Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Updates and Quick Dinner Recipe

Things have been whirling past lately.  Everyone in my household has been so busy.  Today I am able to stay inside and get a few things done, and most importantly, have a little quiet time.
I have been looking for ways to simplify my days lately and cooking healthy, but easy meals has been a priority.

I've started out each week buying 7 lbs of individually wrapped frozen veggies.  That way, each night of the week, we have a frozen veggie with dinner.  I get brussels sprouts, corn, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, and peas and carrots.  SO easy.  

I've been using my electric griddle a lot lately too.  I have found that it's easy and quick to cook fresh chicken tenders on the griddle.

As always, beans are my go to fast food.  Lentils in particular.  I bought 10 lbs of lentils last week for ten dollars.  We eat at least two pound a week.  

Here's my easy meal:

1 lb lentils cooked with water
Add 1 jar salsa
Add 1 bag frozen corn
Next cook on the griddle chicken tenders seasoned with taco seasoning.

After they are done, slice and put in the pot with the other ingredients.  Serve with chips or rice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review of The Screwtape Letters

I finished reading C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters last week.  The book is not very long, but it really packs a punch.  Technically, the book is a satire and it's written in the epistolary style.  The book is a series of letters from one fictitious demon to another.  Screwtape is Wormwood's uncle. Screwtape is a senior demon and Wormwood (also a demon) is his pupil.  In these letters, Screwtape gives Wormwood advice on tempting his subject throughout his life.  "The Enemy" referred to in this book, because it is written from Screwtape's and Wormwood's perspective, is God.

A common theme in this book, you'll notice, is that Screwtape and Wormwood aren't tempting the subject into doing something totally huge or outrageous.  Rather, they are tempting him slowly, within the confines of his own mind, using his own knowledge and circumstances against him.  One of the main tricks the demons in the book employ is distraction and then haughty justification of that distraction.  For example, feeling superior to others because you are a leader in some sort of "good cause".  Another scheme is confusion.  Throw lots of contradictory messages at a person, allow him/her to see the merit in each one and prevent them from taking a stand or to take action.  Another method Screwtape and Wormwood use is creating dependence on emotion.  Really convincing the subject that if he/she feels a certain way, then it must be true.  It could't be based on mood, or diet, or what Lewis calls the Law of Undulation.  Lewis discusses this at length throughout the book. Historically, he has some interesting points in chapter 7 dealing with patriotism/pacifism.  This is especially interesting because this book was written during the thick of WWII.

The Screwtape Letters is a very interesting book.  It has influenced many people.  While I don't necessarily agree with everything presented in the book; I think it's an interesting piece of literature and work of Christian Apologetics that articulates quite well the similarities we face throughout our human experience.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review of The Red Sea Rules

I was sent a complementary copy of The Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan from Harper Collins Christian Publishing quite a while ago and I read it.  It's a small book and my little daughter really liked the book's size and color, so she would always pick it up and bring it to me.  I didn't write my review right away.  Somehow, the book ended up in my large handbag for at least a month.  I carried it with me everywhere and found myself pulling it out and re-reading short passages.  The book is geared to troubled times - in fact, the extended title reads 10 God-Given Strategies for Troubled Times. I treated it like my small Day by Day devotional or my Jesus Calling book -- occasionally opening it up at random for some words of inspiration or solace in some way.  The short stories were easy to relate to, the author's narration was, simple, and easy to take.  The book is very useful and very comforting.  Fast forward, and I sat down to write a review of the book.  At long, and more academic one than this.  I published it on my blog, and then, poof, erased!  Another month went by and I suggested that my church book group read it last month.  We did and it received very positive feedback.  I think this book is an excellent choice for a book group because you don't have to read the book all at once.  You can just thumb through it and see what speaks to you.  There are specific scriptures in each section along with study questions (something I've really come to love in books.)  

The Red Sea Rules, updated: The Same God Who Led  You in Will Lead You Out

All that said, the book is a simple and practical guide for any Christian.  It's divided in to 10 sections or rules that help you put things in perspective.  A few examples are:  #1 Realize that God means for you to be where you are; #5 Stay calm and confident, and give God time to work; and #10 View your current crisis as a faith builder for the future.

The last one really resounded with me.  I have a tendency to forget that one.  I really like for things to run smoothly and it takes some contemplation on my part to shift my perspective and realize that a crisis is a faith builder.  But, when I look back on difficult times in my life, I can now see that those really were faith building opportunities for me and that I have grown for the better because of them.  

I really do recommend this book.  It would make a great gift book for Christmas.  I have seen the price listed at just $5.00 for a beautiful, hardcover copy.  5 out of 5 stars!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Book Updates

I have been meaning to blog, but haven't gotten myself on a schedule yet after having some computer problems.  However, I think now things should be good to go!  

I made a wonderful discovery last week  . . . a wonderful author!  Every now and then I scan the free classics section offered to me by Amazon through Kindle Fire.  I do feel that I have some holes to fill in my education as far as classic literature goes, so the fact that they are free, really helps with that.  I do not read classics quickly, so if they can stay on my Kindle, all the better!  

I came across the author George MacDonald and was able to download The Princess and the Goblin for free.  I'm reading it aloud to my seven year old and he and I are both loving it!  What a wonderful story.  I've been reading C.S. Lewis lately and I looked up who his greatest influences were, and lo and behold, it was George MacDonald!  I plan to order a few more of his books in hard cover to add to my actual library!  

I'm also working my way through C.S, Lewis's The Screwtape Letters and taking very detailed notes, I will share them here next week.  

I wrote a review of the book I'm reading for my book group, but somehow, it disappeared, so I'll get that up again!  The book is The Red Sea Rules.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Use It Up: Pennsylvania Dutch Tetrazzini

Earlier this week I made a huge pot of chicken stock.  I'd covered the broth and put it in the fridge and meant to de-fat it the next morning.  But that didn't happen!  I ended up leaving the broth in the fridge for 2 extra days.  It was a beautiful broth so I scraped off all of the fat and double strained it into a large stock pot.  I brought it up to a boil and removed all of the "scum" which is actually all of the impurities.  As the boil rolls, you may find some more impurities, but you can discard the foam.  You'll be left with a clean broth.  

I boiled 1 1/2 bags of wide Pennsylvania Dutch noodles and set them aside.  Next, I melted 1 stick of butter in a large pot, added 1/2 C flour and 7 C broth.  I added 1 C milk and cooked it so it was a nice sauce.  You do this by whisking constantly until it boils.  Let it boil for 1-2 minutes.  Then, I added the noodles, some leftover meatballs (about 10 pre-cooked, frozen) and 1 package of frozen peas.  Mix together in the stock pot and pour into 2 large pyrex dishes.  I covered the top with breadcrumbs and cheese and baked for 1/2 hour at 375.  Easy 1 pot meal.  

Since I already had everything this was practically a free meal.  I bought the noodles on sale for $0.98 each and used 1 1/2 bags ($1.50.)  The peas were about 1 dollar and let's say the meatballs were worth two dollars (probably less) so that's $4.50 for 2 large trays of food.  One can be frozen or given away.  This meal is packed with protein, minerals, and essential vitamins and you know how I feel about the benefits of bone broth!  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Autumn Updates

Autumn is such a beautiful season!

Here's what it looks like around here:

I bought a cute little spider web cake pan for Halloween . . .

I made the cake from scratch, but bought orange candy corn flavored frosting and black and orange icing to decorate.

For a while, I had more apples than I knew what to do with so we ate them twice a day!

Then we made some apple crisp  . . .

and some hot pumpkin spice tea  . . .

I made a batch of Sally Clarkson's apple-pumpkin streusel muffins.  I didn't change a thing about this recipe and the grated apple in these muffins takes a little extra time, but it's worth it!

This is how they came out:

I made a bunch of these muffins and sat them on the kitchen table

where they lasted less than a day!

Been feeling the urge to decorate for the season as well  . . .

and make soup.

This is easy lentil soup.  1 lb. lentils, 10 cups water, 1 packet Goya chicken seasoning, 2 handfuls of fresh, baby spinach, and 10-15 ready cooked meatballs (I buy these at Costco.) This will be dinner tonight.

We're still working on Prince Caspian - up to chapter 12 now!  In between I read some wonderful picture books.  One I really liked was called The Snow Goose.

Happy blustery fall!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Today is a laundry day.  Well, every day is a laundry day, but today, or, rather, I should say, this morning is a laundry morning.  Laundry is a chore that I really don't mind.  My washer and dryer are in a convenient closet in my kitchen.  I think if I had to lug laundry up and down stairs I would feel differently about it.  I also love having my dryer on the first floor because it heats the house and I need that in the mornings.  It's in the 40's these days so every little bit of heat helps!

Yesterday I roasted two more chickens, made a fun Halloween cake for the kids, and baked a big pan of banana bread.  Today, I'm making apple crisp and orange mousse.  

The weekend was warm enough for me to hang freshly washed linens on the line and let them dry in the sun.  This afternoon might give us a few hours of warm sun so I can hang out some bleached towels.

Last week I found a doughnut pan at a local kitchen store.  I bought two.  The pan is made by Wilton and you can find it here.  I decided to make apple cider doughnuts for the kids because we always end up buying those at the orchard and they are gone in seconds!  I played around with a basic doughnut recipe until I was happy with the results and came up with these cider doughnuts.

I was hoping the kids would like them, and happy because they devoured them.  I've since made 3 dozen and the most recent batch I made at about 8:00 p.m. and my 8:00 a.m. the next morning they were gone!

Here's my recipe:

Apple Cider Doughnuts

2 C. all purpose flour
3/4 C sugar 
2 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
3/4 t salt
3/4 C apple cider
2 eggs
2 T melted butter

For the cinnamon sugar glaze

2 T melted butter and pastry brush
mix together in a separate bowl: 
1 C white sugar
1 T cinnamon

Mix all the dry ingredients together.  Add the cider, eggs, and melted butter.  Spray the pans with cooking spray and fill about half way.  The dough is not like batter, it's like dough so you have to nudge it into the pans a bit.  Bake for about 8-9 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let rest about a minute.  Brush the doughnut lightly with butter and roll both sides in the cinnamon sugar.  Place on a wire rack to cool.

They really are easy.  My kids love doughnuts and they've always been so much work to make what with making the yest dough, rising, frying, etc. and baking them is so much easier and healthier!

You can play around with this recipe too.  I was thinking I might toast some coconut and then put it in the blender and try using that as a coating for my next batch!

Well, that's about it for today, I hoping to get some housework done, keep up with my reading schedule for the kids (3-4 books daily with my 4 year old) and a chapter a night of Prince Caspian for the boys.  I'm about to put a big pot of coffee on and get to work!