Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday Munchies - Party Time

Although party season is winding down, many people have some type of New Year's Eve gathering ahead of them tomorrow.  For as long as I can remember, we have always hung out with our next door neighbors on New Year's eve. Neither of our families liked to stay out late and it's my least favorite day of the year to drive anywhere once it gets late, so hanging out with the neighbors seems like the perfect evening!  We always have enough food for an army, but it's a great excuse to try new recipes and then swap leftovers.

So far, here's our contribution to this year's lineup.  Check out these recipes and let me know what recipes you're wanting to try in 2014!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

As we spend today in preparation and anticipation of Christmas, let us not forget the reason we celebrate - God made flesh.  Whether you're spending time with family or feeling alone without them, whether you're celebrating with parties, dinners or open houses, or if you're working, weary or struggling, don't let anything overshadow the celebration of our great Savior.

Check out this short video of some spoken word that reminds us what the incarnation really means for Christ, and for us.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Munchies - Snowballs

Christmas baking has officially started!  These little cookies are known by a bunch of names and Russian Teacakes are the official (cookbook assigned) title, but I think snowballs are the most fitting for this time of year.  My mom and I made a batch of these last night, and although I always forget about them, they're one of my favorite Christmas treats.  They melt in your mouth, and I love the nutty flavor (without a chunky texture) and that the actual cookie isn't too sweet (until they're rolled in powdered sugar)! So, if you need something else to add to your holiday baking list, give these a try!

I love cooking from actual old cookbooks where you can see how they've been worn and splattered on throughout the years, so I just took a picture of the recipe today.

Recipe Source: Vintage Betty Crocker Cookbook

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday Munchies - Easy Chocolate (Non)Dipped Pretzels

Once again, I was MIA on the blog last week.  I had friends in town, then made the 16 hour trek once again from Jackson to St. Joseph, but hopefully I'll give you guys a picture update soon.  In the meantime, check out this quick and simple recipe for a tasty and cute holiday snack!  I've made these several times for different events, and they taste just like chocolate dipped pretzels, but without the mess and hassle of dipping and drying (really, how do people get them to not have a flat side?!?), and I love that these are more colorful!

Chocolate (Non)Dipped Pretzels
1 bag of square pretzels
Candy coating (chocolate, white chocolate, colorful, basically whatever you want!  I've also seen Hershey's kisses and hugs used!)
1 bag M&Ms

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat (unashamed author's plug - buy one...or two, it will become a favorite kitchen item), and place a single layer of pretzels on the baking sheet.  Put one piece of candy coating on each pretzel.  Bake for 4-5 minutes or until candy coating is soft but NOT melted.  Remove from oven, then working quickly, press an M&M down into the center of each piece of candy coating. Cool in the refrigerator until chocolate has set and store in an airtight container.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful Thursdays - Week 4

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Here are five things I'm thankful for today:

1. I'm thankful for Colin.  He's not only my brother, but my friend.  He always makes me laugh and he makes everything fun!

2. I'm thankful for Marshall.  I love this little guy so much, and I'm so thankful that God saw fit to make him a part of our immediate family last year.

3.  I'm thankful for food.  Sometimes I think we take for granted that we are able to have three nutritionally balanced meals a day, and that we actually have choices of what foods to eat for those meals.

4. I'm thankful for modern technology that allows me to call, skype, and facetime with family who are a thousand miles away. It's always a little sad being away from the fam during the holidays, but being able to see them and talk to them makes it way easier!

5. And last on this list, I'm thankful for snow and that I live in a place where I can play in it all winter.  You can find me on the ski slopes tomorrow :)

{thankful thursdays}

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday Worship - Doxology

Sometimes few and simple lyrics say more than a song with eight verses.  I love this instrumental version of the doxology by Michael Gungor.  Check out this video and spend some time praising God from whom all blessings flow!

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Munchies - Pie

Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week?  It seems like this month flew by!  In case you need some pie recipes, check out these three.  There's a classic Pecan pie, a slight twist on Apple Pie with the addition of whipping cream, and a midwest favorite, Platte County Pie (or Derby Pie) which is sort of a chocolate pecan pie.  

Check out the recipe for pie crust here.

Pecan Pie
Yield: 6-8 servings

1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup light or dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 unbaked pie crust (9 inches)

Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted.

Stir together eggs and next 5 ingredients; stir in pecans (I used whole pecans and just put a few in the filling, and arranged the rest on top of the pie). Pour filling into pie shell.
Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until set, shielding pie with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning (They're not joking...I didn't set a timer and when I went to put the foil on mine were already too brown). Serve warm or cold.

Apple Cream Pie
Yield: 6-8 servings.

4 cups sliced peeled tart apples
1 unbaked pie shell (9 inches)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 beaten egg
1 t. vanilla
1/8 t. salt
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Place apples in pie shell. Combine everything but the pecans and mix until well blended, then pour over apples. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Bake at 450° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake 35-40 minutes longer or until center is almost set and apples are tender. Cover edges with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning, if necessary. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold. (Note: The consensus in our house was that the pie actually tasted better the second day, a great one to make the day before and save yourself some last minute prep!)

Platte County Pie
Yield: 6-8 servings 

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 pound butter
1 t. vanilla
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. chocolate chips
1 unbaked pie shell (9 in.)

Beat eggs thoroughly.  Add sugar and flour to eggs and beat again.  Melt butter and allow to set 4-5 min.  Add melted and cooled butter to above mixture.  Mix well.  Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 1 hour.  Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with whipped cream.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankful Thursdays - Week 3

Sometimes it's hard to narrow my list down to five, but here we go!

1. I'm thankful that rather than the fleeting happiness of the world, we can have joy in Christ that is not circumstantial.  As one of my favorite professors Mrs. Hotton always quoted "joy inexpressible, and filled with glory." 1 Peter 1:8.

2. My dad is pretty much the best, has loved me sacrificially (not many dad's would get up at the crack of dawn to take me to the ice rink so I could skate the early session before school), he's wise, faithful, leads our family well, and has been a good example of a loving husband.  He's funny (most of my stupid jokes come from him haha) and always makes a point to do special stuff with me when I'm home, like take me to Royal's games in the summer or to my favorite sandwich shop for lunch.  He's pretty great and I'm blessed to call him dad!

3. I'm thankful that modern transportation makes it so easy to travel.  I love roadtrips, and if I counted correctly, I've been in 15 states this year alone.  A few weeks ago Colby and Colin drove from MO to Jackson with me, and I was telling Colby just how thankful I was that we can get in a car and drive across the country, or hop on a plane and fly across the world.  Before modern transportation, if I was born in Missouri, I might not have ever seen the majestic beauty of the mountains or known the salty air and crashing waves of the ocean.  We are blessed to be able to experience different people and places and cultures.  And I think the way travel changes us and helps us see and understand the world a little differently, is something that I too often take for granted.

4. This one may sound a little weird, but I'm super thankful for our Town Square.  I absolutely LOVE the square.  It's adorable, looks like it's straight out of a movie or TV show (think Gilmore Girls...) but I love it for more than aesthetic reasons.  I really love how it brings people together.  In the summer I'll go and sit in the grass and people watch, or I'll bring a lunch and meet friends there in the middle of the day, and I love walking around at night especially this time of year when everything is lit up.  Another thing I love about the square is that I always meet new people there.  The cliche Jackson Town Square picture is in front of the antler arches, and with the influx of tourists every summer (and some in winter too) there are always people taking pictures there.  I've made it a point to ask people if they would like me to take a picture of them instead of having one person out of the picture because someone has to take it.  I've started so many fun conversations that way and met tons of interesting people.  One of my favorites was 3 older couples from Georgia.  At the end of the conversation one of the men asked how old I was, so I told him, and then he told me that if I was ever in Macon, Georgia to look him up because he would be happy for me to marry his son haha!  Who knows...maybe I'll find myself in Macon one day!

5. The ability to enjoy beauty.  Have you ever thought about how awesome it is that we see something and think it is beautiful?  Or about the endless places we can appreciate beauty - mountains, the ocean, stars, a painting, a photo, faces, music, words, buildings, and so much more.

{thankful thursdays} thankful thursday

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Back in September my friend Aaron was going to a wedding in Seattle, but he couldn't drive because he was recovering from knee surgery.  He talked his roommates and me into going with him to be his chauffeurs, and we made a little roadtrip out of it!

We stopped at the top of the pass on our way out of town...Todd looks super creepy, and my hair is gigantic, but check out the colors of that sunrise!  It was gorgeous!

Once we got to Seattle we did some touristy things...

And we had a blast at Aaron's friend's wedding reception too.  Aaron told me just a few days ago that the bride had just sent him a text saying we had the best pictures out of everyone haha!

That Sunday we decided to check out Mars Hill Church before we headed back to Jackson.  We sang this song written by Dustin Kensrue and released on his new album The Water And The Blood.  I think it's a rare, but good, mix of rejoicing in what God has done for us, and at the same time acknowledging His power and glory.  So have a listen, and be reminded that no matter what's going on right now, we can rejoice this Wednesday!

Come and stand before your Maker
Full of wonder, full of fear
Come behold His power and glory
Yet with confidence draw near

For the one who holds the heavens
And commands the stars above
Is the God who bends to bless us
With an unrelenting love


Rejoice, come and lift your hands and
Raise your voice, He is worthy of our praise
Rejoice, sing of mercies of your King
And with trembling, rejoice

We are children of the promise
The beloved of the Lord
Won with everlasting kindness
Bought with sacrificial blood

Bringing reconciliation
To a world that longs to know
The affections of a Father
Who will never let them go


All our sickness, all our sorrows
Jesus carried up the hill
He has walked this path before us
He is walking with us still

Turning tragedy to triumph
Turning agony to praise
There is blessing in the battle
So take heart and stand amazed

Rejoice, when you cry to Him He hears
Your voice, He will wipe away your tears
Rejoice, in the midst of suffering
He will help you sing


Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Munchies - Accidental Turkey

So today, I'm giving you a recipe for the hero of the thanksgiving dinner menu - Mr. Turkey!  Now, I have a confession to make...I've actually never made this recipe.  However, before you quit reading, my roommate made it for a summer thanksgiving meal (cause one thanksgiving a year really isn't enough), and it was some of the best turkey I had ever eaten.  Roasting it at such a high temperature for an hour makes the skin nice and crispy, which I love!  And the spice blend is absolutely delicious, the lemon zest and rosemary just make it!  So, if you're looking for something new to adorn your thanksgiving table this year, give this turkey recipe a try!

Accidental Turkey
Kosher salt
1 T. minced fresh rosemary leaves
Grated  zest of 1 lemon
1 (12-14 pound) fresh turkey
1 large yellow onion, unpeeled and cut into eighths
1 lemon, quartered
8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Freshly ground black pepper

Two or three days before you plan to roast the turkey, combine 3 tablespoons salt, the rosemary, and lemon zest.  Wash the turkey inside and out, drain it well, and pat it dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle 1 T of the salt mixture in the cavity of the turkey and rub the rest on the skin, including under the wings and legs.  Place the turkey in a shallow dish to catch any drips and wrap the whole dish tightly with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for one or two days.  The day before you plan to roast the turkey, remove the plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge.  The skin will dry out and turn a little translucent.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Be sure your oven is very clean!

Place the onion, lemon, and thyme in the cavity.  Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tie the wings close to the body.  Brush the turkey with the butter and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

Roast the turkey for 45 minutes, placing it in the oven legs first.  Lower the temperature to 325 degrees and roast it for about another hour, or until 165 degrees for the breast and 180 degrees in the thigh on an instant read thermometer.  Remove from the oven, cover the turkey tightly with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.  Carve and serve with the pan juices.

Recipe Source: Barefoot Contessa Foolproof Recipes You Can Trust

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful Thursdays - Week 2

So, here we are at week two of Thankful Thursdays.  Don't you love how this time of year we spend more time thanking God for what he's given us?  Each year I wonder why we don't do it all year long.  I was reminded of this post from the archives - Why Complain?  It's a good reminder to me that this is something I need to focus on all year long, but I'm also thankful for all of the different holidays we celebrate that spur our memory toward attributes of God and point us to Christ in many different ways.

That being said, here are 5 things I'm thankful for this week:

1.  God's faithfulness.  Sunday morning I woke up thinking about how amazing it is that I serve a God who is always faithful, and just how thankful I am that I can rest in Him and hope in Him, knowing that He will keep His promises to me.  "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22-23

2.  I'm thankful for my Mom.  She's my best friend, and has loved me even when I've been unlovable. She is my constant sounding board, always ready to listen and provide godly feedback.  She tells me the truth even when I don't want to hear it.  She laughs at my stupid jokes and puns.  She's the best shopping partner.  She is such a great example of a woman who fears the Lord. Her selflessness is evident in so many ways.  I'm so thankful that she's my mom!

3.  I'm thankful for my knees, yes you read that right, knees.  Some of you probably don't know this, but I have some nasty cartilage damage (aka arthritis) in both knees as a result of my years of figure skating.  Sometimes I refer to them as grandma knees, because it's like I have 80 year old knees on my 27 year old body.  Honestly, I get frustrated with it sometimes, and have a sinful attitude about them.  But I'm thankful for my bad knees because it reminds me of my utter dependence on Christ, and that it's a temporary trial.  If it weren't for my good and God's glory, he wouldn't allow it in my life, so instead of complaining when it's painful or when it keeps me from doing activities I'd like to do, I want to thank Him for grandma knees because they are making me more like Christ.

4.  I'm thankful for podcasts and live streaming.  Last Friday I watched the Multiply conference online, and a lot of times when I go to bed I'll turn on a sermon podcast.  The availability of these resources is such a blessing to me, and one that I often take for granted.

5.  I'm thankful for warm, waterproof shoes.  My Merrell's and Sorel's are some of the ugliest shoes I own (and I realized when I went home to MO that it actually probably isn't socially acceptable to wear them anywhere but in Jackson),  But man, on wet, rainy/snowy days like this one, I'm so thankful to have dry feet!  I think of how so many people in the world don't have any shoes at all, and am reminded just how blessed I am.

{thankful thursdays}

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Come Ye Sinners

This is the first of what I'm calling Wednesday Worship, which will hopefully be a semi-regular feature on my blog.  As I go through my week, it seems like Wednesdays are always kind of tough, but what better time to engage your heart in praise and worship of our God?

Today I'm sharing with you one of my favorite versions of the hymn "Come Ye Sinners" written by Joseph Hart in 1759.  From what I've read, it sounds like his early life was characterized by sin and searching, and it wasn't until he was 45 that he was truly saved.  He spent much of the last nine years of his life writing hymns telling the story of sin, grace, redemption, and the hope of eternal life.  

This version of the song was rearranged and recorded by The Blackthorn Project, from their Bluing of the Sky album.  Take a good look at the lyrics of this hymn, and be encouraged that these words, though written centuries ago, ring true for your soul as well.

Come Ye Sinners
Come ye sinners poor and needy
weak and wounded sick and sore.
Jesus ready stands to save you
full of pity love and power.

Come ye thirsty, come and welcome
God’s free bounty, glorify.
True belief and true repentance,
every grace that brings you nigh.

Come ye weary heavy-laden,
lost and ruined by the fall.
If you tarry ’til you’re better,
you will never come at all.

I will arise and go to Jesus
he will embrace me in his arms.
In the arms of my dear savior
O there are ten thousand charms.

From The Bluing Of The Sky, released 17 November 2006
Public domain; arrangement © 1998 Mole End Music. Arranged by Michael Card and Craig Duncan. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Rearranged by Timothy Floyd Thornton & Laura Elizabeth Thornton © Bricklayer Music Publishing 2006 (ASCAP). All rights reserved. Registered with CCLI.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Munchies - Party Potatoes

So, this is my first post in a series of Thanksgiving inspired recipes. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love spending time with my family and just the time I spend leading up to it dwelling on the Lord's blessings and the fact that I can thank Him for absolutely everything in my life, because I know that He is using it for my good and ultimately for His glory, what a comforting thought!

But back to the food...on Thanksgiving day, the last thing I want is to feel the pressure of not being able to enjoy the Thanksgiving day gathering because I'm trying to get food ready at the last minute.  These potatoes are super tasty and can be prepped early then frozen.  Just take them out in the morning on the day before your thanksgiving meal, and when you're ready, stick them in either the oven or a crock pot and don't think about them again!  Trust me, I'm a (self-proclaimed) potato expert, and although these are easy and you can freeze them, the taste is not compromised, AT ALL! These are probably my favorite mashed potatoes ever.  It's like the inside of a twice baked potato, need I say more?!?  Also, you have my permission to put them in a foil pan or use crock pot liners for easy clean up.  I may not be the most experienced entertainer, but I have learned that sometimes convenience is worth being able to enjoy your guests rather than spending time with your hands in the dishwater.  Also, I apologize for not having a picture, but they look like mashed potatoes.  Use your imagination, then make them and see for yourself!

Party Potatoes

8-10 medium/large potatoes, peeled

1 (8 oz) brick of cream cheese
1 c. sour cream
Garlic salt

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Mash until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients and beat until light and fluffy.  Put the potatoes in once the dish is buttered.  Freeze.

When ready to bake, put pats of butter and paprika on top and bake at 350 degrees till nicely browned on top and heated all the way through.

Optional - you can add green onions, chives, parsley, bacon bits, cheddar cheese, basically anything you would put in a twice baked potato.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

I've been thinking and praying about some special things I'd like to do on my blog for the month of November.  I saw my friend Erin's link up, and thought it would be great for my blog as well.  Each Thursday I'm going to share 5 things that I'm thankful for, and I would love for you to join me! Because this is about 50% food blog also, each Monday throughout the month I'm going to share some Thanksgiving recipes with you.

1.  I'm so thankful for the gift of salvation.  I deserve death and hell, yet Jesus took my debt, became sin, so that I might be covered in righteousness.  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God - 2 Corinthians 5:21  The great exchange indeed!

2. I'm thankful for heated seats in my car.  Tonight when it was freezing and rainy as I got into my cold car, I so appreciated being able to push that little button and have a warm seat to sit on.  Maybe my favorite feature of Blue Bell.

3. I'm thankful for a dishwasher.  I realize it's a luxury I may not always have, but it sure makes cooking more fun knowing that I can throw everything in the dishwasher and have it clean an hour later.

4.  I'm thankful for my roommate.  We talk about everything, hang out after work, make crazy good meals together, and pillow talk...slumber party every night in the loft bed...don't be jealous haha!

5.  I'm thankful for my church family here at First B Jackson.  It's so great to be in a community of believers who are real, vulnerable and who love and care about each as we join together in a common pursuit of God.

What are you thankful for tonight?

{thankful thursdays}

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Words (Part Two): How We Speak About God Matters

This is kind of a follow up to my last post about why words matter.  And I want to preface this by saying that I'm not judging you in this post.  If you use this phrase, I know what you mean, I know you're well intentioned, but Scripture talks about the power of the tongue and how we should speak truth. I believe that we need to be careful in the way that we talk about God and His work.

Have you heard people use the phrase "God showed up"?  It's one I've been hearing a lot lately. Some of my friends went on a mission trip recently and were telling testimonies of what the Lord did while they were there.  They kept saying that they were in situations where it seemed hopeless, but "God showed up" and met those needs.  I also heard in a different context that "God showed up in our church gathering last night" and it seems like a phrase that's thrown around a lot.  But, it's a lie.  God didn't show up, and He couldn't show up, because that would imply that he left.  When we say "God showed up" it's like he went for a snack break, came back and realized that we were in a pickle and thought, "Oh, I'd better do something about that".  No, Scripture tells us that God is omnipresent (Jeremiah 23:23-24; Psalm 139).  Scripture tells us that God is faithful, that He will never fail us, and that God is sovereign over all (Job 42:2; Psalm 103:19, 115:3; Ecclesiastes 7:13-14; Lamentations 3:37-38).  This leaves no room for the absence of God.  And what do we say if we're overseas, need Bibles and God doesn't provide them?  Does that mean that He is any less faithful or sovereign, or that he wasn't there?  No, it simply means that it was His perfect plan being carried out in His perfect way, even when we don't understand it.  I think the main danger in this comes from not knowing who is hearing you speak about God, and how they will interpret it.  When Marshall (my three year old cousin) and I drive under an underpass he calls it a tunnel.  I know what he means, but if he says he went through a tunnel to a stranger with no background in Marshall translations, they're going to have wrong assumptions about what he is talking about.  When we talk to unbelievers or Christians who don't understand that God is omnipresent, using the phrase "God showed up" makes Him seem small, and somewhat insignificant a majority of the time, and again can cause questions when it seems that He doesn't show up when you need him.

When we say "God showed up" I think that it has more to do with our mindset than God's work.  By using that phrase, we are acknowledging God's faithfulness in a certain situation.  But God is always faithful, even when we don't recognize it.  Sure, there are times when we experience situations that spur us to be in complete awe of God's relentless faithfulness.  But we must not forget that although it doesn't seem as great or as special, that everyday God's perfect faithfulness plays out in our lives.  God showed His faithfulness in providing Bibles for the ladies in Africa and he shows His faithfulness in providing the cereal and milk that I'll eat for breakfast tomorrow.  I'm probably not going to stand up in church Sunday morning and talk about how God provided cereal in the cupboard and milk in the fridge, but that doesn't make Him any less faithful. When my car breaks down and I have to buy a new one, when I labor in prayer about a situation and don't have any clarity, when I've prayed for salvation and that person dies an unbeliever, it's all a part of God's sovereign plan.  He is faithful to use every situation, good or bad, for our good and for His glory.  Even when it doesn't look spectacular, even when it's painful, God is working and He is faithful.  Theology matters and the way we speak about God matters.  Let it be said of us that our speech honors and glorifies our great God, and that it portrays His true character as best we can.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday Munchies - Buster Bar Cupcakes

I've mentioned before that for each of my friends' birthdays, I like to fix them a dessert of their choice. Last year I had a little party for my friend Aaron and when I asked if he knew what he wanted for his birthday dessert, he didn't even have to think about it.  He started raving about this buster bar dessert his mom used to make him and how it was one of his favorites and said he wanted that.  Now, I know better than to try to make mama's dessert, cause it's just never going to be the same, so I decided to tweak it and make him buster bar cupcakes instead!  These are so easy and everyone loved them!  The only thing to keep in mind is that you have to wait for different parts of the dessert to cool or freeze before moving on to the next step, so make sure to allow time for them to fully set!  Also, I think these would be awesome to try with some different flavor combinations.  Ever since I made them last year I've thought how good coffee ice cream with chocolate covered espresso beans would be on top.  What flavor combinations would you like to try?

Buster Bar Cupcakes
24 foil cupcake liners
1 batch of your favorite brownie batter (don't worry, no one will judge if it's a Betty Crocker boxed mix)
1/2 gallon mint chip ice cream (or any other flavor you want) 
Spanish Peanuts (I didn't really measure these out, just sprinkle however many you want on top of the cupcakes)
Chocolate ganache (or a jar of chocolate fudge would work as well)

Line two muffin tins with the foil cupcake liners.  Mix up the brownie batter and drop 1 - 1.5 T. into each cupcake liner.  Bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until the brownies are cooked through.  Let the brownies cool to room temp, then put them in the freezer (still in the muffin tins) for 30 minutes.  When you put the brownies in the freezer, take the ice cream out and put it into your fridge to soften.  And set a timer so you don't forget your ice cream and end up with ice cream soup!

Take the muffin tins out of the freezer and place a scoop of ice cream into each foil liner on top of the brownie.  Squish it down and spread it evenly with a spoon.  Do this step as quickly as possible and return to the freezer for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, take the cupcakes back out and sprinkle some of the peanuts on top, then return to freezer for another 45 minutes.  If you're making ganache instead of using canned hot fudge, now is a great time to get that started.

Once the cupcakes are firm, take them out of the freezer and top with a heaping teaspoonful of ganache or hot fudge, you want enough to mostly cover the peanuts.  You may need to use a spoon to spread it evenly over the top of the cupcake.  When finished, put the cupcakes back into the freezer until ready to serve.

These are best if they are removed from the freezer about 5 minutes before serving.  It lets them soften the perfect amount before they are devoured!

And if you're interested, here's the chocolate ganache recipe I used:

3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1/4 cup heavy cream

Put chocolate chips in a small bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan. Pour cream evenly over chocolate. Let stand for one minute to soften, then stir until smooth. Ganache will continue to thicken as it stands, so just wait until it's the desired thickness, and stir occasionally while waiting.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday Munchies - All Things Apple

We went to the apple orchard a couple of weeks ago, and since then much of the cooking in our house has revolved around apples - applesauce, apple butter (grilled cheese with apple butter...seriously, you have to try it), and apple pie.  Well, since many of you also probably have apples hanging around your house, here are a couple apple recipes and a couple of dip recipes from the Monday Munchies archives.

Last Minute Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Crock Pot Caramel Dip

Chocolate Chip Fruit Dip

What are your favorite apple recipes?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Words: Edifying, Discerning, Purposeful

Several months ago I listened to a sermon from CJ Mahaney called Every Word Matters. I've had the privilege of meeting CJ and hearing him speak live a handful of times, and he is one of my favorite pastors to listen to. His love and passion for the Lord pour out of him when he speaks.

Everyone talks...some more than others...but we all do it. My question is, do you think about the impact of your words? This is one area in my life that the Lord has really been convicting me of over the past few months, which is why I listened to the sermon. I struggle with my words, so keep me accountable to what I'm about to write. As a part of my Bible reading plan, I am continuously reading through Proverbs. I am always struck at how many mentions there are of the power of the tongue and the need to control it. Words are powerful, and God created it to be that way. In his book War of Words, Paul Tripp says,
"When we speak, it must be with the realization that God has given our words significance. He has ordained for them to be important. Words were significant at Creation and at the Fall. They are significant to redemption. God has given words value. So we must do all we can to assign words the importance Scripture gives them,”
The average person speaks 25,000 words a day. CJ asked a question that I've spent a lot of time reflecting on. In light of Ephesians 4:29 (Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear), are an increasing percentage of my words imparting grace to those whom I serve and love? Are my words building others up? Are my words encouraging? Or am I using my words to complain, to gossip, for worthless arguments, or to make myself look better?

CJ gave an analogy that made a lot of sense to me; he likened our words to choosing fruit at a grocery store. When you go to buy fruit, you don't just randomly pick up whatever you see, you examine it carefully to make sure it doesn't have any bad spots, to discern the ripeness and size, etc. He said it's amazing the attention and carefulness we can give to fruit, and the lack of attention and carefulness we give to our words.

Guilty. I'm a thorough fruit inspector - Lauren made fun of me in Hawaii because I was so carefully choosing the bananas I wanted, but I've been really convicted about how rarely I examine my potential words with the same attention and care. So then I had to ask myself, how do I change? If I'm putting off the sin of careless words, in what way can I put on righteousness in this area?
  • Speaking edifying words:  This doesn't mean words that are just kind, polite, and certainly not flattery.  Edifying words are theologically informed, they are informed by Scripture, they are gospel centered.  These words should bring attention to God himself, to His promises and commands, and to the activity of God in the lives of other christians.
  • Using discernment: The content of my communication must be appropriate to the occasion, as well as to the person I'm interacting with. If I’m trying to serve someone with my words (not just trying to impress them with my words) it requires discernment and knowledge of this individual.  We must be drawing them out and asking them questions, before choosing words that fit the occasion. I must know what the occasion is before I can choose words to build them up in that occasion, and it’s not enough to be well-meaning, we must be wise. When our speech fits the occasion we experience the Proverb that reads ‘an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is.”
  • Speaking purposeful words: Ephesians 4:29 says we speak “that it may give grace to those who hear”.  This captures the purpose of every conversation we have; God’s purpose for my words is to give grace. When our purpose is to impart grace, it makes all the difference in the recipients' experience of grace.  God promises that we will be able to be a means of grace when our words are meaningful, and edifying and appropriate. 
So you may be thinking, that's all great but what does this look like practically? CJ ended his sermon with some great insights into practical ways to grow in godliness in the area of our speech. Here are some suggestions he gives: 
  • Take this verse with you into the many conversations you will have this week. Memorize Ephesians 4:29, meditate on this passage, and apply it.  One way that I did this, is by putting a new wallpaper on my phone that has the verse written out.  Since I do a lot of communicating on my phone (talking, texting, emails, facebook, etc.), it's great reminder to evaluate the words I'll be using.
  • Invite others to evaluate your speech in light of this passage. Ask a spouse, friend, children, pastor, "When I'm with you, and I'm communicating a few thousand words, how many of those are formed by this passage? When you're with me, do you feel yourself built up, edified, reminded of the gospel, reminded of the grace of God and how God is at work in your life? Do you walk away from a brief time with me aware that there’s fresh grace in your heart that wasn't there prior to our interaction?"  This is to be the effect of the gospel in our lives. 
  • Pray that an increasing percentage of our words are soul edifying, grace imparting, God glorifying words of encouragement. So that our speech is distinctively encouraging, and explainable only by the Savior's sacrificial work on the cross, and the Spirit’s sanctifying work in our lives, for the glory of God. 
Think about and evaluate your words, they matter.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Munchies - Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Muffins

You might have noticed that it's been 8 months since my last post.  I'm not a consistent blogger, and I'm not really sorry about it.  I've actually written some posts over the past several months, but prayed about them and didn't feel like publishing any of them.

I've spent some time contemplating what the purpose of this blog is, and although it may change, right now I think that the purpose varies with the type of post.  I share recipes because people know I like food and cooking, and they ask me about what I've been making.  I share updates on life for my family and friends who care what I'm up to, because I'm terrible about keeping up with people.  Any spiritual posts are probably more for my benefit than to share with others.  Although I journal, it's helpful for me to work through things by writing it out, knowing that someone else may read it.  Making sure it makes sense to someone else sometimes makes things clearer in my own mind, so blogging is a way that I can challenge myself to more clearly communicate things I'm thinking about, praying about, questions I'm asking, and observations I've made.  By sharing it publicly, I hope that the Lord will use it to bring himself glory and if any of you are encouraged or challenged by what I write, know that it's the Lord and not my words; He alone is worthy of our praise!

That being said, Monday Munchies is back in action (well, this week anyway)!  I found this recipe one night and decided to make them in the morning.  My alarm went off in the morning and I went upstairs to find my mom cooking biscuits and gravy...which kind of made me mad, because in my 27 years of life I don't think my mom has ever made biscuits and gravy, plus I had specifically told her that I was going to make these muffins for breakfast.  Then all of the sudden I opened my eyes and realized I was still in bed!  I'm home for a couple of weeks, and because my old room is now Marshall's room, I'm sleeping in the basement guest room which has no windows.  Now, don't take this as complaining...I love the guest room because it's so dark I sleep like a LOG every night!  Also, I've had weird dreams pretty much every night.  But anyway, because my mom was NOT making biscuits and gravy, I whipped up a batch of these and everyone in the fam liked them.  Marshall kept asking for "more muffin man please" haha, adorable!!!

Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Muffins
Yield: Supposedly 12 - mine made 16
2.5 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. plain or vanilla yogurt (Greek or regular)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1.5 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
2 ripe bananas
1 c. chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray or use paper/foil liners. Put oats in blender and grind until they are powdery.  Add all the other ingredients, including bananas in a blender (or food processor), and blend until smooth.

Divide batter among cupcake liners, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Use all the self-control you have to let them cool so they don't stick to the tins/liners, then enjoy!  I found a little smear of peanut butter and a glass of milk to be the perfect complement, and next time I may even try adding some peanut butter to the batter!

Recipe Source: Slightly adapted from Well Traveled Wife

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Few Favorites - January Edition

So a new blog feature that I hope to do (maybe monthly, maybe not) is a post on a few of my favorite things...currently.  See, I have lots of favorites, but they also change frequently.  Here's a sampling of what I've been loving lately:

Radiators...aka pj warmers.  I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to put on warm pjs before you get into bed at night and the temps are looking like this!

This song, Country Road remixed by Pretty Lights...I'm not sure why I love it so much, but it has a great beat.  I know, the combo of John Denver and dubstep sounds sketchy, but I promise it's good!  It reminds me a little of some Mutemath stuff I really like, so maybe that's part of it.  A friend and I were talking about what a perfect song it would be to ski to, just imagine ripping down the slopes with a giant powder cloud behind you as you make your perfectly executed turns...yeah, that probably needs to become a reality soon!

Which brings me to my next favorite, night skiing!  There just isn't much better than ending your day on the snow, racing down the mountain with the wind in your face.  And stopping at the top to get a great view of the city lights is pretty incredible too!

Whoever came up with a flipping iPhone Case (thank you Speck) was genius.  The ability to dock your phone without taking the case off, yet still having a durable case for irresponsible phone owners who drop their phones multiple times a week (yeah, that would be me), is seriously the best tech accessory I've purchased in awhile.

And since we're talking about technology, the Kindle app on my iPad is another thing I've been loving!  Free ebooks? Yes please! The last book I finished was a short (free) one by John MacArthur called Found: God's Will.  This was an easy, and super quick read (maybe 30 minutes, tops).  I think it would be really good to go through and discuss with high school age kids, and maybe young college students too.  Here's a quote I feel best sums up the book, "You see, the will of God is not primarily a place.  The will of God is not, first of all, for you to go there or work here.  The will of God concerns you as a person.  If you are the right you you can follow your desires and you will fulfill His will."

Along with reading, during this cold weather I've been spending more time watching Netflix.  I recently finished The Art of Flight (both the movie and the series, check out the trailer here). It's a cool look at some intense snowboarding, and there is some great Jackson powder footage too!  However, their worldview comes out loud and clear in the the film and the series, and it reminds me of what a unique mission field I'm living in the midst of right now.  In the film they talk about how snowboarding is their "church" and in another part they start to go down a line but end up calling it quits.  In an interview at the end of the film one of the boarders (and these are some of the best boarders in the world) says that at the end of the day it's unsatisfying, but that's what keeps you wanting more.  I pray that I will have more opportunities to build relationships with those in my community so that I can love them, serve them, and show them that ultimate fulfillment can only be found in Christ and although boarding and skiing are lots of fun, it will never satisfy.

And on a lighter note, I'll leave you with pictures of a store and sticker that both made me laugh this month!