Archives for January 2010


My beating heart~My very soul~Is held by One who won’t let go

Worth reading

I know.  I’ve often linked to both Carrien and Ann. But each time I do, it’s because I can’t stand the thought of someone missing their words.  Yesterday I read  Carrien’s secret to an extraordinary life, and realized how often it has led me right.  Today I was blown away by Ann’s post about fears because it both mirrored and amplified Carrien’s.  You’d think those two girls were in cahoots.

Or perhaps just speaking words given them by the same God.

Go.  Be challenged.  Be encouraged.

Freezer cooking this weekend!

This weekend I’ve decided to join Money Saving Mom and Life As Mom‘s freezer cooking challenge.  I’ve got lots of ingredients in my freezer and pantry.   I just need to translate those into some meals that will come together easily in the next weeks.

Here’s my plan:

  • 3 Hamburger Enchilada casseroles (Thursday)
  • 3 dozen banana-almond muffins (Thursday)
  • 3 loaves of banana bread (Thursday)
  • Big batch of granola (Friday)
  • Big batch of refrigerator bread dough (Friday?)
  • 3 Cheesy Chicken Casseroles (Friday)
  • Double batch of Bean and Ham soup (Saturday)
  • Big batch of Taco Soup (Friday)
  • Double batch of homemade mac and cheese

Yesterday I did the enchiladas, muffins and bread.  The enchilada recipe is basically this one (Family Feasts p. 102) but with ground beef instead of chicken.  Thanks to the great hamburger sales lately, I was able to make 3 casseroles with only $5 worth of ground beef (6 lbs).  Pureed tomatoes and corn from last year’s garden added to the affordability of the meal.  I figure that all three LARGE casseroles cost me about $15 to make.

I tried a recipe from Inn Cuisine for banana muffins.  I tripled the recipe and substituted regular oats instead of oat flour, and almonds instead of walnuts.  I also used fewer bananas– tripling the recipe would have meant about 10 bananas.  I used 7.  Boy, was it ever yummy!!  It made 3 dozen muffins and 3 mini-loaves of bread.

This morning I made a triple batch of Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole using my daughter’s recipe.  I’d been wanting to try it for awhile.  They turned out really pretty.  I’ll serve one this weekend, and have the other two in the freezer for later.

Then for lunch we had homemade mac and cheese.   I doubled that recipe, topping it with a bit of crumbled bacon and chili powder to jazz it up a bit, and stuck half of it in the freezer for later.

Dinner tonight is Taco Soup (Family Feasts p. 182), already simmering on the stove.   I’ll probably make corn bread to go along with it.  That is all the energy I have today, but tomorrow I’ll finish up with the rest of the things on the list!

It’s The Panda we’re talking about, after all

One day last week when I had just two kids at home, I stopped with them at Panda Express for dinner.  Our five year old, not known for her appetite, declared that she was having orange chicken and nothing else. I scanned the menu and saw that a single serving of orange chicken was less than $2.  Dandy.

Two minutes later she was in possession of a tiny takeout box containing only chicken.  She ate half, and informed me she’d just take the rest home.  Fine again.

At home, as Dad was tucking her in bed, she told him proudly that she’d stashed her little box of leftover chicken in the fridge.  “Daddy, if you need any orange chicken– ”   — at this point I was inwardly cheering her sweet generosity.

But then she went on. “If you need any orange chicken, Daddy,  don’t take mine.”


Related link:  Panda-Style Orange Chicken

Recipe: Spicy Crab Dip

On any given day, I’ll have 3 or 4 ‘gotta try this’ recipes open in my internet browser.  And often when I do get around to trying something, I won’t have all the ingredients called for in the recipe. Do I let that stop me?  Hardly ever.  Some of my most interesting recipes happen when I need to go to the store.

This recipe is no exception  I had it in my head to make artichoke dip.  Except I didn’t have artichokes.   Or spinach.  Or mayo.   And then I happened across a dip using crab.  Hmm…. I had imitation crab.  And sour cream.  And sriracha. And– thanks to a major splurge in NYC– Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Perfect.  And so my totally yummy spicy crab dip recipe was born.  Requiring zero extra trips to the store.

The only thing I don’t like about this recipe is that I made it in the evening, thus having to take photographs in fake light.  Ugh.  I do love sunlight for food pictures.  And, sadly, by the time the sun returned the next morning, there was not a dab of dip remaining.  And– this time– no crab in the house.  Guess I really will have to go to the store if I want to make this again.

And I do.  Yum!

MAKES: about 4 cups of dip


This dip comes together quickly and has a nice spicy kick.   If you like your dip really spicy, try doubling the hot sauce and adding another jalapeno pepper or two. 


1 pound imitation crab
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, minced, seeds and white veins removed
1/2 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese
1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
1 cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (regular grated parmesan in a green can is ok too)


1. Preheat
the oven to 375 degrees F. Coarsely chop the imitation crab.  Seed and
mince the jalapeno, discarding seeds and white veins.

2. In a medium sized bowl combine crab, jalapeno, pepper-jack cheese, sriracha sauce, and sour cream.  Toss gently to mix.

Spoon the mixture into a pie pan or a 9×9 square baking dish. Sprinkle
the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese evenly on the top of the crabmeat

4. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving. 


This dip is excellent with crackers or tortilla chips, or on miniature slices of toasted bread.

Don’t forget

these precious people.

(The pastor of the church doing this work in Haiti is Kari Jobe‘s dad)


Related:  Help in Haiti

A good man

I call him at the tail end of his shift at work. “Wanna meet me at Pier One?”

“Sure!” he says, a smile in his voice at my surprise invitation. He got me a gift card for Christmas and he’s been wanting to take me to spend it.  This evening most of the kids are practicing for a play and it seems like a good time to shop.

John arrives at the store a few minutes after I do.  I’m hoping to find some fun dishes to jazz up my food photography. John takes over the supervision of our 5 year old so that I am free to wander and look without worrying what she’s up to. Now and then he calls my name, and holds up a plate or a bowl he thinks I’d like.

When our daughter gets a little too lively near the breakable stuff, he takes her to the other side of the store so I can look around a bit more.  I end up with a small selection of vibrantly colored plates and bowls, which I happily bring to the check-out.

He enjoys my pleasure over the new goodies, carries the bag out to my car, and shoe-horns our daughter into the car seat for me.  This evening I have our son’s little red 2-door, since he’s driving siblings home in the van.   John would rather see us tucked into my usual two ton tessie, the 12 passenger van, so he reminds me with extra seriousness to drive carefully.  Then he follows me home.

Back at home the wind is gusty, icy.  I park my son’s car at the end of the driveway, then struggle to peel my daughter, her booster seat and my new dishes all out of my son’s tiny car.   Just as crankiness is rising within me, John arrives, leaves his car in front of the house, hops out, and unburdens my arms from my load. Within a minute, he has us ushered into the warm house.

“I’ve gotta put my car away in a minute, but I wanted to get you girls inside first,” he says, smiling.

His hand lingers warm on my back. I relax at his touch and think about the many, many times he does the thing that is less comfortable for him, in order to give me what is more comfortable.

Sometimes it’s buckling a child into a car seat.   Getting up to pour me coffee.  Making pancakes. Going to work when he’d rather be home. Working on a project that’s higher on my list than it is on his.

He’s a human, not a saint.   There are moments when he growls and grumps at me over the frustrations in life.

But I never have to doubt where his loyalties lie, or what he would do for me.  I always know he is watching out for me first, treasuring me most, caring for me always.

A good man, he is.   I am blessed.


I come to the altar and I bow before you
You are everything my heart desires
A friend that is closer than any brother could be
I’m so amazed I can call out to you and you hear me

Salvation has a name
Mercy has a face
Holiness was crucified
And rose to give us grace

Salvation has a name
Mercy has a face
Jesus our holiness
Worthy of all praise

Every moment that I come to know you
I find a new depth of love surrounding me
Deeper than oceans, higher than any mountain peak
I’m so amazed at the wonder you hold
I can hardly believe

Jesus, Father, the maker of time
Healer, Teacher, the maker or light
You are sustainer to every life
God our Savior
Salvation has a name
Mercy has a face
Holiness was crucified
And he rose!

Jesus our holiness
Worthy of all praise
Salvation has a name

Cheap shipping envelopes

Not sure if this is idea is a new one or an extremely obvious one, but I thought I’d share.  Awhile back I was scouring the house for a shipping envelope big enough to fit a book and came up empty.

I thought about what I did have– TONS of gift bags in many different, lovely colors and patterns.   I decided to use clear packing tape to turn a sturdy gift bag into an envelope.  Not only did it work, it also looked way cuter than your standard yellow envelope.  Since then I have used this tactic at least a dozen times, and found that it is accepted at our local post office and at 3 separate local shipping outlets, even one that had a big sign stating they didn’t accept paper-wrapped packages anymore.

Here are a few pictures of my tweak.   Basically I flatten the bag, remove the string-handles, cover all edges with clear packing tape, and then fold over the top edge to seal the package, taping that end too.  Easy, peasy.  And your package ends up looking like you gift-wrapped it.

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Recipe: Egg Rolls

Thinking Super Bowl food?  How about this egg roll recipe at