Posted in Involving the Heart

Making Memories

memories-are-made

This week has been full of making memories with my girls in Oklahoma.

We have made good use of our short time. There has been some sightseeing, a little shopping, cooking of good food, and talking, talking, talking. It has been so much fun.

Up until just a couple of years ago, my daughters all lived near us. We did a lot of life together. But the need to find work relocated two of them, along with their husbands and our grandchildren. I miss the days when we could just drop by and spend time together. Now we must be intentional with the time we set aside for visiting and make the most of each occasion.

I often wonder why we are not more like this in all our relationships.

I suppose it is because we think we’ll have time to get together as soon as things calm down. Most of us know that a slower life is a joke. The truth is, we will be waiting for a long time for that to happen. And when things actually do get slower, our neglected friendships will be long dead and buried.

So, I propose we take this matter to heart. Let us not allow our friendships grow cold. Let’s be intention with gathering together and making memories. In years to come, it will be good to have a treasure trove of stories that always begin with “Remember when. . .”

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

Cesare Pavese

us-at-the-mercantile


Are you wondering what good things we cooked while we were visiting?

Lots of great stuff, but one thing that usually shows up on the table when we get together is Beef Enchiladas. I learned this easy recipe when the church we attended would sell these enchiladas to raise funds for an outreach to Mexico. We liked them so much we have continued to enjoy them all these years later. They also bring back the memory of doing something pretty special with a group of people who wanted to do good in the world by serving others. Ever since then, I have had an ongoing love affair with serving the people of Mexico. See Hope Under Construction and For Goodness Sake to find out more of what I’m up to and the ministry I serve with there.

Beef Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large can of red enchilada sauce or 1 recipe of homemade
  • 10 6-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sliced black olives
  • Toppings—sour cream, sliced green onions, etc.

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) baking dish or pan with cooking spray.
  2. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook beef and onions over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce to season meat mixture.
  3. Spread additional 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce evenly in baking dish. Spoon about 1/4 cup beef mixture down center of each tortilla; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese. Wrap tortillas tightly around filling, placing seam side down in baking dish. Top with remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and sliced olives.
  4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
  5. ENJOY!

This is an excellent dish to make for a someone who needs a little pick-me-up and a visit from a friend.

enchilada-fixings

Posted in Involving the Heart

Comfort Food

When life gets jumbled, it’s good to pull together.

 


Your day can go upside down in a hurry.  I know that from experience.  This past week, we were minding our own business when a little scent of smoke brought our attention to a large, black cloud directly south of us.  Before we knew it evacuation orders came and our pets, computers, and family photos were loaded into the tiny home on wheels—a.k.a. travel trailer— and we left.

When the smoke cleared our house still stood, but that was not the case for over a hundred families. Thousands of acres of land were devastated by a fire that moved so quickly, spreading in so many directions, it was impossible to fight. A very sad event in our community.

But in the midst of this terrible situation, a spirit of compassion was found in the form of hospitality. Businesses and churches provided comfort in the way of food to displaced families and travelers who were stranded due to road closures.  People came together in church kitchens to offer meals. Others donated what they could to ease the stress of the circumstance, while still others filled their spare bedrooms with tired individuals who had no place to go. My own family became the recipients of dinner and snacks as well as hugs from the people who delivered them.  It was a beautiful scene to witness.

After a few days, most of us had returned home to air out our houses and resume life. I had planned a dinner party with another couple before the fire had struck. It seemed right to continue forward and we kept the date. Sitting around the table, our conversation was dominated by our shared experience of evacuation and worry. Eventually however, we moved on to the normal stuff—future plans and stories from the past. It was comforting to spend the evening talking and eating. This ‘soul’ food is just what we needed.

“In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge.”

Aristotle

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My dear friend, Danielle added her version Pretzel Salad to our dinner party menu. She said it was really a dessert, but because it had salad in its name, she could justify eating two servings. I wish I had taken a picture. It was beautiful and very yummy. In my opinion, this can stay on the Comfort Food List. If I am ever under the weather, don’t hesitate bring me some.

Pretzel Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels (about 4 cups of mini twists equals 1 1/2 cups crushed)
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 (8 ounce) container whipped topping, thawed (I never, ever use this but always make my own whipped cream because it’s 1,000 times better that way)
  • 1 (6 ounce) package strawberry flavored Jell-O®
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen strawberries (I always use fresh fruit, usually strawberries and blueberries)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Mix together the pretzels, 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool completely.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread evenly over the cooled crust. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together the gelatin mix and boiling water. Mix in frozen strawberries, and stir until thawed. Pour over cream cheese mixture in pan. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 1 hour.
  5. Enjoy!

Danielle not only prepares a mean Pretzel Salad, she also happens to be a small business owner who specializes in goat milk soaps made fresh on her family’s small homestead farm. Check it out on Handcrafted Homestead on Facebook.

Posted in Baked Perfection, Coffee Time, Involving the Heart

No To-Go Cup, Please

Along in the afternoon, my thoughts turn to a cup of tea and a little something sweet. It is certainly a very nice respite for a busy day. While visiting Germany, I found this to be the common practice. Whether we were out and about or happened by a friend’s house (Yes, people actually do that there.), coffee or tea was brewed and a cookie was offered without fail. And it was all enjoyed while sitting and visiting.

Coffee Time at a little bakery found on the square of Radeberg, Germany.
Coffee Time at a little bakery found on the square of Radeberg, Germany.

In our grab and go culture we miss this simple pleasure of refreshment around some small talk. If we actually took time to sit and enjoy each other’s company, we might find our lives a little less hectic and a little more meaningful.  You see, the refreshment does not come from the snack like we think.  You’ve seen in the old movies when they ask, “Would you take some refreshment?” Food was certainly was offered but I believe it was far more than that. Refreshment comes not from the eating of treats rather the time spent in sweet fellowship. And time is a key component to making it all work.  Friendship is not fast food. It a sit down occasion to be savored.

Life is better shared with friends. It’s just a fact. So take a break from the hectic and find refreshment.

“To be with old friends is very warm and comforting.”

~ Ian Ziering


My daughter gifted me Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman Cooks Food: From My Frontier cookbook a few years back.  I have used many of the recipes and all of them have been pretty delicious. It is my go-to reference when I want to take something to a potluck or share with a friend.  The following is a cookie recipe I used recently for a Bridal Shower.  I think they would also be the perfect thing to serve your friends while you sip tea and invest time in each other.

Citrus Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (4 Sticks) Salted Butter, Softened
  • 1-1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 whole Large Eggs, Separated
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Orange, Lemon, And Lime Zest (approx 1 Tablespoon Each)
  • 2 Tablespoons Orange, Lemon, And/or Lime Juice (2 Tablespoons Total)
  • Icing
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Whole Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Orange, Lemon, And Lime Zest
  • Juice Of 1/2 Lime
  • Juice Of 1/2 Lemon
  • Dash Of Salt
  • Extra Zest, For Decorating

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Cream butter and sugar until combined. Add egg yolks and mix until combined (set whites aside for the icing.) Add the zest and the flour and mix until just combined, then add juice and mix until combined.

    Scoop out heaping teaspoons of dough, then roll them into balls between your hands. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 13 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep on the cookie sheet for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the pan with a spatula and allow to cool completely before icing.

    To make the icing, combine 1 egg white with the rest of the icing ingredients. Whisk thoroughly until combined, adding either more powdered sugar or more juice until it reaches a pourable but still thick consistency.

    Drizzle the icing across the cookies in several lines, then do it again in the other direction. Sprinkle with extra zest before the icing sets.

    *Check out her site for beautiful pictures of the step-by-step instructions.

    ENJOY!

    Table set for tea at a friend's home in Germany. It was a beautiful time of sharing our lives.  This created a memory that will stay with me for a long time.
    Table set for tea at a friend’s home in Germany. Beautiful.

    If you enjoyed reading this blog, take a look at another blog I write. Girl on Adventure is a collection of lessons God is showing me as I move through life.  I hope you enjoy it.

Posted in Involving the Heart

Home Peace Home

There is nothing like staying home for real comfort.

Jane Austen

There are times when it is just nice to have a day at home.  In our busy world, there are so many great things to do and places to go. And with my sanguine personality, I want to be part of every gathering, every excursion, every activity.  I never want to be left out.  My motto has always been, “Never miss an opportunity for fun”. Yet, there are still times I really enjoy being at home doing homey things.

Making a home cozy is what I dreamed of when I considered what grown-up life would look like. Of course, the reality is always a bit different than expected. But when given the chance, I like to create an environment that I would enjoy sharing with others. One that brings a sense of well-being, beauty and peacefulness. To me, there is actually an element of romance in it all.

Today in my “romantic” endeavors,  I am putting some future dinners in the freezer.  Our local markets all have meat on sale this week so I stocked up.  I divided it out into meal sized portions and added some different marinades to each.  I have created tastes of Italy, Mexico and Greece. There are also some pork chops that will wait for their seasoning until the time of cooking. This will make the days, I must spend out and about having fun, easier and more interesting at dinnertime.  And I won’t be ‘driving through’ when there is something delicious that can easily come from my own kitchen.

This is the recipe for the Mexican Grilled Chicken and is now one of my new favorites.  I have used it on chicken breasts for tacos and salad.  Everyone has enjoyed it–a lot.  I did make some changes to the original.  Instead of Chipotle chili powder, I used 1 teaspoon regular. I also used smoked paprika in place of the plain.

Mexican Grilled Chicken

  • 8 chicken thighs or 4 breasts
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Juice of 1 lime or 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 handful cilantro, rough chopped
  1. Put all marinade ingredients in the blender or food processor and liquefy.
  2. Put marinade in a gallon-size zip lock bag and add chicken pieces. Turn a few times to distribute marinade.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours I leave it for about 10 hours.
  4. Remove chicken from marinade and place on hot grill. Discard marinade.
  5. Grill, turning occasionally, until chicken is cooked through.
  6. Enjoy!

If you enjoy reading this blog, please check out another blog I write.  Girlonadventure.com Girl on Adventure is a collection of lessons God is showing me as I move through life.  I hope you enjoy it.