Archives for August 2011

Lemon Hummus

3 cans organic Garbanzo beans
2 T. of juice from one can of Garbanzo beans
5 cloves, finely minced garlic
1 t. garlic salt
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil plus 1 T.
1/4 c. tahini
juice squeezed from 1 lemon (minus the seeds, hopefully)
1 t. smoked paprika
1 T. chopped parsley


Puree the garbanzo beans, juice from garbanzo beans, lemon juice, garlic, garlic salt, red pepper flakes, tahini and olive oil.  Spread the hummus evenly in a pretty dish. Make criss-crosses with a fork.

Gently sprinkle 1 Tb. olive oil around over the criss-crosses.  Lightly sprinkle some paprika on top. Garnish with parsley.

Serve wtih pita triangles; pita chips; and assorted vegetables. (Carrots; red and green sweet peppers; celery). (Recipe from our very favorite preK teacher, J. Nilsen)

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The Treasure Box

Something that this new generation is missing is a bundle of letters tied up, hidden away in a bottom drawer or in a shoe box on the top shelf of the closet.  No one writes letters anymore.  We stay in touch by emails and text messaging.

You can’t bundle emails or text messages with a red ribbon, re-read them until they tear at the creases, start to brown from exposure and smear because of your tears.  Oh, you can lock them so they aren’t erased, file them away on your computer….but there is just something about pulling those old letters out from under the bed and re-reading them when your heart is broken or you are missing the one that wrote them.

When I was going through my mother’s things after her death, I found a box in her closet.  I had seen it before, but it was her closet and I had tried really hard not to snoop, but this time, I needed to look inside.  It was a beautiful, satin covered box held together with a ribbon.  I pulled it down just days after her funeral and found treasures.  I sat down in the closet and gently lifted the lid.

It was full of letters, tied with a ribbon.

I knew instantly what they were because when I was a teenager and did snoop, I found them in her hope chest…letters written by both my parents, when they were dating.  They talked about how much they loved each other and the plans they were making for their future.  There were terms of endearments that I had not heard them share in public and I felt like I was intruding on their intimate thoughts.

I left the letters as I had found them and took the box to my dad.  He held the box and with tears in his eyes, said that he would read them on his own.  He told me later that he wanted me to read them; he wanted me to share in his memories.  I’ll read them one day, but for now, I’ll leave them in the box.

I thought of my own letters, not in a box, but stuffed in a journal.  Memories come back so quickly when I read the letters written to me from my true love, full of details of how he was preparing for the day we would marry and he would bring me to our new home.  I read those letters when I feel a distance growing between us (that sometimes happens after 25 years of marriage) and I need to remember our first love.

As I thought about that box of treasures, I was reminded of what I’ve always taught children in regards to the Bible.

The Bible is a collection of letters, love letters so to speak, written from the One that understands and loves us better than anyone.  It’s full of the plans the Groom has for His bride.

I’ve started reading the Bible as if it was written directly to me…only me…from my first love.  I’ve rewritten verses, adding my name, to make it more personal.  If you were to pick up my treasure box, my Bible, you might be embarrassed as the intimacy between my Love and me.  You might even be a little jealous that I have such a relationship.  The thing is….my Beloved wrote you the same letters.

Where are your letters?  Are they on a shelf, collecting dust, in a drawer, stuffed under the bed?  Maybe it’s time to pull them back out and remember your First Love.

I wanted to share just a peek with you one of my letters.  It means a great deal to me.

My Darling Deborah,

This is God.  I wanted you to know that I created the heavens and the earth just for you, it was the beginning of the plans that I have for you, plans to prosper you, Deborah, all good things, nothing to hurt you.  I put things in motion that day so that today you would have what you needed to not only survive and but thrive.  I know that you have been in a dark place lately; you’ve felt much like the earth was that day…formless and empty; the darkness seems to run deep in you right now.  But, Deborah, I want you to know that my Spirit is hovering over you, just waiting for my Word, so that a new creation will begin in you.  I’m going to bring light and order into your world, I promise and, my dearest Deborah, you know that I always keep my promises.  

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Tuna Cakes with Creole Mayonnaise

We are all looking for ways to save money. I made 4 large patties instead of 8. It occurred to me that they would be good on a bun as well. It would make a great fish type sandwich. so it is versatile. A big plus for me is that they aren’t hard to fry–they don’t fall apart.

Made these for dinner and they were excellent.  Fried them in olive oil. I followed the recipe exactly except for the lemon zest because I didn’t have any fresh lemons. I put lemon juice in the tuna and the topping.

  • 2  (12-oz.) cans solid white tuna in spring water, drained well*
  • 1 1/4  cups  Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2  large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2  teaspoons  lemon zest
  • 2  teaspoons  Dijon mustard
  • 1  cup  mayonnaise, divided
  • 1 1/4  teaspoons  Creole seasoning, divided
  • 1/4  cup  olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  lemon juice


1. Drain and rinse tuna. Place tuna and breadcrumbs in a large bowl; stir in eggs, lemon zest, mustard, 1/3 cup mayonnaise, and 1 tsp. Creole seasoning. Shape mixture into 8 (3-inch) patties.

2. Cook 4 patties in 2 Tbsp. hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden; drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining tuna cakes and oil.

3. Combine lemon juice and remaining 2/3 cup mayonnaise and 1/4 tsp. Creole seasoning. Serve with hot tuna cakes.

*5 (5-oz.) cans solid white tuna in spring water, drained well, may be substituted.

From Southern Living, MARCH 2011

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Here I am again, Lord.

Seeking Your Face

Longing for Your Touch

Holding out for Your Voice

Heeding Your commands

Feeling completely undone

But I know that when I come,

You bend low to listen

You shine Your light on my pathway

You give me rest

You take the weight of my worries

You exchange my sorrows for Your peace and love and joy

So why is it that I find myself







Perhaps I am not acting as if I believed You are Almighty God.

Perhaps I wish and hope that You are just that.

But secretly I plan for my own way, my own security just in case…

You are less than able.

You are playing a twisted game with my life.

You are not FOR me.

I did not live up to our promise, so You changed Your mind about me.

So I wait. And realign. And remind myself once again of Your Words to me. They are my LIFE. They are TRUE.

Then I bow my head in sorrow. I turn my eyes up in longing. And I say this one word–Again.

Do it again, LORD.

Show Yourself Faithful.

Again remake my icy-cold heart, warm it with Your breath.


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Plum Pie

The is a Smith family special recipe. It brings out the best in people (laughter) and the worst (stealing someone else’s pie).

1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. plus 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
1/2 t. baking powder
2 c. plums, pitted
1/2 stick butter

In sauce pan boil plums, 1 1/2 c. sugar and butter for two minutes. Pour into 9X11 inch baking dish. Blend together flour, 1/2 c. sugar, milk and baking powder. Drop by teaspoonfuls over plum mixture. Bake in 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Serve with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

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Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. How I long for your precepts! Preserve my life in your righteousness.

Psalm 119: 33-40

Work through Psalm 119, verses 33 to 40. You’ll see:

  • God teaches, we follow
  • God gives understanding, we keep and obey
  • God directs, we find delight
  • God turns our heart and eyes from selfishness and worthless things
  • He will fulfill His promises
  • He takes away disgrace and dread
  • He gives good things
  • He gives us His righteousness, we long for His words

Jesus told his disciples, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). Joyful gratitude and love yield obedience, a deep devotion to the Lord, and a longing to move closer to God. No legalism here; just a desire of heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30) to know the Lord, follow Him, love Him and obey His commands.


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Marriage and Baggage — Part 2

Yesterday, dear readers, I opened wide my suitcase to show you two areas of baggage with which we struggle in our own marriage (Read Here, if you missed it). Today my suitcase carries a can of worms! Oh let’s just get it out on the table shall we? Here are two more areas of baggage with which we struggle:

  • PAST/ PRESENT HURTS —  When a little bird is learning to fly, the Mama bird will fly with her little one and be at-the-ready to fly right underneath, to undergird her bird in flight until that baby learns how to fly steadily. I actually watched this the other day out in a nearby field. The mama bird was watchful, intent and faithful to swoop down when needed to steady her student. So it is with our past and present hurts.  Some ground is new for us, and we need wisdom in learning how to navigate and grow strong.


As a couple, we are to undergird one another in their hurts–not enabling for poor behavior stemming from the hurts, no.  But standing with and beside and cheering one another on, being watchful, intent and ready.  If counsel is needed, get good godly counsel without delay.  Sometimes, we just need to shut our mouths and LISTEN without interruption. Even so, we are navigating this course together.  To be strong, we must be willing to get underneath one another as they fly, meaning we pray for them and speak encouragement and listen. {This is a topic I will touch base on more personally next week–probably two posts worth.}

  • PRIDE — Oh each one of us should have just groaned. We ALL have pride and are prideful.  It is in our fabric. Let me tell you, this kind of baggage is poisonous, if given full rein.  It will destroy your marriage and any healthy relationships you are building–tearing apart families, churches, communities and nations. Scripture tells you to take it off or put it off, like clothing. Call the attitude for what it is and throw it off. Now granted this word has been misused in our language, as it has two distinctly different flavors .  There is proud of someone for an accomplishment–that is the FOR you kind of pride.  Then there is pride and arrogance that is paired with unteachability–this is the AGAINST you kind of pride. This is the kind of which we are talking today.

Here is what we do in our marriage: when we see the other acting from pride, we tattle on them to God. We keep on tattling until we see an “invitation” with the other to discuss the behavior. When the invitation comes, we gently share that we know and understand where they are coming from, but the outworking of it is prideful, arrogant and destructive.  For instance I have said to my Chris before, “I know this person in your life is acting in a way they shouldn’t and you are feeling threatened and angered by their behavior, so you are taking this into your own hands and handling that person in a way you should not. Turn them over to God. Charge it to His account. (Philemon 18) He will be faithful to take care of it.”

As we bring our baggage to God, each weight and hindrance that it represents, He gladly TAKES it from us and carries the weight–cast your cares on Him, every single one. He invites us daily to stay in the yoke (the kind built for two and intended to plow the ground ahead) with Jesus, letting Him bear the burden of the weight.  Our only job there in that place is to go where He leads, one step at a time and one day at a time. As a couple, we let God teach us about our baggage and the layers and layers of baggage within our hearts and lives.  It isn’t a quick process, but it is one that in the long run allows us to be all that God intended for us to be and do what He has called us to do.  I will close with a verse that has marked my walk that past two years, may it arrest your attention:

“Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time–pray that our God will make you fit for what He’s called you to be, pray that He’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with His own energy, so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the Name of Jesus, He will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving Himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving Himself freely.” 1 Thessalonians 1:11-12 The Message

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Weighing Words

The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,

but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

Proverb 15:28

Words can be like a healing salve to a painful wound, or they can be like a knife and cause a painful wound. Words can bring us together, or rip us apart.

It only takes a moment ~ stop, take a deep breath, consider the weight of the words you are about to speak. Are they helpful, or harmful? If your desire is to pierce another with your words, reconsider.

The damage done by our words can irreparably harm, or they can bring joy, peace and happiness. Goodness and grace trump meanness and pain any day.

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King Ranch Chicken

King Ranch Chicken is a quentisentially Texan dish.  It’s kind of like a stacked enchilada… but not.  However, one thing that always bothered me about this dish is the use of cans of pre-processed “cream of (fill in the blank) soup”.  This recipe is just as easy in my opinion and yields a dish that is so much better and full of fresh flavor.

This is a perfect dish to split into two smaller casserole dishes to freeze one for later.


King Ranch Chicken
(from Cooks Country magazine)

Ingredients :

12 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 med onions, chopped fine
1 – 2 jalapenos, minced (to taste)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 (10 ounce) cans Ro-Tel tomatoes
5 tblsp all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 lbs chicken
2 tblsp minced fresh cilantro
4 cups shredded Cojack (Colby-Jack) cheese
Salt and pepper
2-1/4 cups Fritos crushed


Heat oven to 450. Spray tortillas on both sides with cooking spray and place on cookie sheet. Crisp in oven (about 12 minutes) and break into pieces.

Heat butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook onions, chiles, and cumin until lightly browned (about 8 minutes). Add tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 10 min). Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add cream and broth, bring to simmer, and cook until thickened (2-3 minutes). Stir in chicken and cook until no longer pink (about 4 minutes). Off heat, add cilantro and cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper.

Spray 13×9 inch baking dish with cooking spray and scatter half of tortilla pieces inside. Cover with half of the filling, rest of tortilla pieces, and then rest of filling.

Bake until filling is bubbling (about 15 minutes). Sprinkle crushed Fritos evenly over top and bake until Fritos are lightly browned (about 10 minutes). Cool and serve.

I love to serve this with a caesar salad using a southwestern caesar dressing.

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