Cynthia’s Peanut Noodle Salad

peanuts

One evening for summer Bible study, my friend Cynthia brought this wonderfully ecclectic salad.  Sheila and I just raved over it.  It was a wonderful combination salad for the evening.

2 large cucumbers
1/8 t. ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup Sesame salad dressing from Costco
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (16-ounce) whole wheat angel hair pasta, cooked
1 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
4 oz. shredded fresh carrots
6 green onions, cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces

Peel cucumbers; cut in half lengthwise, removing and discarding seeds. Cut cucumber halves into half-moon-shaped slices.

Whisk together soy sauce, ginger, coconut milk, sesame dressing, chunky peanut butter, garlic, crushed red pepper, salt and sesame oil in a large bowl; add cucumber, pasta, carrot, red bell pepper and onions, tossing to coat. Cover and chill 8 hours, if desired. (Optional: Add bean sprouts and chicken, cabbage, snow peas, asparagus, zucchini, hard boiled egg, shrimp, pork or beef.) Garnish with cilantro and crushed peanuts or toasted sesame seeds. Yummy! From my friend and neighbor, Cynthia.

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A Martha Moment

Busy Mother Cooking For Family

There are about 120 people coming over to our house for our daughter’s wedding next month.  We are excited, but there is so much that must be done.  There are all the normal wedding plans (the dress, decorations, flowers, cake, chairs, candles, food) and then there are all the extra plans since we are having the wedding at our house.

Our house is not quite finished.  We started building it 8 years ago and we still don’t have the floors in the living room yet.  There are no closet doors and the landscaping consists of 2 trees and a lilac bush.  Now that there are 120 people that will be coming into our home (hopefully just passing through since the house won’t hold that many people) I’m seeing more and more things that we haven’t finished or that need to be redone or fixed.  We want the house to look nice for the company coming and for our daughter.

I’ve counted it down to about six weekends that we have to clean and fix the house up.  I’ve told everyone what they needed to do.  There are porches (3) that need all the junk cleaned off and hidden somewhere (out in the woods for all I care!).  Saturday I gave orders for everyone to meet and get to work…I had a plan!

God had other plans.

Something happened to the water pump.  Have you ever tried to clean without water?  It’s not easy.  For 3 days our water was limited.  I tried to wash the curtains…by hand since we couldn’t use the washing machine…but that still took too much water.  My husband and I had some words about that…well, it was more like he had words and I mumbled under my breath.

Under my breath…I wondered how in the world we were going to be able to get everything done in time for the wedding with very little money to do it with.  I wondered why none of my extended family had not shown up to help out with the water issues we were having.  I wondered what we were going to do with 120 people if it rained.  I wondered why none of the plans I had got done and why no one showed up to move stuff off the porches or clean the bathrooms and I figured I was going to have to do it myself…like always.

I tried to move a sewing machine cabinet upstairs (yes, it had been on the porch, beside the broken washing machine…long story) and I got it up there, but then I threw my back out.  I’ve been laid up for a couple of days.

I see now that I was having “a Martha moment.”

I have realized that I was much like Martha going to Jesus and asking Him to make her sister help her.

Luke 9:40 (HCSB)….But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  So tell her to give me a hand.”

When the water went out, my first thought was, “Why doesn’t my brother help us out?”  My next thought became, “How in the world are we going to pay for a new well and a wedding?”

I realized that I was being just like Martha.  All I could think about was our problems, even during church.  I can’t tell you one word the preacher said that morning….I was distracted.

I wanted to complain to somebody.  I wanted someone to fix the problems right then.  I wanted to take a shower.

At that point, it wasn’t just one issue I wanted to complain about, it was the accumulation of many issues.  I wanted to go to the Lord and ask Him to fix everything….or at least one thing…just send us some help.

And then I wondered if that was how Martha was the day Jesus came to dinner.  Was she so overwhelmed, not just with the meal that day, but with every meal, every issue that she, as a single woman, leading her family, had to deal with?  Maybe this issue was just the one that “broke the camel’s back.”

“Lord, don’t you see me?  I need some help, if not with everything, then with this one thing.  Don’t you care, Lord, that I’m overwhelmed?”

In my mind, I can see this conversation taking place between Jesus and Martha. He gently tells her that Mary has chosen the right thing…to sit at His feet.  I also imagine that He said much more…maybe He said:

Matthew 11:28-3 (HCSB)…”Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

These past few days while my back has recovered, I’ve taken some deep breaths. I’ve thought, “Who cares if everything doesn’t get done?” I’ve released the worry and I’ve let Him pull the weight.  It is a yoke, which means that I’m not carrying my burdens alone….He carries them with me.  He’s on this journey with me.

What do you do when you feel “a Martha moment” coming on?  Go ahead and take it to Jesus.  He can handle it.

By the way….it only took $25 to fix the water issues.  Jesus was answering my prayers!  He did see me!

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Leek Potato Soup

leeks

One Saturday morning, my Chris and I were enjoying a Jacques and Julia cooking show and they made this recipe.  It is delightful and rich to your palette. A wonderful Saturday afternoon get-away–right in your own home.

1 leek, washed in warm water, dark green cut off and thrown away, rest chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 c. hot water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 stick butter
1 c. milk
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

Melt 5 T. butter in stock pot. Sauté chopped leeks (light green and white parts only) and onions for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add hot water and bouillon cubes, potatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer over medium high heat for 25 minutes. With a potato masher, mash the mixture in the pot until the potatoes are chunky, not completely mashed. Add milk and rest of butter (3 T.) with heat on low, cook for 5 minutes more.

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Migas

Corn tortillas

8 corn tortillas, cut in 8 wedges each
12 eggs, slightly beaten
8 bacon slices
4 green onions, sliced thin
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
2 fresh jalapenos, sliced with seeds removed
1 c. grated cheddar cheese

In a skillet, brown bacon, remove from pan and cut in small bits and set aside. Fry tortillas in bacon fat until crisp. Add remaining ingredients and bacon all at once. Scramble until eggs are firm. Serve with hot flour tortillas and refried beans. From “The Siesta Fiesta Cookbook” by Melanie.

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Four Corners Refried Beans

tamales

1 lb. bacon
3 c. uncooked pinto beans
7 c. water
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
4 cloves garlic
1 T. salt (to start)
1-2 c. fresh or canned green chilies, diced

Fry bacon until crisp. Crumble and drain, reserving half of the bacon grease. Place bacon, remainder of ingredients and reserved bacon grease in the crock pot and cover.

Cook beans on high for 1 hour, then reduce to low for 10 hours. Cool and then mash pinto beans, in batches using a potato masher. Add more salt to taste.

Cool mashed beans completely and freeze using the freezer method. From Don’t Panic More Dinner’s in the Freezer.

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“Choosing to See” (A Book Review)

Choosing to See

Have you ever read a book and hoped that it would not come to an end? I have; many times. I actually just finished a book that I didn’t want to end by Mary Beth Chapman (with Ellen Vaughn). You probably have heard of her, as she is the wife of Steven Curtis Chapman, Christian musician extraordinaire (that is my way of saying he is great). I have been a big fan and lover of Steven’s music for a long time now, but I really didn’t know much about Mary Beth until 2 years ago. In May of 2008, Mary Beth and her whole family were thrust into the world’s spotlight due to a very tragic accident at their family home. And so began a new chapter in the Chapman family’s life, an unimaginable one.

It is odd, I don’t remember details and dates about events that have happened in my life, but I actually remember where I was when I heard the tragic news about what happened to Steven Curtis Chapman and his family. I was actually in bed (probably finishing up a nice nap), and my husband was on the computer. My husband must have been looking at the breaking news, and then he told me what had happened to Steven Curtis Chapman’s youngest daughter, Maria. Then he went onto to share that Maria’s older brother Will was the driver of the car that hit her. Sadly, I must admit that often I am not burdened when something tragic happens to someone I don’t personally know. I feel bad, but not broken or burdened. It was different when I heard the news about Steven’s daughter Maria being killed. I just felt so sad and could not even imagine what their family must have been going through. I began praying for the Chapmans right then, and tried to remember to pray for them in the future as they would come to my mind.

I remember watching and listening to interviews with the Chapman family soon after Maria had died. I cried when they cried, and I was blown away by the presence of Jesus that rested on each member of the Chapman family. I believe God was receiving glory every time the Chapmans would share their story with the world. I could see Jesus all over them.

Fast forward 2 years later, and Mary Beth Chapman is sharing the events of that tragic day and what has happened in her family’s life since then in her new book, Choosing to See (A Journey of Struggle and Hope). However, Mary Beth doesn’t just share about what happened to her precious little Maria, but also shares the story of her life from the time she was a little girl. With gut level honesty Mary Beth shares about her struggles with depression, marital trouble and so much more. As I mentioned before, I didn’t really know anything about Mary Beth, and now after reading her book I love her as a dear sister in Christ.

I have been known to bawl at movies, but I don’t often cry when I read a book. Well, I didn’t bawl when I read “Choosing to See“, but I did have tears in my eyes as I read the details about what happened when the Chapmans lost Maria. I can’t even imagine what they were feeling, but through Mary Beth’s writings you feel like you were there. Mary Beth constantly shows her readers how God was there in the midst of their pain. It is beautiful…

“Choosing to See” is definitely marked by sad and tragic events, but surprisingly the book is full of events that will make you laugh; belly laugh. One of my favorite parts of the book, is that it is full of miracles. God performed miracle after miracle in Mary Beth’s life, big and small miracles. Honestly, there is not one part of the book that I didn’t love.

I end my post today by recommending Mary Beth Chapman’s book, “Choosing to See”.  You will be challenged and encouraged in your walk with Christ. Mary Beth and her family make me want to love and trust God more in my own life. The Chapman family have lived through the unimaginable and they are living proof that our God is real and loving and so much more. We just need to choose to see that…

If you are interested in finding out more about Mary Beth’s new book, click here.

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Apple-Craisin French Toast Casserole

apples

If you are expecting company, staying overnight, this is a wonderful make-ahead dish that you can just pop into the oven for breakfast.  It smells as delicious as it is! I also like to take it to brunches–rave reviews every time!

1 c. brown sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon plus 2 t. separated
1/2 c. butter, melted
3 apples, cored, peeled and sliced
1/2 c. Craisins
1 – 1lb. loaf French baguette, cut into 1 inch slices
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 c. milk
1 T. vanilla

Grease a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar and 1 t. cinnamon. Mix in melted butter. Stir in apples and Craisins until evenly coated. Pour into prepared pan. Arrange bread slices in an even layer over apples.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and 2 t. cinnamon. Pour evenly over bread, fully soaking each slice. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.

In morning, preheat oven at 375 degrees. Remove dish from refrigerator while oven is heating. Bake covered for 40 minutes. Remove cover and bake 5 minutes more. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. May use maple syrup, if you want! From “The Siesta Fiesta Cookbook” by Sophie, who got it from Allrecipes.com.

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Killer Queso

salsa

This is hands-down our favorite queso, ever. It is very much a myriad of wonderful flavors coming together in your mouth.  Killer Queso is great addition to your tail-gating or gatherings with friends!

1 can cream of chicken soup
¾ c. evaporated milk
1 – 7 oz. can diced green chilies
2 T. minced jalapeños
1 – 4 oz. jar chopped pimientos, drained
1 t. ground cumin
1 – 1 oz. pkg. ranch dip mix
1 can Ro*tel tomatoes
1 lb. Velveeta, cut into cubes
¼ c. minced fresh cilantro
Minced fresh cilantro for garnish
Tortilla Chips for dipping

Combine soup, evaporated milk, green chilies, jalapenos, pimiento, cumin, dip mix, and Ro*tel in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently. When bubbly, add cheese and cilantro, and stir until cheese melts and mixture is combined. Be sure to keep the heat low, and stir constantly after adding the cheese to prevent scorching. Serve warm with tortilla, reheating as needed.

From Molly Fowler, The Dining Diva, in Menus for Entertaining

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Cinnamon Rolls

cinnamon rolls

My mother in law, Mary Ann, shared this recipe with me.  She got it from her dear friend Edna.  And often Mary Ann will make these up special for us–the whole house will smell delightfully like cinnamon!

2 pkgs. yeast
3 c. flour plus 1/2 c. separated plus 4 c. also separate
1 c. sugar
2 t. salt
2 c. milk
1/2 c. water
1 c. margarine plus 16 T. separated plus scant amount for greasing bowl
4 eggs
2 T. lemon juice
1 c. cinnamon sugar mixture (made from 4 t. cinnamon and 1 c. sugar) in a shaker (I like this one.)

Thoroughly mix undissolved yeast with 3 c. flour, 1 c. sugar, 2 t. salt. In a sauce pan heat 2 c. milk over low heat and add 1/2 c. water and 1 c. margarine. Heat to 125 degrees. Add liquid mixture to dry mixture. Beat for two minutes at medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally.

Add 1/2 c. flour, 4 eggs, 2 T. lemon juice. Stir in additional 4 c. flour. Knead on lightly floured surface (or pastry cloth) for about 8 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning the ball of dough to grease the top. Cover with warm damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 2 hours).

Punch down. For each handful of dough, into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Spread 2 T. melted margarine and sprinkle 1/8 c. cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll up in jelly-roll fashion and slice about 1″ in length. Place in greased pan, cut side down. Makes four pans.

Let rise again until double in size. Cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Remove from pan and drizzle with frosting made from 2 c. powdered sugar, 2-4 T. milk and 1 t. vanilla. Needs to be of consistency to pour from spoon. From an old family friend, Edna Stevens.

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