Saturday, March 31, 2012

Show me your Glory!!!

Daffodils reaching for the sun.
Daffodils starting to open!
I had asked God one morning to "Show me His Glory!" I am trying to get in the habit of asking to see Him in the most unexpected places. Sometimes we are aware of him when it's right in our face, but for us to stop and really look, to search like we are looking for hidden treasure is where He will surprise us. Since we have been blessed with early spring and almost summer like weather, I was out doing a walkabout of our yard. Yes a walkabout! Have you ever done this yourself? I started to do this shortly after we moved in our home. I observed my Mother-in-law in the spring, summer and fall just walking about the perimeter of their lake property. I often wondered what she was looking for or thinking about. Was she looking for bunny nests, dropped bird eggs, where to plant flowers, what to prune, rocks that need to be re-stacked, repairs that needed to be done from the winter. I start at one corner of our property and slowly work my way around. This is when I find myself looking for the bunny nests that we have been blessed with since we moved in, picking up scraps of unused materials that birds do not use for their nest, checking out the house and looking to see what needs to be repaired and just observing just as she did.

As I was coming upon the left side of our front steps, there His was! Daffodils, no way!! There has not been one blooming daffodil in this spot since we moved in 9 years ago. It's like someone just planted these bulbs in a perfect circle. Just amazing. We had a small row of them by fence, but they never got more than 4" tall, no blooms then they stopped coming up all together. I love daffodils, who doesn't, one of the first to break thru the ground in Spring. Rebirth, joy, happiness, farewell to winter. I see those stems just reaching as straight as they can toward the sun. I too need to keep myself reaching towards the Son. If in full bloom for Easter Sunday, they will make a nice addition to our table. I was in search for God's glory and there he was right at my front door! Matthew 7:8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. I can only imagine what Mom's walkabouts are like now. Talk about treasures...I am looking forward to my next walkabout at the lake.

The Easter Story Continued-Matthew 27:57-65 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate, "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, "After three days I will rise again." So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has risen from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first. "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how. So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I can't believe you made that cake! Baking with Nicole.

Nicole and I finally got together to make this cake and yes, the recipe name is correct. We can't believe WE made this cake! We were hoping to post this in February for Valentines, but with sickness and schedules we just couldn't hook up. However, chocolate and strawberries are not just for February and Valentines. This cake is absolutely gorgeous and would be a delightful dessert for any occasion, especially with Easter and Mother's day just around the corner. It looks really complicated, but actually it's pretty easy. We took our time baking and assembling over the course of two days. We baked the cake one day, and the next day we made the frosting and chocolate chard's. Putting it all together was the fun part. You could easily use just one chocolate for the chard's and mix up the berries would still result in a  beautiful cake. I'm thinking white chocolate chard's and blueberries for the fourth of July. The recipe came from one of Nicole's favorite cookbooks, Baking made easy by Lorraine Pascale. I like my frosting on the soft side and removed it from the refrigerator about an hour or so before serving. It is delicious all by itself and really does not need any adornment. Feel free to use your own favorite cake recipe. It doesn't have to be chocolate, yellow or white would be equally delicious. We've started a binder to keep track of all the recipes we are making together. We have fun in the kitchen, we bake, sample and go out for lunch. A young foodie who understands the passion and language of food. How cool is that. You too can make this cake!

Easter Story Continued-Matthew 27:51-55 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.

I can't believe you made that cake!

Cake ingredients-

7 oz butter softened
7 oz caster sugar ( I used regular sugar)
4 eggs
5 oz plain flour
2 1/2 oz cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease & flour an 8" in round cake pan. Cream together the butter and sugar until they are pale. Add half the eggs and half the flour and mix well. Add the rest of the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder and beat for a minute or two. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for about 30-40 minutes. (Our cake took just about the whole 40 minutes.) Bake until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan. We left ours to cool and went out for lunch. When they were cool enough I covered with foil and left out overnight.

Butter-cream frosting ingredients-

9 oz softened butter
1 lb 2oz icing sugar (confectioners')
3 1/2 oz good dark chocolate (we used Nestle's dark chocolate chips) melted and cooled
just a splash or two of half and half to thin as needed


Place the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and beat until the mixture is fluffy. You might need to add some half & half or milk just to help it mix well. Add the cooled melted chocolate and beat until all well combined.

Chocolate chard's-

4oz white chocolate melted
4oz milk chocolate melted
9 oz bittersweet chocolate melted

We made the chocolate chard's in between making the frosting and frosting the cake. Melt each chocolate in separate bowls using the microwave in increments of 20 seconds. Stirring until smooth.
On a cookie sheet, place a piece of wax paper and drizzle the white chocolate all over, refrigerate till harden about 10 minutes or so. Take out of refrigerator and drizzle the milk chocolate over the white, refrigerate for another 10 minutes or so or until harden. Take pan out of refrigerator and spread the bittersweet chocolate over the drizzled chocolate, covering all the chocolate and again refrigerate until harden. When all is harden well, break into good size chard's to cover the edges of the cake. Leave in the refrigerator until ready to decorate the cake.

Assembling the cake-

At least 1 quart of strawberries, remove tops, wash, dry and slice.

Cut the cake in half. Place one layer on plate and spread with some butter-cream frosting. I like a generous helping of frosting in between the layers. Just make sure you have enough left to frost the whole cake. Place the second layer on top and lightly coat the top and sides with some more of the butter-cream frosting. Refrigerate until the frosting is firm. Once the frosting is hard to the touch remove and frost the cake with the rest of the frosting. Gently place the chocolate chard's around the cake. Top with the strawberries. Refrigerate, take out about an hour or so before serving...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Homemade Pancake Syrup

Yes, this is homemade pancake syrup and no it is not made with maple syrup that you tap from the trees. However, this does taste far better than the stuff you buy at the grocery store with corn syrup & or high fructose syrup. Other than homemade marshmallows and pecan pie I really try to eliminate as much of those syrups as possible. I came across this recipe in the first Tightwad Gazette book and have been making it for the last 14 years. Pure maple syrup is very expensive, running about $60.00 a gallon in our area, that's a weeks worth of gas $$$ for me. This is great to have on hand, is easy to make and you can use it in between those splurges of maple syrup, or if you receive it as a gift! I have used it in baking and cooking recipes and have yield very good results. I also see it as one less thing to purchase at the store and I recycle jars that I already have on hand. I am relieved to know that if we run out syrup we are just minutes away from a batch.

Easter story continued-Matthew 27:45-50 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice. "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"-which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" When some of those standing there heard his, they said, "He is calling Elijah." Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him." And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit

Homemade Pancake Syrup-


3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
3 Tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons butter flavoring or extract
3 teaspoons maple extract or flavoring


Bring all to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves (a good rolling boil). Turn off burner, but leave pot on the burner until bubbling stops and cool completely. Store in a clean jar. 
This make 1 quart. 

Eat Well, Sonya


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Creamy Spinach Carrot Soup

Oh, how I love this soup! This is a recipe I acquired from Gooseberry Patch years ago. It took making a batch the other day to remind me how much I love making soups, just as much as I love making flourless chocolate cake. Have you ever had a slice of flourless chocolate cake? Let me just say that the power of chocolate can totally transform you, sister!!! Not like the power of  God, but like chocolate can. Anyways, this is not a post about flourless chocolate cake, but about this quick, easy and delicious soup that you can have on your table in less than 30 minutes. By the time you set the table, call your family you're pretty much ready for dinner, it's healthy, good for you and requires few ingredients. Spinach & carrots how can you go wrong!  When I make soups, I love listening to the meat browning in the pan, taking the time chopping and dropping vegetables into one big pot, stirring and simmering, smelling all the flavors as they waft through our house and listening to the soup as it bubbles away telling me when it is ready to serve and not a minute before.You can serve from the same pot and there is little clean up before or after the meal. You don't have to think about what sides to serve or is there a variety of color on your plate, it's all right there in one big soup pot, all the reasons that keep me loving soup all year round. It's comforting and peaceful and makes you slow down while every ingredient is doing its thing and coming together for a ladle of goodness.  Like our family that comes together after a long day. Serve with a sandwich, lets say chicken salad, egg salad, turkey, ham or just plain Ole 'Pb&j rounds it out nicely. Whatever is your favorite. Even putting out a platter of cheese & grapes with some crackers goes nicely. I would recommend doubling the batch for leftovers which tastes even better the next day. I don't know about you, but I always check my freezer to make sure I have frozen spinach on hand, like those chicken thighs, lard and of course let us not forget the chocolate!

Easter Story continued-Jesus is Led Away to Be Crucified-Matthew 27:32-44 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes, by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.  Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!" In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel" Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if wants him, for he said. "I am the Son of God." "In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Do we demand things from God because of who he is, waiting to see if he comes through before we believe? Or do we believe because of who is he, and what he did for us on the cross?  

Creamy Spinach Carrot Soup-

3 Tablespoons butter
1 cup onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup half & half
1 can vegetable broth (10 1/2oz) or you can use chicken broth
1 cup shredded carrots
1 10 1/2oz pkg. frozen chopped spinach-thawed (I throw my in frozen)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg


In a 2 quart saucepan, melt butter; add onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender. Stir in flour until smooth and bubbly. Mix in the half & half and broth. Add the remaining ingredients, continue cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
Makes 4 servings. Please feel free to add more cream & broth according to how you like your soups. If it's too thick then thin with equal amounts of half & half and broth, staring with a 1/4 cup of each.

Eat Well, Sonya

Friday, March 2, 2012

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints

Today is my Mother-in-law's birthday and these were one of her favorite cookies. I made a batch in honor of her special day. I was pleasantly surprised when I came across the recipe in her Land-O-Lakes cookbook www.landolakes.com. One of her favorite recipes sitting quietly amongst her recipe books and I opened right to the page. I just knew I had to make them for her birthday.  Anyone who tries these cookies for the first time gets hooked. Why would you not love a cookie that has a buttery base and filled with sweet jam the color of jewels? The pretty drizzled glaze on top seals the deal. These are so darn good you may have to call the cookie police!! My Aunt and I have been putting them our Christmas cookie trays for the past few years. They freeze very well, so if your making them you might as well make a double batch and freeze some. I think they make perfect cookie gift bags all decked out with fancy ribbons that you could give to teachers, as a hostess gift,  a thank you or thinking of you, hope your feeling better gift, for just about any occasion or anyone. The ingredient list is small and not very expensive, many times you can find coupons in the Sunday paper for the Raspberry Jam. Since our oldest son loves Raspberry jam, I like to buy it at a wholesale store and have on hand for toast, peanut butter & jelly, bagels and of course these cookies. Whip up a batch today and I know you'll find yourself in love!

With Easter fast approaching I thought I would share the Easter story with you over the next six weeks- Roman Soldiers mocking Jesus- Matthew 27:27-31 Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and they twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. They spit on him and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

As I was reading this and typing I started to wonder, am I much different than those soldiers mocking Jesus. In what ways quietly, or loudly, in private or openly do I mock Jesus?

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints-

Ingredients- Cookies

1 cup butter softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup raspberry jam


1 cup powered sugar
2-3 teaspoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract


Combine butter, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low, add the flour. Beat, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. (I never refrigerate the dough and they come out beautiful)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Shape into 1" balls and place 2" apart onto un-greased cookie sheets. Make an indentation in center of each cookie with your thumb (hence the name), the edges may crack slightly and fill each with about 1/4 tsp or so of jam. Bake for 14-18 minutes or until the edges are just
lightly browned. Let stand on cookie sheet for about a minute before removing.

Cool completely before drizzling with the glaze. Once the glaze has set, you can layer between wax paper and freeze in freezer bags, place in bags to give away or fill you own cookie jar!!!

Eat Well, Sonya