Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Words

No words can express the sorrow, the pain, the tragedy, and the horror of the events that occurred on Friday.  The word of the elementary shooting spread rapidly and tears of the nation were shed for those in Newtown, Ct.  We are praying for the community, those who lost loved ones, and the little ones that had to endure this most horrific acts.   Isaiah 42:16 "And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do to them, and not forsake them."  He is our Peace and the only One we can count in on when this world makes no sense.  He will never forsake us.

This will be my last post until 2013. (That sounds so odd - twenty thirteen!)  I pray you have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed new year.  

Here are my thoughts on the stress that looms in the coming days...

When I want to pull my hair out because of all the cooking that needs to be done...I will be thankful I have food to cook.

When I want to yell at my children to stop bouncing off the walls...I will be thankful for these little miracles that God has entrusted to me.

When I want to give up because I have sooooo many presents to wrap...I will remember how much I love my huge family and every thing each person means to me.

When I want to get frustrated during this busy time of year...I will praise the One we are celebrating and all He has done for us.

Let's keep our eyes and hearts on the Reason for the season!

Today's Verse
 "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts" Col 3:15a.

What's Cookin'...it's almost Wednesday!

I will be making a lot of appetizers for our Christmas Eve gathering.  I have actually already made my cheese ball and it is in the freezer.  I also plan to make my pizza bites, spinach dip and bacon smokies.  Here are the recipes and maybe you can use one.  I hope your family enjoys!

Cheese Ball

8 oz cream cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Whisk together first 5 ingredients.  Refrigerate for at least two hours and then form a ball or log and roll in pecans.  Serve with veggies and crackers.

Pizza bites

2 cans 8 count crescent rolls
1/3 cup pizza sauce (plus an additional 1 cup to serve with)
1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp of Italian seasoning

Press one can of crescents into a 9 in x 12 in rectangle.  Spread with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.  Place desired amount of pepperonis over cheese before topping with remaining can of crescents (which should also be pressed together in a rectangle).  Sprinkle with seasoning.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until desired brownness.  Serve with warm pizza sauce.

Spinach dip

8 oz cream cheese
2 cup mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
4 Tbsp melted butter
10 oz frozen spinach (defrosted and drained)
14 oz can artichoke hearts (drained)

Whisk together first 4 ingredients before adding spinach and artichokes.  Transfer to a small crock pot and cook on low for 3 hours.  Serve with veggies, pita chips, tortilla chips or crackers.

Bacon Smokies

1 lb bacon (cut into thirds)
14 oz smokies
3/4 cup brown sugar

Wrap each smokie with 1/3 slice of bacon and secure with toothpick.  Place brown sugar in ziplock bag and shake smokies in brown sugar.  Put on large baking sheet and sprinkle with all brown sugar.  Bake at 325 for 35-40 minutes.

Little bites for the Big night!  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What's Cookin'

I am in prep mode for my Christmas cookin'.  Doing as much as I can ahead of time helps in those final days before the Big Day!  I was in the kitchen a lot yesterday and one of my tasks was browning several pounds of sausage and freezing for use in the weeks ahead.  I do this with my hamburger for sauces, tacos, and soups as well.  It works great to go ahead and brown, drain, and store in a freezer safe container.  This helps so much!  I do not have any recipe photos for today, but I do have some fabulous recipes that I will be using this sausage in and it includes our Christmas morning breakfast.  I hope your family enjoys...and maybe even for Christmas morning!

Mom's Breakfast Casserole - I assemble this the night before and store covered in the fridge.  Christmas morning I sneak in the kitchen and place in the oven before the first present is ripped into.  Then after opening presents and a little playing, breakfast is ready and ohhhhh soooooo yummy!!!

1 pkg. refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 lb. browned and drained sausage - crumbled
5 eggs or 1 and 1/4 cup egg beaters
1 and 3/4 cup milk
2 cups of cheddar cheese or cheese of your choice

Preheat oven to 375.  Glass dishes or stoneware work best for this dish.  Spray your 13x9 baking dish or 2 qt. casserole dish.  Press crescent dough into pan making sure all perforated seams are together.  Spread sausage over dough.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Whisk eggs and milk together with a pinch of salt and pepper.  I also add a dash of hot sauce, but this can be omitted.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until browned and the eggs are set to your liking.

Sausage Pinwheels  - 3 ingredients and incredible taste - I get more requests for this than for sausage balls now.  (If you do not know what a sausage ball is, then bless your heart and click here for the bisquick recipe.  It is a southern staple!)  http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/bisquick-sausge-balls/1e4b70e6-9fcf-40e7-baf8-57cfce15f2b6

2 pkg. refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 jar of cheese product (I use cheese wiz)
2 lbs. browned and drained sausage - crumbled

In a skillet, combine the cheese product and cooked and drained sausage.  Take crescents and half in the middle before unrolling dough.  Unroll and press seams together to make a 4in x 12 in rectangle.  After doing this with both packages you should have 4 rectangles of dough.  Spread the cheese and sausage mixture over dough.  Roll up jelly roll style and wrap in wax paper.  Place in freezer for about an hour or even two weeks in advance.  If frozen for longer than a few hours you may have to wait a few minutes before slicing.  Slice in 1/4 in slices and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 for 8-12 minutes or until light brown.  So addictive and makes a ton to feed a crowd.

Hope you can use these in your Christmas menus!

Today's Verse
"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts"  Colossians 3:15a

Monday, December 10, 2012

All About M.E.

One of my favorite verses that reminds me of this gift-giving season is Matthew 7:11, "If ye then, being evil (or sinful), know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him."  We as parents we want to provide gifts for our children, especially this time of year, and our heavenly Father desires to give us gifts as well.

I love to get the items on my girls' wish list, or at least the reasonable things.  My oldest daughter is asking for "bath goo"...something that turns your bath water into a gel like mess.  It supposedly has something that you pour in after playing and it turns back to water.  Well, thankfully after further research I have discovered this stuff can be a nightmare of clogged drains and messed up pipes.  We have forewarned her that this gift will not be making an appearance under our Christmas tree, but hopefully we will find a bath accessory that will be just as fun.  (I am researching bath fizzes and bath paints now!)

Although I know she is heart broken, she must learn the hard lesson that we don't always get what we want.  And for further teachable moments...this season is not all about the gifts...and not all about M.E.

The reason for my initial use is simple, for any that do not know, my daughter's names are Macie and Emmie... hence the M and the E.

I work so hard during the month of December.  I plan our days with fun activities...parades, crafts, parties, baking, gingerbread house making (which is scheduled for tomorrow - yikes!), church activities, family get togethers and so on and so on.  I try to make this time fun and memorable.

Then I got a big wake up call one day last week.  We bought the girls their own little pink Christmas tree to put up in the hall outside of their room.  Hanging near the top of the tree is two initial ornaments they received last year.  I was walking out of their room and I caught site of the word ME.  It hit me hard.  I felt that nudge at my heart...I am making Christmas too much about M and E.   I am getting caught up in making this time of year fun, and I need to make sure I am giving them the greatest gift I can as a mom.

No present, no toy, no latest fad, no trampoline, no pretty package could ever outweigh the gift of eternal life.  And the responsibility of teaching my girls of this precious gift and the One who cam so we might have it is left up to my husband and me.  Yes the fun things are exciting.  There are memories to be made and traditions to be handed down.  And our heavenly Father wants us to enjoy this time.  But there is nothing that can replace why we celebrate!

Today's Verses
"And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."  Deuteronomy 6:5-7

We are to teach our children daily of God's love, His forgiveness, how we can accept His Son as our Savior, and how we are to love Him with our whole selves...not just at Christmas, not just when He answers a prayer, but always as He as loved us always.  This is the perfect time of year to start these lessons for our little ones if we haven't already done so.  Let's make this season and every season about HIM!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


How is the December Challenge going?  It is honestly helping me deal with the chaos of this busy season!  I had a really great experience yesterday...until I got caught.  

We tried to anonymously do a kind deed for someone we randomly met yesterday.  But as we were making our get-away, we got caught.  I was disappointed at being found out, but seeing the smile and hearing a heart-felt "thank-you so much!" made us feel good!  

I was contemplating the deed for today when I got a major wake-up call.  The girls' devotion this morning was entitled..."Pray for Everybody".  Uh-oh!  This was going to be one of those devotions that was probably meant more for me than the girls.  It happens, and it happens more than I would like to admit.  Did it really say "Everybody"????

When I announced the December Challenge I said one of my thinking of others moments might include..."spending extra time in prayer for someone in my life".  But, did I include everyone when that thought crossed my mind?  Did I include those who might have hurt my feelings?  Was I thinking about that person that rubs me the wrong way?  Can I truly say I wanted to do kind deeds for "Everybody"?

It's been on my mind a lot since this morning and I am praying about what God would have me to do.  We know the verses that come to mind when talking about forgiving others and loving our enemies.  But, I know that it is so hard to pray for blessings on someone that has hurt us.  It can be difficult to forgive someone who has wronged us.  It is tough, but it is possible.  And not only is it possible, but it is so freeing.  Peace will wash over us when we lift another in prayer.  Thankfulness will abound when we forgive someone and we realize how much our heavenly Father has forgiven us.  

Today's Verses

"For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.  And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.   And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.   But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.   Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful."  Luke 6:32-36

I love my family and I love my friends, but I will also strive to love the stranger I meet, the acquaintance that hurt me, and the enemy that wronged me.  Not only do we challenge ourselves to do kind things for others this December, we include "Everybody" in that challenge!  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What's Cookin' Wednesday!

Here are the reindeer graham crackers we made in my daughter's kindergarten class last week.  There are tons of ways to do this...homemade triangle sugar cookies or of course graham crackers.  We iced the whole cracker just for fun and because icing is so tasty to a 5 year old!  We used green MM's for eyes and a red one for the nose.  I also had the option to use red hot candies for the nose.  All the children tried the red hots, but nobody used for the nose.  That was a funny experience seeing their little faces after popping the candy in their mouths!  My one tip for not breaking the crackers when cutting is to use a serrated knife and cut in a sawing motion.  Have fun and be creative...I hope your family enjoys!!!

As my daughter's teacher said..."Jesus is 'deer' to me!"

Also, as requested, from Betty Crocker, here is the snickerdoodle bars I mentioned earlier.  I forgot to take a picture of my finished bars this week, and now they are all gone!!!  The only difference I have between the recipe and mine...I usually have to bake for 30-35 minutes; I add a Tbsp of brown sugar to the mixture to sprinkle in the middle.  I also reserve a tsp of the cinnamon/sugar mixture and mix in the icing.


Snickerdoodle Bars

2 1/3
cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 1/4
teaspoons baking powder
teaspoon salt
cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4
cups granulated sugar
cup packed brown sugar
teaspoon vanilla
Cinnamon Filling
tablespoon granulated sugar
tablespoon cinnamon
cup powdered sugar
to 2 tablespoons milk
teaspoon vanilla

  • Heat oven to 350° F. Spray or grease bottom only of a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  • 1 In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.  In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on high speed until creamy. Beat in sugars. Gradually beat in eggs and vanilla into sugar mixture until combined. On low speed, beat in dry ingredients until combined.
  • 2Spoon half the batter into pan; spread evenly. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over batter.
  • 3Dollop teaspoon size amounts of remaining batter evenly over cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  • 4Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  • 5In small bowl, stir glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over bars. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows.

Today's Verse
"Let thine heart retain my words:  keep my commandments, and live."  Proverbs 4:4b

Monday, December 3, 2012

No Tweaking

My oh my what an absolutely gorgeous day here in NC!!!  We are planning a trip to the park after picking up big sis from school and before heading to gymnastics!  I need to get in as much walking as possible considering all the sweets that were in my house this week.  With my husbands' b-day on Friday complete with cookie cake and ice cream cake,  (I hope you had a great birthday honey!!!), a Christmas celebration at my daughter's school with reindeer cookies, cupcakes and snickerdoodle bars, and I made a blueberry pound cake for our Sunday school class, the amount of sweets I consumed this weekend was unbelievable.  But oh how tasty!

I love to cook.  I love to take a recipe and make a small change here or there.  Or maybe I completely rethink the whole concept and make something totally different.  There are not many recipes that I see that I don't tweak.  Even the snickerdoodle bars and blueberry pound cake, which are perfect, I still make a small change to the icing and filling for the bars and add a little icing to the pound cake.  Tweaking just comes naturally when it comes to me and a recipe.

One thing I cannot tweak is the story of this Christmas season.  The Reason we are celebrating.  The Reason my kitchen will be even more of a buzz for the next few weeks.  The Reason I will be tweaking recipes.  The Reason for all the excitement is the birth of Jesus.  His birth, ministry on earth, death and resurrection cannot be tweaked.  There is no taking away from what He did for mankind.  There is no adding to what He did for you and me.  He was born, suffered, died and rose again for us.  There is nothing anyone can change about the facts.

Many will protest after seeing a nativity scene.  Many will frown when we happily say Merry Christmas.  Many will say the birth of our Savior isn't true.  But we know the Bible to be true.  We know many have tried to tweak the reason for this Christmas season, but let's stand firm in the fact that no tweaking is allowed.  Christ's birth is the Reason we celebrate...period!

Today's Verse
Matthew 1:23 "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."

I hope to share more tweaked recipes in the next few weeks, but as with last year, posts may be fewer as the days leading up to the 25th grow busier and busier!   May we keep our eyes focused on Him in the coming weeks and may you truly enjoy this Christmas season!