it was so good that I just had to share the recipe. We both were impressed at how light and fresh it was. We added chopped up grilled turkey burgers to make it a dinner, but you could do sliced grilled chicken breasts for a more formal dinner salad or crumbled bacon. I think feta, gorgonzola or blue cheese would be a nice addition also. You could also substitute pine nuts, pecans or walnuts for the almonds, and use regular balsamic, white wine or another type of vinegar in place of the white balsamic. Basically this is a great base recipe and can easily be altered by what you have in your pantry or what your taste prefers. (I cut the sugar and oil from the original recipe in half to lighten up the dressing and omitted the butter that was involved in toasting the nuts). Enjoy!

Cranberry Spinach Salad

-1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted (in oven for 10 minutes at 350)
-1 pound baby spinach
-1 cup dried cranberries
-2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (in oven for 10 minutes at 350)
-1/4 cup white sugar
-2 teaspoons minced onion
-1/4 teaspoon paprika
-1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
-1/4 cup olive oil

Combine the almonds, spinach and cranberries in a bowl. In another bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients to make dressing. Toss dressing with salad just before serving.

Click here to view other recipes from the Recipe Box Swap at I have to Say.